Category Archives: ITALY

2,000-Year-Old Sundial Unearthed in Roman Town

2,000-Year-Old Sundial Unearthed in Roman Town

The sundial is carved out of a limestone block

A rare and intact 2,000-year-old Roman sundial was discovered in central Italy, engraved with the name of the man who commissioned it.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge made the find during an excavation in the Roman town of Interamna Lirenas, near Monte Cassino. Inscribed on the sundial is the name Marcus Novius Tubula, an unknown plebeian tribune to Rome, in Latin.

It is claimed this sheds new light on Rome’s relationship with other regions. Interamna Lirenas, founded in 312 BC and abandoned in 6th Century AD, was about 130 km (81 miles) from Rome.

The sundial was discovered in a roofed theatre in the ancient town of Interamna Lirenas

The name and lettering style place the sundial’s inscription at about 1st Century BC when citizens were granted full Roman citizenship.

Dr. Alessandro Launaro, the lecturer at the Faculty of Classics at Cambridge, said the ancient town was “not a town of remarkable prestige or notable influence”.

Therefore, he said, the discovery showed “the level of involvement in Rome’s own affairs that individuals hailing from this and other relatively secondary communities could aspire to”.

The limestone sundial, found in a roofed theatre, is thought to have represented a celebration of Marcus Novius Tubula’s election to the political office of the plebeian tribune.

The concaved face is engraved with 11-hour lines intersecting three-day curves, which indicate the season with respect to the time of the winter solstice, equinox and summer solstice.

The needle which cast a shadow to show the time “is essentially lost” but part is preserved under a lead fixing.

It is believed the sundial was left behind at a time when the theatre and town were being scavenged for building materials during the Medieval to the post-Medieval period.

Orichalcum, the lost metal of Atlantis, may have been found on a shipwreck off Sicily

Orichalcum, the lost metal of Atlantis, may have been found on a shipwreck off Sicily

A group of naval archeologists has uncovered two hundred ingots spread over the sandy seafloor near a 2,600-year-old shipwreck off the coast of Sicily. The ingots were made from orichalcum, a rare cast metal that ancient Greek philosopher Plato wrote was from the legendary city of Atlantis. 

A total of 39 ingots (metal set into rectangular blocks) were, according to Inquisitr, discovered near a shipwreck. BBC reported that another same metal cache was found. 47 more ingots were found, with a total of 86 metal pieces found to date.

The wreck was discovered in 1988, floating about 300 meters (1,000 ft) off the coast of Gela in Sicily in shallow waters. At the time of the shipwreck Gela was a rich city and had many factories that produced fine objects.   Scientists believe that the pieces of orichalcum were destined for those laboratories when the ship sank.

Sebastiano Tusa, Sicily’s superintendent of the Sea Office, told Discovery News that the precious ingots were probably being brought to Sicily from Greece or Asia Minor.

Tusa said that the discovery of orichalcum ingots, long considered a mysterious metal, is  significant as “nothing similar has ever been found.” He added, “We knew orichalcum from ancient texts and a few ornamental objects.”

2,600-year-old shipwreck found off the coast of Sicily

According to a Daily Telegraph report, the ingots have been analyzed and found to be made of about 75-80 percent copper, 14-20 percent zinc and a scattering of nickel, lead, and iron.

The name orichalucum derives from the Greek word oreikhalkos, meaning literally “mountain copper” or “copper mountain”. According to Plato’s 5th century BC Critias dialogue, orichalucum was considered second only to gold in value, and was found and mined in many parts of the legendary Atlantis in ancient times

Plato wrote that the three outer walls of the Temple to Poseidon and Cleito on Atlantis were clad respectively with brass, tin, and the third, which encompassed the whole citadel, “flashed with the red light of orichalcum”.

The interior walls, pillars, and floors of the temple were completely covered in orichalcum, and the roof was variegated with gold, silver, and orichalcum. In the center of the temple stood a pillar of orichalcum, on which the laws of Poseidon and records of the first son princes of Poseidon were inscribed.

The orichalucum ingots found off the coast of Gela in Sicily.

For centuries, experts have hotly debated the metal’s composition and origin.

According to the ancient Greeks, orichalcum was invented by Cadmus, a Greek-Phoenician mythological character. Cadmus was the founder and first king of Thebes, the acropolis of which was originally named Cadmeia in his honor.

Cadmus, the Greek mythological figure who is said to have created orichalcum

Orichalcum has variously been held to be a gold-copper alloy, a copper-tin, or copper-zinc brass, or a metal no longer known. However, in Vergil’s Aeneid, it was mentioned that the breastplate of Turnus was “stiff with gold and white orachalc” and it has been theorized that it is an alloy of gold and silver, though it is not known for certain what orichalcum was.

The breast plate of Turnus was said to be made with gold and white ‘orachalc’’ ‘The Fight between Aeneas and King Turnus’ by Giacomo del Po, Italy, Naples, 1652-1726.

Orichalcum is also mentioned in the ‘Antiquities of the Jews’ (1 st century AD) – Book VIII, sect. 88 by Josephus, who stated that the vessels in the Temple of Solomon were made of orichalcum (or a bronze that was like gold in beauty).

Today, some scholars suggest that orichalcum is a brass-like alloy, which was made in antiquity the process of cementation, which was achieved through the reaction of zinc ore, charcoal and copper metal in a crucible.

The latest discovery of the orichalcum ingots that had laid for nearly three millennia on the seafloor may finally unravel the mystery of the origin and composition of this enigmatic metal.

In mint condition! Millions of pounds-worth of pristine 5th-century gold coins are found buried in a pot under an Italian theatre.

In mint condition! Millions of pounds-worth of pristine 5th-century gold coins are found buried in a pot under an Italian theatre.

A literal pot of gold has been found not at the end of a rainbow, but in the basement of an old, abandoned Italian theatre.

During an archaeological dig last week, historians discovered a broken soapstone amphora – a kind of stone urn – at the bottom of the Cressoni Theatre in Como, northern Italy.

The ancient artefact’s unusual shape and design were soon upstaged by its glittering contents, seen through a missing chunk in the urn’s wall.

Inside was an estimated 300 gold coins from the late Roman Imperial era, which took place in the 5th century, just before the empire’s untimely demise. Despite their age, the coins are in miraculous condition, with all the images and engravings easily visible.

“We do not yet know in detail the historical and cultural significance of the find,” said Alberto Bonisoli, the culture minister of Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (Ministero per I Beni e le Attività Culturali) in a press release.

“But that area is proving to be a real treasure for our archaeology. A discovery that fills me with pride”.

A priceless stash of fifth-century gold coins has been found buried in a pot under an Italian theatre
Archaeologists digging on the former site of the Cressoni Theatre in Como were stunned to discover them

The urn and its stash of gold were taken to a government restoration laboratory in Milan, where they will be thoroughly examined. This might take a while, however, as the coins were found tightly packed into little stacks so that they can only be removed one at a time with careful precision.

So far, the historians have successfully separated 27 coins, all of which are from the 5th century. This makes this treasure particularly intriguing, as, during this time, there was very little currency flow in the Roman economic system.

The coins feature engravings that suggest they were minted during the reigns of five different emperors: Honorius, Valentinian III, Leon I, Antonio, and Libio Severo.

The Italian media has predicted that the coins, none of which reach beyond 474 AD, could be worth millions of euros. And that doesn’t even take into account everything that was found in the urn, or the urn itself.

Keeping the coins company was a bar of gold, and at the bottom of the urn, archaeologists predict even more precious objects might be found.

According to The History Blog, “no such hoard has even been unearthed in northern Italy before”.

The archaeological site may seem like an odd place to stash such valuable items, but whoever placed them there likely “buried it in such a way that in case of danger they could go and retrieve it.” That’s according to Maria Grazia Facchinetti, an expert in rare coins. Beyond the location, the way that the coins were hidden has given historians like Facchinetti a few hints about the owner’s identity.

“They were stacked in rolls similar to those seen in the bank today,” she says.

“All of this makes us think that the owner is not a private subject, rather it could be a public bank or deposit”.

Facchinetti’s theory is bolstered by the fact that the theatre is just a few steps away from the city’s forum – a place where merchants, banks, and temples often did business.

Although the ancient Roman neighbourhood was also known for its wealth, so a miserly and paranoid private owner is not out of the question. Layer analysis will now be used to determine if the coins were all deposited in the same era or if they were placed in the urn over a period of time.

The Cressoni Theatre, where the coins were found, is not far from the ancient city of Novum Comum, home to many other important Roman artefacts. The historic theatre was opened in 1807 but was converted into a cinema that closed in 1997.

Today, the plan is to demolish the old building and replace it with luxury residences. The recent discovery, however, has stalled all future work at the site until further excavations can be made.

Exquisite 2,000-year-old sapphire ring thought to have belonged to Roman Emperor Caligula

Exquisite 2,000-year-old sapphire ring thought to have belonged to Roman Emperor Caligula

The Roman emperor Caligula, who had been governing for four years from AD 37 until his assassination, was said to own an exquisite 2,000-year-old ring of Sapphire.

Mysterious beautiful face engraved on a 2,000-year-old sapphire ring of the Roman emperor. The 2,000-year-old ring is believed to be from the Roman emperor Caligula.

The sky blue hololith, made from a single piece of the precious stone, is believed to have been owned by Caligula. The face engraved into the bezel is thought to be his fourth and last wife Caesonia, who was said to be so beautiful Caligula paraded her naked in front of his friends.

The reason for Caligula’s assassination could stem from the extravagance of spending, especially on precious stones, which depleted the Roman treasury.

There are even rumors that Caligula also incestuous relationships with sisters in the royal family and adultery with the wives of allies.

Worth mentioning, this ancient sapphire ring has a woman’s face engraved on it. According to the Daily Mail, this woman is Caesonia, Caligula’s fourth wife.

Caesonia possesses the beauty of tilting the water, tilting the city. Emperor Caligula even once naked his wife and march in front of friends for people to admire. However, “beautiful fate”, Caesonia was killed shortly after Emperor Caligula was assassinated.

The sapphire ring is said to have attracted attention during an exhibition of more than 100 gems held by jewelry company Wartski next week in London, England. Its value is about USD 7,000 – USD 750,000.

The auction became a major concern for gem collectors around the world. People from Japan even lined up outside Wartski’s premises days before the exhibition was first approved.

Mysterious beautiful face engraved on a 2,000-year-old sapphire ring of the Roman emperor. Close-up of the beautiful face engraved on the “Caligula ring”.

The “Caligula Ring” is in the Earl Marlund Gems “Marlborough Gems” from 1637 to 1762. This is a collection of 800 gems carved by George Spencer, the 4th earl of Marlborough, into the late 18th century, early 19th century.

They were sold in 1875 by John Winston Spencer-Churchill, 7th Earl of Marlborough, to fund the repair of the Blenheim Palace.

“This ring is one of the precious pieces of the” Marlborough Gems “collection. It is made entirely of sapphire. Very few of these rings still exist and I bet this is the best one of you. find.

We believe it belongs to Emperor Caligula and the face that appears on the ring is his fourth wife, Caesonia, “said Kieran McCarthy, director of Wartski.