|Mistakenly believed by its owner to be fake, a historic gold coin was authenticated as 'the discovery of a lifetime' by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation last year. It is only the fourth known surviving example of a $5 denomination coin struck at the San Francisco Mint in 1854. It made $ 2.16m. Mint records indicate 268 of these coins were made in the San Francisco mint in 1854, the first year they were produced.|
The other known coins have a history. One is located at the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian, and another was stolen from the DuPont family in 1967 and has never been seen since.
Sunday, 28 July 2019
Wednesday, 24 July 2019
|Heracleion off Egypt's north coast slumped into the sea some 1,200 years ago and was lost for centuries until divers rediscovered it in 2000.|
Archaeologists have announced a series of new finds at the underwater site. A temple and shipwrecks with treasure has been discovered among the ruins of an ancient sunken city described as the "Egyptian Atlantis". Ancient columns, 2,000-year-old pottery and bronze coins from the reign of King Ptolemy II (283 to 246 BC) were also found.
|Located at the entrance to the Nile, the city was Egypt's main international trading port, sporting statues, temples and a maze of canals.|
Buried under centuries of silt, the ruins and artifacts are perfectly preserved thousands of years later.
Tuesday, 23 July 2019
|Nerva was Roman emperor from 96 to 98. Nerva became emperor at age 66 after a lifetime of imperial service under Nero. On 18 September 96, Domitian was assassinated in a palace conspiracy involving the Praetorian Guard. On the same day, Nerva was declared emperor by the Roman Senate. |
A gold aureus of Nerva reflects the delicate balance of power in ancient Rome at the time. The circa A.D. 97 gold coin features a portrait of Nerva on the obverse, with clasped hands holding a legionary eagle set upon a prow on the reverse.
|Nerva’s reign was greatly assisted by his predecessor’s decision to increase wages for soldiers from 225 denarii to 300 denarii, annually. In addition, the coins used to pay the wages were of increased weight and purity compared to previous coins, so the payout was even better.|
Nerva's reign was marred by financial difficulties and his inability to assert control over the Roman army. A revolt by the Praetorian Guard in October 97 forced him to adopt an heir. Nerva adopted Trajan, a young and popular general, as his successor. Nerva died of natural causes shortly after and was succeeded by Trajan.
Monday, 22 July 2019
Sunday, 21 July 2019
|Following the assassination of Caesar in 44 BCE, Rome was plunged into chaos. Many of Caesar’s conspirators and assassins, including M. Junius Brutus and C. Cassius Longinus, (Brutus and Cassius) fled Rome in fear of reprisal. Caesar’s closest ally, M. Antonius (Marc Antony) seized control during the power vacuum, with the conspirators on the run and Caesar’s designated heir, G. Octavius Thurinus, (Octavian) still with an army in Macedonia.|
The young heir returned to Rome with a new name, G. Julius Caesar Octavianus, and found himself with the task of controlling Marc Antony.
|In the spring of 43 BCE, Octavian, along with the consuls Aulus Hirtius and G. Vibius Pansa Caetronianus, confronted and conquered Antony and his five legions at the Battle of Mutina in Cisalpine Gaul. Though victorious and causing Antony to retreat, Octavian did suffer a setback in that Hirtius was killed and Pansa succumbed to possible poisoning. This left Octavian in command of all of their eight legions.|
Octavian began secret negotiations with Antony. Octavian, Antony, and M. Aemilius Lepidus met and established a three-man dictatorship.
|Antony, desperate to retain troops, began to strike one of the more iconic series of coinage in Rome’s history, the legionary denarius. These coins allude directly to the events of the day, as they feature a praetorian galley.|
On September 2, 31 BCE, the forces of Octavian and M. Vipsanius Agrippa defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra at Actium, a promontory between the Ambracian Gulf and the Ionian Sea. The result was a decisive victory with Antony and Cleopatra forced to retreat for Egypt. A final defeat at the Battle of Alexandria on August 1, 30 BCE was the last. It was the official end of the Roman Republic and the formation of the Roman Empire.
Aureus bearing the portraits of Mark Antony (left) and Octavian (right). Struck in 41 BC, this coin was issued to celebrate the establishment of the Second Triumvirate.
|Marcus Antonius portrait. Denarius from 42 B.C.||Mark Antony and Cleopatra. 34 BC. Denarius|
Saturday, 20 July 2019
|Phaestus Stater circa 300-270 BC, Naked Talos, with spread wings, standing facing and holding stone in each hand.||Ancient Greeks thought of myths as complementary narratives speaking to them of their gods, heroes, and civilization. The Greeks understood mythology as early history. Minos was the son of Zeus. Hephaistos crafted the bronze android Talos for him.|
|In Greek mythology, Talos was a giant automaton made of bronze to protect Europa in Crete from pirates and invaders. He circled the island's shores three times daily. Talos threw rocks at any approaching ship to protect his island.|
The origin of Talos varies. Some accounts describe him as the last survivor of an ancient race of bronze men, but the more popular versions attribute his creation to Hephaestus, god of the forge.
|Talos had one vein, which went from his neck to his ankle, bound shut by one bronze nail. The Argo, transporting Jason and the Argonauts, approached Crete after obtaining the Golden Fleece. Talos kept the Argo at bay by hurling great boulders.|
Talos was slain when Medea the sorceress either drove him mad with drugs, or deceived him into believing that she would make him immortal by removing the nail. He dislodged the nail, and "the ichor ran out of him like molten lead", killing him.
5th-century BCE Greek vase depicts the death of Talos
|Talos makes an appearance in the 1963 motion picture "Jason and the Argonauts" thanks to stop-motion wizardry. The film, however, cast Jason as the automaton's slayer instead of Medea.|
Friday, 19 July 2019
|Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe, centered on the modern borders of Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey. In antiquity, it was also referred to as Europe, prior to the term to describe the whole continent.|
Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east. The areas it comprises are southeastern Bulgaria (Northern Thrace), northeastern Greece (Western Thrace), and the European part of Turkey (Eastern Thrace). The biggest part of Thrace is part of present-day Bulgaria. The population of Thrace was a people called the Thracians, divided into numerous tribal groups. The region was controlled by the Persian Empire at its greatest extent, and Thracian soldiers were known to be used in the Persian armies. Later, Thracian troops were known to accompany Alexander the Great when he crossed the Hellespont.
|Some of Bulgaria’s famous Thracian treasures were part of a major exhibition at the Louvre Museum in Paris in 2015.|
The exhibition brought together more than 1,600 objects from 17 Bulgarian museums and several international museums including the Louvre and the Prado Museum, giving visitors an opportunity to see in one place some of the most significant Thracian artifacts that have ever been discovered.
|The Odrysian kingdom was mostly on the territory of present-day Bulgaria but also included parts of modern Greece and Turkey. It was a regional power which was involved in the struggle with the Macedonian kingdom and with Athens and Sparta. One of the exhibition highlights is the bronze head of Seuthes III.
Hilt with gold inlay of Seuthes III's sword. ca. 331 BC.
|Another highlight was the Panagyuriste gold treasure, which was excavated in 1949 and consists of gold drinking vessels that are elaborately decorated with mythological scenes and images, showcasing the artistic skills of the Thracians.|
Rare gold hemidrachm from Thasos, Thracian islands.