Sunday, 30 April 2023

Stone of Destiny arrives for coronation

An ancient stone used in the coronation of British monarchs for almost 1,000 years has arrived in London. The Stone of Destiny will be placed under the chair on which King Charles III will sit for Saturday’s ceremony.
The stone is used to “sanctify the inauguration of monarchs from time immemorial and in our recorded history from as early as the accession of Malcolm III of Scotland in 1058”.
The oblong block of red sandstone is among Britain’s most important historic artefacts, with the queen being the last monarch to sit on it when she was crowned in 1953.

Saturday, 29 April 2023

Iron Age shield of Pocklington

The bronze shield formed part of a chariot burial, which also contained the upright skeletons of two ponies. They were found on a building site at Pocklington in 2018. Its owner was a very high status male, in his late 40s or older when he died, between 320BC to 174BC. The shield was well used and a slash made by a sword is clearly visible in the upper right hand side..
Conservation work revealed decorations of the highest quality, and evidence of its use in combat. Isotope analysis of the man's teeth indicates that he grew up locally, moved away and returned in his later years.

The only other shield like it, the Wandsworth shield boss, found in the Thames river in 1849, is in the British Museum.

Friday, 28 April 2023

Roman silver hoard found in Tuscany - Sulla

A hiker in Livorno, a port city in Tuscany, Italy, unearthed a trove of 175 silver coins, the oldest of which are from about 157 B.C. The hoard was thought to be buried around 82 BC. The Roman denarii were located in November 2021.
Many of the coins would have been struck the year the Roman general Lucius Cornelius Sulla fought a brutal, but ultimately successful, war in Italy against leaders of the Roman Republic. The win assured Sulla’s position as dictator of the Roman state in 82 B.C.

The hoard would have represented a significant sum in the time.

Thursday, 27 April 2023

Evidence of the Tartessos emerges

Archaeologists in Spain have unearthed five life-size busts of human figures that could be the first-known human depictions of the Tartessos, a people who formed an ancient civilization that disappeared more than 2,500 years ago. The carved stone faces, dated to the fifth century B.C., were found hidden inside a sealed pit in an adobe temple at Casas del Turuñuelo, an ancient Tartessian site in southern Spain. The pieces were scattered amongst animal bones, mostly from horses, that likely came from a mass sacrifice.
The Tartessian culture existed from about the eighth to the fourth centuries B.C. and then mysteriously was wiped from history. It is believed that Tartessians worshiped the goddess Astarte or Potnia and the masculine divinity Baal or Melkart.
Tartessos was about the metals obtained from its mines. The most important was gold, although tin and silver was plentiful. The Tinto river is one of the most important rivers in Huelva. It is named after the wine, its colour a grape must. The legend of Tartessos has an answer. The contact of water with the soil, fertile in metals, gives it this tone.

The lost 1715 Treasure Fleet

On July 31, 1715 eleven of the twelve Spanish ships sailing from Havana to Spain with royal treasure were wrecked by a violent hurricane on the east coast of Florida from St. Lucie to Cape Canaveral. Seven days after departing from Havana, the ships were lost near present day Vero Beach, Florida. 1,500 perished.
Seven treasure laden ships were scattered over the reefs from south of Fort Pierce to the Sebastian Inlet. Gold and silver coins started to be found on the beaches in the 1950s after strong nor'easters or a violent hurricane. This part of Florida became known as the Treasure Coast.
The Nuestra Señora de la Concepción was a 120-ton galleon. It contained a significant portion of the treasure. Its believed the ship separated from the fleet the day before the storm struck. It's wreck has never been found.

It's thought only a small fraction of the treasure of the 1715 Treasure Fleet has been recovered.

1715 Fleet ships found are:

1 - Nuestra Senora de la Regla
2 - Santo Cristo de San Roman
3 - Nuestra Senora del Carmen
4 - Nuestra Señora de La Popa
5 - Nuestra Senora del Rosario
6 - Urca de Lima
7 - Nuestra Senora de las Nieves
- Ships of the 1715 Fleet never found:

8 - Maria Galante
9 - El Senor San Miguel
10 - El Cievro
11 - Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion

12 - Griffon made it safely and went on to France

VERO BEACH — Bonnie Schubert couldn’t believe her eyes when, about 1,000 feet off Frederick Douglass Beach near Fort Pierce, she came face to face with a solid gold statue of a bird that had lain under the Atlantic Ocean over 295 years.
“I remember asking myself, ‘Is this real?’” Schubert recalled as the 5.5-inch-tall statue she found was revealed to the public at her home in the Vero Shores neighborhood of Vero Beach. “The Bird,” as it’s come to be known, is real all right.

So is it’s $885k appraised value.

Seafarer Exploration Corporation believes the mask may be from the 'La Conception' of the 1715 treasure fleet.
The partial remains of a rare Peruvian death mask was found on Melbourne Beach, off the coast of Florida in 2019. The mask is made mainly of copper and contains traces of gold, silver and iridium, which is usually found in meteorites. The mask was likely stolen by tomb raiders from a royal grave.
Funerary Mask, gold, silver-copper overlays, cinnabar, Lambayeque (Sicán)
Seafarer Exploration says the mask is a major link in a 'debris trail' that could pinpoint La Conception's final resting place.

Monday, 24 April 2023

£200 Roman ring sells at auction for £117,000

Rome's first emperor Augustus ruled the Roman Empire from 27 BC until his death, aged 75, in the year 14AD. His reign is often associated with imperial peace - ‘pax Romana’.
An ancient ring depicting Rome's first emperor has sold at a Birmingham auction house for a whopping £117,000. The 2,000 year old ring, featuring the head of Augustus, had been expected to fetch between £150 and £200. The ring is thought to have been acquired by a traveller to Italy in the 19th century. Set in gold, the intricately crafted ring features the ‘intaglio’ - a carving in a gem or piece of metal which leaves a hollow impression used as a seal on documents - of a man’s head in profile.

Saturday, 22 April 2023

Gold at Christies - The Ten Thousand

Prices for two plaques exploded past estimates in 2021. An Achaemenid gold appliqué of a winged bull, reign of Artaxerxes II, 404-359 BC. was estimatd £100k-150k. It made £1.4m. A lamassu was estimated the same and made £1.6m. HERE.

Spectacular objects were reputedly discovered during an excavation at the city of Hamadan, in northwest Iran, in 1920. Among the trove of 23 gold items were two plaques, coming to auction at Christies.

Artaxerxes II also waged successful campaigns against the Spartans, Athenians and Egyptians.
Artaxerxes II was a powerful leader who defended the largest empire the ancient world had ever seen — stretching from Greece to India — against his brother, Cyrus the Younger, and his army of Greek mercenaries known as ‘The Ten Thousand’. Between 401 and 399 BC, the Ten Thousand marched across Anatolia, fought the Battle of Cunaxa, and then marched back to Greece.

Achaemenid gold applique of a winged bull. Iran, reign of Artaxerxes II, 404-359 B.C.
The Gate of All Nations (Gate of Xerxes), in the ruins of the ancient city of Persepolis, Iran, is flanked by a pair of lamassus.

Thursday, 20 April 2023

Charon's obol

Charon's obol is a term for a coin placed in the mouth of the dead before burial. The coin is an obol, and it is payment for Charon, the ferryman who conveys souls across the rivers that divide the world of the living from the world of the dead. The coins have been called "the most famous grave goods from antiquity."

Charon and Psyche (1883) An obol was originally a small silver coin, valued at one-sixth of a drachma. After the Greek-speaking cities of the eastern Mediterranean were absorbed into the Roman empire, obol was used to describe any low-value bronze coin.

The custom is primarily associated with the ancient Greeks and Romans, though it is also found in the ancient Near East. In Western Europe, a similar usage of coins in burials occurs in regions inhabited by Celts of the Gallo-Roman, Hispano-Roman and Romano-British cultures, and among the Germanic peoples. In Latin, Charon’s obol is sometimes called a viaticum, which in everyday usage means "provision for a journey"

Sources from the 5th century BC through the 2nd century AD are consistent in attributing four characteristics to Charon’s obol: it is a single, low-denomination coin; it is placed in the mouth; the placement occurs at the time of death; and it represents a boat fare.

Roman skull with an obol in the mouth.

In Greek mythology, Charon is the ferryman of Hades who carries souls of the newly deceased across the rivers Styx and Acheron that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead.
Those who could not pay the fee, or those whose bodies were unburied, wandered the earthly side of the Akheron (Acheron), haunting the world as ghosts for 100 years.

Charon is depicted in the art of ancient Greece as an old man, usually holding his ferryman's pole in his right hand and using his left hand to receive the dead.