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.

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.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Ancient Sites without the tourists

Ruins are often the centerpieces of a trip overseas. Unfortunately everybody thinks the same: Stonehenge, Chichen Itza, the Great Pyramids, Pompeii. Take a less beaten path however and the ruins can be both spectacular and without any crowds.

The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento is an archaeological site in Agrigento (ancient Greek Akragas), Sicily. It is one of the most outstanding examples of ancient art and architecture in the world.
La Ciudad Perdida. Magdalena, Colombia.

Reached only after a grueling five-day trek through the Colombian jungle, it’s almost 1,000 years older than Machu Piccu. It was abandoned after the Spanish conquest and only rediscovered in the 1970s.
Acrocorinth. Corinth, Greece.

Acrocorinth, or Upper Corinth has sheep roaming among the ruins, not tourists. Acrocorinth was continuously occupied from archaic times to the early 19th century.
Ruins of Jerash. Jerash, Jordan.

The most intact Roman city outside of Italy, Jerash was a crossroads of many cultures. The city flourished until the mid-eighth century CE, when the 749 Galilee earthquake destroyed most of it. The ancient city has been gradually revealed through a series of excavations.

The First Circulating Coins

Ionia, Circa 650-600 BC. Hekte (one-sixth stater)Little is known about this electrum (natural alloy of gold and silver) coin. It was minted in Ionia, somewhere in central Western Anatolia on the shores of the Aegean, but the precise city-state that produced it is unknown. It could have been minted in Miletus, a city often referred to as the origin of the modern world.

This type likely represents the first true coins which circulated in everyday use. This type are small 1/24th staters which represented about a day’s pay. Larger denominations are rare. Even fewer trites (one-third stater) are known, and only three full-size staters have ever been found.
During the excavation of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (present day Turkey near the Black Sea), a group of coins was found which are thought to be its 'foundation deposit', a custom that supposedly prevented the building from falling into ruin. The largest type in the group, a stater, had an inscription stating, 'I am the badge of Phanes'. It's meaning has been lost to antiquity.

Coins revolutionized commerce, offering an accessible, neutral medium through which transactions could be processed quickly and fairly.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Scottish gold ring found by metal detectorist brings £17k

Dating from the 17th century, the ring was discovered by a novice metal detectorist on the shores of Loch Lomond. Before the sale, experts managed to discover the ring’s history.

The crest belonged to the Colman family of Brent Eleigh, Suffolk, who made their fortune in the mid 16th century from the cloth trade. It's thought to have belonged to Edward Colman, who became an ardent convert to Catholicism. The inside of the ring bares an engraved “I” for Jesus, a personal symbol that could indicate that the owner was a member of the Jesuits, an undercover society of Catholics which was illegal in England at that time. In September 1678, Jesuits were accused of involvement in plots to assassinate the king and restore Charles II. Edward was listed as a plotter. He was found guilty of treason and hung, drawn and quartered. Considered to be a Catholic martyr, he was beatified by the Pope in 1929.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Ancient Humans interbred with Neanderthals

Neanderthal child
In 1997, scientists found the first scrap of Neanderthal DNA in a fossil. Since then, they have recovered genetic material, even entire genomes, from a number of Neanderthal bones. Their investigations have yielded a surprise: Today, 1 to 2 percent of the DNA in non-African people comes from Neanderthals.

That genetic legacy is the result of interbreeding roughly 50,000 years ago between Neanderthals and the common ancestors of Europeans and Asians. Recent studies suggest that Neanderthal genes even influence human health today.
The DNA extracted in 1997 was from the original specimen of Neanderthals, found in the Neander valley near Dusseldorf, Germany. It suggested that the Neanderthal lineage is four times older than the human lineage, meaning that Neanderthals split off much earlier from the hominid line than did humans.

Humans and Neanderthals split from a common ancestor in Africa some 600,000 years ago. At some point afterward, the ancestors of Neanderthals spread to Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. Along the way, Neanderthals took on a distinctive anatomy — a stocky, powerful build — and became impressive hunters.
Now scientists have found that the genes flowed both ways. In a study published in Nature, a team of scientists reported that another instance of interbreeding left Neanderthals in Siberia with chunks of human DNA. In 2010 scientists recovered about 60 percent of a Neanderthal genome from fossils found in a Croatian cave.

A toe bone from a male Neanderthal dating back at least 50,000 years.
Neanderthals shared certain mutations with living Europeans and Asians, but not with modern Africans. They concluded that humans must have interbred with Neanderthals after leaving Africa.

Three years later the complete genome of a male Neanderthal was recovered from a toe bone dating back at least 50,000 years, which had been discovered in the Altai Mountains of Siberia. Comparing the Altai genome to modern human DNA confirmed the interbreeding.