Top Stories Last Week: Roman Oddity, Unique Skulls and A $3/4million Coin
In this week’s top story overview, we highlight our most read articles this week, which includes the asphalt covered skull mystery, a silver pill used for medicinal purposes dubbed a ‘paranormal paracetamol’, 20 Greco-Roman Mummies uncovered in Aswan, and a coin found in the UK worth almost three quarters of a million dollars!
Asphalt-Coated Skulls Excavated in Israel Date to 7,000 BC
One of the skulls from the Nahal Hemar Cave. (Clara Amit / IAA)
Nahal Hemar cave in Israel’s southern Judean Desert has proven to be one of the most artifact-rich excavation sites in the region. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has provided details of a new study that took a closer look at some of the most remarkable objects ever retrieved from that archaeologically fertile location, particularly a set of asphalt-coated skulls.
Several human skulls have been found in the cave, dating back to the Neolithic or Late Stone Age Period. Astonishingly, six of these skulls, dated to 7,000 BC or earlier, were found to be covered by an asphalt coating, a surprising finding that left researchers wondering what type of metaphysical belief system had led to such a practice being adopted.
Henry III Gold Coin Exceeds Estimates and Sells for $729,000!
The Henry III gold coin was found in a Devon field. Source: Spink & Son
An amateur metal detectorist prospecting on farmland in Hemyock, Devon, in the southwest of England, made a staggering windfall find of what is believed to be one of England’s first gold coins. The Henry III gold coin dates back to the 13th century and is one of only eight known to exist. The coin sold on Saturday (22nd of January) for a cool $729,000 (540,000GBP) at London auctioneers Spink & Son.
Given that it was his first metal detector hunt in over ten years , the amateur metal detectorist must be thinking himself enormously lucky. “Like every hobbyist who continues to dream, my wish that day came true, and I just happened to be the very fortunate one,” expressed the unnamed man to the BBC, aware of his good fortune. “I feel I have to apologize to all those other detectorists who search and dream.”
Famous Swiss Mummy is Given a Face Using Forensic Technology
Shep-en-Isis (also known as Schepenese), an Egyptian mummy housed since 1820 at the São Galo Abbey Library, in St. Gallen, Switzerland, has had a facial makeover. Scientists from the FAPAB Research Center in Sicily were commissioned by the Abbey Library to reconstruct her face digitally. After spending several months on the project, they have successfully given her a face using forensic technology. The results of their efforts have been published in the form of a monograph entitled ‘The Forensic Facial Reconstruction of Shep-en-Isis.’
New Greco-Roman Tomb with 20 Mummies Found in Aswan
Left, inside view of the entrance to the Greco-Roman tomb at the Aga Khan Mausoleum. Right, Patrizia Piacentini and other researchers in the tomb. Source: Egyptian-Italian Mission ( EIMAWA)
With Egypt’s recent tilt towards resurrecting its historical importance and looking for new avenues of research and archaeological digs, another find has been added to the mix this time from Aswan. A large, and as of now, unknown Greco-Roman tomb has been found and excavated in Aswan, carried out by the Egyptian-Italian Mission at west Aswan (EIMAWA), that was stretched out over 6 months, between May and October 2021, reports La Statale News .
And what makes this discovery special are the 20 mummies that were discovered in this massive Greco-Roman tomb located in the vicinity of the Aga Khan Mausoleum. According to Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, the recently discovered Greco-Roman tomb has two parts, one above ground (made of rectangular sandstone and mudbrick, which hid the tombs), and one carved into the rock! Dated to the Greco-Roman period, the tomb called AGH032 was looted by grave robbers in antiquity, reports The Heritage Daily .
Detectorists Find “Paranormal Paracetamol” in Fossilized Human Waste
The silver artifact, dubbed a “paranormal paracetamol,” may date back to the reign of Roman Emperor Constantine. Source: Peter Beasley.
A pair of metal detectorists in England have made the rare discovery of a solid silver Roman oddity dating back to the time of Roman Emperor Constantine (306 to 337 AD), remembered for making Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. The detectorists have dubbed the artifact a “paranormal paracetamol.” Measuring only about three-quarters of an inch (1.9 cm) long, the Roman silver artifact is shaped like a paracetamol tablet and is believed to have been imbued with supernatural healing properties.
The Portsmouth News reports that the treasure was unearthed by Peter Beasley, an 80-year-old resident of Waterlooville, and his friend Lee McGowan. The pair had been metal detecting near Rowlands Castle, in the East Hampshire district of Hampshire, England. Mr. Beasley said he has “never seen anything like it before,” before explaining to The Portsmouth News that they are calling it the “paranormal paracetamol.”
Exquisitely Made 1,700-year-old Gold Neck Ring Found in Denmark
The front view of the gold neck ring found in Denmark that was likely a hidden treasure as opposed to a votive offering. Source: Sydvestjyske Museum
In October 2021, Dan Christensen, an amateur metal detectorist made the exciting discovery of a remarkably fine gold neck ring weighing a whopping 446 grams (approximately 1 pound). The discovery of a lifetime, the gold neck ring, which was unearthed in a field near Esbjerg on the Jutland Peninsula in mainland Denmark, has been described by the Southwest Jutland Museum as a “masterpiece of almost divine quality.”
Archaeologists believe the necklace dates to around 1,400-1,700 years ago and belongs to the Germanic Iron Age, a period spanning AD 400 to 800 in Northern Europe.
Scan of Child Mummy Reveals Bandages and Pus-Filled Wound
On the left, photograph of ancient Egyptian child mummy from Tomb of Aline, discovered in Hawara. On the right, CT scan of soft tissue infection in the lower leg, showing a mass consistent with dried pus. Source: Panzer et. al / International Journal of Paleopathology
During a computed tomography (CT) scan of a child mummy belonging to a youngster who lived in ancient Egypt , archaeologists found something unique and most unexpected. The imagery they obtained revealed evidence of a pus-filled and bandaged wound on her right lower leg, indicating the small girl had died from some type of infection.
2,000-Year-Old Peruvian Underwent Successful Skull Surgery
The elongated skull of a Peruvian warrior who underwent skull surgery 2,000 years ago. Source: Museum of Osteology
A skull housed at the Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma is causing quite a stir. The ancient elongated skull, dating back 2,000 years, once belonged to a Peruvian warrior. After being injured during battle and suffering some injury to the head, skull surgery was performed - using metal - making it a stunning example of early advanced surgery.
“We don’t have a ton of background on this piece,” stressed the Museum of Osteology . Nevertheless, this particular skull opens up a whole can of worms. First up is attempting to understand why the skull was elongated. “Elongation was achieved through head binding beginning at a very young age,” explained the Museum of Osteology when they announced that the skull was now on public display due to popular demand. “It was typically practiced to convey social status by various cultures,” they continued.
By Ancient Origins