Roman Snake Bracelet
Sinuously coiled snake bracelets have enjoyed a long history. These Roman versions were developed from bracelets used in the Greek world since the 4th century BCE. -Display text
More ancient history!
- The Proud Lion by Robert Mason
- Liz Butler Draws The ROM: The Cats Of Ancient Egypt!
- The Ancient Roman Dagger by Robert Mason
Written by @kironcmukherjee. Last update: December 3rd, 2013.
A child’s armour from ~1550 Germany. Armour was incredibly expensive, so a family outfitting their child in this was not looking to send him to war but instead attempting to show off their status and wealth to others.
More on the Mediaeval World!
- An Introduction To Warriors & Weapons
- Why did the crossbow become extinct on the battlefield?
- The Italian Barbut Helmet
- Tilting Helmet
Written by @kironcmukherjee. Last update: December 2nd, 2013.
Code of Hammurabi
One of the most important texts in human history, the Code of Hammurabi. The Code dates back to ~1770BCE and preserves 282 Babylonian laws including the famous “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”.
#WeaponWednesday: The “Djanbīyya” Dagger!
The Middle Eastern two-edged curved dagger is one of the most recognizable weapon forms. Typically it is known by the Arab term djanbīyya sometimes Anglicised as “jambiya”, or also often the Arabic term khandjar, but these curved daggers are found across the Middle East. Curved daggers have a long history, the famous sica of the ancient Balkans which spread around the Mediterranean in the Roman era is similarly curved, but was sharp only on the inner curved edge. The earliest djanbīyya seem to be 16th century and found in Turkey and Iran, although its true origins may in fact be Arabia. The curve makes it very good for most styles of knife-fighting (which I discuss in an earlier blog), but it would probably be a problematic weapon for a thrust through armour. This may explain the spread of the form in the gunpowder age, when armour was less common on the battlefield. Essentially it is ideal for a draw-cut across unprotected flesh, or a thrust into unprotected vitals.
- Images 1, 2: This djanbīyya is from Mughal India from about the 18th century, and is decorated with “koftgari" gilding, in which thin gold wire is hammered onto the steel surface (2004x5.151). Notice the "koftgari" gilding, with fine gold wire hammered into the steel surface.
- Image 3: Djanbīyya from 18th century Iran (909.64.36.A-B)
- Image 4: Djanbīyya from early 20th century Yemen (948.1.429.A-B), the Yemeni craftmen made extensive use of silver to make their elaborate daggers.
- Image 5: Early 20th centurydjanbīyya acquired by ROM archaeologist T. Cuyler Young Jr. during his travels in Iran. (2005.95.36.1-2)
- Robert Mason is a ROM archaeologist. See his previous posts HERE. Follow him on twitter HERE.
- Original post found HERE.
- All images by ROM Photography.
Post by Robert Mason. Last updated: October 21st, 2013
The Magnificent Mušḫuššu Pumpkin!
Right now at the Museum, we have a special Mesopotamia Exhibit, showcasing the wonderful history and art from one of the most important points of human history. It’s also a great place to pull ideas from for a pumpkin!
For our 3rd Annual Pumpkin Carving Jam, one of our teams made a wonderful Mušḫuššu, a mystical creature from Mesopotamia, featured prominently in many Mesopotamian pieces of art including the Ishtar Gate.
The third and final creature that could be found on the Ishtar Gate was the mušḫuššu (also known as sirrusu or sirrush), an animal out of Mesopotamian mythology. Just as with creatures like the gryphon or the sphinx, the sirrush was a combination of many different features rolled into one animal. It combined the scaly body of a dragon with feline front paws and eagle’s talons for hind legs. As if this wasn’t intimidating enough, the creature also had a snake’s tongue as well as a horn and crest atop its head.
Interestingly enough, when the sirrush was first seen on the Ishtar Gate in 1902 by German archaeologist Robert Koldewey, he believed it to be the portrayal of a once-real animal. This was due in part to the fact that the depiction of this creature remained consistent throughout many years of Mesopotamian art but more importantly because the sirrush was depicted alongside the aurochs and lions, two existing animals. While it was eventually correctly identified as a mythological creature, it serves as an interesting case of cryptozoological speculation.
- Learn more about Mesopotamia’s magnificent Ishtar Gate HERE!
- Mušḫuššu photo credit: Allie Caulfield, “Berlin 313 Pergamon Museum, Ischtar Tor, Detail” October 14, 2012 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.
- Check out more pumpkins HERE!
#WeaponWednesday: A Romano-Egyptian Sword Hilt
This week’s weapon (910.175.328) is actually a part of a weapon, but a very important one, acquired before 1910 in Cairo by Charles Currelly and presently in the Eaton Gallery of Rome. It is the cast bronze hilt of a sword. It depicts a bird’s head, which is actually the Horus falcon, as it has the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt on its head. Such influences from Ancient Egypt were common in Ptolomaic and Roman Egypt.
The best known parallel we have to this sword grip are the hilts of swords depicted as being carried by the Emperor Diocletian and the Tetrarchy, dated to about 300 AD; but these and other known Roman swords are clearly eagles. The eagle was the primary symbol of the Roman army from the time of the reforms of Marius in 104 BC, but Horus is far more ancient, being an important god in Predynastic Egypt (before 3,200 BC). As the religion and pantheon of Ancient Egypt grew and synthesised with political unification, Horus remained important. Under the influence of the monotheistic Achaemenid Persians, who ruled Egypt between 525-402 BC and again in 343-332 BC, Egyptian religion seemed to become more centered around the Osiris-Isis-Horus trinity. This developed further under the Ptolomies (332-30 BC), with Osiris becoming known as Serapis and the child Horus known as Harpocrates. The Ptolomies typically had an image of Zeus in the form of an eagle standing on thunder-bolts on their coinage (see below), which may explain the continuity of the imagery of Horus as falcon. Under the Romans this trinity of the father Osiris/Serapis, the mother Isis, and their son the forgiving Horus/Harpocrates, became so popular that Augustus tried to restrict its growth. However, later Romans embraced these Egyptian deities, and under Domitian, emperor from 81 to 96 AD, temples were built to Isis and Serapis in Rome. In this time the symbolism of Horus as the embodiment of the pharaoh or the Emperor, the king that has come to judge, became very important. While Isis, Serapis and Harpocrates became Romanised in their appearance (see this beautiful vase in the ROM collection - note the little crown on Harpocrates’ head), Horus in his personification of rule retained his traditional falcon-headed appearance. Statues of Horus in Roman armour exactly as deified emperors were depicted became popular (the British Museum has two, one standing, the other sitting , the latter one being the subject of an interesting study of its pigments - note the crown is missing but otherwise closely resembles the ROM’s pommel). The symbolism of Horus as the vanquisher of Evil carried on perhaps into the Christian period, judging by a 4th century AD depiction in the Louvre that looks just like St. George and the Dragon.
So it is probably in this context that our sword grip was made. This association with the ruler might suggest that this was actually an Emperor’s sword, although it could possibly have been worn by a statue of one!
Photo information & image credits
- Romano-Egyptian sword hilt number 910.175.328 (ROM Photography)
- Detail of Diocletian’s eagle-headed sword grip, from Diocletian and the Tetrarchy, circa 300 (Wikipedia Commons)
- Bronze coin of Ptolemy VII (145-116 B.C.), Mint of Kition, Cyprus 119/8 B.C. (949X162.6 - ROM Photography)
- Robert Mason is a ROM archaeologist. See his previous posts HERE. Follow him on twitter HERE.
- Original post found HERE.
Post byRobert Mason. Last updated: October 9th, 2013
Dan Rahimi and International Archaeology Day!
Royal Ontario Museum Vice President of Programs, Dan Rahimi, took some out of his busy schedule to come to talk to families for International Archaeology Day! An archaeologist by trade, he studies the beginning of human settled society in the Middle East. It’s special to see senior management come out, back up our programs, and talk science and history with kids!
— Kiron/ROMKids (@ROMKids)
Written by @kironcmukherjee. Last update: October 21st, 2013.
International Archaeology Day 2013
Thanks to everyone who came out for International Archaeology Day at the Museum. We had a ton of fun taking part in this world wide event! The @ROMAncient and @romkids crew have been working on this project since seemingly the end of last year’s IAD, so it was great to see it work out well!
The most important thing about this event is inspiring kids and their families in the wonderful field of archaeology. We brought out seasoned archaeologists from all over Toronto, as well as organizations with a specialty in the field, to communicate with visitors through objects, crafts, discussions and games. For the first time, we also engaged the public though a play test of video games designed in Toronto and based on the ROM’s galleries with our Ancient Arcade. It’s important to identify that children can be inspired through all sort of mediums, whether it’s a talk with a professional, a simulated archaeology dig or a video game.
What I loved the most was seeing families jump from each activity to the next, seemingly more interested in the event with every program they took part in!
Big thanks to all our special guests!
- The Archaeological Institute of America (Toronto chapter), Archaeological Services Inc., Ontario Archaeological Society, and the University of Toronto!
- Our reenactors, from the 1812 doctors starting Dr Dunnfore to our soldiers!
- The entire Gamercamp crew and all the game designers, for creating such awesome games. It seems the beta test was a success!
- All the ROM archaeologists that came out- Paul Denis, Kate Cooper, Dan Rahimi, and April Hawkins!
- A special thank you to the archaeology & anthropology tumblr community (including zomganthro) for all their support for this event!
Check out more of the archaeological fun we had!
— Kiron Mukherjee (@kironcmukherjee)
— gamercamp.ca (@gamercamp)
— Kris Abel (@RealKrisAbel)
— Hillary Connolly (@hillaryconnolly)
— Jaime Woo (@jaimewoo)
— Kiron/ROMKids (@ROMKids)
The games here are beta, but strong in concept. In Little Giza you build a pyramid to please a Pharaoh pic.twitter.com/C5CH5Fhtri— Kris Abel (@RealKrisAbel)
— Sonya Davidson (@TheCulturePearl)
The @ROMToronto Ancient Arcade is coming to a close! Such a fantastic time. Big thanks to the developers—their awesome work so appreciated!— gamercamp.ca (@gamercamp)
- All photos Kiron Mukherjee except for photo 1 (Michael Anderson, 2013) and photo 5 (April Hakwins, 2013).
Written by @kironcmukherjee. Last update: October 2st, 2013.
Liz Butler Draws The ROM: Ancient Egypt!
This week I traveled to the Galleries of Africa, to learn about the special relationship that ancient Egyptians shared with an animal that may be very familiar to you – the cat! Ancient Egyptians revered cats, and depicted their likeness on all manner of objects, from the sacred to the everyday. Ancient Egyptians felt that cats held such importance that they even mummified cats after death!
I drew two different cat mummies while I was at the Museum this week. Both mummies are still wrapped in linens, but one of the mummies has lost its face covering. From the cat mummy with the covering intact, a viewer can see the special care that went into decorating these small mummies – the embalmer painted eyes and facial markings on the covering, mimicking the patterns of living cats.
I also drew a small bronze figure of a cat, used as a ceremonial standard in religious events. See if you can find this standard when you visit the museum (keep a sharp eye – it’s tiny)!
- Learn more about our special cat mummy case on temporary display HERE!
- Liz Butler is an artist and teacher who loves natural history and museums. She loves drawing, painting, and making crafts of all kinds. She is happiest when she can find ways to combine art projects with science content.
- Liz’s Website – Liz Butler Draws
- Liz’s Blog – Saw Whet Studio
- More guest posts from Liz HERE!
- Do you like to sketch? Love museums? Are you a full time student in Canada? The ROM is yours to explore, FREE, every Tuesday! MORE!
Guest Post By Liz Butler. Last Updated: October 14th, 2013.
Found in Toronto: Toronto’s Archaeological Past
New World Archaeology Technician April Hawkins recently dug through her various cabinets, drawers and collections and pulled out a few stunning artifacts from Toronto’s past. All of these artifacts will go on special display for International Archaeology Day on Saturday October 19th.
Check out the photos above, and their corresponding descriptions below to learn more about Toronto’s ancient history!
1. Slate Projectile Point
The ROM’s oldest confirmed artifact from Toronto (though we have a 10,000 year old Holcombe point found near Bathurst & Eglinton). This is a Laurentian Slate Point approximately 7000 years old from Withrow Ave.
- Artifact Age: Middle Archaic period (8000-4500 Years Ago)
- Artifact Description: A Laurentian-Archaic slate projectile point with one barb broken.
- Collection History: This projectile point was collected in 1886 by David Boyle, the original curator of the Ontario Provincial Museum. His collection of 50,000 objects formed the backbone of the ROM collection when it was transferred to the ROM in 1914.
- Approximate Site Location: Withrow Ave.
Found on Quinn farm, Dufferin St, Toronto, sometime before 1896. 1 of 5 birdstones from Toronto!
- Artifact Age: Late Archaic-Early Woodland period (4000 BC-100 AD)
- Artifact Description: This birdstone was constructed from banded slate and biconically drilled. It would have been ‘pecked’ from a cobble and then biconically drilled with a bow drill, a wood bit and sand. A notch was removed to create the mouth and there are also notches at half-centimeter intervals along dorsal ridge. The eyes of the birdstone are raised but not flared.
- Collection History: The birdstone was found on Quinn Farm, Dufferin St., Toronto, sometime before 1896.
- Approximate Site Location: Dufferin and Bloor area
3. String of Beads
String of beads collected in 1884, at Baby Point, near Toronto’s Humber River. Can you spot the dark round glass bead with the white swirls near the middle? It may have been made in north Italy circa 1540!
- Artifact Age: Precontact-Contact period (1500-1700 AD)
- Artifact Description: These Precontact and early Contact European trade beads are made of bone, shell and glass. One of these beads might be traced back to Milan circa 1550.
- Collection History: The beads were collected in 1884 by J.H. Fleming and James Kirkwood on the Baby Farm on the banks of the Humber River, an important portage site, named Teiaiagon.
- Approximate Site Location: Baby Point
4. Small Ceramic Vessel
Tiny Late Woodland Ceramic Vessel, donated in 1949 by the Dunn family, reconstructed by the Dunn family prior to donation. Click the map to see where it was found in Toronto!
- Artifact Age: Late Woodland-Precontact period (1450-1550 AD)
- Artifact Description: This reconstructed “mini-pot” has incised shoulder decoration typical of Late Woodland period ceramics in Ontario. It was reconstructed by the Dunn family prior to donation.
- Collection History: This pot was donated in 1949 by L.M. Dunn along with 340 other artifacts from York County, Ontario.
- Approximate Site Location: West Downsview, close to Humber Valley
5. Copper Axe
Copper Axe, approximately 5000 years old, found at Avenue Road and Bedford Park, 30 cm below the surface. The ROM paid $4.50 for this and another artifact in 1933!
- Artifact Age: Middle - Late Archaic period (7000-3000 Years Ago)
- Artifact Description: This is an Archaic axe from the "Old Copper" tradition. This axe is likely made from very valuable and pure copper sourced from the Lake Superior basin and lake shores. Aesthetically enhanced functional objects like this axe were probably spiritually imbued and reflected the social prominence of the owner. Prestige objects like these were often included in graves.
- Collection History: For $4.50 in 1933 the museum purchased this and another stone tool from the same property. This axe was found 30 cm below ground by the homeowner.
- Approximate Site Location: Bedford Park Ave. at Avenue Rd.
6. Google map. View in more detail HERE.
- Join us Saturday October 19th for International Archaeology Day at the Museum! All the above artifacts will be on special display, and April will be in to talk about them!
- Photo and post by April Hawkins. Original post found HERE. Make sure to follow her on twitter HERE!
Guest Post By April Hawkins. Last Updated: October 13th, 2013.