Saturday, 30 November 2019

Mars Ultor (the Avenger)


Augustus, 27 BCE – 14 CE, Denarius (Silver, 3.85 g 6)
At the battle of Philippi, Octavian vowed to avenge the assassination of his adoptive father Julius Caesar. Octavian set plans in motion to build a temple honoring the god Mars Ultor 'the Avenger'. While Rome had succeeded in conquering most of the civilized world, they had never succeeded in conquering Parthia. The Parthian Empire was spread across Central Asia and posed a formidable challenge. Rome fought and lost to Parthia three times, the most devastating of which occurred in 53 BCE. During this battle, Crassus, the leader of the Roman army, was killed and Rome was humiliated, with the Roman standards of the Legions lost to the Parthians.
The loss of a standard 'Aquilae' was considered a huge moral defeat and the Romans were known to spend decades fighting to recover them. Julius Caesar and Mark Antony both attempted to reclaim the Roman standards by force but failed due to heavy battlefield losses.

After ascending the throne, Augustus focused his attention on reclaiming the Roman standards. Through his conquering of Armenia, he was able to secure a strong offensive position against the Parthians due to its proximity to their kingdom. The Parthian king felt threatened, and proposed a truce to Augustus, offering to return the Roman standards and any surviving prisoners of war. Augustus agreed and the two superpowers avoided further bloodshed. Augustus hailed the return of the roman standards as a major victory against the Parthians and used his coinage to celebrate the coup.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Napoleon's boots up for grabs

A pair of boots thought to belong to Napoleon Bonaparte is expected to fetch up to 80,000 euros. ($88,176) Auctioneers said Napoleon may have owned the leather riding boots during his final exile in Saint Helena, after his defeat at Waterloo.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Hoard of golden Russian rubles found

Treasure dating back to the reign of Tsar Nicholas II has been unearthed in Moscow. A tin chest containing 60 gold coins was discovered in the basement of a dilapidated building. Experts believe the trove may have been stored there during the Russian Revolution (March - November 1917) or the Russian Civil War (November 1917 - October 1922).

Nicholas and his family – Tsarina Alexandra, Grand Duchess Olga, Grand Duchess Tatiana, Grand Duchess Maria, Grand Duchess Anastasia and Tsarevich Alexei – were executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

The Salvation of Rome: Gordian III

Rome in the third century was a time of turmoil and encroaching chaos. Gordian III assumed the throne in 238 CE at the age of 13, making him the youngest de facto emperor in Roman history. Gordian served for almost six years before dying under mysterious circumstances while fighting against the Sassanian Persians. He was succeeded by his by-then praetorian prefect, Philip the Arab.

The Latin word “aureus” means “golden”, and derives from the Roman word for gold: aurum. The aureus was originally produced in the first century BCE and was still being struck in the fourth century CE. It was initially valued at 25 silver denarii.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Ancient Helmets


Flattened copper helmet and skull found in the Royal Tomb at Ur
The most vulnerable part of the soldier in battle was his head, so the search for protection by some form of helmet goes back to the earliest times.

Helmets were purpose-built to protect the wearer against the specific weapons he faced. At first, ancient helmets seem to have been pointed at the top, to deflect the downward force. When the ax became popular as a weapon, the shape of the helmet was modified to counter the cutting edge of a downward-falling blade.

Stele of Vultures circa 2500 BC. King Eannatum of Lagash leads a phalanx of soldiers with metal helmets, armed with spears and socketed axes. They are trampling over the bodies of their enemies.
The technology of armor was constantly evolving. By 3,000 BC metal workers were making helmets of copper. 500 years later the Sumerians had bronze helmets, spears and axes.


Egyptian soldier in the act of killing a warrior of the 'Sea Peoples' in the Medinet Habu temple relief

Corinthian helmet

The Helmet of Agighiol is a Geto-Dacian silver helmet dating from the 5th century BC.

Sutton Hoo helmet reconstructed

The Golden Helmet of Coţofeneşti
This 2,600-year-old bronze helmet was discovered in the waters of Haifa Bay, Israel in 2012. When it was made Greek colonies dotted the Mediterranean coast, stretching from the Black Sea to southern France.

This warrior was likely one of Egyptian pharaoh Necho II's mercenaries, which he sent through Israel accompanied by a fleet of ancient ships. The pharaoh was involved in military campaigns in the region for nearly a decade, operations in which this warrior and his group likely were involved.
Ancient Greek helmets from the Archaic period (800 BC – 480 BCE). A Corinthian-type, found in Leivadia. The second is a Illyrian-type. The third is from Agia Paraskevi. All are made of bronze.
The Crosby Garrett Helmet is a copper alloy Roman cavalry helmet dating from the late 2nd or early 3rd century AD. It was found in Cumbria, England

Bronze Helmet from Ancient Greece, around 460 BC

Roman horseman's helmet, found in the Netherlands

Gladiator helmet

Greek Spartan Crest Helmet

Spanish morion (helmet)


Helmet covered in heavy gold florets with spike top, visor front. Chou Dynasty, Emperor Wu Wang tomb complex at Laoyang, circa 1020 BC.

Japanese helmet, circa 1590–1640.

Helmet of a Yuan Dynasty officer

Chinese chichak-style helmet, Ming Dynasty


Helmet from 7th century Viking boat grave
A common myth about the Vikings was that they wore horned helmets in battle. Archaeologists have found no proof to say that their helmets had horns. The reason their helmets didn't have horns was because they would have gotten in the way in battles and may have ended up injuring the wearer.

Real Viking helmets had protective metal down and around the ears and some helmets found in burial mounts had a metal mask in front.

German helmet by famous armorsmith Jörg Seusenhofer ca. 1540

Saturday, 23 November 2019

The Monster of Troy

A strange, menacing creature lurks on one of the ancient Greek vases in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The scene is painted on a Corinthian krater dating to around 550 B.C. It is the oldest illustration of the ancient legend of the Monster of Troy.
In Greek myth, a terrible sea monster suddenly appears on the Trojan coast, where it causes great destruction. To appease the giant beast, the king of Troy, Laomedon, sends his daughter Hesione as a sacrifice. At the last moment Hercules arrives to slay the monster and rescue the princess.

The vase shows Hesione and Hercules fighting the monster. Hesione throws rocks from a pile at her feet. Hercules shoots a volley of arrows, one of which has hit the monster’s chin.
Some have suggested that the Monster of Troy resembles a Plesiosaur, a Mesozoic marine reptile. Plesiosaurs are amoung the largest marine apex predators in the fossil record.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

The Treasure of Nimrud

The Royal Tomb of Nimrud was discovered in 1989. The tomb is located in the ancient city of Kalkhu (Nimrud). Ancient Assyrian tombs have been found in the past but most were plundered in antiquity. The sarcophagus in the tomb chamber contained hundreds of items.
The priceless treasures belonged to royalty from 744BC to 704BC

The treasure of Nimrud survived 2,800 years buried in northern Iraq. It then spent 12 years tucked away in a vault. It was uncertain whether it had survived Saddam Hussein, U.S. missile strikes, looters, a flood and grenade attacks. The spectacular treasure was found intact in the dark basement of a bombed out central bank building in 2011.