Sunday, 27 September 2020

Ancient Egyptian boy reconstructed

Researchers have unveiled a 3-D facial reconstruction of an Egyptian boy who was mummified during the first century A.D. Analysis of the skeleton’s bones and teeth suggests the boy was roughly 3 to 4 years old at the time of his death. To create the 3-D reconstruction, the researchers took computerized tomography (CT) scans of the 30-inch-long skeleton encased in the linen mummy wrappings. Their analysis suggested the boy likely succumbed to pneumonia.
Researchers conclude that the similarities between the reconstruction and the portrait are so striking that the painting must have been created just before or after the boy’s death.

Attaching so-called “mummy portraits” to the front of mummified corpses was a popular practice among certain strata of Roman Egyptian society between the first and third centuries A.D.

Friday, 25 September 2020

Royal Germanic grave found

Remains of 11 animals were found, including cattle, horses and dogs. The grave of a Germanic lord who lived 1,500 years ago has been unearthed in Saxony-Anhalt, near Brück. Builders were clearing land for a new chicken farm and stumbled across a royal cemetery. Ashes may be inside a bronze cauldron in the central tomb, which is around 13 feet by 13 feet in size. The cauldron is the focal point of the mounded tomb, and is surrounded by six women buried in a radial alignment from the pot, like the hands of a clock.
A glass bowl was among the objects found.
Vestment clasps.The site dates from between AD480 and AD530, a period following the fall of the Roman Empire which saw many Germanic tribes, such as the Huns, invade territories which were no longer under Roman protection.

A gold coin found at the site features Eastern Roman emperor Zeno. It dates to around 480.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Siberian archaeologists unearth 2,500 yo Scythian grave

Archaeologists in Siberia have unearthed a 2,500-year-old grave of an ancient couple. Both are believed to have died in their 30s and were buried together with a newborn and an elderly woman.

The couple are thought to be spouses, whereas the elderly woman might have been their servant as she had no valuables. Remains of the baby were scattered throughout the grave, most likely due to rodents eating the flesh. All of the people from the grave are from the Tagar culture that was part of the Scythian civilization.
An impressive set of weaponry was found including close fight weapons in a female grave, which is not typical. Women Scythian warriors typically used long range bows and arrows. The woman had a battle axe so she was a part of a warrior elite.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Defaced Roman coins

Julius Caesar, as Dictator (49-44 BCE). AR denarius. NGC Choice XF 5/5 – 2/5, graffiti.
Ancient coins were often deliberately defaced or mutilated as an expression of contempt for the subject depicted or name inscribed. Coins mistreated in this way have an appeal to some collectors.

Gaius Julius Caesar was beloved by his troops and Rome’s common people, but he was hated by many of the elite. Lifetime portrait coins of Julius Caesar are in high demand from collectors, even a deep scratch is an acceptable defect.

Gaius (Caligula). 37-41 CE. Æ Sestertius (35mm, 26.20 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck 37-38 CE.
When the reclusive, miserly and paranoid Tiberius died at the age of 78, most Romans greeted the accession of his great-nephew Gaius joyfully. That didn't last long.

Two years after Caligula's death, the Senate voted that all bronze coins bearing his image be melted down, but the chronic shortage of small change in the Roman economy meant this wasn't enforced, and many coins of Caligula survived, but rarely with the name or image intact.

Nero. 54-68 CE. Æ Sestertius. Rome mint. Struck circa 66 CE.
Nero is infamous for his debauchery and was deeply unpopular with the nobility and political class, which eventually led to his downfall.

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.

Saturday, 19 September 2020

King Lycurgus

In Greek mythology, Lycurgus was the king of the Edoni in Thrace, son of Dryas. Lycurgus banned the cult of Dionysus. As punishment, Dionysus drove Lycurgus insane. In his madness, Lycurgus mistook his son for a mature trunk of ivy and killed him, pruning away his nose and ears, fingers and toes. Consequently, the land of Thrace dried up in horror.

Dionysus decreed that the land would stay dry and barren as long as Lycurgus was left unpunished, so his people bound him and flung him to man-eating horses on Mount Pangaeüs.
In other stories Lycurgus tried to rape his mother after imbibing wine. When he discovered what he had done, he attempted to cut down the grapevines, believing the wine to be tainted.

In Homer's Iliad, an older source, Lycurgus's punishment for his disrespect towards Dionysus, is blindness inflicted by Zeus followed not long after by death.
The Lycurgus cup features dichroic glass, with gold and silver nanoparticles, producing a green appearance when light is shining on it from the front, and red when illuminated from behind.

The cup is also a very rare example of a complete Roman cage-cup, or diatretum, where the glass has been cut and ground back to leave only a decorative "cage" at the original surface-level. The cup features a composition showing the mythical King Lycurgus, who tried to kill Ambrosia, a follower of the god Dionysus (Bacchus). She was transformed into a vine that twined around the enraged king and restrained him, eventually killing him. Dionysus and two followers are shown taunting the king. The process used to create the dichroic effect is unclear, and it is likely that it was not well-understood by the makers.
The cup was perhaps made about 290-325 AD. The cup is first mentioned in print in 1845. In 1958 Victor, Lord Rothschild sold it to the British Museum for £20k.

Friday, 18 September 2020

Gladiators - Heroes of the Colosseum

A new exhibition has opened at the Archaeological Museum Hamburg, "Gladiators - Heroes of the Colosseum." The first documented gladiator fights took place in Rome in 264 BC. Descendants of a deceased person had three pairs of slaves compete against each other in the honor of the dearly departed. Typically, the fight would happen in a marketplace. These private battles of nobility became increasingly popular among citizens of ancient Rome.

Under Augustus (63 BC - 14 AD), games were allowed only during a few specific days of the year.
Gladiators were not always prisoners or slaves. Gladiator schools ensured a supply of highly trained fighters and many free citizens also joined. The games offered a chance for the most successful warriors to earn redemption, wealth and freedom.

The typical schedule of a fight day started around noon, with executions of criminals sentenced to death. Afterward, circus acts would sometimes take the stage. After a few additional fights, the gladiators were presented as the main act. Women also fought against each other. This was officially banned in the year 200.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Rare Roman horse race mosaic

Scenes from a chariot race are depicted in a rare Roman mosaic found in rural Cyprus in 2017. Dating from the 4th Century AD, it is in Akaki, a village not far from Nicosia. Only nine similar mosaics - showing a hippodrome race - have been found at ancient Roman sites.

The ornate 26-metre-long (85ft) mosaic was probably part of a wealthy man's villa.

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.