Tuesday, 31 August 2021

The Treasure of Berthouville

A cache of pearl and emerald-encrusted rings, bracelets, gold necklaces and other opulent objects from the Roman Empire were displayed in the exhibition "Ancient Luxury and the Roman Silver Treasure from Berthouville" at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades in 2017. On view for the first time outside of Paris, the assortment of precious jewelry accompanies the 90-piece gilt-silver Berthouville Treasure of statuettes and ornamental vessels that were found by a French farmer plowing a field in 1830.
Both are on loan from the royal collection of the Cabinet des Médailles at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. These were the objects most valued by the Roman empire as it amassed great wealth.


Cameo of Emperor Trajan, Roman, about A.D. 100; sardonyx set in a seventeeth-century gold, enamel, and ruby mount

Pitcher with Scenes from the Trojan War, Roman, A.D. 1-100; silver and gold. Achilles dragging the body of Hector around the walls of Troy

Pitcher with Scenes from the Trojan War (detail), Roman, A.D. 1-100; silver and gold. The death of Achilles

Offering Bowl with a Medallion of Mercury in a Rural Shrine (detail), Roman, A.D. 175-225; silver and gold

Gem with Achilles Playing the Cithara, 75–50 BC, amethyst intaglio
Cup with Centaurs (one of a pair), 1–100 AD, silver and gold

Santorini - Thera

Santorini, classically Thera, is an island in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km (120 mi) southeast of Greece's mainland. It is the remnant of a volcanic caldera. The eruption of Thera was a major catastrophic eruption which is estimated to have occurred some 3,600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization. It was the largest volcanic event on Earth in recorded history. The eruption devastated the island of Thera.
New research into ancient tree rings from half a world away could settle lingering questions about when the Greek volcano Thera erupted. Scientists believe the volcano erupted in the 16th century B.C., about 3,400 years ago, blowing some 24 cubic miles of rock and ash into the atmosphere. The eruption had long-lasting and wide-ranging effects. Researchers were able to determine colder years in the tree rings of Irish oaks and bristlecone pines in California. Scientists believe that the eruption happened between 1600 and 1525 B.C., with 1560 BC being 'unusual.' Their findings laps with the date range established through archaeological evidence.
The eruption left a large caldera surrounded by volcanic ash deposits hundreds of metres deep and may have led to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete.

There is evidence that the myth of Atlantis, described by Plato, is based upon the Santorini eruption.

Excavations starting in 1967 at Akrotiri made Thera the best-known Minoan site outside Crete. Only the southern tip of a large town has been uncovered, yet it has revealed complexes of multi-level buildings, streets, and squares with remains of walls standing as high as eight metres, all entombed in the solidified ash.

Pipes with running water and water closets found at Akrotiri are the oldest such utilities discovered. The advanced architecture, and the apparent layout of Akrotiri resemble Plato's description of the legendary lost city of Atlantis.
In 2015 a team of marine archaeologists discovered 39 ingots scattered across the sea floor near a 2,600-year-old shipwreck off the coast of Sicily. The ingots were made from orichalcum, a rare cast metal which ancient Greek philosopher Plato wrote was from the legendary city of Atlantis.

X-ray fluorescence analysis indicate the ingots were made from a mixture of zinc (15-20 per cent), charcoal and copper (75-80 per cent) with traces of nickel, lead and iron. Scholars suggest that orichalcum is a brass-like alloy, which was made in antiquity through the process of cementation, which was achieved through the reaction of zinc ore, charcoal and copper metal in a crucible.

Monday, 30 August 2021

Face of 1,200 year old 'Huary Queen' revealed

The “Huarmey Queen” was found at El Castillo de Huarmey in Peru. She was from the pre-Incan Wari culture and lived about 12 centuries ago.
Her body, surrounded by jewelry, gold ear flares, a copper ceremonial ax, a silver goblet and weaving tools fashioned from gold, was found in a private chamber. Her skeleton revealed that she had a strong upper body and spent most of life seated, indicating that she could had been a weaver — a position of great renown among the Wari, who revered textiles more than gold and silver.
Experts spent 220 hours hand-crafting the features of the noblewoman, who was at least 60 years old when she died, using a 3D-printed cast of her skull and data on her bone and muscle structure.

Saturday, 28 August 2021

Unlooted imperial tomb of the Wari found


A winged creature adorns an ear ornament worn by an elite Wari woman.
The Wari lords have long been overshadowed by the later Inca. But in the 8th and 9th centuries A.D., the Wari built an empire that spanned much of present-day Peru. Their Andean capital, Huari, became one of the world's great cities. At its zenith, Huari boasted a population conservatively estimated at about 40,000 people. Paris, by comparison, had just 25,000 residents at the time.
In 2016 more than 60 skeletons inside a tomb were found, including three Wari queens buried with gold and silver jewellery and brilliantly-painted ceramics. Many mummified bodies were found sitting upright - indicating royalty.
The archaeologists say the tomb was found in El Castillo de Huarmey, about 280km (175 miles) north of Lima. Forensic archaeologist Wieslaw Wieckowski says the way other bodies were positioned indicated human sacrifice. In all, the archaeological team has found the remains of the Wari queens, gold pieces, ceramics and skeletons about 1,300 years old.

Six of the skeletons in the grave were not in the textiles. They were placed on the top of the other burials in very strange positions. Experts believe that they were sacrifices. The Wari civilization thrived from the 7th to 10th centuries AD, conquering all of what is now Peru before a mysterious and dramatic decline.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Archaeology intern unearths spectacular Roman dagger


Nico Calman had a good internship last year. The 19-year-old unearthed a 2,000-year-old silver dagger that likely helped the Romans wage war against a Germanic tribe in the first century A.D. Discovered in its sheath in the grave of a soldier at Haltern am See (Haltern at the Lake), the weapon needed nine months of meticulous work to reveal a spectacularly ornamented 13-inch-long blade and sheath that once hung from a leather belt.

Dating to the Augustan period from 37 B.C. to 14 A.D., the blade had a front row seat to some of the most humiliating defeats in Roman history. At that time, Haltern, which sat on the fringes of the vast Roman empire, housed a military base for soldiers.

Up to 20,000 Roman soldiers were slaughtered when Germanic tribes swept through the region in 9 A.D. Though thousands of Roman soldiers were stationed in Haltern over almost 15 years or more, there are very few finds of weapons, attesting to their great value.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

The Lamassu

A lamassu is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human's head, a body of an ox or a lion, and bird's wings.
The Lammasu or Lumasi represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations. Large lamassu figures up to 5 metres high are showpieces in Assyrian sculpture, where they are the largest figures known to have been made.
In art, lamassu were depicted as hybrids, either winged bulls or lions with the head of a human male.
The motif of a winged animal with a human head is common to the Near East, first recorded in Ebla around 3000 BC. The lamassu appears frequently in Mesopotamian art. The lamassu and shedu were household protective spirits of the common Babylonian people, becoming associated later as royal protectors, and were placed as sentinels at entrances.

Monday, 23 August 2021

The Hydra

The Lernaean Hydra was a serpentine water monster in Greek and Roman mythology. Its lair was the lake of Lerna. Lerna was reputed to be an entrance to the Underworld. In myth, the monster is killed by Hercules, using sword and fire, as the second of his twelve labors.

According to Hesiod, the Hydra was the offspring of Typhon and Echidna. It possessed many heads. Later versions of the Hydra story add a regeneration feature to the monster: for every head chopped off, the Hydra would regrow new heads. The Hydra had poisonous breath and blood so virulent that even its scent was deadly.

He then confronted the Hydra, wielding either a harvesting sickle, a sword, or his famed club.
Eurystheus sent Hercules to slay the Hydra, which Hera had raised just to slay Hercules. Upon reaching the swamp near Lake Lerna, where the Hydra dwelt, Hercules covered his mouth and nose with a cloth to protect himself from the poisonous fumes. He shot flaming arrows into the Hydra's lair, a deep cave from which it emerged to terrorize neighboring villages.
The weakness of the Hydra was that it was invulnerable only if it retained at least one head. Realizing that he could not defeat the Hydra, Heracles called on his nephew Iolaus for help. His nephew then came upon the idea of using a firebrand to scorch the neck stumps after each decapitation. Heracles cut off each head and Iolaus cauterized the open stumps. Seeing that Heracles was winning the struggle, Hera sent a giant crab to distract him. He crushed it under his foot. The Hydra's one immortal head was cut off with a golden sword given to Heracles by Athena.