Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Brandon Sun: Online Edition

The Brandon Sun: Online Edition: "A rare silver coin celebrating one of the most famous murders of antiquity was handed over to Greek Culture Ministry officials, after a groundbreaking deal that allowed its repatriation from Britain.

The tiny coin, a denarius issued in 42 B.C. by Brutus, the chief assassin of Julius Caesar, is one of only 58 in the world. Greek authorities said it was illegally excavated in Greece and sold last year by two Greek suspected smugglers to London's Classical Numismatic Group Inc.

The coin was issued by a mobile military mint used by Brutus to pay his soldiers during the wars that followed Caesar's assassination in 44 B.C. by a group of his friends - immortalized in Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar.

Decorated with the head of Brutus on one side and a pair of daggers flanking a cap on the other, the denarius carries the inscription Eid Mar - short for the Ides of March, or March 15, the date of Caesar's murder.

Bulgaria's Pironkova serves up surprise at Wimbledon (

Bulgaria's Pironkova serves up surprise at Wimbledon ( "Albanian and Italian archaeologists will start excavation work this week at the ancient Roman amphitheatre in Durres, Albania, with the goal of uncovering the entire structure. The dig is part of a 25,000-euro project to establish an archaeological park at the site."

Treasures pulled from a briny tomb - World - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

Treasures pulled from a briny tomb - World - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper: " Egyptian authorities have now approved the exploration of the ruins of another city buried in the Mediterranean, this one a Roman city discovered by an excavation team 20 miles east of the Suez Canal on Egypt's northern coast.
Reuters news agency reports that archaeologists have found buildings, bathing chambers, a fortress, ancient coins, bronze vases and pieces of pottery dating from the Roman era between 30 B.C. and A.D. 337. The excavators found four bridges belonging to a submerged castle first discovered in 1910. "

Friday, June 16, 2006

Man Leads Archaeologists to Etruscan "Tomb of the Roaring Lions" "A suspected tomb raider turned police informant has led archaeologists to what experts described Friday as the oldest known frescoed burial chamber in Europe.

The tomb, located on a hilly wheat field north of Rome, belonged to a warrior prince from the nearby Etruscan town of Veio, said archaeologists who took journalists on a tour of the site.

Dating from around 690 B.C., the underground burial chamber is decorated with roaring lions and migratory birds. Experts are hailing it as the earliest example of the funerary decorations that would later become common in the Greek and Roman world.

'This princely tomb is unique and it marks the origin of Western painting,' said Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli.

Besides the frescoes, archaeologists have uncovered decorated vases imported from Greece, a sword and metal spits used to roast meat for the prince's table. A two-wheeled bronze chariot was found standing in front of the rounded archway that leads into the burial chamber.

The recovery of elegant broaches, a wool spindle and other objects usually used by females suggests that at least one woman, possibly the prince's wife, was buried in the tomb, said Francesca Boitani, the lead archaeologist on the dig.

The urns containing the cremated remains of the tomb's owners, normally placed in one of the chamber's niches, are believed to have been taken by looters, Boitani said.

The images of birds and fang-baring felines remain the highlight of what experts are calling "The Tomb of the Roaring Lions."

Although decorated prehistoric caves predate by millennia the Etruscan tomb, experts say it is the oldest example in the Western world of a specially built funerary chamber decorated with mural paintings.

"Prehistoric paintings are something else," Boitani said. "Here we see used for the first time the techniques described in ancient texts and used in Western civilization in the following centuries."

Mural paintings have been found in some burial chambers in Turkey, but those date back to the 6th century B.C., while the Etruscan tomb is at least a century older, said Giovanni Colonna, an expert on the Etruscan civilization at Rome's La Sapienza University.

The architecture of the tomb, the style of the paintings and the images of lions _ an animal that didn't roam central Italy _ show the builders were influenced by art coming from Greece, Egypt and Asian kingdoms, Colonna said.

Although the same art is used on Greek vases of the time, no decorated tombs from that period have been found in Greece or elsewhere in Europe, he said.

The images in the Etruscan tomb were outlined in black and red with paints produced from minerals and archaeologist believe they were fixed on the wall using a compound created by crushing ancient fossils found in the area.

The birds are symbols of the passage into the afterlife, while the lions "represent the horror for what lies beyond life," said Anna Maria Moretti, the superintendent for antiquities in areas around Rome."

Dayan is accused in antiquities plunder

Dayan is accused in antiquities plunder: "Stunning military victories made Israeli general Moshe Dayan an iconic figure on the international stage, but his reputation for looting antiquities is little known outside the country where his myth was born.

Across three decades until his death in 1981, Dayan, of the trademark eye patch, established a vast collection of antiquities acquired through illicit excavations. He also traded in archaeological finds in Israel and abroad, antiquities experts say.

Dayan's extensive collection, which he housed in his Tel Aviv-area home, included pottery, stone heads, ossuaries, Byzantine gravestones and Roman sarcophagi, antiquities experts said."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Museum to Reunite Venus Statue With Head - "For the first time in possibly 170 years, a Roman marble statue of Venus will be reunited with its head as both are coming to the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University, where conservators will piece them back together.

The museum bought the charmingly prudish portrait of the goddess of love, whom the Greeks called Aphrodite and the Romans Venus, for $968,000 at a Sotheby's auction in New York on June 6. A private collector in Houston, Texas, agreed to sell to those who purchased the body at the auction the head as well, which was last documented attached to the body in 1836. The head sold for about $50,000.

The 4-foot-6-inch statue is a marble copy from the late 1st century A.D. of an earlier Greek bronze sculpture."

Christy's to Auction Lansdowne Hermaphroditius Culture: "Recent high-profile court cases involving patrimony laws, accusations of theft and smuggling may have cast a shadow over the field of antique art, but they have not quelled the urge to buy and sell. An antiquities auction at Sotheby's New York last week tallied $4.6 million, demonstrating that the market for Greek vases, Roman marble busts and Egyptian bronzes continues to be robust.

An upcoming Christie's sale features the Roman marble Lansdowne Hermaphroditus, a dual-gendered statue of an effeminate youth with wavy hair, pubescent female breasts and teenage male genitalia. Valued at as much as $500,000, the Hermaphroditus is among 291 lots that the auction house expects to gross as much as $9 million.

Ownership of the Hermaphroditus goes back to the 18th century, when British statesman William Petty Fitzmaurice decorated his Berkeley Square home with ancient sculpture. Christie's catalog says Fitzmaurice paid 40 pounds for the 2nd- century statue in 1775."

Friday, June 02, 2006

Roman villa discovered near Cheddar

The Weston Mercury - Roman gem discovery: "TWO newly qualified archaeology graduates say they have uncovered a massive Roman villa complex in the Mendip Hills.

The Weston-based graduates used specialist geophysics equipment to reveal what are thought to be two 60m buildings forming a prestigious courtyard villa with a separate bath building.

The buildings probably belonged to a rich landowner from the second or third century AD.

Limited excavation work at the site near Cheddar has thrown up patterned wall plaster and ancient cooking equipment and could hide a treasure of mosaic tiles and other artefacts."