Friday, 29 January 2016

Nanhai No 1

A barge carrying the wreck of the 800-year-old sunken merchant ship 'Nanhai No.1' (or 'South China Sea No. 1'), sails on the South China Sea on December 24, 2007 in Yangjiang of Guangdong Province, China
More than 14,000 objects have so far been salvaged from Nanhai No 1, the ancient Chinese cargo ship which sank in the South China Sea about 800 years ago. The relics contain hoards of gold, silver, copper and ceramic artifacts.

Most recent excavations at the shipwreck have yielded tens of thousands of copper coins and porcelain objects such as pots, bottles, bowls and plates.

The 30-meter wooden vessel, discovered in 1987, contains at least 60,000 artifacts, including gold, silver and porcelain trading goods. "The cargo composition of the vessel is clearer and the diversity is rich," said Liu Chengji, at the Marine Silk Road museum in Yangjiang, Guangdong province, about 2,300 km south of Beijing.

The wreck of Nanhai No 1 is on permanent display at the museum which was specially built to house it.

At the museum, the shipwreck has been placed in an aquarium with the same natural conditions as the spot in which it was discovered.
Built between 1127 and 1279AD, Nanhai No.1 was a wooden merchant ship of Southern Song Dynasty. It is the earliest, largest and best preserved merchant ship for ocean trade of the sunken ships discovered in the region around the South China Sea.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Etruscan Gold

Ear-stud decorated with a rosette surrounded by concentric bands. Gold with vitreous glass paste insets, 530–480 BC.
The Etruscan civilization dominated the north of what is now Italy from about 700 B.C.E. until about 300 B.C.E. It is known that they had a language not related to that of the Italic tribes.

Etruscan kings ruled in Rome and other Italian city states and had extensive trade routes by land and sea. Their arts flourished, most notably their outstanding goldsmithing.
The Etruscans took great pleasure in wearing ostentatious gold jewellery. Etruscan metalworkers produced many fine items not only in gold, but also in bronze and silver. The gold jewellery was often ornamented with filigree (fine wire) and granulation (tiny gold granules) formed into patterns. This latter technique has been mimicked in recent times but modern goldsmiths have never achieved the powder-fine granules of the Etruscan metalworkers.
Etruscan goldsmiths learned the basic technique of granulation from the Phoenicians, but all agree that the Etruscans took this technique to new heights of excellence and delicacy through extreme miniaturization. Granulation refers to the side by side application of tiny beads of gold. Twisted, or "corded" gold wirework was also applied to jewels in the Etruscan style.

To this day, modern jewelers have been unable to duplicate the skill and precision of these ancient craftsmen.
Around 550 BC, engraved gems were reaching Etruria from the Greek world. Soon afterwards Etruscans started to engrave semi-precious stones like carnelian. Gem carving reached its apex in Etruria during the Classical period (480-300 BC), but did not continue long into the third century BC.

Friday, 22 January 2016

High Insect Jewels - Live Insect Jewelry

Live insect jewellry refers to jewellry, made from living creatures - usually bejewelled oversized insects- which is worn as a fashion accessory. The use of insects as live jewellry has existed for many centuries, with the Egyptians believed to have been the first to have worn insects as jewelry.

Ancient Egyptian soldiers commonly wore scarab beetles into battle as the beetles were considered to have supernatural powers of protection against enemies.
In 2010 U.S. customs officers stopped a woman on her way into the country because she was wearing a jewel-encrusted beetle as a brooch - and it was alive.

She declared the live insect to officials and said she had bought it in Mexico as a brooch but it was immediately confiscated by pest control. Moving live plant pests in any form into or out of the U.S. has to be declared to customs.
Live jewelry has been featured in Mayan cultural traditions for centuries.

It was not until the 1980s however that the Mexican Maquech Beetle, a sub-species of the Zopherus beetle, achieved mainstream popularity as live jewelry. The Maquech Beetle is a large, docile, wingless insect.