Portrait of Emperor Marcus Aurelius

A masterful portrait, it clearly captures him as both leader and philosopher, using the artistic signals of the time. His drooping eyes and far-off gaze indicate a contemplative man. Yet his smooth, softly modeled flesh and mass of hair make clear this is a man of high importance.

The most widely published authors of all time are a god, a man, and a woman. The Christian Bible is the first most-sold "author," followed by Williams Shakespeare then Agatha Christie.

A stone vessel unearthed in central China’s Henan Province has helped archaeologists identify the tomb of an emperor from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 CE – 220 CE). The vessel was found in an Eastern Han Dynasty-era tomb, and is rather large at ten inches tall and 30 inches across. But what makes it important is its inscription: the date of the third year of Guanghe, or 180 CE, during the reign of Emperor Liu Hong of the Eastern Han Dynasty.

Emperor Liu Hong is known to have made a mausoleum for his predecessor, Emperor Liu Zhi. Based on written records, archaeologists used to speculate that the mausoleum where the vessel was found belonged to Emperor Liu Zhi, but had no evidence to prove it. The stone vessel's inscription gives physical corroboration to written records. Making it all but certain that its tomb is that of Emperor Liu Zhi. So far excavations have found a yard, corridor, well, path, and drainage channel as well as the stone vessel.

The Tashtyk culture existed between the first century and the 600s CE of southern Siberia. They are known in archaeological circles for their elaborate burial customs. They would layer gypsum on the face of the deceased, to create colorful and lifelike death masks.

A particularly well-preserved Tashtyk man was discovered in the late 1960s in the Khakassia region. Removing the mask would damage the mummy. So previous generations of researchers wisely decided to leave the man as they had found him. Now, thanks to a CT scan, we have the ability to glimpse the man beneath the death mask. The Tashtyk man had a hole in his left temple made likely at or after death. It was probably how his brain was removed before the mask was painted on.

He also had a nasty cut across his left side which ran from his eye to his ear which was neatly sutured. The gash seems to have been fatal. But in keeping with the Tashtyk practices he was made to look nice before his final send-off.

Would Not Want To Get Hit By This

This fine stone carving was slipped onto a wooden shaft to form a mace, a sophisticated club used for war. Since it is such a fine example of stone carving, we do not know if it was intended to see battle, or if it was always for ceremonial uses. From Peru's Salinas culture on the northern coast. Circa 200 BCE - 100 CE.

Researchers from the Spiš Museum in Slovakia have announced finding more than 800 artifacts, including a unique Celtic bronze sculpture, at the site of a hillfort in northern Slovakia. “These are mostly Celtic coins, bronze clips and other parts of clothing, products from clay, ceramics, glass beads, and bracelets,” said archaeologist Mária Hudáková. The figurine depicts a man with golden eyes wearing only a neckerchief. It is special because unlike previously-found Celtic sculptures, it depicts the person realistically and with golden eyes. The site has been known since the 1800s but this is the first systematic study of the hillfort.

Traces of a square-shaped building have been detected under the Main Plaza at Monte Albán with the use of ground-penetrating radar, electrical resistance, and gradiometery. Each side of the newly detected structure measures about 60 feet long, and more than three feet thick. A Zapotec site in Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca, Monte Albán was established around 500 BCE and collapsed around 850 CE. It is estimated that the plaza was in use for about 1,000 years before the collapse. Which makes the existence of a building under the plaza rather interesting...

Roman Seaside Pool

Built of concrete and stone, this circular pool still sits in northern Israel. It is unclear what the pool was built for. Guesses include catching tyrian snails, used to produce purple dye which was famously only worn by emperors.

Headquarters of a Roman Legion Excavated in Serbia

The headquarters of Rome's VII Claudia Legion has been discovered in a farmer’s field in eastern Serbia, near what had been the Roman provincial capital of Viminacium. The Roman legion was active between the 100s and 400s CE. More than 100 such headquarters are recorded in historical documents. But most of them are now covered by modern cities, making the new find particularly valuable. This headquarters had 40 rooms with heated walls, a treasury, a shrine, parade grounds, and a fountain. Some 120 silver coins, thought to have been left behind during an invasion or natural disaster, were uncovered in one of the rooms. They are spread from the front entrance. Like they were dropped as someone quickly fled.

Scientists and art historians have analyzed a miniscule speck of purple paint taken from “Portrait of a Bearded Man.” He was a lifelike image painted on wood and wrapped into a mummy’s linens in the 100s CE, when Egypt had become a Roman province. It is one of the "Faiyum portraits," a group of mummies found at the Faiyum Oasis which combine Egyptian mummification practices and wrappings with lifelike Roman portraits on their busts. This particular “bearded man” was painted wearing purple marks called clavi on his toga. These clavi were a symbol of the senatorial or equestrian rank the man had while alive, and were the focus on the recent study into how Romans made purple paint.

When examined under a microscope, the pigment appears to have large particles, like what is seen when gems are crushed to make pigment. The researchers then used an ion beam to split the tiny sample into even smaller pieces for several tests. Their results showed that the ancient Romans made purple using a synthetic, unidentified dye mixed with clay or silica to form a pigment. That pigment was then mixed with a binder of beeswax to make a paint.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • >
  • Leave us a message


    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

    Website design and coding by the Amalgama

    About us X