Thursday, 28 December 2017

How Eratosthenes calculated the Earth's circumference

In the mid-20th century, satellites determined the exact circumference of the Earth, 40,030 km. But over 2,000 years earlier in ancient Greece, a man arrived at nearly that exact same figure by putting a stick in the ground. That man was Eratosthenes. A Greek mathematician and the head of the library at Alexandria.

The idea of a spherical Earth was floated around by Pythagoras around 500 BC and validated by Aristotle a couple centuries later.

Monday, 25 December 2017

The Tyrant Collection

When Edward VIII became King of England, the Royal Mint prepared five proof sets of the coins bearing his portrait, and these were scheduled to be issued in January of 1937. But on December 11, 1936, Edward VIII abdicated. By this act, Edward VIII became the only king of England for whom no coins were issued as money within the United Kingdom.
The Prince of Wales, (1894 - 1972)

This Ptolemy IV gold octodrachm (circa 202-200 BC) is one of the collection's highlights
The Tyrant collector has been assembling what is the world’s most valuable coin collection in private hands, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Excessively rare with only 8 recorded specimens, the Marcus Junius Brutus, d. 42 BC. Gold Aureus (8.07 g), was struck at a traveling mint in Macedonia or Western Asia Minor, in summer/autumn 42 BC. A choice example made $ 525,000 in 2010.

Gold Roman aureus issued by Marcus Junius Brutus

Sunday, 24 December 2017

St Nicholas burial site

The church in the small coastal town of Demre is one of Christianity's most legendary sites. St Nicholas' body is believed to have laid in a tomb inside the church before being stolen by Italian thieves.

But using radar technology, Turkish archaeologists preparing for restoration work detected another tomb 5ft beneath the marble slabs which make the church's floor. One theory is that the tomb shifted underground during an earthquake and has remained undiscovered.

A well-worn church behind a scruffy shopping square in a small Turkish town has been described as the original Santa's grotto.
St Nicholas is believed to have been born 270 years after Jesus and lived in Demre for most of his life. Inspired by the message of Jesus, he sold all his possessions and gave out the cash to the poor. His legend for gift-giving gave rise was the inspiration behind Santa Claus.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Christmas: The meaning behind the word


Brain being pulled out of the nose with a hook.
When you wish someone a Merry Christmas, you are really wishing them a merry burial, a historian claims. The word Christmas has its origins in ancient Egypt, deriving from the word ‘krst’ meaning ‘at rest’ in the sense of a burial or dead, according to Malcolm Hutton. The word ‘krst’ appears on most coffins which contain Egyptian bodies. Egyptians often referred to mummified bodies as ‘The Anointed’ because the body had been anointed with embalming fluid and natron - a salt mixture blended with oil and used for cleaning the body.

The connection between Christ and anointed was made explicit in both Hebrew and Greek. In Hebrew, anointed translates as ‘Masiah’ (or ‘Messiah’) while in Greek it means ‘Christós’.

Monstrance, a vessel in which the consecrated Host is exposed.
Traditionally, "Christmas" is thought to be a shortened form of "Christ's mass". Some Roman Catholic monstrances - used in the Benediction blessing - still have the image of Ra with a bull’s head below it.

“It was the Church that did the hijacking, taking from the Ancient Egyptians.”

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Archaeologists discover Roman harbor in ancient Greek port

Archaeologists carrying out excavations in Lechaion, once the main harbor town of ancient Corinth, have discovered impressive Roman engineering underneath the waves.
The ancient city of Corinth, located on the Peloponnese peninsula of southern Greece, was once a strategic city of great importance with access to the Mediterranean trade routes. It was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BCE.

The mysterious island monument in an area of the Inner Harbour was dated to the early 1st century AD. It was likely built as part of a Roman building program designed to help restore Corinth. The area was destroyed by an earthquake sometime between 50-125 CE. Experts speculate it may be the first evidence of the earthquake of 70 CE recorded during the reign of the Roman emperor Vespasian (69-79 CE).

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The Oxus Treasure


Cyrus the Great
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 about 1877-1880 in Takht-i Kuwad, Tadjikistan. It is the most important surviving collection of gold and silver from the Achaemenid period. (6th-4th century BC)
The Achaemenid Dynasty built an empire (559–330 BC) which, at its peak, spanned three continents.

In sheer 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.

Ayaz Kala of Khwarezm (Chorasmia), today desert but in ancient times green and lush.

Kaakha fortress, overlooking the Panj river.

The formidable walls surrounding the ruins of Bactra, adjacent to modern-day Balkh.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Gold leaf from Napoleon's crown makes €625,000

A golden laurel leaf from Napoleon's crown went under the hammer. Napoleon crowned himself emperor at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris in 1804, famously taking the Roman-style laurel wreath and putting it on his own head, instead of letting Pope Pius VII do the honors.

At a fitting for the crown leading up to the spectacular event, Napoleon had complained that it was too heavy. So goldsmith Martin-Guillaume Biennais took six leaves out of the crown, later giving one to each of his six daughters. The original wreath was melted down after Napoleon's fall in the wake of the Battle of Waterloo.

The crown, modelled on the one worn by the ancient Roman caesars, is the centerpiece of Jacques-Louis David's monumental painting, "The Coronation of Napoleon" at the Louvre.
The crown Napoleon wore at his coronation had 44 large gold laurel leaves and 12 smaller ones. It cost him 8,000 francs, with the box it was stored in setting him back a further 1,300 francs.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Royal Mint Unleashes The Red Dragon of Wales


Dragons are found in legends all over the world, and are associated with strength, wisdom and power.
The coin for The Red Dragon of Wales, struck at The Royal Mint’s home in South Wales, captures the spirit of the Welsh nation.

The Red Dragon was an emblem of Owen Tudor, the grandfather of Henry VII. Henry’s troops carried a fiery red dragon standard at the Battle of Bosworth.
The Red Dragon emerged from heroic traditions of King Arthur and his father Uther Pendragon, to become a Royal Beast of the Tudor monarchs. From there it has become the emblem of the modern Welsh nation.

Friday, 8 December 2017

245m year old 'Darth Vader' horseshoe crab fossil found

An uncanny resemblance to an evil villain has earned a fossilized crab the honour of being named after Darth Vader. The unusual shape of the extinct horseshoe crab species bears a striking similarity to the famous helmet of the Star Wars character.

The 245-million-year-old species, whose remains date from the Triassic period, have been dubbed Vaderlimulus tricki, after the Dark Lord of the Sith.
It is the first fossil of its kind from the Triassic Period to be found in North America. When this creature was alive, it would have lived on the supercontinent of Pangea.

Already ancient at that time, horseshoe crabs date back nearly 500 million years and surviving fossils are extremely rare. Today only four similar species remain alive and their numbers continue to dwindle.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Scientists unveil skeleton of ancient human ancestor

Researchers in South Africa have unveiled what they call "by far the most complete skeleton of a human ancestor older than 1.5 million years ever found." The skeleton dates back 3.6 million years. Researchers say it has taken 20 years to excavate, clean, reconstruct and analyze the fragile skeleton.
The skeleton, dubbed Little Foot, was discovered in the Sterkfontein caves, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of Johannesburg when small foot bones were found in rock blasted by miners.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Jonathan, St. Helena's famous ancient tortoise


In his time on St Helena he has seen 28 British governors come and go.
Jonathan the giant tortoise is perhaps the world's oldest land animal, living in pampered luxury on the remote British island of St. Helena. Aged at least 185 -- though no one knows for certain -- Jonathan should prepare himself for an influx of visitors now that an airport has opened on the small island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. The island's most famous resident, Jonathan slowly roams the lush gardens of the governor's house, eating carrots, lettuce, cucumber, apples and pears prepared in the governor's kitchen.
He appears on the island's five-pence coin, on immigration stamps, and in old black-and-white photographs alongside Boer War prisoners in the early 20th century. Jonathan originates from the Seychelles but his arrival on St. Helena remains a mystery and the exact year is disputed. Some unconfirmed reports suggest 1882 -- a few decades after Napoleon died in exile on the island on 1821.

He is now blind, has no sense of smell and is already far beyond his life expectancy of 150 years -- but otherwise he is in good health with good hearing.

St. Helena, located 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers) from the African mainland, is one of the most remote places on Earth.