Monday, 30 September 2019

Lewis Chessmen 'Rook' brings £735,000

The rook is a warder holding a sword and was bought by an antiques dealer in 1964 for £5 in Edinburgh. It was catalogued in his purchase ledger that he had bought an ‘Antique Walrus Tusk Warrior Chessman.’

The piece, carved out of walrus ivory, was then inherited by the dealer's daughter when he died. For many years it resided in a drawer in her home where it had been wrapped in a small bag.

The piece was sold by Sotheby's on July 2 for £735,000. The Lewis Chessmen are four sets of chess pieces which were found on the Isle of Lewis, off the coast of Scotland, in 1831. The British Museum holds 82 pieces, the National Museum of Scotland holds 11 and until now, 5 pieces were missing.
It was described by the auction house as the "most famous chess pieces to have survived from the medieval world".
One knight and three warders are still missing.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

The Valkyries: Chooser of the Slain

Between the 3rd and 11th centuries, the perception of the Valkyries changed and they became associated with Odin.In Norse Mythology Valkyries are female warlike virgins, who are mounted on horses and armed with helmets and spears. They decide who will die in battle and hover over the battlefield like birds of prey.

In ancient Norse mythology, before they were linked to Odin and Ragnarok, the Valkyries were sometimes represented as carrion-eating ravens. The original Valkyries, appearing on battlefields as soon as the fighting was over, would weave tapestries from the intestines of slain warriors and feed corpses to their pet wolves.
On the battlefield the Valkyries chose the souls of the bravest slain warriors to become Einherjar, soldiers to fight for Odin at Ragnarok, the final battle between the gods and the giants. Half of those who die in battle would go to Valhalla. The other half will go to the goddess Freya’s afterlife field Folkvangr.

Once in Valhalla the dead warriors became Einherjar. Inside Valhalla the Valkyries wore simple white robes and served the Einherjar. They would remain the Einherjar's servants until Ragnarok.
Valkyries were Odin's bodyguards and messengers. Mortals saw their flickering armor and light streaming from their spears. In the Middle Ages Scandinavians believed the northern lights (aurora borealis) were the Valkyries flying across the night sky. The Ride of the Valkyries is the popular term for the beginning of Act III of Die Walküre, by Richard Wagner. It is one of Wagner's best-known pieces.Valkyries usually appeared in groups of nine.

Friday, 27 September 2019

The Gold Coffin of Nedjemankh

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has returned a stolen antiquity from its collection: The Gold Coffin of Nedjemankh. The ancient gilded coffin was acquired by the Metropolitan in 2017 for $3.95m. The Gold Coffin of Nedjemankh dates back to between 150 and 50 B.C.


The coffin is made of a combination of cartonnage (linen, glue, and gesso), gesso, paint, gold, silver, resin, glass, wood, and leaded bronze. The lid is covered with vignettes illustrating funerary spells.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Scientists find microbial remains in ancient Pilbara rocks

Researchers found organic matter in stromatolites -- fossilised microbial structures -- from the ancient Dresser Formation in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The stromatolites have been thought to be of biogenic origin ever since they were discovered in the 1980s.
Western Australia's 3.5-billion-year-old stromatolites push back the earliest known existence of microbial life on land by 580 million years.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Asteroid collision triggered ancient ice age

Scientists claim a massive asteroid collision may have filled the atmosphere with enough dust to trigger an ice age. They say sunlight-blocking dust remained in the sky for around two million years, effectively causing Earth to freeze. Scientists have long been puzzled by the cause of an ice age that took place 466 million years ago.

Dust is constantly floating down to Earth from space, made from broken parts of asteroids and comets. Scientists believe Earth gains about 40,000 tons of extraterrestrial material every year. Through dating mechanisms, it's possible to verify that a large amount of dust fell around the same time as an ice age began. Not all sunlight would have been blocked – but enough to change Earth's climate. This allowed life to adapt "and even benefit" from the changes, sparking "an explosion of new species".

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Crocodiles revered in ancient Egypt

Several thousand years ago, an Egyptian mummy supplier crept up on a wild crocodile and bashed it with a club, fracturing its skull and killing it. The animal was processed. Its damaged skull was fixed. Its body was treated with salts, oil and resins, and wrapped in multiple layers of linen. Its last meal was still in its stomach. The demand for mummified crocodiles was intense in ancient Egypt.

Thousands were bred and reared in captivity to be expertly mummified for offerings to the gods. In addition to people, millions of dogs, cats, foxes, gazelles, baboons, monkeys, horses, lions, goats, even shrews were expertly preserved. Animal mummies were produced in mass quantities mostly as “votives” to make requests of the gods.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Gold mask, bronze helmets of Macedonian warriors found

Archaeologists in Greece have uncovered a gold mask and bronze helmets from a cemetery at Ahlada, near the town of Florina in Northern Greece. The finds came from the graves of elite warriors who died in the 6th century B.C. Despite being plundered in antiquity the graves still contained treasures.

Artifacts included the face mask, made specially for funerals, four bronze helmets, iron spearheads and fragmented iron swords, a large bronze urn with ornate handles, an iron model of a farm cart and bronze leg armor. (grieves)

More than 1300 graves have been found.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Amazing Historical Artifacts

Broadsword of Oliver Cromwell. Made in England c. 1650. This is one of the finest surviving swords of a type favored during the English Civil War (1642-51). The association of this sword with English statesman Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) is consistent with the inscription and heraldic arms of England and Ireland on the blade, and with the outstanding quality of the hilt's chiseled decoration.
Monomachus Crown – Hungarian National Museum, Budapest. The crown is engraved Byzantine goldwork, decorated with cloisonné enamel. King Constantine Monomachus ruled the Byzantine kingdom from 1042 to 1055 with his wife Zoe and her sister Theodora. It was probably made in Constantinople in 1042.

It was found in 1860 by a farmer while plowing. The objects passed to the local landowning nobility, who sold it in four transactions to the Hungarian National Museum between 1861 and 1870.
A Surviving Crate from the Boston Tea Party – The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, Boston.

The Boston Tea Party was the spark in the powder keg for the American War of Independence. The rebelling colonials climbed aboard a ship carrying England’s most valuable commodity – tea, and threw it overboard in an act of open defiance. Two crates survived.

The Axe of Pharoah Ahmes – The Egyptian Museum, Cairo. This gold ceremonial axe was found among the treasures in the Tomb of Ahmes. It is funerary object that was not used in the life of the pharaoh. One of the sides of the blade is adorned with Nekhbet, vulture goddess and the guardian of Upper and Lower Egypt, and other deities who protect the pharaoh . The other side of the blade depicts the pharaoh tormenting one of his enemies as a symbol for sovereign power.
Corinthian Helmet and Skull from the Battle of Marathon 490 BCE – Royal Ontario Museum, Canada. A pivotal moment in Ancient Greek history, the battle of Marathon saw a smaller Greek force, mainly made up of Athenian troops, defeat an invading Persian army.

A fierce and bloody battle, with numerous casualties, it appears that this helmet (with skull inside) belonged to a Greek hoplite (soldier) who died during the fighting.

The story of the man who ran back to Athens with the news of the victory became synonymous with the long distance running event in the Olympics.
The Bullet that killed Lincoln – National Museum of Health and Medicine, Silver Spring, USA.

On April 14, 1865, five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox, Virginia, an actor named John Wilkes Booth achieved historical immortality by firing the shot that claimed the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Roman Iron Slave Collar 4 CE – The Museo Nazionale alle Terme di Diocleziano, Rome Italy.

The inscription on the collar reads – “I have run away; hold me. When you have returned me to my master, Zoninus, you will receive a solidus" (gold coin)

Blood Stained Cloak of Archduke Franz Ferdinand – Austrian Military Museum, Vienna. The murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand plunged the world into the first World War.

The Olmec Civilization

The Olmec were the first major civilization in Mexico following a progressive development in Soconusco. They lived in the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico, in the present-day states of Veracruz and Tabasco.

The Olmec flourished from as early as 1500 BCE to about 400 BCE. Pre-Olmec cultures populated the area since about 2500 BCE, but by 1600–1500 BCE, early Olmec culture had emerged, centered on the San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán site in southeast Veracruz. They were the first Mesoamerican civilization and laid the foundations for civilizations that followed. The aspect of the Olmecs most familiar now is their artwork, particularly "colossal heads".
The Olmec constructed permanent city-temple complexes at San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán, La Venta, Tres Zapotes, and Laguna de los Cerros. In this region the first Mesoamerican civilization emerged and reigned from c. 1400–400 BCE.

What is today called Olmec first appeared fully within the city of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán, where distinctive Olmec features occurred around 1400 BCE.
The Great Pyramid was the largest Mesoamerican structure of its time. San Lorenzo was abandoned around 900 BCE and La Venta became the most prominent Olmec center, lasting from 900 BCE until it too was abandoned around 400 BCE. La Venta showcased the Olmec with spectacular displays of power and wealth. Between 400 and 350 BCE, the population in the Olmec heartland dropped, and the area was sparsely inhabited until the 19th century.
The Olmec culture was first defined as an art style, and this continues to be the hallmark of the culture.