We humans, have a special kind of awe for old stuffs. Ranging from the morbid remains of some ancient human to the most stunning clock, we are fascinated by them all. So here we bring you 16 interesting artefacts, few are first of its name, each one of them carries deep significance for the human race, as a whole.
1. The gold-inlaid pocket pistol Of Napoleon Bonaparte from year 1802.
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 as first consul.
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 patroning artists. He prided of having the grandest shooting equipments 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 Thornton, during a visit to France 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
Between 6th and 11th centuries AD, the small island of Helgo situated in Lake Malaren, Sweden was a major Viking manufacturing and trading hub. Since its discovery, archaeologists are overwhelmed by the amount of exotic artefacts found buried in the place. Known as the ‘Helgo treasure’, a bronze statue of Buddha from India is one of the most popular artefacts recovered. The presence of the statue has given researchers some idea of the long water routes followed by the Viking merchants.
One finds the Helgo Buddha 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.
Unearthing mummies in Rome are rare. In 1964, engineers at a construction site chanced upon a marbled carved sarcophagus while digging the earth. Inside, there was mummy of an eight-year-old and number of other artefacts 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 that of a doll made of dark ivory. Dated to 2nd century, the ivory doll is exquisitely detailed, especially her head, with its carefully structured face and stylized hair. Now residing at the National Roman Museum at Palazzo Massimo, the doll embodies the beauty ideals of the time. (source)
4. Planetarium table clock, 1770.
This table clock with a planetarium is unlike any other clock found on earth. Made in Paris in 1770, the clock was part of an insanely 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 public in the year 1971. (source)
5. Roman slave collar, 4th century AD.
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 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 salves were outright looked down upon and made to do all kinds of work. (source)
6. A Chinese abacus ring, 300 years old.
An ancient wearable gadget anyone?
This ring was made in China during the reign of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Inlaid in the ring like a decoration is a 1.2cm by 0.7cm abacus, with seven rods and seven beads on each rod sitting right on top the ring. Called the ‘Zhusuan’, the counting tool is made of silver and its beads are so tiny that they can only be moved by a pin.
Used by Chinese traders to make quick calculations, unfortunately, the exact time of origin of this amazing tool and to whom exactly did it belong remains unknown. (source)
7. Napoleon’s Engagement Ring, 17th century.
The ring with a pear-shaped blue sapphire and a diamond pointed in opposite side, marks the marriage between Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine de Beauharnais. The story goes that their marriage was fiercely opposed by many because of Josephine being mother of two and not to mention she was a widow and older than Napoleon.
Only two days following their marriage on 9 March, 1796, Napoleon was summoned for war duties. And upon his return they lived together until 1810, when Napoleon decided to marry Marie Louise of Austria because Josephine was unable to bear him children. None-the-less, even after separation Napoleon insisted that Josephine retained the title of Empress.
In the year 2013, the ring sold for a whopping $939,000 (apparently 60 times exceeding the real amount) at an auction. (source)
8. Bullet that took Abraham Lincoln’s life, 150 years old.
We all know that anything related to Abraham Lincoln automatically steps up the pedestal and becomes valuable. The bullet that pierced through the great man’s flesh and caused his death is stored under a glass vessel at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, like a precious piece of stone. The military museum, famous for its collection of 25 million morbid stuffs also prides itself for storing fragments of the American president’s skull (yes, you heard that right). To top it off, the folks at the museum has got tiny pieces of Lincoln’s killer John Wilkes Booth’s spine carefully stored for visitors who find utterly disgusting things, glorious. (source)
9. World’s first prosthetic limb, 3000 years old.
When the oldest prosthetic limb was discovered on a 3000-years-old mummy, scientists believed that it was a part of the mummy’s burial right, something that was added to the dead body during its burial, something that’ll help the dead tramp smoothly into afterlife. But in 2007 a British Egyptologist, upon examination challenged this notion and claimed that the prosthetic leg was used when the person was alive. The fake foot is expertly fashioned and has visible signs of wears and tears. It’s made of wood and leather and was strapped to a noble woman within 50 to 60 years of age. Researchers made a replica of the limb to have volunteers wear and walk in them in order to establish, once and for all, if the prosthetic limb was workable or not. (source)
10. World’s oldest trousers, 3000 to 3300 year old.
In a fairly recent discovery, remains of two horse riders in China have had decorated pants on their legs which is now believed to be the world’s oldest known set of trousers. The woolen trouser has straight-fitting legs and a wide crotch with decorations woven into them.
Guesses are that pants were used by the nomadic herders in Central Asia because it allowed ease in movement specially while riding on horseback as well as protect the legs from any kind of external onslaught. Although the origin of horse riding is debatable, scientists believe that the use of trousers came shortly thereafter. (source)
11. The intact seal on King Tutankhamun’s fifth shrine, over 3000 years old.
This is the unbroken seal of King Tut’s fifth shrines. Photographed by Harry Burton, the seal had stayed untouched for 3,245 years.
In the 20’s archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter discovered the young king’s tomb who was buried in a series of four sarcophagi, which were kept inside five shrines. Though the tomb had been raided twice, most of the rooms were inaccessible.
Tutankhamen was an insignificant Pharaoh who died when he was quiet young and pretty much all his wealth was buried with him. Despite this Tutankhamen tomb is consequential and highly revered by archaeologists. This is because Tut’s tomb was buried under other tombs so most robbers never found it and almost all of its valuable wealth remained intact and secured for thousands of years. Owing to its position, the tomb’s entrance was sealed by mud and rocks protecting it against flood and similar catastrophes. (source)
12. The oldest cooking recipes, Circa 1750 BC.
When we think of an ancient clay tablet with weird writings on them, cooking recipes are hardly the first thing that comes to our mind. The above picture is one of the two recipe tablets of the Babylonian period. It’s no ordinary old cookbook. Inscribed in Akkadian (one of the most complex forms of scribes), the tablet documents several exquisite dishes, often using rare ingredients and presented elaborately.
This particular tablet consists of 25 different recipes of stew – 4 vegetable and 21 non-vegetables. Though the recipe lists the ingredients in order by which they should be added, it doesn’t mention the amount of ingredients required implying that the tablet was a guide for experienced chefs. Clearly, the cuisine was meant for some high-temple or the royal palaces. (source)
13. Japanese dragonfly helmet, 17th century.
Exotic helmets (kawari kabuto) were quiet trendy in the 15th and 16th century feudal Japan. During the era, feudal families were constantly fighting amongst themselves for supremacy which often lead to open battleground combats. The ‘kawari kabuto’ was worn by high-ranking officers so that they could be easily spotted in the battlefield. The helmets had symbolic motifs that reflected an aspect of the officer’s personality and the ideals of the war he is fighting. In ancient texts, Japan is often called Akitsushima (Land of the Dragonflies) making the dragonfly helmet a revered piece of national history. (source)
14. Oldest globe depicting Americas, Made in 1504.
It’s 509-years-old, it’s the size of a grapefruit, it’s made of lower halves of two ostrich eggs and some say, the makers were influenced by or even worked in Leonardo da Vinci’s workshop.
The globe contains exactly one Latin phrase saying ‘HIC SVNT DRACONES’ (meaning, here are the dragons), 71 names of places, couple of ships, monsters, waves and a shipwrecked sailor.
This ostrich globe reflects the knowledge that early European explorers had about the world they live in. (source)
14. Roman multi-tool device, made in 200AD.
Somewhat similar to modern day Swiss Army knife, this ancient retractable multi-tool device is made of silver with an iron blade. Excavated out of the Mediterranean region the tool has also got a spoon, a spatula, a spike, a fork and a tooth pick. Experts opine that this versatile device was custom made and probably belonged to a wealthy folk who journeyed a lot. (source)
16. World’s oldest chewing gum, at least 5,000-years-old.
What you’re looking at is not a rock but the world’s oldest chewing gum. It’s actually a lump of birch bark tar that contains antiseptic properties which was effective for healing mouth infection. Discovered in Finland, the gum comes with a tooth print too. (source)