Wednesday, 29 March 2023

Prospector discovers 4.6kg gold nugget

More than 170 years after Australia’s Victoria’s goldfields rush ended, the area is still returning huge gold nuggets. The detectorist found the 4.6kg gold rock in Victoria’s “golden triangle” between Bendigo, Ballarat and St Arnaud.

Sunday, 26 March 2023

2,000 mummified ram heads discovered in Temple of Ramses II

Researchers discovered 2,000 mummified ram heads inside the Temple of Ramses II. They also found mummified goats, dogs, cows, deer and a single ostrich. These were likely offerings to honor Ramses II, who was buried in the city of Abydos, after a reign spanning 67 years from 1279-1213 B.C.E.

Saturday, 25 March 2023

Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York fingered for looted artifacts

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has more than 1,000 objects in its collection that have ties to people involved in crimes related to the antiquities trade, according to a new report. At least 1,109 pieces in the Met's collection are suspect. The museum has almost two dozen pieces that once belonged to notorious American antiquities dealer Robert E. Hecht. The Met first started to acquire objects from Hecht in the 1950s, and continued to do so even after Hecht was charged by Italian prosecutors with smuggling in 1959 and 1961. The Met also has more than 800 objects that once belonged to Jonathan P. Rosen, a business partner of Hecht's who was charged alongside Hecht in Italy in 1997. Another 85 pieces in the Met's collection are connected to Subhash Kapoor, another famous antiquities thief, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in India last year for trafficking offenses.

Friday, 24 March 2023

China’s Ancient Treasures

Jade (nephrite) burial suit of Dou Wan from the Western Han dynasty
When the Han Dynasty princess Dou Wan died some 2,000 years ago, her corpse was encased within 2,160 small plates of solid jade. Carefully strung together with 700 grams’ worth of gold thread, the green stones formed a cocoon that conformed to the contours of her body, intended to preserve it for eternity. The jade burial suit was recovered with her husband’s in 1968 from their tombs in the northern Chinese province of Hebei.
Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties in 2018 featured over 160 objects on loan from 32 museums and archaeological institutions in China.

Lamp in the Shape of a Mythical Bird from the Western Han dynasty

Dog from the Eastern Han dynasty

Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Evolution of Lipstick

Historians say it’s likely that lipstick evolved from prehistoric times when humans started to smear plant juices on their faces for religious ceremonies. As early as 2500 BC, and certainly by 1000 BC, Sumerian men and women in southern Mesopotamia invented and wore lipstick. They are thought to have crushed gemstones and used them to decorate their faces, mainly on the lips and around the eyes. Egyptians also adopted this fashion craze. According to records, they mixed a red dye extracted from seaweed with iodine and bromine mannite, which can be highly toxic.

Over time a safer lipstick made from crushed carmine beetles and ants was used.

For the next 1,000 years lipstick was both revered and despised.
In ancient Greece only prostitutes were allowed to flaunt scarlet lip paint. This led to the first law related to lipstick, which dictated that prostitutes be punished for posing as ladies if they appeared in public without their designated lip paint. In ancient Rome both genders used lipstick to distinguish social class. Around 1000 AD Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi perfected a formula for solid lipsticks. These perfumed sticks became the basis for today’s cosmetics.
During the Middle Ages religious groups condemned makeup for 'challenging God and his workmanship.' In the 1500s, pastors denounced lip paint as “the devil’s work.” That didn’t stop Queen Elizabeth I from using a mix of cochineal, gum Arabic, egg white and fig milk to produce crimson lips that became the rage. In 1770, Britain passed a law that condemned lipstick on the grounds that “women found guilty of seducing men into matrimony by cosmetic means could be tried for witchcraft.”
It wasn’t until the late 1800s that lipstick started coming out of the closet. Famed actress Sarah Berhardt shocked the world by daring to apply lipstick in public. By 1912, suffragettes marched down the streets of New York proudly wearing their bright red lipstick. Red lipstick became the 'it' symbol of female rebellion.

According to various studies and surveys, the average woman today will use 9 pounds of lipstick in her lifetime and nearly half say they own more than 20 at any given time. Lipstick has truly arrived.

Sunday, 19 March 2023

Ancient gold coins

Example of the most successful coin in history; a gold ducat or Zecchino, minted under the 82nd Doge of Venice, Lorenzo Priuli. Struck 1556 - 1559 in Venice, Italy.

The gold ducats of Venice were first struck in 1284. Their high gold content (99.4%) made the coins extremely desirable and they are considered to be the earliest examples of a globally accepted currency. Ducats continued to be struck for over 500 years - longer than any other coin issue in history. $1,250.
An ancient Indian gold Maiores Domus dinar from the Kushan Empire, struck under Emperor Vasudeva II circa 270 - 310 A.D.

The obverse with Vasudeva II, nimbate, standing left, sacrificing over altar and holding filleted scepter; in left field, filleted trident. The reverse with the goddess Ardoxsho, seated facing on throne, holding diadem and cornucopia. $850.
An ancient Greek hekte from Cyzicus, Mysia, struck circa 500 - 450 B.C. The obverse with naked youth kneeling right, hair bound by taenia with frontal projection, holding knife and tunny fish (emblem of Cyzicus). The reverse with quadripartite incuse square punch. Kyzikos was a wealthy ancient town located between the Aegean and the Black Sea, its advantageous position made it a major center for commerce and trade. $2,250
Ancient Celtic gold stater struck by the Chief of the Corieltauvi tribe, Volisios Dumnocoveros. Dating to the Late Iron Age circa 20 - 35 A.D.

The obverse with a vertical wreath made up of square leaves running in opposite directions from the centre of the coin. Across this in two lines is the legend: VOLISIOS. The reverse with disjointed Celtic horse, galloping left. $3,250.
An ancient Byzantine gold solidus of Emperor Basiliscus, (Flavius Basiliscus Augustus.) Struck January 475 - August 476 A.D. at the Constantinople mint. The obverse with a superb portrait of Basiliscus carrying a spear which rests over his shoulder and holding an oval shield, decorated with a horseman spearing a fallen enemy. Reverse with the goddess Victory. $7,000.

Saturday, 18 March 2023

Christie's rare meteorite auction

Leading the 68 lots at Christie's is the Lunar Necklace. It was made from a meteorite found in the Sahara Desert, with each of its 48 beads weighing about 3.66 carats, composed of olivine, pigeonite, augite, ilmenite and white anorthite, a mineral that is rare on Earth but common on the moon. Est $140k to $200k.
A Henbury meteorite was found in Australia a century ago after 4,200 years on earth, and a previous 650 million in deep space.
Total world supply of lunar material, including that brought back from the Apollo missions, is less than 1,400kg and fits in the trunk of an SUV. Martian meteorites are rarer, with less than 350 kg known to exist. The sale includes a 15 cm sphere of material from the asteroid Vesta, weighing in at hefty 5.2 kg.

See ----->

Friday, 17 March 2023

Hoard of mummified cats found in Egypt

Dozens of cat mummies and scarab beetles were unearthed in ancient Egyptian tombs in 2018. The tombs are thought to date to the Fifth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, which ruled Egypt from about 2,500 BC to 2,350 BC. Depictions of cats were common, reflecting Egyptian worship of the cat god Bastet.
Scarabs also held great religious significance in ancient Egypt. They were associated with the sun god Khepri.

Thursday, 16 March 2023

King Tut's jewels made of desert glass

In 1922 British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered a large breastplate, decorated with gold, silver, various precious jewels and a strange gemstone. Carter identified the gemstone at first as chalcedony, a common variety of quartz. A decade later strange pieces of glass were found in the Libyan Desert along the border of modern Egypt. The pale yellow and translucent material seemed to be identical to the gemstone found in Tutankhamun's tomb. Libyan Desert glass (LDG), is an impactite with fragments found over areas of tens of square kilometers.
Tektites are natural glass formed from terrestrial debris ejected into Earth's atmosphere during meteorite impacts. Ancient Egyptians beleived anything from space was a gift from the Gods, if not a piece of the Gods themselves.

LDG is almost pure silicon-dioxide, like quartz, but its crystal structure is different. It also contains in traces an unusual combination of elements, like iron, nickel, chromium, cobalt and iridium.

It's thought LDG formed 28 to 26 mya when an impact melted quartz-rich sands of the desert.

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Skull elongation of the Paracas

The Paracas lived on the coast of what is now Peru between 1000BC and 100AD. They developed a complex and advanced civilization, but some of their practices are considered bizarre and sinister today. Chief among them is the practice of skull elongation. Deformation of the skull began shortly after birth and continued for years.
It's believed the practice was a way to mark those of noble birth. Evidence is seen among the royalty of the Inca Empire, who all had elongated skulls. The Paracas remain mysterious. DNA testing of 19 Paracas skulls indicates that they migrated from Eurasia.
The mystery deepened after geoglyps were found, huge drawings etched into the Earth, in Palpa province. They predate the famous Nazca lines by a thousand years.

Monday, 13 March 2023

"Ides of March" coins - update

Richard Beale, the owner and managing director of Roma Numismatics was arrested in New York in January on multiple charges relating to the sale of an unknown "Ides of March" aureus. It now appears that the coin was sold using false provenance meaning it is a fake. Two genuine ‘Ides of March’ aureus are known.
The fraud story said it was discovered hidden away in a private European collection. The coin is in too mint condition and was falsely described as “the undisputed masterpiece of ancient coinage.” It made $3.5m and is 'worth' it's gold content.
Brutus issued a silver denarius celebrating the assassination of Caesar on the Ides of March (March 15). The denarius has a portrait of Brutus on the obverse, with on the reverse a liberty cap flanked by two daggers over the inscription EID(ibus) MAR(tiis). The liberty cap was the garment given to a manumitted slave to indicate his free status, so the reverse side symbolizes Brutus and Cassius liberating Rome with their daggers. There are about 60 known copies of the silver denarius. A superb example made $332k in a 2016 auction. Silver specimens in extremely fine condition have sold at auction for $120k. Low grade silver examples will make $50k.
In October of 42 B.C., months after the coins were struck, Brutus and Cassius were routed by Marc Anthony and Octavian’s forces and died in the Battles of Philippi. Their coins were outlawed and very few survived.
The famous 'Eid Mar' aureus on loan to the British Museum for the past decade has been offered for sale. It will be sold at auction on May 30 in Zurich and is expected to fetch more than £1.5 million (US$2m).

The coin was minted by Marcus Junius Brutus to commemorate the assassination of Ceasar. The coin shows an inscription that reads “EID MAR” short for Eidibus Martiis, the Ides of March, along with two daggers and a liberty cap symbolizing freedom. The other side of the coin features a portrait of Brutus with the inscription “BRVT IMP” or Brutus, Imperator.
The coin has a hole. It is believed that it could only have been worn by a senior supporter and perhaps even one of the conspirators of Caesar’s murder.