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.

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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Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Ezra coins discovered in Jerusalem

Five extremely rare coins dating to the time of Ezra were discovered in Jerusalem in 2018. The discovery dates to the 4th century B.C. A sifting project began in 2004 to remove artifacts from 9,000 tons of earth removed from the Temple Mount in the area known as Solomon’s stables. The dirt was dumped in the nearby Kidron Valley. Using wet sifting, the project recovered more than 6,000 ancient coins.
The five coins are Yehud coins, the first to be minted by Jewish authorities.
The coins are inscribed with the letters YHD, which reference the name for the Persian province of Yehud. The Persians ruled the kingdom during the time the coins were minted. These coins would have been made around the time when the Jews were allowed by Persian king Cyrus to return to Jerusalem in 538 B.C. to build the temple.
Standard of Cyrus the Great

The Lycurgus Cup - dichroic glass

While nanoparticles sound like a recent discovery, these tiny structures have been used for centuries. The Lycurgus cup, made by 4th century Roman artisans, features dichroic glass, with gold and silver nanoparticles sprinkled throughout, producing a green appearance when light is shining on it from the front, and a red appearance 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 painstakingly cut and ground back to leave only a decorative "cage" at the original surface-level. The cup features a composition with figures, showing the mythical King Lycurgus, who tried to kill Ambrosia, a follower of the god Dionysus (Bacchus to the Romans). 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.

In 1958 Victor, Lord Rothschild sold it to the British Museum for £20,000.
The process used to create the dichroic effect remains unclear, and it is likely that it wasn't well understood or controlled by the makers. The cup was perhaps made in Alexandria or Rome about 290-325 AD.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

U.K. metal detectorist lands Henry III gold penny - £648k

An amateur metal detectorist has found an incredibly rare Henry III gold penny, which was unearthed on farmland in Devon. Minted about 1257, it depicts the former English king sitting on an ornate throne, holding an orb and scepter. It is one of only eight such coins known to exist. The rare coin was estimated to fetch as much as £400k. It sold for £648k.

Monday, 24 January 2022

Golden curse tablets found in ancient Serbian tomb

In 2016 archaeologists in Serbia discovered golden curse tablets in ancient Roman tombs. The tablets contain inscriptions with magical symbols calling upon both gods and demons to unleash ill-health, punishment, and death upon enemies, unrequited lovers, bad neighbors and relatives.
The curse tablets were found in Roman tombs at the Viminacium archaeological site, the capital of the former Roman province of Moesia Superior in Serbia. The territory was under Roman (and later Byzantine) rule for about 600 years, from the 1st century BC until the 6th century. Viminacium occupies a total of about 450 hectares (1,100 acres)
“ long as someone, whether slave or free, whether man or woman, keeps silent or knows anything about it, they may be accursed in blood, and eyes and every limb and even have all intestines quite eaten away if they have stolen the ring or been privy (to the theft).”

Other curses are even more personal ... “May your penis burn away when you make love.”

In Viminacium, Christians and pagans buried together suggests they were living together in relative harmony.

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Aqrabuamelu - Scorpion men

Scorpion men are featured in several Akkadian myths, including the Enûma Elish and the Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. They were also known as aqrabuamelu or girtablilu. The Scorpion Men are described to have the head, torso, and arms of a man and the body of a scorpion. Their "terror is awesome" and their "glance is death."

Saturday, 22 January 2022

The mysterious fate of “The Apollo of Gaza”

An extremely rare bronze statue of the Greek god Apollo resurfaced in the Gaza Strip in 2014, only to be seized and vanish. A fisherman says he scooped the 500-kg statue from the sea bed, and carried it home on a donkey cart.
Police from the Islamist group Hamas, which rules the Palestinian territory, swiftly seized it. Archaeologists have not been able to get their hands on the Apollo since – to their great frustration. From what they can tell, it was cast sometime between the 5th and the 1st century BC. The discolored green-brown figure shows the youthful, athletic god standing upright on muscular legs; he has one arm outstretched, with the palm of his hand held up. He has compact, curly hair, and gazes out seriously at the world, one of his eyes apparently inlaid with a blue stone iris, the other just a vacant black slit.

The statue is unique and most experts say priceless. It's current whereabouts remains unknown.
The finder said he cut off one of the fingers to take to a metals expert, thinking it might have been made of gold. Unbeknownst to him, one of his brothers severed another finger for his own checks. This was then melted down by a jeweller. It is very rare to find a statue which is not in marble or in stone, but in metal. 5,000 years of history lie beneath the sands of the Gaza Strip, which was ruled at various times by ancient Egyptians, Philistines, Romans, Byzantines and crusaders. Alexander the Great besieged the city and the Roman emperor Hadrian visited.