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16 Most Interesting Historical Artifacts That Will Leave You Surprised

Interesting Artefacts

As humans, we have a special kind of awe for old items. Ranging from the morbid remains of some ancient human to the most stunning clock, we are fascinated by them all. Here we bring you 16 interesting artifacts, a few of which are the first of its kind on the internet. Each one of them carries a deep significance for the human race as a whole.

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1. The gold-inlaid pocket pistol of Napoleon Bonaparte from the year 1802

Three chamber box lock pistol
Image source: imgur

In 1802, a certain Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Thornton presented this gold-inlaid pocket pistol with a rather long name (120-bore, three-barrelled, flintlock, box-lock, tap-action, pocket pistol) to Napoleon Bonaparte.

Thomas Thornton was a tawdry Prince of Chambord and Marquess de Pont who spent most of his time doing princely things like hunting, angling, shooting, hawking, racing and patronizing artists. He prided himself on having the grandest shooting equipment in all of England. In the year 1794 a dispute between Thornton and some other officers of his regiment lead to a court-martial and his subsequent resignation. Eight years later in a bid to regain his lost glory and during a visit to France, Thornton presented the magnificent pocket pistol to Napoleon Bonaparte. A few days later Thomas Thornton received a letter, informing him that his gift was graciously accepted and all matters regarding his court-martial will be re-examined.

In 2006, the pistol was sold at an auction for £38,400. (Source)

2. Helgo Buddha: a Viking treasure, 6th Century AD

Small Buddha statuette from North India
Image courtesy: Helgo Buddha (© Swedish History Museum)

Between 6th and 11th centuries AD, the small island of Helgo situated in Lake Malaren, Sweden was a major site for Viking manufacturing and a trading hub. Since its discovery, archaeologists are overwhelmed by the number of exotic artifacts found buried there. Known as the ‘Helgo treasure’, a bronze statue of Buddha from India is one of the most popular artifacts recovered. The presence of the statue has given researchers some idea of the long water routes followed by the Viking merchants.

The Helgo Buddha can now be found residing in the Swedish History Museum, sitting on his double lotus throne with a silver ‘urna’ on his forehead and his signature long ear lobes. (source)

3. Roman ivory doll, 2nd century AD.

Ancient roman ivory doll
Image credit: Mark Cartwright

Unearthing mummies in Rome is a rare occurrence. In 1964, engineers at a construction site chanced upon a marbled carved sarcophagus while digging in the earth. Inside, there was the mummy of an eight-year-old girl and number of other artifacts that were part of the funeral dowry. At the time, this was only the second mummy unearthed in Rome. Besides the meticulously preserved corpse of the little girl, one item that caught archaeologists’ attention was a doll made of dark ivory. Dated to the 2nd century, the ivory doll is exquisitely detailed, especially the head, with its carefully structured face and stylized hair. Now residing in the National Roman Museum at Palazzo Massimo, the doll embodies the beauty ideals of the time. (source)

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4. Planetarium table clock, 1770

1770 Table Clock With Planetarium
Image courtesy: Collection of the Beyer Museum

This table clock with a planetarium is unlike any other clock ever found. Made in Paris in 1770, the clock was part of an exquisite and rare collection of historic clocks exhibited in the Beyer Museum in Zurich.

Theodor Beyer, the man behind this feat, had been collecting ancient and rare clocks and watches since 1940. He opened Beyer Museum to the public in the year 1971. (source)

5. Roman slave collar, 4th century AD.

Roman slave collar with inscription
Image source: sites.davidson.edu

Inscription: “I have fled, hold me; when you bring me back to my master Zoninus you receive a solidus (i.e. gold coin)”

What looks like a necklace from a distance is actually a slave collar dated between the 4th and 6th centuries AD.

Slavery had been common practice in Rome since the 3rd Century BC and most of these slaves were prisoners of wars or ill-fated captured foreigners. At one point in history, the Roman Senate perused over the matter and decided that slaves and free men would dress differently and therefore the slave collars were introduced. These slaves were looked down upon and made to do all kinds of difficult work. (source)

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