Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Pandora's box

Pandora's box is connected with the myth of Pandora in Hesiod's 'Works and Days'. The container in the original story was a large storage jar but the word was later mistranslated as "box". When Prometheus stole fire from heaven, Zeus took vengeance by presenting Pandora to Prometheus' brother Epimetheus. Pandora opened a jar left in his care containing sickness, death and other evils which were released into the world.
Though Pandora tried to close the jar, only one thing was left behind – usually translated as Hope.

From this story has grown the idiom "to open a Pandora's box", meaning to do some small act that will cause great and unforeseen harm.

Monday, 28 June 2021

Death of Alexander the Great

It is said before burning himself alive on a funeral pyre, Calanus's last words to Alexander were "We shall meet in Babylon." Nobody knew what this meant as Alexander had no plans to go there. In February 323 BC however, Alexander ordered his armies to prepare for the march to Babylon.

This coin was minted within a year of Alexander’s death
He was warned not to enter the city. In the week before Alexander's death, historical accounts mention chills, sweats, exhaustion and high fever, typical symptoms of an infectious disease. After Alexander died the future of his empire was uncertain. His generals scrambled to determine who should succeed him as Alexander had no heir. On his deathbed, Alexander passed his signet ring to Perdiccas, nominating him as his successor, but Perdiccas did not claim power immediately. Princess Roxana of Bactria was pregnant with Alexander’s child at the time, and the gender of the baby was unknown.
Roxane - Wife of Alexander the Great
The factions reached a compromise, and when Alexander IV was born in August 323 BCE, he and Philip III were jointly made kings but acted only as figureheads, while Perdiccas would actually rule the Empire as regent.

The new regime was met with confusion, eventually resulting in the assassination of Perdiccas in 321 BCE and 40 years of war between the fragmented generals, splitting Alexander’s Empire into the Ptolemaic Kingdom, the Seleucid Empire, the Kingdom of Pergamon, and Macedonia.

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Legio IX Hispana - 9th Legion

Legio IX Hispana ("9th Legion – Spanish") was a legion of the Imperial Roman army that existed from the 1st century BC until at least AD 120. The legion fought in various provinces of the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire. It was stationed in Britain following the Roman invasion in 43 AD. The Caesarian Ninth Legion fought in the battles of Dyrrhachium and Pharsalus (48 BC) and in the African campaign of 46 BC. After his final victory, Caesar disbanded the legion.Octavian (Augustus) later recalled the veterans of the Ninth to fight against the rebellion of Sextus Pompeius. The Ninth remained with Octavian in his war of 31 BC against Mark Antony and fought by his side in the Battle of Actium.
The legion was sent to Hispania to take part in the campaign against the Cantabrians (25–13 BC). The Ninth participated in the invasion of Caledonia (modern Scotland) in 82–83. The legion narrowly escaped destruction after a surprise attack at night on their fort. The last attested activity of the Ninth in Britain is during the rebuilding in stone of the legionary fortress at York (Eboracum) in 108.

The last records came from Nijmegen and date 120. These are the latest records of Legion IX. It's fate remains speculation to this day.

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Spectacular Ancient Bronze

Dated to 330 BC, the Boxer at Rest is a sculpture of a sitting nude boxer at rest, still wearing his caestus, a type of leather hand-wrap, in the National Museum of Rome.
The Boxer was discovered in 1885, possibly from the remains of the Baths of Constantine.
“Portrait of Seuthes III” (310-300 B.C.), Greek. Bronze, copper, calcite, alabaster, and glass. Seuthes III was a ruler of the Odrysian kingdom of Thrace from 331 BC to ca. 300 BC. This bronze was found in his tomb.

“The Medici Riccardi Horse” About 350 B.C. Italian Bronze and gold.
The bronze "Chimera of Arezzo" is one of the best known examples of the art of the Etruscans. It was found in Arezzo, an ancient Etruscan and Roman city in Tuscany, in 1553. Inscribed on its right foreleg is an inscription, TINSCVIL, showing that the bronze was a votive object dedicated to the supreme Etruscan god of day, Tin or Tinia. The statue is thought to have been made around 400 BC.
The over-lifesize "Dancing Satyr" of Mazara del Vallo is a Greek bronze statue recovered from the sea floor at a depth of 500m (1600 ft.) off the southwestern coast of Sicily in 1998.

The satyr is depicted in mid-leap, head thrown back ecstatically and back arched, his hair swinging with the movement of his head. The figure is highly refined; the whites of his eyes are inlays of white alabaster.
Artemis and the Stag is an early Roman Imperial or Hellenistic bronze sculpture of the ancient Greek goddess Artemis. In June 2007 the statue fetched $28.6 million at auction, the highest sale price of any sculpture at the time.

The statue depicts Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunting and wild animals. She stands in a pose that suggests she has just released an arrow from her bow. At some point in its history, the bow was separated from the sculpture and was lost.
Alexander the Great on Horseback, 100-1 B.C., bronze and silver.

Victorious Athlete, "The Getty Bronze" 300-100 B.C.
Statue of Athene (“The Peiraeus Athena”). Bronze. 340—330 BCE
The Artemesium Zeus
The horses of St Mark's Basilica. 2nd or 3rd century AD.
The Riace Bronzes (The Riace Warriors) Around 460 BC.

Thursday, 24 June 2021

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.

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

"Painters of Pompeii" opens

"The Painters of Pompeii" opens in Oklahoma City and highlights Roman wall painting, which was common in ancient Rome. The interiors of Roman buildings were decorated with bold colors and designs that ranged from mythology to landscapes to still lifes to architecture.

Often paintings covered the entire wall, from floor to ceiling.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

17 decapitated skeletons found at ancient Roman cemetery in UK

Seventeen decapitated skeletons dating back about 1,700 years have been discovered in three Roman cemeteries at Knobb's Farm in Cambridgeshire, in the U.K. Archaeologists who excavated the site think that the people were executed for violating Roman laws. The cemeteries hold the burials of 52 people, and the 17 decapitated bodies include those of nine men and eight women and all over 25 years of age at time of death.
The number of capital crimes in Roman law increased dramatically during the third and fourth centuries, around the time these skeletons were buried. Death offenses grew from 14 at the start of the third century to around 60 by the death of Constantine in A.D. 337. Evidence suggests that the Roman military used Knobb's farm as a supply center, and would have dealt harshly with any infractions.

Monday, 21 June 2021

Kent detectorists strike gold three times

Two rare gold tremissis from the Merovingian dynasty - the ruling family of the Franks from the middle of the 5th century until 751 were found. Only 115 such coins have been recorded in Britain. How the tremissis turned up in the UK will never be known exactly but they originate from a time of social turmoil across Europe, in the wake of the collapse of the Roman Empire. It was a time in Britain when no coins were being minted by the tribes left free of Roman rule.
A Gallo-Belgic gold stater isn't as rare as the tremissis, it's older, from around 150BC - and has its origins in another time of turmoil. They was minted to pay mercenaries fighting in the Gaul war against Julius Caesar. It could have been bought over by a mercenary from the continent. They were only struck on one side and were produced hastily.