Saturday, 18 September 2021

The Bactrian Treasure - Hill of Gold - Tillya Tepe

The Taliban are looking for the Bactrian treasure. The treasure was brought to the presidential palace by the former government in February 2021 and was put on display for public viewing. The priceless hoard has since vanished.
The Bactrian Treasure is a gold hoard that lay under the 'Hill of Gold' in Afghanistan, known as Bactria when Alexander the Great conquered the country. The hoard is a spectacular collection of 20,600 gold ornaments found in six burial mounds just beyond the oasis town of Sheberghan in northern Afghanistan. The treasure lay undisturbed until Soviet archeologists exposed it shortly before the 1979 invasion. Soon after the discovery, a guerrilla war against the Soviet occupation began, followed by civil war.

This is the treasure of Tillya Tepe, the Hill of Gold.
Gold and turquoise crown from tomb six at Tillya Tepe, dating to 25-50 CE. During those years the treasure was kept in the Kabul Museum, which has since been looted. The day before the Russians fled Kabul in February 1989, the treasure was moved to the presidential compound, the safest place in the capital.

Gold stater of the Greco-Bactrian king Eucratides, Weight: 169.2 gm., Diam: 58 mm., the largest gold coin of antiquity.

The treasure remained safe due to the efforts of one man: Mr. Ameruddin Askarzai, a security guard of the central bank who has been guardian of the vaults for 30 years. He is one of the few people to have seen the entire collection. "It's the best heritage of our country," he said.

Mr Askerzai helped to seal the treasure in seven trunks and guarded it along with the assets of the central bank - gold bars the "size of your arm" worth about £50 million - also kept in the presidential palace. The real threat to the treasure came when the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996. A delegation of 10 mullahs arrived with a jeweller to inspect the vaults. A pistol held against his head, he opened the combination lock so they could inspect the gold bars.
They had found the second prize, but did not realize the real treasure was in a vault above their heads. The Taliban asked if there was any other gold, but Mr Askerzai remained silent. He was imprisoned for three months and 17 days, during which he was beaten and tortured, but he did not reveal anything. "I wasn't scared," he said. "I didn't care for my life. They were foreigners. They were not Afghans."

On the Taliban's last night in power, as coalition forces pounded the country with bombs, the Taliban stuffed the central bank's cash reserves into tin trunks and arrived at the vault for the gold bars. They spent four hours trying to open the vault. Mr Askerzai watched. Unknown to them, five years earlier he had broken the key and left it in the lock. The Taliban gave up and fled Kabul as Northern Alliance forces edged closer. That saved the treasure.
In 2003 the vault was opened. Since then, the National Geographic Society has catalogued the collection, which appears to be complete. Also witnessing the re-opening was the archaeologist who originally found the hoard, Viktor Sarianidi.

Friday, 17 September 2021

Aztec Gold: The History And Science Of Popcorn

Popcorn is a truly ancient snack. Archaeologists have uncovered popcorn kernels that are 4,000 years old. They were so well-preserved, they could still pop. Corn, and specifically popcorn, helped lay the foundations for the Aztec empire. A highly productive crop like corn makes the rise of higher civilizations possible.
The oldest popcorn ever found was discovered in the "Bat Cave" of central New Mexico. It is thought to be about 5,600 years old. Sometimes, conditions can preserve ancient popcorn so perfectly that it still looks fluffy and white when the dust is blown off of it. In a cave in southern Utah, researchers found surprisingly fresh-looking 1,000-year-old popcorn.
Europeans learned about popcorn from Native Americans. When Cortes invaded Mexico, and when Columbus arrived in the West Indies, each saw natives eating popcorn. Native Americans brought a bag of popped corn to the first Thanksgiving.

A common way to eat popcorn at that time was to hold an oiled ear on a stick over the fire, then chew the popped kernels off it.
Natives in the Americas also made a popcorn beer. Some made popcorn soup.
After the Spanish invaded, popcorn spread around the world, and people began learnef how popcorn works. The rock-hard kernel — the thing that makes popcorn impossible to eat raw — is the key. It acts as a pressure cooker with the durable kernel keeping water and starch sealed inside. When a kernel is heated, the starch liquefies and the pressure builds until the seed coat breaks. A popcorn kernel is a seed. Like other seeds, inside it has a tiny plant embryo. The embryo is surrounded by soft, starchy material that would give the embryo energy for growing into a plant. The ideal popcorn kernel contains about 14 percent moisture. If the popcorn is too much drier, it will not pop.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Untouched ancient burial chamber in Turkey’s Muğla

A burial chamber dating to 2,400 years ago was unearthed in 2016 at a construction site in the province of Muğla’s Milas district. Officials found 103 artifacts in the burial chamber, untouched for millennia.
Findings included earthenware candles, offering bowls, gifts for the dead, and cosmetic tools.
The burial chamber was unearthed close to the holy road between the city of Mylasa, which was the capital of the Karia region in the ancient era, and the Labraunda religious center. A settlement had been existing at the site for 2,600 years. The region of western Anatolia extending along the coast from mid-Ionia (Mycale) south to Lycia and east to Phrygia was colonized by Ionian and Dorian Greeks forming Greek-dominated states.
The inhabitants of Caria, known as Carians, had arrived long before the Greeks.

Gümüşkesen chambered tomb monument in Milas.

In the southern Turkish province of Adana’s Yumurtalık district, a rare mosaic depicting the ancient Greek god of the sea, Poseidon. It dates to the 3rd or 4th century B.C.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Aqrabuamelu - Scorpion men

Scorpion men are featured in several Akkadian myths, including the Enûma Elish and the Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. They were also known as aqrabuamelu or girtablilu. The Scorpion Men are described to have the head, torso, and arms of a man and the body of a scorpion. Their "terror is awesome" and their "glance is death."

Ancient Iron

According to researchers, ancient metalworkers hunted for iron from meteorites to create highly prized weapons before they could extract the metal from the earth. In 2016 X-ray scans on a dagger from Tutankhamun's tomb were made to determine what it was made from. Research indicates that before the very first kilns for smelting iron ore emerged around 3,200 years ago, all iron was crafted from meteorites.
Most meteorites that collide into the earth contain high levels of nickel or cobalt. Tutankhamun’s dagger was made with iron containing nearly 11 percent nickel and traces of cobalt.The oldest-known furnace for smelting iron ore is at Tell Hammeh in Jordan and dates to about 930 B.C. During the Bronze Age iron, because it could not be smelted, was valued at ten times the price of gold. As the Iron Age advanced, the price dropped rapidly allowing for a series of important discoveries using the harder and more durable metal. Iron production in significant quantities began around 500 BC. Archaeological finds are very rare because the metal was so valuable, artifacts were rarely lost or discarded.
The Romans produced large quantities of iron. They had various sources of iron ore with the key source being the island of Elba. Extensive deposits of hematite occur there. Hematite is pure, concentrated iron oxide and is an excellent iron ore.

The technology required to separate iron from its ores and convert it into useful objects is far more complicated than that needed to work copper and bronze. It requires a temperature of about 3650 degrees Fahrenheit (about 2020 degrees Celsius) to cause iron to melt sufficiently so that it will flow.
The hardness of the resulting iron, after it had been formed and allowed to cool, depended upon the amount of carbon in the mixture. What the ancient ironworkers didn't realize was that in reality they were making steel. Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon, with some special steels containing other elements. Steel containing less than about one quarter percent carbon is too soft. Six or seven tenths of a percent is a good mix for items that needed to keep an edge. Anything over one percent was hard and brittle, and would shatter when struck too hard.

See ----->Tutankhamun's dagger made of meteorite