Thursday, 14 May 2015

Accidental Discoveries

Lascaux Cave. In 1940, four French teenagers were roaming the forests near Montignac when their dog began sniffing around a hole in the ground. After shimmying down a stone shaft, the boys encountered a vast underground cavern whose walls were adorned with some 2,000 ancient paintings and engravings. Before long, word of the Lascaux cave’s exquisite collection of animal drawings and abstract symbols spread across Europe, and it became known as the “Sistine Chapel of Prehistoric Art.”

Historians later placed the age of its paintings at around 15,000-17,000 years old, and many believe the cave was once the site of religious and hunting rites among the Upper Paleolithic.
In 1974, a group of Chinese farmers found the tomb of the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty. The seven-man team was digging a well near the city of Xian when one of their shovels struck the head of a buried statue. When archeologists conducted further excavations, they found it was one of some 8,000 life-sized terra cotta soldiers, horses and chariots constructed to guard the 3rd century B.C. Emperor Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife.

The tomb and its highly detailed soldiers—each has its own unique face—are now regarded as some of the most important treasures in China.
The Venus de Milo spent centuries buried on the Greek island of Melos. The armless statue was found in 1820, when a peasant accidentally discovered its top half while trying to salvage marble building blocks from a pile of ancient ruins. The find caught the attention of a French naval officer and in 1821 it was presented to King Louis XVIII and donated to the Louvre. Art historians have since speculated that the Venus is meant to represent the Greek goddess Aphrodite.

Napoleon Bonaparte's soldiers stumbled upon a large basalt slab while knocking down ancient walls to make improvements to a French fort near the town of Rosetta. Once deciphered, the glyphs provided scholars with the tools they needed to begin the first in depth studies of ancient Egyptian language and literature.
The Dead Sea Scrolls contain some of the earliest known pieces of the Bible. In 1947 a band of sheepherders were tending their flock near the ancient city of Jericho. While looking for a lost goat, one of the boys tossed a stone into a nearby cave and was shocked to hear what sounded like a shattering clay pot. When he went in the cave to investigate, he found several jars containing a collection of ancient papyrus scrolls.

When the Declaration of Independence was originally issued, 200 copies were printed. Only a few have ever been found and verified. One of those was discovered in 1989 after a Pennsylvania man went into a thrift store looking for a picture frame. His $ 4 frame and picture hid copy number 25 of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. It sold for nearly $2.5 million.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Mellerio dits Meller

Mellerio dits Meller is a French jewellery house, founded in 1613. Mellerio is based in rue de la Paix, Paris, with branches in Luxembourg and Japan. Directors Fran├žois and Olivier Mellerio are the fourteenth generation to run the family business.

The house of Mellerio dits Meller has been linked to European royalty since 1613.



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Sunday, 3 May 2015

Ancient Egyptian statue blocked from export by UK

A 4,000-year-old Egyptian statue, controversially sold by a local council for £15.76m, has been blocked from export by the government in the hope it can be kept in the UK.

The statue of Sekhemka, a limestone figure 75cm high, was given to Northampton Museum by the Marquess of Northampton in the late 19th century. There was outrage when Northampton borough council sold it at auction through Christie’s in London last year to an unidentified overseas buyer. It went for almost £10m more than the guide price, breaking the record for ancient Egyptian art at auction.



The culture minister, Ed Vaizey, announced a four-month temporary export bar on the figure, which dates from c2400BC and is considered the finest example of its kind anywhere in the world and of “outstanding aesthetic importance”. Arts Council England said the ban would be extended for a year until March 2016 “if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase the statue is made”.

The Sekhemka statue is a tomb model of a high official, wearing a short kilt and tight-fitting wig, surrounded by his wife, son and seven offering-bearers. He holds a papyrus on his knees on which are inscribed a list of offerings designed to serve the needs of the dead, including beer and cakes.




http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2015/mar/30/export-block-on-ancient-egyptian-statue-sold-by-northampton-council#img-1

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Akan Gold

The Akan people are an ethnic group native to Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Ethnic Akans are the largest ethnic group in both countries and have a population of roughly 20 million people.

From the 15th century to the 19th century the Akan dominated gold mining and trading in the region and, from the 17th century on, were among the most powerful groups in west Africa.
This wealth in gold attracted European traders. Initially the Europeans were Portuguese but, eventually the Dutch and British joined in the quest for Akan gold.

Akan people fought against the European colonists to maintain autonomy including many Anglo-Ashanti wars: the war of the Golden Stool, and other similar battles.
By the early 1900s all of Ghana was a colony or protectorate of the British while the lands in the Ivory Coast was under the French. On 6 March 1957, following the decolonization from the British, the Gold Coast was joined to British Togoland, and the Northern region, Upper East region and Upper West region of the Gold Coast to form Ghana.

Ivory Coast gained independence on 7 August 1960.