Thursday, 31 March 2022

Praetorian Guard

The Praetorian Guard (cohortes praetoriae) was an elite unit of the Roman Army who were bodyguards to the emperor. During the era of the Roman Republic, the Praetorians served as a small escort force for high-ranking officials. With the transition to the Roman Empire, Augustus refounded the Guard as his personal security detail.
Although they continued to serve in this capacity for roughly three centuries, the Guard became infamous for its interference in Roman politics, to the point of overthrowing emperors and proclaiming successors. The Guard was ultimately disbanded by Constantine the Great in 312.
Praetorian Cohorts intervened many times in the struggle for the imperial succession. Lacking troops of its own, the Senate had no choice each time but to accept the choice of the Praetorians as well as that of the various legions. The new emperor was always proclaimed by the Praetorians before being ratified by the Senate and the legions stationed in the various provinces. While the guard had the power to make or break emperors, it had no formal role in government. Often after outrageous acts of violence, revenge by the new ruler was almost always forthcoming.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022


In Greek mythology Sisyphus was the king of Ephyra (now Corinth). He was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll a boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, repeating this action for eternity. Sisyphus promoted navigation and commerce but was avaricious and deceitful. He killed travelers and guests, a violation of xenia, which fell under Zeus's domain. He took pleasure in these killings because they allowed him to maintain his iron-fisted rule.
Persephone supervising Sisyphus in the Underworld.

Hades with Cerberus - Pluto Carricci painting
Sisyphus's greatest triumph came at the end of his life, when the god Hades came to claim him personally for the kingdom of the dead. Hades had brought a pair of handcuffs, and Sisyphus expressed such an interest that Hades was persuaded to demonstrate their use - on himself. The lord of the Underworld was kept locked up by Sisyphus, which meant nobody could die. As a punishment for his trickery against the Gods, Sisyphus was made to toil endlessly.
The maddening nature of the punishment was reserved for him due to his belief that his cleverness surpassed Zeus. This hubris ended up consigning Sisyphus to an eternity of useless effort. Pointless or interminable activities are described today as sisyphean.

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

'Underworld' at the Getty Villa

“Underworld: Imagining the Afterlife,” was an exhibit at the Getty Villa in 2018. One of the masterpieces is a krater from Altamura, Italy, dated about 350 B.C. It is almost 6 feet tall and would have been made for a high status individual. The exhibit provided a lens into the underworld during that period.
Grave relief fragment with Danaids, Persephone and Hades, Hermes and Herakles, late 4th century B.C.
Gold burial offerings were intended to help the deceased navigate the afterlife.

Storage Jar with Sisyphus and the Uninitiated, about 525 BC
Orpheus emerges as a central figure. Orpheus traveled to the underworld to retrieve his wife, Eurydice. The quest did not turn out well for Orpheus, but he returned from the Underworld, a feat that made him a hero.
Weeping Siren, about 350 - 325 B.C.

New dog patrolling Pompeii

Pompeii archaeological park has enlisted a robotic K9 called Spot to inspect the ancient Italian city's streets and tunnels instead of humans. Acting as a robotic guard dog, Spot will patrol Pompeii when the site is closed to tourists, providing a live feed for humans. Part of Spot's job is to investigate tunnels dug by thieves, which are dangerous or too confined for officials to access safely.

Monday, 28 March 2022

Archaeologists discover Roman harbor in ancient Greek port

In 2017 archaeologists carrying out excavations in Lechaion, once the main harbor town of ancient Corinth, discovered impressive Roman engineering under the waves.
The ancient city of Corinth, located on the Peloponnese peninsula of southern Greece, was once a strategic city of great importance with access to the Mediterranean trade routes. It was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BCE. A mysterious island monument in an area of the Inner Harbour was dated to the early 1st century AD. It was likely built as part of a Roman building program designed to help restore Corinth. The area was destroyed by an earthquake sometime between 50-125 CE. Experts speculate it may be the first evidence of the earthquake of 70 CE recorded during the reign of the Roman emperor Vespasian (69-79 CE).

Sunday, 27 March 2022


Saffron, the world’s most expensive spice, is extracted from the flowers of the saffron crocus, Crocus sativus. The first known use by humans of wild crocuses was as pigment for cave paintings, about 50000 years ago in today’s Iraq. Ancient texts from Sumer, Assyria, and Babylonia also describe the use of wild crocuses in medicine and dye. Ancient artworks and genetics point to Bronze Age Greece, in 1700 BCE or earlier, as the origin of saffron’s domestication. Domesticated saffron can only be propagated asexually with human help. The process was first described by the Greek philosopher Theophrastus in the fourth century BCE. Today, domesticated saffron is grown for use in cooking and perfumes and as a yellow dye. 16000 flowers, requiring up to 470 person-hours to collect, yield a single kilo, worth between $1300 and $10000.
Dense patches of crocus flowers on the fresco ‘The Saffron Gatherers’ from the island of Santorini (1600 BCE) suggest cultivation. Around the globe today, all saffron crocuses are effectively clones dating back to saffron’s emergence in ancient times.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Crippled Pompeii man suffocated

With his skull in hand, experts believe that the man died from being suffocated by the volcanic ash that rained down on Pompeii, rather than being squashed by the rock.
The skeleton was found in an area of new excavations in 2019, close to a newly-discovered alleyway of houses with balconies.
Archaeologists discovered silver and bronze coins that he had been carrying in a leather pouch. It contained 22 coins, worth 80 sestertii, enough to sustain a family for a month.
Excavations of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii have revealed the skeleton of a man who may have been decapitated by a large stone block as he fled from the catastrophic 79 C.E. eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Possibly hampered by a bone infection, he fled through an alleyway after surviving the first ejections that rained down on the city. He was thought to met his demise when struck by a stone. His body was found at roughly the same height as the second floor of a nearby building, suggesting he ventured outside after the first phase of raining ash had settled. Lesions at the tibia suggest he was suffering from a chronic bone infection. This could have hindered his movements and stopped him leaving Pompeii when the volcano first erupted.
The crippled man was found in an alleyway above a thick layer of lapilli—debris thrown from the erupting Vesuvius. Archaeologists are excavating areas of the city which have not yet been fully explored. This is another remarkable archaeological discovery in Pompeii.
See -----> Remains of ancient horse discovered at Pompeii
See ----->The Curse of Pompeii
See ----->Skeletons And Ancient Gold Coins Found at Pompeii Excavation

Friday, 25 March 2022

Historians wrong about ancient Roman vase for centuries

New research shows that one the British Museum’s most famous artifacts—the Portland Vase—was manufactured by a different technique than the one assumed by historians. For centuries, experts said that the Portland Vase, along with other Roman cameo glass artifacts, were manufactured by the Romans using a blown glass technique. Arguments say a cold-processing technique now known as “pate de verre” was used. The Portland Vase was crafted sometime between 30 BC to 50 AD and is probably the best known piece of Roman cameo glass in the world.

Wedgwood replica

Thursday, 24 March 2022

Ancient naval bases in Athens' Piraeus Harbor

Massive fortifications and sunken ship-sheds thousands of years old were found in 2016, in the harbor city of Athens. The discoveries are part of the partially sunken port that played a pivotal role in the famous Battle of Salamis, against the Persian Empire, a naval conflict that saved Greece in 480 BCE.
Researchers identified the 5th century BC naval bases of Piraeus, ship-sheds, the slipways and harbor fortifications. The victory in the Battle of Salamis freed the Greeks from Persian domination.

A Persian victory would have hamstrung the development of Ancient Greece, and western civilization.
The Battle of Salamis was a naval battle fought between an alliance of Greek city-states under Themistocles and the Persian Empire under King Xerxes in 480BC which resulted in a decisive victory for the outnumbered Greeks. The battle was fought in the straits between the mainland and Salamis, an island near Athens. The battles of Salamis and Plataea marked a turning point in the course of Greco-Persian wars.
King Xerxes watches his defeat
With the Persian ships gone from the Aegean, the nature of the allied Greek states changed from defensive to expansive. Athens was freed to deploy large fleets throughout the Mediterranean, which it used to carve out the great Greek empire. To preserve its empire and secure its wealth, Athens maintained a large war fleet. At its peak, Piraeus hosted about 400 triremes requiring crews of 80,000 sailors and soldiers. Athenian triremes patrolled the Black Sea in the North, the Israelite coast in the east, and the Nile delta of Egypt in the south.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Apollo Galleries Auction

Apollo Galleries and Auctions is Britain's premier source for expertly appraised cultural art and antiquities. This Greek Illyrian hammered bronze hoplite helmet, circa 600 BC is estimated $52k-$105k

Greek Apulian red-figure wheel-thrown ritual krater. Est $26k-$52k.

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Top Macedonian Artifacts

The Golden Larnax
A larnax is a small closed coffin, box or "ash-chest" used as a container for human remains. A 4th century BC example found at Vergina in Macedonia is made of solid gold. The tomb where it was found is thought to have belonged to King Philip II of Macedonia, father of Alexander the Great.
The cremated bones of Alexander IV, the posthumous son of Alexander the Great who was murdered, along with his mother, Roxane, by Alexander's former general Cassander in 311/310 B.C.

The ashes had been placed in a silver hydria, crowned by a golden wreath. They were found in 1978 at Vergina.
The Derveni Krater is a volute krater, found in 1962 in a tomb at Derveni, not far from Thessaloniki. Weighing 40 kg, it is made of an alloy of bronze and tin. It is dated to the late 4th century BC, and was probably made in Athens. Large metalwork vessels are extremely rare and the Derveni Krater is the finest known.
Alexander the Great Bust. Due to its original inscription, the figure can be definitely identified as Alexander the Great. The work is a copy of a work from 330 BC attributed to Lysippos.
Philippeioi, later called Alexanders were the gold coins used in the ancient Greek Kingdom of Macedonia. First issued at some point between 355 and 347 BCE, the coins featured a portrait of Apollo, and on the reverse, an illustration of a biga, a Greek chariot. They had the value of one gold stater each. The majority of the coins were struck by Alexander the Great and were known as "alexanders".

It depicts a battle between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia.

The Alexander Mosaic, dating from 100 BC, is a Roman floor mosaic from the House of the Faun in Pompeii.

The mosaic is believed to be a copy of an early 3rd-century BC Hellenistic painting.