The Lost Gold of Rome

The Lost Gold of Rome: The Hunt for Alaric’s Treasure ( 2007) by Daniel Costa

Rating: ★★★★☆

In AD 410, Rome suffered a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions when a foreign army led by the Visigoth king Alaric sacked the city and carried off its most valuable treasures.The Lost Gold of Rome: The Hunt for Alaric's Treasure

This was the first time in 800 years, during which time Rome itself had accumulated the wealth of Empire. Alaric played a significant role in the dismemberment of the Roman Empire in the west, but he died before he could leave the Italian peninsula. His followers buried him in a secret tomb allegedly laden with the plunder of Rome that may have included the Jerusalem Temple treasures of the Jews, deposited in the so-called ‘Temple of Peace’. Daniel Costa’s account traces the life and death of Alaric and explores the modern quests to discover his grave, including the efforts of the Nazi Heinrich Himmler. Despite the likelihood that the grave has now finally been found, no definitive excavation has taken place..

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The Lost Houses of Wales

The Lost Houses Of Wales A Survey Of Country Houses In Wales Demolished Since c.1900 by Thomas Lloyd. SAVE Britain’s Heritage, London, 1986, revised 1989.

Rating: ★★★★★

This important book is more than simply a valuable reference work, it contains a message that shocks, and almost every one of the 356 buildings depicted either no longer exists, or is in a severely ruinous state. According to a brief survey, the situation has only improved for approximately twenty of the smaller properties since. In addition, there are more buildings of equal value in Wales not included in Thomas Lloyd’s survey. Compare this, for example, with France or Germany, and other countries, or even England, where such buildings are given much greater consideration for their historical or aesthetic value, and of course tourist potential. There is no denying even buildings have to earn their way..

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The Rosette motif in ancient art

THE PHAISTOS DISK, CRETE- note the four appearances of the eight-petalled rosette, described as a star anemone

Eight-petaled rosettes similar to those on the Phaistos Disk and on various ancient game-boards, such as discovered at Ur in Mesopotamia, and the example shown here from Knossos, Crete, appeared also on many other objects, over a wide geographical area and span of time. They appear to be solar symbols, or more precisely represent the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, and so indicated the passages from one state of existence into another.

Silver and Lapis lazuli gameboard from Knossos, with a border of 72 sixteen petalled rosettes

In Mesopotamia, the eight-leaf rosette was also the emblem of the fertility goddess Ishtar and her associated planet Venus. However, this apparent broadening of the symbol only confirms the basic meaning of birth, death and rebirth.

In a well-known myth, Ishtar descended into the underworld and was held there as if dead, before she returned to life, just as Venus the evening star disappears from the sky for some time and then heralds as the morning star the return of the life-giving light.  The symbolism is the same as that derived from the cycles of the sun.

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Bottle building – 1963 & 2011

Guest Blog by Matthias McGregor

The Guardian has some great videos from the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas earlier in January. The Miniwiz bottle building (pictured below) really caught my eye:

Alex Chou of Miniwiz shows off the company’s recycled plastic bottle building blocks, which have been used to construct a fully functional five-storey building in Taiwan..








Great concept, but it’s not exactly a new one. It reminded me of Heineken’s WOBO experiment almost 50 years earlier. Alfred Heineken was on holiday in the Caribbean island of Curaçao, and was dismayed to see thousands of glass beer bottles littering the beach, many of them bearing his name. Back in Amsterdam where the Heineken brewery was based, the average bottle was recycled 30 times. But on a small island like Curaçao, with neither the means nor incentive to recycle, each beer bottle was used once and discarded.

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