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Roman Coins & Palmyrene Style

This past weekend, the Wall Street Journal had two articles which might be of interest to our readers. In one, Christian C. Sahner, a doctoral candidate of history at Princeton University, analyzes the style, usage, and history of the Temple of Bel located the fabled city of Palmyra. In the other, Ellen Gamerman demonstrates just how valuable Roman coins are fiscally and historically. Regardless of your interests or areas of expertise, both articles make for stimulating and enjoyable reading.

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Italy’s Financial “Moghuls” Save Ancient Landmarks

Taking a slightly modern turn, this article appeared last month in Newsweek, detailing how Italy’s wealthy are stepping up to save crumbling and endangered ancient monuments. This financial assistance cannot come soon enough–neglect and staggering cuts to the Italian budget have endangered even the most preserved sites like Pompeii.

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“Maya: From Dawn to Dusk”–Parisian Exhibition

If you find yourself in Paris in the near future and are interested in Mayan civilization, you must head to the Quai Branly. Maya: From Dawn to Dusk presents and features the most tantalizing objects unearthed in Guatemala–many of which are exquisitely detailed in gold. In Europe for the first time, this exhibition of over 160 items traces the spectacular rise and mysterious decline of the Mayan peoples.

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Excavations in Catalonia

The Cathedral of Tarragona is a microcosm of the Spain’s turbulent but colorful past–Romans, Visigoths, Arabs, Jews, and Catalans have all called the area home. However, recent excavations reveal that long before the conversion of Spain to Christianity, there was a shrine of tremendous size dedicated to the Emperor Augustus (63 BCE – 14 CE) and in use until the Fifth Century CE. This shrine was located directly under the present Cathedral.

Be sure to read more in this article by the Catalan News Agency.

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Fashion Crazes in the Roman Empire?

Clothes make the man, and they made the man “Roman” as well. In this provocative article by Der Spiegel, textile researchers and archaeologists are discovering that many of our preconceived notions of “Roman fashion” are incorrect or simply unsubstantiated. From fabric production, to color and design, new discoveries and research demonstrate that the Romans might well have been the true fashionistas of Antiquity.

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“Ancient Palace” Unearthed in Germany

Der Spiegel reports that scholars and archaeologists are puzzled but fascinated by a recent discovery near the German city of Weimar. Roughly 3,800 years old, a primitive palace compound has been unearthed revealing the wealth of an ancient prince. Archaeologists believe that the building might have been the largest in prehistoric Germany. Among the various items found were a hundred bronze hatchet blades and the body of child who had been sacrificed.

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Jerusalem Sword linked to Fall of Herod’s Temple

A sword recently found in an ancient drainage channel under Jerusalem (we reported two days ago) has been linked to the fall of Herod’s Temple (also known as the Second Jewish Temple) in 70 AD. The Lebanon Daily Star quotes the Israel Antiquities Authority as saying that the drainage channel “served as a hiding refuge for the residents of Jerusalem from the Romans during the destruction of the Second Temple.” A rare gold bell was also found in the channel. Read more at the Lebanon Daily Star and the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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Exhibition: The Tell-Halaf Adventure (ending soon)

The Pergamonmuseum in Berlin is currently exhibiting statues found in Tell-Halaf that had been forgotten, left in a warehouse, damaged by bombs in World War II, and now restored and exhibited to the public. Hurry! The exhibition “The Tell-Halaf Adventure” is only open until 14 August 2011.

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Jerusalem excavation finds ancient rebel cache

The excavation of an ancient drainage tunnel beneath Jerusalem has yielded a sword, oil lamps, pots and coins abandoned during a war here 2,000 years ago, archaeologists said Monday, suggesting the finds were debris from a pivotal episode in the city’s history when rebels hid from Roman soldiers crushing a Jewish revolt. Read the full story on Yahoo News.

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Modern humans may have picked up key genes from extinct relatives

Naturenews has published a very interesting article on the state of current research into what modern human DNA owes to the Neanderthals and the extinct Siberian Denisova non-homo-sapiens population. According to DNA research, there has not only been interbreeding with Neanderthals, but also with Denisovans. Read the full story on the naturenews website.