Saturday, 27 February 2016

Tutankhamun: Hidden chambers inside tomb could hold treasure

Secret chambers discovered inside the tomb of ancient Egyptian King Tutankhamun may be hiding a treasure trove, Egypt's Tourism Minister, Hisham Zaazou, has claimed. He said that Egypt will make a formal announcement about the contents of the chambers in April.

British archaeologist Dr Nicolas Reeves had hinted at the presence of a secret passageway within the tomb of Tutankhamun or King Tut, in August 2015.

In November Egypt's antiquities ministry declared that there could be many hidden chambers inside the tomb.

Infrared thermography showed differences in the temperatures registered on different parts of the northern wall of the tomb. Reeves speculated that the tomb of King Tut was not ready when he died unexpectedly at 19 in 1323 B.C. and he was buried in a rush in what was originally the tomb of Nefertiti, who had died 10 years earlier.

Reeves’s claim about Nefertiti being the occupant of the secret crypt left experts skeptical. A mummy found in 1898 by archaeologist Victor Loret in tomb KV35 in the Valley of the Kings may be Nefertiti. Inscriptions, and later genetic analyses identified the mummy as the mother of Tutankhamun. DNA tests confirmed that he was the son of Akhenaten. His mother was confirmed to be one of Akhenaten's sisters or cousin, most likely Nefertiti.

Canoptic jar of Kiya, a secondary wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten
The hidden chamber may contain the mummy of Kiya, a wife of the pharaoh Akhenaten. Other possibilities include the elusive pharaoh Smenkhkare, or queen Meritaton, the full or half sister of Tutankhamun. It's also possible that nothing at all will be found. The discovery of treasure within the hidden chambers of King Tut's tomb would be a "Big Bang of 21st century" according to Zaazou.

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Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Amazing Artifacts

Mjöllnir amulets - In Norse mythology, Mjölnir is the hammer of Thor, a major Norse god associated with thunder. Mjölnir is depicted in Norse mythology as one of the most fearsome weapons, capable of leveling mountains. In Norse mythology the hammer was made by the dwarven brothers Sindri and Brokkr.

The discovery of a 10th century Viking artifact resembling the Hammer of Thor has solved the mystery surrounding amulets found across Northern Europe. The relics, known as Mjöllnir amulets, appear to depict hammers but this could not be concluded with certainty. In 2014 another similar pendant was found in Købelev, on the Danish island of Lolland, which contained the runic inscription “this is a hammer”. Cast in bronze, and likely plated with silver, tin and gold, the 1,100-year-old pendant shows that Thor’s myth deeply influenced Viking jewellery.

The Nebra Sky Disc is a 3,600-year-old bronze disc so extraordinary it was thought to be an archaeological forgery. Scientific analysis revealed that it is authentic. The Nebra Sky Disc was discovered in Ziegelroda Forest, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It had been ritually buried along with two swords, two axes, two spiral arm-rings and one bronze chisel.

The disc measures approximately 30 cm in diameter, weighs 2.2 kg, and is decorated with a blue-green patina and inlaid with gold symbols. These are interpreted generally as a sun or full moon, a lunar crescent, and stars. Two golden arcs along the sides were added later. The two arcs span an angle of 82°, correctly indicating the angle between the positions of sunset at summer and winter solstice at the latitude of the Mittelberg (51°N).

While much older earthworks such as the Goseck circle or Stonehenge had been used to mark the solstices, the disc is the oldest known "portable instrument" to allow such measurements.
The James Ossuary is believed by some to be one of the most precious Biblical artifacts of all time, as the limestone box is said to have held the bones of the brother of Jesus.

The first century AD burial box contains an Aramaic inscription that reads "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." The box was carved from a single piece of limestone, which was typical of burial boxes used by Jews of first-century Palestine. In those days, bodies were left in a cave for a year before the bones were collected and put in a box. The limestone box has been a controversy for decades.

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) tried to prove in court that the item was forged by Oded Golan, but they failed. They then tried, and failed, to gain ownership. It is alleged that it was vandalized by the Israeli government before being returned.
Strange figurines were unearthed in 1919, during the first excavation of the Tell Al’Ubaid archaeological site in Iraq. 7,000-year-old artifacts depicting humanoid figures with lizard-like characteristics, including long heads, almond shaped eyes, long tapered faces and a lizard-type nose where found. Some appear to be wearing a helmet and have some kind of padding on the shoulders. Other figurines were found to hold a staff or scepter, possibly as a symbol of justice and ruling.

Male and female figurines were found in different postures, but the strangest of all are the female figurines holding babies suckling milk, with the child also represented with lizard-like features.

In 1808, William Cunnington discovered the crown jewels of the 'King of Stonehenge'. They were found within a large Bronze Age burial mound ½ mile from Stonehenge. Within the 4,000-year-old barrow, Cunnington found ornate jewellery, a gold lozenge that fastened his cloak, and an intricately decorated dagger. The dagger was originally adorned with up to 140,000 tiny gold studs just a third of a millimetre wide.

To create the studs, the craftsman had to first create an extremely fine gold wire, a little thicker than a human hair. The end of the wire was then flattened to create a stud-head, and cut with a very sharp obsidian razor, just below the head. This delicate procedure was repeated tens of thousands of times. Thousands of tiny holes were then made in the dagger handle and a thin layer of tree resin was rubbed over the surface as an adhesive to keep the studs in place. Each stud was then carefully placed into its miniscule hole.

The entire process – wire manufacture, stud-making, hole-making, resin pasting and stud positioning – would have taken thousands of hours to complete.

The Trundholm Sun ‘Chariot’ is a bronze and gold artifact pulled out of a bog on the Danish island of Sjælland in 1902. It is said to belong to the Nordic Bronze Age (c. 1700-500 B.C.)

The ‘chariot’ consists of a bronze horse, a bronze disc with a thin sheet of gold pressed into one side, and 6 four-spoke wheels made also of bronze. Apart from being a ritual object, it has also been suggested that the Trundholm Sun ‘Chariot’ may have functioned as a calendar. The golden day side has dimensions associated with one third of a Solar year, while the night-side of the large central concentric circle has dimensions linked to six lunar months.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Winnipeg researcher discovers Queen Hatshepsut artifacts

Mummified remains of Queen Hatshepsut, ancient Egypt's most famous female pharaoh, lie in a glass case at the Cairo Museum
Researchers at the University of Winnipeg claim to have found what they believe are belongings of an ancient Egyptian queen. The artifacts were found among a collection of 450 ancient relics at the university.

Luther Sousa identified two wooden objects — one, a miniature hoe, and the other a set of miniature rockers — in the collection which he believes belonged to Queen Hatshepsut, the first ever woman pharaoh to rule ancient Egypt. Hatshepsut is said to be one of the most powerful female monarchs who ruled for 21 years from 1479 to 1458 BC. She declared herself pharaoh after the death of her husband-brother Tuthmosis II.
The university acquired the Hetherington collection in the early 1900s.

Sousa found hieroglyphs that represented Queen Hatshepsut's throne name — Maatkare — on a hoe that's about a 30 centimetres long and a wooden rocker about 15 cm long.
The hoe and rocker are from a foundation deposit, Sousa said. "Before the construction of a temple or a tomb, they would dig a pit and they would put things of cultural significance, religious significance, into this pit before the temple was built," The hoe and rocker are examples of what was used to build temples in ancient Egyptian times. The miniatures represent the construction of the temple, it's commemoration.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Hollywood Prop Money

In Hollywood, massive stacks of paper banknotes remain one of the most enduring movie symbols of wealth and excess. No one buys drugs or pays their hitman via credit card.

Perhaps most striking of all are scenes in which huge amounts of money are treated with cavalier disrespect. When watching the on-screen clips of huge amounts of money, it’s rare to see real banknotes – the world of fake movie cash is governed by strict laws.

In the early days of Hollywood, counterfeiting laws prevented the use of real banknotes in film. But in 1920, when the Mexican revolution came to an end, large quantities of Mexican currency hit the market, and were acquired by film studios looking for a substitute for US money. According to the website Paper Money of Sonora, the most common were the $5, $10 and $20 notes from the Banco del Estado de Chihuahua.
When the real Mexican notes ran out, studios began to produce their own mock-ups, based on the original designs (some of which featured the studio's name).

In the 1970s, filmmakers began to demand more realistic-looking money. Strict legal guidelines must be followed. US laws demand that fake cash be one-sided, and less than 75 per cent or more than 150 per cent the size of a real bill.

The Breaking Bad cash pile
The risks of producing too-realistic money were aptly demonstrated during the filming of the 2001 Jackie Chan action comedy Rush Hour 2. A pivotal scene required an explosion at a Vegas casino, during which hundreds of thousands of fake banknotes were shown falling through the air.

But the fake notes, supplied by the Hollywood prop company Independent Studio Services (ISS), were picked up by movie extras and passers-by, who then attempted to spend them along the Vegas Strip. Secret Service agents swooped in, confiscated more than $100 million worth of prop money, and promptly accused the prop maker of counterfeiting.

Banknote featuring Eddie Murphy as the Prince of Zamunda.
When it comes to movie prop collectors lack of realism in a banknote can actually increase its appeal. Many banknotes are custom made for their respective films, often because the movie's plot requires a specific type of note.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Repatriated antiquities focus of new Egyptian exhibition

Royal relief repatriated from England
CAIRO - Nearly 200 antiquities smuggled out of Egypt and repatriated from eight countries are featured in a new exhibition at the Egyptian Museum.

"Repatriated Objects Exhibition: 2014-2015", runs until Feb. 29 and reflects the government's efforts to return smuggled items to Egypt, according to Mamdouh Eldamaty, the minister of antiquities. The items were recovered from France, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Belgium, Austria and South Africa.

Many of the objects were stolen during the uprising in Egypt 3 years ago.