Monday, 21 September 2020

New dinosaur discovered in China - Changmiania liaoningensis

Palaeontologists have discovered a new species of dinosaur estimated to be up to 125 myo. The fossils were found in the Lujiatun Beds, in north-eastern China, after being buried by a volcanic eruption.

Scientists believe the eruption would have trapped the creatures at the bottom of their burrows. About 1.2 metres long, it is thought the dinosaur’s powerful hind legs and stiff tail would have made it a fast runner. The skeleton suggests that creature could dig burrows, much like rabbits do today.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Pharaoh: King of Ancient Egypt

Statue of Pharaoh Amenemhet III 19th cent. BC
"Pharaoh: King of Ancient Egypt," was a major loan exhibition of ancient masterpieces from the British Museum in London that opened March 13, 2016 at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The British Museum famously acquired all the booty gathered by Napoleon after the British defeated the French occupation of Egypt in 1801.

The show was meant to reveal both the beauty and meaning of ancient Egyptian art.

Figure of a squatting baboon, about 1391-1353 B.C., Red quartzite. New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Amenhotep III

Kneeling king in pose of jubilation, about 715-332 BC. Late Period. Egypt. Bronze

Kneeling falcon-headed deity in pose of jubilation, about 715-332 BC. Late Period. Egypt. Bronze

Head of Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, about 1479-1425 BC. New Kingdom. Karnak, Thebes, Egypt. Green siltstone

Fragment from the sarcophagus lid of Pharaoh Ramses VI, about 1143-1136 BC. New Kingdom, Dynasty 20, reign of Ramses VI

Shabti of Pharaoh Seti I, about 1294-1279 BC. New Kingdom, Dynasty 19

Figurine of Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV, about 1401-1391 BC. Bronze

Seated statue of Pharaoh Seti II, about 1200-1194 BC. New Kingdom, Dynasty 19

Statue of the god Ra-Horakhty, about 1279-1213. New Kingdom, Dynasty 19

Hathor capital, about 874-850 BC. Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty 22, reign of Osorkon II. Red granite

Figurine of the god Amun-Ra, about 1069-715 BC. Gilded silver

Figured ostracon: Ramses II suckled by a goddess, about 1279-1213 BC. New Kingdom, Dynasty 19. Painted limestone

Seated statue of Pharaoh Seti II, about 1200-1194 BC. New Kingdom, Dynasty 19, Quartzite sandstone

Bust of Amenhotep III

Monday, 14 September 2020

The Empusa

The Empusa is a shape-shifting monster in Greek myth who was often depicted as a beautiful woman, who transforms into a creature with sharp teeth, flaming hair, and (in some tales) bat wings.
Empusa was said to be a demigoddess under the control of the goddess Hecate who hungers for male human flesh.

The Empusa would often seduce young men traveling alone. Having taken the form of a woman, they would sleep with the man, sapping their strength. Once the unsuspecting youth was fast asleep, the creature would shift into her hideous form and devour his flesh and drink the blood for sustenance.

The Empusa is probably best known for terrifying the god Dionysus as he travels to the underworld.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Ancient Grave in Heuneburg filled with treasure

An Iron Age tomb brimming with treasures fashioned out of gold, bronze and amber was uncovered in 2017 after lying undisturbed by the Danube River for nearly 2,600 years.
The hoard surrounded the skeleton of a woman who died between the age of 30 and 40. She was an elite member of a Celtic society that buried her in southern Germany at a hill fort called Heuneburg in 583 B.C. Multiple graves around the woman's burial had been looted over the millenia, with looters digging tunnels from tomb to tomb. The newfound grave was untouched. It is one of the few undisturbed graves from the first half of the sixth century in Heuneburg.
Heuneburg is a prehistoric hill fort near the Danube River. The Celtic city-state was founded around the sixth century B.C.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Silver and gold coins at Bulgaria’s Kaliakra Fortress

Researchers working at the site of the Kaliakra Fortress on Bulgaria’s northern Black Sea coast in 2018 found a small clay pot containing close to 1000 objects, including silver and gold coins and jewellery. The items in the clay pot included 873 silver and 28 gold coins, 11 appliqu├ęs and buckles, 28 silver and bronze buttons, 11 gold earrings, two rings, one of them gold, and four beads made of precious stones and gold.

The discovery was beneath the floor of a room that was burnt in the 14th century.
Kaliakra is a long and narrow headland in the Southern Dobruja region of the northern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. Ottoman coins make up about 60 per cent of the hoard. They are from the time of Sultan Bayazid Yildirum (1389-1402), and his predecessor, Murad I.
This is the third treasure to be found at the site, following two finds in earlier years, one of 60 coins, and another of 80 coins. In 2014, three gold coins, dating from the Nicene dynasty in the 13th century were found.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Painted coffins found at Saqqara

The 2,500-year-old wooden coffins are so well preserved that the intricate designs on them, painted in blue, gold, white, black and red, are still visible.Archaeologists have discovered more than 13 ancient Egyptian coffins piled one on top of the other within a burial well at the desert necropolis of Saqqara.
Researchers have yet to look inside the sealed coffins, which haven't been opened since the bodies were interred within.

Located 20 miles (30km) south of Cairo, Saqqara was the final resting place of the kings who ruled during the first and second dynasties, including Djoser, the first king of the third dynasty, who had the famous step pyramid at Saqqara constructed.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Evidence of Viking Sunstone found

Lore suggested Vikings used special crystals to find their way under cloudy skies. The crystal of legend was locked in the verses of Norse myth with no evidence that it was real. Now scientists believe that the 'Viking Sunstone' or 'Viking Compass' did exist. Though none have ever been found at Viking archaeological sites, a crystal uncovered in a British shipwreck proves they did exist.
The crystal was found in the wreckage of the Alderney, an Elizabethan warship that sank near the Channel Islands in 1592. The stone was discovered near a pair of navigation dividers.
A chemical analysis confirmed that the stone was Icelandic Spar, or calcite crystal, believed to be the Vikings' mineral of choice for their sunstones, first mentioned in the 13th-century Viking saga of Saint Olaf.

Today, the crystal would be useless for navigation, because it has been abraded by sand and clouded by magnesium salts. But in better days, such a stone would have bent light in a helpful way.
Because of the rhombohedral shape of calcite crystals, they refract or polarize light in such a way to create a double image. This means that if you were to look at someone's face through a clear chunk of Icelandic spar, you would see two faces. But if the crystal is held in just the right position, the double image becomes a single image and you know the crystal is pointing east-west.

The study’s authors say the crystal could be used to determine the sun's location with an accuracy of one degree, even when it was invisible to the naked eye. It has been suggested that sunstones helped Norse mariners navigate their way to Iceland and onwards as far as North America.

Ancient Miocene infant ape skull

The complete cranium of a Miocene ape from Africa was found in 2017. It lived before the human lineage split off from the common ancestors we share with chimpanzees some 7 million years ago.

Scientists in Kenya found the prize: an almost perfectly preserved skull roughly the size of a baseball from an infant. The remarkably complete skull was discovered in the Turkana Basin of northern Kenya.
Researchers measured argon isotopes—which decay at a fixed, predictable rate—within the fossil’s rock layer, revealing that it was about 13 million years old.

3D animation of the Alesi skull computed from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) microtomographic data. It shows the skull in solid 3D rendering
X-rays fired at the skull turned up such high-res images of its teeth that the infant's age could be determined to within a matter of months. But the scientists were most excited about its ears. The inner ear structure suggests that it would not have had the balance to perform treetop aerial antics.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Viking gold hoard in Denmark

In 2017 three metal detectorists found the largest Viking gold hoard ever discovered in Denmark. At 900 grams, the hoard consists of seven beautifully worked bracelets, six of gold and one of silver. The silver piece weighs about 90 grams. Gold is extremely rare in the Viking record.

The group found the pieces in a field in Vejen, which is in Jutland. There’s no doubt the treasure belonged to Viking elite, and the bracelets may have been used by a chief as alliance gifts, or as rewards or oath rings for his men.
A gold chain of 67 grams was found in the area in 1911.

The latest find is almost certainly connected to the chain.

Viking Gold arm ring