Tuesday 28 February 2023

Gold looter busted at Mahamuni Buddha Temple

The Mahamuni Buddha Temple is a temple and pilgrimage site in southwest of Mandalay, Myanmar. A man who scraped gold from Mandalay’s ancient bronze Mahamuni Buddha image was arrested in 2017. Security cameras caught him scraping out the gold from the back of the Mahamuni image.
With a short piece of steel pipe hidden up his sleeve, Tun Aung Kyaw mingled with other pilgrims who were applying gold leaves to the 6.5-ton image as offerings. Devotees have regularly applied gold leaves to the image over centuries. Except for the face, the image is covered with layers of gold believed to be about 15 centimeters thick. The trustees of the pagoda said this is the first time gold has ever been removed from the image. The man was charged with theft and defaming Buddhism, a serious offense in Myanmar.

Sunday 26 February 2023

Cambodia recovers looted royal gold

A priceless hoard of 77 gold relics looted by tomb raiders returned to Cambodia in a celebration in Phnom Penh. The items came from the collection of Douglas A.J. Latchford, a dealer of ancient Cambodian art who was accused of having been an antiquities trafficking kingpin. Researchers say some of the gold adorned the earliest Angkorian kings, who founded the Khmer Empire (802 to 1431 A.D.) and built its temples. Angkorian gold is very rare, and almost never appears on the market.
In 2008, Latchford collaborated on a book called “Khmer Gold: Gifts for the Gods” that was filled with photos of the ancient splendors he acquired. Cambodian officials were shocked because they had not realized many of the items pictured even existed.
After Latchford’s death, his daughter and heir, Nawapan Kriangsak, agreed to return his collection, saying that the works rightly belonged on Cambodian soil.

Saturday 25 February 2023

Mystery of spiralling holes across Peru solved

Known as puquios, the holes are located in the Nasca region of Peru — a location famous for gigantic geometric images carved into the landscape. While the origin of the formations remained unsolved for years, the use of satellite imaging has provided the answers. Puquios served as a sophisticated hydraulic system constructed to retrieve water from underground aquifers. The discovery explained how the native people of Nasca were able to survive and thrive in a region lacking water.
Exploiting an inexhaustible water supply throughout the year, the puquios system contributed to intensive agriculture of the valleys in one of the most arid places on earth. Corkscrewing funnels were used to force wind into a series of underground canals, which then forced water through to areas it was needed.
The structures prove the Nasca natives, who inhabited the region from 1000BC to AD750, had a vast understanding of the region’s geology and variations in water supply. Great effort, organization and co-operation was required for construction and maintenance. Some of the ‘Nasca lines’ are clearly related to the presence of water.

Friday 24 February 2023

Radiance: Ancient Gold from the Hong Kong Palace

'Radiance: Ancient Gold from the Hong Kong Palace' opens with 220 sets of ancient Chinese gold objects, which will be open to the public from Feb. 22 to Sept. 25. The world-renowned Mengdiexuan Collection are priceless objects from the Eurasian Steppe, Tubo Kingdom, and Central Plains, with the oldest dating to the 18th century BCE.
They highlight the artistic and technical achievements of gold in China. The exhibition is divided into three sections: the first section features early gold objects from the Central Plains and Eurasian Steppe since the 18th century BCE.
The second section focuses on the role of gold in the relationship between the Tubo Kingdom and the Tang dynasty from the 7th to 10th century. The last section looks at the pinnacle of goldsmithing in ancient China that took place from the Liao and Song dynasties to the Ming dynasty.

The Hanksville-Burpee quarry

Hanksville-Burpee Quarry is a paleontological excavation site near Hanksville, Utah where scientists have found a mix of remains dating between 145 mya to 150 mya. The remains deposited in this one location provide a unique opportunity for scientists to study the late Jurassic period.
The Hanksville dig site used to be an ancient river, and when dinosaurs would die the carcasses would be washed down the river and deposited along its banks. Now some 147 million years later scientists and volunteers from the Burpee Museum are unearthing them.
The fossils date to the late Jurassic period and are mostly made up of Sauropods, the long neck dinosaurs. A very rare armored dinosaur called Mymoorapelta was discovered, one of only 8 specimens ever found.

Thursday 23 February 2023

Jonathan, St. Helena's famous ancient tortoise - 190 years old

In his time on St Helena he has seen 29 British governors come and go.
Jonathan the giant tortoise is the world's oldest land animal, living in pampered luxury on the remote British island of St. Helena. Aged at least 185, though none can be sure, Jonathan is the island's most famous resident. Jonathan slowly roams the lush gardens of the governor's house, eating carrots, lettuce, cucumber, apples and pears prepared for him at the governor's kitchen.
He appears on the island's coins, on immigration stamps, and in old photographs alongside Boer War prisoners in the early 20th century. Jonathan originates from the Seychelles but his arrival on St. Helena remains a mystery and the exact year is disputed. Some reports suggest 1882 -- decades after Napoleon died in exile on the island on 1821. Jonathan is blind, has no sense of smell and is far beyond his life expectancy of 150 years.
St. Helena, located 1,200 miles (1,900 km) from the African mainland, is one of the most remote places on Earth.

Wednesday 22 February 2023

Gold bedecked 4,500 yo Minoan woman's skeleton

A Minoan woman's skeleton was found buried in her tomb along with a gold necklace and bronze mirror 4,500 years after she died. A large dig in 2019 in the municipality of Sissi, on the north coast of Crete found remnants of an early Minoan settlement dating as far back as 2,600 B.C.

The Minoan civilization arose on Crete about 2600 BC and flourished until around 1400 BC when it mysteriously disappeared. The origins of the Minoan and their fate has puzzled archaeologists.
The Minoans were the first advanced civilization in Europe, leaving behind massive building complexes, tools, stunning artwork, writing systems, and a huge network of trade.

Sunday 19 February 2023

Antiquities thief Robin Symes

Pompeii - Casa dell Orso Ferito - Bear Mosaic
In 2016 hundreds of looted antiquities, including mosaics from Pompeii and ancient sarcophagi, linked to disgraced London art dealer Robin Symes, were uncovered in Switzerland. Italian police uncovered 45 large crates of ‘priceless’ archaeological treasures in a storage unit in Geneva.

Italian police convinced a Swiss judge that the relics were stolen as some of the artifacts were allegedly already on a blacklist. Photographs of them had been among thousands found in the possession of an Italian cop, found dead in 1995 while under investigation for art trafficking.

Pompeii: Floor mosaic from "House of the Faun", Cat with bird, ducks, and sea life.
Etruscan Sarcophagus of the Spouses (late 500s BC) polychrome terra cotta The treasures found in Geneva included classical sculptures, Roman frescos, and sarcophagi, as well thousands of fragments of an entire wall of an Etruscan temple. Police became interested in the Swiss deposit while on the trail of a missing very rare piece, called Sarcophagus of the Spouses, which resembles one in the Louvre.

Elaborate Etruscan tomb: Tomb of the Leopards.
The antiquities were discovered after laying in a warehouse for fifteen years, marked with the name of an offshore company. An Italian expert concluded that they came from illegal excavations at an ancient Etruscan necropolis in the Umbria/Lazio area.
Symes, London’s most successful art dealer, was part of an international network of tomb raiders and dealers who stole antiquities worth millions out of Italy.
Police have established direct links between certain objects and tomb robbers.

Treasures of ancient Nubia

Gilt-silver mummy mask of Queen Malakaye (664–653 BC) An exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, titled 'Gold and the Gods: Jewels of Ancient Nubia', provided insight into the meticulous craftsmanship of Ancient Nubia. The show included more than 100 treasures from the MFA’s collection of jewelry from Ancient Nubia. The MFA’s collection dates from 1700 BC to AD 300 and is considered the most comprehensive of any outside of Khartoum. Gold and the Gods showcased elaborate necklaces, amulets, stacked bracelets, and earrings discovered inside the tombs of Nubian kings and queens.

Ancient Nubia ruled the entire Nile Valley during the apex of its power in the eighth century BC. Nubian artisans turned out sophisticated, finely crafted jewelry.
Hathor-headed crystal pendant (743–712 BC)

Details of Nubian necklaces, Top: AD 40–50, gold; Bottom: 270–50 BC. Owners valued jewels as signs of status, but also for magical powers that protected them in life and the afterlife.
The exhibition included jewelry made with lapis lazuli, blue chalcedony, amethystine quartz, and carnelian.
Nubian goldsmiths and jewelers employed methods that wouldn’t be reinvented in Europe for another thousand years.
Pectoral with a winged lion-headed Goddess, 743–712 BC.