Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Chilesaurus; 'Most bizarre dinosaur ever found'

A vegetarian dinosaur with the silhouette of a flesh-ripping velociraptor, whose fossilized remains were unearthed in southern Chile 16 years ago, is a missing link in dinosaur evolution, say researchers. An inverted, bird-like hip structure and flattened, leaf-shaped teeth prove an exclusively vegetal diet, not a meat eating one. Chilesaurus is more closely related to a group including Triceratops and the three-tonne Stegosaurus. The first dinosaur emerged some 228m years ago. The new findings support the idea that Chilesaurus is the 'missing link' between the T-Rex Family and Herbivores. Theropods and ornithischians may have shared a common ancestor as early as 225m years ago.

Wednesday, 24 August 2022

The Age of King Midas - The Phrygia Kingdom

In antiquity, Phrygia was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now Turkey, centered on the Sakarya River. Legendary kings were Phrygians: Gordias whose Gordian Knot would later be cut by Alexander the Great, Midas, and Mygdon who warred with the Amazons.
Phrygian power reached its peak in the late 8th century BC.
According to Homer's Iliad, the Phrygians were allies of the Trojans and fought in the Trojan War against the Achaeans. The later Midas was the last independent king of Phrygia before its capital Gordium was sacked by Cimmerians around 695 BC. Phrygia then became subject to Lydia, then to Persia, Alexander the Great, Pergamon, Rome and Byzantium. Phrygians were assimilated by the early medieval era.
Classical Greek iconography preserved the Phrygian cap, which was worn by Mithras and survived into modern imagery as the "Liberty cap" of French and American revolutionaries.

A spectacular array of 150 artifacts were on display in 2017. 'The Golden Age of King Midas' was an exhibition developed by the Penn Museum

Goat jug

Ivory statuette of a lion tamer found at Delphi

Monday, 22 August 2022

The Oxus Treasure

The Oxus treasure is a hoard of 180 pieces of metalwork in gold and silver from the Achaemenid Persian period, found by the Oxus river in 1880 in Takht-i Kuwad, Tadjikistan. It is the world's most important surviving collection of gold and silver to have survived from the Achaemenid period.

Cyrus the Great
The Achaemenid Dynasty built an empire (559–330 BC) which, at its peak, spanned three continents. In land mass, the Achaemenid Empire was the largest empire the ancient world had ever seen until 331-330 BC, when Alexander the Great toppled the Persian regime on his eastward march from the Mediterranean through Afghanistan to India. The Persian Empire became the first to attempt to govern many ethnic groups on the principle of equal rights for all, so long as subjects paid their taxes and kept the peace.
The king did not interfere with the local customs and religions of its subject states, a unique quality that fostered rapid growth.
The British Museum has nearly all the surviving metalwork from the hoard.

Saturday, 20 August 2022

Divining the will of the Gods

Clay model of a sheep’s liver used for instruction in liver divination in a Babylonian Temple School, c. 2000 B.C.
The ancient world offered many ways of telling the future and divining the will of the gods. In second-millennium B.C. Mesopotamia, oracle-priests would ritually sacrifice an animal and read it's entrails (extispicy). The priests chose to inspect a sacrificed animal’s liver, which was deemed the location of the soul. Divining by inspecting the liver was called hepatomancy.
In Ancient Rome, a haruspex was a person trained to practice this form of divination. On behalf of the person who brought the animal to the temple, the priests asked the gods a question; the gods inscribed the answer in the entrails. Over the centuries, liver models became popular across the ancient Near East, from Assyria to Babylonia, Anatolia to Cyprus.
Rich kings often split up his multiple diviners into groups so they couldn’t conspire to lie to him. It was common for kings to order omens until they got the answer they wanted.

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Ancient Gold of Romania

What archaeologists called the "most sensational finds of the last century" surfaced not in a museum but at Christie's New York.
Among ancient jewelry for sale on December 8, 1999, was Lot 26, a spiraling, snake-shaped gold bracelet that was identified as a "massive Greek or Thracian gold armband." Christie's estimated it would sell for as much as $100k. When the bidding stalled at $65k the bracelet and its owner disappeared back into the underworld of ancient artifacts.
Lot 26, "massive Greek or Thracian gold arm band," circa 2nd-1st Century, B. C.
Lot 26 set off a search to recover the lost heirlooms of Dacia, an empire that was once a rival to ancient Rome. After nearly a decade of sleuthing more than a dozen similar bracelets have been found, along with hundreds of gold and silver coins. Their discovery has led to new insights into Dacian society and religion. Sarmizegetusa was once the capital of the Dacians, a civilization crushed by the Roman Emperor Trajan in two bloody wars more than 1,900 years ago. The victory, Roman chroniclers boasted, yielded one of the largest treasures the ancient world had ever known: half a million pounds of gold and a million pounds of silver.
After his victory, Trajan took the spoils to Rome, where they paid for his forum. The Roman Senate erected a column dedicated to Trajan and illustrating the story of the wars. Sarmizegetusa was forgotten for centuries. But stories of Dacia's gold lived on, inspiring generations of locals who lived nearby to dig in the steep valleys. It wasn't until Romania's communist dictatorship collapsed in 1989 that dreams of striking it rich came true. Groups of local treasure hunters started using metal detectors to hunt for artifacts in the thick forests at the rugged site.
Treasure hunters hit the mother lode in May 2000, according to police. Their metal detector pinged over a stone slab about two feet wide, embedded in a steep hillside. Underneath, in a small chamber made of flat stones propped against each other, they found ten spiraling, elaborately decorated Dacian bracelets, all solid gold. Over the next two years, Romanian police say, looters found at least 14 more bracelets at Sarmizegetusa.
Sarmizegetusa's stolen gold was nearly lost. Recovering it involved a decade of sleuthing by Romanian prosecutors and museum curators. In all, Romanian authorities have recovered 13 hammered gold bracelets and more than 27.5 pounds (12.5 kilograms) of gold.
The recovered bracelets—now on display in Bucharest, are the only ones of their kind discovered in Romania. At least another dozen, including the one still known as Lot 26, remain missing.