Valeria Messalina was the third wife of emperor Claudius. She was notorious for being an absolute nymphomaniac.
She married Claudius in A.D. 38 and they had two children, who were rumoured to have actually been fathered by Caligula as she was a frequent attendee to his many banquets and orgies.
After Caligula was finally murdered, Messalina, although now empress, did not suppress her urges.
At night she would even dress up as a prostitute and incognito she would trade as a prostitute – such was her insatiable appetite for men.
She once challenged the famous Roman prostitute, Scylla, to a sex-athon, whereby the winner was the one who copulated with the most men. The competition lasted for 24 hours and Messalina won with a score of 25 partners.
In 48 A.D. she plotted with one of her lovers, Sillius, to have Claudius murdered and even had a secret marriage ceremony with him. However, one of Claudius’s advisors Narcissus, exposed the plot to him.
Claudius was heartbroken and could hardly believe his own ears, but was eventually persuaded to have her and Sillius promptly executed.
Messalina was given the option of suicide but she could not bring herself to take her own life.
Archaeologists have unveiled a restored colossal statue of Amenhotep III that was toppled in an earthquake more than 3,000 years ago at Egypt’s famed temple city of Luxor.
The statue that showed the pharaoh in a striding attitude was re-erected at the northern gate of the king’s funerary temple on the west bank of the Nile.
The temple is already famous for its existing 3,400-year-old Memnon colossi – twin statues of Amenhotep III whose reign archaeologists say marked the political and cultural zenith of ancient Egyptian civilisation.
The 12.92-metre statue stands west of an existing effigy of the king, also depicting him walking, which was unveiled in March.
“These are up to now the highest standing effigies of an Egyptian king in striding attitude,” said German-Armenian archaeologist Hourig Sourouzian, who heads the project to conserve the temple.
The world-famous twin Memnon colossi are 21 metres tall but show the pharaoh seated.
The restored statue now stands again for the first time since its collapse 3,200 years ago, Mr Sourouzian said.
Consisting of 89 large pieces and numerous small fragments and reassembled since November, the monolith weighs 110 tonnes.
It had lain broken in pieces after the earthquake in 1200 BC, Mr Sourouzian said.
Photo: Discoveries in the past decade have revealed more about the people for whom Stonehenge and nearby monuments held great meaning. Credit Adam
by Kenneth Changnoy,
About 6,300 years ago, a tree here toppled over. For the ancients in this part of southern England, it created a prime real estate opportunity — next to a spring and near attractive hunting grounds.
According to David Jacques, an archaeologist at the University of Buckingham, mud was pressed into the pulled-up roots, turning them into a wall.
Nearby, a post was inserted into a hole, and that may have held up a roof of reeds or animal skin. It was, he said, a house, and one of the earliest in England.
At Blick Mead, Mr. Jacques and his team dug a trench 40 feet long, 23 feet wide and 5 feet deep, examining this structure and its surroundings.
They found a hearth with chunks of heat-cracked flint, pieces of bone, flakes of flint used for arrowheads and cutting tools, and ocher pods that may have been used as a pigment
There’s noise here,” Mr. Jacques said, imagining the goings-on in 4300 B.C. “There’s people here doing stuff. Just like us. Same kids and worries.
This is the first unknown chapter of Stonehenge,” Mr. Jacques said.Stonehenge has captivated generation after generation.
Archaeologists have over the years cataloged the rocks, divined meaning from their placement — lined up for midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset — and studied animal and human bones buried there.
They have also long known about the other monuments — burial chambers, a 130-foot-tall mound of chalk known as Silbury Hill and many other circular structures. An aerial survey in 1925 revealed circles of timbers, now called Woodhenge, two miles from Stonehenge.
The Nebra Sky Disk photographed in Basel, Switzerland, in 2006 – Dbachmann via Wikipedia
Henry Westphal is tired. It’s July 4, 1999, a Sunday. He and a friend are climbing the Mittelberg or “Central Hill,” a small mountain near Nebra, in central Germany.
Both men know of ancient ruins located here. Equipped with two metal detectors, they hope to find something of value.
Westphal stops to rest for a couple of minutes. It’s a hot day and he’s out of shape.
Suddenly his metal detector starts beeping wildly. He brushes some leaves aside with his shoe but can’t make out anything. The detector’s display reads, “OVERLOAD.”
With a pick, Westphal scrapes at the dry ground. Under a few inches of soil, the pick hits something hard several times.
Together the two treasure-hunters dig a small pit. They find several objects: two decorative swords, two ax heads, a chisel, and two bracelets. The objects are piled beside a large, round disk oriented upright in the ground.
Through the dirt sticking to the disk, a faint golden shimmer is visible.
The men take the objects, cover up the hole, and drive home. That night they go to a bar to celebrate the unusual and obviously valuable find. What neither of them knows is that the dirty disk would turn out to be a one-of-a-kind, 3,600-year-old artifact, later declared to be one of the most important finds of the 20th century.
After soaking the disk in a bathtub filled with water and dish soap for several days, Westphal sells it together with the other objects to an art dealer for 31,000 Deutsche marks (about 19,000 U.S. dollars at the time).
The dealer knows the items are worth more and tries to sell them to several museums. The museums decline, realizing that trading in this ancient find is illegal. The disk ends up on the black market.
In May 2001, Harald Meller, the new state archaeologist in Saxony-Anhalt, hears about the disk. Photos show it’s in bad shape; Westphal had accidentally damaged it with his pick and inexpert cleaning.
Meller, the State Criminal Investigation Office, and other officials come up with a plan to get the objects back. Like Indiana Jones, Meller knows that a find like this belongs in a museum.
The item of interest, now known as the Nebra Sky Disk, is a five-pound* plate of bronze inlaid with dozens of gold symbols. The gold figures include a lunar crescent, a large circle, and 30 small circles.
After studying the disk for many years, archaeologists have concluded that it is the oldest and accurate diagram of the sky ever found. The disk was a carefully made map used both for practical and religious purposes.
One of the most important components of the disk is a tight group of seven stars placed between the lunar crescent and the large circle denoting the full moon.
They represent the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, a cluster of stars visible with the naked eye to people in the Northern Hemisphere. The Pleiades were known to, depicted by, and followed with interest by ancient cultures around the globe.
A kind of literary whodunit was solved recently when mysterious handwritten notations from a rare, 1504 edition of Homer’s Odyssey were identified.
The epic poem was part of a collection donated to the University of Chicago Library in 2007 by a collector, and ever since the unknown notations have told the library little besides their probable dating to the 1850s.
What better way to solve a mystery than to incentivize the correct solution with a thousand bucks? That’s just what the collector, M.C. Lang, did.
The deal was simple: Identify the script in the margins, prove the assertion, translate some of it, and then the fun part: pocket $1,000.
Italian digital humanities student Daniele Metilli took the prize when he and a co-sleuth with a background in stenography and the French language, Giula Accetta, cracked the case.
Because there were French words mixed in with the mystery handwriting, and the legible date of April 25, 1854 was present, the duo investigated French stenographic systems that were in use during that time.
After judging a few of those systems “not guilty,” Metilli and Accetta hit paydirt: The guilty party was Jean Coulon de Thévénot, creator in the late 1700s of the shorthand notation system scrawled amid the Greek text of the 1504 Homer.
The decoded notes were French translations of some of the Greek wording in the classic tome.