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.

ReCreating Ancient Sculptures, Twice Over

On the right is how the sculpture appears today, a bronze head with inlaid eyes. And on the left is a reproduction of how it originally looked. This head is actually a copy of a copy. The bronze is a Roman copy of a now-lost Classical Greek original, created around 20 CE. (Click through the image gallery to see more angles of both.)  

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.

Bronze openwork shoes found in a tomb near Gonju in Korea. They date to the Kingdom of Baekje, 400s - 500s CE. Gilded metal shoes have been found in multiple royal Korean tombs, usually with ornate lattice work.

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 More than 100 such headquarters are recorded in historical documents.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.

Mis-Named In Mexico

The word 'Olmec' comes from the Nahuatl (or Aztec) word for people living in the Gulf Coast region at the time the Aztecs ruled. Olmecatl means "rubber people," probably due to the area's natural rubber trees and the sap it produced. Of course the Olmecs we think of first appears around 1600 BCE, and the Aztec came to central Mexico around the early 1300s CE. No one knows what the people we call the Olmec once called themselves.

Ancient Egyptian Bracelet

From the 200s to 100s BCE, so when Egypt was ruled by the Hellenistic Ptolemaic dynasty. Courtesy of the Getty Museum

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.

Ancient China’s Deadly Sport

Ancient China had its own form of mixed martial arts. Called lei tai, it was a no-holds-barred mixed combat sport that combined Chinese martial arts, boxing and wrestling. Killing your opponent was allowed. The sport was played by having a man on a rail-less platform who would invite anyone who wished to challenge them. If a challenger won, they became the man on the platform. But if a man beat enough opponents they would win acclaim as a “champion.” One famous champion, Lama Pai Grandmaster Wong Yan-Lam, fought over 150 people over 18 days to become a champion.

The modern form of lei tai appeared during the Song Dynasty. It is still practiced, though in a modified form that makes deaths less likely.

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    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!

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