Category: prad - Part 4

Google Earth Tour: Great Cities of the Ancient World

A look at the Greatest Cities of the Ancient World in Google Earth.After Heritage Key’s recent video interview with John Julius Norwich on his new book “The Great Cities in History” (which you should definately watch here) I wrote an article looking at the greatest ancient cities that Lord Norwich selected. With cities across the globe and ranging from the Greeks and Romans, to the Egyptians and Muslims, as far as the Indus Valley and Chinese to the Mayan Civilisation. The city is very much an ancient concept, but one which our society relies upon today in order to maintain a place of power, culture and trade.

The earliest cities were based on sites near rivers where transportation and trade would be easiest, without having to combat the rough waters of the sea. Agriculture was also a key factor in the growth of cities, as farm workers congregated together to work the land in larger groups. The adoption of religion and the birth of social structures came about with the spread of the city, and soon came the need for defences and stores.

An ideal way to see the various world cities would be through Google Earth, which brings together satellite images from around the world in a 3D form to be able to see the position and general look of these city sites today. Although the images aren’t as high resolution as the GeoEye satellite imagery that Heritage Key is showcasing of Giza and Leptis Magna, it certainly does give you a good idea of these sites and the context in which they were born in.

The Google Earth Tour below shows 3D models and locations of the amazing ancient cities picked out in Lord Norwich’s book, in a flyover which will take you across the continents and zoom in on these magnificent structures.

To open webpages in a new window, right click the link in the information window and select “Open link in new window”. This will enable you to view the link in a full web browser.

You can also download this tour to your computer by clicking here, selecting “Save” and then running the file. It will automatically open Google Earth and begin the Heritage Key: Pyramids of the World tour.

Have a look through our Google Earth Tours too to experience more flythrough tours of world heritage sites!

Google Earth Tour: Pyramids of the World

Following on from the amazing high resolution satellite images of the Pyramids of Giza, it’s worth noting that the Pyramid is a structure that is seen across the world. The pyramid form was a popular one in ancient times – when you mention the Pyramids, people will instantly think of the Ancient Egyptians, and the Great Pyramid of Giza. But many civilisations adopted the pyramidal form, from the Greeks and Romans to the Chinese and Mesopotamians!

The primary reason for this would be the structural form of a pyramid – the majority of the construction material that would be used would be at the base, and hence the weight distribution would mean there is less of a load pushing downwards from above (where there is less construction material). This meant that the construction of a pyramid would be much simpler in terms of it’s stability, whilst still giving it an aura of grandeur. How the Pyramid was built is a subject of much discussion, and Heritage Key recently interviewed Jean-Pierre Houdin on his Internal Ramp Pyramid theory. You should alsotake a look atHeritage Key’s fantastic video interview about Dr Mark Lehner’s search for information about the Pyramid Builders of Egypt (watch the video)!

The Google Earth Tour below shows 3D models and locations of many prominent ancient Pyramids from around the world in a flyover which will take you across the continents and zoom in on these magnificent structures.

To open webpages in a new window, right click the link in the information window and select “Open link in new window”. This will enable you to view the link in a full web browser.

You can also download this tour to your computer by clicking here, selecting “Save” and then running the file. It will automatically open Google Earth and begin the Heritage Key: Pyramids of the World tour.

Have a look through our Google Earth Tours too to experience more flythrough tours of world heritage sites!

Daily Flickr Finds: Rafa Vjajes’ Sabratha Roman Theatre

Located on the coast of north-west Libya, Sabratha was incorporated into the Roman Empire during the second and third century AD as a trading post, when it flourished as an outlet for wares being exported from Africa. The city, nearby to Leptis Magna, was most notable for a fantastic Roman theatre which was built during 175-200AD as part of the reconstruction of the city under Emperor Septimius Severus’s rule. The remains are some of the finest examples of Roman architecture today, as is captured in a beautiful panorama in Rafa Vjajes’ photograph.

The three storey structure had over 25 entrances and the seating, stage and backstage rooms are still present, making it the most intact Roman amphitheatre today. With the capacity to hold 5,000 people, and a stage backdrop of 25 metres, the theatre was constructed using 108 columns over 3 storeys.

Reconstructed in the 1930s by an Italian team of archaeologists, and then reopened by Mussolini to be used to hold plays, many of the original materials used in the construction have been replaced with new alternatives. Travertine marble has replaced much of the synnadic marble and white marble used in the original structure.

Read more about Sabratha here at Heritage Key, and be sure to look through Rafa Vjajes’s Photostream at Flickr!

Sandro Vannini’s Photography: King Tutankhamun’s Golden Throne

King Tutankhamun's Golden Throne is one of the most stunning pieces of royal furniture. Image Copyright - Sandro Vannini.Every great king has a throne from upon which he rules, and King Tutankhamun was no exception with the Golden Throne which is one of the finest pieces of royal furniture ever created. With web-exclusive photography of this breathtaking artefact by world class photographer Sandro Vannini, we can see that this was one chair that is definitely fit for a king! Sure, there are other expensive chairs around in Egypt at the moment, but the beauty of the Golden Throne of King Tutankhamun outshines the many chairs throughout time! On display as a treasure of the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, (as well as a replica which travels around the world) we’re able to share the beauty for you to view from the comfort of your own (perhaps not as golden) chair in Sandro’s photographs, as well as being able to see digital replicas of other KV62 treasures in our online King Tut Virtual exhibition.

‘King Tut’s Golden Throne’ Slideshow

Heritage Key is working together with Sandro to make his beautiful photography from Egypt available for you to view – which we’re certain will please even the most hardcore Eygptophile – on the internet. To watch a slideshow of King Tutankhamun’s Golden Throne, just click the thumbnails below.

See it for yourself in King Tut VX

To get immersing, 360 degree views of King Tut’s treasures in 3D, all you need to do is register for your avatar in our quick and easy process, and you can start exploring King Tut Virtual. Sandro’s photographs are beautiful to stare at, but for the full online experience, come see the digital recreations and be close enough to (virtually) touch them.

Sandro Vannini’s Photography

What makes Sandro’s photography stand out? Attention for detail and skills gathered over the years in photography gives Sandro the necessary experience to capture the stunning gold and beautiful precious stones of the Golden Throne of King Tutankhamun. Of course, the equipment Sandro uses plays a role too, and he comes well prepared with a Hasselblad ELD Ixpress 528C camera.

So for those of you who cant make the trip to see the Golden Throne, Heritage Key offers these stunning photographs by Sandro Vannini which capture the beauty and magnificence of King Tutankhamuns Golden Throne. But it doesnt stop there: you can visit virtual replicas of Tutankhamun treasures in the Heritage Key VX King Tut exhibition, which features a digital recreation of many breath-taking artefacts.

Don’t miss out on new treasures!

This post is part of a series focussing on amazing photographs from ancient Egypt. Keep checking back as well keep adding new images by Sandro Vannini. To make sure you don’t miss out on any of the updates, simply subscribe by email to receive notifications when new images are uploaded. For the more digitally advanced, there’s also an RSS feed with updates available.

Suggest a Featured Artefact

We’re taking suggestions! which of King Tut’s treasures you would love to see highlighted on Heritage Key, and we’ll consult Sandro’s extensive archives to see what we can find for you!

Ask Sandro

We’ll be sitting down with our favourite photographer for an extended chat soon, so if you have any questions for Sandro we’ll send the answers straight to you!

The Golden Throne of King Tutankhamun

captioncaptioncaptionWithout a doubt, this is a seat fit for a King. Built from fastened pieces of wood and then covered in gold sheeting or painted gilding, the detail was then carved and completed with semi-precious stones and coloured glass. The throne is almost completely intact, with the only missing piece being the vertical struts between the seat and the leg braces. Dating from the start of Tutankhamun’s reign, the throne bears the name of King Tutankhamun and his wife Ankhsenamen (The actual inscription reads “Tutankhaten” and “Ankhsenpaaten” – the names given to them at birth).


Back of the Throne

The back of the Golden Throne shows the image of King Tutankhamun and his wife Ankhsenamen. King Tut is sat in a throne which is not unlike the Golden Throne, and is draped in a broad collar, pleated kilt and a short round wig with an aref crown – an elaborate headress – to complete the look. His feet rest on a footstool, which may have been inscribed with his enemies names so he can quite literally trample them – even whilst sitting down quite comfortably!

The Boy King and his Wife

King Tut’s wife stands in front of him with a silver vessel of perfumed oil and wears a beautiful robe and a short “Nubian” wig, completed with a Crown made of two plumes and a sun disk. The artwork of the Egyptians was meant to pass on captioncaptioncaptioninformation, rather than to be a photographic snapshot of reality, and the broad collar on a stand next to the two figures is a fine example of this. The royal garmet is made of silver, which was much rarer in Egypt than gold was.

The skin of both King Tutankhamun and his wife are made from a dark red glass, representative of darker complexions. Whilst it was not unusual for male figures to be shown this way, females were usually show to have more golden-yellow skin, perhaps showing that they spent more time indoors away from the strong sun. On the throne, however, both King Tut and Ankhsenamen are shown to be basking in the sunlight of the god Aren, the rays of whom are in the form of the Ankh symbols – representative of life.


Arm Rests

Winged cobras form the arms of the throne, and they wear the double crowns that represent a united Egypt. The theme continues along the back support with smaller cobras peering out, with one wearing the silver crown of Upper Egypt, and the other adorned with the gold crown of Lower Egypt.

The Golden Throne of King Tutankhamun is one of the most spectacular finds from KV62(Tomb of King Tutankhamun) having been preserved in such a beautiful state over several millennia. You can imagine the boy king sat on it as he met ambassadors from various foreign lands with the gleam of the golden treasures intimidating them into respect. Such is the power of the Golden Throne.

Visit King Tut Virtual Today

King Tut Virtual is one of the greatest discoveries you can make online. Travel back in time and explore Ancient Egypt from the comfort of your own computer, discovering the tomb of Tutankhamun and the treasures it holds. Wander down the banks of the River Nile and get up and close with 3D recreations of the treasures of KV62. The detail and realism will astound you, and you can even invite your friends from around the world to join you and help you discover the greatest find in the history of archaeology – the Tomb of King Tutankhamun. Go Virtual simply by registering an account and visit the King Tut Virtual exhibition in Heritage Key VX and learn more about Tutankhamun! You can also see more of Sandro’s Photography of other artefacts from Egypt on Heritage Key.

Google Maps: Britain’s Henges – There’s more than just Stonehenge and Bluehenge!

Stonehenge isn't Britain's only henge. Image Credit - David SmithOther than Stonehenge and the newly discovered Bluehenge, there are other henges across the lenght and breath of Great Britain, as Ann Morgan explained in her post a couple of months back.

What does it take to be a Henge?Henges are at least 20 metres across in size, and have a single raised bank with one, two or four entrances set in strategic positions. Usually in a flat, circular or oval shape, excavations have revealed pottery and bones, fuelling speculation of ancestor worship (or travel by GPS, but that’s a whole other story). Interesting to note is that Stonehenge is not technically a henge then, as it’s bank is inside a ditch!

The henges shown on this map vary across the country, from the top of Scotland to the south of England, yet they’re unique to the British Isles and up to 1,000 years older than the earliest Pyramids!

The Google Map below shows nine henges from around the British Isles. You can see the exact locations of these sites, and easily plan your (real or fantasy) trip through the UK, seeking out the mysterious wonders of the British past!

Google Map: 9 Henges from Britain

By clicking on the relevant Heritage Key icon, you can find out more information about the different sites as well as being able to zoom in.They’re also listed below for convenience, along with links to the various relevant articles and blog entries on Heritage Key, so you can find out more about them:

The map works through Google’s interactive map service, and is easy to navigate by dragging on the map to pull it around. Additionally, you can control the map by using navigation controls in the top right of the corner. The plus and minus buttons allow you to zoom in/out.

Have a look through our Google Earth Tours too to experience flythrough tours of world heritage sites!

Top Five Treasures from the Staffordshire Hoard of the Kingdom of Mercia

The recent discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard has turned up over 1,500 pieces of stunning gold and silver artfacts from the 7th century Dark Ages era. The find has been described as “unparalleled” and represents the largest haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure ever to have been discovered, within an area which was the heartland of theKingdom of Mercia. The Mercian tribe was particularly aggressive in their conquests and fought to expand the land in their control – centered on the valley of the river Trent, what today is the English Midlands – in wars against Northumbria and East Anglia. Out of the more than thousand artefacts, we’ve chosen the 5 most astonishing ones to show to you.

Although the quantity itself is impressive, that should not detract from the quality of the finds. These were amongst the highest quality being produced by Anglo-Saxon metalworkers, and the artefacts that were revealed today in Birmingham would have belonged to the highest levels of aristocracy of ‘the Border People’ (the Old English Mierce, of which ‘Mercia’ is a Latinisation actually means exactly that).

But what are the highlights of the Staffordshire find?Heritage Key offers its Top Five:

1. Golden Folded Cross

This Gold Cross bears five roundels and a D-shaped plate, of which three of the lateral roundels are fitted with ears. Rivet holes for fittings (some of which were found) are also present. Many of the finds at the site had been damaged prior to deposition, and the gold had been twisted or bent, and in some cases broken. It is believed that the the damage is not a result of malicious intent, but that simply the objects were squashed in storage. The Golden Folded Cross is one of the few non-warfare related items to be found – the fact it was folded suggests that it was squashed for burial. It’s possible that this was done by pagans due to the lack of respect shown when burying it, although that is not to suggest it can’t have been done by a Christian.

2. Sword Hilt Fitting

So far, 84 pommel caps and 71 Hilt collars have been indentified from the excavation site. A hilt fitting is a highly decorated piece which would have been attached to a sword or a seax (a short knife/sword).Usually created from gold and meticulously crafted with garnets and elaborate decorations. Such expensive decor would only have been reserved for the highest noblemen of the time. To find a single hilt fitting is in itself a notable discovery, but to find so many in a single excavation is simply extrodinary!

3. Gold Strip with Inscription

This strip of gold is inscribed with biblical verses on both sides. An animal head adorns one end, whilst the other ends in a setting. When translated, the inscription reads “rise up, o Lord, and may thy enemies be scattered and those who hate thee be driven from thy face”. The handiwork on the inscription seems to suggest that the engraver was someone who was more used to working on wax tablets, and the style of the lettering has suggested the artefact is from the seventh or early eighth century.

4. Cheek Piece

This is the side panel for a helmet which would have looked very similar to the now-iconic one found at the Sutton Hoo burial. Though low in gold content, the piece includes the striking depiction of running, interlaced animals. More pieces of the helmet have been unearthed, though it may take some time to fit the parts together. One shows a beautifully detailed animal figure, and is probably the helmet’s crest.

5. Millefiori Stud

This small stud, rounded by gold, is a great example of early work with Millefiori, an early glasswork technique which was also prevalent in the Sutton Hoo haul. It would have most probably been used as a scabbard fitting, and the black-and-white chequered centrepiece give the piece a really British feel; you can almost feel the Round Table in its design.

The most important pieces of the ‘Staffordshire Hoard’ will be on display at the Birmingham Museum from now until the 13th October, after which they will be taken to the British Museum in London for valuation.

Images from Portable Antiquities and Staffordshire Hoard website. Thanks to Sean Williams for his contribution to this entry.

The Staffordshire Hoard – Largest Treasure of Anglo-Saxon Gold Ever Found

The largest collection of beautiful quality gold and silver treasures from the seventh century Anglo-Saxon period has been discovered in a field by a plucky metal detectorist, who’s previous plights had bought up no more than a Roman horse harness. Over 1,500 pieces have been found in a private field in Staffordshire, amounting to over 5kg in gold and 1.3kg in silver.

The report of this find comes just weeks after the news of 10,000 Roman coins in neighbouring Shropshire being discovered, as well as news of the Vale of York hoard being purchased by the British Museum for over 1 million. So it’d appear that owning a metal detector could be a worthy investment!Terry Herbert, the amateur treasure hunter who lives alone in his council flat, claiming disability benefits, now stands to claim a share of at least a 1 million finder’s reward as local museums raise funds to keep the hoard in the county.

Close up of a folded up Christian cross. Image Credit - Portable Antiquities.The seventh century represented the Dark Ages for the country – England didn’t exist yet, and instead the land was made up of several small tribal kingdoms who were often in a state of war with one another. The spot where the Hoard lay for the past millennium and a half is in the heart of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia, although the exact position has not been revealed for security reasons.

Christianity, first introduced to the country by the Romans and then forced to near extinction, had returned to the land and is evident in some of the finds in the hoard, which amongst weaponry and helmets, included biblical inscriptions and Christian crosses.

Staffordshire local history collections officer and specialist in Saxo-Norman Staffordshire pottery Deb Klemperer was moved to tears by the find. She said “The Dark Ages in Staffordshire have never looked so bright nor so beautiful. This incredible find will sit alongside numerous collections of archaeological remains which are interpreted within the context of the geological, natural and social history of our area.”

The principal pieces of the find will be shown at the Birmingham Museum from now until the 13th October, after which they will be taken to the British Museum in London for valuation.

Daily Flickr Finds: Dave Oakley’s Terracotta Army Museum, Xi’an

Terracotta Army Museum, Xi'an, China. Image Credit - David Oakley.David Oakley’s photostream is a complete joy to scan through, just for the beautiful simplicity of the effects he applies to his photographs in Adobe Lightroom to give such a unique style. I’ve selected an image of the Terracotta Army Museum in Xi’an, China to represent exactly how gorgeous this technique turns out.

It looks as if it’s been inked out on paper, such is the power of post-processing software these days – it’s incredible the various effects that can be achieved given talent with a computer and graphics editing software. Anyone can be an artist without ever needing to pick up a pencil!

Of course it’d take a while before we can reach David Oakley’s sort of skill, but they do say practice makes perfect!

Of course, the Terracotta Army Museum is home of China’s most amazing archaeological find – the Terracotta Warriors. Discovered barely a couple of decades ago, the warriors have astounded the world for the sheer scale of the pits and excavations continue to uncover what secrets remain to be found.

Read more about the Terracotta Warriors here at Heritage Key, and have a look at the stunning art over on David Oakley’s Flickr photostream!

Daily Flickr Finds: David Wheatley’s Treasury of Atreus, Mycenae

Treasury of Artreus, Mycenae. Image Credit - David Wheatley.Take an image which is interesting enough as it is, showing great craftsmanship and attention to detail as in the construction of the Treasury of Atreus – a domed tomb (also known as a tholos tomb). Probably the most impressive of the tombs in the Mycenae region, Greece, the Treasury of Atreus’s ceiling has been beautifully photographed by Dave Wheatley, who has then made the image even more interesting by switching it to a Negative effect. This creates the effect that this is no longer a mosaic of bricks, but an image which sparkles to life with a shimmering of glassy blocks, dancing with light colours.

Dating from the 14th Century BC, it is one of only two double chambered tombs in Greece, and has a nine metre long lintel stone which stands over the entrance – a testament to the extraordinary building skills of the Mycenaeans!

King Artreus ran an interesting house too. He murdered his brother’s (Thyestes) children and then fed them to him, for which the gods then cursed Arteus and his descendants. Thyestes then had a son (Aigisthos) by his only surviving daughter, Pelopa. Aigisthos murdered Atreus and the throne of Mycenae was returned to Thyeste. But Artreus’ heir – Agamemnon – seized power of the region.

Still with me?Well then Agamemnon sent an army to destroy the Trojan Paris, who had had the nerve to steal his brother’s wife, Helen. In the process, Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter to the gods so his fleet would have a favourable wind at sea. On his return, Agamemnon was murdered by his wife Klytemnestra and her lover – none other than Aigisthos! The murderous couple were then slaughtered themselves by Agamemnon’s children – Orestes and Elektra.

Who needs soap dramas?

Look through past Daily Flickr Finds here at Heritage Key, and have a look at David Wheatley’s photostream over at Flickr!

Daily Flickr Finds: balavenise’s Aphrodisias

The Temple of Aphrodisias, Turkey. Image Credit - balaveniseNamed after the Greek goddess of love and fertility, Aphrodisias was named in 2BC century, and the Temple of Aphrodite was built in the 1st Century AD. Captured in this photograph by balavenise, we can see the beauty in the relic of it’s glowing stone against the dusk purple sky.

In Roman times, Aphrodisias flourished thanks to the benefit of investment in the area, and a town was built with the temple as a focal point. The town became famous for its marble crafting skills (partly due to the copious amounts of marble found in the area), and sculptures produced in the area were transported as far as North Africa to Rome.

The area was a Pagan stronghold as Christianity spread across the region, but eventually the town was renamed to Stavropoli – City of the Cross – and the temple was altered to become a Christian basilica. Eventually, the church was eventually destroyed, likely during raids in the late 12th Century AD by Seljuk Turks.

Today, all that remains is the double tetrapylonor (or monumental gate) which is the subject of balavenise’s stunning image. Many statues and sculptures have been found in the area, and in addition to the remains of the temple, there is a stadium and the relic of a bathhouse.An excavation in 1961 also uncovered several other finds, including a theatre, a market, houses and baths, a monumental gateway, and a Roman emperor’s sanctuary for worship.

Read more about the Temple of Aphrodite here at Heritage Key, and have a look at balavenise’s photostream on Flickr!