ROMAN HISTORY: One of the greatest civilizations of recorded history was the ancient Roman Empire. In exchange for a very modest amount of contemporary currency, you can possess a small part of that great civilization in the form of a 2,000 year old piece of jewelry. The Roman civilization, in relative terms the greatest military power in the history of the world, was founded in the 8th century (B.C.). In the 4th Century (B.C.) the Romans were the dominant power on the Italian Peninsula, having defeated the Etruscans and Celts. In the 3rd Century (B.C.) the Romans conquered Sicily, and in the following century defeated Carthage, and controlled the Greece. Throughout the remainder of the 2nd Century (B.C.) the Roman Empire continued its gradual conquest of the Hellenistic (Greek Colonial) World by conquering Syria and Macedonia; and finally came to control Egypt in the 1st Century (B.C.).
The pinnacle of Roman power was achieved in the 1st Century (A.D.) as Rome conquered much of Britain and Western Europe. For a brief time, the era of “Pax Romana”, a time of peace and consolidation reigned. Civilian emperors were the rule, and the culture flourished with a great deal of liberty enjoyed by the average Roman Citizen. However within 200 years the Roman Empire was in a state of steady decay, attacked by Germans, Goths, and Persians. In the 4th Century (A.D.) the Roman Empire was split between East and West. The Great Emperor Constantine temporarily arrested the decay of the Empire, but within a hundred years after his death the Persians captured Mesopotamia, Vandals infiltrated Gaul and Spain, and the Goths even sacked Rome itself. Most historians date the end of the Western Roman Empire to 476 (A.D.) when Emperor Romulus Augustus was deposed. However the Eastern Roman Empire (The Byzantine Empire) survived until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D.
At its peak, the Roman Empire stretched from Britain in the West, throughout most of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, and into Asia Minor. Valuables such as coins and jewelry were commonly buried for safekeeping, and inevitably these ancient citizens would succumb to one of the many perils of the ancient world. Oftentimes the survivors of these individuals did not know where the valuables had been buried, and today, two thousand years later caches of coins and rings are still commonly uncovered throughout Europe and Asia Minor. Roman Soldiers oftentimes came to possess large quantities of “booty” from their plunderous conquests, and routinely buried their treasure for safekeeping before they went into battle. If they met their end in battle, most often the whereabouts of their treasure was likewise, unknown.
Throughout history these treasures have been inadvertently discovered by farmers in their fields, uncovered by erosion, and the target of unsystematic searches by treasure seekers. With the introduction of metal detectors and other modern technologies to Eastern Europe in the past three or four decades, an amazing number of new finds are seeing the light of day two thousand years or more after they were originally hidden by their past owners. And with the liberalization of post-Soviet Eastern Europe, new markets have opened eager to share in these treasures of the Roman Empire.
AMETHYST HISTORY: Amethyst was one of the first gemstones used by man. Archaeologists have uncovered amethyst gemstones in burials dating back to the late Neolithic (5,000 B.C.). An amethyst bracelet was recovered at Abydos, in the tomb of the Pharaoh Djer, dating back to 3,000 B.C. Other notable finds in Egyptian archaeology have included an amethyst and gold “heart scarab”, from the tomb of Amenemhet II (20th century B.C.), an amethyst and gold anklet from the tomb of Queen Mereret in the funerary complex of Senusret III (19th century B.C.), and of course an amethyst bead bracelet from the tomb of Tutankhamun (14th century B.C.). In ancient Egypt, soldiers as well used to wear amethyst to remain calm during battle. The ancient Persians believed amethyst could ward off witchcraft when the stone was carved with a sun symbol. The name “amethyst” is derived from the Greek term "amethustos", meaning not drunk. Most ancient Mediterranean cultures believed that amethyst would protect against becoming intoxicated, and would protect soldiers from harm in battle. It was also believed that if a person drank from a cup or goblet made entirely of amethyst, he or she would not get drunk at all. Amethyst was also extensively used since ancient times for carving intaglio gemstones and seals, particularly by the ancient Greeks and Romans. In both ancient Greece and Rome rings of amethyst set in bronze were worn as charms against evil.
Amethyst came to Greece from Egypt just after the death of Alexander the Great. In Greek mythology, amethyst was rock crystal dyed purple by the tears of Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry, and the stone was believed to protect female wearers from seduction. Throughout ancient and medieval history, the color purple was traditionally the color of royalty, and was also associated with the planet and the Roman God Jupiter the “Lord of Gods” of the Roman pantheon, also known as Zeus to the ancient Greeks). Consequentially Amethyst has been used since the dawn of recorded history to adorn the wealthy, as well as royalty. Ancient civilizations prized the stone more than many other gems which today enjoy more recognition and value, including sapphire, ruby, diamonds and emerald. For some time in the ancient world, amethyst was valued equally with the diamond, and only royal families were lawfully entitled to own and wear the stone. The great 18th century finds in South America and Russia (the Russian Empress Catherine the Great sent thousands of miners into the Siberian Urals to look for it) made it more plentiful, and as its rarity decreased, so did its price. For many experts in the trade, the amethyst from the Ural Mountains in Siberia are considered the finest amethyst ever produced.
In ancient Rome, the first century historian and naturalist Pliny wrote that if amethyst were worn round the neck on a cord made from dog's hair, it would afford the wearer protection against snakebite. Later the fourth century Roman Catholic Priest Hieronymus (also known as Saint Jerome) even reported that eagles placed an amethyst in their nest in order to protect their young from the danger of snakebite. Amethyst was widely used in the Roman world both in jewelry, and as mentioned earlier, as carved intaglios for use in signet rings. Ancient accounts relate that (third century Roman) Saint Valentine owned a ring set with an antique amethyst carved with an image of Cupid. The stone was also a symbol of Saint Matthias (the apostle chosen by the remaining eleven apostles to replace Judas Iscariot following Judas' betrayal of Jesus and his suicide). Amethyst is also mentioned in the Bible (Exodus 28:19; 39:12) as one of the 12 stones adorning the breastplate (hoshen) of the high priests of Yahweh. Also described in the Bible, the twelfth foundation of the mythical (post rapture) heavenly “Holy City” is said to be built of amethyst. Moses described it as a symbol of the Spirit of God in the official robes of the High Priest of the Jews.
For many centuries Amethyst was worn by ancient priests and priestesses as a personal magical stone and focus of power. In a modern continuation of this tradition the Pope wears an amethyst ring, which absorbs so much of his personal energy that it must be buried with him or destroyed when he dies. In the early medieval church amethyst stood for piety and celibacy and was therefore worn by members of the Catholic Church clergy and was used to adorn crosses. It was particularly used in Bishops’ rings, the royal purple color symbolizing Christ and the bishop’s Episcopal authority. First mentioned as an official part of the bishop's insignia in the early seventh century, the ring, usually made of gold with an amethyst, came to symbolize a bishop's fidelity to and nuptial bond with the church, his spouse. Today, bishops frequently wear an oval shaped amethyst, usually very large, with the diocesan seal engraved directly into the flat surface of the gem.
Very good quality amethyst gemstones were also found in Aztec graves, though the deposits from which they were extracted are no longer known today. Aside from it use in medieval ecclesiastical jewelry, Amethyst also remained extremely popular in the jewelry of royalty. The oldest known stone in the Crown Jewels of England is an amethyst first worn in the 11th century by Edward the Confessor. In the Medieval world, Amethyst was also attributed with the power to control evil thoughts, and make its owner shrewd in business matters. It was also employed as a love charm, as a potent influence in improving sleep, as protection against thieves, to help the hunter in search of his game, and to protect the wearer from contagious diseases and insect bites. In the Medieval world amethyst was also worn as a talisman to protect crops against tempests and locusts. Medieval European soldiers wore amethyst amulets as protection in battle.
In Renaissance magic, an amethyst engraved with the image of a bear was worn as a protective amulet, and had the power to put demons to flight. Amethyst was believed to bring forth the highest, purest aspirations of human kind. Chastity/celibacy, sobriety, and control over one’s thoughts were all attributes heightened by wearing the stone. The gem would guard against the anger of passion, and the violent or base nature of its wearer. The stone was believed to encourage calm, bravery, and contemplation. Shamans of the ancient and medieval world used amethyst to assist prophecy and visions. Amethyst was also used in spells designed to magnify beauty.
Amethyst is the most highly valued variety of quartz. The purple coloring is caused by the presence of compounds of iron or manganese. Aside from the gorgeous color, Amethyst is also very popular in the production of jewelry due to the fact it is very hard and durable. Some of the other popular varieties of quartz include rock crystal (colorless quartz), citrine (yellow quartz), and aventurine (green quartz). Amethyst, like all quartz crystals, produces an electric voltage, a property known as piezoelectric. Unable to understand the characteristic, ancient cultures attributed many mystical properties have been attributed to the various varieties of quartz gemstones. Quartz gemstones were believed to act as psychic purifiers, tuning one into their inner "vibrations”. It was believed that quartz possessed the ability to amplify emotions, enhance concentration and intuition, and neutralize "negative energies".
Throughout history, gemstones were believed capable of curing illness to providing protection. Found in Egypt dated 1500 B. C., the "Papyrus Ebers" offered one of most complete therapeutic manuscripts containing prescriptions using gemstones and minerals. In the eastern civilizations of China, India, and Tibet, gemstones were not only valued for their medicinal and protective properties, but also for educational and spiritual enhancement. The medicinal uses of amethyst were many, including as a treatment for excess stomach acidity. A few centuries ago it was the practice to moisten the stone with saliva and rub it on the face to banish pimples, rough skin, and skin rashes. In traditional Chinese medicine, amethyst was prescribed for stomach pains and bad dreams, and was also be used for the healing of illnesses of the lungs as well as heart disease. It was believed to help detoxify the body, strengthen the immune system, and was used to treat ailments involving the central nervous system as well as the brain. Not only would amethyst alleviate a headache, cure deafness and relieve arthritis, but it would also help clear one’s thinking process, allowing one to process information more efficiently.
The metaphysical benefits of wearing amethyst included the ability to enhance and focus psychic abilities (opening the “third eye”, enabling visions of past lives and the inner self), as well as to calm nightmares and relieve insomnia. Wearing amethyst was believed to make the wearer gentle and amiable, and was also used to treat manic-depressives by bringing thought patterns into alignment, soothing overactive minds. It was believed to exert a calming influence on individuals prone to compulsive behavior, as well as (in the ancient world) over professional warriors who were addicted to the adrenaline rush of combat and warfare. When placed under a pillow, it was believed that an amethyst would induce pleasant dreams and self healing, and was believed to help with conscious recall of dreams and symbolic message.
Amethyst was also believed to attract wealth and power to the wearer. In the Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui, amethyst enhances the wealth corner focusing on the giving and receiving of material wealth. Amethyst was also regarded as a stone of love, exchanged between lovers as a token of mutual commitment. Amethyst was believed to loosen blocks in the mind where mental functioning had become confused and undirected, and to free the way to clearer thinking. Amethyst was also believed to help people who suffered from a faulty memory. Amethyst was used to help those prone to depression and melancholy. Amethyst was also often used to relieve stress and heal stress-related illness. It was considered to be especially effective for headaches, muscle tension and back or neck ache. Many also believed that amethysts were useful for those working to transcend chemical dependence, the stone working as a talisman to provide inner strength when battling dependency. Amethyst was also one of the few gemstones specifically prescribed for men to use to attract a “good woman” to love him.
HISTORY OF BRONZE: Bronze is the name given to a wide range of alloys of copper, typically mixed in ancient times with zinc, tin, lead, or arsenic. The discovery of bronze enabled people to create metal objects which were better than previously possible. Tools, weapons, armor, and building materials made of bronze were harder and more durable than their stone and copper predecessors from the “Chalcolithic” (the “Copper Age”), i.e., about 7000-3500 B.C., and the Neolithic (“New Stone Age”), i.e. about 12000 to 7000 B.C.). Of particular significance were bronze agricultural implements, tools for cutting stone, and weapons. Culturally significant was bronze statuary, particularly that of the Romans and Greeks. The ancient Greeks and Romans had a long history of making statuary in bronze. Literally thousands of images of gods and heroes, victorious athletes, statesmen, and philosophers filled temples and sanctuaries, and stood in the public areas of major cities. In fact, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia and the Colossus of Rhodes are two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Initially bronze was made out of copper and arsenic. It was only later that tin was used, becoming (except in ancient Egypt) the sole type of bronze in the late 3rd millennium B.C. Tin-alloyed bronze was superior to arsenic-alloyed bronze in that the alloying process itself could more easily be controlled, the alloy was stronger and easier to cast, and unlike arsenic, tin is not toxic. Toxicity was a major factor in the production of arsenic bronze. Repeated exposure to arsenic fumes ultimately led to nerve damage in the limbs. Evidence of the long agony of Bronze Age metalsmiths came down to the ancient Greeks and Romans in the form of legend, as the Greek and Roman gods of metalsmiths, Greek Hephaestus and Roman Vulcan, were both lame. In practice historical bronze alloys are highly variable in composition, as most metalworkers probably used whatever scrap was to hand. In one instance of ancient bronze from Britain, analysis showed the bronze to contain a mixture of copper, zinc, tin, lead, nickel, iron, antimony, arsenic, and silver.
Other advantages of bronze over iron include that bronze better resists corrosion, particularly seawater corrosion; bronze resists metal fatigue better than iron; and bronze is a better heat conductor (and thus is better suited for cooking vessels). However ancient bronze, unless conserved properly, is susceptible to “bronze disease”, wherein hydrochloric or hydrosulfuric acid is formed due to impurities (cuprous chloride or sulfur) found within the ancient bronze. Traditionally archaeology has maintained that the earliest bronze was produced by the Maikop, a proto-Indo-European, proto-Celtic culture of Caucasus prehistory around 3500 B.C. Recent evidence however suggests that the smelting of bronze might be as much as several thousand years older (bronze artifacts dating from about 4500 B.C. have been unearthed in Thailand).
Shortly after the emergence of bronze technology in the Caucasus region, bronze technology emerged in ancient Mesopotamia (Sumer), Egypt, the Indus Valley Civilization of Northern India, the Aegean, the Caspian Steppes (Ukraine), the Southern Russia/Central Mongolia Region (the Altai Mountains), the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean), Anatolia (Turkey) and the Iranian Plateau. By the late third millennium B.C. many Western European Bronze Age Cultures had emerged. Some of the more notable were the Celtic cultures of Middle Europe stretching from Hungary to Poland and Germany, including the Urnfield, Lusatian, and (Iron Age Transitional) Hallstatt Cultures.
The Shang in ancient China also developed a significant Bronze Age culture, noted for large bronze burial urns. The ancient Chinese were the first to cast bronze (using the “lost wax” technique) about 2200 B.C. Prior to that time all bronze items were forged. Though weapons and utilitarian items were produced in great numbers, the production of bronze in ancient China was especially noteworthy for ornamented ritualistic/religious vessels (urns, wine vessels, water pots, food containers, and musical instruments), many of immense size.
Britain’s Bronze Age cultures included the Beaker, Wessex, Deverl, and Rimbury. Copper and tin ores are rarely found together, so the production of bronze has always involved trade. Cornwall was one of the most significant sources of tin not only for Britain, but exported throughout the Mediterranean. Other significant suppliers of tine were the Taurus Mountains of Anatolia (Turkey), as well as Spain. Enormous amounts of copper was produced from the Great Orme mine in North Wales, the island of Cyprus, the European Alps, and from the Sinai Peninsula and other nearby sites in the Levant. Though much of the raw minerals may have come from Britain, Spain, Anatolia, and the Sinai, it was the Aegean world which controlled the trade in bronze. The great seafaring Minoan Empire (about 2700 to 1450 B.C.) appears to have controlled, coordinated, and defended the trade.
Tin and charcoal were imported into Cyprus, where locally mined copper was mined and alloyed with the tin from Britain. Indicative of the seafaring trade in the Eastern Mediterranean, a shipwreck from about 1300 B.C. off the Turkish coast revealed a ship carrying a ton of copper ingots, several dozen small tin ingots, new bronze tools, scrap metal, and a blacksmith's forge and tools (along with luxury trade goods from Africa). It appears that the Bronze Age collapsed with the fall of Minoan Empire, to be replaced by a Dark Age and the eventual rise of the Iron Age Myceneans (on mainland Greece). Evidence suggests that the precipitating event might have been the eruption of Thera (Santorini) and the ensuing tsunami, which was only about 40 miles north of Crete, the capital of the Minoan empire.
Some archaeologists argue that it was Santorini itself which was the capitol city of the Minoan World. However where Crete or Santorini, it is known that the bread-basket of the Minoan trading empire, the area north of the Black Sea lost population, and thereafter many Minoan colony/client-states lost large populations to extreme famines or pestilence. Inasmuch as the Minoans were the principals of the tin/copper shipping network throughout the Mediterranean, the Bronze Age trade network is believed to have failed. The end of the Bronze Age and the rise of the Iron Age is normally associated with the disturbances created by large population disruptions in the 12th century B.C. The end of the Bronze Age saw the emergence of new technologies and civilizations which included the large-scale production of iron (and limited scale production of steel).
Although iron was in many respects much inferior to bronze (and steel was inefficiently produced in very limited quantities), iron had the advantage that it could be produced using local resources during the dark ages that followed the Minoan collapse, and was very inexpensive when compared to the cost of producing bronze. Bronze was still a superior metal, resisting both corrosion and metal fatigue better than iron. And bronze was still used during the Iron Age, but for many purposes the weaker iron was sufficiently strong to serve in its place. As an example, Roman officers were equipped with bronze swords while foot soldiers had to make do with iron blades.
Pliny the Elder, the famous first century Roman historian and naturalist, wrote about the reuse of scrap bronze and copper in Roman foundries, noting that the metals were recast as armor, weapons or articles for personal use, such as bronze mirrors. The melting and recasting foundries were located at the Italian port city of Brindisi. Located on the Adriatic coast, Brindisi was the terminus of the great Appian Way, the Roman road constructed to facilitate trade and military access throughout the Italian part of the Roman Empire. The city was the gateway for Roman
penetration into the eastern parts of her empire (Greece, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Black Sea Region, the Danubian Provinces, and eventually Mesopotamia).
SHIPPING: These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price. A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request.
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