Sunday, 29 January 2023

Staffordshire Hoard Roman helmet recreated

Many fragments found in the famous Staffordshire Hoard come from the helmet which experts spent 18 months reconstructing. Thousands of 1,300 years old fragments were studied in a bid to rebuild the original helmet.
A third of the pieces were found to belong to an ornate Anglo-Saxon helmet, one of four found.
He unearthed the £3.2 million ancient gold and silver haul in the summer of 2009.It was almost a decade ago when one man and his metal detector uncovered the world's largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork. Terry Herbert struck the treasure of several lifetimes near the village of Hammerwich, near Lichfield.

Friday, 27 January 2023

Egyptian Book of the Dead

A heart being weighed on the scale of Maat against the feather of truth, by Anubis. The ibis-headed Thoth, scribe of the gods, records the result. If his heart equals exactly the weight of the feather, one is allowed to pass into the afterlife. If not, he is eaten by the waiting Ammit.
The Book of the Dead is an ancient Egyptian funerary text, used from the beginning of the New Kingdom (around 1550 BCE) to around 50 BC. The original Egyptian name for the text is translated as Book of Coming Forth by Day.

The loose collection of texts consist of a number of magic spells intended to assist a dead person's journey through the Duat, or underworld, and into the afterlife. It was written by many priests over a period of about 1000 years. The Book of the Dead first developed in Thebes towards the beginning of the Second Intermediate Period, around 1700 BCE and were exclusively for the use of the Pharaoh.
The Book of the Dead is made up of a number of individual texts and their illustrations. Some 192 spells are known, though no single manuscript contains them all. They served a range of purposes. Some are intended to give the deceased mystical knowledge in the afterlife, or perhaps to identify them with the gods. Others are incantations to ensure the different elements of the dead person's being were preserved and reunited, and to give the deceased control over the world around him. Still others protect the deceased from hostile forces, or guide him through the underworld past obstacles. Two spells also deal with the judgement of the deceased in the Weighing of the Heart ritual.
The heart was regarded as the aspect of being which included intelligence and memory.
The texts and images of the Book of the Dead were magical as well as religious. Mummification served to preserve and transform the physical body into sah, an idealized form with divine aspects.
The ka, or life-force, remained in the tomb with the dead body, and required sustenance from offerings of food, water and incense.
The path to the afterlife as laid out in the Book of the Dead was difficult. The deceased was required to pass a series of gates, caverns and mounds guarded by supernatural creatures. These creatures had to be pacified by reciting the appropriate spells. If all the obstacles of the Duat could be negotiated, the deceased would be judged in the 'Weighing of the Heart' ritual.

Rome sewer work reveals Hercules

The Appia Antica Park announced on Facebook that the area “has reserved a great surprise for us: a life-size marble statue which, due to the presence of the club and the lion’s coat covering its head, we can certainly identify as a figure representing Hercules”. The discovery was made during repair work on some sewer pipes that had collapsed, causing landslides. The excavations reached a depth of 20 metres and, as often happens in Rome, were carried out with archaeologists present. The statue dates to roughly between 27 BC and 220 AD. Crews were excavating the area to repair a sewer pipe that had collapsed under a park in Rome.
The statue was found along the Appian Way, an ancient road that runs from Rome to the southeastern region of Italy. The road was critical to Rome’s conquest of Southern Italy.

A separate dig alongside the Appian Way, also known as Regina viarum, or queen of the roads, revealed other finds, including a first-century marble head of a man, ceramic fragments, coins and jewelry. However, archaeologists were unable to find what they were looking for - the start of the Appian Way.

Thursday, 26 January 2023

Golden Boy mummy chock full of gold

The so-called "Golden Boy" mummy has revealed a hidden trove of 49 amulets, many of which were made of gold. The young mummy earned its nickname because of his dazzling display of wealth, which included a gilded head mask. The Golden Boy was originally unearthed in 1916 at a cemetery in southern Egypt and has been stored in the basement of The Egyptian Museum in Cairo ever since. Researchers think he was about 14 or 15 years old when he died because his wisdom teeth had not yet emerged. Researchers found amulets, comprised of 21 different shapes and sizes, were strategically placed on or inside his body.
A golden heart scarab was placed inside the thoracic cavity and a golden tongue inside the mouth. The amulets served important roles in the afterlife. The teenage mummy's tongue was capped in gold to enable him to speak and his sandals were to enable him to walk out of the tomb.
The heart scarab silenced the heart on judgement day so not to bear witness against the deceased. A heart scarab was placed inside the torso cavity during mummification to substitute for the heart if the body was ever deprived of this important organ. The Ptolemaic dynasty lasted for 275 years, from 305 to 30 BC.
Embalmers placed amulets during mummification to vitalize the dead body.

Scylla and Charybdis

Being between Scylla and Charybdis is an idiom derived from Greek mythology, meaning having to choose between two evils. Between a rock and a hard place is similar. Scylla and Charybdis were mythical sea monsters on opposite sides of the Strait of Messina between Sicily and the mainland. Scylla was a six-headed sea monster on the Italian side and Charybdis was a whirlpool off the coast of Sicily.
Avoiding Charybdis meant passing close to Scylla and vice versa.

According to Homer, Odysseus was forced to choose which monster to confront; he opted to pass by Scylla and lose only a few sailors, rather than risk the loss of his entire ship in the whirlpool.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

Amazing Ancients

IONIA. Ephesus. AR Tetradrachm (15.22 gms), ca. 390-325. NGC EF, Strike: 5/5 Surface: 4/5. $2,200. Ephesus was an Ionian settlement at the mouth of the Cayster River. It rivaled and finally surpassed Miletos as the chief sea port and emporium of the trade of the Maeander valley. The city was most famous in ancient times for its sanctuary of the Ephesian Artemis. According to legend, the temple burned down on the night of the birth of Alexander the Great, into whose control the city passed in 334 B.C. The bee was the heraldic badge of the city. The stag was also closely associated with the goddess.
EUBOEA, Eretria. Circa 500-465 BC. AR Stater. Cow with head turned to the back right, scratching face with raised right hoof; E below; standing upon a groundline / Octopus within shallow incuse square Very rare.
BRUTTIUM, Rhegion. Circa 356-351 BC. AR Tetradrachm. Head of Apollo left, with long hair, wearing laurel wreath; [P]HΓINOΣ upward to right / Facing lion’s head. Superb EF, faint golden toning around devices. From the Collection of Sheik Saud al-Thani. (hammer $130,000 in 2008)
Aegina, Stater ca. 445-431, AR 12.29 g. Turtle seen from above. Rev. Large skew pattern. SNG Delepierre 1837. Mitchiner 304. Rare and in superb condition. Exceptionally well struck in high relief and complete, lightly toned and good extremely fine. $10,000

Monday, 23 January 2023

Dinosaur footprint poacher Bennward Ingram nailed

Alberta resident Bennward Dale Ingram, 39, along with three others, used power tools to excavate and remove fossils of dinosaur footprints that were a part of the Six Peaks Dinosaur Track Site in Northern B.C. He was sentenced to 25 days in jail and ordered to pay a $15k fine. A judge described the damage done to the Six Peaks Dinosaur Track Site near Hudson’s Hope as extensive when the men vandalized it in 2020. The sentencing describes the site as one of the most important in North America, with more than 500 dinosaur footprints. Austin McNolty also pleaded guilty and was handed a 30-day sentence and $23k in fines.

The document is Here.
“These tracks represent diverse dinosaurs from the Early Cretaceous epoch who walked on sandy ground 125 to 113 million years ago, following which their tracks were fossilized.” None of the fossils were recovered.
Judge Darin Reeves pointed to the “deliberate nature” of the act as an aggravating factor, noting the work took more than 2.5 hours and only stopped when the men realized there were witnesses present.

Göbekli Tepe in Turkey - Skull Cult

Göbekli Tepe was first discovered in 1996. An ancient site in southern Turkey, archaeologists believe it was built around 12,000 years ago, possibly as a holy site.
Archaeologists use “skull cult” to describe ancients who venerated skulls to the point of worship. Researchers recently found three such skulls at Göbekli Tepe, each with incisions along the sagittal axes of the head, or lengthwise down the center.
The skull pieces in Göbeklitepe are the oldest known carved skulls in the world, and may have once been placed in special niches around the monumental temples of Göbekli Tepe or hung on leather cords. There was a hole made in one of the pieces, and some of them were decorated with amber.

Friday, 20 January 2023

Roman Concrete

A study in the journal Science Advances found that calcium-rich mineral deposits called “lime clasts,” commonly found in Roman-era concrete, gave buildings and structures “a previously unrecognized self-healing capability.” The deposits are not found in modern concrete. Such deposits are viewed as impurities by today’s concrete manufacturing standards. Aided by spectroscopic examinations and high-resolution, multiscale imaging and chemical mapping, researchers showed how lime clasts were used by Roman concrete-makers. The team produced samples of “hot-mixed concrete” using Roman and modern methods. After the materials hardened, scientists cracked the samples and ran water through the cracks.
The sample using ancient mixing techniques completely healed within two weeks, and water no longer flowed through the material. Meanwhile the modern concrete without the lime-clast structure never healed, and the water kept flowing through the sample. The Roman process involved a highly chemically reactive form of lime called quicklime.

Sunken structures off the Italian coast doesn't sound impressive but the marvel is in the material.
Roman concrete, 'opus caementicium', was a material used in construction until the fading of the Roman Empire. Roman concrete was based on a hydraulic-setting cement. Roman builders constructed seawalls and harbour piers that outlasted the empire. Tests revealed a rare chemical reaction, with aluminous tobermorite crystals growing out of another mineral called phillipsite.
The concrete, a mixture of volcanic ash and quicklime, has withstood the sea for two millennia.
The key ingredient proved to be seawater. As seawater percolated in the cracks in the Roman concrete it reacted with phillipsite found in the volcanic rock and created tobermorite crystals.
Microscopic image shows the lumpy calcium-aluminum-silicate-hydrate (C-A-S-H) binder material that forms when volcanic ash, lime, and seawater mix. It is even stronger than when it was first mixed.

Caesarea Concrete Bath
The Romans mined a specific type of volcanic ash from a quarry in Italy. Modern seawalls require steel reinforcement. The Romans didn’t use steel. Their reactive concrete was strong enough.

King Nebuchadnezzar II

Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II was the longest-reigning and most powerful monarch of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Between 589-586 BCE, he laid siege to Jerusalem, eventually entering the city and razing it and its Holy Temple complex to the ground. The Babylonian king's two sieges of Jerusalem (in 597 and 587 BC) are depicted in 2 Kings 24–25. The Book of Jeremiah calls Nebuchadnezzar the "destroyer of nations". In 605 BCE, after the battle of Carchemish, Judah became a vassal state under Nebuchadnezzar.
Egyptian military success against Babylon in 601 prompted vassal states, including Judah, to rebel.
This led to Nebuchadnezzar besieging Jerusalem in 597 BCE and conquering the city. Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah as a puppet king, but he also rebelled against his Babylonian rulers. As a consequence the Babylonian army besieged Jerusalem again, and this time they destroyed the city and the temple in 586 BCE.
Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II destroyed the temple, but it seems he did so out of neccessity in order to protect his interests as ruler, since the kings of Judah kept rebelling. The prophets make it clear that Nebuchadnezzar was an instrument used by God to punish the Israelites for their sins against God.