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

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.

Sunday 22 August 2021

Monsters on Ancient coins

CRETE, Knossos. Stater (11.93g). about 425 – 360 BCE. Product of a union between Queen Pasiphaë and a white bull, the Minotaur was a ferocious man-eating beast, imprisoned in the Labyrinth of Daedalus. Theseus slew the Minotaur. This is a rare coin with less than 20 known.
Crete, Phaistos AR Stater. Mid-Late 4th century BCE. Herakles (his Latin name is Hercules) was the champion monster-slayer. In a fit of madness, Herakles killed his family; to atone for this crime he undertook a series of heroic quests. The Lernaean Hydra was one. Sever one of the Hydra’s heads and two grew back, making the monster hard to kill. Herakles slew the Hydra, helped by his companion Iolaus, who cauterized the neck with a torch as each head was cut off.
SIKYONIA, Sikyon. Circa 335-330 BCE. Bellerophon, riding Pegasus, killed the fire-breathing Chimaera (or Chimaira) with a block of lead impaled on a spear he lodged in the beast’s throat. The fire melted the lead, choking the beast. The Greek city of Sicyon, near Corinth adopted the chimaera as a symbol on coins, which are relatively common, from c. 430 down to about 280 BCE
Cerberus (or Kerberos) is a giant, ferocious three-headed dog who guards the gateway to the land of the dead. He is often depicted as the companion of Hades (or Pluto,) god of the underworld. As his 12th Labor, Herakles wrestles Cerberus into submission and drags him back to the land of the living. Cerberus appears on a magnificent electrum stater of Cyzicus (c. 500-450 BCE).