Stockmyer's Artifacts

During the course, you have an opportunity to see a number of artifacts from the ancient world. Nothing museum quality, of course. Just bits and pieces from daily life. OK. To be strictly honest, all I could afford to buy was lint ... from the navel of the ancient world!

Picture of Arrowhead
All early people used stone for tools, this arrowhead (looking much like any American Indian arrow point) came from the near eastern city of Jericho. Its date: 2000 - 1000 BC.
Picture of Cuneiform Tablet
Cuneiform tablet
This small tablet of terra cotta (baked clay) came from the city of Ur in ancient Sumeria. The writing on it is cuneiform (wedge-shaped writing). Its date: approximately 2000 BC.
Picture of Baal Head
This small head is of the Canaanite agricultural god, Baal. Every year in the fall, Baal died and with him died the crops. But in the spring, he came back to life and it was the planting season. Stories like this of a dying/rising god were used to explain the change of season, and are "take-offs" of the ancient Egyptian myth of the Dying/Rising god, Osiris. Clay "Baal-heads" like this were often sown in the fields at planting time, the fertility god put there to encourage the crops to grow. For a time, Baal was a competitor of the Jewish battle god, YHWH. Eventually, when the early Jews discovered that YHWH could "grow crops" as well as win battles, YHWH triumphed over Baal in Jewish affection.
Picture of Astarte
Another near eastern deity was Astarte -- this little "Astarte head" found in N. Syria, the date: approximately 1500 BC. Astarte was a Phoenician fertility goddess. The chief deity of the city of Tyre, she was worshiped in Canaan, Asia Minor and Syria in the East and as far West as Carthage, Sicily and Sardinia in the West. In the Bible, Astarte is called "Ashtoreth," Solomon building a temple to her. In Greece, Astarte is associated with Aphrodite -- the Greek goddess of love. This figure is probably an offering, either to ask that Astarte answer a prayer or as a "thank you" to the goddess for having answered a prayer.
Picture of Egyptian Necklace
Egyptian Necklace
The beads of this ancient Egyptian necklace date from 1320 - 404 BC. They are of baked clay with a light "glass" glaze on them. Of course, the string and clasp are modern, the beads re-strung so they can be worn today.
Picture of Scarab
The Scarab or "dung beetle" was one of ancient Egypt's symbols of the creator of the gods and of eternal life. Ancient religion often springs from observations of nature, the wrong conclusions being drawn from these "nature studies." In short, ancient religion can often be described as "science" -- without a laboratory. One story told about the Egyptian sun god -- Ra, Amon, Amon-Ra -- is that the sun god "died" at the end of every day, "coming to life" at dawn the next day. This death and birth of the god was seen as, somehow, a promise to men that they, too, would have life after their own death. Seeing the sun slowly "roll" across the sky, the Egyptians also observed that scarab beetles roll small balls of manure across the desert sand, the manure having the beetle's eggs inside, the manure giving the baby beetles something to eat when they first hatch. (And you think you had a bad start in life!) Seeing the beetle slow-rolling its "manure ball" across the sand made the Egyptians think of the sun "rolling" slowly across the sky, the beetle becoming associated with the sun, the beetle -- like the sun -- also thought to have the property of "everlasting life." This small stone scarab has been pierced so that it may be worn around the neck or wrist on a string, probably worn as an amulet -- a "charm" of protection.
Picture of Ushabti
Egyptians believed that men had souls that lived on after the death of their bodies. (Actually, ancient Egyptians believed that every man had three souls -- but who's counting.) After death, a good man's soul went to an "afterlife" in another Egypt -- the "next world" having its own Nile river, no less. Feeling that, in the next life, a person would need everything he did in this life, the Egyptians tried to "take it with them" after death. In the earliest days, this meant, not only burying treasure, furniture, games, food etc., but interring the entire household staff in the tomb of an important man -- like the Pharaoh. The "wait person's" union having gone on strike against this lethal practice, however, later Egyptians buried small, clay statues with them. Called Ushabti, these little statues were supposed to come alive in the next world and be the personal servants of the person who died. This Ushabti dates from 1500 - 500 BC.
Picture of Persian Arrow Point
Persian Arrow Point
This arrow head is from western Persia. Delicately cast in bronze, this arrow point demonstrates the high art of Persian culture. The date: 700 - 400 BC.
Picture of Greek Bowl
Greek Bowl
This small bowl -- 3rd - 1st Cent. BC -- was probably used to hold cosmetics or spices. Originally, it probably had a lid. Remember old recipes that called for a "pinch of salt"? The reason for taking a "pinch" instead of a modern "sprinkle" of salt is that, in wet weather, salt "clumps," the tendency of salt to "clump" making it impossible to put salt in modern "shakers," the salt shaker having small holes that would clog up with these "salt clumps" in humid weather. It was the Morton salt company that solved the "clumping" problem by mixing some kind of "drying" chemical with their salt. The Morton logo? A little girl under an umbrella with the saying: "When it rains, it [Morton salt] pours."
Picture of Girl's Head
Girl's head
This terra cotta head is from Western Greece, and is dated from the 3rd to the 1st cent. BC. The "natural" tilt of the head indicates it was done in the more "realistic" period of later Greek art. Probably made in a mold, could this have been a child's toy?
Picture of Roman Oil Lamp
Roman Oil Lamp
Shaped like an "Aladdin's lamp," the lamp wick would come out the "spout." The fuel would be olive oil.
Picture of Lead Shot
Lead Shot
This is "ammo" for what we call a sling shot. (Not a rubber band powered sling shot, but one like the Bible says David used against Goliath.) Slings that used lead slugs like this were minor, military weapons, designed more to harass enemy troops rather than kill them. This shot has a calcium coating, indicating it was buried for a long time in wet soil. Roman "slingers" frequently came from the eastern Mediterranean island of Crete or from Asia Minor. Some of these lead slugs -- perhaps this one, under its coating -- have lightning bolts scratched on them. As in -- TAKE THAT!
Picture of Corinthian Coin--Back Picture of Corinthian Coin--Front
Corinthian Coin
This silver coin in from ancient Corinth. On the back side, it has the figure of Pegasus, the flying horse. The reason for this "horse" association with Corinth was that there was a spring flowing out the ground, high up Corinth's fortified hill. Since it is unusual to have a spring that high up, a religious explanation was in order to explain this odd phenomena. The story was that, when flying over the hill, Pegasus had misjudged the hill's height, the mythical horse striking his hoof on the ground. The result -- a spring where the flying horse's hoof touched ground. The front of the coin features Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. (Goddess of sex would be more accurate.) With so many gods to keep pacified, Greek cities tended to pick one favorite god for special worship, that deity thought to be interested in protecting that special city. Athens, concentrated on Athene, etc. For Corinth -- reputed to be a worldly, pleasure-loving city -- Aphrodite made a good choice of a goddess to worship.
Picture of Coin of Alexander the Great
Coin of Alexander the Great
There are many coins featuring the likeness of Alexander the Great, most of them coined of "liberated" Persian silver, minted after Alexander's death. Alexander was the first man to have his likeness put on the coinage. Earlier Greek coins have symbols on them or portrayed gods. Since Alexander claimed (as did his mother) that his father was a god, however, that made him "half" god. In this way, he becomes a transitional figure, kings (and politicians in general) having their likenesses put on their own coinage ever after.
Picture of Augustus Coin
Coin of Augustus
This silver coin was minted under the reign of Rome's first emperor -- Augustus Caesar -- 33 BC - 14 AD. Though this coin is an off-center strike, some of the abbreviations can be seen. From bottom right, the lettering identifies the coin as: CAESAR AUGUSTUS. The back of Rome's coins often portrayed a message the emperor wanted delivered. Messages, complete with desirable traits personified as gods, like: victory, hope, peace, plenty, fertility, virtue, piety etc. Other coins showed standard gods, like: Juno, Mars, Neptune, Mercury, Venus.
Picture of Coin from Palestine
Coin from Palestine Minted by Herod Agrippa I -- 37 - 44 AD.
This small, bronze coin is often called a "widow's mite," this reference to a passage in the New Testament: Mark 12:41-44. This mention in Mark is about a poor widow who gave to the temple all the money she had -- 2 mites. Since she had given all that she had, she is praised more than the rich man who, while contributing a much larger sum, gives only a small part of his wealth. [If you'll pardon me for saying it, this "widow's mite" passage should be a favorite with today's (give ‘til it hurts) TV evangelists.]
Picture of Coin of Pilate
Coin of Pontius Pilate
Historians have more respect for the "authenticity" of artifacts, than they do for some ancient person's interpretation of events. A case in point, we have this little coin -- mined under the Roman Procurator [tax collector] Pontius Pilate. The question is: What kind of man was Pilate? The Jews didn't like him. But, then, they didn't like Romans in general. In particular, Jews blamed Pilate for brutality and for using temple funds to build a new "water works." The Christians didn't like Pilate either, because he crucified Jesus. (Though, curiously, Christians make excuses for Pilate by saying that he was not so much ruthless, as just "weak.") My view would be that, since the Romans would not send first-rate talent to a backward place like Judea, I would tend to side with the Jews, thinking that Pilate was probably pretty brutal. And now we have this coin. While most Romans in authority in Judea tried not to offend religious Jews -- were careful to put neutral symbols like flowers on their coinage -- this coin of Pilate features a Roman religious symbol that had to be offensive to pious Jews. More than what anyone said about him, then, this coin shows Pilate to be indifferent to Jewish religious sensibilities -- the coin reinforcing the Jewish judgment that Pilate was a tough and unscrupulous character.
Picture of Roman Nail
Roman Nail
This Roman bronze nail is from the Imperial barge of the mad emperor, Gaius Caligula, his boat used for "touring" on the Tiber river. The boat was recently discovered, I believe, buried in mud at the bottom of the river. In any case, the barge -- 239 feet in length -- has been restored and is in the museum of the Roman Navy in Nemi, Italy. Since they couldn't use the original nails in the restoration process, the restorers offered to sell the nails to collectors. This nail was used to hold the outer lead plate [for waterproofing] on the barge's hull, traces of lead still to be seen on the head of the nail.
Picture of Roman Bone Stylus
Roman Bone Stylus
No one used paper -- expensive papyrus -- imported from Egypt -- for "practice" purposes. (Today, we have Big Chief tablets to scrawl on.) To practice writing, Romans first smeared bees' wax -- generally colored red -- on flat boards. Using a bone "pencil" like this stylus, they would scratch letters in the soft wax. To "erase" they would invert the pencil, using the round ball on top to smooth out the scratches, in this way were able to use the tablet again and again. (The Roman equivalent of a chalkboard.) Even when writing on expensive papyrus, Romans sometimes used water-based ink, "erasing" whole pages by wiping off the ink with a wet sponge. In this way, even paper could be "recycled" as a writing surface.
Picture of Coin of Nero--Actual Picture of Coin of Nero--From Book for Clarity
Coin of Nero
This is a large, bronze coin featuring Nero. Unfortunately, the coin is so pitted that little more than Nero's portrait can be identified. The picture of a Nero coin shows what coins of this type really looked like, the lettering around the pictured coin: NERO CLAUD CAESAR AUG GERM PM TRP IMP PP.
Nero Nero's full name was: Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus.
Claudius name
Caesar name. But also a title. Emperors inherited the name of the famous Julius Caesar. The original Caesar's name is so politically powerful, that it has also been used as a title by modern kings. Tzar -- is Caesar in Russian. Kaiser -- is Caesar in German.
Aug Augustus. Most distinctive of all imperial titles, the title Augustus -- used by Rome's first emperor, "Augustus" Caesar -- means: giver of prosperity.
Germ In this form, probably means victor over the Germans.
PM Pontifex Maximus. Chief priest of Roman religion.
TRP Tribune of the Plebes. A tribune was one of ten officials in the Roman Republic. Guardians of the lower class's [plebeians] freedom, each tribune. had the veto power over any proposed legislation. In the Roman Empire, TRP means that the emperor has the power to veto any legislation he doesn't like.
IMP Imperator -- emperor
PP Pater Patriae. Father of his country. Another title of the emperors.

Ancient coins were either cast, or "struck" in the minting process. Romans almost always "struck" their coins. The process of striking coins consisted of placing a heated disk of the appropriate metal on an obverse iron die, the obverse die (front of the coin), set in an anvil. Engraved on a punch, the reverse die (back of the coin) is then placed on the heated disk, the punch struck with a hammer. In this manner, the heat-malleable metal blank, placed between the dies, has both of its coin-faces struck (imprinted) at the same time.
Picture of Roman Ring
Roman Ring
This bronze ring looks like it came as a prize in a box of Cracker Jacks. For interest, it has a man's face scratched on it. Cheap, cheap, cheap!
Picture of 'Tongue' of Ancient Lock
"Tongue" of an ancient Lock
Invented in ancient Egypt and having wooden parts, this artifact is a bronze "tongue" to a Roman lock. In this locking device, the "tongue" is held inside its "keeper" by loose bronze "pins" that fit through holes in the tongue. The key, looking much like a toothbrush, is inserted, the "spines" in the key fitting the holes in the "tongue." If you have the right key, the free-hanging pins will all be pushed up out of the tongue-holes, allowing the lock tongue to be slid back from its keeper. With the wrong key, one or more of the free "floating" pins will still be hanging down through its hole in the tongue, preventing the lock tongue from being slid back. Some Roman locks were so small, that their keys were soldered to finger rings. Though the Chinese may have invented it first, it is known that Romans also invented the combination lock.

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