I love ancient artifacts, especially the ones that evoke the daily life or experiences of real people. This is me bringing them to you like a slobbery tennis ball.

A German Hungarian Style tournament shield. The Owl on the shield is uttering an edgy boast which says “Although I am hated by all birds, I rather enjoy that”. Germany, ca. 1500 AD


The oldest known surviving carpet

This carpet was probably manufactured in Armenia or Persia around 400 B.C. When it was found it had been deeply frozen in a block of ice, which is why it is so well-preserved. The carpet can be seen at the “The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.



Details from the necklaces from the Great Death Pit of Ur, around 2500 BCE. Bitumen figurines covered with a sheet of gold and lapis lazuli.

Queenly headdress

gold, lapis, carnelian, necklace with beech leaf iconography

Great DeathPit, PG 1237, revealed rows of skeletons, almost entirely female, 74 individuals in all. The women had gone to their grave dressed in scarlet, wearing ornamental headdresses, and were adorned with gold ribbons, gold wreaths, gold necklaces, jewelry of silver and gold, lapis lazuli, and carnelian.

Six women lay near two lyres and a harp, near the southeast wall. Most of the women had cups or shells containing cosmetic pigments. Body 61, in the upper right corner, was more elaborately attired than the others and she had a silver tumbler next to her mouth.
Half of the women (but none of the men) had cups or jars, as if at a banquet.


Lysimachus Tetradrachm. Byzantium, Posthumous. 190-110 BC. 16.18g.

Lysimachus was a Macedonian officer and successor of Alexander the Great, who became a King in 306 BC, ruling Thrace, Asia Minor, and Macedon. He began as a bodyguard to Alexander before becoming a trusted friend and rising through the ranks.

The coin is a tetradrachm, meaning that it was worth four drachmas; one drachma, in turn, was worth six obols. It is a high-value coin representing, in the mid-fifth century BC, four days’ pay for a skilled laborer or for a hoplite soldier, or two days’ pay for a sculptor working on a public building.

I love how sharp and clear it is.  I wonder how many times, and for what exactly, it was passed from hand to hand.


1,500-year-old late Roman grass work Panama hat from Flinders Petrie’s 1901-2 field season in Egypt. In 2017 was radiocarbon dated – CE 420-568



the night he was shot.

When Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1865, he was carrying

  • two pairs of spectacles and a lens polisher,
  • a pocketknife,
  • a watch fob,
  • a linen handkerchief, and
  • a brown leather wallet containing a five-dollar Confederate note and eight newspaper clippings, including several favorable to the president and his policies.

Given to his son Robert Todd upon Lincoln’s death, these everyday items, which through association with tragedy had become like relics, were kept in the Lincoln family for more than seventy years. Now in the Library of Congress.


Ball of carbonized thread of linen or nettle dating from the Middle Neolithic (3,900 – 3,300 BC) from the Marin-Epagnier / Préfargier site, France.

After Joëlle Bregnard Munier/Romain Pigeaud


Book-shaped French cipher machine, with arms of Henri II of France gilt brass and gold. 1547–1559

Enciphered letter from Gabriel de Luetz d’Aramon, French Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, after 1546, with partial decipherment