Sunday, 31 January 2021


In 1998, a man walking along the beach at Holme-next-the-Sea stumbled upon a Bronze Age timber circle that had emerged overnight from East Anglia’s shifting sands. The 55 posts circling an upside-down tree is a relic from 2050 BC. The centrepiece may have been a ceremonial altar from which bodies could travel to the afterlife.

Saturday, 30 January 2021

The Bactrian Treasure - Hill of Gold - Tillya Tepe

The Bactrian Treasure is a gold hoard that lay under the 'Hill of Gold' in Afghanistan, known as Bactria when Alexander the Great conquered the country 2100 years ago. The hoard is a spectacular collection of 20,600 gold ornaments found in six burial mounds just beyond the oasis town of Sheberghan in northern Afghanistan.

The treasure lay undisturbed until Soviet archeologists exposed it shortly before the 1979 invasion. Soon after the discovery, a guerrilla war against the Soviet occupation began, followed by civil war.

This is the treasure of Tillya Tepe, the Hill of Gold.
Gold and turquoise crown from tomb six at Tillya Tepe, dating to 25-50 CE. During those years the treasure was kept in the Kabul Museum, which has since been looted. The day before the Russians fled Kabul in February 1989, the treasure was moved to the presidential compound, the safest place in the capital.

Gold stater of the Greco-Bactrian king Eucratides, Weight: 169.2 gm., Diam: 58 mm., the largest gold coin of antiquity.

The treasure remained safe due to the efforts of one man: Mr. Ameruddin Askarzai, a security guard of the central bank who has been guardian of the vaults for 30 years. He is one of the few people to have seen the entire collection. "It's the best heritage of our country," he said.

Mr Askerzai helped to seal the treasure in seven trunks and guarded it along with the assets of the central bank - gold bars the "size of your arm" worth about £50 million - also kept in the presidential palace. The real threat to the treasure came when the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996. A delegation of 10 mullahs arrived with a jeweller to inspect the vaults. A pistol held against his head, he opened the combination lock so they could inspect the gold bars.
They had found the second prize, but did not realize the real treasure was in a vault above their heads. The Taliban asked if there was any other gold, but Mr Askerzai remained silent. He was imprisoned for three months and 17 days, during which he was beaten and tortured, but he did not reveal anything. "I wasn't scared," he said. "I didn't care for my life. They were foreigners. They were not Afghans."

On the Taliban's last night in power, as coalition forces pounded the country with bombs, the Taliban stuffed the central bank's cash reserves into tin trunks and arrived at the vault for the gold bars. They spent four hours trying to open the vault. Mr Askerzai watched. Unknown to them, five years earlier he had broken the key and left it in the lock. The Taliban gave up and fled Kabul as Northern Alliance forces edged closer. That saved the treasure.
In 2003 the vault was opened. Since then, the National Geographic Society has catalogued the collection, which appears to be complete. Also witnessing the re-opening was the archaeologist who originally found the hoard, Viktor Sarianidi.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Herculaneum beach to be excavated

An ancient beach in Herculaneum is being excavated for the first time in 40 years. Work will commence shortly at the Antica Spiaggia area, already partially excavated in the 1980s. Dozens of skeletons were found, including the famed 'Ring Lady,' named for the rings on her fingers.
Researchers uncovered the remains of almost 300 people who died from the intense heat while waiting for rescue.
The beach is now about four metres below the current sea level, a situation that has always posed problems.

Monday, 25 January 2021

The Torlonia Collection

96 Greek and Roman sculptural pieces from the fifth century BCE to the fourth century CE have gone on display.

Nearly 100 of the finest classical statues, busts, sculptures and reliefs from the fifth century BC to the fourth century AD will go on display in a palazzo on Rome’s Capitoline Hill.
They constitute a priceless collection of ancient Roman statuary that was amassed by Italy’s aristocratic Torlonia family. Accessible only to a chosen few, the collection became the stuff of legend. Even scholars knew it only from its catalogue, which was compiled in 1884. It is thought to be the largest collection in the world. Part of the Torlonia Collection will be revealed to the outside world for the first time in its history.

One of the highlights of the collection is a stone relief, about 4ft wide and 3ft high, which depicts a busy scene at Portus, ancient Rome’s port on the Tyrrhenian coast.
The exhibition, called The Torlonia Marbles, will last until January 2021 before embarking on a world tour of museums.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Face of Alexander the Great

Artist Alessandro Tomasi has brought the long dead to living colour before. His latest effort gives us Alexander the Great, based apon on the Lysippus bust and the Alexander Mosaic.

Friday, 22 January 2021

The Crosby Garrett Helmet

The Crosby Garrett Helmet is a copper alloy Roman cavalry helmet dating from the late 2nd or early 3rd century AD. It was found by a metal detectorist near Crosby Garrett in Cumbria in May 2010. Later investigations found that a farming settlement had occupied the site where the helmet was discovered, which was a few miles away from a Roman road and Roman army fort. It is thought to have been used for ceremonial occasions rather than combat. It's design may allude to the Trojans, whose exploits Romans re-enacted in cavalry tournaments. Only two other Roman cavalry parade helmets complete with masks have turned up in the UK.

The Ribchester Helmet was found in 1796 and is held by the British Museum. The Newstead Helmet was found around 1905 and is kept at the Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh.

The headpiece is shaped like a Phrygian cap with a winged griffin standing with one raised foot resting on an amphora. The griffin was the companion of Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance and fate.
They were agents of death and were often linked with gladiatorial combat.

Statuette of Nemesis in the form of Female Griffin with Wheel of Fortune, 2nd century C.E
The helmet and visor were cast from an alloy of 82% copper, 10% zinc and 8% tin. On October 7 2010, the helmet was sold at Christie's for £2.3 million (US$3.6 million)

Architectural panel with a griffin Roman, about A.D. 175–200.