Wednesday, 30 October 2019

The Watlington Viking Hoard

A rare Viking hoard of arm rings, coins and silver ingots was unearthed in Oxfordshire in late 2015. The hoard was buried near Watlington around the end of the 870s, in the time of the "Last Kingdom".

The Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex were fighting for survival from the threat of the Vikings, which was to lead to the unification of England. The hoard is a "nationally significant find".
The hoard was likely buried when the Anglo-Saxons pushed the Vikings north of the Thames into East Anglia. Prior to 878, the Vikings had been increasing their raids from Denmark. The Anglo Saxons began to re-establish their rule over southern England and won the decisive battle at Edington in 878.

Alfred the Great defeated the Great Heathen Army led by Guthrum.
Experts speculate that a Viking fleeing the Anglo Saxons after the battle buried it on his way north, on the ancient road from East Anglia to Wiltshire.
The hoard of 186 coins includes rarities from the reign of King Alfred of Wessex, who ruled from 871 to 899, and King Ceolwulf II, who reigned in Mercia from 874 to 879.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Trove of Roman coins unearthed in Spain

In 2016 workers laying pipe in a southern Spanish park unearthed a 600 kilogram (1,300 pounds) trove of Roman coins. The construction workers came across 19 amphoras containing unused bronze and silver-coated coins dating from the end of the fourth century.

The coins are believed to have been recently minted at the time and had probably been stored to pay soldiers or civil servants. The clay pots, 10 of which were said to be intact, were found just over a metre underground. The coins bear images of emperors Constantine and Maximian.

The Romans began to conquer Spain in 218 B.C. and ruled until the fifth century.

Hispania was the Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula. Under the Republic, Hispania was divided into two provinces: Hispania Citerior and Hispania Ulterior.

Latin was the official language of Hispania during the Rome's more than 600 years of rule, and by the empire's end in Hispania around 460 AD, all the original Iberian languages, except the ancestor of modern Basque, were extinct. Even after the fall of Rome Latin was spoken by nearly all of the population.

Monday, 28 October 2019

The Bar-Kokhba Revolt

In 2009 the largest cache of rare coins ever found in a scientific excavation from the period of the Bar-Kokhba revolt against the Romans was discovered in a cave by researchers.

Most of the discovered coins were overstruck as rebels' coins on Roman coins. The new imprints show Jewish images and words (for example: the facade of the Temple in Jerusalem and the slogan "for the freedom of Jerusalem"). Other coins that were found, of gold, silver and bronze, are original Roman coins of the period minted elsewhere in the Roman Empire or in Israel.
The coins were found near Betar. Ancient Betar was the site of the "last stand" of the rebels led by Bar-Kokhba in their struggle against Roman rule in Judea from 132-135 CE.

The discovery verifies the assumption that the refugees of the revolt fled to caves in the center of a populated area in addition to the caves found in more isolated areas of the Judean Desert.

Sextus Julius Severus
In 132, a revolt led by Bar Kokhba spread from Modi'in across the country, cutting off the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. The outbreak took the Romans by surprise. Hadrian called his general Sextus Julius Severus from Britain, and troops were brought from as far as the Danube.

The struggle lasted for three years before the revolt was brutally crushed in the summer of 135 AD. After losing Jerusalem, Bar Kokhba and the remnants of his army withdrew to the fortress of Betar, which also subsequently came under siege. The Jerusalem Talmud relates that the numbers slain were enormous, that the Romans "went on killing until their horses were submerged in blood to their nostrils"
In 2015 another hoard was found in the vicinity of Qiryat Gat, Israel. Archaeologists uncovered about 140 gold and silver coins along with gold jewelry in a pit in the courtyard of an exposed building dating to the Roman and Byzantine period. A wealthy woman likely stashed the hoard of coins and jewelry in the pit due to the impending danger of the Revolt.

A sela attributed to the third year (A.D. 134/5) of the revolt. It features on the obverse the façade of the Temple of Jerusalem (the Ark of the Covenant can be seen, inside) and on the reverse, the lulav and etrog, along with an inscription "For the Freedom of Jerusalem."
The coins that were discovered date to the reigns of the Roman emperors Nero, Nerva and Trajan who ruled the Roman Empire from 54-117 A.D.

“This hoard includes silver and gold coins of different denominations, most of which date to the reign of the emperor Trajan. This is probably an emergency cache that was concealed at the time of impending danger by a wealthy woman who wrapped her jewelry and money in a cloth and hid them deep in the ground prior to or during the Bar Kokhba Revolt.

It is now clear that the owner of the hoard never returned to claim it,”

In an attempt to erase any memory of Judea, Hadrian wiped the name off the map and replaced it with Syria Palaestina.


Berserkers were Norse warriors who are reported to have fought in a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury, which later gave rise to the English word berserk.

They were said to wear the pelt of a wolf or bear into battle. The name berserker derives from the Old Norse berserkr. This expression likely canme from their habit of wearing a kind of shirt or coat (serkr) made from the pelt of a bear (ber-) during battle. The bear was one of the animals representing Odin, and by wearing such a pelt the warriors sought to gain the strength of a bear and the favor of Odin. Berserkers are described as Odin's special warriors.
Berserkers appear prominently in sagas and poems, many of which describe them as ravenous men who loot, plunder, and kill indiscriminately. Later, Christian interpreters referred to the berserkers as a "heathen devils".

The berserker were said to be able to do things that normal humans could not. According to ancient legend, the berserkers were indestructible, and no weapon could break them from their trance. They were described as being immune to fire and to the strike of a sword, continuing on their rampage despite injury.
The fury of the berserkers would start with chills and teeth chattering and give way to a purpling of the face, as they literally became ‘hot-headed’, and culminating in a great, uncontrollable rage accompanied by grunts and howls.

Some claim that berserker behavior can be explained by the ingestion of the plant known as bog myrtle, one of the main ingredients in Nordic grog. Myrica gale is a species of flowering plant in the genus Myrica, native to northern and western Europe. It is a deciduous shrub.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality

Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality was an exhibition in New Zealand in 2018. For more than 2,000 years, they secretly guarded the tomb of Qin Shihuang, China’s First Emperor. Discovered by chance in 1974, the underground army is one of the greatest archaeological finds known. The centerpiece is a phalanx of the funerary army, including soldiers, horses and chariots. Also included are works of ancient Chinese art crafted from gold, jade and bronze.
As many as 700,000 people toiled to create the army, mainly day labour, and probably conscripted. Each soldier was made from the feet up, with successive body parts shaped from coils of clay.

Boba Fett J-slot action figure - $500k

Less than 30 of the Boba Fett J-slot action figures are thought to exist in the world. The Boba Fett bounty hunter persona first appeared in the Star Wars film franchise developed by George Lucas in 1980’s Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, and was also resurrected for Return of the Jedi.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Sumerian antiquities seized from dealer returned to Iraq

In 2018, after years in police storage, 8 objects were taken to the British Museum for analysis. They were quickly identified as being from the site of ancient Girsu (modern Tello) in Southern Iraq, one of the earliest known cities of the world. The British Museum has been conducting archaeological excavations there since 2016.

Inscriptions linked the cones with the Eninnu temple complex at Girsu.
It's believed the objects were removed in 2003, around the time of the fall of Saddam Hussein.