Friday, 30 June 2023

Gold from Ancient Panama - The Coclé

For more than a thousand years, a cemetery on the banks of the Rio Grande Coclé in Panama lay undisturbed, escaping the attention of gold seekers and looters. The river flooded in 1927, scattering beads of gold along its banks. In 1940, a Penn Museum team led by archaeologist J. Alden Mason excavated at the cemetery, unearthing spectacular finds.

Human effigy pendant of gold, copper, silver alloy, Sitio Conte, Panama, ca. 700-900CE.
Large golden plaques and pendants with animal-human motifs were found, precious and semi-precious stone, ivory, and animal bone ornaments, and literally tons of detail-rich painted ceramics.

It was extraordinary evidence of a sophisticated Precolumbian people, the Coclé, who lived, died, and painstakingly buried their dead long ago.

Long overshadowed by research on other indigenous Central and South American peoples, the Coclé, who lived from about 700 to 900 CE, remain mysterious.

Santorini monkey mystery hints at extensive trade

The blue monkeys painted on the walls of Akrotiri on the Greek island of Santorini are among many animals found in the frescoes of the 3,600-year-old city. Historians have studied the murals since they were unearthed in the 1960s and 1970s. The Akrotiri monkeys have been variously identified as baboons, vervets, and grivet monkeys, all African species. Experts say some paintings depict Hanuman langurs, a species from the Indian subcontinent. This suggests the Aegeans, who came from Crete and the Cycladic islands in the Aegean Sea, may have had trade routes that reached over 2,500 miles.

See ----->Santorini - Thera

Thursday, 29 June 2023

Assyrian Empire collapsed due to climate change

Ancient Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates, was the center of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The ancient superpower was the largest empire of its time, lasting from 912 BC to 609 BC in what is now Iraq and Syria.

At its height, the Assyrian state stretched from the Mediterranean and Egypt in the west to the Persian Gulf and western Iran in the east. Then a reversal of fortune, and the Neo-Assyrian Empire plummeted from its zenith (circa 650 BC) to complete collapse within the span of a few decades. The reasons why were a mystery. New research shows that climate change was the double-edged sword that first helped the meteoric rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire and then lead to its precipitous collapse.
Rainfall patterns over Mesopotamia were deduced from cave stalagmites. These are the cone-like structures from the cave floor. They grow slowly, as rainwater drips down from the cave ceiling. Oxygen isotope ratios build a timeline of how conditions changed, but don't reveal the amount of time that elapsed between them. Stalagmites also trap uranium. Over time, uranium decays into thorium at a predictable pace. Experts made high-precision uranium-thorium measurements. The Neo-Assyrian state expanded during a 200 year interval of anomalously wet climate. This was followed by major droughts in the early-to-mid-seventh century BC. The period marked the swift collapse of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.
Repeated crop failures likely exacerbated political unrest in Assyria, crippled its economy and empowered adjacent rivals.

Wednesday, 28 June 2023

3,000-year-old fingerprints on ancient Egyptian coffin

In 2016 researchers at a British museum found fingerprints on the underside of an ancient Egyptian priest’s coffin, believed to have been left by craftsmen who moved the lid before its varnish dried more than 3,000 years ago. The intricate wooden coffin was part of a set made for Nespawershefyt, a priest who rose to the high station of supervisor for craftsmen’s workshops and scribes at the great temple of Amun-Re at Karnak — the major temple complex. He died around 1,000 BC. A painting of a gazelle from a 4,000-year-old fragment from an Egytian coffin, shows the artist used fingertips to dab the paint on the hide. The Nespawershefyt coffin set was donationed to the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1822.
No one noticed the fingerprints under the coffin lid until 2005.
The Nespawershefyt set, one of the finest coffin sets of its type in the world, is made up of three layers. A 'mummy board' envelopes the body, then goes inside an inner coffin, which in turn fits into an outer coffin.

Tuesday, 27 June 2023

The Flor de la Mar Treasure

The Flor de la Mar (Flower of the Sea) was a 400 ton Portuguese carrack (frigate) built in Lisbon in 1502 for the Portugal to India trade. It was twice the size of other ships that had gone on the run. The Flor’s service life was long for a ship on the India run. Built for only three or four years of work, she lasted from 1502-1511. However, the design of the ship made it dangerously unseaworthy when fully loaded, and service in various campaigns required many repairs.
In command of the Flor was Alfonso de Albuquerque. Alfonso was a Portuguese fidalgo, or nobleman, whose titles included Duke of Goa and Governor of Portuguese India. His successes in conquest were many and his bounty and tribute massive. It was the largest treasure ever assembled by the Portuguese navy, and included 60 tons of gold from the house of the Sultan of Malacca. Supposedly, 200 gem chests were filled with diamonds, rubies and emeralds. Accompanied by four other ships, the Flor set sail for Portugal in November, 1511. A violent storm blew up in the Straits of Malacca and the overloaded Flor de la Mar was shipwrecked on the reefs near the Straits, just northeast of Sumatra on November 20 1511. The ship broke in two and although Alfonso was saved, the treasure was lost
The exact location of the shipwreck is lost to history through confused and inaccurate maps of the time. It is considered one of the richest treasures yet to be found, with conservative estimates exceeding $2.5b.

Monday, 26 June 2023

Death of Alexander the Great

According to legend, on his death bed, Alexander the Great summoned his generals and told them his three wishes: The best doctors should carry his coffin. The wealth he has accumulated (money, gold, precious stones etc.) should be scattered along the procession to the cemetery; and His hands should be let loose, hanging outside the coffin. He explained; "I want the best doctors to carry my coffin to demonstrate that, in the face of death, even the best doctors in the world have no power to heal. I want the road to be covered with my treasure so that everybody sees that material wealth acquired on earth, stays on earth. I want my hands to swing in the wind, so that people understand that we come to this world empty handed and we leave this world empty handed after the most precious treasure of all is exhausted, and that is TIME."

According to historical accounts, Alexander's body began to decompose six days after his death. Egyptian and Chaldean embalmers are said to have attested to Alexander's lifelike appearance. This is interpreted as a complication of typhoid fever, known as ascending paralysis, which causes a person to appear dead.
It is said before burning himself alive on a funeral pyre, Calanus's last words to Alexander were "We shall meet in Babylon." Nobody knew what this meant as Alexander had no plans to go there. In February 323 BC, Alexander ordered his armies to prepare for the march to Babylon. He was warned not to enter the city.

This coin was minted within a year of Alexander’s death.
In the week before Alexander's death, accounts mention chills, sweats, exhaustion and high fever, typical symptoms of an infectious disease. He likely died from typhoid fever, which were rampant in ancient Babylon. After Alexander died the future of his empire was uncertain. His generals scrambled to determine who would succeed him as Alexander had no heir. On his deathbed, Alexander passed his signet ring to Perdiccas, but he did not claim power immediately. Princess Roxana of Bactria was pregnant with Alexander’s child, and the gender of the baby was unknown.
Roxane - Wife of Alexander the Great
The factions reached a compromise, and when Alexander IV was born in August 323 BCE, he and Philip III were jointly made kings but acted only as figureheads, while Perdiccas would actually rule the Empire as regent. The new regime was met with confusion, eventually resulting in the assassination of Perdiccas in 321 BCE and 40 years of war between the fragmented generals, splitting Alexander’s Empire into the Ptolemaic Kingdom, the Seleucid Empire, the Kingdom of Pergamon, and Macedonia.

Sunday, 25 June 2023

Theater of ancient Metropolis - The Griffin

Ancient Metropolis overlooks the plains of the Torbalı district of the western province of İzmir, Turkey. Occupation goes back to the Neolithic period. Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods are represented at the site. The city’s nobles once watched events at the city’s theater from a seat with griffins.
A reproduction seat with the griffin installed in its original place in the theater.
The griffin, griffon, or gryphon is a legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.

Griffins were known for guarding treasure and priceless possessions. In Greek and Roman texts, griffins were associated with gold.

The griffin was a favoured motif in the ancient Middle Eastern and Mediterranean. Probably originating in the Levant in the 2nd millennium BCE, the griffin spread through western Asia and into Greece by the 14th century BCE. As the lion was considered the king of the beasts and the eagle the king of birds, the griffin was thought to be especially powerful.

Greek Silver Griffin Stater from Teos, 510 BC

Amazing historical artifacts

Broadsword of Oliver Cromwell. Made in England c. 1650. This is one of the finest surviving swords of a type favored during the English Civil War (1642-51). The association with English statesman Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) is consistent with the inscription and heraldic arms of England and Ireland on the blade, and with outstanding quality.
Monomachus Crown. The crown is engraved Byzantine goldwork, decorated with cloisonné enamel. King Constantine Monomachus ruled the Byzantine kingdom from 1042 to 1055 with his wife Zoe and her sister Theodora. It was made in Constantinople in 1042. It was found in 1860 by a farmer. The objects passed to the local nobility, who sold it in four transactions to the Hungarian National Museum between 1861 and 1870.
A Surviving Crate from the Boston Tea Party – The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, Boston.

The Boston Tea Party was the spark in the powder keg for the American War of Independence. The rebelling colonials climbed aboard a ship carrying England’s most valuable commodity – tea, and threw it overboard in an act of open defiance. Two crates survived.

The other side of the blade depicts the pharaoh tormenting one of his enemies as a symbol for sovereign power.
The Axe of Pharoah Ahmes – The Egyptian Museum, Cairo. This gold ceremonial axe was found among the treasures in the Tomb of Ahmes. It is funerary object that was not used in the life of the pharaoh. One of the sides of the blade is adorned with Nekhbet, vulture goddess and the guardian of Upper and Lower Egypt, and other deities who protect the pharaoh.
Corinthian Helmet and Skull from the Battle of Marathon 490 BCE – Royal Ontario Museum, Canada. A pivotal moment in Ancient Greek history, the battle of Marathon saw a smaller Greek force, mainly made up of Athenian troops, defeat an invading Persian army. A fierce and bloody battle, with numerous casualties, it appears that this helmet (with skull inside) belonged to a Greek hoplite who died during the fighting. The story of the man who ran back to Athens with the news of the victory became synonymous with the long distance running event in the Olympics.
The Bullet that killed Lincoln – National Museum of Health and Medicine, Silver Spring, USA.

On April 14, 1865, five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox, Virginia, an actor named John Wilkes Booth achieved historical immortality by firing the shot that claimed the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Roman Iron Slave Collar 400 CE – The Museo Nazionale alle Terme di Diocleziano, Rome Italy. The inscription on the collar reads – “I have run away; hold me. When you have returned me to my master, Zoninus, you will receive a solidus"

Blood Stained Cloak of Archduke Franz Ferdinand – Austrian Military Museum, Vienna. The murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand plunged the world into the first World War.