Monday, 18 March 2019

The Year of the Four Emperors

GalbaThe Year of the Four Emperors, 69 AD, was a year of the Roman Empire in which four emperors ruled in succession: Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian.

On June 9, 68 AD, Nero was tried in absentia and condemned to death. He met death at his own hand, thereby attaining the distinction of being the first Roman Emperor to commit suicide. The four most influential generals in the Empire successively vied for the imperial power.
VitelliusVespasian was legate of Legio II Augusta during the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 and subjugated Judaea during the Jewish rebellion of 66.

Vespasian brought stability and after his death in 79, he was succeeded by his eldest son Titus, thus becoming the first Roman emperor to be directly succeeded by his own natural son.


In Greek mythology, a satyr is a male companion of Dionysus with goat-like features and often permanent erection. In Roman Mythology there is a concept similar to satyrs, with goat-like features: the faun, being half-man, half-goat.
The satyr's chief was Silenus, a minor deity associated with fertility. They are lovers of wine and women, and they are ready for every physical pleasure. They roam to music, and they love to chase maenads or bacchants. Because of their love of wine, they are often represented holding wine cups, and they appear often in the decorations on wine cups.
Satyrs were widely seen as mischief-makers who routinely played tricks on people. Comically hideous, they have mane-like hair, bestial faces, and snub noses and are always shown naked. Satyrs were characterized by their ribaldry and were known as lovers of wine, music, dancing, and women.

They often attempted to seduce or rape nymphs and mortal women alike, usually with little success.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Captain Henry Morgan & the Lost Inca Treasure

On January 28, 1671, Captain Henry Morgan led a daring raid on Panama City, which at that time was the richest city in the Americas. In the process, he escaped with one of the greatest hauls in history. By 1670, Spanish forces were starting to threaten Jamaica, which was under English control. The legendary Captain Morgan was given authority to wage war on Spain. Outfitted with letters of marque from Britain, Captain Henry Morgan had extra incentive to attack high-value targets. He assembled a fleet of thirty-six ships and some 2,000 men. He considered several cities before finally settling on the infamous Panama City.
Morgan spent several weeks in Panama and eventually left with 175 mules loaded with gold, silver, and jewelry.

The haul was relatively light due to the fact that a few treasure-laden Spanish vessels managed to flee the harbor. There were accusations that Morgan left with the majority of the plunder. Morgan died on 25 August 1688; a state funeral laid Morgan's body at King's House for the public to pay respects. An amnesty was declared so that pirates and privateers could pay their respects without fear of arrest.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea

The Crimea - Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea is at the Allard Pierson historical museum in Amsterdam. Rare archaeological finds are still caught in the middle as both the Ukrainian government and Crimean museums claim ownership. The exhibition included items from four museums in Crimea and one museum in Kiev. In August 2014, the museum returned the artifacts it borrowed from the National Museum of History of Ukraine. It still retains 572 disputed items.
For now, the artifacts are in the legal care of the Allard Pierson Museum, which will keep hold of them until all appeals are settled.
See ----->Scythians: Warriors and Master Goldsmiths
See ----->Ancient Scythian Gold sparks spat between Russia, Netherlands

Friday, 15 March 2019

Gold parting via salt cementation

Gold and silver are quite similar on a chemical level and are often found together forming an alloy known as electrum. Electrum wasn't always desirable.

When coinage started gaining popularity a means to standardize the purity of the gold and silver was required. The first technique of gold parting was invented: salt cementation. Salt cementation involves adding gold/silver alloy, some burnt clay or old brick dust, salt, and urine to moisten it. The mixture is sealed and heated, but not hot enough to melt the gold – less than 1000°C.
In about 24 hours, the gold will be nearly silver-free at around 90% purity or greater. When heated in the presence of silica and alumina (found in the clay/brick dust), salt breaks down to form hydrochloric acid and chlorine. The acidity in urine helps decomposition. The hydrochloric acid from this reaction interacts with the silver to create silver chloride, which separates from the gold. When that occurs, the reaction is volatile – which is why it's sealed.

After removing the gold, one can convert the silver chloride back into silver, giving you two separate, purified samples of precious metals.
See ----->Gold of Croesus

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Greek Armour

Surviving bronzes from Greece’s classical period (fourth century BC) are rare, with our knowledge based on Roman marble copies. Functional items such as fourth-century BC cavalry armour—helmet, cuirass and greaves, all highly decorated ... are extraordinary survivals. As combat in ancient Greece was mainly hand to hand, armor was usually light and allowed for free movement of the arms.
In 2017 an ancient Greek Corinthian helmet was found in a 5th century BC grave in the Taman Peninsula. Corinthian helmets appeared in Greece around the 6th century BC.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Ancient Glass; “Drink That You May Live"

Inscribed Cup, Roman, Eastern Mediterranean, possibly Syrian, 3rd–4th century A.D. Free-blown glass with gold leaf.

Jar with Sixteen Handles, Roman, Eastern Mediterranean, 4th–5th century A.D. Free-blown glass

A bowl from Hellenistic or Roman society, Eastern Mediterranean, late 2nd century B.C.–early 1st century A.D.
Roman cobalt blue glass amphoriskos

Cameo Glass Skyphos, Roman, c. 25 B.C - 25 C.E
The history of glass-making can be traced back to 3500 BC in Mesopotamia. They may have been producing second-rate copies of glass objects from Egypt, where the craft actually originated. The earliest known glass objects, of the mid second millennium BC, were beads. Glass products remained a luxury until late Bronze Age civilizations seemingly brought glass-making to a halt.

An exhibit at Yale University Art Gallery presented an array of jewelry, cups, bowls, pitchers, flasks, bottles, cosmetic vials and jars from the ancient world. The title of the exhibit, “Drink That You May Live” was drawn from one of the objects in the exhibit — a line also seen on other Roman drinking vessels of antiquity.
Naturally occurring glass, especially the volcanic glass obsidian, has been used by many Stone Age societies across the globe for sharp cutting tools and was extensively traded. As glassmaking processes grew and changed, glass came to replace silver and gold as the most popular medium for drinking vessels.

By the 1st century AD, glass blowing emerged. Production of raw glass was undertaken with large scale manufacturing, primarily in Alexandria. Glass was a commonly available material in the Roman world.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Strongest known solar storms blasted Earth in 660 B.C.

Greenland’s ancient ice sheet holds evidence of a solar storm that struck Earth more than 2,600 years ago. Researchers found radioactive evidence of an “extreme solar event” that occurred around the year 660 BC.

It’s unclear how common such extreme events are; satellite- and ground-based instruments have tracked them for only about 70 years. To look farther back in time, researchers hunt for spikes in cosmogenic radionuclides such as carbon-14 — recorded in tree rings — or beryllium-10 and chlorine-36 — preserved in ice cores. Such radionuclides form when cosmic rays interact with molecules in Earth’s atmosphere.
The abundance of the radionuclides in the ice suggested that the 660 B.C. event was about 10 times more powerful than a 1956 event, the strongest solar storm recorded by instruments.

The only known solar storm to rival the ancient storm’s power occurred in A.D. 774–775, an event also recorded in tree rings and ice cores.

Monday, 11 March 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.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

World's Oldest Coins

One of the world’s oldest coins was recently sold in Germany for over  $380k. Issued between 600 and 625 B.C., this coin is unique because of the stamp of Phanes. The exact identity of Phanes remains unknown. “I am the badge of Phanes” is one of the English translations of the stamp. The words can also be translated as the more cryptic “I am the tomb of light.” Since Phanes was the god of light, and also the word for light, the ancient words can be interpreted in many different ways.

There are four examples of these types of coins. Known as “Staters of Phanes,” the denomination is one stater. A stater is an early currency of ancient Greece. Denominations began at 1/96, and went up to one stater. There were seven total denominations. Only the two highest had the Phanes stamp.
One of the oldest coins known was discovered in Efesos, an ancient Hellenic city and prosperous trading center. The 1/6 stater was made from electrum, a natural occurring alloy of gold and silver. It originated in Lydia.

The ancient stater was hand struck. A die with a design for the obverse (front) of the coin was placed on an anvil. A blank of metal was placed on top of the die, and a punch hammered onto the reverse. The result was a coin with an image on one side and a punch mark on the other.
Electrum Stater Of Miletos. Several Greek cities as well as the Lydian kings began minting the first coins by stamping the badge of their city into one side of a standard weight lump of electrum and various punches into the other. These were used to facilitate trade by certifying that the intrinsic value and weight of the metal was guaranteed by the issuing authority.

Of these early coins, those of Miletos (600-550 BC), are probably the finest.
In 2014 A diver found what is believed to be the oldest gold coin ever discovered in Bulgaria. The ancient coin was found in shallow waters near the resort town of Sozopol on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.

The coin was minted in Lydia in the second half of the seventh century BCE, which puts the coin’s age at around 2750 years. Sozopol was founded as a colony of the Greek city state of Miletos about 611 BCE – first named Antheia, it was later known as Apollonia. The coin weighs 0.63 grams and has a denomination of 1/24 of a stater.

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Saturday, 9 March 2019

Infamous Guns at Auction

Two guns once owned by Bonnie and Clyde sold for over half a million dollars. Clyde Barrow's 1911 Colt .45-caliber automatic sold for $240,000. Bonnie Parker's .38-caliber Detective Special that she had taped to her thigh when she was killed in a hail of gunfire in 1934 sold for $264,000 to the same bidder.

An online bidder paid $130,000 for a .45-caliber Tommy gun and $80,000 for an 1897 12-gauge shotgun that were seized from one of the duo's hideouts in Missouri in 1933. Lawmen seized the weapons on April 13, 1933 after a bloody raid on an apartment in Joplin where the Barrow Gang were holed up. Two lawmen were killed while the gang escaped.

Al Capone’s Colt .25 semi-automatic pistol sold for over $16,000 in 2012.
His Colt .38 revolver sold for $110,000 at a Christie's 2011 auction in London.

John Dillinger's derringer, a miniature pistol that was found in the outlaw's sock when he was arrested in 1934 sold for $45,000.

The wooden gun Dillinger famously used to escape from the Crown Point, Indiana jail sold for $19,000.

A purse pistol Jesse James gave his wife, Zee, to commemorate the birth of their daughter sold for $20,000.

On October 5, 1892 five members of the Dalton Gang rode into the small town of Coffeyville, Kansas. After a failed bank robbery, the ensuing firefight killed four townspeople and four members of the Dalton Gang.

$ 50,000.
Hitler received this pistol as a gift on his 50th birthday from Carl Walther. It sold in 1987 for $114,000

The 44.-caliber Smith & Wesson that killed Jesse James: $350,000
This Colt Single Action Army .45 revolver is believed to have belonged to Jesse James. In 2013 Texas-based Heritage Auctions attempted to auction it with a starting bid of $400,000.
The gun that Lee Harvey Oswald used to assassinate President John F. Kennedy is a Mannlicher-Carcano bolt-action 6.5mm caliber Italian surplus military rifle. He bought it through a mail-order company for $12.78.