Monday, 17 June 2019

The Kushan

Roman denarii were the first gold coins to appear in India, which had only previously seen copper and silver coins. Soon the Indian rulers of the day, the Kushan, copied the idea. Kushans, an Indo-European tribe who roamed the Asian steppes, expanded their empire into India in the 1st century AD.

By the time they reached India, the Kushan culture was a rich blend of Chinese, Iranian, Afghan, Greek and Indian customs, beliefs and modes of dress.
Much of what we know about the mysterious Kushans comes from studying their coinage, which is rich with symbolism. Vima Kadphises was the first to mint gold coins. His gold distater, or double-dinar, weighs in at 15.95 grams, twice the weight of the only other widely circulating gold coin of the time, the Roman aureus. His coin features the Hindu pantheon, but it also depicts the Buddhist triaratna (“three jewels”) symbol.

Kushan: Vasudeva I Gold dinar with 3-headed Siva

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Octavian and the Battle of Actium

Octavian was the son of Julius Caesar’s niece. Octavian was 20 years old when Caesar was assassinated. Caesar had adopted him as his son posthumously. In 43 BCE, he formed the Second Triumvirate with Marc Antony and Lepidus. They defeated Brutus and Cassius and divided the empire with Octavian holding most of the West and Antony the East.

In 33 BC, the Second Triumvirate ended, leaving Antony without legal authority. Octavian then began a campaign against him, declaring war against Cleopatra.
Octavian’s admiral Marcus Agrippa held Antony’s fleet back in the bay of Actium in Greece, slowly causing Antony’s men to lose faith. On September 2, Antony and Cleopatra managed to escape with a small force, leaving the rest of his army to surrender to Octavian. Antony and Cleopatra eventually took their own lives in August, 30 BCE.

The aureus as a denomination dates back only to about 80 BCE. Worth one hundred sestertii, the aureus represented a very large sum of money. It would not be until Augustus’ coinage reform in 23 BCE that the aureus would come into consistent use.

The aureus shown was minted while Octavian retained his name. His reign gave Rome a golden era known as the “Pax Romana” (Roman Peace) during which he served for 41 years.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Viking coin hoard found by cops in UK

A haul of Viking coins worth £500,000 uncovered during a police raid could “change British history”, according to a leading historian. Police seized the hoard of coins and a solid silver bar from properties in County Durham and Lancashire during an investigation. The items include coins from the reign of Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, and Ceolwulf II of Mercia.

King Alfred inflicted a major defeat on the Vikings in AD 878. Experts believe the coins belong to an undeclared hoard from the Viking army at that time. Alfred the Great created a unified kingdom of England.
Alfred the Great

Friday, 14 June 2019

Ice Age wolf found perfectly preserved in Russian permafrost

Scientists said it was an adult, about 25 per cent bigger than today's wolves.Russian scientists have found the head of an Ice Age wolf perfectly preserved in the Siberian permafrost. The wolf, which died 40,000 years ago, was discovered in the Russian Arctic region of Yakutia. It is so well preserved that its fur, teeth, brain and facial tissue are largely intact. The animal belonged to an ancient subspecies of wolf that lived at the same time as the mammoths and became extinct alongside them.

Famous Mythological Creatures

The Kraken. In Scandinavian mythology, the Kraken is a giant sea creature that attacks ships and is so huge that its body could be mistaken for an island. Accounts of the Kraken are believed to have originated from sightings of the giant squid, which can reach 18 meters in length.
The Griffin is a legendary creature with the head and wings of an eagle, and the body, tail, and hind legs of a lion. While griffins are common in the art and mythology of Ancient Greece, representations of griffins in ancient Persia and ancient Egypt date to as early as the 4th millennium BC. On Crete, archaeologists have uncovered depictions of griffins in the Bronze Age Palace of Knossos dating to the 15th century BC.
Medusa was a Greek monster. She had the face of an ugly woman with snakes instead of hair; anyone who looked into her eyes was immediately turned to stone. She was a priestess of Athena, devoted to a life of celibacy; however as punishment for marrying Poseidon she was cursed.

Medusa was beheaded by the hero Perseus, who used her head as a weapon until he gave it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield. In classical antiquity the image of the head of Medusa appeared in the evil-averting device known as the Gorgoneion.
The Banshee is a spirit creature originating in Irish folklore. She is said to scream when someone is about to die. The foretelling of death was seen as both a blessing and a curse.

The Bean Sidhe or Banshee haunts only the families of authentic noble stock and it is with great dread when her piercing "caoine" or keening is heard. The Banshee scream is always a death omen.
Mermaids. In ancient Syrian folklore there was a goddess named Atargatis. She was a fertility goddess whose cult eventually spread to Greece and Rome and was associated with water. Often depicted in mermaid form, Atargatis is perhaps the “original” mermaid. A Melusine, or siren, has two tails. This creature is from medieval legend. A Melusine was a beautiful woman that transformed into a serpent from the waist down while bathing. This always resulted in calamity.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Ancient Gold

The ancient Egyptians believed their gods had skin made from gold. The Aztec word for gold, teocuitlatl, literally translates as “excrement of the gods.” Gold has always had a very special relationship with humans. We may find ancient views quaint, but scientists have also struggled to fully understand the origins of gold. It was a puzzle how gold came into existence in the first place.

The answer only arrived in 2017 with the first ever detection of gravitational waves. Those waves were produced by the merger of two neutron stars in an event known as a kilonova.
The source of the gravitational waves contained the signatures of gold and platinum in significant quantities. At long last, humans had discovered the cosmic deity capable of excreting gold.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

A World of Emotions: Ancient Greece, 700 BC – 200 AD

Stater Of Pyrrhos I Nike Holding A Trophy 278–276 BC
Bringing to vivid life the people of ancient Greece, the Onassis Cultural Center New York presented the exhibition "A World of Emotions: Ancient Greece, 700 BC – 200 AD."

The exhibition brought together more than 130 ancient masterpieces.
Cup with Achilles Slaying Penthesileia, ca. 470–460 BC

Bronze vessel was made in Pharsalos about 370 BC.

Amphora with Scene of Achilles and Ajax Playing a Board Game 540 BC

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

80 shackled Greek skeletons to get display

In 2016 researchers found a mass grave near Athens containing more than 80 skeletons. The wrists of the skeletons were all bound in iron shackles.

Archaeologists believe they were part of a mass execution.
The skeletons were found in the Falyron Delta necropolis, between Athens and the port of Piraeus. It’s believed the victims were part of a failed coup plot, supporters of Cylon, who attempted to take over Athens. Cylon was an Athenian noble who attempted to seize power in the city in 632 BCE, where his father-in-law, Theagenes, was tyrant.

The coup was opposed, and Cylon and his supporters took refuge in Athena's temple on the Acropolis. Cylon and his brother escaped, but his followers were cornered by Athens' nine archons and killed.
The grisly find is a rare and extraordinary one. Greece’s Central Archaeological Council announced construction of an underground “shell” which will permanently protect and display the skeletons.

Monday, 10 June 2019

First dodo skeleton in 100 years sold at auction - $431k

The first nearly complete dodo skeleton in more than 100 years was sold at auction in 2018 - more than 350 years after the bird's last confirmed sighting by humans. Known for their slightly comical, ungainly appearance, the flightless birds - most closely related to pigeons - were last seen on the island of Maritius, their sole habitat, in 1662. It's believed the presence of humans brought about their extinction in just 70 years.
Dodos stood around 1m tall and would have weighed between 10 and 20kg. This dodo skeleton comes from a private collector, who started collecting bones in the 1970s and bought the majority then and in the 1980s.

Like most collectors, he spent years adding to his collection and it was only in the early 2000s that he realized he had enough bones (only lacking part of the skull and one set of claws - which have been reconstructed) to construct a skeleton. He then meticulously reassembled them to create as complete a specimen as possible.
Any newly discovered bones from the Mare aux Songes swamp - where the vast majority of dodo bones were found in the 19th century – will not be for sale. The Mauritian Government has now banned all exports of dodo bones.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Secret Room in Rome's Domus Aurea found

Archaeologists have found a secret, underground room inside Nero’s palace in Rome. The Domus Aurea (Latin, "Golden House") was a vast landscaped palace built by the Emperor Nero in the heart of Rome after the great fire in 64 AD had destroyed a large part of the city.The Domus Aurea complex covered parts of the slopes of the Palatine, Esquiline, Oppian and Caelian hills.
This statue may have represented Nero as the sun god Sol. Its size can only be approximated, as much of it has not been excavated. Some scholars place it at over 300 acres. Nero commissioned a colossal 35.5 m high bronze statue of himself, the Colossus Neronis.
Nero placed mosaics, previously restricted to floors, in the vaulted ceilings.

The Golden House was a severe embarrassment to Nero’s successors. It was stripped of its marble, its jewels and its ivory within a decade. Soon after Nero’s death, the palace and grounds were filled with earth and built over: the Baths of Titus were already being built on part of the site in 79 AD.
See ---->Tyrant Emperor Nero

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Gucci to fund restoration of Rome's Tarpeian Rock

The Tarpeian Rock, or Rupe Tarpea, suffered a mini landslide last year when chunks of the ancient cliff fell off.

Long neglected, the legendary site lies overgrown and overlooked on the southern side of the Capitoline Hill.
The rock is named for Tarpeia, a Vestal virgin and daughter of a Roman commander. When Rome was under siege by the Sabines, the story goes, she offered to betray the city. Tarpeia was flung to her death from what would henceforth be known as the Tarpeian Rock. Later Romans would use the site to put to death their most notorious criminals, who would be thrown headfirst off the drop. The gruesome punishment was reserved for traitors, murderers and rebels to serve as a warning to others.

'The Tarpeian Rock is close to the Capitol,' an old Roman saying went – in other words, even at the height of power, you're never far from a fall.
Italian authorities regularly turn to brands for the cash to preserve Italy's crumbling heritage. Bulgari announced earlier this year that it would clean up the Largo di Torre Argentina, the site where Julius Caesar is said to have been stabbed