| Christie’s New York sold a 9-inch-high stone figurine in April from the Chalcolithic Period (c.3000-2200 BC), known as the Guennol Stargazer for $14.5 million. It carried an estimated sale price of at least £2m. The Guennol Stargazer is one of the finest and largest preserved Anatolian marble female idols of Kiliya type, “Stargazer” so named because its eyes appear to be looking into the heavens.|
There are only about 15 nearly complete idols that survive, although fragmentary examples, particularly heads, abound. Most of the complete examples have been broken across the neck, as with the present figure, suggesting that the sculptures were ritually ‘killed’ at the time of burial. The last marble example of Kiliya type to have appeared at auction was The Schuster Stargazer, which sold at Christie’s New York on 5 June 2005 for $1,808,000.
Tuesday, 25 July 2017
Clay model of a sheep’s liver used for instruction in liver divination in a Babylonian Temple School, c. 2000 B.C.
|The ancient world offered up a myriad of ways of telling the future and divining the will of the gods. In second-millennium B.C. Mesopotamia, professional oracle-priests would ritually sacrifice an animal and read the it's entrails (a process called extispicy). The priests chose to inspect and evaluate a sacrificed animal’s liver, which was deemed the location of the soul and number-one site for all internal activity. Divining by inspecting the liver was called hepatomancy.|
In Ancient Rome, a haruspex was a person trained to practice this form of divination. On behalf of the person who brought the animal to the temple, the priests asked the gods a question; the gods inscribed the answer in the entrails. Over the centuries, liver models became popular across the ancient Near East, from Assyria to Babylonia, Anatolia to Cyprus. Rich kings often split up his multiple diviners into groups so they couldn’t conspire to lie to him. It was common for kings to order omens until they got the answer they wanted.|
Monday, 24 July 2017
|One of the most significant archaeological sites in the world will take center stage at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) this fall with the de Young Museum’s “Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire.” The exhibition features over 200 artifacts and artworks from the site, with loans from major collections in Mexico as well as recently excavated objects. |
At its zenith Teotihuacan was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas, with a population estimated at 125,000 or more, making it at least the sixth largest city in the world during its epoch.
At 63 meters tall, the Sun Pyramid was one of the largest and tallest structures in the Western Hemisphere. The city reached its peak around 450 AD.
Great Goddess of Teotihuacan
Water Goddess; from Teotihuacán
Sunday, 23 July 2017
|Eight gold coins discovered during an archaeological excavation in Germany could confirm the site of the legendary Battle of Teutoburg Forest.
Such a find is extremely rare and this recent discovery at Kalkriese expands the number of gold coins collected at the site by more than double the previous amount.|
The coins featured images of the Emperor Augustus, with the imperial princes Gaius and Lucius Caesar on the back, and date between 2BCE and 5CE. The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest took place in 9 CE, when an alliance of Germanic tribes ambushed and destroyed three legions of the Roman commander Publius Quintilius Varus.
|As a result of the battle Germania remained independent from Roman rule.|
Roughly 18,000 men were killed during the slaughter in Teutoburg Forest.
|An aureus from the reign of Emperor Augustus would have been enough to feed an entire family in Rome for a month. |
Archaeologists speculate they once belonged to a high-ranking Roman officer.
|In September 9 AD Varus marched with three legions with him, the Seventeenth, the Eighteenth and the Nineteenth when news arrived from the Germanic prince Arminiusof a growing revolt in the Rhine area to the West. Ignoring a warning from Segestes not to trust Arminius, Varus marched deep into the Teutoburg Forest.|
All three legions were wiped out to the last man. Varus committed suicide.
Saturday, 22 July 2017
|Ifrit are supernatural creatures in some Middle Eastern stories. In Islam, this term refers to the most powerful and dangerous Jinns.|
The Ifrits are a class of infernal spirits, classified as a jinn and also held to be a death spirit drawn to the life-force (or blood) of a murdered victim seeking revenge on the murderer. As with ordinary jinn, an Ifrit may be either a believer or an unbeliever, good or evil, but it is most often depicted as a wicked, ruthless and evil being; a powerful Shaitan (demon).
According to Islamic sources, the ifrit has a fiery appearance with leaping flames from his mouth. In early folklore, the ifrit is said to be formed from the blood of a murder victim. Driving an unused nail into the blood was supposed to stop their formation. The creatures were reported as being able to take the form of Satan, the murder victim, or even a sandstorm. Ifrits are believed to inhabit the underworld, or in desolated places like ruins or caves.
|A picture may be worth a thousand words but one mysterious ancient Chinese character could be a 100,000 yuan (US$15,000) payday for anybody who can definitively say what it means. The National Museum of Chinese Writing in Anyang, Henan province, has issued a worldwide appeal for help to decipher thousands of esoteric characters cut into bones and shells dating back more than 3,000 years to the Shang dynasty.|
The inscriptions are the earliest written records of Chinese civilization and shed light on life and society at the time. They were carved by fortune-tellers on turtle shells and ox shoulder blades known as oracle bones, and record questions on everything from weather to taxes.
|So far, scholars have managed to crack the code to less than half of the roughly 5,000 characters found on excavated oracle bones. Around 3,000 of them remain a mystery. The museum is encouraging researchers to use cloud computing and big data to generate breakthroughs. The museum started offering the rewards because progress on deciphering the characters had stalled in recent years. For researchers studying the ancient Chinese texts, making sense of one character can be a career-defining achievement.|
Friday, 21 July 2017
|Peruvian authorities have revealed the reconstructed face of the Lord of Sipan, a pre-Columbian ruler whose remains were discovered in 1987 and hailed as one of the country's most stunning archaeological finds. A full body representation of the ancient ruler, believed to have died around the year 250, was unveiled Thursday at the Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan in the northern city of Chiclayo.|
|The Moche culture ruler's face was reconstructed by anthropologists based on the skull and facial bones of the man's mummy. Archaeologists discovered the mummy buried with a large cache of gold and silver in the Huaca Rajada adobe pyramid complex.|
Experts believe the Lord of Sipan was between the age of 45 and 55 when he died.
Tomb of the Lord of Sipan in Chiclayo, Peru
Thursday, 20 July 2017
|Little is known about the Kushans, a dynasty that controlled much of India nearly 2,000 years ago. Written records of the era, where they exist at all, are all from others and are imprecise and lacking in detail. The Kushans emerged from western China and swept into the Indian subcontinent in the second century BCE.|
They are believed to be a branch of the Yuezhi, fierce nomadic horsemen.
Kushan Empire, Huvishka, gold dinar, c. 155-190 CE
|Kushans first swept through Bactria, occupying modern Afghanistan and western Pakistan, where they assimilated native forms of dress, a slightly modified Greek alphabet, and a mixture of Iranian and Greek religion.|
Kushan king Huvishka
Vima Kadphises. Circa AD 100-128
Wednesday, 19 July 2017
The respected monk's remains were varnished before being gilded
|After Master Ci Xian passed away, his disciples had his body preserved but it later went lost over the years. His remains were re-discovered in 1970s inside a cave. Master Du from the Dinghui Temple said Buddhist Master Ci Xian's preserved body had been worshipped at the Dinghui Temple since 2011. The temple decided to have the remains gilded last year.|
Tuesday, 18 July 2017
|The British Museum in London is displaying the history of Scythians. ‘Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia’ reveals the history of nomadic tribes who thrived in lands from southern Russia to China and the Black Sea. The Scythians were horsemen warriors and feared adversaries of the ancient Greeks, Assyrians, and Persians between 900 and 200 BC. The Scythians developed fearsome weapons: pointed battle-axes and short swords for close combat and powerful bows for long-distance archery. Painted wooden shields, armor and a helmet have survived from ancient tombs. |
Horse headgear. Mound 1, Pazyryk, Altai. Late 4th–early 3rd century BC.
|Horses providing milk, meat and hide and were the main mode of transport and the driving force behind the Scythians’ military might. Scythian horses were buried with warriors, dressed in masks and other components that transformed them into fantastic mythical animals. As hoofed griffins, they were believed to carry their rider into the afterlife.|
Scythians believed sacrificing a hare brought victory in battle. From the late 5th century BC onwards, hares often feature on Scythian gold plaques, demonstrating the animal’s importance.
Gold plaque with hare hunt. Kul’ Oba, northern Black Sea region, first half of the 4th century BC.
Monday, 17 July 2017
|The Rosetta Stone was the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics. The inscribed black granodiorite stone was the first ancient Egyptian bilingual text to be discovered in modern times. The stone was unearthed in 1799 during Napoleon's campaign in Fort Saint Julien, El-Rashid in Egypt and has been housed in the British Museum since 1802.|