Saturday, 29 June 2019

Treasures of Ancient Greece: Life, Myth and Heroes

An exhibit of 150 ancient Greek artifacts opened at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. The exhibition features bronze and marble statues, gold jewelry and funerary objects.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Ancient Gold of Romania

What archaeologists called the "most sensational finds of the last century" surfaced not in a museum but at Christie's New York.
Among ancient jewelry for sale on December 8, 1999, was Lot 26, a spiraling, snake-shaped gold bracelet that was identified as a "massive Greek or Thracian gold armband."

Christie's estimated it would sell for as much as $100,000. When the bidding stalled at $65,000, the sale was called off—and the bracelet and its owner disappeared back into the shadowy underworld of ancient artifacts.

Lot 26, "massive Greek or Thracian gold arm band," circa 2nd-1st Century, B. C.
Lot 26 set off a search to recover the lost heirlooms of Dacia, an empire that was once a rival to ancient Rome. After nearly a decade of sleuthing more than a dozen similar bracelets have been found, along with hundreds of gold and silver coins. Their discovery has led to new insights into Dacian society and religion.

Sarmizegetusa was once the capital of the Dacians, a civilization crushed by the Roman Emperor Trajan in two bloody wars more than 1,900 years ago. The victory, Roman chroniclers boasted, yielded one of the largest treasures the ancient world had ever known: half a million pounds of gold and a million pounds of silver.

After his victory, Trajan took the spoils to Rome, where they paid for his famous forum. In that same complex, the Roman Senate erected a column dedicated to Trajan and illustrating the story of the wars. Sarmizegetusa was leveled and forgotten for centuries. But stories of Dacia's gold lived on, inspiring generations of peasants who lived nearby to dig in the steep valleys.

It wasn't until Romania's communist dictatorship collapsed in 1989 that dreams of striking it rich came true. Groups of local treasure hunters started using metal detectors (unavailable in communist times) to hunt for artifacts in the thick forests at the rugged site.
Treasure hunters hit the mother lode in May 2000, according to police. Their metal detector pinged over a stone slab about two feet wide, embedded in a steep hillside. Underneath, in a small chamber made of flat stones propped against each other, they found ten spiraling, elaborately decorated Dacian bracelets, all solid gold. Over the next two years, Romanian police say, looters found at least 14 more bracelets at Sarmizegetusa.
Sarmizegetusa's stolen gold was nearly lost. Recovering it involved a decade of sleuthing by Romanian prosecutors and museum curators. In all, Romanian authorities have recovered 13 hammered gold bracelets and more than 27.5 pounds (12.5 kilograms) of gold.
The recovered bracelets—now on display in Bucharest, are the only ones of their kind discovered in Romania. At least another dozen, including the one still known as Lot 26, remain missing.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Ephesus

Ephesus was an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia, three kilometres southwest of present-day Selçuk in İzmir Province, Turkey. It was constructed in the 10th century BC by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. During the Classical Greek era it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League.

The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC. Ephesus was famed for the nearby Temple of Artemis (completed circa 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Among many monumental buildings are the Library of Celsus, and a theatre capable of holding 25,000 spectators. Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia cited in the Book of Revelation. The Gospel of John may have been written there.
The Romans made Ephesus the capital of the Asian State, and the city became one of the biggest settlements in Anatolia. Today Ephesus is one of Turkey’s leading tourist attractions.
A extremely rare ancient Ephesus coin (625-600 B.C.) crossed the block in New York in 2018.

The electrum coin could be related to the god of light, Phanes. There are only two other known examples. It made $300k.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

The Ribchester Helmet

The Ribchester Helmet is a cavalry helmet dating to the Roman period in Britain. It was found in Ribchester, Lancashire, in the northwest of England. The Ribchester Helmet was not used for combat but served either a sporting or ceremonial purpose. The helmet is incredibly rare. Only two other examples, the Crosby Garrett Helmet and the Newstead Helmet, have been unearthed in Great Britain.

The Ribchester Helmet was discovered in 1796. The hoard was buried about 2.7 m (9 feet) in the ground and contained a mass of corroded metalwork.
The Ribchester Helmet has been dated to between the late 1st and early 2nd centuries AD. A Roman cavalry officer used the helmet, but it is clear that it was not meant to be worn in combat. The helmet may have been used in the hippika gymnasia (‘cavalry sports’). These exercises were meant to hone a cavalryman’s skills and to provide a display to entertain the troops.

The Crosby Garrett Helmet was discovered by a metal detectorist in 2010. An anonymous bidder bought the artifact for £2.3m.
See ----->The Crosby Garrett Helmet

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Vetranio - Temporary Emperor

Vetranio entered the army and served with distinction under the mighty Constantine I (AD 306-337), the first Christian ruler of Rome, who even during his lifetime came to be called "Magnus" -- The Great. Upon Constantine's death, the Roman Empire was split between his three surviving sons: Constantine II, Constantius II, and Constans.

In 340 CE, sibling bloodletting eliminated Constantine II and the survivors divvied up the spoils, with the West going to Constans.
For 10 months, Vetranio played the man in the middle, alternately professing loyalty to Constantius and telling Magnentius he might be open to an alliance.A coup toppled Constans early in 350, replacing him with Magnentius, who had no blood connection to the Constantinian dynasty. Magnentius quickly consolidated his power base. Commanding a large army at a critical crossroads between two rivals, Vetranio was in a delicate position.

Constantius
In December of 350, Constantius marched west and met Vetranio at Naissus in modern Serbia. On Christmas day Vetranio formally abdicated the throne. Constantius pensioned him off to an opulent estate in Bithynia.

Vetranio had played his difficult hand well, and enjoyed a better fate than most other men who claimed the top chair. Having two mints under his control, Siscia and Thessalonica, Vetranio struck coins both in his own name and that of Constantius II. His bronze coinage is scarce, the silver rare, the gold extremely rare.

Trajan - optimus princeps

Trajan (18 September 53 – 8 August 117 AD) was Roman emperor from 98 to 117 AD. Officially declared by the Senate optimus princeps ("the best ruler"), Trajan is remembered as a successful soldier-emperor who presided over the greatest military expansion in Roman history, leading the empire to attain its maximum territorial extent by the time of his death. Trajan was the first emperor born outside Italy.

Trajan is best known for his public building program, which reshaped Rome and left many landmarks such as Trajan's Forum, Trajan's Market and Trajan's Column.

In late 117, while sailing back to Rome, Trajan fell ill and died of a stroke in the city of Selinus. He was deified by the Senate and his ashes were laid to rest under Trajan's Column. He was succeeded by his adopted son Hadrian.
Early in his reign, he annexed the Nabataean Kingdom, creating the province of Arabia Petraea. His conquest of Dacia enriched the empire greatly, and paid for many of Rome's monuments.

In 107 Trajan devalued the Roman currency. He decreased the silver purity of the denarius from 93.5% to 89% – the actual silver weight dropping from 3.04 grams to 2.88 grams. This devaluation, coupled with the massive amount of gold and silver carried off after Trajan's Dacian Wars, allowed the emperor to mint a larger quantity of denarii than his predecessors.
See ----->http://psjfactoids.blogspot.ca/2016/11/ancient-gold-of-romania.html

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Antoninus Pius

138-161 AD. Aureus, 7.30g. Rome, 140-4 CEAntoninus Pius, also known as Antoninus, was Roman emperor from 138 to 161. He was one of the Five Good Emperors. He is remembered by history as a kind, just, and wise emperor. Antoninus Pius was an “Adopted Emperor”, where succession was a conscious decision, not a birthright.

After the death of Hadrian’s first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, on February 25, 138 CE, Antoninus was formally adopted by Hadrian. It was agreed that he would be made emperor with the provision that he would, in turn, adopt Marcus Aurelius.
His humanitarian efforts were significant, and he was loved by the Roman people. Antoninus Pius died in his sleep at the age of 74. His successor Marcus Aurelius spoke very highly of Antoninus: “Remember his qualities, so that when your last hour comes your conscience may be as clear as his.”

His last spoken word was “aequanimitas”, meaning equanimity – mental calmness and composure.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Harpy

In Greek and Roman mythology, a harpy was a half-human and half-bird personification of storm winds. Their name means "snatchers" or "swift robbers". They were generally depicted as birds with the heads of maidens, faces pale with hunger and long claws on their hands. Roman and Byzantine writers detailed their ugliness. Pottery art depicting the harpies featured beautiful women with wings. They are described as human-vultures.
The most celebrated story in which the Harpies play a part is that of King Phineus of Thrace, who was given the gift of prophecy by Zeus. Angry that Phineus gave away his secret plan, Zeus punished him by blinding him and putting him on an island with a buffet of food which he could never eat because the harpies always stole the food out of his hands.

Harpies remained vivid into the Middle Ages. In Dante's Inferno, the tortured woodland was infested with harpies, where the suicides have their punishment in the seventh ring of Hell.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Treasures of the Atocha

It is a pleasant September morning in the year of our Lord 1622. A Spanish galleon sits in the port of Havana, along with 27 other ships of the combined fleet, their crews awaiting departure orders.

The Nuestra Señora de Atocha ("Our Lady of Atocha") sits low in the water, weighed down by 964 silver bars, 161 gold bars or disks, 255,000 silver coins, and chests filled with emeralds.

The Atocha is a 20-cannon, 500-ton colossus. It's the rear guard of the fleet and includes soldiers. It's job is to protect the smaller and slower moving vessels.
The treasure arriving by mule to Panama City was so immense that summer that it took 2 months to record and load the cargo on the Atocha.

After still more delays in Havana, the convoy did not depart for Spain until 4 September 1622, a full six weeks behind schedule and well into hurricane season. On 6 September the Atocha was driven by a severe hurricane onto the coral reefs near the Dry Tortugas, about 35 miles (56 km) west of Key West.
The vessel quickly sank, drowning everyone on board except for three sailors and two slaves. They were all that remained of the 265 passengers and crew.

The Atocha had sunk in 55 feet of water, making it difficult for divers to retrieve any of the cargo.

A second hurricane in October of that year made attempts at salvage even more difficult by scattering the wreckage of the ship further.
Mr. Mel Fisher formed a company called Treasure Salvors and began searching in earnest for the much talked about Atocha.

His effort over a sixteen-year period from 1970 to 1986 lead to the discovery of the Santa Margarita in 1980 and the Atocha on July 20, 1985, her hull lying in 55 feet of water, exactly as recorded by the first salvagers in 1622.

A gold crucifix with inlaid Colombian emerald jewels went for $119,000.
40 items from his impressive cache went up for auction in New York on August 5, 2015.

A gold bar from the Atocha made $93,750.
The golden spoon was thought to be used by priests during Communion to convert South American natives. $62,000.

A gold chalice from the Margarita was the top selling lot, fetching $413,000.
A collection of shipwrecked 17th and 18th century Spanish treasure discovered off the coast of Florida sold in New York for about $2m.

The haul includes two spectacular gold chains, one called a 'money chain'. Fisher wore it on the 'Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson' soon after the ship's discovery.
__________________________

$75,000
In the Colonial era, the Spanish king placed a 20 percent tariff on gold bullion called the Royal Fifth.

But if the gold was turned into jewelry, the tax was forgiven. Each link of the 'money chain' is of equal size and weight and could be twisted off and used as formal currency.

Also up for auction was a Bezoar Stone, which was believed to remove poisons and toxins from liquids. The pendant, about the size of an egg, is encased in a gold mounting with four arms grasping the stone.
A magnificent emerald jewel from the lost Atocha. It made $ 410,000 in 2013

The Guernsey's sale also offered about 100 silver coins from the Atocha sister ship, the Santa Margarita, ranging from $1,000 and up.