Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ancient Roman and Persian Glassware Found in Japanese Tomb

This is fascinating - and demonstrates once again the range of ancient trade.  The Nara tomb in which the glasssware was uncovered dates back to the 5th century CE (c. 400-500 CE).

See also article from August 1, 2014 regarding the Persian glass bowl (in full at bottom).

Article from The Ashahi Shimbun online:

Scientists: Glass dish unearthed in Nara came from
Roman Empire

November 13, 2014

KASHIHARA, Nara Prefecture--A glass dish unearthed from a burial mound here is the first of its kind confirmed to have come to Japan from the Roman Empire, a research team said.
Provided by the Tokyo National Museum
A round cut glass bowl, discovered with the glass plate, was found to have originated in Sassanid Persia (226-651), the researchers said.
The dish and bowl were retrieved together from the No. 126 tumulus of the Niizawa Senzuka cluster of ancient graves, a national historic site. The No. 126 tumulus dates back to the late fifth century.
The researchers’ scientific studies show that fifth-century Japan imported glasswork, and that there was a wide range of trade between the East and the West.
“The dish was likely produced around the Mediterranean Sea and then transferred to Sassanid Persia,” said team leader Yoshinari Abe, an assistant professor of analytical chemistry at the Tokyo University of Science. “After it was painted there, the plate was probably taken to Japan.”
According to the team’s analysis, the chemical composition of the clear dark blue dish is almost identical to glasswork unearthed in the area of the Roman Empire (27 B.C.-A.D. 395).
Measuring 14.1 to 14.5 centimeters in diameter, the flat, raised dish is believed to have been created in the second century at the latest.
The dish has been designated a national important cultural property and is currently owned by the Tokyo National Museum.
The scientists used a special fluorescence X-ray device to analyze chemical elements in glass powder from the dish.
The chemical compositions of natron, a type of sodium mineral, as well as sand made of silica and lime, resemble those typically found in Mediterranean glasswork produced in the Roman Empire and the following Eastern Roman Empire period.
The team also conducted a fluorescence X-ray test on the dish using a high-energy radiation beam at the Spring 8 large synchrotron radiation facility in Sayo, Hyogo Prefecture. The test revealed antimony, a metallic element believed to be used in Rome until the second century.
The results mean that it took centuries for the dish to arrive in Japan and be buried in the grave after it was produced in Rome.
Abe and his colleagues also revealed that the chemical composition of the cut glass bowl is the same as that of glass fragments unearthed from the remains of a palace in the ancient Persian capital of Ctesiphon. The bowl is 8 cm in diameter, 7 cm tall and narrower in the upper part.
“Japan aggressively traded with other countries in the fifth century, and (the latest findings) show various elements were entering Japan at the time,” said Takashi Taniichi, a Silk Road archaeology professor at Sanyo Gakuen University. “Because the glass dish may have been transported via Central Asia, it is no wonder that there was a time lag (between its production and arrival in Japan).”
The team’s research results will be presented at a conference of the Association for Glass Art Studies, Japan, scheduled for Nov. 15 at the Tokyo University of Science in Shinjuku Ward.
The dish and bowl are on display at the Tokyo National Museum until Dec. 7.

Scientists: 5th-century glass bowl in Nara has origins
in ancient Persia

August 01, 2014By KAZUTO TSUKAMOTO/ Staff Writer
KASHIHARA, Nara Prefecture--A cut glass bowl excavated from a fifth-century burial mound in Nara Prefecture originated in ancient Persia, the first domestic glassware scientifically confirmed to have arrived from western Asia, researchers said.
Provided by the Tokyo National Museum
Led by Yoshinari Abe, assistant professor of analytical chemistry at the Tokyo University of Science, the research team used X-ray fluorescence analysis to determine the elemental composition of the inorganic materials of the 8-centimeter [3.14961 inches] cut glass bowl, which was found in the No. 126 Niizawa Senzuka mound in Kashihara.
The chemical composition was almost identical to that of glass shards excavated from the ruins of a palace from the Sasanian Empire (226-651) in present-day Iran and Iraq.
The glass bowl is on display at the Tokyo National Museum through Dec. 7.
This is intriguing:  8 centimeters equals 3.14961 inches.  When I saw that number, I was immediately reminded of the perpetual number Pi, which starts out 3.14.  I can't help but wonder if this was an incorporation of the ancient "magical" number into solid form by the maker of the bowl?  We'll never know.  What we do know is that this bowl was TINY!  Used as a bowl for a cosmetic, perhaps?  

Ancient Roman Board Game Pieces Discovered in Kibyra Excavation (Turkey)

Story from Hurriyet Daily News:

Ancient game found in Roman era city

BURDUR - Anadolu Agency

Two game pieces from the Roman era 1,800 years ago have been found in the ancient city of Kibyra, in the southern Turkish province of Burdur’s Gölhisar district. [No photos of the pieces was provided; there is a generic photo of the layout of the ancient game carved in stone.]

“We don’t have too much information about this game but we believe that it was played by two people on squares … with dice,” Professor Ünal Demirer said, adding that the Roman-era game dated back 1,800-2,000 years ago at least.

The game was known as “Ludus duodecim scriptorium” or “XII scripta” (game of 12 markings).

Excavations in the ancient city are being conducted by Mehmet Akif Ersoy University’s (MAKU) Archaeology Department. 

Demirer said the works had been continuing since 2007 on the avenue of the ancient city’s agora, adding that the game pieces were also used for other purposes. 

“The game was found in the pool structure. We think that it was also used for another purpose. Because of its Latin name, we attribute the game to the Romans. It is like today’s Jacks. People spent time in the agora playing such games,” he said.

"Ludus duodecim scriptorum" was a board game popular during the time of the Roman Empire. The game tabula in Byzantium is thought to be a descendant of this game, and both are similar to modern backgammon. 

Very little information about specific gameplay has survived, though we know that it was played using three cubic dice, and each player had 15 pieces.

1300 Year Old Egyptian Book of Spells Written in Coptic Translated

Story from Live Science:

Ancient Egyptian Handbook of Spells Deciphered

Rare Find: Female Mummy Still Wearing Her Jewelry

There's an article in Spanish at El Pais.  The article below is in English, from

Ancient Egyptian Mummy Wearing Jewels Found


Spanish archaeologists digging in Egypt have unearthed a female mummy still wearing her jewels.
The mummy’s jewels are collected together.  Credit: Manuel González Bustos/Thutmosis III Temple Project 
The mummy was discovered in the necropolis below the temple of Pharaoh Thutmosis III (1490-1436 B.C.), on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor (southern Egypt). The find dates to the Middle Kingdom (2137-1781 B.C.).
For nearly four millennia, the “Lady of the Jewels,” as the mummy was nicknamed, eluded tomb raiders, her sarcophagus trapped under a collapsed roof.
The archaeologists were cleaning and restoring several tombs in the necropolis that had been already looted in antiquity when they realized that in one of the chambers of tomb XIV, part of the roof had already collapsed before robbers entered it.
“A large boulder, which had fallen down before the tomb was looted, had crushed and buried a previously untouched coffin with all its content,” Egyptologists Myriam Seco, director of theThutmosis III Temple Project, said in a statement.
As Seco’s team removed the stone, they found a wooden sarcophagus and an utterly destroyed female mummy.
“She still wore the marvelous jewelry that was attached during the process of mummification,” Seco said.
Belonging to a higher social class, the woman, possibly in her 30s, was buried with a necklace in which semiprecious stones and gold plates alternate. A pendant in the form of a finely-wrought golden shell weighting over 20 grams was attached.
“Furthermore, she carried two golden bangles on her arms, each formed by two pieces of twisted wire, connected to each other and silver bracelets on both ankles,” Seco said.
While the golden shell and the two bangles were found in a perfect state of preservation, the silver ankle bracelets were very worn.
“These spectacular findings confirm that an elite necropolis is located under the mortuary temple of Thutmosis III. Wealthy and important individuals of the Middle Kingdom and their families were buried there,” Seco said.
Archaeological work at the temple began in 2008. The seventh season started last October and will run until mid-January.

Location of Burial Site of First Christian Martyr, Stephen, Discovered

Not so sure about this, as anyone could and would write anything back then, as well as now (easier than ever to propogate and perpetuate lies and garbage since the advent of the internet), and there are always some people who will believe whatever the "it" is, no matter what.  Here's the story:


Ramallah, November 13, 2014
During excavations near the Palestinian town of Ramallah archaeologists have discovered a greatest Christian relic – the burial place of Holy Archdeacon Stephen, the First Martyr for Christ, reports the Linga news portal.
Research in the Kharaba at Taiar village, which lies two kilometers west of Ramallah, carried out by the Palestinian and Israeli researchers have yielded unexpected results. Within the framework of a project by the University of Jerusalem for the discovery and restoration of antiquities, a group of archaeologists led by Dr. Salah al Hudeliyya has discovered ruins of an entire church complex that includes a temple of the Byzantine-Umayyad era as well as a Byzantine monastery.
According to a statement by Dr. al Hudeliyya, this find is of great value for Christians worldwide.
“Inside one of these churches we came across an inscription which indicates that this church had been built in honor of Holy Apostle and Archdeacon Stephen the Protomartyr, buried here in 35 AD,” the historian related.
The researcher has assured the local and Church authorities, whose representatives recently visited the newly discovered ruins, that the university, as before, will put all its resources and energy into implementation of the current project.
“There are five years left, and then the necessary research will be completed and this monument will be ready; it will surely become a pilgrimage site for believers from all over the world. Tourists will take advantage of the opportunity as well, because this site is a living example of continuity of the cultures of the Middle East region: here on the same site we can see the heritage of antiquity, early and late middle ages, Hellenistic, Byzantine, and Islamic cultures,” the archaeologist said in conclusion.
One fourth of the Kharaba at Taiar village belongs to the Church of Jerusalem, which the expert believes will make this settlement a suitable place for pilgrims.
20 / 11 / 2014
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