Monday, 10 August 2020


LAMPSAKOS, Stater c. 360–340, Persic standard, AV 8.47 g. Obv. Laureate and bearded head of Zeus left, lotus-tipped sceptre on right shoulder. Rev. Pegasus flying right
Lampsakos was the first ancient Greek city state to see its gold coinage reach broad acceptance for international trade, a testament to its prosperity and influence. The stater of Lampsakos became very popular, circulating from Sicily to the Black Sea.

Sunday, 9 August 2020

The Jerusalem National Park Hoard

In January 2009 a hoard of gold coins was found in Jerusalem. The excavations were in the Giv‘ati car park in the City of David, in the walls around Jerusalem National Park.

A large building was uncovered that dated to about the seventh century. The hoard of 264 gold coins was discovered among the ruins of the building.

According to researchers, “Since no pottery vessel was discovered adjacent to the hoard, we can assume that it was concealed inside a hidden niche in one of the walls of the building. It seems that with its collapse, the coins piled up there among the building debris.”

All the coins bear the likeness of the emperor Heraclius (610-641 CE).
Different coins were minted during this emperor’s reign; however, all of the coins that were discovered in the City of David in Jerusalem belong to one well-known type in which the likeness of the emperor wearing military garb and holding a cross in his right hand is depicted on the obverse, while the sign of the cross is on the reverse.

These coins were minted at the beginning of Heraclius’ reign, between the years 610-613 CE, one year before the Persians conquered Byzantine Jerusalem (614 CE).

Saturday, 8 August 2020

The Oxus Treasure

The Oxus treasure is a collection of about 180 pieces of metalwork in gold and silver from the Achaemenid Persian period, found by the Oxus river in 1880 in Takht-i Kuwad, Tadjikistan.

It is the world's most important surviving collection of gold and silver to have survived from the Achaemenid period. (6th-4th century BC)
Cyrus the GreatThe Achaemenid Dynasty built an empire (559–330 BC) which, at its peak, spanned three continents.

In land mass, the Achaemenid Empire was the largest empire the ancient world had ever seen until 331-330 BC, when Alexander the Great toppled the Persian regime on his eastward march from the Mediterranean through Afghanistan to India.
The Persian Empire became the first to attempt to govern many ethnic groups on the principle of equal rights for all, so long as subjects paid their taxes and kept the peace. The king did not interfere with the local customs and religions of its subject states, a unique quality that fostered rapid growth.
The British Museum has nearly all the surviving metalwork from the hoard.

Juukan Gorge - Rio Tinto = $135m

Two 46,000-year-old heritage sites in the Juukan Gorge were destroyed by mining company Rio Tinto. After being approved for destruction in 2013, significant archaeological discoveries were made at the site in 2014. The destruction was one of the worst violations of an important archaeological site in recent memory. Experts compared the blast to the destruction of artifacts by the Islamic State.
Once gone they are lost forever.
A decision by Rio Tinto Group to destroy Juukan Gorge delivered about $135 million in extra value to its iron ore division, according to the miner’s top executive. Rio rejected three other options that would have avoided damaging the two rock shelters in Western Australia in order to access about 8 million tons of high-value ore, Chief Executive Officer Jean-Sebastien Jacques said. “The destruction of the rockshelters has triggered some reflection in our company.”

He is under increasing pressure to resign.

Friday, 7 August 2020

Shimao - China's Pompeii

Villagers in the hills of China’s Loess Plateau believed that the crumbling rock walls near their homes were part of the Great Wall. Locals, and then looters, began finding pieces of jade in the rubble. Jade is not indigenous to this part of Shaanxi Province, the nearest source is almost a thousand miles away.

The rubble was not part of the Great Wall but the ruins of a magnificent fortress city. Carbon-dating determined that parts of Shimao date back 4,300 years, nearly 2,000 years before the oldest section of the Great Wall was built. The ongoing dig has revealed more than six miles of protective walls surrounding a 230-foot-high pyramid.
80 human skulls with no bodies were found, suggesting human sacrifice.Shimao flourished for nearly half a millennium, from around 2300 B.C. to 1800 B.C. It is the largest known Neolithic settlement in China with its 1,000-acre expanse. Fortified walls eight feet thick and six miles long ringed the city. Suddenly and for fully unknown reasons, it was abandoned.

Only a small fraction of Shimao has been excavated so far.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Coinage of King Pyrrhus

EPIRUS. Pyrrhus (297–272 BC). Silver tetradrachm (16.56 gm). $60K in 2012.
After the particularly bloody Battle of Asculum in 279 BCE, Pyrrhus famously remarked: “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.” This would live forever in the phrase “Pyrrhic victory”.

The silver tetradrachms were a high-value coin and were struck with dies engraved by the most skilled artisans.

Pyrrhos, King of Epiros, (297-272 BC.), AV Stater, 8.55g, Struck in Syracuse, 278 BC. $180k.
To pay mercenaries needed to fight the Carthaginians, Pyrrhus produced a massive issue of gold staters and half staters at Syracuse. The finest engravers were hired to produce stunning designs.
See ----->Pyrrhic Victory

99 myo struggle captured in amber

A 99-million-year-old encounter between one of the earliest known ants and its prey, an extinct relative of the cockroach was preserved in amber. The ant grasps the victim’s neck between two sharp mandibles and a hornlike protrusion on its head.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Tyrian Purple

The ultimate status symbol in Ancient Rome was a set of robes died Tyrian purple. This colour, named for Tyre, its place of origin, was made from the Hexaplex trunculus snail. It took 13,000 snails to produce just 28 ml of dye, enough for the trim on one garment. In Republican Rome only the wealthiest men, the equites, were allowed to wear it, but in Imperial Rome it was restricted to just the Emperor, as a symbol of power.
Tyrian purple may first have been used by the ancient Phoenicians as early as 1570 BC. The dye was greatly prized in antiquity because the colour did not easily fade, but instead became brighter with weathering and sunlight. Its significance is such that the name Phoenicia means 'land of purple.' It came in various shades, the most prized being that of "blackish clotted blood".

True Tyrian purple, like most high-chroma pigments, cannot be accurately displayed on a computer display.
A Tunisian man has pieced together a secret linked to ancient emperors: how to make a prized purple dye using the guts of a sea snail. No historical documents clearly detail the production methods used. Production of the dye was among the main sources of wealth for the ancient Phoenicians, and then for the Carthaginian and Roman empires. Whole economies depended upon it's production.

Even today the dye can cost $2,800 per gram from some European traders, and prices can reach up to $4,000. To obtain one gram of pure purple dye, 100 kg of the ill smelling murex need to be shelled.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Ancient Roman slingshots deadly - and sarcastic

Leaden sling-bullets were widely used in the ancient world. For a given mass, lead, being relatively heavy offers the minimum size and minimum air resistance. In addition, leaden sling-bullets are difficult to see in flight and avoid. Worse, the projectiles had messages ... "Take This", "Here's a Sugar Plum For You", "This is a Hard Nut to Crack."
On a fortified hill called Burnswark in Scotland some 1,900 years ago a Roman army attacked local warriors by hurling lead bullets from slings that had nearly the stopping power of a modern .44 magnum handgun, according to experts. The assault must have been deadly effective, but Burnswark was just the opening salvo in a war against the tribes living north of Hadrian’s Wall. Despite their superior weaponry, Roman soldiers fought a tough, resourceful enemy capable of melting away into the hills and marshes.

Less than two decades after the Romans attacked Burnswark, they retreated south to Hadrian’s Wall.

Roman soldiers armed with slings used lead bullets to mow down foes.

Archaeologists also discovered ballista balls

Hadrian’s wall
The Romans also employed psychological warfare against the Scots. About 10% of the bullets had holes in them. Researchers cast replicas, and asked an experienced slinger to test them. The bullets with the holes made “a weird banshee-like wail”

Isotopic studies of bullets from Burnswark and from other well-dated sites suggests that the bloody battle took place around A.D.140, early in the reign of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius.

Metal detectorist lands silver coin hoard in Suffolk

One theory suggests the coins were buried by a wealthy landowner who had gone off to fight in the Civil War. Luke Mahoney, 40, discovered 1,061 silver coins on land belonging to The Lindsey Rose pub in Lindsey, Suffolk. The coins date to the 15th to 17th centuries.The earliest coin is an Elizabeth I era shilling dating to 1573-78, while it also contained a number of Charles I half crowns from 1641-43.

Monday, 3 August 2020

Khopesh - The Egyptian Sword that Forged an Empire

The Khopesh is an Egyptian sickle-sword that evolved from battle axes. These weapons changed from bronze to iron in the New Kingdom period.

The earliest known depiction of a khopesh is from the Stele of Vultures, depicting King Eannatum of Lagash wielding the weapon.
The khopesh dates to at least 2500 BC.
The khopesh evolved from the epsilon or similar crescent-shaped axes. It is a sword that was actually a hybrid between a sword and an axe. The khopesh went out of use around 1300 BC. Various pharaohs are depicted with a khopesh, and some have been found in royal graves, such as two examples found with Tutankhamun.

The khopesh was a solution to the limitations of bronze as a sword material. Bronze swords that were too long broke.