Sunday, 31 July 2022

Golden Pectoral from Tovsta Mohyla

The Golden Pectoral from Tovsta Mohyla is a Scythian treasure discovered in a kurgan near the city of Ordzonikidzhe in Ukraine. It dates to 300 B.C. The pectoral is 24k gold and weighs over a kilo. It is broken down into three sections. The top reflects daily life.
The middle section is believed to represent nature. The third section is thought to represent Scythian belief in their mythology.
The grave mound belonged to a high status Scythian aristocrat. Few objects survive due to grave robbers. The Golden Pectoral from Tovsta Mohyla remains one of the most astounding pieces of gold jewelry to ever survive from the ancient world.

Venus of WIllendorf

Deemed “pornographic” by Facebook, the Venus of Wlllendorf is a 30,000 year-old nude statue. Four attempts to appeal Facebook's decision failed. The early Stone Age statue was discovered in Austria in 1908. The Venus of Willendorf is one of the oldest and most famous surviving works of human art.

Saturday, 30 July 2022

Claudius


Bust of Claudius at the Naples National Archaeological Museum
Claudius (10 BC – AD 54) was Roman emperor from AD 41 to 54. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul, the first (and until Trajan, only) Roman emperor to be born outside Italy. His maternal grandparents were Mark Antony and Octavia Minor, Augustus' sister, and he was the great-great grandnephew of Gaius Julius Caesar. He was afflicted with a limp and slight deafness due to sickness as a child, causing his family to ostracize him. Claudius's infirmity probably saved him from the fate of other nobles during the many purges of Tiberius and Caligula. He wasn't seen as a serious threat. His survival led to his being declared emperor by the Praetorian Guard after Caligula's assassination.
On 24 January 41, Caligula was assassinated in a broad-based conspiracy involving the Praetorian commander Cassius Chaerea and several senators. There is no evidence that Claudius had a direct hand in the assassination. In the chaos following the murder, Claudius witnessed the guard cut down several uninvolved noblemen. He fled to the palace to hide. According to tradition, a Praetorian named Gratus found him hiding behind a curtain and suddenly declared him princeps. Eventually the Senate was forced to give in and, in return, Claudius pardoned virtually all the assassins. He ruled well and left a large treasury behind. After his death in 54 aged 63, his grand-nephew, step-son, and adopted son Nero succeeded him as emperor.

Thursday, 28 July 2022

Hoard of Bronze Age weapons found by banks of the Thames.


The Bronze Age in Britain began around 2,000 BC and lasted for nearly 1,500 years. It was a time when sophisticated bronze tools, pots and weapons were brought over from continental Europe.
A hoard of ancient weapons discovered on a building site by the banks of the Thames in 2019 may have been an offering to the gods, experts say. The 453 artifacts date back nearly 3,000 years and were discovered in Havering, east London. Axes, swords, spears, rings, daggers and copper ingots make up the ancient collection, which dates from between 800BC and 900BC.
The placement of hundreds of weapons carefully buried in groups close together suggests the site in Havering might have been a metal worker’s former armoury recycling metal. Many of the objects were damaged or broken. The objects will go on display for the first time at the Museum of London Docklands.

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Berserkers

Berserkers were Norse warriors who fought in a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury, which later gave rise to the English word berserk. They were said to wear the pelt of a wolf or bear into battle. The name berserker derives from the Old Norse berserkr. This expression came from their habit of wearing a shirt or coat (serkr) made from the pelt of a bear (ber-) during battle. The bear was one of the animals representing Odin, and by wearing such a pelt the warriors sought to gain the strength of a bear and the favor of Odin. Berserkers are described as Odin's special warriors.
Berserkers appear prominently in sagas and poems, many of which describe them as ravenous men who loot, plunder, and kill indiscriminately. Later, Christian interpreters referred to berserkers as a "heathen devils". The berserker were said to be able to do things that normal humans could not. According to legend, the berserkers were indestructible, and no weapon could break them from their trance. They were described as being immune to fire and to the strike of a sword, continuing on their rampage despite injury.
The fury of the berserkers would start with chills and teeth chattering and give way to a purpling of the face, as they literally became ‘hot-headed’, and culminating in a great, uncontrollable rage accompanied by grunts and howls. Some claim that berserker behavior can be explained by the ingestion of the plant known as bog myrtle, one of the main ingredients in Nordic grog. Myrica gale is a species of flowering plant in the genus Myrica, native to northern and western Europe. It is a deciduous shrub.

Tuesday, 26 July 2022

Gigantopithecus blacki

In 1935, anthropologist Gustav von Koenigswald came across strange teeth in drug stores in Hong Kong and southern China. Sold as 'dragon teeth' and ground up for use in Chinese medicine, they were special: they were apelike, but huge. Their size suggested that Gigantopithecus blacki was the largest primate ever, towering 3 meters. By piecing together clues from proteins in the enamel of a 1.9myo tooth found in southern China, researchers have evidence that places G. blacki on the primate family tree. The giant ape was most closely related to orangutans. The two lineages probably split off between 10 million and 12 million years ago.
G. blacki became extinct around 100,000 years ago.
Adult male G. blacki are believed to have stood almost 10 feet tall and weighed as much as 600kg, making it three to four times as heavy as modern gorillas and eight times as heavy as the orangutan, its closest living relative. It's thought G. blacki consumed bamboo and other vegetable foods including seeds and fruit. Gigantopithecus blacki is the largest known hominid.

Sunday, 24 July 2022

Leadership lessons from Julius Caesar

After a brief war with Pharnacles II of Pontus, Caesar had to write a report to Rome detailing his conquest. The commander didn't go into much detail, writing: "I came, I saw, I conquered." The sound bite proved so catchy that we still remember it to this day.
Crossing the Rubicon River with an army was tantamount to a declaration of war. When Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his legion on Jan 10, 49 BC, he risked all. Suetonius writes that Caesar quoted an Athenian playwright as he crossed the river, declaring "the die is cast."
Caesar once wrote that "in war, events of importance are the result of trivial causes."

In his chronicle of the Gallic Wars, Caesar concludes that: "in most cases men willingly believe what they wish" when describing a tactical mistake on the part of his Gallic enemies.
Caesar writes: "The immortal gods are wont to allow those persons whom they wish to punish for their guilt sometimes a greater prosperity and longer impunity, in order that they may suffer the more severely from a reverse of circumstances." As a young man, Julius Caesar was abducted by pirates. When the pirates demanded a ransom of twenty talents, Caesar burst out laughing. They did not know, he said, who it was that they had captured, and he volunteered to pay fifty.
Caesar went on to promise the pirates that he'd personally kill them once he was free. After he was ransomed, he raised a fleet, hunted them down, and did exactly what he had promised.

Thursday, 21 July 2022

Crusader Gold in Israel

A hoard of buried gold coins found in Apollonia National Park in 2012 by a joint team of archeologists from Tel Aviv University and the Nature and Parks Authority is one of the country's largest-ever such finds. The hoard of 108 gold coins were minted in Egypt about 250 years before being buried in the floor of a 13th century fortress at Apollonia Park, about 15 miles north of Tel Aviv.
The coins discovered in the fort date to the Fatimid empire in northern Africa, far older than the ruined fortress they were found in. The coins were minted in Tripoli and Alexandria.
Researchers believe the hoard was hidden to prevent Muslim conquerors from finding it. The Christian Order of the Knights Hospitaller ruled the fortress and the surrounding city.
The Order of the Knights of Saint John, Order of Hospitallers, Knights Hospitaller, and the Hospitallers, were among the most famous of the Roman Catholic military orders during the Middle Ages. The excavations offered unique insight into Crusader fortifications in the Middle East. The layer of Crusader artefacts has lain nearly undisturbed since 1265. Muslim Arsuf was conquered by the Crusaders in 1101 and re-conquered by the Mamluks in 1265.

Baibars’ reign marked the start of an age of Mamluk dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In March 1265, Mamluke Sultan Baibars stormed the city and captured it after 40 days of siege. The knights were annihilated. Baibars (1223 – 1 July 1277) was the fourth Sultan of Egypt from the Mamluk Bahri dynasty.

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

The tribute penny – Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s


Tribute Penny – Tiberius, ca. 18-35 CE.
Tiberius didn’t particularly want to be emperor. He was stepson of Augustus and became emperor in 14 CE upon Augustus’ death. Tiberius was one of the greatest Roman generals but is remembered as a dark and reclusive ruler. Pliny the Elder called him "the gloomiest of men." After the death of his son Drusus Julius Caesar in 23 AD, Tiberius became even more reclusive. Tiberius left Rome to retire on the island of Capri in 27 CE. When Tiberius eventually died, the succession was left to his nephew Caligula and grandson Tiberius Gemellus. Caligula quickly established his reputation by executing Gemellus.
Tiberius, 41-54 CE
Tiberius took no interest in coinage, leaving a single type in place for nearly the entirety of his 23-year reign. It proved to be one of the most widely used coinages in Roman history and ranks among the most familiar coins of antiquity. Tiberius coins became known as the 'Tribute Penny' due to its famous reference in The Bible as the coin Jesus said to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”