Category Archives: EUROPE

Restored Pompeii Kitchens Give Us An Idea Of How Romans Cooked

Restored Pompeii Kitchens Give Us An Idea Of How Romans Cooked

In a new project that seeks to give visitors a taste of the everyday life within the city the ancient roman kitchens of the Pompeii launderette were once again equipped with pots and pans.

The kitchens were once used to provide food for the hungry attendants of the three-story launderette, Fullonica di Stephanus before they were destroyed by a volcanic eruption in AD 79.

It was the location where rich Roman patricians were sent to clean their togas to be washed in huge baths using clay and urine. The garments were then rinsed, dried and placed on special presses to ensure they returned to their noble owners crease-free.

Thanks to a refurbishment which finished on Monday, the kitchens inside the Fullonica now appear as they did 2,000 years ago, complete with metal grills, pots, pans, and earthenware crockery.

The new installment provides an interesting window on Roman cooking practices.

Instead of using gas or electric hobs, the Romans cooked their food over specially-made troughs, in which beds of flaming charcoal were placed.

Hunks of meat, fish, and vegetables were then laid on grills directly over the coals, while soups and stews simmered away in pots and pans that were stood on special tripods to elevate them above the scorching embers.

All of the cooking equipment now on display was found in and around the kitchens when they were first excavated in 1912 by the then Superintendent of Pompeii, Vittorio Spinazzola.

Restored Pompeii Kitchens Give Us An Idea Of How Romans Cooked
The kitchens at the Fullonica di Stephanus.

Spinazzola initially left all the items in the kitchen, but his predecessors packed them away in storage or placed them in glass display cabinets in different areas of the site.

“We’re delighted the pieces have finally been put back on display where they were found and we’re certain they will be appreciated by modern tourists, eager to learn how people lived in antiquity,” said Massimo Osanna, the current Archaeological Superintendent of Pompeii.

As part of the same initiative, further examples of ancient Roman culinary practices were also given a permanent exhibition at the city gym, the Palestra Grande, on Monday.

Visitors can now marvel at a carbonized loaf of two-millennia-old bread and admire a metal pot containing the fossilized remnants of a bean and vegetable soup.  

From Thebes to Nazi Germany: ancient vase returned to Greece

From Thebes to Nazi Germany: ancient vase returned to Greece

Upon his return to Athens, an amazing story about an ancient wine-cup given to the marathon champion of the first modern Olympics before being smuggled out of Greece by a notorious Nazi.

Spyros Louis, who was a water carrier when he surprisingly won the opening marathon in 1896, obtained the 6th century BC pottery vessel. It went missing then.

“When I was asked to review everything which happened in 2012. I started checking bibliographies and records. It was believed it had been inventoried in our archives but that is not at all the case,” said Georgios Kivvadias, curator of vase collections at the Athenian National Archeology Museum.

Two years of detective work began after the archeologist finally found a vessel at the University of Münster, Germany decorated with an image of two black-figured athletes with a clay-red background.

The double-handled cup – originally discovered in a tomb in Thebes – was acquired by the university in 1986.

From Thebes to Nazi Germany: ancient vase returned to Greece
The 6th century BC vessel will go on show in Athens before joining the Olympic collection in Olympia.

On Wednesday the cup was formally repatriated in a handover ceremony at the museum, where the university’s rector spoke of the “bittersweet” experience of giving it up, and Greece’s culture minister, Lina Mendoni, spoke of the gratitude of the Greeks for getting it back.

“The noble gesture of the University of Münster is a very important gesture of the German people to the Greek people,” she told an audience gathered at the museum. “Cultural heritage belongs to the people who created it.”

How the ancient vase got to Germany may have played no small role in the university’s decision to hand it back.

Kivvadias said: “After Louis was handed the pottery, it disappeared until 1934 when it re-appeared in the hands of Werner Peek, an archaeologist who had won a grant to work at the German Archaeological Institute in Athens.

Peek had amassed a collection of antiquities during his time here in the thirties and probably bought it on the art market in Athens.”

The connoisseur of ancient artworks and respected classical philologist was also an ardent Nazi sympathizer and antisemite.

Peek later confessed he handed his entire 68-strong collection to Hermann Göring, the notorious Nazi military leader when he paid a visit to Athens in 1934 – seven years before the Wehrmacht occupied Greece.

Göring, one of the architects of the Third Reich police state and later associated with the plundering of Jewish treasures, concealed the antiquities in diplomatic pouches.

“They were smuggled out of the country with the rest of his collection by Göring,” said Kivvadias. “Then when [Peek] returned in 1937 they ended up with him in East Germany, where he lived for years, was allowed to travel freely and taught as a professor.

“It was only when he went to the West in the late 1980s that he decided to sell the collection to the University of Münster, which acquired it without knowing the exact origins of the pieces.”

At a time when Athens has stepped up its campaign to retrieve the Parthenon marbles from the British Museum – ahead of the nation bicentennial independence celebrations – the repatriation of the cup could not be more timely.

The vessel, currently on display in the National Archaeological Museum, will remain in Athens until early next year, when it will be exhibited at a museum chronicling the history of the Olympics in ancient Olympia, the birthplace and venue of the original games.

Dr. Erofili Kollia, the director of the Archeological Museum of Olympia, said: “It will have pride of place here. The piece is hugely significant both as an artwork whose value is undisputed and because it was given to Louis, the victor of the first marathon when the modern Olympic games were revived. We are overjoyed that it will be here, with us, again.”

The world’s oldest rug was made in Armenia

The world’s oldest rug was made in Armenia

The area covering the Ukok plateau in Siberia is huge. The Altai Mountains and the Ob River are home to the territory of Altai Krai, which is harsh in winter.

The plateau descends into the Pazyryk Valley, which contains ancient kurgans (burial mounds) in the style of the Scythian peoples who inhabited the area in over two thousand years ago.

The area was started digging in the 1920s by archeologists and uncovered a wealth of historically important objects that offered an intriguing insight into the little known ancient Pazyryc nomadic tribes.

Image Of The Pazyryk Rug – The Oldest rug In The World

Mummies, clothes saddles, a big chariot, decorative or devotional figurines as well and cannabis seed with an inhalation tent.  

When the tombs were unearthed, it was found that they had been remarkably preserved in ice since the 5th century BCE.

The mummies that were found were so complete that they still had their tattooed flesh and hair.

Pazyryk Mummy Of The Ukok Princess the “Siberian Ice Maiden”

One of the most remarkable finds was the Pazyryk Carpet.  To our knowledge, it is the oldest piled rug still in existence and is housed at St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum.  

The museum’s website description of this ancient rug is as follows: “Its decoration is rich and varied: the central field is occupied by 24 cross-shaped figures, each of which consists of four stylized lotus buds.  

This composition is framed by a border of griffins, followed by a border of twenty-four fallow deer.

The widest border contains representations of workhorses and men.”  What the website does not mention is the ambiguity of the carpet’s origin.  

The Pazyryk Valley was located between active trade routes spanning the ancient world, with China to the east and Central Asia to the southwest.  

One of the mummies discovered–called the Siberian Ice Maiden–was clothed in a wild silk tunic that likely originated in India.  Some of the figurines were gilded, and gold is not native to the area.

The Pazyryk Carpet most likely came from Central Asia, though it is really a tossup between Persia or Armenia.  Both nations have traditions of carpet weaving spanning thousands of years, and the horses represented on the ancient carpet are nearly identical to horsemen on a frieze in the ancient Persian city of Persepolis.

The possibility that the rug was produced by the Pazyryks is extremely slim because the sophistication and elegance of the design are indicative of a settled and cosmopolitan civilization, unlike the nomadic Pazyryks.

The Oldest Carpet In The World – The Pazyryk

Based on a study of ancient artistic development, textile expert Ulrich Schurmann has reached the conclusion that the rug is of Armenian origin.  

The Persians also claim it as their own, believing that it’s an artifact from the Achaemenid Empire.

Pazyryk Valley Ancient Kurgans (burial mounds)

For now, the exact origin of the Pazyryk Carpet will remain a mystery, but its significance and beauty is forever eternal.

This rug blog about the oldest rug in the world – the Pazyryk Carpet, was published by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs in NYC.

Medieval building found in Llandaff under public toilets

Medieval building found in Llandaff under public toilets

Located next to Llandaff’s Old Bishop Castle in the 13th century, the site tells experts that there would have been an important person who lived there.

A public dig began in September and participants quickly discovered an unearthed fireplace, chequered floor tiles, animal bones, and old horseshoes.

About 200 schoolchildren and 35 other volunteers assisted in the search, starting with excavations around the public toilets as they were turned into a community heritage site.

Archaeologists said they think the building dates back to around 1450. The toilets were built in the 1930s in an area known as the Pound – a reference to its housing stray animals since the 17th century.

Dr. Tim Young, a lead archaeologist, said: “This was a surprise to find a high-status building.” The house, around 10m in length, could be regarded as prestigious, according to Dr. Young.

This comes as Bath stone had been used to construct the fireplace, a distinctive appearing limestone notable for its warm honey colour. The stone was not commonly used at the time, though, it can be found at Llandaff Cathedral.

Despite the researchers not currently knowing who lived at the house, they said it was likely someone of high status because of its close proximity to the Old Bishop’s Castle, with bishops at the time holding manorial rights.

Dr. Tim Young unearthed several items

Counting tokens were widespread in the medieval world through to the 1600s and were used as counters for calculations on a counting board, similar to an abacus.

They also found uses in games, similar to modern casinos, in what we would now identify as poker chips.

The medieval building will be blanketed in a protective covering to make way for the construction of a new community venue set up by Llandaff 50+, a charity promoting social inclusion of over 50s in the community.

The toilets next to the ruins of the Old Bishop’s Castle are being converted into a community centre
Two sides of a 14th Century jeton counting token found at the toilets

Several theories of who may have lived in the building have floated since its discovery. Among them, a housekeeper for the nearby Manor of Llandaff or an official of the Llandaff Cathedral.

Dr. Young said: “The site is known as the pound as it was the animal pound for Llandaff and we have evidence of that dating back to about 1607.

“It had always been assumed that the area was also the pound before that so the discovery of a medieval dwelling on the site was quite unexpected.”

Items discovered from the site will now be sent to experts at Cardiff University and other national museums for analysis. This will, hope researchers, provide more details about who may have once lived there and what their life entailed.

Although, Dr. Young admitted: “It won’t be for another six months or even a year until we could come to any sort of conclusion.”

The community dig project was granted funding by the National Heritage Lottery Fund and Cardiff YMCA Trust. In August, researchers uncovered a number of historic items of significance at a separate site in Cardiff.

Nestled in the Cardiff suburbs of Caerau and Ely, shale bracelets were found at an Iron Age hill fort.

It was thought to once be the powerhouse for the city more than 2,000 years ago, with previous excavations have uncovered evidence of houses.

Discovery of hidden 3,500-year-old warrior grave stuffed with treasure could re-write ancient Greek history

Discovery of hidden 3,500-year-old warrior grave stuffed with treasure could re-write ancient Greek history

The 3,500-year-old remains of a prominent ancient warrior who has been buried alongside an assortment of riches have been uncovered by an American husband-and-wife team working in Greece.

In more than 65 years, it is considered the most significant finding made in continental Greece.

The undisturbed tomb, found in southwestern Greece by the University of Cincinnati archaeologists Sharon Stocker and Jack Davis, was discovered the hidden treasure.

For some time, the news of the discovery had been kept under wraps after the Greek authorities made the announcement. Stocker and Davis made the discovery while working near the Palace of Nestor, a site initially discovered back in 1939.

Four solid gold rings were uncovered, which is more than has been found in any other single burial in all of Greece

A pit of 5 feet deep, 4 feet wide and 8 feet long revealed during the excavation by the team.

The skeletal remains of a single individual—an unknown male between the age of 30 to 35 years—was found buried alongside an astounding assortment of riches, a strong indication that he was likely a warrior of significant importance.

Analysis of his remains suggests he was, in the words of the archaeologists, “strong, robust…well-fed.”

The unnamed warrior may have been royalty, the founder of a new dynasty, or even a trader who acquired his riches through commerce.

A stunning solid-gold necklace, measuring more than 30 inches long. It features two gold pendants on each end, decorated with ivy leaves.

The warrior was laid to rest with his many belongings, including fine gold jewellry, an ornate string of pearls, signet rings, silver vases, ivory combs, and a bronze sword with a gold and ivory handle.

The fact that he was buried alone and not in a common pit with others is yet another indication of his social importance.

A bronze mirror featuring an ivory handle.

The jewellery, adorned with figures of deities, animals, and floral motifs, was crafted in the style of the Minoans, a civilization that lived on the island of Crete from around 2,000 BC.

One of nearly 50 seal stones discovered. In all, some 1,400 objects were recovered from the grave.

The Mycenaean people spread from the Peloponnese across the eastern Mediterranean in the 2nd millennium BC, and represent the first advanced civilization in mainland Greece.

Mycenaean Greece came to end with the collapse of the Bronze-Age culture around 1,100 BC and inspired ancient Greek society, literature, and mythology.