Ancient Chinese jade burial suites. Designed 2200 years ago, the Chinese jade burial suites promised immortality to the imperial family who wore them.
During the reign of Chinese dynasties, the ancient Chinese believed that when a person dies, he or she entered into the after life. Death was comprehended as a prolongation of life, and an emperor’s mausoleum was his after-life palace, mirroring his regal life on earth.
Corpses, such as that of emperor Liu Sheng and his wife the princess Dou Wan, have been found in spectacular jade suits made of thousands of small plaques sewn together with gold thread. The Chinese believed that jade would protect the corpses from decay; it was a symbol of life and vitality.
The Mask of Xiuhtecuhtli. A famous Aztec turquoise mosaic ‘butterfly’ mask depicting Xiuhtecuhtli, the Aztec god of fire. It dates to the final century of the Aztec empire, c. 1400-1521 CE.
The mask was meant to be either worn by a god impersonator in religious ceremonies or worn by an effigy of the god. It was almost certainly part of the treasure brought back from Mesoamerica by Hernán Cortés and presented to Charles V.
Jeweled gun of Sultan Mahmud I. Dated 1732-1733, this impressive gun served as a ceremonial object held by one of Sultan Mahmud I’s attendants during state ceremonies.
While the flamboyant decoration of the gun lent itself to public spectacle, the experience of extracting its treasures from the gun’s stock is a more personal act. This video reveals the various components of this ornate gun.
Venus of Willendorf a 26.000 years old ancient figurine depicting an obese woman with full, pendulous breasts. Considered to be symbolism for fertility, pregnancy and/or round female, this figurine was uncovered in Austria.
Many civilizations – most notably the Mesopotamian and Indus Valley excavations have revealed a common thread of mother Goddess and worship of female force.
The Manunggul Jar is a secondary burial jar (storing bones) excavated from a Neolithic burial site in the Manunggul cave of the Tabon Caves at Lipuun Point in Palawan, Philippines. It dates from 890–710 B.C.
The lid features a “spirit boat” or “ship of the dead” carrying two souls on a journey to the afterlife.
Ancient Roman helmet worn by the elite Roman cavalry (equites Romani). Timeline: ca. 1st century AD.
As their name implies, the Equites Romani were liable to cavalry service in the Polybian legion. Equites originally provided a legion’s entire cavalry contingent, although from an early stage, when equites numbers had become insufficient, large numbers of young men from the First Class of commoners were regularly volunteering for the service, which was considered more glamorous than the infantry.
By the time of the Second Punic War, it is likely that all members of the First Class served in the cavalry, since Livy states that members of Class I were required to equip themselves with a round shield (clipeus), rather than…Read more
St Pancratius skeleton in armor. Location: Church of St Nikolaus, Switzerland. Timeline: 16-19th century.
Catacomb saints were the bodies of ancient Christians that were carefully exhumed from the catacombs of Rome and sent abroad to serve as relics of certain saints from the 16th century to the 19th century. They were typically lavishly decorated with gold and precious stones.
During the Beeldenstorm of the 16th century and continued iconoclasm of the 17th century, Catholic churches throughout Europe were systematically stripped of their religious symbols, iconography and relics. In response, the Vatican ordered that thousands of skeletons be exhumed from the catacombs beneath the city and installed in towns…Read more
The Aldobrandini Tazza of Vespasian. One of twelve extraordinary silver-gilt sets of standing cups collectively known as The Aldobrandini Tazze. Made in the late 16th century, they represent the first twelve Caesars of Imperial Rome, a popular subject during the Renaissance, particularly following the publication of the set of biographies originally written in 121 AD by Suetonius, private secretary to the Emperor Hadrian.
Described as one of the most spectacular groups of 16th century silver to survive, they were owned by Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini (1571-1621), one of the greatest collectors of his time and nephew of Pope Clement VIII. The set was dispersed in the 19th century; this example was…Read more
Dish. One of the The Al Thani Collection’s masterpieces of Islamic art, this bronze dish is particularly notable as it combines motifs of Late Classical and Early Christian art with geometric decorations seen in Umayyad architecture in the first centuries of Islam. Made in Egypt and inlaid with silver, copper and iron, it is a work of exceptional craftsmanship and is thought to be among the first works of art produced for a Muslim court.
Part of the The Al Thani Collection.
The Dish originated from Egypt around 600 to 800 AD. Its made out of brass, silver, copper and iron and has a diameter of 55.4 cm (21,8 inches).
16th-century helmet of Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria. Ferdinand II, Archduke of Further Austria (Linz, 14 June 1529 – 24 January 1595, Innsbruck) was ruler of Further Austria including Tirol. The son of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, he was married to Philippine Welser in his first marriage. In his second marriage to Anna Juliana Gonzaga, he was the father of Anna of Tyrol, the would-be Holy Roman Empress.
A Paiza Passport. Used as an imperial passport; “Paiza” was given to an ambassador of Kublai Khan. Today the Paiza is one of two remaining in the world. It was written in Phags-pa script and reads: “I am an emissary of the Khan. If you defy me, you die.” (1240 AD)
The Golden Horns of Gallehus were two horns made of sheet gold, discovered in Gallehus, north of Møgeltønder in Southern Jutland, Denmark. The horns dated to the early 5th century, i.e. the beginning of the Germanic Iron Age.
The Sun Chariot. This ancient artifact was found in Sep. 1902, when the former bog Trundholm Mose in northwestern Zealand, Denmark, was ploughed for the first time. The Sun Chariot was made in the Early Bronze Age around 1400 BC. The elegant spiral ornamentation that graces the golden sun disc reveals its Nordic origin. The Sun Chariot illustrates the idea that the sun was drawn on its eternal journey by a divine horse. A sun image and the horse have been placed on wheels to symbolize the motion of the sun.
The Ksour Essef cuirass is a Hellenistic gilded bronze cuirass which was found at Ksour Essef in Tunisia. It is now kept in the Bardo National Museum in Tunis.
The breastplate was discovered in February 1909 in a grave in Ksour Essef in modern Tunisia, within the realm of ancient Carthage. It dates to the 3rd century BC. It was definitely not created in a Carthaginian workshop, but in a bronze smithy in Campania which was a centre for this sort of work in the third century. Perhaps a soldier of Hannibal acquired the armour as booty and willed that it be buried with him at his death – counter to common custom in Carthage at the time.
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A home for historical artifacts, long forgotten trinkets and objects that sculptured history.
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