Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Bar-Kokhba Revolt

In 2009 the largest cache of rare coins ever found in a scientific excavation from the period of the Bar-Kokhba revolt against the Romans was discovered in a cave by researchers.

Most of the discovered coins were overstruck as rebels' coins on top of Roman coins. The new imprints show Jewish images and words (for example: the facade of the Temple in Jerusalem and the slogan "for the freedom of Jerusalem"). Other coins that were found, of gold, silver and bronze, are original Roman coins of the period minted elsewhere in the Roman Empire or in Israel.
The coins were found near Betar. Ancient Betar was the site of the "last stand" of the rebels led by Bar-Kokhba in their struggle against Roman rule in Judea from 132-135 CE.

The discovery verifies the assumption that the refugees of the revolt fled to caves in the center of a populated area in addition to the caves found in more isolated areas of the Judean Desert.

Sextus Julius Severus
In 132, a revolt led by Bar Kokhba spread from Modi'in across the country, cutting off the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. The outbreak took the Romans by surprise. Hadrian called his general Sextus Julius Severus from Britain, and troops were brought from as far as the Danube.

The struggle lasted for three years before the revolt was brutally crushed in the summer of 135 AD. After losing Jerusalem, Bar Kokhba and the remnants of his army withdrew to the fortress of Betar, which also subsequently came under siege. The Jerusalem Talmud relates that the numbers slain were enormous, that the Romans "went on killing until their horses were submerged in blood to their nostrils"
In 2015 another hoard was found in the vicinity of Qiryat Gat, Israel. Archaeologists uncovered about 140 gold and silver coins along with gold jewelry in a pit in the courtyard of an exposed building dating to the Roman and Byzantine period. A wealthy woman likely stashed the hoard of coins and jewelry in the pit due to the impending danger of the Revolt.

A sela attributed to the third year (A.D. 134/5) of the revolt. It features on the obverse the fa├žade of the Temple of Jerusalem (the Ark of the Covenant can be seen, inside) and on the reverse, the lulav and etrog, along with an inscription "For the Freedom of Jerusalem."
The coins that were discovered date to the reigns of the Roman emperors Nero, Nerva and Trajan who ruled the Roman Empire from 54-117 A.D.

“This hoard includes silver and gold coins of different denominations, most of which date to the reign of the emperor Trajan. This is probably an emergency cache that was concealed at the time of impending danger by a wealthy woman who wrapped her jewelry and money in a cloth and hid them deep in the ground prior to or during the Bar Kokhba Revolt.

It is now clear that the owner of the hoard never returned to claim it,”

In an attempt to erase any memory of Judea, Hadrian wiped the name off the map and replaced it with Syria Palaestina.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Crimea Gold

The Crimea and the Black Sea were and remain an important crossroads between Europe and Asia.

The recorded history of the Crimean Peninsula, historically known as Tauris or Tauric Chersonese, begins around 500 BC when several Greek colonies were established along its coast. Crimea since that time has endured a long series of conquests and invasions.

The modern history of Crimea began with the annexation by the Russian Empire in 1783. In 1921 the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was created. This republic was dissolved in 1945.

Since 1991 it has had the status of an Autonomous Republic within Ukraine until its recent annexation by the Russian Federation in the 2014 Crimean Crisis.
Nearly a year after the exhibition “Crimea: Gold and Secrets From the Black Sea” wrapped up at the Allard Pierson Museum 565 rare treasures on loan from four Crimean museums remain in boxes in a storage facility, awaiting a court decision about where they should be shipped.

“Russia is attempting to appropriate valuable exhibits from Crimean museums that are currently on loan abroad," Ukraine’s vice prime minister for social affairs, Oleksandr Sych, said during a news briefing.
Construction of the Olympic venues in the Imereti Valley resulted in over a dozen archeological expeditions, and close to 400 artifacts have been handed over to the city's history museum. "The construction of the Olympic venues in Sochi over the past five years has triggered large-scale archaeological excavations previously unseen in this resort city," said Alla Guseva, Deputy Director for Research at the museum.
In October 2013 the museum unveiled the Ancient Gold of Kuban and the Black Sea Region exhibition as part of the Cultural Olympiad's Year of Museums. This is the first exhibition to feature artifacts unearthed during the Olympic construction.

The excavations in the Imereti Valley started in the wake of the Olympic construction. Previously, the area was considered unattractive for archeological expeditions. However, the first excavations have demonstrated that the area has been populated since ancient times.

The Bosporan Kingdom was an ancient state located in eastern Crimea and the Taman Peninsula, on the shores of the Cimmerian Bosporus (now known as the Strait of Kerch).

Gold Stater - Bosporan Kingdom
It was named after the Bosphorus, also known as Istanbul Strait, a different strait that divides Asia from Europe.

The Bosporan Kingdom was the longest surviving Roman client kingdom. It was based on the export of wheat, fish and slaves. The profit of the trade supported a class whose conspicuous wealth is still visible from the newly discovered archaeological finds.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Antikythera shipwreck yields ancient human bones

The cargo is considered the most spectacular ever found from antiquity.
After more than 2,000 years, archaeologists have recovered the bones of a young man they call Pamphilos. In his late teens or early 20s, he was on the ship sailing from Asia Minor to Rome when disaster struck off the Greek island of Antikythera between Crete and the Peloponnese.

The catastrophe in the first century BC scattered the ship’s cargo across the seabed. It lay there until 1900. Salvage operations have since hauled up stunning bronze and marble statues, ornate glass and pottery, gold jewellery, and an extraordinary geared device – the Antikythera mechanism – which modelled the heavens.

The Antikythera Mechanism
With the latest discovery of human bones, scientists have their first real hope of sequencing DNA from a victim of an ancient shipwreck. The remains include the petrous bone, the hard part of the skull behind the ear. Dense and impenetrable to water and microbes, this is the best hope for finding intact DNA.
Analysis of the Antikythera Mechanism show it to be more advanced than previously thought—so much so that nothing comparable was built for another thousand years.

Researchers used three-dimensional X-ray scanners to reconstruct the workings of the device's gears and high-resolution surface imaging to enhance faded inscriptions on its surface.
By winding a knob on its side, the positions of the sun, moon, Mercury and Venus could be determined for any chosen date. Newly revealed inscriptions also appear to confirm the device could also calculate the positions of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn — the other planets known at the time. The device's construction date was radiocarbon dated to around 150 to 100 B.C.