The Mughal tradition of making portraits of strange or favorite animals was initiated by the fourth Mughal emperor, Jahangir (ruled 1605-1627) and was continued by both later Mughals and Rajput patrons. This study of a ram is from the reign of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (ruled 1628-1658), who you may know for building the Taj Mahal.
Although it can make two separate rings, they can also be conjoined, and worn as one ring. When separated, one can see the secret message on the inside of each ring. On the diamond ring is “QUOD DEUS CONIUNXIT.” On the ruby ring is “HOMO NON SEPARET.” Translated from Latin, it means "Whom God has joined together, let no man tear asunder."
Such conjoined rings, called gimmel rings, were popular in the 1600s in Europe. This particular example is from 1631 in Germany. Traditionally, the members of a newly betrothed couple would receive one hoop each. At the wedding ceremony, the two rings would be joined.
DNA from ancient remains is used to reconstruct thousands of years of population history in Africa. Researchers sequenced the genomes of 16 individuals who lived between 8,000 and 1,000 years ago, in what is today Malawi and Tanzania. Early on, the researchers found, the indigenous people of southern Africa used to be more widespread. Or their genes were. Markers of what is today southern African descent was found in individuals in Malawi and Tanzania who lived between 8,100 and 1,400 years ago.
But between 8,000 and 4,000 years ago, farming arrived in eastern Africa. Further DNA analysis revealed the hunter-gatherers in eastern Africa had mixed extensively with the incoming farmers. There was also migration from the Middle East in prehistory. About 38% of the ancestry of a 3,100-year-old livestock herder from Tanzania was related to ancient farmers from the Levant region.
More than two years ago researchers from the University of Cincinnati unearthed a 3,500-year-old tomb in the southwest of Greece. The tomb belonged to a Bronze Age warrior nicknamed the “Griffin Warrior." Inside were beautiful treasures, which made headlines and challenged previous theories about how Greek civilization developed.
Almost a year after the tomb was found, a new discovery was made. A tiny, tiny sealstone -- just an inch and a half wide. The “Pylos Combat Agate” meticulously displays two warriors engaged in battle with bodies strewn at their feet, with some details less than a millimeter wide. The carving is perhaps most astonishing because it predates artistic skills that were not associated with Greek civilization for another thousand years.
The anatomical precision in the fighter's muscles, for instance, is not seen again until the classical period of Greek art, around 2,500 years ago. Also astonishing? Magnifying glasses were not believed to be used for another thousand years, either. The anonymous artist either had hawk-level eyesight, or the magnifying glass was invented earlier than previously believed.
One tiny seal is upending archaeologists' understanding of how ancient Greek art developed and progressed. It shows a sophistication and interest in true-to-life representational art literally centuries ahead of its time.
From Tehran's Golestan Palace, this is a gorgeous example of Iranian tile art.
Found in 1774, near Civita Lavinia, Italy this sculpture dates to between 1 and 199 CE. Yes, this is a Roman Empire sculpture. Isn't that amazing?
The oldest temple ever discovered in Nubia, the famous land south of ancient Egypt, was built during the 18th and 19th Dynasties (or between 1,550 and 1,189 BCE). Egyptian pharaohs made many revisions and renovations over the years. During Akhenaten's famous reign, for instance, all references to the god Amun were effaced, but then Seti I of Egypt's 19th dynasty had the name restored. Click through the image gallery to see more pictures from the temple.
The Temple of Amada is no longer in its original place on the east bank of the Nile River, because it was moved to a higher, safer spot as Lake Nasser flooded in the 1960s and 1970s.
Learn more about this pioneering female painter who paved the way for women in the arts, thanks to a biography of Cassat published by The Met.