Monday, 31 January 2022

Treasures of Ancient Nubia

Gilt-silver mummy mask of Queen Malakaye (664–653 BC)
An exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, titled 'Gold and the Gods: Jewels of Ancient Nubia', provided insight into the meticulous craftsmanship of Ancient Nubia. The show included more than 100 treasures from the MFA’s collection of jewelry from Ancient Nubia. The MFA’s collection dates from 1700 BC to AD 300 and is considered the most comprehensive of any outside of Khartoum. Gold and the Gods showcased elaborate necklaces, amulets, stacked bracelets, and earrings discovered inside the tombs of Nubian kings and queens.

Ancient Nubia ruled the entire Nile Valley during the apex of its power in the eighth century BC. Nubian artisans turned out some of the most sophisticated, finely crafted jewelry of the ancient world.
Hathor-headed crystal pendant (743–712 BC)
The exhibition included jewelry made with lapis lazuli, blue chalcedony, amethystine quartz, and carnelian. Some pieces incorporate enamel and glass, rare and valuable materials. Owners valued jewels as signs of wealth and status, but also for magical powers that protected them in life and the afterlife.
Nubian goldsmiths and jewelers employed methods that wouldn’t be reinvented in Europe for another thousand years.

Sunday, 30 January 2022

Roman road unveiled beneath McDonald's restaurant

Thousands of years after legionaries tramped along its worn paving stones, a well-preserved stretch of Roman road has been opened to the public – beneath a McDonald’s restaurant. The 150ft-long stretch of basalt road has been cleared, cleaned and made into a permanent attraction at Frattocchie, south of Rome. Customers in search of cultural heritage can descend underground and view the Roman road, as well as three skeletons. The bodies are believed to have been buried in the period after the road was abandoned. The skeletons belong to three men, the oldest of whom was aged 35-40.

Customers view the Roman road, as well as three skeletons found buried in the culverts either side of it.
The find came to light in 2014 when the area was being excavated for a new McDonald’s restaurant. Archaeologists were summoned and the chain contributed 300k euros to the three-year restoration of the site.
The stretch of road was built in the 2nd century BC but fell into disuse by the 3rd century AD and remained buried for more than 1,700 years.
Experts say the paved road connected with the Appian Way. Named after the Roman official who conceived it, Appius Claudius Caecus, it became known as the “regina viarium” or queen of roads.

Saturday, 29 January 2022

The Instructions of Shuruppak - 2600 BC

The Instructions of Shuruppak is a fragmentary tablet, written in Sumerian. The earliest copies of this text represent some of the oldest literature known - from about 2600 BCE. The inscription reads in part:

Do not buy an ass which brays too much.
Do not commit rape upon a man's daughter;
the courtyard will learn of it.
Do not answer back against your father.

Even at the dawn of the written word, people looked to a more ancient past for wisdom.
Shuruppak's instructions begin by recalling "those far remote days" and "those far remote years" as the source of the wisdom it imparts.

Linguists estimate that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken around 5,500 years ago. But they have dated another ancient language, Proto-Afroasiatic — the grandparent of languages like Ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, and Arabic — to 10,000 to 20,000 years old.


Girl Attaching a Peplum Statue
A small port on the Sarno River, Pompeii had thrived as a Roman colony for over two centuries. Its inhabitants knew nothing of Mount Vesuvius’s previous eruptions, which dated to the seventh century B.C.

On August 24, 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted, spewing a gigantic cloud of molten rock and pulverized pumice some thirty kilometres into the air. Tons of pumice, rocks and ashes rained down on Pompeii, piling up on the streets and collapsing roofs and walls.

Although the eruption caught the inhabitants completely by surprise, most of them managed to escape. Only those who took shelter indoors were doomed. Paradoxically, the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius contributed to preserving much of Pompeii, which remained relatively undisturbed under metres of ashes for centuries.

Dog from the House of Orpheus
New discoveries from Pompeii give insight into the daily life of the Roman town before the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
See ----->Treasures of Pompeii

Friday, 28 January 2022

Returned Stolen Treasure

Two Roman ballista balls from Gamla were returned. The 2,000-year-old stones were left in a bag at the courtyard of the Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures.
In 1993, a retired Red Army officer dropped off 101 drawings by masters like Goya, Manet, and Delacroix at the German embassy in Moscow. They had been looted from the Bremen museum in 1945 by Soviet soldiers.
The looting of the Baghdad Museum as Saddam Hussein’s government crumbled was devastating for antiquities lovers. In 2003, three men anonymously returned one of Iraq’s most precious treasures in the back of a car. The Sacred Vase of Warka, a massive limestone bowl, dates to around 3200 B.C.

They had been stolen 16 years earlier.
In 2001 a London dealer received an anonymous phone call that led him to his doorstep to six fragments of Roman frescoes taken from Pompeii.
In 2006, just a year after a 1,500-year-old stone box from the Mayan civilization was found in Guatemala, it mysteriously vanished. After a national investigation, it returned through an anonymous delivery at the country’s Ministry of Culture.
In 1950 a group of 11 small ancient clay figurines were found in a Utah canyon. They belonged to a long-vanished people called the Fremont Culture, who had lived in the region from 700 to 1300 A.D. For two decades, these pieces, which came to be known as the Pilling Collection, toured around Utah museums. In the early 1970s, one of the figures mysteriously failed to show up. In 2011, an anthropologist at Utah State University received a box with the missing piece.
In 2007 the J Paul Getty Museum returned disputed antiquities, including a prized statue of the goddess Aphrodite. Italian authorities believe the 7ft statue, bought by the Getty for $18m in 1988, was looted from an ancient Greek settlement in Sicily.
In April 2015 some 123 artefacts were seized by US customs as part of a five year investigation into international smuggling networks dubbed Operation Mummy's Curse. One item, a 2,300 year-old sarcophagus was found in a garage in Brooklyn.

Thursday, 27 January 2022

Special ancients bring top dollar

Two Dekadrachms from the time of Dionysios I were auction stars.
One signed by Kimon and graded NGC Ch VF ★ Strike: 5/5 Surface: 5/5, and the other signed by Euainetos and graded NGC Ch EF★ Strike: 5/5 Surface: 4/5. The Kimon coin sold for $360k and the Euainetos for $198k, both well exceeding their estimates.
A phenomenal Elagablus Aureus graded NGC Ch MS★, Strike: 5/5 Surface: 4/5 brought $312k, and a Septimius Severus Aureus graded NGC Ch AU, Strike: 5/5 Surface: 3/5 made $192k.

Evolution of Gold Coins

Gold has been used as a medium of exchange and a store of wealth for millennia due to its rarity, desirability, and high value. Ancient gold coins were first introduced in commerce in the kingdom of Lydia (modern Turkey) during the reign of King Croesus in the 6th century BC. The earliest coins were made from electrum, a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. Electrum wasn't always desirable. When coinage gained popularity a way to standardize the purity of the gold and silver was needed.
The first technique of gold parting was invented by Croesus: salt cementation. King Cyrus and the Persians defeated the Lydians in 546 B.C., and the region became part of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Through trade and conquest, the Persians spread the use of gold coinage throughout the Mediterranean. The most popular gold coin of the empire was the Persian daric, introduced by Darius the Great sometime around 500 B.C. Production of darics continued for nearly two hundred years, until the Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great.
Alexander and his armies looted some 700,000 troy ounces of gold coins from the Persians. These ‘spoils of war’ were subsequently melted and used to mint coins in his name.

In Britain and elsewhere, a number of Celtic tribes issues coins in gold. The early Roman Republic issued few coins in gold, their main coinage being in silver, with bronze or copper for smaller denominations. From the death of Julius Caesar, gold coinage became an important part of the Roman financial system.

See ----->Gold parting via salt cementation
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