Ancient Art

April 30, 2024

Intricate Glass Cups Featuring Gladiators Were Souvenirs in Ancient Rome

In ancient Rome, the gladiators who fought at the Colosseum were superstars. The top athletes of their day, these men trained relentlessly to participate in the gruesome battles that entertained up to 80,000 spectators. Many of their lives were short because of these battles, which also involved animals, but they were admired for their courage. A glass cup in The Metropolitan Museum of Art demonstrates just how revered some gladiators were.

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November 5, 2023

2,700-Year-Old Ancient Assyrian Lamassu Statue Is Excavated in Iraq

Historical artifacts offer a glimpse into the past. However, their existence is constantly at risk—especially those not housed in museums. Ancient artifacts have had a particularly volatile past few decades in the Middle East due to political and religious conflict, as well as widespread looting. The recent excavation of an ancient Assyrian lamassu statue is a reminder of these tenuous circumstances, as the story of its reburying is told.

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October 3, 2022

3,000-Year-Old Canoe Found in Wisconsin Is Oldest One Ever Discovered in Great Lakes

Scuba diver and maritime archeologist Tamara Thomsen is on an amazing streak. In November 2021, while swimming on her off day in Wisconsin's Lake Mendota, she spotted an interesting logout buried in the sand. Upon further investigation, the log turned out to be a 1,200-year-old dugout canoe stretching a whopping 15 feet in length. Now, less than a year after her impressive find, Thomsen has discovered another ancient canoe.

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July 4, 2022

Explore the Early 20-Side Icosahedron Dice That Were Tossed in Ancient Rome

Dice—and their attendant games of chance—have an ancient history. Dice probably originated with marked knucklebones which were used to cast lots and interpret the divine. These relics are clearly recognizable to the modern eye as dice, but other multi-faceted versions might seem a bit befuddling. Polyhedrons (multi-sided solids) inscribed with Greek or Roman characters were common and likely used in conjunction with oracles. Polyhedral dice include the standard six-face die.

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