Thursday, 26 January 2023

Golden Boy mummy chock full of gold

The so-called "Golden Boy" mummy has revealed a hidden trove of 49 amulets, many of which were made of gold. The young mummy earned its nickname because of his dazzling display of wealth, which included a gilded head mask. The Golden Boy was originally unearthed in 1916 at a cemetery in southern Egypt and has been stored in the basement of The Egyptian Museum in Cairo ever since. Researchers think he was about 14 or 15 years old when he died because his wisdom teeth had not yet emerged. Researchers found amulets, comprised of 21 different shapes and sizes, were strategically placed on or inside his body.
A golden heart scarab was placed inside the thoracic cavity and a golden tongue inside the mouth. The amulets served important roles in the afterlife. The teenage mummy's tongue was capped in gold to enable him to speak and his sandals were to enable him to walk out of the tomb.
The heart scarab silenced the heart on judgement day so not to bear witness against the deceased. A heart scarab was placed inside the torso cavity during mummification to substitute for the heart if the body was ever deprived of this important organ. The Ptolemaic dynasty lasted for 275 years, from 305 to 30 BC.
Embalmers placed amulets during mummification to vitalize the dead body.

Scylla and Charybdis

Being between Scylla and Charybdis is an idiom derived from Greek mythology, meaning having to choose between two evils. Between a rock and a hard place is similar. Scylla and Charybdis were mythical sea monsters on opposite sides of the Strait of Messina between Sicily and the mainland. Scylla was a six-headed sea monster on the Italian side and Charybdis was a whirlpool off the coast of Sicily.
Avoiding Charybdis meant passing close to Scylla and vice versa.

According to Homer, Odysseus was forced to choose which monster to confront; he opted to pass by Scylla and lose only a few sailors, rather than risk the loss of his entire ship in the whirlpool.

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

DNA reveals fate of the mysterious Canaanites

When the pharaohs ruled Egypt and the ancient Greeks built their first cities, a mysterious people called the Canaanites dominated the Near East. Biblically, Canaanites are identified in Genesis as descendants of Canaan, a son of Ham and grandson of Noah. Their god Baal was worshipped in many ancient Middle Eastern communities, especially among the Canaanites, who considered him one of the most important gods in their pantheon.
Around 4000 years ago, they built great cities, yet they left no surviving written records, leaving researchers to piece together their history. One of those sources is the Bible’s Old Testament, which suggests a grisly end for many Canaanites: After the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, God ordered them to destroy Canaan and its people. Ancient DNA recovered from five Canaanite skeletons suggests that they survived to contribute their genes to millions of people living today. The new samples come from Sidon, a coastal city in Lebanon.
Scientists found that the present-day Lebanese population is largely descended from the ancient Canaanites, inheriting more than 90% of their genes from this ancient source.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

Amazing Ancients

IONIA. Ephesus. AR Tetradrachm (15.22 gms), ca. 390-325. NGC EF, Strike: 5/5 Surface: 4/5. $2,200. Ephesus was an Ionian settlement at the mouth of the Cayster River. It rivaled and finally surpassed Miletos as the chief sea port and emporium of the trade of the Maeander valley. The city was most famous in ancient times for its sanctuary of the Ephesian Artemis. According to legend, the temple burned down on the night of the birth of Alexander the Great, into whose control the city passed in 334 B.C. The bee was the heraldic badge of the city. The stag was also closely associated with the goddess.
EUBOEA, Eretria. Circa 500-465 BC. AR Stater. Cow with head turned to the back right, scratching face with raised right hoof; E below; standing upon a groundline / Octopus within shallow incuse square Very rare.
BRUTTIUM, Rhegion. Circa 356-351 BC. AR Tetradrachm. Head of Apollo left, with long hair, wearing laurel wreath; [P]HΓINOΣ upward to right / Facing lion’s head. Superb EF, faint golden toning around devices. From the Collection of Sheik Saud al-Thani. (hammer $130,000 in 2008)
Aegina, Stater ca. 445-431, AR 12.29 g. Turtle seen from above. Rev. Large skew pattern. SNG Delepierre 1837. Mitchiner 304. Rare and in superb condition. Exceptionally well struck in high relief and complete, lightly toned and good extremely fine. $10,000

Monday, 23 January 2023

Dinosaur footprint poacher Bennward Ingram nailed

Alberta resident Bennward Dale Ingram, 39, along with three others, used power tools to excavate and remove fossils of dinosaur footprints that were a part of the Six Peaks Dinosaur Track Site in Northern B.C. He was sentenced to 25 days in jail and ordered to pay a $15k fine. A judge described the damage done to the Six Peaks Dinosaur Track Site near Hudson’s Hope as extensive when the men vandalized it in 2020. The sentencing describes the site as one of the most important in North America, with more than 500 dinosaur footprints. Austin McNolty also pleaded guilty and was handed a 30-day sentence and $23k in fines.

The document is Here.
“These tracks represent diverse dinosaurs from the Early Cretaceous epoch who walked on sandy ground 125 to 113 million years ago, following which their tracks were fossilized.” None of the fossils were recovered.
Judge Darin Reeves pointed to the “deliberate nature” of the act as an aggravating factor, noting the work took more than 2.5 hours and only stopped when the men realized there were witnesses present.

Göbekli Tepe in Turkey - Skull Cult

Göbekli Tepe was first discovered in 1996. An ancient site in southern Turkey, archaeologists believe it was built around 12,000 years ago, possibly as a holy site.
Archaeologists use “skull cult” to describe ancients who venerated skulls to the point of worship. Researchers recently found three such skulls at Göbekli Tepe, each with incisions along the sagittal axes of the head, or lengthwise down the center.
The skull pieces in Göbeklitepe are the oldest known carved skulls in the world, and may have once been placed in special niches around the monumental temples of Göbekli Tepe or hung on leather cords. There was a hole made in one of the pieces, and some of them were decorated with amber.

Friday, 20 January 2023

Roman Concrete

A study in the journal Science Advances found that calcium-rich mineral deposits called “lime clasts,” commonly found in Roman-era concrete, gave buildings and structures “a previously unrecognized self-healing capability.” The deposits are not found in modern concrete. Such deposits are viewed as impurities by today’s concrete manufacturing standards. Aided by spectroscopic examinations and high-resolution, multiscale imaging and chemical mapping, researchers showed how lime clasts were used by Roman concrete-makers. The team produced samples of “hot-mixed concrete” using Roman and modern methods. After the materials hardened, scientists cracked the samples and ran water through the cracks.
The sample using ancient mixing techniques completely healed within two weeks, and water no longer flowed through the material. Meanwhile the modern concrete without the lime-clast structure never healed, and the water kept flowing through the sample. The Roman process involved a highly chemically reactive form of lime called quicklime.

Sunken structures off the Italian coast doesn't sound impressive but the marvel is in the material.
Roman concrete, 'opus caementicium', was a material used in construction until the fading of the Roman Empire. Roman concrete was based on a hydraulic-setting cement. Roman builders constructed seawalls and harbour piers that outlasted the empire. Tests revealed a rare chemical reaction, with aluminous tobermorite crystals growing out of another mineral called phillipsite.
The concrete, a mixture of volcanic ash and quicklime, has withstood the sea for two millennia.
The key ingredient proved to be seawater. As seawater percolated in the cracks in the Roman concrete it reacted with phillipsite found in the volcanic rock and created tobermorite crystals.
Microscopic image shows the lumpy calcium-aluminum-silicate-hydrate (C-A-S-H) binder material that forms when volcanic ash, lime, and seawater mix. It is even stronger than when it was first mixed.

Caesarea Concrete Bath
The Romans mined a specific type of volcanic ash from a quarry in Italy. Modern seawalls require steel reinforcement. The Romans didn’t use steel. Their reactive concrete was strong enough.

King Nebuchadnezzar II

Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II was the longest-reigning and most powerful monarch of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Between 589-586 BCE, he laid siege to Jerusalem, eventually entering the city and razing it and its Holy Temple complex to the ground. The Babylonian king's two sieges of Jerusalem (in 597 and 587 BC) are depicted in 2 Kings 24–25. The Book of Jeremiah calls Nebuchadnezzar the "destroyer of nations". In 605 BCE, after the battle of Carchemish, Judah became a vassal state under Nebuchadnezzar.
Egyptian military success against Babylon in 601 prompted vassal states, including Judah, to rebel.
This led to Nebuchadnezzar besieging Jerusalem in 597 BCE and conquering the city. Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah as a puppet king, but he also rebelled against his Babylonian rulers. As a consequence the Babylonian army besieged Jerusalem again, and this time they destroyed the city and the temple in 586 BCE.
Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II destroyed the temple, but it seems he did so out of neccessity in order to protect his interests as ruler, since the kings of Judah kept rebelling. The prophets make it clear that Nebuchadnezzar was an instrument used by God to punish the Israelites for their sins against God.

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Caligula with divine Augustus

Caligula (37-41). Aureus with the divine Augustus 37-38, Lyon. NGC Ch AU 5/5 2/5 marks. Very rare with the bare head of Caligula, only 3 copies known. Minimal contact marks otherwise of remarkable quality. €120000. When Tiberius died on 16 March AD 37, his estate and the titles of the principate were left to Caligula and to Tiberius' own grandson, Gemellus. Philo describes the first seven months of Caligula's reign as completely blissful. In October 37, Caligula fell seriously ill or was poisoned. He soon recovered from his illness but was changed.

Worst Roman Emperors

Caligula ruled from 37–41 CE. He became famous for his feats of carnage that exceeded that of Nero, his nephew. Caligula was cruel, depraved, and insane. In January 41 CE officers of the Praetorian Guard, led by Cassius Chaerea, killed him.

Elagabalus (218 to 222). Elagabalus's sin was not bloody, but acting unlike any Emperor. Writers told of his feminity, bisexuality, and transvestism.
Nero (AD 54 to 68) debased currency and confiscated senators' property and severely taxed to fund his palace, the Domus Aurea. Rome burned for nine days. Its said Nero used the fire to clear space for his palace. Nero blamed the Christians, executing thousands. Commodus (161–192) was a debauched and corrupt megalomaniac who viewed himself as reincarnated Greek gods. He too devalued Roman currency mercilessly, instituting the largest drop in value since Nero.
Domitian (51–96) was fearful and paranoid. Conspiracy theories consumed him, and some were true. He curtailed the Senate and expelled those he deemed unworthy. He executed officials who opposed his policies and confiscated their property. Domitian was assassinated in 96 CE. Tiberius (ruled AD 14–37) sank into morbid suspicion of everyone around him: he retreated to the island of Capri and revived the ancient accusation of maiestas (treason) and used it to sentence to death anyone he desired. Tiberius living on Capri is recorded as a depraved sexual predator.
Caracalla (AD 211–217) dealt brutally with opponents: he exterminated all of them. Caracalla quickly turned the surplus he inherited from his father into a deficit. He was assassinated by a group of army officers, including Praetorian prefect Opellius Macrinus. Diocletian (AD 284–305) conducted a ruthless persecution of Christians. Diocletian set about it's total eradication. Churches were destroyed, scriptures burnt, and Christians who refused to give up their faith were tortured and executed.

Tuesday, 17 January 2023

Shrinking dinosaurs became modern birds

It is known that modern birds evolved from dinosaurs, but a new study published in the journal Science shows that the key to this transformation was, for one particular group of giant lizards called theropods, to continually get smaller and smaller over a 50-million-year time span. Researchers present a detailed family tree of these dinosaurs and their bird descendants which maps out this transformation.
They showed that the branch of theropod dinosaurs which gave rise to modern birds were the only dinosaurs that kept getting smaller. These bird ancestors also evolved new adaptations four times faster than other dinosaurs. "Birds evolved through a unique phase of sustained miniaturisation in dinosaurs," says lead author Michael Lee, from the University of Adelaide's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.
"Being smaller and lighter in the land of giants, with rapidly evolving anatomical adaptations, provided these bird ancestors with new ecological opportunities, such as the ability to climb trees, glide and fly.
Ultimately, this evolutionary flexibility helped birds survive the deadly meteorite impact which killed off all their dinosaurian cousins." The study examined over 1500 anatomical traits of dinosaurs to reconstruct their family tree. The researchers used sophisticated mathematical modelling to trace evolving adaptions and changing body size over time and across dinosaur branches.
Paleontologists looking at fossils of meat-eating dinosaurs, particularly those that were small bipedal like the Veloceraptors, have pointed out years ago how they share an uncanny number of traits with modern birds: everything from wishbones, light hollow skeletons and three-fingered hands that folded like bird wings to an array of bright, complex feathers. Many of them also had some ability to glide, perhaps even fly.
A new fossil specimen of Archaeopteryx