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A 400bce gold torc from the Leekfrith Iron Age Torcs collection
©
Staffordshire County Council
 
A fundraising campaign has been launched to save ancient jewellery believed to be the earliest example of Iron Age gold ever discovered in Britain.
 
The four intricate artefacts that make up the Leekfrith Iron Age Torcs first captured the public imagination – and global media – when they were unveiled for the first time at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in February. They went on to attract 21,000 visitors in just one month.
 
The valuable torcs, which experts believe may be Britain’s earliest examples of Iron Age gold have now been valued at £325,000 by a panel from the Treasure Valuation Committee, and the museum is embarking on a three-month campaign to raise the money so that they can be kept on public display.
 
Stoke-on-Trent City Council, in partnership with the Friends of the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery – which is leading the public fundraising campaign on behalf of the museum – has until December 5 to meet the valuation price, or risk the artefacts potentially being separated out and sold to private bidders.
 
More here.
 

Hokusai Cinema Trailer. 4 June 2017

Don’t miss the world première of British Museum presents Hokusai at your local cinema on 4 June 2017. This ground-breaking feature documentary is the first British film to be made about the celebrated Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai.

Co-produced with NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), British Museum presents: Hokusai will be introduced by Andrew Graham-Dixon and feature artists David Hockney, Grayson Perry, Rebecca Salter and Maggi Hambling along with leading scholars of the day.

More here.

 

 
 
A selection of Roman coins discovered by metal detectorists in Worcestershire in 2011
 
Sebastian Richards, writing for the Cotswold Journal, reports that the Broadway Museum and Art Gallery is exhibiting the Bredon Hoard of Roman coins until the end of May –
 
Two metal detectorists discovered the hoard, the largest ever found in Worcestershire [West Midlands of England], in June 2011. The hoard dates back to the 3rd Century and features 16 different Roman Emperors. Following the discovery, the county archaeology service took over the excavation and it became evident that not only had a hoard been found but also a settlement site with a long and intriguing history.
 
More here.
 

Hokusai’s The Great Wave. Woodblock print published between 1829 and 1833

The British Museum’s special exhibition features some of Hokusai’s best-known masterpieces and will explore the work of one of Japan’s greatest artists.

Featuring loans from across the world, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these works together. Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) is widely regarded as one of Japan’s most famous and influential artists. He produced works of astonishing quality right up until his death at the age of 90.

This new exhibition will lead you on an artistic journey through the last 30 years of Hokusai’s life – a time when he produced some of his most memorable masterpieces.

Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave
25 May – 13 August (closed 3–6 July).
Book now here.

Supported by Mitsubishi Corporation.

 

Recently revealed, a rare William Caxton printed manuscript circa 1476
Image credit University of Reading

Sean Coughlan, Education correspondent for BBC News, reports today on the recently revealed rare William Caxton printed manuscript dating from around 1476 –

Pages printed more than 500 years ago by William Caxton, who brought printing to England, have been discovered by the University of Reading.

There are no other known surviving examples of these two pages anywhere in the world, from a book believed to have been printed in London in the 1470s. The pages had been “under their noses” unrecognised in the library’s archives.

Erika Delbecque, special collections librarian at the university, described the find as “incredibly rare”. The two pages, with religious texts in medieval Latin, were produced by Caxton at his pioneering printing works in Westminster – and are now going on public display for the first time since they were sold from his print shop in the 15th Century. They are believed to be from the earliest years of Caxton’s printing press, either 1476 or 1477, and are being hailed as a remarkable discovery.

The pages will go on public display from today to 30 May at the Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading, England.

More here.

 

The most complete range of archaeological objects unearthed by Crossrail, Europe’s largest infrastructure project, is now on display alongside the story of this great feat of engineering in a free major exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands. The exhibition will run until 3 September 2017.

More here.

 

A selection of Anglo-Saxon coins showing the different types found within the Watlington Hoard
©
Trustees of the British Museum

The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, has succeeded in raising the £1.35 million needed to purchase the Watlington Hoard. More than 700 members of the public contributed to the appeal to find the locally discovered treasure a permanent home and save it from entering a private collection. James Mather, a metal detectorist, made the discovery of 200 complete silver coins, seven items of jewellery and 15 silver ingots in a field near Watlington in Oxfordshire in October 2015.

Oxford Thinking reports that financial aid to purchase the find for the Nation was –

…provided by the National Lottery through a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £1.05 million. The grant will be used towards the acquisition of the hoard, as well as conservation, display, touring and educational programmes. Thanks to a further £150,000 from the Art Fund, and contributions from private individuals and the Friends and Patrons of the Ashmolean, the museum reached its fundraising target within days of the deadline.

Dating from the end of the 870s, the Watlington Hoard contains over 200 Anglo-Saxon coins, including many examples of previously rare coins of Alfred the Great, King of Wessex (871-899) and his less well-known contemporary, King Ceolwulf II of Mercia (874-899). These coins provide new evidence of the relationship between the two kings, and can potentially shed light on how the once-great kingdom of Mercia came to be absorbed into the emerging kingdom of England by Alfred and his successors.

Once formally acquired, the museum will launch an events and education programme for the hoard. This will begin on 11 February when the treasures will be put on display at the Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock.

More here.

 

 
Gold coins unearthed from the Haihunhou Tomb
Image credit Jiang Dong/China Daily
 
In a Chinese Government press release, the excavation of the Haihunhou Tomb in Jiangxi Province, south-east China, has now been completed. The Haihunhou Tomb was constructed for the Marquis of Haihun (Liu He, 92bce – 59bce) during the Western Han Dynasty (206bce – 24ce) and contained a plethora of artefacts including gold coins, jade, lacquer ware, bronze bells and inscriptions written on bamboo and wood.
 
According to Chi Hong, Head of the Department of Culture for Jiangxi Province, the contents of the Haihunhou Tomb will go on display after conservation work on them has been completed.
 
The Stone of Many Faces (or The Makapan Pebble)
Image credit and © Brett Eloff (University of Witwatersrand)
 
Writing in The Art NewspaperMartin Bailey, reports –
 
Some three million years ago a humanoid in southern Africa stumbled upon a naturally formed stone in the shape of a head and carried it to a nearby cave. The Makapan Pebble, also known as the Stone of Many Faces, was most likely found by an Australopithecus africanus, an ape-like species with some early human characteristics, which became extinct around two million years ago.
 
The Makapan (or Makapansgat) Pebble, which has never been displayed, will be exhibited for the first time at the British Museum in London this month in a show entitled South Africa: the Art of a Nation (27 October-26 February 2017). The stone belongs to the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, where it is kept in storage. John Giblin, the British Museum’s co-curator of the show, says the pebble “is the perfect size to hold in the palm of the hand”.
 
Full article here.
   
 
 
Katsuren Castle (勝連城), Uruma, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan
Image credit kanegen. Source Wikimedia Commons
 
The Japan Times/KYODO reports 26 September 2016 that –
 
Coins issued in ancient Rome have been excavated from the ruins of a castle in Okinawa Prefecture [southern Japan], the local board of education said, the first time such artifacts have been discovered in Japan. The board of education in the city of Uruma said the four copper coins, believed to date back to the Roman Empire in the third to fourth centuries, were discovered in the ruins of Katsuren Castle, which existed from the 12th to 15th centuries. Okinawa’s trade with China and Southeast Asia was thriving at the time and the finding is “precious historical material suggesting a link between Okinawa and the Western world,” the board of education said.
 
Each coin measures 1.6 to 2 cm in diameter. The designs and patterns on both sides are unclear due to abrasion. Based on X-ray analysis, however, the board said the coins appear to bear an image of Constantine I and a soldier holding a spear. Other relics unearthed from the site include a coin from the 17th century Ottoman Empire, as well as five other round metallic items that also appear to be coins.
 
The coins will be on display at Uruma City Yonagusuku Historical Museum in central Okinawa until 25 November 2016.
 
More here. See also our earlier feature Roman jewellery found in 5th century Japanese tomb
 

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Gertrude Bell (1868-1926)

An exhibition entitled ‘The Extraordinary Gertrude Bell’ will open at Newcastle’s Great North Museum on January 30 and run until May. Kevin Clark, writing for the Sunderland Echo reports.

The life of the remarkable Wearside woman who helped to shape the modern world will be celebrated in a new museum exhibition this month. Gertrude Bell, who was born in Washington’s Dame Margaret Hall, became the first woman to achieve a first class degree in Modern History from Oxford University.

She developed a passion for Arabic cultures and became so familiar with the Middle East that ended up working at a high level with British military intelligence in Mesopotamia, during the First World War. She was the only woman present at Winston Churchill’s post-war conference to discuss the future of the region and by the time of her death in Baghdad in 1926 had helped oversee the creation of modern Iraq.

More here. See also our earlier feature on Gertrude Bell here.

 

 
 
Models submerged in flood water at the Jorvik Viking Centre, York England
 
Most people living in Britain will be only too aware of the floods that have hit the north west of the country over the last few days. The devastation has left thousands of people with wrecked homes and/or businesses and more damage is forecast with the arrival of Storm Frank which is due to sweep into the area tonight. Amongst the devastation there is at least one piece of good news. Although the Jorvik Viking Centre in York has been flooded all of its priceless artefacts have ben moved to safety at a higher level or elsewhere. The Independent reports –
 
York’s Jorvik Viking Centre has been closed for the first time in 32 years after the exhibition was submerged in 50cm of dirty floodwater. The city has been severely hit by flooding over the Christmas period. The water levels of the River Ouse and River Foss are now falling but nine severe flood warnings are still in place mostly around York.
 
Earlier, staff had removed important artefacts [from the Centre] and helped build a barricade to try to protect the centre from the flooding. In a statement, Sarah Maltby, director of attractions for York Archaeological Trust, which owns the centre, said: “When we first became aware of water leaking into the basement, we immediately transported all of the historic artefacts within Jorvik up to the first floor, and they have now been moved off-site to a safe location.”
 
More here.
   

Re-creating classic paintings in 3D that may be touched, and now made freely available worldwide. The Unseen Art project – a new way to experience art with touch, for the blind and for everyone

Have you ever been touched by art? Have you had an emotional reaction while viewing a painting, have you gotten a different point of view, or learned something about the world or yourself? Have you ever touched the work of a great artist? Have you ever wanted to get up close and personal, and experience the art with your own hands?

You can experience art in a new way, and open art to others for the first time. There are many people in the world who have heard of classical artworks their whole lives but are unable to see them. The project is involving people from all over the world to recreate classical art We are creating a new opportunity for people in the world to experience art. The project is involving people from all over the world to recreate classical art paintings in 3D so that they may be touched and felt, both in exhibitions and in people’s homes. 3D models of the paintings are free and printable anywhere in the world where there’s access to a 3D printer.

More on the The Unseen Art project here.

   

Coins dating from 286–293ce from the Frome Hoard. The coins depict the usurper Roman emperor Carausius

A new exhibition now running at the British Museum focuses on the practice of hoarding in prehistoric and Roman Britain –

People have been placing metalwork and valuable objects in the ground and in water since the Bronze Age (c. 2200–800 BC). These prehistoric hoards are widely accepted as having been deposited as part of ritual practices. Later hoards were traditionally seen as a response to invasion threats and economic upheaval – riches buried in the ground to be retrieved at a later date. The 2010 discovery of a huge Roman coin hoard in Frome in Somerset raised many questions about this traditional interpretation, suggesting that ritual practices also played a part in the burial of Roman hoards.

This display showcases some recent discoveries of hoards reported through the Treasure Act and studied at the British Museum. It begins with the large metalwork deposits of the Bronze and Iron Ages such as the Salisbury hoard and weapons found in the River Thames at Broadness.

The exhibition will run until 22 May 2016 and can be found in Room 69a of the Museum. Admission is free. More here.

  

 
 
The Star Chart on the ceiling of the Takamatsuzuka burial mound in western Japan
Image credit Yuta Takahashi for the The Asahi Shimbun
 
The famous Takamatsuzuka Kofun (高松塚古墳) burial mound exhibition closes today (8 November 2015) in Asuka village, Japan. Built during the Asuka Period, between the end of the 7th century and the beginning of the 8th century, it lay unopened until 1972. Excavations of the mound then revealed an interior on whose walls stunning murals of Asuka Period ladies, astrological representations and a golden star chart were found. The gold disks, making up the chart, measure some 0.8 centimetres in diameter and are connected by red lines
 
Designated as a National Treasure this was the first time the general public were able to view the chart.
 
More here.
   

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