Sunday, 21 January 2018

Accidental Discoveries

Lascaux Cave. In 1940, four French teenagers were roaming the forests near Montignac when their dog began sniffing around a hole in the ground. After shimmying down a stone shaft, the boys encountered a vast underground cavern whose walls were adorned with some 2,000 ancient paintings and engravings. Before long, word of the Lascaux cave’s exquisite collection of animal drawings and abstract symbols spread across Europe, and it became known as the “Sistine Chapel of Prehistoric Art.”

Historians later placed the age of its paintings at around 15,000-17,000 years old, and many believe the cave was once the site of religious and hunting rites among the Upper Paleolithic.
In 1974, a group of Chinese farmers found the tomb of the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty. The seven-man team was digging a well near the city of Xian when one of their shovels struck the head of a buried statue. When archeologists conducted further excavations, they found it was one of some 8,000 life-sized terra cotta soldiers, horses and chariots constructed to guard the 3rd century B.C. Emperor Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife.

The tomb and its highly detailed soldiers—each has its own unique face—are now regarded as some of the most important treasures in China.
The Venus de Milo spent centuries buried on the Greek island of Melos. The armless statue was found in 1820, when a peasant accidentally discovered its top half while trying to salvage marble building blocks from a pile of ancient ruins. The find caught the attention of a French naval officer and in 1821 it was presented to King Louis XVIII and donated to the Louvre. Art historians have since speculated that the Venus is meant to represent the Greek goddess Aphrodite.

Napoleon Bonaparte's soldiers stumbled upon a large basalt slab while knocking down ancient walls to make improvements to a French fort near the town of Rosetta. Once deciphered, the glyphs provided scholars with the tools they needed to begin the first in depth studies of ancient Egyptian language and literature.
The Dead Sea Scrolls contain some of the earliest known pieces of the Bible. In 1947 a band of sheepherders were tending their flock near the ancient city of Jericho. While looking for a lost goat, one of the boys tossed a stone into a nearby cave and was shocked to hear what sounded like a shattering clay pot. When he went in the cave to investigate, he found several jars containing a collection of ancient papyrus scrolls.

When the Declaration of Independence was originally issued, 200 copies were printed. Only a few have ever been found and verified. One of those was discovered in 1989 after a Pennsylvania man went into a thrift store looking for a picture frame. His $ 4 frame and picture hid copy number 25 of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. It sold for nearly $2.5 million.


Saturday, 20 January 2018

Hermes


Possibly the earliest coin to depict Hermes is a silver stater of Kaunos dated to c. 490 BCE
To the Greeks he was Hermes. To the Etruscans, he was Turms. To the Romans he was Mercurius.

He played many different roles in the myths and beliefs of ancient peoples, but as a god of profit and commerce, he was often represented on money.

Populonia, an important center of iron production, was one of the few Etruscan cities that issued silver coinage in the fourth century BCE. A magnificent didrachm – one of only three known examples – depicts the god Turms.
The facing head of Hermes, dated to c. 402-399 BCE.

Perhaps the finest image of Hermes on any ancient coin appears on the reverse of a silver stater of Pheneos, c. 360-350 BCE

C. Mamilius Limetanus denarius serratus c. 82 BC. Bust of Mercury
One of the last appearances of Mercury on Roman coinage came during the brief reign of the emperor Trajan Decius. (249-251)

Pheneos produced a small silver obol c. 370-340 BCE

Friday, 19 January 2018

The Hoxne Hoard

When Peter Whatling lost his hammer near Hoxne, Suffolk, he asked a friend with a metal detector to help out. They found something – 14,780 gold and silver coins, along with 200 jewellery items,ornaments and tableware. It was all part of the accumulated wealth of the affluent family of Roman Aurelius Ursicinus. The 1992 discovery brought the two men a finder’s fee of £1.75m.


Thursday, 18 January 2018

NGC Ancient Coins Highlight January 2018 Auctions

A Year 5 silver shekel from the Jewish War, graded NGC XF with a 4/5 Strike and 3/5 Surface. This extremely rare coin was struck in 70 or 71 CE, during the final stage of the Jewish revolt against Rome. $200,000 to $300,000
A gold stater of Eucratides I the Great, graded NGC Choice MS ★ with a 5/5 Strike and a 5/5 Surface. Eucratides I ruled the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (an area centered on modern-day Afghanistan) from about 171 to 145 BCE. $80,000 to $110,000.
A silver denarius of Quintus Labienus, graded NGC AU with a 4/5 Strike and a 3/5 Surface. In the chaos after the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BCE, Labienus briefly rose to power on the eastern fringe of the Roman Empire. $80,000 to $100,000.
A gold aureus of Julius Caesar, graded NGC Ch AU with a 5/5 Strike and 4/5 Surface. $12,000.

Lost Inca Gold

Its not the mythical city of gold that draws gold seekers to the Llanganates mountain range in Ecuador, some say there is a vast Inca hoard of gold hidden from conquistadors there. The Inca Empire in the early 15th century was quickly giving way to European invaders. Atahualpa was an Inca king who was captured at his palace in Cajamarca in modern-day Peru by Francisco Pizarro.
Pizarro agreed to release Atahualpa in return for a roomful of gold, but the Spaniard later reneged on the deal. He had the Inca king put to death on August 29, 1533 before the last and largest part of the ransom had been delivered.

Instead, the story goes, the gold was buried in a secret mountain cave. Atahualpa's gold existed because it's recorded in the Spanish chronicle, and it's recorded that a large convoy of gold was on its way from Ecuador. After that, the best and most persistent stories revolve around the Llanganates.





Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Ancient Helmets


Flattened copper helmet and skull found in the Royal Tomb at Ur
The most vulnerable part of the soldier in battle was his head, so the search for protection by some form of helmet goes back to the earliest times.

Helmets were purpose-built to protect the wearer against the specific weapons he faced. At first, ancient helmets seem to have been pointed at the top, to deflect the downward force. When the ax became popular as a weapon, the shape of the helmet was modified to counter the cutting edge of a downward-falling blade.

Stele of Vultures circa 2500 BC. King Eannatum of Lagash leads a phalanx of soldiers with metal helmets, armed with spears and socketed axes. They are trampling over the bodies of their enemies.
The technology of armor was constantly evolving. By 3,000 BC metal workers were making helmets of copper. 500 years later the Sumerians had bronze helmets, spears and axes.


Egyptian soldier in the act of killing a warrior of the 'Sea Peoples' in the Medinet Habu temple relief

Corinthian helmet

The Helmet of Agighiol is a Geto-Dacian silver helmet dating from the 5th century BC.

Sutton Hoo helmet reconstructed

The Golden Helmet of Coţofeneşti
This 2,600-year-old bronze helmet was discovered in the waters of Haifa Bay, Israel in 2012. When it was made Greek colonies dotted the Mediterranean coast, stretching from the Black Sea to southern France.

This warrior was likely one of Egyptian pharaoh Necho II's mercenaries, which he sent through Israel accompanied by a fleet of ancient ships. The pharaoh was involved in military campaigns in the region for nearly a decade, operations in which this warrior and his group likely were involved.
Ancient Greek helmets from the Archaic period (800 BC – 480 BCE). A Corinthian-type, found in Leivadia. The second is a Illyrian-type. The third is from Agia Paraskevi. All are made of bronze.
The Crosby Garrett Helmet is a copper alloy Roman cavalry helmet dating from the late 2nd or early 3rd century AD. It was found in Cumbria, England

Bronze Helmet from Ancient Greece, around 460 BC

Roman horseman's helmet, found in the Netherlands

Gladiator helmet

Greek Spartan Crest Helmet

Spanish morion (helmet)


Helmet covered in heavy gold florets with spike top, visor front. Chou Dynasty, Emperor Wu Wang tomb complex at Laoyang, circa 1020 BC.

Japanese helmet, circa 1590–1640.

Helmet of a Yuan Dynasty officer

Chinese chichak-style helmet, Ming Dynasty


Helmet from 7th century Viking boat grave
A common myth about the Vikings was that they wore horned helmets in battle. Archaeologists have found no proof to say that their helmets had horns. The reason their helmets didn't have horns was because they would have gotten in the way in battles and may have ended up injuring the wearer.

Real Viking helmets had protective metal down and around the ears and some helmets found in burial mounts had a metal mask in front.

German helmet by famous armorsmith Jörg Seusenhofer ca. 1540