Thursday, 31 January 2019

The Seleucids

Seleukos I Nikator (The Victor), Founder and King of the Seleukid Empire of Syria, 312-281 BC.
The Seleucids were a Greek dynasty who ruled much of the Middle East from 312 to 64 BCE. There were about 28 Seleucid kings and one ruling queen. Ten died in the many wars of the era; many others were assassinated, often by relatives. Founder of the dynasty was Seleucus I, born in Macedonia about 369 BCE and a close companion of Alexander the Great. In 312 BCE he crossed the Syrian desert to recapture Babylon. This event marked Year 1 of the 'Seleucid Era'.

In 281 BCE, Seleucus crossed into Europe in an effort to conquer Macedonia. It ended poorly for him as he was murdered. His son, Antiochus I, became king. Antiochus II's son Seleucus II Callinicus came to the throne around 246 BC.
Seleucus II was soundly defeated by Ptolemy III of Egypt and then had to fight a civil war against his own brother Antiochus Hierax. A revival in Seleucid fortunes would begin when Seleucus II's younger son, Antiochus III, took the throne in 223 BC. Antiochus restored the Seleucid Kingdom to glory, temporarily.

A rare Silver Tetradrachm of the Seleukids
Grand plans put the empire on a collision course with the new power of the Mediterranean, the Roman Republic. At the battles of Thermopylae (191 BC) and Magnesia (190 BC), Antiochus's forces suffered resounding defeats. The decay of the empire had begun. By 100 BC, the once formidable Seleucid Empire existed only because no other nation wished to absorb them as they acted as a buffer. Mithridates was defeated by Pompey in 63 BC. Pompey saw the Seleucids as too troublesome and did away with both rival Seleucid princes. He made Syria into a Roman province and the Seleucids faded into history.
Pompey Magnus

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Etruscan Gold

Ear-stud decorated with a rosette surrounded by concentric bands. Gold with vitreous glass paste insets, 530–480 BC.
The Etruscan civilization dominated the north of what is now Italy from about 700 BCE until about 300 BCE. It is known that they had a language not related to that of the Italic tribes. Etruscan kings ruled in Rome and other Italian city states.
Their arts flourished, including outstanding goldsmithing. The Etruscans took great pleasure in wearing ostentatious gold jewellery. Etruscan metalworkers produced many fine items not only in gold, but also in bronze and silver. The gold jewellery was often ornamented with filigree (fine wire) and granulation (tiny gold granules) formed into patterns. This latter technique has been mimicked in recent times but modern goldsmiths have never achieved the powder-fine granules of the Etruscan metalworkers.
Etruscan goldsmiths learned the basic technique of granulation from the Phoenicians, but the Etruscans took this technique to new heights of excellence and delicacy through extreme miniaturization. Granulation refers to the side by side application of tiny beads of gold. Twisted, or "corded" gold wirework was also applied to jewels in the Etruscan style.

Modern jewelers have been unable to duplicate the skill and fine precision of these ancient craftsmen.
Around 550 BC Etruscans started to engrave semi-precious stones like carnelian. Gem carving reached its apex from 480-300 BC.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Nasa asteroid alert as massive space rock makes pass - Update

NASA has released spectacular pictures of asteroid Bennu. NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at asteroid Bennu on 3 December 2018. Branded an "apocalypse asteroid", Nasa says it has a one in 2,700 chance of hitting our planet between 2175 and 2199.

It is about 500 metres across and would be capable of an explosive blast of 1,200 megatons in TNT equivalent, about 80,000 times the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Bennu will pass 750,000 km; 460,000 mi from Earth on 23 September 2060. The close approach of 2060 causes divergence in the close approach of 2135. On 25 September 2135, the nominal approach distance is 300,000 km; 190,000 mi from Earth, but Bennu could pass as close as 100,000 km; 65,000 mi.

The 2135 approach may cause Bennu to pass through a gravitational keyhole which could create an impact scenario. The keyholes are all less than 55 km wide.
In 2196 the odds are 1 in 11,000 of an Earth impact.
Nasa has issued a "close approach" alert for an asteroid – and says it'll even be joined by a second Earth-skimming asteroid on the same day. The good news is that asteroids regularly pass close to Earth. What Nasa considers 'close' in the case of 2013-CW32 is around 3,119,690 miles – about 14 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

That's a very good thing because 2013-CW32 is around 820 feet across (253 meters) and travelling at 36,775 mph. (59183 kph) For perspective, the 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor was estimated to be 20m and it caused an explosion 30 times stronger than the atom bomb over Hiroshima.
See ----->Spike in meteor impacts may be ongoing

Lefkandi in Evia

Terracotta sculpture found at Lefkandi (Euboea), 950 BCE.
Ancient Lefkandi is a coastal village on the island of Euboea, Greece. The settlement is where the first recorded war in Greek history was fought. Occupation at Lefkandi can be traced back to the Early Bronze Age, and continued to the early 4th century BCE.

Lefkandi was one of the locations settled by the Mycenaeans after the fall of Knossos. It is considered by historians as a link for the Mycenaean civilization into Greece.
The significance of the site was revealed in 1980 when a mound was found to contain two shaft graves under a structure called a "hero's grave." It held remains of a couple and four horses which were sacrificed. One of the bodies had been cremated, with the ashes stored in a bronze amphora. It's believed that the ashes were those of a man. The woman's body wasn't cremated. She was buried and adorned with jewelry. An iron knife with an ivory handle was found near her shoulder.

The Lefkandi Centaur, ca. 900 BCE
Six cemeteries were discovered on Euboea, dated between 1100–850 BCE. Rich grave goods in the burials included gold and luxury imports such as Egyptian faience and bronze jugs, Phoenician bowls, scarabs, and seals. The occupation at Lefkandi is unusual in that its residents seemed to have carried on with their Mycenaean social structure while the rest of Greece fell into disarray ... the 'dark ages'.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Museum displays Ancient Gold from Gallic Wars

10 gold coins discovered in Kent in 2016 have gone on display. The group of gold coins was found at a site near Chiddingstone Castle. The coins are thought to date from around 50 or 60 BC and would have probably been used to pay or bribe mercenaries fighting with the Gauls against Julius Caesar.

They were manufactured in the Amiens region of northern France.
During the middle of the 1st century BC an ambitious Roman proconsul named Julius Caesar began a lengthy 8 year war (The Gallic Wars) for control of Gaul (modern France and Belgium).

Caesar's success in Gaul laid the path for his eventual position as sole ruler of the Roman Republic.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Faustina (the elder) and the 5 good emperors

From about 96 CE to 180 CE, the Roman Empire was ruled by the “Five Good Emperors“. They were Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. One of the most telling aspects of this group is that each adopted his own successor based on merit, not strict inheritance. Historians believe this was responsible for the good governance. Faustina married the future emperor Antoninus around 110 CE. Upon Hadrian’s death in 138, Antoninus became the next Emperor of Rome and Faustina gained the title “Augusta”

Faustina suffered an untimely death not long into Antoninus’ reign, in about 141. Antoninus honored his beloved wife with a gold aureus. An NGC grade Choice Extremely Fine; Strike: 5/5, Surface: 3/5. made $ 4,500 at Goldberg.
See ----->The Five Good Emperors

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Silver in ancient Egypt

Gold was considered to be the skin of the ancient Egyptian gods and their bones were thought to be made of silver.

At the beginning of recorded history, silver may have been unknown to the ancient Egyptians. They could obtain gold and electrum, which was a natural alloy of silver and gold, from the mountains of the Eastern Desert and Nubia. Early Egyptian language lacks a word for silver. They described it only as the "white metal", and when they did run across it, they seem to have regarded it as a variety of gold.
When silver was introduced into Egypt, it probably was more valuable than gold. It was rare, and on lists of valuables, items of silver were listed above those of gold during the Old Kingdom.

Jewelry made of silver was almost always thinner than gold pieces, as indicated by the bracelets of the 4th Dynasty queen Hetephere I, in marked contrast to the extravagance of her gold jewelry.
By the Middle Kingdom, silver was less valuable than gold. By this time a much better supply of the metal had developed. During the 12th Dynasty, silver had acquired a value approximately half that of gold. By the 18th dynasty silver and copper had been established as a means of exchange.

Copper was valued at about one-hundredth the value of silver.
The rulers of the 21st and 22nd Dynasty, who were buried at Tanis used silver in their burials. Sheshonq II had a solid silver coffin with gilded details in the form of the hawk-god, Sokar.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

New theory on what killed Alexander the Great

There's been speculation over what caused the death of Alexander the Great ever since the event. Some think the 32-year-old suffered from typhoid fever, malaria, or was poisoned. A senior lecturer thinks the Macedonian king suffered from Guillain-Barre syndrome. It's a neurological disorder causing paralysis.

One of history's puzzles was why his body didn't decompose for six days. Ancients took that as proof that he was a god. The new theory suggests he was still alive, but had complete paralysis, with his breathing virtually undetectable.
Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks nerves. Weakness and tingling in the extremities are usually the first symptoms. The cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome is unknown, but it is often preceded by an infectious illness. As Guillain-Barre syndrome progresses, muscle weakness evolves into paralysis. Untreated it leads to respiration failure and death.

The symptoms and time course of Alexander's death are consistent with an infection and then Guillain-Barre syndrome.

See ----->Death of Alexander the Great