When during the early 20th century archaeologists excavated some of the most famous sites of Ancient Greece – notably Knossos on the island of Crete and Mycenae and Pylos on the mainland – they found large numbers of clay tablets inscribed with a type of script that baffled them. It was significantly different to any other script known at the time. Moreover, it was immediately clear that there were at least two variants of this type of writing.
These scripts – characterised by about 90 different characters, and on the clay tablets interspersed with signs for numerals as well as the depiction of every-day objects and commodities such as pots, cloth and grain – acquired the name ‘Linear’. Linear because they were more abstract and characterised by a more linear style than the earlier hieroglyphic type of writing, also found on Crete. The two variants were given the names Linear A and B. Read more.
In 130 BC, a ship fashioned from the wood of walnut trees, bulging with medicines and Syrian glassware, sank off the coast of Tuscany, Italy. Archaeologists found its precious load 20 years ago and now, for the first time, archaeobotanists have been able to examine and analyse pills that were prepared by the physicians of ancient Greece.
DNA analyses show that each millennia-old tablet is a mixture of more than 10 different plant extracts, from hibiscus to celery.
“Medicinal plants have been identified before, but not a compound medicine, so this is really something new,” says Alain Touwaide, director of the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions, which has the world’s largest digital database of medical manuscripts.
The pills, which researchers believe were diluted with vinegar or water to make them easier to ingest, were preserved inside tin boxes and were the size of coins. Read more.
A collection of 642 rare ancient Greek coins broke world records on Wednesday night when it sold for $25m at a New York auction.
Assembled over three decades by a private British collector, the Prospero Collection has been billed as the most valuable and comprehensive grouping of coins from the classical world ever to go on the market. The gross proceeds from the first sale of the two-day auction included the buyer’s premium of 17 per cent.
The most expensive lot, a spectacular facing head gold stater featuring the head of a bearded satyr and the figure of a winged griffin, sold for $3.25m – a record for an Ancient Greek coin. The piece came from Pantikapaion, a colony on the Black Sea and has been described by coinage experts as “a masterpiece of Ancient Greek art”.
ATHENS (AFP) - Archaeologists in northern Greece have found a rare group of ancient graves where farmers were interred with their livestock, a Greek daily reported on Friday.
At least 11 adults and 16 farm animals were found buried together near the town of Mavropigi in the northern region of Macedonia, some 21km from the city of Kozani, Ethnos daily said.
The men, women and a child lay alongside horses, oxen, dogs and a pig in two rows of graves, the area’s head archaeologist told the newspaper.
‘It is the first time that this strange custom is found at such a scale, and from this particular period of time, the late 6th century and early 5th century BC,’ head archaeologist Georgia Karamitrou-Mentesidi said. (source)
A submerged ancient Greek city, from the heroic era portrayed in Homer’s Iliad, is being ‘raised’ from the bottom of the Aegean.
Using cutting edge underwater survey equipment and site reconstruction software, archaeologists and computer scientists have joined forces to map and digitally recreate a Bronze Age port which was swallowed by the waves up to 3000 years ago.
It’s the first time that a submerged city has ever been fully mapped in photo-realistic 3D.
The entire city – covering 20 acres – has been surveyed in ultra-high definition, with error margins of less than three centimetres.
The survey – carried out by an archaeological team from the University of Nottingham – is the subject of a special BBC Two documentary, tomorrow Sunday evening.
The original name and political status of the site is a complete mystery. The evidence so far suggests that it flourished between 2000 and 1100 BC, peaking in size in the two century period, 1700-1500BC, and being abandoned about a century before the end of the millennium. Read more.
THE majestic Temple of Apollo still rules over the ancient Greek city of Corinth as it has done since it arose upon the rocky terrace overlooking the Ionian Sea more than 2500 years ago.
Built to replace an even earlier temple erected on the same site 200-300 years before, the seven huge columns that remain loom above the landscape in suitably god-like fashion, giving a feel for just how magnificent it must have been in its heyday.
Below lie some equally impressive remains of the city which surrounded it, including a row of stone shops - a reminder that Corinth was one of the great commercial hubs of the Mediterranean - humble homes and grand villas; the remains of the old agora, where political and commercial deals were done; and the superb Pierene Fountain, with its complex of wells, reservoirs, baths and water channels. Read more.
Oxford University is asking for help deciphering ancient Greek texts written on fragments of papyrus found in Egypt.
Hundreds of thousands of images have gone on display on a website which encourages armchair archaeologists to help catalogue and translate them.
Researchers hope the collective effort will give them a unique insight into life in Egypt 1,000 years ago.
Project specialist Paul Ellis said: “Online images are a window into ancient lives.”
The collection is made up of papyri recovered in the early 20th Century from the Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus, the so-called “City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish”.
At the time the city was under Greek rule. Later the Romans settled the area.
The papyri contain literature, letters and even a story about how Jesus Christ cast out demons. Read more.
Bulgarian archaeologists have discovered 30 bronze coins with images of Ancient Greek god Apollo dating back to the 4th-3rd century BC.
The discovery was made during excavations on the St. Marina hill near the Black Sea town of Sozopol, Burgas24 reported.
The bronze coins feature Apollo’s head on one side, and on the other – Apollo sitting on an omphalos – an ancient religious stone artifact considered the center of the universe.
The coins, which are typical of the Hellenic Age, have been found in the remains of a villa from the 4th-3rd century BC outside of the Greek polis of Apollonia, today’s Sozopol. The villa is the first such archaeological structure outside the polis. Read more.