Monday, 31 October 2022

Rome subway work reveals artifacts

Construction of the subway in Rome in 2017 resulted in scores of treasures from ancient times. Ancient Roman objects featured amphora, marble panels, coins and peach pits. Officials created a permanent exhibit of the excavated articles at the San Giovanni metro station.

Human bones at ancient Roman ruins of former barracks. 13 skeletons were found.
The barracks were for Roman Praetorian guards dating back to the period of Emperor Hadrian. (117 to 138). The Praetorian Guard were elite military troops. They were household troops of Roman emperors and acted as bodyguards.

Notable finds included a three-pronged iron pitchfork, storage baskets, leather fragments possibly from a farmhand's glove or shoe, and traces carved into stone by a waterwheel's repeated turning. Peach pits, presumably from the farm's orchard, also were found. Peaches were still a novelty, first imported from the Middle East. Ancient Romans recycled. Amphorae, the jars they favored to transport and store food, were lined up with their ends cut open to double as water conduits. Other, older signs of life were carriage ruts from as long ago as the 6th century B.C.

Sunday, 30 October 2022

Top Macedonian artifacts

The Golden Larnax
A larnax is a small closed coffin, or "ash-chest" used for human remains. A 4th century BC example found at Vergina in Macedonia is made of solid gold. The tomb where it was found 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 rare survivors 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 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".

The Alexander Mosaic, 100 BC, is a Roman floor mosaic from the House of the Faun in Pompeii. It depicts a battle between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia.

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

Saturday, 29 October 2022

Gold parting via salt cementation

Gold and silver are similar on a chemical level and are often found together forming an alloy known as electrum. Electrum wasn't always desirable for trade.

When coinage started gaining popularity a means to standardize the purity of the gold and silver was needed. The first technique of gold parting was invented: salt cementation. Salt cementation involves adding gold/silver alloy, some burnt clay or old brick dust, salt, and urine to moisten it. The mixture is sealed and then heated, but not hot enough to melt the gold – less than 1000°C.
In about 24 hours, the gold will be nearly silver-free at around 90% purity or greater. When heated in the presence of silica and alumina (found in the clay/brick dust), salt breaks down to form hydrochloric acid and chlorine. The acidity in urine helps decomposition. The hydrochloric acid from this reaction interacts with the silver to create silver chloride, which separates from the gold. When that occurs, the reaction is volatile – which is why it's sealed.

After removing the gold, one can convert the silver chloride back into silver, giving you two separate, purified samples of precious metals for coins.
See ----->Gold of Croesus

Thursday, 27 October 2022

The Didcot Hoard

The hoard was found by metal detectorist Bill Darley in 1995, near the Oxfordshire town of Didcot.

This incredible hoard consists of 126 aurei, a massive sum. The hoard was equivalent to over 10 years salary for a well paid Roman legionary of the time. (300 denarii per year from the time of Domitian)

The coins date from AD 54 to 161. The first coins were issued under Claudius while the latest coin in the hoard dates to the final year of the reign of Antoninus Pius. (138 to 161)

Wednesday, 26 October 2022

Treasures of Ancient Greece: Life, Myth and Heroes

An exhibit of 150 ancient Greek artifacts was on display at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in 2019. The exhibition featured bronze and marble statues, gold jewelry and funerary objects.

Tuesday, 25 October 2022


Elagabalus was a close relative to the Severan dynasty. He came from a prominent Arab family in Emesa (Homs), Syria. In his early youth he served as head priest of the sun god Elagabal. After the death of his cousin, the emperor Caracalla, Elagabalus was raised to the principate at age 14 in an army revolt instigated by his grandmother Julia Maesa against Caracalla's short-lived successor, Macrinus. Opposed, he was assassinated and replaced by his cousin Severus Alexander in March 222.
Elagabalus developed a reputation for extreme eccentricity, moral decadence, zealotry and sexual proclivity.
The assassination was again devised by Julia Maesa and carried out by the Praetorian Guard. Elagabalus 218-222 CE gold aureus. The obverse features a laureate bust of the Roman emperor Elagabalus facing left. On the reverse is a stunning scene with a quadriga moving left to right bearing the stone of Emesa with an eagle cresting the stone. The legend reads “SANCT DEO SOLI ELAGABAL” ('To the Holy Sun God El-Gabel'). This example is one of two of this type known to exist.
Ancients regarded stones that fell from the sky as manifestations of the divine. The Syrian town of Emesa (now Homs) had a temple enshrining a conical black stone that was likely a meteorite. Elagabalus' first official act was to transfer the sacred rock to Rome’s main temple, the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill. Elagabalus disregarded Roman religious traditions and sexual taboos. He replaced the head of the Roman pantheon, Jupiter, with the deity Elagabal. His behavior outraged the Praetorian Guard, the Senate, and the common people.
See ----->Worst Roman Emperors

Monday, 24 October 2022

Imperial tomb of the Wari

A winged creature adorns an ear ornament worn by an elite Wari woman.
The Wari lords have long been overshadowed by the later Inca. But in the 8th and 9th centuries A.D., the Wari built an empire that spanned much of present-day Peru. Their Andean capital, Huari, became one of the world's great cities. At its zenith, Huari boasted a population estimated at about 40,000 people. Paris, by comparison, had just 25,000 residents at the time.

They were buried with gold and silver jewelery and painted ceramics.
In 2014 more than 60 skeletons were found inside a tomb, including three Wari queens.
Mummified bodies were sitting upright - indicating royalty. The tomb was found in El Castillo de Huarmey, about 280km (175 miles) north of Lima. Forensic archaeologists say the way other bodies were positioned indicated they were human sacrifices. Six of the skeletons found in the grave were not in the textiles. They were placed on the top of the other burials in very strange positions.
Archaeologists found the remains of the Wari queens, gold, ceramics and skeletons all about 1,300 years old. The Wari civilization thrived from the 7th to 10th centuries AD, conquering all of what is now Peru before a mysterious and dramatic decline.