LiveScience is reporting that an ancient Greek helmet has been found at the bottom of Haifa Bay in Israel. The helmet dates from c. 600 BCE and belonged to a Greek mercenary warrior who likely served Pharaoh Necho II of Egypt (r. 610-595 BCE). This unique artifact has since been cleaned and is now on display at the National Maritime Museum in Haifa, Israel. Please click here to read more about the fascinating history of this helmet and the role of the Greeks in the Near East.
So did the Romans have much of anything to do with the “Emerald Island”? The Irish Times is reporting that a new academic project has commenced, exploring the links between Roman Europe and Celtic Ireland. Entitled “Late Iron Age and Roman Ireland (Liari),” the project has already caused quite a stir! Please click here to read about this fantastic initiative.
The BBC reports that the popular belief of eight hours of sleep being optimal is a development of the 19th century, and that people have had a very different pattern of sleep before. In previous times humans usually had a first period of sleep of several hours, followed by a night-time awake phase, which in turn is followed by a second period of sleep of several hours. Many historical sources reference this bi-modal sleep pattern as if it was common knowledge, which appears to have been lost in the course of the Industrial Revolution (particularly with the advent of street lighting). Between the two periods of sleep people would be awake, and they meditated their dreams, prayed, had sex with their partner, or even visited their neighbours. It appears that many sleep-related problems may stem from the fact that the eight hour sleep is unnatural.
Archaeologists have made perhaps one of the most exciting Pre-Columbian finds in recent decades! In the vicinity of El Caño, Panama, excavations have unearthed fantastic tombs filled exquisite golden items. Since 2010, dozens of artifacts have been recovered and now scholars are peeling back the layers of time in order to solve the mysteries of this long forgotten civilization. Please click here to read an article about the excavation process from National Geographic Magazine. Also of interest is this news piece from National Geographic Daily News. Please click here to read that article.
The New York Times ran an article last month, detailing the importance of geoglyphs found deep within the Amazon rainforest in northwestern Brazil. Although they have been known to scientists and archaeologists since the 1970s, these “land carvings” are receiving increasing attention from the international community. Characterized by remarkable “geometric precision” and intricate detail, scholars debate their genesis and purpose. Please click here to read this fascinating piece.
LONDON. Ever wondered how the Celts warded off evil spirits? Come along to this event and find out more about the Celts. The British Museum is hosting an event of Celtic art and mythological stories for children and adults alike. The event costs GBP 12 and takes place on Sunday 04 March at the British Museum in London, from 14h00 to 19h00. Find out how to book a place at the British Museum Website.
The Costa Concordia, a cruise liner than recently sunk off the Italian island of Giglio, nearly landed on an ancient Roman shipwreck. The modern ship sunk only a ship’s length away from the ancient wreck. The waters around Giglio are in fact an ancient ship graveyard, as many vessels have sunk there before. Even the oldest known shipwreck of the Mediterranean lies off Giglio: a freighter carrying goods from Phoenicia, Etruria, and Eastern Greece sank here 2600 years ago. Read more on Spiegel.de (in German).
Russian biologists have managed to regrow flowers from seeds that were frozen for about 30.000 years. The seeds of prehistoric Silene stenophylla were extracted from plant seeds found in the Russian permafrost soil. They were probably dug in by Ice Age squirrels and never defrosted since. The flowers show significant differences from their modern counterparts: The blossoms look slightly different, and the prehistoric plants first only grew female blossoms, while the modern ones immediately grow hermaphroditic blossoms. You can read more about this on Spiegel.de (in German).
The Wall Street Journal had a great review of Aelian’s “On the Nature of Animals,” in a of a new translation, by Gregory McNamee. Born c. 170 CE, Aelian is perhaps the world’s first “naturalist.” Please click here to read this review.
We have the unfortunate news of reporting a robbery of precious items from the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games, in Olympia, Greece. The BBC is reporting that around seventy items were stolen and that the museum has been significantly damaged. The news prompted the resignation of Greece’s Minister of Cultural Affairs, Pavlos Geroulanos, but did not surprise the Greek public. Since the economic downturn in Greece, funding to museums and cultural organizations has been slashed due to austerity measures and severe budget cuts. Please click here to read more about this pressing tragedy.