Latest Posts

stratford_hoard_944

Hoards: Buried Treasure at the British Museum

Tucked away and hidden from most casual passersby, the British Museum’s latest exhibition Hoards: The Hidden History of Ancient Britain is much like the once-buried treasure it displays. I found it in a small room located on the edge of the ancient Roman gallery on the museum’s second floor, adjacent to the Department of Coins and Medals study room. Despite its size, it holds a wealth of knowledge about this fascinating practice of prehistoric and Roman-era Britons.

Ancient British hoards on display at the exhibition. Image © Trustees of the British Museum.

Image © Trustees of the British Museum.

Read More

Halieis01

The Forgotten Town of Halieis

2,500 years ago, the bay of modern Porto Heli would have looked pretty familiar to us now – a great protected bay, with hills no doubt covered with olive trees. But there was no Porto Heli that we could recognise, though there may have been buildings and farms which have completely disappeared. What we would have seen was a compact walled town called Halieis that lay on the southern side of the bay (opposite the hotel), with ships pulled up on the foreshore or riding at anchor. Above the town was the acropolis, the high town, with defences to give refuge to the lower townspeople from enemies and pirates. The bay provided protection from storms from the east or south.

Halieis today. (Photo © Heinz Schmitz)

The bay of Porto Heli today. (Photo © Heinz Schmitz)

Read More

ahecover

April 2016 Museum Listings

Back by popular demand, Ancient History Encyclopedia will once again share news, on a monthly basis, about select museum exhibitions and events of interest to our global audience via AHetc. Exhibitions are arranged in alphabetical order by geographical location and region within this post: the Americas, United Kingdom, Europe/Middle East, and East Asia/Oceania. Here is a taste of what is on show at major museums around the world in April 2016:

Read More

fotosala2

Visiting The Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art

The Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (Español: Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino) in Santiago, Chile is a jewel among the world’s museums and a highlight to any trip to the country. Widely regarded as one of the best museums in Latin America, this unique establishment houses an impressive collection of artifacts from ancient Central and South America, which underscores the rich cultural and artistic diversity of the Pre-Columbian Americas.

In this exclusive English language interview, James Blake Wiener, Communications Director at Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE), takes a tour of the museum with Dr. José Berenguer Rodríguez, Curator at the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, who explains the finer points of the museum’s history, organization, and vast collection.

Read More

A Greek ivory pyxis depicting griffins attacking stags. 15th Century BCE. (Agora Museum, Athens)

Ivory in the Ancient World

Ivory, with its ease of carving and exotic rarity, has been used to make art objects for millennia. True ivory actually refers to only the dentine of elephant tusks but it may also refer to the tusks and teeth of walrus, hippopotamus, narwhal and sperm whales, amongst others. The ancient world acquired its ivory either directly or through trade with Africa and India via the Levant, as attested by the Bronze Age Ulu Burun shipwreck which had ivory as part of its cargo.

In the modern day ivory is, of course, a strictly controlled commodity and its trade and use are illegal if taken from endangered species.  In the ancient world, though, ivory could be carved alone or added to metals or wood and used as inlay. The Egyptians buried ivory objects with the dead, the Greeks used it for giant statues such as the Parthenon Athena, and the Romans even burnt it at funerals.  Below are just some of the objects made from this precious and fragile material which have survived the centuries.

An ivory figurine representating a bull-leaper from a three dimensional composition (with two other figures and a bull) depicting this Minoan sporting or religious activity. Hair would have been added using bronze wire and clothes in gold leaf, 1600-1500 BCE. It is perhaps the earliest known attempt in sculpture to capture free movement in space. (Archaeological Museum Herakleion)

An ivory figurine representating a bull-leaper from a three dimensional composition (with two other figures and a bull) depicting this Minoan sporting or religious activity. Hair would have been added using bronze wire and clothes in gold leaf, 1600-1500 BCE. It is perhaps the earliest known attempt in sculpture to capture free movement in space. Archaeological Museum Herakleion, Crete. Photo © Mark Cartwright

Read More

Sleeping-Lady-of-Malta

Malta’s Neolithic Underground

Allow me to share with you my experience of descending into Malta’s Neolithic underground. It is by far of one of the most amazing places that I have ever had the privilege to visit. Malta was discussed in one of my previous posts, 7 Strange Artifacts From Malta, but I didn’t tell you about the Hal Safleni Hypogeum. The phrase “must see” is really an understatement. It’s an amazing adventure to an underground archaeological site that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Inside the Hal Safleni Hypogeum, Malta. Image © Heritage Malta.

Image © Heritage Malta.

Read More

Virtual Rome

Virtual Rome: Interview with Dr. Matthew Nicholls

Dr. Matthew Nicholls, University of Reading, sat down with James Lloyd, AHE’s Video Editor, to discuss his Virtual Rome project.

I first met Dr. Nicholls attending one of his ‘Digital Silchester’ classes. This module teaches students how to understand the history and archaeology of the Roman town of Silchester through digital reconstruction. Matthew’s digital reconstructions have been featured on BBC and Discovery documentaries and he has co-taught the British School at Rome’s undergraduate summer school.

Read More