Saturday, 31 July 2021

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 be dry and barren as long as Lycurgus was left unpunished, so his people bound him and flung him to man-eating horses on Mount PangaeĆ¼s.
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 made about 290-325 AD. The cup is first mentioned in print in 1845.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

The Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone was the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics. The inscribed black granodiorite stone was the first ancient Egyptian bilingual text to be discovered in modern times. The stone was unearthed in 1799 during Napoleon's campaign in Fort Saint Julien, El-Rashid in Egypt and has been housed in the British Museum since 1802.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Octavian and the Battle of Actium

Octavian was the son of Julius Caesar's niece. Octavian was 20 years old when he learned of Caesar's assassination. Caesar had adopted him as son posthumously, and Octavian returned to Italy to avenge his murder. In 43 BCE, he formed the Second Triumvirate with Marc Antony and Lepidus. They defeated Brutus and Cassius and divided the empire, with Octavian holding most of the West and Antony the East.
Antony and Cleopatra grew closer as Octavian worked to restore Italy. In 33 BC, the Second Triumvirate ended, leaving Antony without legal authority. Octavian then began a campaign against Antony, declaring war against Cleopatra.
Octavian’s admiral Marcus Agrippa held Antony’s fleet back in the bay of Actium in Greece. Antony and Cleopatra managed to escape, leaving the rest of his men to surrender to Octavian. Antony fled to Alexandria where he and Cleopatra eventually took their own lives in August, 30 BCE; this marked the end of the Roman civil wars.
Rome was officially transformed from a Republic to a Principate in January, 27 BCE. Octavian was crowned “Augustus”.

This coin was minted in Rome, 13-14 AD.
Over the next 40 years, Augustus shared his authority with the Senate. It would not be until Augustus’ coinage reform in 23 BCE that the gold aureus would come into standard use. In addition to his reorganization of the state and institutions of Rome, Augustus introduced a formal system of fixed ratios between denominations of coins.

Sunday, 25 July 2021

Ancient textiles returned to Peru

Peru recovered 79 pre-Hispanic textiles in 2017 that had been illegally located in Sweden since 1935. In 1935, Swedish ambassador to Peru Sven Karrell acquired the fabrics hailing from the Nasca and Paracas cultures and took them to Sweden illegally. They were anonymously donated to The Museum of Gothenburg, according to the Peruvian government.

The fabrics were made of cotton and wool from vicunas, the national animal of Peru. The textiles were made between 700 B.C. and A.D. 200

Saturday, 24 July 2021

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.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Coinage of King Pyrrhus

EPIRUS. Pyrrhus (297–272 BC). Silver tetradrachm (16.56 gm). $60K in 2012.
After the particularly bloody Battle of Asculum in 279 BCE, Pyrrhus famously remarked: “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.” This would live forever in the phrase “Pyrrhic victory”.

The silver tetradrachms were a high-value coin and were struck with dies engraved by the most skilled artisans.

Pyrrhos, King of Epiros, (297-272 BC.), AV Stater, 8.55g, Struck in Syracuse, 278 BC. $180k.
To pay mercenaries needed to fight the Carthaginians, Pyrrhus produced a massive issue of gold staters and half staters at Syracuse. The finest engravers were hired to produce stunning designs.
See ----->Pyrrhic Victory

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Murum aries attigit - "The ram has touched the wall"

To give no quarter means to show no mercy. Romans held that once an assault had begun, no mercy or quarter would be given. The ram touching the wall referred to the battering ram in an assault.
The term "missio" refers to the sign that a gladiator may give when they cede a fight to their opponent. It serves as both an acknowledgement of defeat and a plea for mercy.
The loser asks the munerarius to stop the fight and send him alive (missus) from the arena. If he had not fallen he could be "sent away standing" (stans missus). The editor took the crowd's response into consideration in deciding whether to let the loser live or order the victor to kill him. "Without missio" was a fight with no possibility of a reprieve for the loser.

Sunday, 11 July 2021


Sanxingdui is the ruins of the capital of the ancient Shu Kingdom. In the 1980s, researchers found two pits full of strange relics: piles of elephant tusks, gold masks, and bronze figures. The objects were 3,000 years old, and unlike anything seen in China.
Sanxingdui was once the capital of a powerful and technologically advanced civilization, which flourished in the region around the time of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun.
The prize find was a huge bronze statue known as the Large Standing Figure — a giant, intricately detailed rendering of a man standing 2.6 meters tall and weighing nearly 200 kg.

Saturday, 3 July 2021

The Galloway Viking Hoard

The Galloway Hoard is a hoard of gold and silver objects from the Viking age discovered in Dumfries and Galloway in south-west Scotland in September 2014.
The hoard has been described by experts as one of the most significant Viking hoards ever found in Scotland.
It was discovered by a metal detector enthusiast who reported the find to the authorities. The hoard was valued in 2017 by an advisory panel at £2 million.
A county archaeologist carried out an excavation which revealed the presence of a variety of jewellery from various parts of the Viking world. It is thought that the hoard was buried some time in the mid-ninth or tenth century. The hoard consists of a variety of gold and silver objects including armbands, a Christian cross, brooches, ingots, and what is possibly the largest silver Carolingian pot ever discovered. The items among the treasure originated across a wide geographic area that includes Ireland, Scandinavia, and central Europe.
Medieval texts date the arrival of the Vikings in the British Isles to the 790s A.D., when fierce raiders appeared along the coasts, plundering rich monasteries and terrorizing local communities. During the three centuries that followed, ambitious Viking chiefs and their followers arrived to conquer and colonize territories in England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, until they and their descendants were finally defeated or assimilated.

Around the early 10th century Viking forces had suffered a serious setback in Ireland, and local Galloway folklore “referred to a Viking army being defeated by a Scots army” at Galloway.
In the upper layer, the team excavated a gold, bird-shaped pin as well as 67 silver ingots and arm rings, many produced by metalworkers in Ireland. This portable silver served as ready cash in the Viking world: the elite hacked off pieces to buy cattle or other commodities, reward loyal followers, or “pay off the troops” in Viking mercenary armies.
Three inches below that trove, researchers found the Carolingian pot, a lidded metal vessel buried upside down, perhaps to keep out ground water. It turned out to be packed with treasures, many carefully swathed in leather and fine textiles. Only six of these Carolingian vessels have ever been found. Scholars believe they were used during important ceremonies in the Catholic Church.

The hoard's mixture of gold, silver, glass, enamel, and textiles is unique

An ancient Anglo-Saxon silver cross buried for more than a millennium has been revealed for the first time. The cross was found as part of the Galloway Hoard, a trove of treasures discovered by a metal detectorist in a field in western Scotland in 2014. The cross, decorated using black niello and gold-leaf, features engravings depicting each of the writers of the Gospels. The Galloway Hoard is regarded as one of the richest and most significant finds of Viking objects ever found in the UK. The cross was made in Northumbria -- what is now northern England and southern Scotland -- in the 9th century for a high-ranking cleric.
Research into the Galloway Hoard has uncovered the name of one of its original owners on a silver arm ring.

An expert examining Anglo-Saxon runic inscriptions on arm rings in the hoard found the name “Ecgbeorht”, which would be Egbert in its modern form.