Friday, 9 December 2016

The Oxus Treasure

Cyrus the Great
The Oxus treasure is a collection of about 180 pieces of metalwork in gold and silver from the Achaemenid Persian period, found by the Oxus river about 1877-1880 in Takht-i Kuwad, Tadjikistan. It is the most important surviving collection of gold and silver from the Achaemenid period. (6th-4th century BC)
The Achaemenid Dynasty built an empire (559–330 BC) which, at its peak, spanned three continents.

In sheer land mass, the Achaemenid Empire was the largest empire the ancient world had ever seen until 331-330 BC, when Alexander the Great toppled the Persian regime on his eastward march from the Mediterranean through Afghanistan to India.

Ayaz Kala of Khwarezm (Chorasmia), today desert but in ancient times green and lush.

Kaakha fortress, overlooking the Panj river.

The formidable walls surrounding the ruins of Bactra, adjacent to modern-day Balkh.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Piece of Dinosaur Tail found in Amber

At a market in northern Burma last year, Lida Xing noticed a chunk of amber with a dark blotch inside. The impurity — plant matter, it seemed at first — made the amber far less valuable. But it made the specimen priceless to Xing. Trapped inside the amber was a piece of dinosaur tail, complete with feathers preserved in microscopic detail. The researchers believe the 3.7-centimetre-long section of tail — eight vertebrae wrapped in skin and soft tissue and covered with pigmented plumage — belonged to a theropod that lived in the mid-Cretaceous, approximately 99 million years ago.

This is the second piece of amber containing feathered dinosaur-era remains that the researchers have reported this year. In June, McKellar and Xing reported the discovery of a wing from a primitive Cretaceous bird.
Most scientists now accept that many dinosaurs were feathered, and this discovery will help answer questions about exactly what those dinosaurs looked like and how feathers evolved.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Tipu Sultan - the Tiger of Mysore

Tipu Sultan (20 November 1750 – 4 May 1799), also known as the Tiger of Mysore, was the Indian ruler who resisted the East India Company’s conquest of southern India. Opinion in England considered him a vicious tyrant, while modern Indian nationalists have hailed him as a freedom fighter.

A flintlock blunderbuss, built for Tipu Sultan in Srirangapatna, 1793–94.

In the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War, the combined forces of the British East India Company and the Nizam of Hyderabad defeated Tipu, and he was killed on 4 May 1799 while defending his fort of Srirangapatna.

Tipu's Tiger, c.1790 (wood). Made for the amusement of Sultan Tipu; the tiger has a miniature organ with keyboard and bellows to simulate the groans of a dying British officer.

Inscribed Sword of Tipu Sultan

Cannon used by Tipu Sultan at Srirangapatna in 1799
A gem-set sword bearing the head of a tiger from the armoury of Tipu Sultan headlined a sale at Bonhams.
The lot made £2.1m ($3.1m) when it crossed the block in 2014.

A gem-encrusted gold tiger finial from the throne of Tipu Sultan sold for £434,400.
Tipu Sultan ruled a vast swathe of southern India during the 18th century.

He fought ferociously against the encroachments of the British East India Company, but was ultimately defeated.

'In this world I would rather live two days like a tiger, than two hundred years like a sheep.' - Tipu Sultan
A 3-pounder bronze cannon sold for £1.4m ($2.1m).

A flintlock pistol with left-hand lock, made for Tipu Sultan at Seringapatam, dated AD 1797-98.

Inscription on the barrel reads: 'The peerless rifle of the Khusraw of India to which the forked lightning in second can seal the enemy's fate if his forehead is made the target.'
A two shot superimposed-load silver-mounted Flintlock from the armoury of Tipu Sultan, dated AD 1793-94.

A pair of silver-mounted Flintlock pistols with left and right-hand locks, made for Tipu Sultan, dated AD 1794-95. Sold For: £134,500

A Tipu Sultan sword fitted with a captured English blade.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Spectacular Ancient Bronze

Dated to around 330 BC, the bronze Boxer at Rest is a Hellenistic Greek sculpture of a sitting nude boxer at rest, still wearing his caestus, a type of leather hand-wrap, in the collection of the National Museum of Rome.  The Boxer was discovered in 1885, possibly from the remains of the Baths of Constantine.
“Portrait of Seuthes III” (about 310-300 B.C.), Greek. Bronze, copper, calcite, alabaster, and glass. Seuthes III was a ruler of the Odrysian kingdom of Thrace from 331 BC to ca. 300 BC. This bronze was found in his tomb.

“The Medici Riccardi Horse” About 350 B.C. Italian Bronze and gold.
The bronze "Chimera of Arezzo" is one of the best known examples of the art of the Etruscans. It was found in Arezzo, an ancient Etruscan and Roman city in Tuscany, in 1553.

Inscribed on its right foreleg is an inscription, TINSCVIL, showing that the bronze was a votive object dedicated to the supreme Etruscan god of day, Tin or Tinia. The statue is estimated to have been created around 400 BC.
The over-lifesize "Dancing Satyr" of Mazara del Vallo is a Greek bronze statue recovered from the sea floor at a depth of 500m (1600 ft.) off the southwestern coast of Sicily in 1998.

The satyr is depicted in mid-leap, head thrown back ecstatically and back arched, his hair swinging with the movement of his head. The figure is highly refined; the whites of his eyes are inlays of white alabaster.
Artemis and the Stag is an early Roman Imperial or Hellenistic bronze sculpture of the ancient Greek goddess Artemis. In June 2007 the statue fetched $28.6 million at auction, the highest sale price of any sculpture at the time.

The statue depicts Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunting and wild animals. She stands in a pose that suggests she has just released an arrow from her bow. At some point in its history, the bow was separated from the sculpture and was lost.
Alexander the Great on Horseback, 100-1 B.C., bronze and silver.

Victorious Athlete, "The Getty Bronze" 300-100 B.C.