Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Ancient gold coins found in Jerusalem's Old City

In late 2020 Israeli archeologists discovered four gold coins in Jerusalem's Old City that were minted from the 940s to the 970s, a period of radical political change. During that period, the ruling Sunni Abbasid caliphate, headquartered in Baghdad, lost control of Jerusalem to its rival, the Shiite Fatimid dynasty of North Africa. The Israel Antiquities Authority said the coins were unearthed during excavation work near the Western Wall, which is the holiest site where Jews can pray.

The find marks the first time in over fifty years that a gold cache from the Fatimid period has been discovered in Jerusalem's Old City.

Monday, 29 November 2021

The Treasure of Nimrud

The Royal Tomb of Nimrud was discovered in 1989 in the city of Kalkhu (Nimrud). Assyrian tombs have been found in the past but most were plundered in antiquity. The sarcophagus in the tomb contained hundreds of items.
The priceless treasures belonged to royalty from 744BC to 704BC. The treasure of Nimrud survived 2,800 years buried in northern Iraq. It then spent 12 years tucked away in a vault. It was uncertain whether it had survived Saddam Hussein, U.S. missile strikes, looters, a flood and grenade attacks. The spectacular treasure was found intact in the dark basement of a bombed out central bank building in 2011.

Sunday, 28 November 2021


Cerberus is a well known creature in ancient mythology. Hades’ loyal guard dog, Cerberus was a massive hound with three heads that guarded the entrance to the underworld. It was said that the beast only had an appetite for living flesh and so would only allow deceased spirits to pass, while consuming any living mortal who was foolish enough to come near him. It is said that the three heads were meant to symbolize the past, present and future. Cerberus is probably best known as the twelfth and final labor that Heracles performs. Heracles must enter the underworld, wrestle the beast using no weapons, and then bring Cerberus to the surface world, alive, to present to the Mycenaean king Eurystheus.
Heracles tackled the beast, throws the animal over his shoulder and drags him to the mortal world. Upon seeing Cerberus, Eurystheus was so terrified that he hid in a large vase and begged Heracles to return the hell hound back to Hades.
The domain of Hades in Greek mythology was not only hell, but was the whole of the afterlife.

The realm was Tartarus (hell), the Asphodel Meadows (nothingness), and the Elysian Fields (paradise).

Agostino Carracci (1557–1602)

Piece of Dinosaur Tail found in Amber

At a market in northern Burma in 2017, Lida Xing noticed a chunk of amber with a dark blotch inside. The impurity — plant matter, it seemed at first — made the amber far less valuable. But it made the specimen priceless to Xing. Trapped inside the amber was a piece of dinosaur tail, complete with feathers preserved in microscopic detail. Researchers believe the 3.7-centimetre-long section of tail — eight vertebrae wrapped in skin and soft tissue and covered with pigmented plumage — belonged to a theropod that lived in the mid-Cretaceous, about 99 myo. Amber containing feathered dinosaur-era remains reported before included the discovery of a wing from a primitive Cretaceous bird.
Most scientists now accept that many dinosaurs were feathered, and this discovery will help answer questions about exactly what those dinosaurs looked like and how feathers evolved.

Friday, 26 November 2021

Accidental Discoveries

Historians later placed the age of its paintings at around 15,000-17,000 years old. Many believe the cave was once the site of religious and hunting rites among the Upper Paleolithic.Lascaux Cave. In 1940, four French teenagers were near Montignac when they encountered a vast underground cavern whose walls were adorned with some 2,000 ancient paintings and engravings. Word of the Lascaux cave’s collection of animal drawings spread and it became known as the “Sistine Chapel of Prehistoric Art.”
In 1974, a group of Chinese farmers found the tomb of the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty. The seven-man team was digging a well near the city of Xian when one of their shovels struck the head of a buried statue. When archeologists conducted further excavations, they found it was one of some 8,000 life-sized terra cotta soldiers, horses and chariots constructed to guard the 3rd century B.C. Emperor Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife. The tomb and its highly detailed soldiers—each has its own unique face—are now regarded as some of the most important treasures in China.
The Venus de Milo spent centuries buried on the Greek island of Melos. The armless statue was found in 1820, when a peasant accidentally discovered its top half while trying to salvage marble building blocks from a pile of ancient ruins. The find caught the attention of a French naval officer and in 1821 it was presented to King Louis XVIII and donated to the Louvre. Art historians have since speculated that the Venus is meant to represent the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Napoleon Bonaparte's soldiers stumbled upon a large basalt slab while knocking down ancient walls to make improvements to a French fort near the town of Rosetta. Once deciphered, the glyphs provided scholars with the tools they needed to begin the first in depth studies of ancient Egyptian language and literature.

The Dead Sea Scrolls contain some of the earliest known pieces of the Bible.
In 1947 a band of sheepherders were tending their flock near the ancient city of Jericho. While looking for a lost goat, one of the boys tossed a stone into a nearby cave and was shocked to hear what sounded like a shattering clay pot. When he went in the cave to investigate, he found several jars containing a collection of ancient papyrus scrolls. When the Declaration of Independence was originally issued, 200 copies were printed. Only a few have ever been found and verified. One of those was discovered in 1989 after a Pennsylvania man went into a thrift store looking for a picture frame. His $ 4 frame and picture hid copy number 25 of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. It sold for nearly $2.5 million.

Gold bar was Conquistador booty

A gold bar in Mexico revealed that it was once part of the treasure stolen by the Spanish conquistadors during the conquest of the Aztec. It belongs to an event called the ‘Night of Sorrows’ (La Noche Triste) in 1520.

The bar was probably made by goldsmiths working under the supervision of the Spanish in 1519-1520.
On the night of July 1, 1520, Cortez's army left their compound and headed west, toward the Tlacopan causeway. The Spaniards made their way out of their complex unnoticed but were seen by Aztec warriors known as the Eagle Warriors, who sounded the alarm. The fighting was ferocious.

As the Spaniards and their native allies reached the causeway, hundreds of canoes appeared in the waters. Weighed down by gold and equipment, many soldiers lost their footing, fell into the lake, and drowned. Sources vary as to the total number of casualties. At least 450 Spaniards died along with 4,000 of their allies.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

The Peacock Throne

The Peacock Throne was a famous jewelled throne that was the seat of the Mughal emperors of India. It was commissioned in the early 17th century by emperor Shah Jahan and was located in the Red Fort of Delhi. The original throne was captured and taken as a war trophy in 1739 by the Persian king Nader Shah, and has been lost ever since.

The Peacock Throne took seven years to complete. Large amounts of gold, precious stones and pearls were used, creating a masterpiece of Mughal workmanship that was unsurpassed before or since.

A 2000 report estimated the value of the Peacock Throne at $810m

The throne was inaugurated with a triumphant ceremony on 22 March 1635.
Shah Jahan ruled in what is considered the Golden Age of the vast Mughal Empire, which covered most of the Indian subcontinent. It was ruled from the capital of Shahjahanabad and the imperial citadel Red Fort.
It was only seen by a small minority of courtiers, aristocrats and visiting dignitaries. The throne was even for the Golden Age Mughal standards supremely extravagant and cost twice as much as the construction of the Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan's son Aurangzeb ascended the Peacock Throne and is considered the last of the strong Mughal emperors. By his death in 1707 the empire was in inexorable decline. Nadir Shah's invasion of India culminated in the Battle of Karnal on February 13, 1739 and the defeat of Muhammad Shah. Nader Shah of Persia sacked Delhi and stole the Peacock Throne.
Nadir Shah entered Delhi and sacked the city. Persian troops left Delhi at the beginning of May 1739, taking with them the throne as a war trophy with many other treasures.

Among the known precious stones were the Akbar Shah diamond, Great Mogul diamond, Great Table diamond, Koh-i-Noor, Shah diamond, as well as the Samarian spinel and the Timur ruby.
An Imperial Mughal spinel necklace with eleven polished baroque spinels for a total weight of 1,131.59 carats. Three of the spinels are engraved. Two with the name of Emperor Jahangir (1569-1627), one with the three names of Emperor Jahangir, Emperor Shah Jahan and Emperor Alamgir, also known as Aurangzeb.

Portrait of Mumtaz Mahal (Arjumand Banu Begum). She was the favourite wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. She died shortly after giving birth to her fourteenth child in 1631. The following year the emperor began work on the mausoleum that would house her body. The result was the world-famous Taj Mahal.
A Mughal masterpiece. The necklace features five pendant Golconda diamonds with emerald drops. The central stone weighs 28 carats and is the largest table-cut diamond known. The five surrounding stones—weighing 96 carats, collectively—comprise the largest known matching set of table-cut diamonds. From the 17th century.

A rare Mughal pale green jadeite snuff bottle. 1800-1900. The translucent stone is of pale icy green tone. 2 in. (5 cm.) high, pink tourmaline stopper and bone spoon.