Sunday, 28 July 2019

'Fake' gold coin sells for $2.16 million

Mistakenly believed by its owner to be fake, a historic gold coin was authenticated as 'the discovery of a lifetime' by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation last year. It is only the fourth known surviving example of a $5 denomination coin struck at the San Francisco Mint in 1854. It made $ 2.16m. Mint records indicate 268 of these coins were made in the San Francisco mint in 1854, the first year they were produced.

The other known coins have a history. One is located at the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian, and another was stolen from the DuPont family in 1967 and has never been seen since.

Friday, 26 July 2019

The Athenian Owl Tetradrachm

The Athenian Owl tetradrachm was minted for over 400 years, beginning around 512 B.C. Following the city’s defeat of the Persians at the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C., Athens entered a period where it was the principal city of the Greek world. Athens controlled the nearby Laurium silver mines and was able to produce high-quality silver coinage in vast quantities. The Athenian Owl gained widespread use due to it's high silver content and high production.
The Athenian government minted coins at a profit, building state coffers. The Athenian Owl tetradrachm would remain the dominant currency in the ancient world until Roman coinage replaced it in the 1st century B.C.

Despite the coin’s many revisions, the general design remained the same. The obverse depicts the Greek goddess Athena, who represents wisdom and warfare. The ideals are portrayed in Athena’s large eyes, representing wisdom, and her crested war helmet, representing war. The Owl appears with two-leaf olive sprig, representing olives and olive oil, the primary exports of Athens.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

New treasures from Heracleion

Heracleion off Egypt's north coast slumped into the sea some 1,200 years ago and was lost for centuries until divers rediscovered it in 2000.

Archaeologists have announced a series of new finds at the underwater site. A temple and shipwrecks with treasure has been discovered among the ruins of an ancient sunken city described as the "Egyptian Atlantis". Ancient columns, 2,000-year-old pottery and bronze coins from the reign of King Ptolemy II (283 to 246 BC) were also found.
Located at the entrance to the Nile, the city was Egypt's main international trading port, sporting statues, temples and a maze of canals.

Buried under centuries of silt, the ruins and artifacts are perfectly preserved thousands of years later.
See ----->Thonis-Heracleion

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Roman Emperor Nerva

Nerva was Roman emperor from 96 to 98. Nerva became emperor at age 66 after a lifetime of imperial service under Nero. On 18 September 96, Domitian was assassinated in a palace conspiracy involving the Praetorian Guard. On the same day, Nerva was declared emperor by the Roman Senate.

A gold aureus of Nerva reflects the delicate balance of power in ancient Rome at the time. The circa A.D. 97 gold coin features a portrait of Nerva on the obverse, with clasped hands holding a legionary eagle set upon a prow on the reverse.
Nerva’s reign was greatly assisted by his predecessor’s decision to increase wages for soldiers from 225 denarii to 300 denarii, annually. In addition, the coins used to pay the wages were of increased weight and purity compared to previous coins, so the payout was even better.

Nerva's reign was marred by financial difficulties and his inability to assert control over the Roman army. A revolt by the Praetorian Guard in October 97 forced him to adopt an heir. Nerva adopted Trajan, a young and popular general, as his successor. Nerva died of natural causes shortly after and was succeeded by Trajan.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Cool ancients at Heritage

Justinian II, first reign (AD 685-695). AV solidus. ANACS AU 58
Justinian II, first reign (AD 685-695). AV solidus. ANACS AU 58
SICILY. Gela. Ca. 480-470 BC. AR tetradrachm. NGC Choice VF 5/5 - 4/5
SICILY. Gela. Ca. 480-470 BC. AR tetradrachm. NGC Choice VF 5/5 - 4/5
SICILY. Gela. Ca. 480-470 BC. AR tetradrachm. NGC Choice VF 5/5 - 4/5
Caligula (AD 37-41), with Agrippina Senior. AR denarius. ANACS VF 30
SICILY. Gela. Ca. 480-470 BC. AR tetradrachm. NGC Choice VF 5/5 - 4/5
LUCANIA. Metapontum. Ca. 540-510 BC. AR stater. NGC XF 5/5 - 4/5
SICILY. Gela. Ca. 480-470 BC. AR tetradrachm. NGC Choice VF 5/5 - 4/5
Gratian, Western Roman Empire (AD 367-383). AV solidus. NGC Choice AU 5/5 - 3/5
SICILY. Gela. Ca. 480-470 BC. AR tetradrachm. NGC Choice VF 5/5 - 4/5
Basiliscus, Eastern Roman Empire (AD 475-476). AV solidus. NGC AU 4/5 - 3/5
SICILY. Gela. Ca. 480-470 BC. AR tetradrachm (24mm, 17.12 gm, 4h). NGC Choice VF 5/5 - 4/5
EGYPT. Alexandria. Caracalla, as Caesar (AD 198-217). BI tetradrachm. NGC Choice VF 4/5 - 4/5
SICILY. Gela. Ca. 480-470 BC. AR tetradrachm. NGC Choice VF 5/5 - 4/5
Divus Julius Caesar (49-44 BC). AR denarius. ANACS VF 20
SICILY. Gela. Ca. 480-470 BC. AR tetradrachm. NGC Choice VF 5/5 - 4/5
Trajan (AD 98-117). AE sestertius. ANACS EF 40
SICILY. Gela. Ca. 480-470 BC. AR tetradrachm. NGC Choice VF 5/5 - 4/5
EGYPT. Alexandria. Gordian I Africanus (AD 238). BI tetradrachm. NGC Choice VF 5/5 - 4/5
SICILY. Gela. Ca. 480-470 BC. AR tetradrachm. NGC Choice VF 5/5 - 4/5
Antoninus Pius (AD 138-161). AE sestertius. NGC Choice Fine 4/5 - 3/5
SICILY. Gela. Ca. 480-470 BC. AR tetradrachm. NGC Choice VF 5/5 - 4/5
Augustus (27 BC-AD 14). AR denarius. NGC Choice XFstar 5/5 - 4/5

Grave of ‘Griffin Warrior’ at Pylos

The grave of a Mycenaean warrior was uncovered in 2016 in Pylos in the southwest of Greece was that of a warrior in his mid-30s who died around 1500 B.C. Buried with him were some 2,000 objects, including silver cups, beads made of precious stones, ivory combs, a sword and four intricately decorated solid gold rings.

The discovery of the “Griffin Warrior” offers evidence that Mycenaean culture recognized and appreciated Minoan culture. The man's rings are made of multiple sheets of gold and depict very detailed scenes and iconography straight out of Minoan mythology. The rings probably come from Crete where they were used to place seals on documents or objects.
Archaeologists digging at Pylos, an ancient city on the southwest coast of Greece, discovered the rich grave of a warrior who was buried at the dawn of European civilization.

Archaeologists expressed astonishment at the richness of the find and its potential for shedding light on the emergence of the Mycenaean civilization, the lost world of Agamemnon, Nestor, Odysseus and other heroes described in the epics of Homer.
The tomb is said to be the the most complete Greek find of its kind since the 1950s. The find includes gold, silver, ivory, and bronze artifacts, as well as engraved gemstones and an ornate ivory-and gilt-hilted sword.

The warrior was buried around 1500 B.C., next to the site on Pylos on which, many years later, arose the palace of Nestor, a large administrative center that was destroyed in 1180 B.C., about the same time as Homer’s Troy.

The palace was part of the Mycenaean civilization; from its ashes, classical Greek culture arose several centuries later.

A bronze mirror with an ivory handle

An ivory comb

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Coins of Marcus Antonius

Following the assassination of Caesar in 44 BCE, Rome was plunged into chaos. Many of Caesar’s conspirators and assassins, including M. Junius Brutus and C. Cassius Longinus, (Brutus and Cassius) fled Rome in fear of reprisal. Caesar’s closest ally, M. Antonius (Marc Antony) seized control during the power vacuum, with the conspirators on the run and Caesar’s designated heir, G. Octavius Thurinus, (Octavian) still with an army in Macedonia.

The young heir returned to Rome with a new name, G. Julius Caesar Octavianus, and found himself with the task of controlling Marc Antony.
In the spring of 43 BCE, Octavian, along with the consuls Aulus Hirtius and G. Vibius Pansa Caetronianus, confronted and conquered Antony and his five legions at the Battle of Mutina in Cisalpine Gaul. Though victorious and causing Antony to retreat, Octavian did suffer a setback in that Hirtius was killed and Pansa succumbed to possible poisoning. This left Octavian in command of all of their eight legions.
Octavian began secret negotiations with Antony. Octavian, Antony, and M. Aemilius Lepidus met and established a three-man dictatorship.
Antony, desperate to retain troops, began to strike one of the more iconic series of coinage in Rome’s history, the legionary denarius. These coins allude directly to the events of the day, as they feature a praetorian galley.

On September 2, 31 BCE, the forces of Octavian and M. Vipsanius Agrippa defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra at Actium, a promontory between the Ambracian Gulf and the Ionian Sea. The result was a decisive victory with Antony and Cleopatra forced to retreat for Egypt. A final defeat at the Battle of Alexandria on August 1, 30 BCE was the last. It was the official end of the Roman Republic and the formation of the Roman Empire.

Aureus bearing the portraits of Mark Antony (left) and Octavian (right). Struck in 41 BC, this coin was issued to celebrate the establishment of the Second Triumvirate.
Marcus Antonius portrait. Denarius from 42 B.C.Mark Antony and Cleopatra. 34 BC. Denarius

Saturday, 20 July 2019


Phaestus Stater circa 300-270 BC, Naked Talos, with spread wings, standing facing and holding stone in each hand.Ancient Greeks thought of myths as complementary narratives speaking to them of their gods, heroes, and civilization. The Greeks understood mythology as early history. Minos was the son of Zeus. Hephaistos crafted the bronze android Talos for him.
In Greek mythology, Talos was a giant automaton made of bronze to protect Europa in Crete from pirates and invaders. He circled the island's shores three times daily. Talos threw rocks at any approaching ship to protect his island.

The origin of Talos varies. Some accounts describe him as the last survivor of an ancient race of bronze men, but the more popular versions attribute his creation to Hephaestus, god of the forge.
Talos had one vein, which went from his neck to his ankle, bound shut by one bronze nail. The Argo, transporting Jason and the Argonauts, approached Crete after obtaining the Golden Fleece. Talos kept the Argo at bay by hurling great boulders.

Talos was slain when Medea the sorceress either drove him mad with drugs, or deceived him into believing that she would make him immortal by removing the nail. He dislodged the nail, and "the ichor ran out of him like molten lead", killing him.

5th-century BCE Greek vase depicts the death of Talos
Talos makes an appearance in the 1963 motion picture "Jason and the Argonauts" thanks to stop-motion wizardry. The film, however, cast Jason as the automaton's slayer instead of Medea.