Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Ancient gold had common source

Researchers applied a portable laser ablation system (pLA) to analyze samples of Bronze Age jewellery found in Ur, Troy and Poliochni. (ancient Greece) The portable laser ablation system (pLA) enabled researchers to undertake minimally invasive extraction of 61 samples of the priceless artifacts. The laser melts a small, microscopic hole in the samples, which was then analysed for composition using mass spectrometry. Scientists can create a distinct chemical profile for the finds and use this to draw conclusions. For example, the high concentrations of zinc, palladium and platinum in the jewellery from Troy are a sure sign that the gold was washed out of a river in the form of gold dust.
> Some jewellery was mass-produced by workshops and not just as individual items. This is the only explanation for the identical amount of platinum and palladium being present in the gold discs in necklaces of the same design that were found at different sites. Experts have long debated the origin of the gold from the royal tombs of Ur. There are no natural sources of gold in Mesopotamia – so West Anatolia, which was also the site of Troy, was believed to be a possible source. It is now thought strong trade links with Ur need to be given greater importance. Share of trace elements in the gold from Troy, Poliochni and Ur, most closely match Bronze Age gold from Georgia.

See --->Priam's Treasure
See --->Gold of the Royal Cemetery of Ur

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Classical Greek Statues

The Artemision Bronze (God from the Sea) is an ancient Greek sculpture that was recovered from the sea off Cape Artemision, in northern Euboea.

It represents either Zeus or Poseidon and would have held either a thunderbolt, if Zeus, or a trident if Poseidon.

The Charioteer of Delphi is one of the best-known statues surviving from ancient Greece, and is considered one of the finest examples of ancient bronze statues. The life-size statue of a chariot driver was found in 1896 at the Sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi. It is now in the Delphi Archaeological Museum.

Caryatids from Erechtheion. A caryatid is a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support taking the place of a column or a pillar. The Greek term karyatides literally means "maidens of Karyai", an ancient town of Peloponnese. The best-known and most-copied examples are those of the six figures of the Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis at Athens.
The statue of Laocoön and His Sons was excavated in Rome in 1506 and placed on public display in the Vatican. The marble figures are near life-size and the group is a little over 2m (6 ft 7 in) in height, showing the Trojan priest Laocoön and his sons Antiphantes and Thymbraeus being attacked by sea serpents.
The Discobolus of Myron ("discus thrower") circa 460–450 BC. The original Greek bronze is lost but the work is known through numerous Roman copies, both full-scale ones in marble and smaller versions in bronze.

Monday, 28 November 2022

The Instructions of Shuruppak - 2600 BC

The Instructions of Shuruppak is a fragmentary tablet, written in Sumerian. The earliest copies of this text represent some of the oldest literature known - from about 2600 BCE. The inscription reads in part:

Do not buy an ass which brays too much.
Do not commit rape upon a man's daughter;
the courtyard will learn of it.
Do not answer back against your father.

Even at the dawn of the written word, people looked to a more ancient past for wisdom.
Shuruppak's instructions begin by recalling "those far remote days" and "those far remote years" as the source of the wisdom it imparts.

Linguists estimate that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken around 5,500 years ago. But they have dated another ancient language, Proto-Afroasiatic — the grandparent of languages like Ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, and Arabic — to 10,000 to 20,000 years old.

Friday, 25 November 2022

Tartarus and Elysium

Tartarus in Greek mythology is the deep abyss that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked and as the prison for the Titans. As far below Hades as the earth is below the heavens, Tartarus is the place where, according to Plato, souls were judged after death and where the wicked received divine punishment.

Tartarus was also considered to be a primordial force or deity.
According to Greek mythology, the realm of Hades is the place of the dead, but Tartarus also has a number of inhabitants. When Cronus came to power as the King of the Titans, he imprisoned the one-eyed Cyclopes and the hundred-armed Hecatonchires in Tartarus and set the monster Campe as its guard. Zeus killed Campe and released these imprisoned giants to aid in his conflict with the Titans. The gods of Olympus eventually triumphed. Cronus and many of the other Titans were banished to Tartarus.
Aegaeon the Hekantonkheires
Another Titan, Atlas, was sentenced to hold the sky on his shoulders to prevent it from resuming its primordial embrace with the Earth. Heracles ends up building a large pillar that holds up the sky eventually freeing Atlas from his torment. Originally, Tartarus was used only to confine dangers to the gods of Olympus. In later mythologies, Tartarus became the place where the punishment fits the crime. Mythical figures such as Sisyphus, Tantalus, Ixion, Tityos and the Titan Prometheus met their fates in Tartarus.
Tantalus was given eternal punishment where he was condemned to stand in a lake with fruits, but without being able to satisfy his thirst or his hunger.
Elysium, also called Elysian Fields or Elysian Plain, was the paradise to which heroes on whom the gods conferred immortality were sent. The Elysian Plain was a land of perfect happiness at the end of the Earth, on the banks of the Oceanus. Earlier, only those favored by the gods entered Elysium.
Later Elysium was a place for the blessed dead and entrance was gained by a righteous life.


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.

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Ancient Cameos

Eagle Cameo, Roman 27 B.C. Two-layered onyx
A cameo is a small scene or figure carved in relief. This modern Italian word, meaning "to engrave" is thought to have come from the ancient Hebrew/Arabic word "kamea", meaning "charm" or "amulet." Folklore relates to a cameo's power to attract health and good fortune. Artistic cameos were made in Greece as early as the 3rd century BC. The word cameo specifically describes a relief image raised higher than its background and carved from one material. In contrast, when the artist carves down into the stone to hollow out a recessed image, it is called "intaglio".
Cameo portrait of Augustus AD 14-20

The world’s largest cameo (cameo Tiberius)
Intaglios and cameos can be made in any material, but the most popular are stone, coral, shell, glass and fine metals. Intaglios had a practical as well as decorative purpose. When brushed with ink or wax, the intaglio can be used as a seal to mark a letter or document.

Sardonyx cameo depicting Pan.

Athena and Poseidon. Cameo. Onyx 1c BC

August and Triton, after 27 AD

'Gemma Augustea', a Roman cameo in an open-work gold frame, glorifying Emperor Augustus and his successor Tiberius.