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Old February 26th, 2014 #101
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Default California couple strikes gold after finding $10million of 19th century coins buried on their property

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...#ixzz2uMr6c5gE
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A Northern California couple out walking their dog in February 2013 on their Gold Country property stumbled across a modern-day bonanza: $10million in rare, mint-condition gold coins buried in the shadow of an old tree.

Nearly all of the 1,427 coins, dating from 1847 to 1894, are in uncirculated, mint condition, said David Hall, co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Service of Santa Ana, which recently authenticated them.

Although the face value of the gold pieces only adds up to about $27,000, some of them are so rare that coin experts say they could fetch nearly $1million apiece.

'I don't like to say once-in-a-lifetime for anything, but you don't get an opportunity to handle this kind of material, a treasure like this, ever,' said veteran numismatist Don Kagin, who is representing the finders. 'It's like they found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.'









Kagin, whose family has been in the rare-coin business for 81 years, would say little about the couple other than that they are husband and wife, are middle-aged and have lived for several years on the rural property where the coins were found. He first met the couple last April.

They have no idea who put the the coins there, he said.

The pair are choosing to remain anonymous, Kagin said, in part to avoid a renewed gold rush to their property by modern-day prospectors armed with metal detectors.

They are a self-employed couple in their 40s.

'The family and the attorneys researched who might have put them there, and they came up with nothing,' Kagin said.

'The nearest we can guess is that whoever left the coins might have been involved in the mining industry.'

They also don't want to be treated any differently, said David McCarthy, chief numismatist for Kagin Inc. of Tiburon.

'Their concern was this would change the way everyone else would look at them, and they're pretty happy with the lifestyle they have today,' he said.

They plan to put most of the coins up for sale through Amazon while holding onto a few keepsakes. They'll use the money to pay off bills and quietly donate to local charities, Kagin said.

Before they sell them, they are loaning some to the American Numismatic Association for its National Money Show, which opens Thursday in Atlanta.



What makes their find particularly valuable, McCarthy said, is that almost all of the coins are in near-perfect condition. That means that whoever put them into the ground likely socked them away as soon as they were put into circulation.

Because paper money was illegal in California until the 1870s, he added, it's extremely rare to find any coins from before that of such high quality.

'It wasn't really until the 1880s that you start seeing coins struck in California that were kept in real high grades of preservation,' he said.

The coins, in $5, $10 and $20 denominations, were stored more or less in chronological order, McCarthy said, with the 1840s and 1850s pieces going into one canister until it was filed, then new coins going into the next one and the next one after that.

The dates and the method indicated that whoever put them there was using the ground as their personal bank and that they weren't swooped up all at once in a robbery.

Although most of the coins were minted in San Francisco, one $5 gold piece came from as far away as Georgia.

Kagin and McCarthy would say little about the couple's property or its ownership history, other than it's in a sprawling hilly area of Gold Country and the coins were found along a path the couple had walked for years.

On the day they found them last spring, the woman had bent over to examine an old rusty can that erosion had caused to pop slightly out of the ground.

They found eight cans in total.

'Don't be above bending over to check on a rusty can,' he said she told him.

They are located on a section of the property the couple nicknamed Saddle Ridge, and Kagin is calling the find the Saddle Ridge Hoard. He believes it could be the largest such discovery in U.S. history.

One of the largest previous finds of gold coins was $1million worth uncovered by construction workers in Jackson, Tenn., in 1985. More than 400,000 silver dollars were found in the home of a Reno, Nev., man who died in 1974 and were later sold intact for $7.3million.

Gold coins and ingots said to be worth as much as $130million were recovered in the 1980s from the wreck of the SS Central America. But historians knew roughly where that gold was because the ship went down off the coast of North Carolina during a hurricane in 1857.
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Last edited by Jae Manzel; February 26th, 2014 at 03:31 AM.
 
Old February 26th, 2014 #102
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Default Medieval Jewish mikvah discovered in Spain

http://www.timesofisrael.com/medieva...ered-in-spain/


Ancient mikveh in Colonia.

MADRID — A 15th century mikvah was discovered at the location of the last synagogue in the old Jewish quarter of Girona in Catalonia, Spain

The discovery of the Jewish ritual bath is significant since there are very few preserved mikvahs left in Europe and it further highlights the importance of Girona’s rich Jewish heritage.

Girona is a town near Barcelona which was known for its thriving Jewish community before the expulsion of Spain’s Jews in 1492.

A recent archaeological dig permitted the discovery of the mikvah at the site of the synagogue, which was founded in 1435 and abandoned in the summer of 1492.

The expulsion decree carried out by King Fernando against the Jews of Spain forced the community of Girona, consisting of about twenty families, to sell the synagogue, along with the surrounding community spaces, before fleeing the country. Thanks to records of the sale, the exact location of the synagogue, which now houses the Museum of Jewish History in Girona, is known.


Yesterday the Israeli ambassador to Spain, Alon Bar, attended the public presentation of the finding, along with the Minister of Culture of the Government of Catalonia Ferran Mascarell, and Girona Mayor Carles Puigdemont.

“I commend the discovery of more evidence of a Jewish presence and want to encourage this cultural treasure in order to maintain links between our peoples,” said Bar.

According to officials at the museum in Girona, very few ritual baths of this type have been preserved in Europe and in the Mediterranean area; they have been found in Sicily, Montpellier, and Besalu which is also in Catalonia.
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Old February 27th, 2014 #103
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Default 1,800-year-old gladiator school discovered in AUSTRIA reveals the harsh reality of its prisoners who fought for their lives daily

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...ing-lives.html

The ruthless, bloody and lonely lives of gladiators have been revealed in a remarkable reconstruction of one of their Austrian training grounds.

Discovered at the site of Carnuntum outside Vienna, the gladiator school is the first one to be uncovered outside the city of Rome.



Now hidden beneath a field, the school has been entirely mapped using non-invasive techniques such as aerial surveys and ground-penetrating radar.
The discovery, reported by the journal Antiquity, reveals intricate details about the daily routine of these famous warriors during the second century A.D

The so-called ludus ‘is on a scale to rival the famous ludus magnus, the gladiatorial school behind the Coliseum in Rome,€™ the archaeologists, led by Ludwig Boltzmann Institute, said in a statement.

It is thought at least 80 gladiators lived at the school, separated from the town of Carnuntum, which was founded on the Danube River.

Similar to a fortress prison, they slept in 32-square-foot (3-square-metre) cells, usually in isolation, and sometimes with a roommate.

The school had heated floors for winter training, baths, infirmaries, plumbing, as well as a graveyard close by. Gladiators trained every day for public fights in an amphitheatre.



Imaging equipment showed the structures still to be excavated as having the similar building hallmarks to the Collisseum and the Ludus Magnus gladiatorial ampitheatre, both in Rome.

The details contradict the popular view of gladiators as travelling around the country for fights, as seen in the film Gladiator.

The resulting archaeological maps and plans of individual buildings, streets and Roman infrastructure allow the virtual reconstruction of the city layout and the development of ancient land - and townscapes in two and three dimensions,€™ said the team from Austria, Belgium and Germany.

€˜Although some 100 ludi are thought to have existed in the Roman Empire, almost all have been destroyed or built over€™.

Excavations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries revealed many elements of the Carnuntum complex including a legionary fortress and town, but the ludus was only discovered in 2011.

A spokesman for the Roemisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, one of the institutes involved in finding and evaluating the discovery said: 'A gladiator school was a mixture of a barracks and a prison, kind of a high-security facility.

'The fighters were often convicted criminals, prisoners-of-war, and usually slaves.'

The main courtyard is ringed by living quarters and other buildings and contains a round, 19-square metre training area - a small stadium overlooked by wooden seats and the terrace of the chief trainer.

The institute believes the training area was where the men's 'market value and in end effect their fate' was decided.

Carnuntum park head Franz Hume added: 'If they were successful, they had a chance to advance to 'superstar' status - and maybe even achieve freedom.'

Gladiators took their name from the Latin word gladius, for sword. Some were volunteers who risked their legal and social standing and their lives by appearing in the arena.

Most were slaves, schooled under harsh conditions and socially marginalised.

Irrespective of their origin, gladiators offered audiences an example of Rome's martial ethics and, in fighting or dying well, they could inspire admiration and popular acclaim.

They were celebrated in art, and their value as entertainers was commemorated in precious and commonplace objects throughout the Roman world.

The games reached their peak between the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD, and they persisted not only throughout the social and economic crises of the declining Roman state but even after Christianity became the official religion in the 4th century AD.

Christian emperors continued to sponsor such entertainments until at least the late 5th century AD, when the last known gladiator games took place.

The international team now plan to continue mapping efforts at Carnuntum, to reveal even more details about the brutal lives of these ancient warriors.
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Old March 15th, 2014 #104
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Ancient 'Ritual Wand' Etched with Human Faces Discovered in Syria

By Tia Ghose
March 14, 2014 7:46 AM



A 9,000-year-old wand with a face carved into it was discovered in Syria.
Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient staff carved with two realistic human faces in southern Syria.

The roughly 9,000-year-old artifact was discovered near a graveyard where about 30 people were buried without their heads — which were found in a nearby living space.

"The find is very unusual. It's unique," said study co-author Frank Braemer, an archaeologist at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France.

The wand, which was likely used in a long-lost funeral ritual, is one of the only naturalistic depictions of human faces from this time and place, Braemer said.

Ancient site

Researchers first uncovered the wand during excavations in 2007 and 2009 at a site in southern Syria called Tell Qarassa, where an artificial mound made from the debris of everyday human life gradually built up in layers over millennia. (Though many stunning archaeological sites have been looted or bombed since the onset of the Syrian Civil War, this site is in a fairly peaceful area and has so far escaped damage.)

Other archaeological evidence from the site suggests the ancient inhabitants were amongst the world's first farmers, consuming emmer (a type of wheat), barley, chickpeas and lentils, and herding or hunting goats, gazelles, pigs and deer, the authors write in the March issue of the journal Antiquity.

Mysterious wand

After the skeletons and wand were buried, someone seems to have dug up and removed the skulls, placing them in the inhabited portion of the settlement.

The bone wand was likely carved from the rib of an auroch, the wild ancestor of cows, and was about 4.7 inches (12 centimeters) long. Two natural-looking faces, with eyes closed, were carved into the bone, though the wand was intentionally broken at both ends, with more faces likely originally adorning the staff.

The relic's purpose and symbolism remain a mystery.

"It's clearly linked to funerary rituals, but what kind of rituals, it's impossible to tell," Braemer told Live Science.

The find marks a transition in culture toward more interest in the human form. Older artifacts typically showed stylized or schematic representations of humans, but realistic depictions of animals. Art unearthed in what is now Jordan and Anatolia from the same time period also employs delicate, natural representations of the human form, suggesting this trend emerged simultaneously in regions throughout the Middle East, Braemer said.

The artistic innovation may have been tied to the emerging desire to create material representations of identity and personhood, the authors write in the paper.

Exactly why someone dug up the skulls and placed them within the living areas of the settlement is also unclear. But archaeologists unearthed similar finds in Jericho, Israel, dating to around 9,000 years ago, where the skulls of ancestors were covered with plaster and painted with facial features, then displayed in living spaces.

One possibility is that the practice was a form of ancestor worship, in which the human faces represented the living presence of supernatural beings in a humanized form.

It's also possible the heads on display were trophies from vanquished enemies, Braemer told Live Science.

http://news.yahoo.com/ancient-ritual...114613860.html

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Old May 20th, 2014 #106
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PHOTOS: 42,000-year-old mummified mammoth found



BY NICK KIRKPATRICK
May 20

According to the Guardian, this preserved baby mammoth was discovered in the Yamal Peninsula in Russia in 2007 by reindeer herder Yuri Khudi. Khudi and his sons found the mammoth while searching for wood along the frozen Yuribei River. The mammoth was named after Khudi’s wife, Lyuba, which is Russian for “love.”
Lyuba arrived in London Monday for a display at the Natural History Museum.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/m...mammoth-found/
 
Old June 21st, 2014 #107
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USA: Viking Artefacts Discovered Near Great Lakes



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Michigan| A group of amateur archaeologists searching for the remains of a native american settlements near the town of Cheboygan, on the coast of Lake Huron, have uncovered a large quantity of artefacts, allegedly of Norse or Viking origin. A total of 194 objects, mostly made from various metals including silver, iron, copper and tin, were found on what could be the site of an ancient viking trade post, controlling the Straights of Mackinac, that leads to Lake Michigan.

The artefacts are of various nature and geographical origin. Swords, axes and other weapons from Scandinavian or Germanic origin, silver buttons and a balance scale allegedly from the British isles, hair combs and knife handles made of walrus ivory and originating from Greenland or Iceland… The presence of all these goods suggests an elaborate and efficient economic system based on long-distance trade.

Archaeologists had been searching the eastern coast of North America for signs of the passage of Norsemen, ever since the discovery in 1960 of the site of l’Anse aux Meadows, in Newfoundland, Canada. Many items found on that first site had suggested that an elaborate network of trade existed between that specific Norse colony and the American continent. Such clues included the remains of butternuts, which didn’t grow on any land north of the province of New Brunswick, and therefore had to be “imported”. Other possible Norse outposts were identified in 2012, in Nanook, in the Tanfield Valley on Baffin Island, as well as in Nunguvik, on the Willows Island and the Avayalik Islands.

This is however the first Viking settlement discovered in the area of the North American Great Lakes, and this could bring a lot of new information concerning the actual extent of their trade network on the continent. The site is strategically located to enable control of the waterways leading to both Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, while enabling a navigable access to the St-Lawrence Bassin and the Atlantic Ocean. All of the items already already recovered have been transfered for further analysis to the Department of Archaeology of the University of Michigan, which has also inherited the responsability for the site. Further research should be done over the next months to complete the survey of the site and gather all possible remaining artefacts.
- See more at: http://worldnewsdailyreport.com/usa-....Zo3yXs7Z.dpuf
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Old July 18th, 2014 #108
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BRYAN, Texas (AP) — The recovered remains of a ship belonging to the famed French explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier Sieur de la Salle, which sank off the Texas coast more than three centuries ago, were launched on their final journey Thursday.
http://news.yahoo.com/17th-century-s...180512222.html
 
Old July 24th, 2014 #109
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Wyoming cave with fossil secrets to be excavated

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — For the first time in three decades, scientists are about to revisit one of North America's most remarkable troves of ancient fossils: the bones of tens of thousands of animals piled at least 30 feet deep at the bottom of a sinkhole-type cave.

Natural Trap Cave in north-central Wyoming is 85 feet deep and almost impossible to see until you're standing right next to it. Over tens of thousands of years, many, many animals — including now-extinct mammoths, short-faced bears, American lions and American cheetahs — shared the misfortune of not noticing the 15-foot-wide opening until they were plunging to their deaths.

http://news.yahoo.com/wyoming-cave-f...061433750.html
 
Old July 26th, 2014 #110
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Default First Stone Age etchings found in Germany. Link to 3 image gallery:

http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/er...-116512-3.html

Quote:
Es handele sich um den ersten Fund altsteinzeitlicher Felskunst in der Bundesrepublik. Dass sie im sehr witterungsanfälligen Schiefergestein erhalten blieb, ist laut den Archäologen dem Zufall zu verdanken. Von Berg vermutet, dass eine Art natürliches Felsdach die bis zu zwei Zentimeter tiefen Gravuren aus der Zeit der Jäger und Sammler lange Jahre vor der Witterung geschützt hat.
 
Old August 3rd, 2014 #112
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Default 24,000 Year-Old Siberian Body: European-Injun Mix

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The genome of a young boy buried at Mal’ta near Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia some 24,000 years ago has turned out to hold two surprises for anthropologists.

The first is that the boy’s DNA matches that of Western Europeans, showing that during the last Ice Age people from Europe had reached farther east across Eurasia than previously supposed. Though none of the Mal’ta boy’s skin or hair survives, his genes suggest he would have had brown hair, brown eyes and freckled skin.

The second surprise is that his DNA also matches a large proportion — about 25 percent — of the DNA of living Native Americans. The first people to arrive in the Americas have long been assumed to have descended from Siberian populations related to East Asians. It now seems that they may be a mixture between the Western Europeans who had reached Siberia and an East Asian population.

The Mal’ta boy was 3 to 4 years old and was buried under a stone slab wearing an ivory diadem, a bead necklace and a bird-shaped pendant. Elsewhere at the same site about 30 Venus figurines were found of the kind produced by the Upper Paleolithic cultures of Europe. The remains were excavated by Russian archaeologists over a 20-year period ending in 1958 and stored in museums in St. Petersburg.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/21/sc...nted=all&_r=1&
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Old August 5th, 2014 #113
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wow...is that a serious boom-goes-the-dynamite? it sounds like it.

where's wickiup boy? we need a professional read on this.
 
Old August 5th, 2014 #114
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"western europeans who had reached siberia"

so basically the euros were the ones cruising around, more than the asians. the asians were more along for the ride. that's what i'm picking up.
 
Old August 5th, 2014 #115
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The Most Violent Era In America Was Before Europeans Arrived

By News Staff | August 4th 2014 01:34 AM | 6 comments

There's a mythology about the native Americans, that they were all peaceful and in harmony with nature - it's easy to create narratives when there is no written record.

But archeology keeps its own history and a new paper finds that the 20th century, with its hundreds of millions dead in wars and, in the case of Germany, China, Russia and other dictatorships, genocide, was not the most violent - on a per-capita basis that honor may belong to the central Mesa Verde of southwest Colorado and the Pueblo Indians.

Writing in the journal American Antiquity, Washington State University archaeologist Tim Kohler and colleagues document how nearly 90 percent of human remains from that period had trauma from blows to either their heads or parts of their arms.

"If we're identifying that much trauma, many were dying a violent death," said Kohler. The study also offers new clues to the mysterious depopulation of the northern Southwest, from a population of about 40,000 people in the mid-1200s to 0 in 30 years.

From the days they first arrived in the Southwest in the 1800s, most anthropologists and archaeologists have downplayed evidence of violent conflict among native Americans.

"Archaeologists with one or two exceptions have not tried to develop an objective metric of levels of violence through time," said Kohler. "They've looked at a mix of various things like burned structures, defensive site locations and so forth, but it's very difficult to distill an estimate of levels of violence from such things. We've concentrated on one thing, and that is trauma, especially to the head and portions of the arms. That's allowed us to look at levels of violence through time in a comparative way."

It wasn't just violent deaths that poke holes in the harmony with the land and each other myth. A paper in June in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the Southwest also had a baby boom between 500 and 1300 that likely exceeded any population spurt on earth today. The northern Rio Grande also experienced population booms but the central Mesa Verde got more violent while the northern Rio Grande was less so.

Kohler has conjectures on why. Social structures among people in the northern Rio Grande changed so that they identified less with their kin and more with the larger pueblo and specific organizations that span many pueblos, such as medicine societies. The Rio Grande also had more commercial exchanges where craft specialists provided people both in the pueblo, and outsiders, specific things they needed, such as obsidian arrow points.

But in the central Mesa Verde, there was less specialization.

"When you don't have specialization in societies, there's a sense in which everybody is a competitor because everybody is doing the same thing," said Kohler. But with specialization, people are more dependent on each other and more reluctant to do harm.

If that sounds like rationalization based on Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, it is.

"Pinker thought that what he called 'gentle commerce' was very important in the pacification of the world over the last 5,000 years," said Kohler. "That seems to work pretty well in our record as well."

The episode of conflict in Southwest Colorado seems to have begun when people in the Chaco culture, halfway between central Mesa Verde and northern Rio Grande, attempted to spread into Southwest Colorado.

From 1080 to 1130, the Chaco-influenced people in Southwest Colorado did well. In the mid-1100s, there was a severe drought and the core of Chaco culture fell apart. Much of the area around Chaco lost population, and in 1160, violence in the central Mesa Verde peaked. Slightly more than a century later, everyone left that area, too.

"In the Mesa Verde there could be a haves-versus-have-nots dynamic towards the very end," said Kohler. "The people who stayed the longest were probably the people who were located in the very best spots. But those pueblos too were likely losing population. And it might have been the older folks who stuck around, who weren't so anxious to move as the young folks who thought, 'We could make a better living elsewhere.'" Older, or with too few people to marshal a good defense, the remaining people in the Mesa Verde pueblos were particularly vulnerable to raids.

At least two of the last-surviving large pueblos in the central Mesa Verde were attacked as the region was being abandoned. Some of their inhabitants probably made it out alive, but, says Kohler, "Many did not."

Citation: Timothy A. Kohler, Scott G. Ortman, Katie E. Grundtisch, Carly M. Fitzpatrick and Sarah M. Cole, 'The Better Angels of Their Nature: Declining Violence through Time among Prehispanic Farmers of the Pueblo Southwest', American Antiquity, Volume 79, Number 3 / July 2014, DOI: 10.7183/0002-7316.79.3.444. Source: Washington State University

http://www.science20.com/news_articl...arrived-141847
 
Old November 6th, 2014 #116
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The entire collection of restored objects. Courtesy Gety Museum and Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des monnaies, médailles et antiques, Paris

Magnificent Ancient Roman Silver Treasure Revealed
Fri, Oct 31, 2014

Roman Treasure of Berthouville makes its debut after meticulous conservation efforts.
Magnificent Ancient Roman Silver Treasure Revealed

LOS ANGELES — Accidentally discovered by a French farmer plowing his field near the village of Berthouville in rural Normandy in 1830, the spectacular hoard of gilt-silver statuettes and vessels known as the Berthouville Treasure was an ancient offering to the Gallo-Roman god Mercury. Following four years of meticulous conservation and research in the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Antiquities Conservation Department, the exhibition Ancient Luxury and the Roman Silver Treasure from Berthouville, on view at the Getty Villa November 19, 2014, to August 17, 2015, will present this unique collection of ancient silver in its full splendor and offer new insights about ancient art, technology, religion, and cultural interaction. The opulent cache – in the collection of the Cabinet des médailles (now the Department of Coins, Medals and Antiques) at the Bibliothèque nationale de France – is displayed in its entirety for the first time outside of Paris, together with precious gems, jewelry, and other Roman luxury objects from the Cabinet’s royal collections.

http://popular-archaeology.com/issue...asure-revealed





[that is some beautiful stuff, for sure]
 
Old November 6th, 2014 #117
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Magnificent. In terms of the craftsmanship & quality of personal possessions & architecture, the ancients had it all over us "moderns". Literally the only advantage we have over them is technology.
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Old November 24th, 2014 #118
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Celtic war trumpet named "carnyx" found in the Gallic sanctuary of Tintignac, Corrèze, France. 1st century BC.
 
Old November 25th, 2014 #119
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http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-30197084

Archaeologists in Denmark have uncovered an incredibly rare find: a stone age axe held within its wooden handle.

The 5,500-year-old Neolithic axe was found during archaeological surveys ahead of a multi-billion euro tunnel project.

The axe seems to have been jammed into what was once the seabed, perhaps as part of a ritual offering.

The lack of oxygen in the clay ground helped preserve the wooden handle.

The find was made in Rodbyhavn on the Danish island of Lolland, which is to be connected to the German island of Fehmarn via the tunnel link.

"Finding a hafted [handle-bearing] axe as well preserved as this one is quite amazing," said Soren Anker Sorensen, an archaeologist at the Museum Lolland-Falster in Denmark.

Archaeologists have found other similarly well preserved organic material in the area during their excavations.

These include upright wooden stakes, a paddle, bows and other axe shafts.

Axes were vital tools for Stone Age people, who used them for working wood. However, they also played an important role during the introduction of farming to Europe, when the majority of the land was covered by dense forests.

The archaeologists suggest that the Neolithic communities of south Lolland may have been using the coast as an offering area.

Earlier this month, archaeologists working on the Fehmarn Belt Tunnel scheme announced that they had uncovered 5,000-year-old footprints along the edge of an ancient fish trap excavated at Rodbyhavn.
 
Old November 29th, 2014 #120
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http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-...953472/?no-ist



Antikythera Mechanism Even Older Than Thought

This ancient astronomical calculator is now dated to 205 B.C. and is 1,000 years more advanced than anything else found from that time


The 82 discolored, corroded bronze fragments of the Antikythera Mechanism may not look like much on their own. But assembled they reveal a complex mechanism, with 37 gears that track the sun and moon and predict eclipses. This astronomical calendar or calculator was discovered in a shipwreck off the coast of Crete in 1901 and is more than 2,000 years old.

This ancient device "predates other known examples of similar technology by more than 1,000 years," writes John Markoff for the New York Times. He says:

Archaeologists and historians have long debated where the device was built, and by whom. Given its sophistication, some experts believe it must have been influenced, at least, by one of a small pantheon of legendary Greek scientists — perhaps Archimedes, Hipparchus or Posidonius.

Now a science historian and a physicist have discovered one more clue about the device’s origin. The eclipse prediction calendar, a dial on the back of the mechanism includes a solar eclipse that happened May 12, 205 B.C. They published their findings in the Archive for History of Exact Sciences.

Researchers had previously subjected the mechanism to radiocarbon dating analysis and analyzed the Greek letters inscribed on the front and back to come up with a construction date of about 100 to 150 B.C., reports Ker Than for LiveScience. The new date pushes the origin back 50 years or even a century, Markoff writes, and indicates that the math the mechanism uses to predict eclipses is Babylonian arithmetic, not Greek trigonometry.

Archimedes probably wasn’t the creator: he made his home in Syracuse, where earlier analysis of the mechanism's inscriptions suggested it might have been made. But the device also includes an inscription that refers to an athletic competition held in Rhodes, the likely place of origin, experts told the Times.

The mechanism remains intriguing because regardless of the exact date of its creation, it was centuries ahead of its time. LiveScience's Than writes:

Previous reconstructions suggested the Antikythera Mechanism was about the size of a shoebox, with dials on the outside and a complex assembly of bronze gear wheels within. 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 previous speculations that the device could also calculate the positions of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn — the other planets known at the time.

Earlier this fall, an expedition returned to the site of the shipwreck—with the aid of "wearable submarine" suits—and brought back tableware, parts of the ship and a bronze spear. They plan to dive again in the spring. Findings from that trip may reveal more about this strangely advanced device.
 
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