Sunday, January 22, 2023

Madrid Codex

Madrid Codex

Madrid Codex is called the Tro-Cortesianus Codex or the Troano Codex. This is one of three surviving Maya books of the pre-Columbian period, circa 900–1521 AD, around the Postclassic period of Mesoamerican chronology. In 1965, Grolier Codex, a fourth codex, was founded. It is held in Madrid by the Museo de América. Besides, it believes that the codex is vital in its collection. Although you should know that the original version is not displayed as it is in fragile condition, an exact reproduction is in display instead.

Once, the Maya Madrid codex was categorized into two pieces- "Codex Troano" and "Codex Cortesianus." Then, an ethnologist named Leon de Rosny realized in the 1880s that both pieces belonged together. He helped to combine these pieces into one text which was later brought to Madrid. Later, it was named "Madrid Codex".

Physical Characteristics of Madrid Codex:

People used amate paper in a long strip to create codex. The paper was folded up accordion-style and then coated using a stucco of a thin layer. Usually, people use it as a painting surface. There is an entire document, the whole Madrid codex, containing 56 sheets, and these are painted on both sides to make a total of 112 pages. Hence, the Troano is the bigger portion which has seventy pages including 22–56 and 78–112. The name came from Juan Tro y Ortolano.

The Cortesianus Codex contains the remaining 42 pages, which are pages 1–21 and 57–77. Every page has a measurement of roughly 23.2 × 12.2 centimetres (9.1 by 4.8 in).

Madrid Codex Content:

It is a very long surviving Maya codice the content of which is made up of almanacs and horoscopes. These are useful for Maya priests in ceremonies and divinatory rituals. It has astronomical tables, but the number is lesser than the three surviving Maya codices. A few contents are expected to be copied from older Maya books.

Coe and Kerr suggested that there was only one scribe behind the work as the codex is stylistically uniform. But after a close analysis of glyphic elements, it was believed that many scribes were involved in its production. It was assumed that about eight or nine scribes were involved in the creation and made consecutive sections of the manuscript.

Basically, the Scribes were the priesthood members and made the religious content of the codex. It is assumed that all priests got the book one by one, and whenever they got this, they added a section to their hands.

In this case, the pictures depict rituals like human sacrifice and invoking rainfall, regular tasks- beekeeping, hunting, warfare, and weaving. Besides, the other pictures display that gods are taking Sikar smoke like modern cigars containing tobacco leaves.

Origin of Madrid Codex: 

Michael Coe and Justin Kerr were the two scholars who said that its origin was dated to after the Spanish conquest. However, the proof says that the document belongs to the pre-conquest date. It is expected that the codex was created in Yucatán. Whereas, Yucatecan is the language used here. This one is a group of Mayan languages, which contains Yucatec, Itza, Lacandon, and Mopan. In addition, these languages were distributed among the Yucatán Peninsula, like Chiapas, Belize, and the Guatemalan department of Petén.

According to J. Eric Thompson, its origin was in western Yucatán between 1250 and 1450 AD. Suggestions of some scholars also say that its origin may be the Petén region of Guatemala.

However, the opinions of all scholars are not the same. Other scholars said that it was similar to murals available at Chichen Itza, Mayapan, and other sites like Santa Rita, Tancah, & Tulum, which are on the east coast. There are two fragments of paper, and these are incorporated into its front and last pages, where we can find proof of Spanish writing. As a result, Thompson suggested that the document was acquired by a Spanish priest at Tayasal in Petén.

Discovery of Madrid Codex:

In 1860, it was founded and categorized into two various portions. These were of different sizes and available in different locations. Madrid codex gets Tro-Cortesianus Codex's another name after those parts were found. According to the scholar Léon de Rosny, these two parts belonged to the same book.

Troano Codex was the name of the bigger part. French scholar Charles Étienne Brasseur de Bourbourg published it in 1869–1870. In 1866, he discovered the part in possession of Juan de Tro y Ortolano in Madrid. This French scholar was the person who identified this first as a Maya book. Later, in 1888, the ownership of this part went to the Museo Arqueológico Nacional which is known as the "National Archaeological Museum".

Cortesianus Codex was the name of the smaller part that Juan de Palacios attempted to sell in 1867. Hence, you should know that he was a Madrid resident. Later, this part went to the Museo Arqueológico Nacional which acquired this in 1872 from José Ignacio Miró, who was a book collector by profession. He claimed that he recently bought this codex from Extremadura, a place from where Francisco de Montejo and several conquistadors came, like the work of Hernán Cortés, who won Mexico.

It is expected that anybody these conquistadors brought it to Spain. After that, this smaller part was named after Hernán Cortés, the director of the Museo Arqueológico Nacional. According to him, he was the person who brought it to Spain.

c. 1400 CE, when the Mayan period was about to end, people believed that it was the product of the late period. However, this one may be a post-Classic copy of the Classic Mayan scholarship. While its figures were sketched poorly, it was not similar to the other surviving codices in quality.

There you can find detailed information about astrology and divinatory practices in the book. While anthropologists can identify many Mayan gods, it is precious to historians. It was also precious to anthropologists who wanted to reconstruct the rites which ushered in the New Year. Additionally, there are available Mayan crafts like pottery & weaving and activities including hunting.

The pages of the Madrid codex were manufactured from the bark of a fig tree. In 1888, its two parts were brought together. As a result, the final document is now available in the Museum of America in Madrid.


Over five million people spoke thirty Mayan languages in the early 21st century. Among those people, most of them were bilingual in Spanish. Maya possessed a very big civilization belonging to the Western Hemisphere before the Spanish conquest of Mexico and Central America. Those people used to practise agriculture, make great stone buildings and pyramid temples, and worked gold and copper.

They had settled villages at the beginning of 1500 BCE. Then, these people made an agriculture cultivating corn (maize), beans, and squash. They also cultivated cassava (sweet manioc) by 600 CE. Later, they started building ceremonial centres, which turned into towns by 200 CE. Temples, pyramids, palaces, courts for playing ball, and plazas were developed there as improvements. They used to quarry limestone or building stones a lot and cut these stones with the help of chert & other harder stones.

While they used to practise slash-and-burn agriculture, they also used improved tricks of terracing & irrigation. Besides, a highly sophisticated astronomical system was developed. They produced paper using the inner bark of wild fig trees. After that, they used these papers as books to write their hieroglyphs. We know these books as codices. In addition, they made a tradition of sculpture and relief carving. We can know about them from primary resources like architectural works, stone inscriptions, and reliefs.

The period about 250 CE, at the time of the rise of Maya, is called the Classic Period of Mayan culture to archaeologists. This period lasted until about 900 CE. Their civilization was over 40 cities and each town contained between 5,000 and 50,000 people. Tikal, Uaxactún, Copán, Bonampak, Dos Pilas, Calakmul, Palenque, and Río Bec are names of some principal cities in this case. While there are about two million people in total, most people live in the lowlands— Guatemala.

Although, the classic Maya civilization had declined precipitously. Therefore, the principal cities and the ceremonial centres remained vacant. According to a few scholars, it happened due to the armed conflicts and the exhaustion of agricultural land. After that, they came up with another reason for the decline of civilization after discoveries in the twenty-first century. The river disruption related to battle and land trade paths is also the reason behind it.

Chichén Itzá, Uxmal, Mayapán, and some other towns were getting improvements and developments continuously during the Post-Classic Period (900–1519), and it continued for some centuries while lowland towns got depopulated. Maya who used to practise their forebear's religious rites, became village-dwelling agriculturists when Spaniards conquered locations in the sixteenth century.

Whereas Mayan cities and ceremonial centres were adorned with several pyramidal temples and palaces that were made of limestone blocks. But it is also true that scholars did not know the true nature of Mayan society, what hieroglyphics meant, and the chronicle of its history for centuries after the discovery of old building sites by Spaniards.

In the 1830s, the systematic explorations of these sites were undertaken first, and it was early and in the middle of the twentieth century when a tiny part of the writing system got deciphered. As a result, these highlighted the Mayan religion based on the Sun, the Moon, rain, and corn.

A pinnacle of intellectual achievement is represented by positional notation and the zero's usage. Their astronomy underlies a calendrical system which is hard to understand. It includes an accurately determined solar year, a sacred calendar of 260 days, and various longer cycles. In this case, you should know that the solar year consists of 18 months of 20 days each and five days extra. However, they believed it was unlucky. On the flip side, the sacred calendar includes 13 cycles of 20 named days. Astronomers could guess solar eclipses accurately.

In the middle of the twentieth century, scholars mistakenly thought, based on the discoveries, that their society had peaceful stargazers and calendar keepers. Several hieroglyphs depict the history of the rulers who fought against the weak towns and took their aristocrats captive. There was a tradition to torture the captives, mutilate them and later sacrifice them to the gods.

The Bottom Line:

You should know that torturing and sacrificing humans to gods were some of the basic religious rituals. People believed that it would guarantee fertility. In case they did not do such practices, cosmic disorder and chaos were believed to happen. People thought that drawing human blood could nourish the gods. Thus, they might get the chance to contact gods.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What is the main difference between the Madrid Codex and the Dresden Codex?

The length of the Madrid Codex is approximately 22 feet, and this part has 56 leaves meaning there are a total of 112 pages. On the other hand, the Dresden Codex has 74 pages. The Paris codic contains 24 pages, whereas the Grolier codice have ten pages.

Q. Where is the Madrid Codex?

It is in the Museo de América.

Q. When was the Madrid Codex discovered?

The Madrid Codices I–II (I – Ms. 8937 i II – Ms. 8936) was found in 1965 by Leonardo da Vinci and Dr. Jules Piccus in the Biblioteca Nacional de España in Madrid.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Aegina Treasure

Aegina Treasure

Aegina Treasure, also known as Aigina Treasure, is a vital Minoan gold hoard. It is said that people have found this on the Aegina island in Greece and kept it in the British Museum. Since 1892, it has been a part of the British Museum. This treasure is a vital group of Minoan jewellery.

Aegina Treasure, How Old is It?

The Minoan civilization was considered as Aegean Bronze Age civilization, on Crete, and other Aegean islands. It flourished from about 2600 to 1100 BC. In 1891, people found this in a tomb. But we are unfortunate that people are still unable to determine the exact circumstances near the discovery.

What is Inside the Aegina Treasure?

This treasure is full of gold jewellery from the Greek bronze age (between 1850 and 1550 BC). In this treasure, there can be found a pendant, three diadems, two pairs of earrings, a bracelet, a gold cup, four rings, plaques, and gold stripes.

Five interconnecting golden rings were there, also with beads and necklaces. These are made of several materials such as gold, lapis lazuli, amethyst, quartz, cornelian, and green jasper. Among these items, a pendant and a pair of earrings are the most elaborate ones.

The pair of the earrings has a double-headed snake design. There are two greyhounds inside, over two monkeys. Besides, there exist 14 short chains around the circle with golden discs and figures of owls.

It is believed that the pendant is representing a Cretan deity in a field of lotus flowers which is flanked by two geese in a field. You can find two unrecognized objects in the background. According to people, these might have links to "cult horns," the sacred horns of bulls, or composite bows.

Aegina: Aegina is one of the Saronic Greece Islands, and it is seventeen miles far from Athens. The treasure was found here. The island was a rival of Athens in the earlier period. Hence, you should know that Athens had the greatest sea power of this era.

When the Minoan period was running, trade between Crete and Aegean, and Mediterranean settlements was famous. Then, the influence of Minoan culture became dominant via artists and traders. However, you can find several theories, such as Mycenaean invasions from mainland Greece or the volcanic eruption of Thera.


It is an archaeological term used for many precious objects or artifacts which are buried in the ground, but people want to recover them later. Hoarders died sometimes, or they could not go back to retrieve the hoard. After several years, people might discover these surviving hoards. In earlier societies, caches or hoards refer to the relative degree of unrest.

Aegina Treasure Discovery:

While it was discovered in 1891, the British Museum bought the treasure after one year from the Cresswell Brothers, who were the dealers of a London firm of sponge. Later in 1914, the museum bought further pieces from the treasure.

Most scholars believe that at the Chryssolakkos necropolis at Malia, Crete, the hoard was gophered. But the locals did not notice the Malia Pendant correctly, and few other pieces. In 1930, it was discovered and is now kept in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.


In the British Museum, this treasure has always been a mystery as they have not found other jewellery like this which can give us any idea about its date or fabric. People initially knew this as the Late Mycenaean (i.e., L.H. III). Currently, people want to put this in the 7th century B.G. According to a scholar, it is Phoenician. Greek archaeologist Stais said it was a combination of Mycenaean and later elements.

After bringing the treasure to the Museum in 1892, Evans published it in 1893. According to him, all antiquities were not allowed to be exported from Greece because it was illegal. So, people might have excavated these for smuggling out of the nation.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Tara: Powerful Feminine Force in Buddhism

Tara: Powerful Feminine Force in Buddhism

Tara, called Jetsun Dölma, is a significant figure in Buddhism. She is mainly revered in Tibetian Buddhism. In Mahayana Buddhism, she appeared as a female bodhisattva. If it comes to talk about Vajrayana Buddhism, she appeard as a female Buddha. We know her as the "mother of liberation," who is the symbol of virtues of success in the field of work & achievements. In addition, people know her as Duōluó Púsà in Chinese Buddhism. However, people in Japan know her as Tara Bosatsu .

Tara, who is Tibetian Sgrol-ma, a Buddhist saviour goddess, is very famous in Nepal, Tibet, and Mongolia. People consider her as bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara's feminine counterpart. People believed that there is a story behind her existence. The story is one day, a tear of Avalokiteshvara has fallen to the ground and has formed a lake. In its water, an opening lotus rose up which revealed the Goddess. She is considered as a compassionate deity who helps the people who are in distress.

Origin as a Buddhist Bodhisattva:

You can find multiple stories that give different explanations of her origin as a bodhisattva. This story tells about a young princess spending her life in another world system. She is Jnanachandra or Yeshe Dawa, meaning of which is the "Moon of Primordial Awareness." She was offering that world system to the Buddha for an era. The system was known as Tonyo Drupa. He gave her instructions related to bodhicitta which is Bodhisattva's compassionate mental state. Later a few monks came to her to give suggestions. They said that she should pray so that she could be reborn as male in her next life to get progress. Then, she told the monks that "weak minded worldlings' ' think that gender is a barrier and women can't progress in life.

However, later, she noticed that only a few were there who wanted her to work for the well-being and prosperity of sentient beings in the form of a female. That's why she decided to be reborn always as a female bodhisattva, but until samsara is no more. Later she starts meditating in a palace for nearly ten million years. Her power of these practices helped to heal the health issues of many people. Then, Tonyo Drupa, told her that she can manifest supreme bodhi in the upcoming world system as the Goddess Tārā.

Symbols and Associations:

Generally, the term Tārā's refers to "star" or "planet," and based on that, this goddess is connected with travel and navigation. The goddess is known as "she who saves" in Tibetan. While there are one hundred and eight names of Holy Tara, she is the 'Leader of the caravans ..... who showeth the way to those who have lost it'. However, she is known by the name Dhruva also. Remember that Dhruva is the Sanskrit name for the North Star. Miranda Shaw who considered motherhood as the central to Tara's conception, gave some titles to her including "loving mother," "supreme mother," "mother of the world," "universal mother" and "mother of all Buddhas."

Mostly she appeared with her blue or night lotus (utpala). These flowers release the fragrance when the moon appears. Therefore, it is considered that Tārā has connections with the moon & light. In addition, she is a forest goddess who appears in the form of Khadiravani , a "dweller in the Khadira forest." Her life is connected to plant life, flowers, acacia (khadira) trees, and the wind. As she is connected with nature and plants, she is known as a healing Deity. In addition, she is known as the deity of nurturing quality and fertility.

People have described her land in Mount Potala as covered with many manifold trees and creepers. While chirping of birds can be heard, the forest allows the people to enjoy the murmur of waterfalls. Different kinds of flower species can be seen growing everywhere.

Tara Emergence as a Buddhist Deity:

In Tibetan Buddhism, this goddess is renowned as the symbol of action and compassion and considered as the female aspect of Avalokiteśvara.

Finally, Avalokiteshvara reached the summit of Marpori, in Lhasa. We know the Marpori summit as the 'Red Hill' also. On Otang, he realized that the lake called the 'Plain of Milk’ looks like the Hell of Ceaseless Torment.

There, the myriad beings faced many challenges like burning, boiling, hunger, thirst, etc., but still, they did not perish, sending forth grievous cries of distress all the while.

Once he viewed this, his eyes filled with tears. Then, one drop of this tear from his right eye fell to the plain. As soon as the tear falls, it becomes the reverend Bhrikuti.

After the declaration of Bhrukuti, the princess got reabsorbed into Avalokiteshvara's right eye. Later, Bhrukuti was reborn as the Nepalese princess Tritsun. When a teardrop fell upon the plain from the left eye, it became Tara. After that, she was reabsorbed into the left eye of Avalokiteshvara.

The goddess Tārā appears in various forms. In Tibet, Green Tārā appeared as the Nepalese Princess named Bhrikuti. White Tārā appeared as the Chinese princess Kongjo (Princess Wencheng).

As a Saviouress:

The Statue of this deity, in Nepal, is20.25" tall and consists of gilt copper inset full of precious stones. While this goddess has several characteristics of the feminine principle, we know her as the Mother of Mercy and Compassion.

This goddess gives birth to compassion, warmth, and relief. She has the same sympathy as a mother for all her kids. The form Green Tārā protects all beings from unfortunate circumstances. On the other hand, White Tārā represents maternal compassion. She can heal the health issues of all beings, especially those who are wounded physically or mentally.

The form of Red Tārā lets us learn discriminating awareness about any incident and how to convert raw wishes into love & compassion. If it comes to talk about Blue Tārā (Ekajati), remember that this form is a protector in the Nyingma lineage. This form expresses a formidable, female energy that can be invoked for destroying dharmic obstacles. You should know that each form is linked to any color and energy. Every form includes feminine attributes.

Forms of Tara:

There are several forms of Tārā. We know Green Tārā as śyāmatārā. This form indicates peacefulness and enlightened activity. It is the central aspect of Tārā from which all forms emanate. We know the Green form as Khadiravaṇi-Tārā, also known as Tārā of the acacia forest. She came to Nagarjuna in South India's Khadiravani forest to protect all beings from eight fears. Mārīcī and Ekajaṭā, her two attendants, give her accompany.

Sarvajnamitra says that this goddess has a universal form also, and we call it visva-rupa. This form encompasses living beings. There are other forms of Tārā also including:-

White Tārā (Sitatārā): 

We call the form The Wish-fulfilling Wheel, or Cintachakra, whom we know as the deity of healing and compassion. In this form, we can see that her two arms are seated on a white lotus, whereas the eyes are on hands and feet. The third eye is on the forehead, due to which she is called "Seven eyed."


She appears in a red-colored form where she holds a bell and vajra, bow and arrow, wheel, conch, sword, and noose in her eight arms. We know her as "Tārā Swift and Heroic" also.

Kurukullā (Rigjema): 

It is a form of red color and fierceness that can magnetize good things.

Black Tārā (Ugra Tārā): 

She is famous for power.

Yellow Tārā or Golden colored Tārā: 

These have connections with wealth and prosperity. Yellow Cintamani Tārā is considered a "Wish-Granting Gem Tara" because she is holding a wish-granting jewel. Besides, there is another form "Vajra Tārā" with eight arms. The other form, golden "Rajasri Tārā" , holds a blue lotus.

Blue Tārā (Ekajati): 

In this form, she has a lot of heads and hands, referring to a connection with the transmutation of anger. A few authors said that this form has similarities to Ugra Tārā and Ekajati.

Cintāmaṇi Tārā: 

At the Highest Yoga Tantra level in the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism, this form of Tārā is worshipped. This form is portrayed in green color.

Sarasvati (Yangchenma): 

This form is renowned for arts, knowledge, and wisdom.

Bhṛkuṭītārā (Tronyer Chendze): 

She is known as "Tārā with a Frown." This form is renowned for protecting from the spirits.

Uṣṇīṣavijaya Tārā: 

This form is called White Tārā or "Victorious Uṣṇīṣa." Hence, she has three faces and 12 hands in this form. Remember that this form symbolizes long life.

Golden Prasanna Tārā: 

In this form, she wore a necklace of bloody heads. Besides, in his 16 hands, she holds many weapons and Tantric attributes.

Yeshe Tsogyal: 

She is known as "Wisdom Lake Queen" in this form.

Rigjay Lhamo: 

We know her as "Goddess Who Brings Forth Awareness."

Sitatapatra Tārā: 

She protects against supernatural danger.


The Tibetian branch of Vajrayana Buddhism worships this meditation deity, Tara, for developing inner quality. Moreover, this deity is worshipped for understanding inner, outer, and secret teachings like compassion known as Karunā, loving-kindness known as mettā, and emptiness known as shunyata. You can understand the depth of the term Tārā by realizing various aspects of the same quality. The reason for this is we often consider bodhisattvas as the personifications of Buddhist methods.

There is a text named Praises to the Twenty-One Taras, which is a vital text in Tibetan Buddhism. Tantra is one of the essential texts that describes All the Functions of Tara, Mother of All the Tathagatas. For both Hindus and Buddhists, the primary Tārā mantra is the same, which is: oṃ tāre tuttāre ture svāhā. Buddhists & Tibetans follow the Tibetan traditions and pronounce them as oṃ tāre tu tāre ture soha. If it comes to talk about the the literal translation, the answer will be O Swift One, So Be It!"

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What is Tara the goddess of?

In Buddhism, people worship the Goddess Tara as the goddess of compassion and protection. In Hinduism, the goddess appears in a primordial female energy form and we know her as shakti. The root of the word tara is the Sanskrit word "Tar" which indicates "protection." But in other languages, the term means "star."

Q. Why is Tara important for Buddhists?

She is a saviour deity liberating souls from suffering.

Q. Is Tara a Buddhist?

She is a Buddhist goddess and saviour, Tibetan Sgrol-ma, who has many forms. She is mainly renowned in Nepal, Tibet, and Mongolia.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Lycurgus Cup - History Mystery

The question that may come to your mind is if the old Romans were ahead of their period or not. Hence, the famous Lycurgus Cup in the British Museum proves that Romans were highly advanced and talented in science, mainly in the Nanotechnology field.

What makes the 1,600-year-old glass goblet unique is that its color changes from green to red, but it depends on the direction of its illumination. If the light source is on the front, it will appear green. But when the light source is at the rear side, it will change to red. We know this incident as Dichroic behavior.

It is believed that the Roman craftsman had a deep knowledge of the science they used to make the artwork. The Romans were the first who accidentally discover the colorful potential of nanoparticles. But we must accept that they have made the world's best instance of the phenomenon.

You should know that the Lycurgus Cup is a 4th-century artifact to design in which dichroic glass is used. Depending on the passing through of light, it shows a different color. Remember that this one is the only Roman glass object design in which this kind of glass is used. People described it as the "most spectacular glass" of that time.

What is the Lycurgus Cup?

The glass chalice is known as the Lycurgus Cup. Behind its name and design is a myth involving King Lycurgus of Thrace (Balkan Peninsula).

In this regard, you need to know one thing: Lycurgus was a violent-tempered man who was behind the attack on the god of wine, Dionysius, and Ambrosia, a female follower of Dionysius.

Mother Earth called Ambrosia, and later she transformed Ambrosia into a vine. After that, she had coiled herself about the king. This coiling scene was captured on the Cup.

The change of green color to red indicates the red blood of Ambrosia. Besides, it can represent the red wine of Dionysius, the god of wine. On the flip side, the green refers to the ultimate triumph of Ambrosia. The vase indicates that Mother Earth saved the girl from Lycurgus and his evil behavior.

This cage cup comes with an outer cage and an inner glass. First, the artist cast a thick blank glass. Then, he had cut and grounded it. The process will continue until the figures are in high relief. Next, the artist needs to ground up gold & silver into nanograins to create the changing colors on the artifact. These grains should be finer than even sand. After that, he needs to fuse these proportionally into the glass to produce subatomic effects. Scientists still haven't found out how it was accomplished.

The Roman chalice, which is 1600 years old and now placed at the British Museum, is the key to the new technology which can be used to diagnose several human diseases.

What does Lycurgus Cup mean?

We call this cup "dichroic glass." "Dichroic" refers to "two colors" in Greek. The Romans are experts in the art of creating one color on a goblet while a specific light and different color will be seen in a different light but in the same goblet.

People believe it can change colors when you pour different substances into it. Thus, the artifact can detect temperatures. So naturally, nano technicians are excited after seeing these chances of old technology.

Like other medical and advanced technologies, Lycurgus Cup nanotechnology has both good and bad sides. However, when it comes to discussing its drawback, it is suspected that it can lead to abortion and euthanasia. Whereas this technology can be used to cure diseases. Besides, to recognize microbes and clean up water sources, it can be used. These are the benefits of this technology.

Romans used excellent techniques to make their wonders last for years. But once Rome died, the Dark Ages began. As a result, we saw that cement and indoor toilets were no more because these went away for more than 1,400 years. In addition, the Cup lets us know that humans can experience more than what they could have imagined.

If you see the Cup in reflected light, like in a flash photograph, the glass will appear green in color. But if you view it in transmitted light, the glass will look red.

Basically, this Cup is a rare example of a Roman cage cup or diatretum. To design the Cup, artists need to work hard as they need to cut the glass efficiently. Whereas they need to leave a decorative "cage" at the surface level.

In most cases, we can see cage cups come with a geometric abstract designed cage. Whereas the figure on this artifact displays the killing incident where Lycurgus attempted to kill Ambrosia. Later, she got transformed into a vine which has twined around the angry king and killed him. Whereas Dionysus, with two followers, were seen taunting the king.

The glass offers the dichroic effect because it is made up of nanoparticles of gold and silver in a small ratio. Although the process was not cleared. However, it is suspected that it was discovered due to accidental "contamination" with a little bit of ground gold and silver dust.

Although the glass-makers were confused about whether gold was involved in making it or not, as the quantity of gold was very little, it is suspected that they may have come from a tiny proportion of gold in silver added (most of the Roman silver ornaments contains little proportions of gold), or from traces of gold or gold leaf left accidentally in the workshop, as residue on tools, or from other work.

History of the Lycurgus Cup:

It was probably made in Alexandria or Rome around 290-325 AD. The size of this artifact is 6 1/2" x 5," and we are telling the measurement after judging it in the best condition. People probably never buried this because they kept it like a treasure. The Cup was placed in a noble Roman's villa first. After that, people placed it in a church and the elite's collections. Besides, according to a few people, it was recovered from a sarcophagus. Some people believe that the Cup was stolen from the church during the French Revolution. However, none of us know its original history.

The Science Behind the Chalice:

In French writings in 1845, we can find its mention. But we do not know why the item changed colors. The gold Nanoparticles on a microscopic level were behind the reason for the color change.

Hence, remember that the puzzle behind the incident of color Changing was not solved by scientists for decades. However, It was the 1950s when the British Museum acquired this Cup, but they were not capable of solving the mystery until 1990.

Then, researchers used broken fragments to examine these under an electron microscope. According to them, the Roman artisans were the pioneers of nanotechnology. As per their statement, Nano-particles of gold is the reason behind the color changing of the Cup.

As per the researchers, the particles are as small as 50 nm in diameter. It is less than one-thousandth of the size of a grain of table salt. Ian Freestone, the archaeologist at University College London, says that the existence of the exact mix of valuable metals indicates the amazing work of the Romans.

As soon as light hits, electrons of the metal flecks try to reflect the frequencies into human eyes. However, the color-changing process depends on the observer's position in relation to the light.

Was the Lycurgus Cup a Poison Detector?

According to the ruling class, glassware and goblets were created on Murano island in the Venice lagoon. These will be shattered if you pour poison into them.

Gang Logan Liu is a renowned engineer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He focused on discovering the process of using this nanotechnology to diagnose and treat diseases. And he said that when it comes to beautiful art, Romans know how to use nanoparticles very well. But, he added that we all want to make it a part of scientific applications. For example, he said that if you fill a nano-treated vessel with different liquids, the vibrating electrons can change the glass color, but it is based on the liquid type used.

Were there Other Dichroic Cups in the Ancient World?

Yes, there could be other Dichroic Cups, and the ruling class was expected to be conscious of these. It is suspected that they were the owners of the cups. Besides, they gave these as gifts and used them to drink on special occasions. But there are only a few Roman dichroic glass objects. However, less than ten dichroic glass objects are found.

Privileged Romans purchased these objects to enjoy the rarity of the products of changing color.

The bottom line:

From Vopiscus' life of the third-century pretender Saturninus, a letter that is claimed to be written by emperor Hadrian (117–138), we have come to know a few facts regarding this. First, these texts represent similar drinking vessels like the Lycurgus Cup. The second text lets us think about the artifact from the drinker's perspective.

According to a drinker, it was full of dark red wine while the outer part was green. Once the drinker lifts the glass and peers into it, the light source will be passed from the rear side. Then, it will look like the grapes have turned red. It is an artifact from Roman royalty, and people have been caring for it for the last 1600 years until modern scientists solved the puzzle.

Romans might know how to create nanoparticles and use them to make the beautiful artifact. However, according to modern scientists, nanotechnology is helpful in chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. How does the Lycurgus Cup work?

This old glass artifact displays dichroism because it can look green if you reflect white light. Whereas the color turns into red if you transmit white light through it. Remember that the peculiar dichroic effect is seen due to silver & gold nanoparticles that are available in the glass.

Q. Where was the Lycurgus Cup found?

It is suspected that the manufacturing location of this Cup was Rome, and the time was the fourth century AD. Currently, this one is housed in the British Museum, London.

Q. How did they make the Lycurgus Cup?

Researchers could not put liquid into this artifact, due to which small wells were imprinted onto a plastic plate by them. In addition, they have used sprays of gold or silver nanoparticles on wells.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Rhodopis — History Mystery

Rhodopis — History Mystery

Rhodopis is one of the old Greek tales which was revolved around a Greek slave girl. This slave girl married the king of Egypt. In Greek, the term Rhodopis is known as Ῥοδῶπις Rhodôpis. Strabo, a Greek historian, recorded the Rhodopis Cinderella story first in the late first century BC or early first century AD (64 or 63 BC – c. 24 AD) in his Geographica (book 17, 33). People know it as the first variant of the "Cinderella" tale. If you want to find the origin of this fairy tale, then return to the 6th-century BC hetaera Rhodopis. Now, let's know about Rhodopis in detail, what are its sources, how the girl became the queen, and so on.

What is the Plot?

Geographica (book 17, 33) was the book where Strabo wrote the tale between c. 7 BC and c. 24 AD. According to the story of Rhodopis, an eagle came to snatch sandals from her maid when she was bathing. Then, the eagle took it away to Memphis. After a while, the eagle flung it into the king's lap when he was administering justice. The king was surprised at the beautiful shape of the sandal and the strangeness of the incident. After watching the sandal, he sent men in all directions to find the woman to whom the sandal belonged. Later, those men found her in the city of Naucratis. Then, they brought her up to Memphis, and she became the king's wife.

Who is Rhodopis?

Rhodopis is known as the oldest Cinderella story, or you can say this is the first Cinderella story. This story is loosely based on a real person. The time was around the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD when the tale appeared in Aelian's Varia Historia. Generally, people know this tale as Rhodopis Egyptian Cinderella during the 19th century.

Sources for Rhodopis Story:

We know that Strabo, a Greek geographer, first recorded the tale. But, later, Roman orator Aelian reported a similar tale in Miscellaneous History. It was written in Greek and quite identical to the story Strabo told. But in Aelian's story, the Pharaoh's name was Psammetichus. According to Aelian's account, the Rhodopis story remained famous throughout antiquity.

In this regard, you should know that the arrival of Herodotus was about 500 years before Strabo. Nevertheless, in his History, he recorded a renowned legend about courtesans named Rhodopis.

He claimed that Rhodipis, who was the slave of a landman of Samos, came from Thrace. Samos was the fellow slave of the story-teller Aesop. It was the time of Pharaoh Amasis when she was taken to Egypt. Freed there for a large sum by Charaxus (Χάραξος) of Mytilene, brother of Sappho, the lyric poet.


Herodotus said that she was a slave of Aesop. After that, we learned about the secret love affair between Aesop and her. Basically, they belonged to the Iadmon of Samos. A Samian named Xanthes made her his property and took her to Naucratis during the reign of Amasis II. After that, she met Charaxus, who was Sappho's brother. He went to Naucratis as a merchant.

After a while, Charaxus found himself in love with the woman. So, he decided to offer a lot of money as ransom for her slavery. Therefore, the money that she earned from her profession would belong to only her. In a poem, Sappho accused Rhodopis of robbing Charaxus of his property. Besides, her brother got ridiculed in a poem written by Sappho because he got entangled with Rhodopis.

After liberation: Rhodopis lived at Naucratis once she was liberated from slavery. Later, she donated 1/10 of her income to Delphi's temple. The tithe was converted into big iron spits for cooking oxen. After that, she sent these to Delphi. To this day, you can find these lying in a heap, in front of the shrine and behind the altar that Chians set up. Moreover, Ten iron spits were dedicated in her name. It was Herodotus who saw the spits.

Tales and legends:

After four hundred years, Herodotus, according to the statement of Strabo, Rhodopis, was called "Doricha" by Sappho. Then, after two hundred years of Strabo, Athenaeus said that two different women had been confused by Herodotus.

Strabo and Diodorus Siculus mentioned a variant of the tale where they told that people who loved Rhodopis built the pyramid to be her tomb. Although the story's origin is false, Georg Zoega and Christian Charles Josias Bunsen explained it very well. In inconsequence of the name Rhodopis, she was confounded with Niticris, who was the queen of Egypt. However, she had been the heroine of many Egyptian legends.

The Rhodopis name meaning is "rosy cheeks," and accordingly, this one was a professional pseudonym. But we are not sure whether her actual name was "Doricha" or not. According to the Hellenistic biographical tradition linked with Posidippus, Doricha and Rodopis were the same person.


Strabo and Aelian relate to another Rhodopis story. In this tale, she was the queen of Egypt. But how did she become queen? What is the reason? We had told before that the king got her one of the sandals, and then he sent men to discover her. As soon as they found her, she was brought to the place. Then, the king made her queen of Egypt. It is all about Rhodopis' story, famous as the first Cinderella story. However, due to thematic similarities and Herodotus's used epithet, it is said that Rhodopis has a link with Helen of Troy.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Is Rhodopis a real person?

It was based on a real story which was revolved around a Greek slave girl. She married the Pharaoh (the king of Egypt).

Q. What did Rhodopis look like?

She had golden, curly, and coarse hair. Her eyes were green and bright. At the same time, she had a fair skin tone.

Q. What is the story of Rhodopis?

Greece was her birthplace. But pirates kidnapped her and brought her to Egypt. Later, she was sold as an enslaved person. An older man who was kind by heart was her master. He used to spend his time sleeping under a tree. As she was different, other servant girls mocked her.