Photographs of some historical & archeological artifacts
April 27, 2014 6:11 PM   Subscribe

Michael Faraday's chemical chest, 19th century.
The end of Darwin's walking stick.
Galileo’s original telescope.
Napoleon’s toothbrush, c 1795 (with engraved "N“ at bottom).
Carved Olive Pit, China (1737).
Throne of Charlemagne (790). Until 1531, it served as the coronation throne the Kings of Germany, being used at a total of thirty-one coronations.
Ishtar Gate, ca 575 BC. Built on the orders of Nebuchadnezzar II, it was a gate to the inner city of Babylon.
Tolkien's service weapon from WWI.
Breastplate, North Peru - A.D. 1000/1470.

- A chef’s hat recovered from the Titanic’s wreck. (From).
- The top hat Lincoln wore on the night he was assassinated. Also, The Derringer pistol used to kill him.
- Unfinished obelisk in Aswan. More here.
- Tutankhamun's tomb chair.
- A blackboard used by Einstein in a 1931 lecture in Oxford. The last three lines give numerical values for the density (ρ), radius (P), and age of the universe.
Wooden bucket from Utrecht. (6th century)
- A submerged Sherman tank off Saipan (1944).
- Rock carvings at Alta, Northern Norway, made some 5200 years old.
Preserved Warsaw ghetto wall.
- A set of German playing cards from 1430 (click on each for hi-rez).
- Tsar Nicholas II' Packard Twin-6 with Kégresse track.
- Queen Elizabeth 1 gloves.
- Faberge Egg known as Catherine the Great Egg.
- Marie-Antoinette's Grand Apartment, Versailles.
- The Codex Gigas, the largest extant medieval manuscript in the world. It is also known as the Devil's Bible because of a large illustration of the devil on the inside and the legend surrounding its creation Devil.
- The inkwell that was used to sign the world's second national constitution - Constitution of May 3, 1791 Poland.
- Rock crystal dice, marked one to six. 1st-2nd Century AD. Roman Imperial Period.
- A prosthetic hand was made for a 16th-century Knight. Also, an artificial toe from Egypt (950—710 B.C.).
- Mayan pipe (AD 900-1500).
- Lion man of the Hohlenstein Stadel - approximately 32,000 years ago.
- Elephant Armour from 17th century (India).
- The Pazyryk carpet - the oldest rug in the world.
- A carbonised loaf of bread with the stamp ‘Property of Celer, Slave of Q. Granius Verus’ from Herculaneum, 79 AD.

(Via a new r/subreddit with lots of large photos.)
posted by growabrain (33 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
Pff, the oldest rug in the world for right now.
posted by angerbot at 6:33 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

What a coincidence: These are the names of all my favorite hipster bands.

You've probably never heard of them.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:39 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Reminds me of the rocking chair in which Lincoln was shot.
posted by Turkey Glue at 7:01 PM on April 27, 2014

Galileo's telescope gave me chills (in a good way). Thanks for the post!
posted by ikahime at 7:08 PM on April 27, 2014

I think Napoleon's toothbrush was ultimately purged from the Warehouse 13 collection when it was found to have only minor effects on gingivitis over a long period of daily use.
posted by atomo at 7:14 PM on April 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

All Titanic artifacts are moving, and it's worth seeing the collection if you can at all. It's partly a time capsule from 1912, but the path by which those artifacts get to us 100 years later is breathtaking.
posted by localroger at 7:24 PM on April 27, 2014

Not forgetting Napoleon's penis, which was recently the subject of a Bugle podcast.
posted by arcticseal at 7:25 PM on April 27, 2014

Note that the Alta rock art has been colored in with red ?chalk? to accentuate it. The art was pecked into the stones and probably wasn't originally colorized.

It's an interesting bit of rock art, though. The fjord on which the art area is located has a pretty good record of water level change (loweing) for the last few thousand years, and it looks like the people doing the carving were always trying to do so close to the water line. As a result of their chasing the water lower and lower there's a fantastic chronology by which researchers can date the rock art motifs.

There's also some neat continuity and relationships between historically and ethnographically known images used by the Sámi people and images seen in the Alta rock art.
posted by barnacles at 7:27 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

ikahime: "Galileo's telescope gave me chills (in a good way). Thanks for the post!"

We got to see it in person at the Museo Galileo in Florence. Chilling in a different way, they also have his finger.

Really a cool museum to visit. It used to be the Museum of the History of Science, and had all kinds of interesting devices and displays from science history. One room had wax sculptures all along the upper walls depicting cutaway views of a variety of pregnancy complications, which were creepily realistic.
posted by calamari kid at 7:41 PM on April 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Never knew Darwin was a goth. Wouldn't have guessed.
posted by Scientist at 7:43 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I really want to fill in those missing Stuttgart cards with Photoshop and print out my own custom deck. This whole list is cool.
posted by MrFTBN at 7:50 PM on April 27, 2014

The Ishtar Gate is in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Breathtaking.

The same museum houses the 'Pergamon Altar' of King Eumenes II, from the city that is the basis for the museum's name.

Very recommended if you happen to be in the corner of the world.
posted by grimjeer at 8:04 PM on April 27, 2014

Recently, I've been listening to a history of WWI via Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast (highly recommended). Coming across this picture of Tolkien's service weapon, I am reminded how a stray bullet or piece of shrapnel almost robbed us of our core myth and the imaginative landscape of childhood (sorry for the melodrama and hyperbole, but, I mean, come on).
posted by lumosh at 8:07 PM on April 27, 2014

Clicked through to say "now I wanna watch Warehouse 13" but atomo beat me to it, so I'll at least include a link. ;)
posted by trackofalljades at 8:07 PM on April 27, 2014

I really want to fill in those missing Stuttgart cards with Photoshop and print out my own custom deck.

For my part, the only card I need is the Ace of Stags.
posted by Iridic at 8:15 PM on April 27, 2014

I am reminded how a stray bullet or piece of shrapnel almost robbed us of our core myth and the imaginative landscape of childhood

Perhaps it did, and we just don't know it.
posted by penduluum at 9:07 PM on April 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

I thought that there must be some mistake WRT the Throne of Charlemagne, since it looks a bit like plywood held together with brackets. Turns out that that is indeed the throne, and the marble is yellowed due to having been covered with tarpaper during WWII to protect it from bombing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:07 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Like Scientist, I would not have expected Darwin to have a skull-headed cane.
posted by tavella at 9:20 PM on April 27, 2014

Like calamari kid, the Florence science museum drove home to me the depth of European cultural history. From memory, that is only one of 3 or 4 telescopes made by Galileo on display, and the finger relic has stayed with me as a apposite cross over between religious worship and science.
posted by bystander at 9:40 PM on April 27, 2014

It amazes me that only a few dozen generations ago, it was practical to make that breastplate out of solid gold. What a vastly different world it must have been.
posted by foobaz at 10:19 PM on April 27, 2014

The paragraph backstory on that prosthetic hand is worthy of at least a few novels and a movie:

According to reports, the spring-operated fingers enabled him to grip a sword or a lance, and he remained a fearsome figure on the battlefield, even leading a group of rebels against the Holy Roman Empire in 1525, fighting the campaign against the Ottoman Empire of Suleyman the Magnificent under Emperor Charles V in 1542, and serving under Francis I in the 1544 Imperial invasion of France.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:26 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

At the Florence science museum, looking at Galileo's finger:

"But does it move?"
posted by zeptoweasel at 10:28 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Michael Faraday's bookcase is in use in the President's office if the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London. Due to a booking oversight, this was the only room available for a recent meeting - the IET were politely insistent that we didn't put our coffee mugs on it.
posted by mml at 11:05 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

The throne of Charlemagne looks pretty underwhelming, but Wikipedia explains: the marble came from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and was considered a relic, hence the lack of decoration. Also a game board is carved in one of the plates, presciently symbolizing German dominance of the casual boardgame market
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:09 AM on April 28, 2014 [7 favorites]

Very nice. Thanks for posting this, growabrain.
posted by homunculus at 1:35 AM on April 28, 2014

The Ishtar Gate is something. It kind of sucks that it was split up and spread all over the world, though, and that the rear, larger part of the double gate was deemed "too big" and is just in storage. Judging by the models, the whole thing would be even more impressive.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:57 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

growabrain: "Catherine the Great Egg."

She was a good egg. Great, I don't know.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:58 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

For reasons I don't totally understand, I thought that Sherman Tank was pretty groovy.
posted by valkane at 6:26 AM on April 28, 2014

calamari kid: Chilling in a different way, they also have [Galileo's] finger.

The very one he lifted in response to the Church's teachings on cosmology.

No, really: it is his middle finger!
posted by IAmBroom at 1:01 PM on April 28, 2014

Albert Einstein's report card.
posted by bukvich at 1:34 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

In regards to Dr Dracator's comment about the checkerboard on Charlemagne's throne--

Checkerboards, either carved tables or painted tablecloths, were used as an abacus for calculating payments-- hence the Department of the Exchequer.
Accounting Historians Journal > Early Accounting: The Tally and Checkerboard: In Britain, the counting board probably dropped out of use somewhat earlier. Shakespeare still had references to it: Iago speaks scornfully of “this counter-caster”, and an ignoramus “cannot do it [arithmetic] without compters”.

Two things lessened the need for the abacus. One was cheap paper. The other was the use of Arabic numerals. Europe was slow to accept these. “Ciphering” was long regarded as a bizarre and mysterious art. Arabic figures had however percolated into common use by the seventeenth century, and “made the elementary rules of arithmetic accessible to every child”. An arithmetic book of 1668 explains manual accounting, but omits this section in its 1699 edition. The Scots exchequer abandoned its board perhaps about 1660
posted by ohshenandoah at 5:01 PM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Was Tolkien's service weapon given to him to keep after his service was over? It seems unlikely that it would be pulled out from some dusty armoury later and exhibited otherwise.
posted by Harald74 at 7:07 AM on April 29, 2014

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