The Ca Mau Shipwreck

The Ca Mau Shipwreck The Ca Mau shipwreck refers to a Chinese cargo sunken sometime between 1723 and 1735 off the coast of Vietnam’s farthest point in the South China Sea, discovered by Vietnamese fishermen in 1998. It is believed the wreck was a Chinese merchant’s junk on its way from Canton (Guangzhou) to Batavia  … Read more

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  Category: Chinese & the Far East
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Gandharan Art: A Fusion of Hellenistic and Buddhist Styles

Ancient Gandhara Gandharan art, also known as Greco-Buddhist art, is a multi-ethnic style of Buddhist art that developed in the Gandhara region in the north of the Indian subcontinent, in what is now present day north-western Pakistan and north-eastern Afghanistan. When Alexander the Great conquered the area in 327 BC he brought with him the  … Read more

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  Category: Chinese & the Far East
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Intaglios: Miniature Masterpieces

What is an Intaglio? One of the most beautiful artistic forms to survive from ancient times, an intaglio is a small image that has been intricately engraved into a gemstone and then usually set in a piece of jewellery, most commonly a ring. The intaglio can be set in the jewellery in two fashions, either  … Read more

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  Category: Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Greek
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Ancient Sumer and its Art

Sumer One of the earliest known civilisations in the world, the people of Ancient Sumer inhabited a region of southern Mesopotamia that extended up from the Persian Gulf into the fertile Tigris and Euphrates valleys, modern day Iraq and Kuwait. They populated part of the so-called Fertile Crescent, from around 4500 BC until an invasion  … Read more

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Styles and Uses of Greek Pottery

Ancient Greek pottery provides us with some of the most dazzling and informative images and representation of Greek life, including cultural beliefs and everyday and ritualistic practices, giving us an invaluable insight as to how they lived their lives. As well as this they are beautiful items in their own right, and display a number  … Read more

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An Introduction to the Coins of Alexander The Great

Alexander the Great, King of Macedon, Pharaoh of Egypt, King of Persia, and Lord of Asia, is considered by historians to be one of greatest military commanders in all of history. Within his empire there was an unprecedented level of economic prosperity and this allowed for the minting of a considerable number of coins. Coins  … Read more

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European Bronze Age

The Bronze Age Across Europe Marked, in general, by the beginning of human metalwork, the Bronze Age in Europe started and ended at different times depending on the region, and many Bronze Age peoples were not clearly divided into cultural, social or ethnic groups. Few Bronze Age peoples possessed any written language, making it all  … Read more

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  Category: The Celts
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Astarte: Goddess of Love and War

Astarte, Aphrodite and Isis Astarte is the Hellenized name of an important goddess shared by many cultures of the Ancient Near East, also known by Ishtar or Inanna, who came to be associated with other female deities such as Asherah, Aphrodite and Isis, as her cult spread through and beyond Cyprus. Astarte is believed to  … Read more

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  Category: Near Eastern
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Oil Lamps in Antiquity

The earliest oil lamps began as shallow dishes made of stone or clay, which were filled with oil and a wick balanced inside. Impracticalities of this early design which resulted in spilled oil or difficulty controlling the wick, led to the gradual development to the style of oil lamp with a lip or a covered  … Read more

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  Category: Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Greek
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Roman and Celtic Fibulae

What are Fibulae? The best modern English translation of the Latin term fibulae would most likely be ‘brooches’. Their purpose was partly the same as brooches today – to provide a decorative adornment to an outfit – however, in an age when many garments were comprised of sheets of fabric formed into dresses and tunics  … Read more

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Ancient Luristan and the Luristan Bronzes

Ancient Luristan The mountainous region known as Luristan, sometimes written Lorestan, is located in western Iran, near the border with Iraq, and is named for the Lur people who inhabit the area. Alongside the famous bronze artefacts that the region is best known for, it is also an area of archaeological significance due to the  … Read more

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Roman Medical and Cosmetic Tools

Ancient Roman Medicine Practice Though they may not have always got it exactly right, we owe a great deal of the medical knowledge we have today to the discoveries and inventions of the Ancient Romans. Many of the items used today in surgeries and other medical procedures remain almost exactly the same as tools used  … Read more

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Everyday Items in the Classical World: Bronze Tools

It’s easy to be drawn to eye-catching jewellery or boldly painted ceramics from Ancient Greece and Rome, yet there is something especially interesting about items which were used every day, by ordinary people, which helps us connect with the Ancient World. In both Ancient Greece and Rome, bronze was employed in the creation of a  … Read more

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Black and Red Figure Attic Pottery

Attic red and black figure pottery is an iconic part of Ancient Greek artistic culture. Even for those who are new to Greek ceramics, the bold, contrasting designs of the style are instantly recognisable. The style originated in around the late 7th, early 6th Century BC in Attica, the region surrounding Athens, from which Attic  … Read more

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Medieval Weaponry

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the lack of centralized power, Europe saw an increase in local disputes, the result of which was constant fighting and battles between landowners who claimed power over neighbouring territories. Therefore, given this context, it does not come as a surprise that, during the Middle Ages, weaponry  … Read more

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The Art of Neolithic China

Neolithic Era in China The Neolithic era in China began at around 10,000 BC, lasting up until around 2000 BC. Perhaps the earliest artistic production of the period was in the form of pottery, usually utilitarian in nature. Chinese Neolithic pottery was made entirely by hand, moulded without the assistance of a potter’s wheel, by  … Read more

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The Stargazers of Ancient Anatolia

‘Kiliya-type’ figures are commonly dated at around 4500-4000 BC (Neolithic) and have all been found in the region of Anatolia, now part of modern Turkey. More commonly known by their colloquial name ‘stargazers’, they received the name due to the upward angle of the figures’ heads, which give the appearance that they are gazing up  … Read more

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  Category: Near Eastern
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Symbolism in Viking Art

The rich world of Norse mythology, combined with an eventual Viking conversion to Christianity in 965 AD, has resulted in a range of artistic symbolism much too vast to fully cover in a short post. However, there are, of course, some particularly notable or interesting motifs which any collector of Viking art should attempt to  … Read more

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  Category: Medieval
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The Making of Terracotta Statuettes in Antiquity

Terracotta as a Favourite Medium Terracotta was the favoured material to create statuettes of modest size all the way from the Archaic Period up until the Late Hellenistic Period. Such statuettes became extremely popular in Antiquity, and have been recovered across all the Mediterranean area. Most of the Ancient Greek and Roman terracotta figurines were  … Read more

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Popular Styles in Chinese Ceramics

The historic span of Chinese ceramic production, from the Palaeolithic period up until the present day, has unsurprisingly allowed for a great deal of innovation and variation of style. From amongst the considerable regional and chronological diversity in Chinese ceramics, a few styles stand out as particularly memorable or enduring in their popularity – both  … Read more

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Han Dynasty Culture

The Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) was one of the most significant and prosperous periods of cultural change and discovery in the annals of Chinese history. The period saw, in particular, the birth of the Silk Road, the invention of paper, and a revitalised, and more formalised, vigour for Confucian teachings. The Birth  … Read more

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Animal Symbolism in Chinese Art

The association between various animals and their related qualities and connotations, have long played a major role in Chinese culture, impacting everything from art and language, to folk stories and the affectionate nicknames given to children by their parents (known as xiǎo míng). While animal motifs appear frequently in the art of many cultures, animal  … Read more

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Tek Sing Shipwreck

Tek Sing, translating as True Star, was a large Chinese sailing ship, which sank in February 1822. The ship measured 60 metres in length and over 10 metres in width. The cargo was loaded with porcelain, silks, spices and medicines. The ship left the port of Amoy, a central port for Chinese trading prowess, and  … Read more

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  Category: Chinese & the Far East
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The Hoi An Shipwreck

The Hoi An Shipwreck The Hoi An shipwreck sank in the middle of a typhoon zone known as the Dragon Sea, between the late 15th century and early 16th century. It has been named after the nearby town of Faifo, known in modern geography as Hoi An. The shipwreck was found in the early 1990s  … Read more

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  Category: Chinese & the Far East
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An Introduction to the Most Common Roman Coin Denominations

Currency was introduced in Rome during the 3rd century BC, and extended through the years of the Republic and into Imperial times. Roman Imperial coins are double-faced, and bore the name and portrait of the issuing Emperor, as well as a variation of other motifs. This is evidence of the wide cultural and religious range  … Read more

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  Category: Roman Empire
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