Thursday 31 August 2023

Water to again flow from fountain in the City of Gladiators

The 2,000-year-old monumental fountain in the ancient city of Kibyra in Golhisar, Burdur in southwestern Turkey will start flowing with fresh water again thanks to a restoration project. The fountain was built in 23 BC. The fountain has a diameter of 15 meters and towers 8 meters high. It was used in Kibyra for some 600-700 years.

The ancient city of Kibyra, in the Gölhisar district of Burdur, was once among the most important cities in Lydian and Roman civilization. The city reached its zenith during the Roman period, and all of the architectural remains that can be seen today date from that time.

The 195-meter Stadion at Kibyra is among the largest and best preserved stadia in Anatolia with seats for ten thousand. It housed sports events and gladiator combat that was hugely popular.
The ancient city of Kibyra, or Cibyra Magna was famous for its gladiator schools (ludi).

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Aegina’s Sea Turtle

Aegina is a rocky island in the Saronic Gulf located about 25 miles southeast of Athens. It was settled by 900 BCE and was named after the daughter of the Greek river god Asopos. Inhabitants became expert merchants and tradesmen, dominating the shipping industry early in the sixth century BCE. Their success brought the island great wealth. The first coins were thought to be made by the king of Argos, Pheidon. Coins with 'turtle' design were an important early trading currency.
Aegina became the first of the Greek city-states to issue coined money, starting in the mid-sixth century BCE. Their common didrachm “stater” coinage weighed about 12.6 grams. Their status as the first international trade currency was aided by consistency of their designs, and the coins spread far through the known ancient world.

Monday 28 August 2023

Evolution of gold coins

Gold has been used as a medium of exchange and a store of wealth for millennia due to its rarity, desirability, and high value. Ancient gold coins were first introduced for commerce in the kingdom of Lydia (modern Turkey) during the reign of King Croesus in the 6th century BC. The earliest coins were made from electrum, a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. Electrum wasn't always desirable for trade. When coinage gained popularity a way to standardize the purity of gold and silver was needed.
The first technique of gold parting was invented by Croesus: salt cementation. King Cyrus and the Persians defeated the Lydians in 546 B.C., and the region became part of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Through trade and conquest, the Persians spread the use of gold coinage throughout the Mediterranean. The most popular gold coin of the empire was the Persian daric, introduced by Darius the Great sometime around 500 B.C. Production of darics continued for nearly two hundred years, until the Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great.
Alexander and his armies looted some 700,000 troy ounces of gold coins from the Persians. These ‘spoils of war’ were subsequently melted and used to mint coins in his name.

In Britain and elsewhere, Celtic tribes issues coins in gold. The early Roman Republic issued few coins in gold, their main coinage being in silver, with bronze or copper for smaller denominations. From the death of Julius Caesar onward, gold coinage became an important part of the Roman financial system.

Sunday 27 August 2023

UK detectorists pay heavy price for theft

Two metal detectorists who unearthed a hoard of gold jewellery, silver ingots and coins buried more than 1,000 years ago by a Viking warrior in Herefordshire received lengthy jail sentences for theft in late 2019. George Powell, 38, and Layton Davies, 51, should have legally declared the find, worth millions. They elected to sell it off. They received 10 years and eight and a half years respectively. The judge said they had cheated not only the landowner, but also the public of “exceptionally rare and significant” coins. “You cheated the farmer, his mother, the landowner and also the public when you committed theft of these items,” he said. “That is because the treasure belongs to the nation. The benefit to the nation is these items can be seen and admired by others."
Objects dated from the fifth to ninth centuries. All the rings and one ingot was recovered but most of the 300 Anglo-Saxon coins are gone forever.

One lost coin was “Two Emperors”, believed to depict King Alfred the Great of Wessex and Ceolwulf II of Mercia, revealing a previously unknown pact between the pair. 13 examples are known. After rumors began to circulate about the find, the gold and one ingot was handed over, but cops found only 30 coins.

Saturday 26 August 2023

Ancient Roman sculpture fetches $930,000

In 2017 an impressive 1,800-year-old sculpture depicting a Roman military officer was sold at auction by the Denver Art Museum for about $930k. The sculpture likely depicts a senator or member of Rome's nobility who led the military during a campaign in the second century A.D. "The portrait represents a Roman military officer, distinguished by the cape he wears over his shoulder. He was probably not a professional soldier, however, but rather a member of the elite senatorial or equestrian class whose command during a specific military campaign would provide the opportunity for political advancement or financial gain"

Friday 25 August 2023

Ancient gold of Banias

1,400 years ago an extremely rich person stashed 44 gold coins into a wall at Banias, once known as Panaeas, an important spiritual site. The coins were found by Israeli archaeologists, who hailed the discovery as a rare glimpse into an ancient past at a tense time of violent conquest.
The coins reveal details about the economy of the last 40 years of Byzantine rule in the area. The Byzantine Empire, centered in what is now Istanbul, was a continuation of the Roman Empire after its collapse in the West following the sack of Rome by barbarians in 410 A.D. The eastern empire lasted another 1,000 years, but it lost several provinces to Muslim conquests in the seventh century — around the time the coins were stashed in the wall. Now a national park, Banias played an important role in several cultures. First a Canaanite shrine to the god Baal, then dedicated in the Hellenistic era to Pan, the half-man, half-goat god of shepherds and fertility. The site grew to its peak in the early Roman era under Herod and his son Philip II, who renamed it Caesarea in honor of Augustus. In Christian tradition it is where St. Peter declared Jesus to be the son of God before he received the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Most of the coins are of the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius. Early as emperor, only his portrait was depicted. Later, images of his sons appear. Coins follow his sons growing up — from childhood until their image appears the same size as their father.

Monday 14 August 2023

Siberia's Valley of the Kings

The Arzhan-2 Scythian burial is one the most extraordinary discoveries ever made. For the first time faces of the buried couple have been revealed.
A vale north of Turan, Tuva has become famous for its pancake-shaped Scythian kurgany (burial mounds).
Excavations in 2001 unearthed magnificent artifacts dating from 600 BC. Arzhaan I is the largest kurgan in Tuva. A dig in the early 1970s turned up thousands of gold and silver artifacts.
The valley holds an amazing 700 burial sites and eight large kurgany. In addition to 44 pounds of gold, researchers discovered items made of iron, turquoise, amber and wood. The royal tomb Arzhan 2 was excavated in July, 2015 and is about 2,600 years old. The unknown monarch was entombed with 14 horses, a defining symbol of wealth by the Scythian.

Beside him lay his queen and 33 others lie entombed, including five children. They were all likely sacrificed to accompany him on his journey to the afterlife. The burial chamber contained some 9,300 decorative gold pieces ... more than 20 kilograms of gold.

DNA analysis indicated those buried were from the Iranian ethno-linguistic group. Analysis of strontium isotopes in the bones reveal all were locals except for the queen.

The king was about 50 years old and analysis of his remains revealed that he died of prostate cancer. It's thought that in the last years of his life, he would not have been able to walk.

Sunday 13 August 2023

Lost Roman city of Neapolis

The city of Neapolis was destroyed by a tsunami in 365 A.D.
A long-lost Roman city was found in the waters of northeast Tunisia in 2017 confirming a theory that the settlement was swallowed up by a tsunami 1,600 years ago. Divers discovered the remains of streets, monuments, and around 100 tanks used to store garum, a fermented fish sauce often called 'Rome’s ketchup'.
On July 21, 365 CE, the Mediterranean was rocked by an earthquake. The epicenter was Crete, and most towns were destroyed. Large portions of the ancient world suffered.
The earthquake caused an uplift of 9 metres of the island of Crete.