Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Golden Pectoral from Tovsta Mohyla

The Golden Pectoral from Tovsta Mohyla is a Scythian treasure discovered in a burial kurgan near the city of Ordzonikidzhe in the southern Ukraine. It dates c. 300 B.C. The pectoral is 24k gold, with a diameter of 12 inches. It weighs over a kilo. The crescent is broken down into three sections. The top reflects Scythian daily life.
The middle section is believed to represent nature. The third section is thought to represent Scythian belief in their mythology.
The grave mound belonged to a high status Scythian aristocrat. Few objects survive due to grave robbers.

The Golden Pectoral from Tovsta Mohyla remains one of the most astounding pieces of gold jewelry to ever survive from the classical world.

Claudius


Bust of Claudius at the Naples National Archaeological Museum
Claudius (1 August 10 BC – 13 October AD 54) was Roman emperor from AD 41 to 54. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul, the first (and until Trajan, only) Roman emperor to be born outside Italy. His maternal grandparents were Mark Antony and Octavia Minor, Augustus' sister, and he was the great-great grandnephew of Gaius Julius Caesar. Because he was afflicted with a limp and slight deafness due to sickness as a child, his family ostracized him. Claudius's infirmity probably saved him from the fate of other nobles during the many purges of Tiberius and Caligula. He was not seen as a serious threat. His survival led to his being declared emperor by the Praetorian Guard after Caligula's assassination.
On 24 January 41, Caligula was assassinated in a broad-based conspiracy involving the Praetorian commander Cassius Chaerea and several senators. There is no evidence that Claudius had a direct hand in the assassination. In the chaos following the murder, Claudius witnessed the guard cut down several uninvolved noblemen. He fled to the palace to hide. According to tradition, a Praetorian named Gratus found him hiding behind a curtain and suddenly declared him princeps. Eventually the Senate was forced to give in and, in return, Claudius pardoned virtually all the assassins.

He ruled well and left a large treasury behind. After his death in 54 aged 63, his grand-nephew, step-son, and adopted son Nero succeeded him as emperor.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas

"Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas" was an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2018. It brought together hundreds of luxury craft goods of the Incas, Aztecs and their predecessors. The exhibition included more than 300 objects from 52 institutions across the world.
The exhibit traces the development of goldworking from Peru in the south to Mexico in the north from around 1000 B.C. to the arrival of Europeans in the early 16th century.
Highlights include the exquisite gold ornaments of the Lord of Sipán, the richest unlooted tomb in the ancient Americas.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Silver in Ancient Egypt

Gold was considered to be the skin of the ancient Egyptian gods and their bones and were thought to be made of silver.

At beginning of recorded history, silver may have been unknown to the ancient Egyptians. They could obtain gold and electrum, which was a natural alloy of silver and gold, from the mountains of the Eastern Desert and Nubia.

Early Egyptian language lacks a word for silver. They described it only as the "white metal", and when they did run across it, they seem to have regarded it as a variety of gold.


Silver diadem. The double uraei – two sacred cobras, protectors of royal power.

Solid silver casket of Psusennes I. 21st Dynasty who ruled from Tanis between 1047 – 1001 BC.
When silver was introduced into Egypt, it probably was more valuable than gold. It was rare, and on lists of valuables, items of silver were listed above those of gold during the Old Kingdom.

Jewelry made of silver was almost always thinner than gold pieces, as indicated by the bracelets of the 4th Dynasty queen Hetephere I, in contrast to the extravagance of her gold jewelry.


Two gold bracelets of Queen Hetepheres I.
The rulers of the 21st and 22nd Dynasty, who were buried at Tanis used silver in their burials. Sheshonq II had a solid silver coffin with gilded details in the form of the hawk-god, Sokar.

Silver could be stained black using sulphur. This was applied as decoration. Beaten into sheets, silver was used to plate copper and other materials, especially to obtain mirror surfaces.
There is no evidence that the Egyptians themselves mined silver. From ancient records it is thought that silver was imported from Mesopotamia, Crete and Cyprus.

A silver treasure found at the site of Tod comprised vessels likely made in Crete. The hoard dates to the reign of Amenemhat II who ruled during the 12th Dynasty. (1962 BC)


Silver mummy mask of Queen Malakaye (Egyptian Late Period)
By the Middle Kingdom, silver was less valuable than gold. By this time a much better supply of the metal had developed.

During the 12th Dynasty, silver acquired a value about half that of gold. By the 18th dynasty silver and copper had been established as a means of exchange. Copper was valued at about one-hundredth the value of silver.

Ptolemy II, 285-246 BC, silver dekadrachm

Silver Tetradrachm, Alexandria mint, dated 55/54 BC. Diademed head of Ptolemy I.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Marble head found in Forum dig Dionysus

The white marble head unearthed during excavations at the Roman Forum on 24 May is believed to represent a male deity, most likely Dionysus. Initially it was thought that the head - with its feminine features and thick, wavy hairstyle - represented a female goddess. A band around its head decorated with a "typically Dionysian flower, the corymb, and ivy", proves it to be Dionysus.

The slightly larger-than-life head has been dated from the first century BC to the fifth century AD. He is better known as Bacchus to the Romans.

Dionysus is the god of the grape-harvest, winemaking and wine, of fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, and theatre in ancient Greek religion and myth.

Friday, 24 May 2019

$20 gold coin from 'Ship of Gold' makes $282k

The spectacular 1857-S Double Eagle, recovered in 2014 from the SS Central America set a record price for any 1857 San Francisco Mint $20 gold coin in a public auction conducted by Legend Rare Coin Auctions on May 16, 2019. The sunken treasure Double Eagle, graded PCGS MS67, sold for $282,000.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Ptolemy, son of Lagos

Bust of Ptolemy in the British Museum. Of all the successors of Alexander the Great, the family of Ptolemy, son of Lagos, was the most successful, ruling Egypt for nearly three centuries (305 – 30 BCE). The story of that success begins with a hijacking. When Alexander died in Babylon on 10 June 323 BCE, his corpse, embalmed by a team of Egyptian morticians, was placed in an elaborate cart for travel back to Macedon in northern Greece for burial. Ptolemy was one of Alexander’s boyhood companions and trusted bodyguards. He seized the body and diverted it to Memphis, capital of Egypt, where he had been appointed satrap (governor).

Alexander’s body became a trophy and symbol of legitimacy for Ptolemy’s dynasty.
The dynasty shared just three names – at least seven Cleopatras, four Berenikes and four Arsinoës.
The earliest coins of Ptolemy I followed the pattern of Alexander’s coinage. At an uncertain date (c. 316 – 312), Ptolemy issued a new type of silver tetradrachm bearing a portrait of the deified Alexander wearing an elephant head-dress (symbolizing his conquest of India). On the reverse, the goddess Athena.

Ptolemy had three official wives and numerous liaisons, fathering at least 11 children. In 289 BCE he appointed his son, Ptolemy II as co-ruler. He died in 283 or 282, aged 84, the only one of Alexander’s successors to die peacefully in his own bed.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Sargon of Akkad

Sargon of Akkad, also known as Sargon the Great "the Great King" was a Semitic Akkadian emperor famous for his conquest of the Sumerian city-states in the 24th and 23rd centuries BC. The founder of the Dynasty of Akkad, he was originally referred to as Sargon I until records of an Assyrian king also named Sargon (now usually referred to as Sargon I) were unearthed.

Sargon's vast empire is thought to have included large parts of Mesopotamia, and included parts of modern-day Iran, Asia Minor and Syria. He is often regarded as the first in recorded history to create a centrally ruled empire and a professional army.
After coming to power, Sargon killed the king of Kish, and attacked Uruk. He captured Uruk and dismantled its famous walls. The defenders fled the city.

Sumerian forces fought two pitched battles against the Akkadians and were routed. Sargon pursued his enemies to Ur before moving eastwards to Lagash, to the Persian Gulf, and then to Umma.

Uruk was renowned for its walls which were first built 4,700 years ago by the Sumerian King Gilgamesh, hero of the epic named after him.
Sargon died around 2215 BC.
Sargon of Akkad was regarded as a model by Mesopotamian kings for two millennia after his death. The Assyrian and Babylonian kings who based their empires in Mesopotamia saw themselves as the heirs of Sargon's empire. Akkadian influence was seen through trade throughout much of the known world from Eastern Europe to Northern Africa to India.

Akkadian customs – language, religion, art, architecture – were the standard for almost two millennia until the Greeks and Persians established their own mighty empires.