European Artifacts by Civilization

European Artifacts by Civilization

Hellenistic GreekJesus (artwork)NorseAuragnacion

Top Ten Norse Artifacts

Top Ten Norse Artifacts

       Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who speak one of the North Germanic languages as their native language. “Norse,” in particular, refers to the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms. The meaning of Norseman was “people from the North” and was applied primarily to Nordic people originating from southern and central Scandinavia. They established states and settlements in areas which today are part of the Faroe Islands, England, Scotland, Wales, Iceland, Finland, Ireland, Russia, Italy, Canada, Greenland, France, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Germany. Norse and Norsemen are applied to the Scandinavian population of the period from the late 8th century to the 11th century. The term “Normans” was later primarily associated with the people of Norse origin in Normandy, France, assimilated into French culture and language. The term Norse-Gaels was used concerning the people of Norse descent in Ireland and Scotland, who assimilated into the Gaelic culture. Vikings has been a common term for Norsemen in the early medieval period, especially in connection with raids and monastic plundering made by Norsemen in Great Britain and Ireland.

  1. The Trundholm Sun Chariot (18th-16th Century  BC)

    The Trundholm sun chariot is a late Nordic Bronze Age artifact discovered in Denmark, that has been interpreted as a depiction of the sun being pulled by a mare that may have relation to later Norse mythology attested in 13th century sources.
    Links: Top Ten Suns, Top Ten Chariots,
  2. Seikilos Epitaph (200 BC – 100 AD)

    The Seikilos epitaph is the oldest surviving example of a complete musical composition, including musical notation, from anywhere in the world. The song, the melody of which is recorded, alongside its lyrics, in the ancient Greek musical notation, was found engraved on a tombstone, near Aidin, Turkey (not far from Ephesus). The find has been dated variously from around 200 BC to around AD 100. Also on the tombstone is an indication that states: I am a tombstone, an icon. Seikilos placed me here as an everlasting sign of deathless remembrance. While older music with notation exists (for example the Delphic Hymns), all of it is in fragments; the Seikilos epitaph is unique in that it is a complete, though short, composition.
    Links: Top 100 Songs,,
  3. Golden Horns of Gallehus

    The Golden Horns of Gallehus were two horns made of sheet gold, discovered in Gallehus, north of Møgeltønder in South Jutland, Denmark. The horns date to the early 5th century, the beginning of the Germanic Iron Age. The horns were found in 1639 and 1734 at locations only some 15–20 meters apart. They were composed of segments of double sheet gold. The two horns were found incomplete, the longer one found in 1639 has seven segments with ornaments, to which six plain segments and a plain rim were added, possibly by the 17th century restaurateur. The shorter horn found in 1734 has six segments, a narrow one bearing a Proto-Norse Elder Futhark inscription at the rim and five ornamented with images. It is uncertain whether the horns were intended as drinking horns, or as blowing horns, although drinking horns have more pronounced history as luxury items made from precious metal. The original horns were stolen and melted down in 1802. Unfortunately, casts made of the horns in the late 18th century were also lost. Replicas of the horns must thus rely on 17th and 18th century drawings exclusively and are accordingly fraught with uncertainty. Nevertheless, replicas of the original horns were produced and are exhibited at the National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark and the Moesgaard Museum, near Aarhus, Denmark. These replicas also have a history of having been stolen and retrieved twice, in 1993 and in 2007.
    Links: Top Ten Historical Instruments,
  4. Stora Hammar Stone (600 AD)

    The Viking Age image stone in Stora Hammars, Lärbro parish, Gotland, Sweden. Depicted are scenes with mythological, religious and martial background, including a sacrifice scene with a Valknut over the altar and a longship manned with armed warriors. It has been interpreted as illustrating the legend of Hildr. The runestone includes an image of a warrior about to be hung from a tree with a Valknut nearby, considered to be Odin’s cult symbol, giving validity to reports regarding human sacrifice in Norse paganism.
    Links: Top Ten Stones/Rocks,,
  5. Gundestrup Cauldron (1st Century BC)

    The Gundestrup cauldron is a richly decorated silver vessel, thought to date to the 1st century BC, placing it into the late La Tène period. It was found in 1891 in a peat bog near the hamlet of Gundestrup, in the Aars parish in Himmerland, Denmark. It is now housed at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. The Gundestrup cauldron is the largest known example of European Iron Age silver work (diameter 69 cm, height 42 cm). The style and workmanship suggest Thracian origin, while the imagery seems Celtic. This has opened room for conflicting theories of Thracian vs. Gaulish origin of the cauldron. Taylor has suggested Thracian origin with influence by Indian iconography.
  6. Viking Runestones

    The Viking Runestones are runestones that mention Scandinavians who participated in Viking expeditions. This article treats the runestone that refer to people who took part in voyages abroad, in western Europe, and stones that mention men who were Viking warriors and/or died while travelling in the West. However, it is likely that all of them do not mention men who took part in pillaging. They were all engraved in Old Norse with the Younger Futhark. The largest group consists of 30 stones that mention England, and they are treated separately in the article England Runestones. The runestones that talk of voyages to eastern Europe, the Byzantine Empire and the Middle East are treated separately in the article Varangian Runestones and its subarticles. The most notable of the Viking runestones is the Kjula Runestone and it contains a poem in Old Norse in the metre fornyrðislag that refers to the extensive warfare of a man called “Spear.”
    Links: Top Ten Rocks/Stones,,
  7. Kingigtorssuaq Runestone(1250 – 1333 AD)

    The Kingigtorssuaq Runestone was found in 1824 in a cairn on top of the mountain on Kingigtorssuaq Island north of Upernavik in western Greenland. The stone is now located at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. The stone has been dated to the Middle Ages. The Catholic Encyclopedia states the date as April 25, 1135. William Thalbitzer dates the stone to 1314 using pentadic numerals. Others have dated the stone between 1250 and 1333.
  8. Links:

Top Ten Minoan Artifacts

Top Ten Minoan Artifacts

       The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans. Will Durant referred to it as “the first link in the European chain.” The early inhabitants of Crete may have settled as early as 128,000 BC, during the Middle Paleolithic age. However, it was not until 5,000 BC that the first signs of advanced agriculture appeared.

  1. Phaistos Disc

    The Phaistos Disc is a disk of fired clay from the Minoan palace of Phaistos on the Greek island of Crete, possibly dating to the middle or late Minoan Bronze Age (2nd millennium BC). It is about 15 cm (5.9 in) in diameter and covered on both sides with a spiral of stamped symbols. Its purpose and meaning, and even its original geographical place of manufacture, remain disputed, making it one of the most famous mysteries of archaeology. This unique object is now on display at the archaeological museum of Heraklion. The disc was discovered in 1908 by the Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier in the Minoan palace-site of Phaistos and features 241 tokens, comprising 45 unique signs, which were apparently made by pressing pre-formed hieroglyphic “seals” into a disc of soft clay, in a clockwise sequence spiraling towards the disc’s center. The Phaistos Disc captured the imagination of amateur and professional archeologists, and many attempts have been made to decipher the code behind the disc’s signs. While it is not clear that it is a script, most attempted decipherments assume that it is; most additionally assume a syllabary, others an alphabet or logography. Attempts at decipherment are generally thought to be unlikely to succeed unless more examples of the signs are found, as it is generally agreed that there is not enough context available for a meaningful analysis.
    Links: Top Ten Unsolved Codes,,
  2. Knossos Palace Bull’s Head

    This is a Serpentine rhyton (drinking vessel) in the form of a bull’s head. It was made out of steatite with gold-plated horns (now restored), from the Little Palace at Knossos, Crete. It currently resides in the Archaeological Museum, Iráklion, Crete.
    Links: Palaces, Top Ten European Palaces,
  3. Bull-Leaping Fresco, Court of the Stone Spout

    Links: Top Ten Frescos,,
  4. Griffin Couchant Facing Throne

  5. Snake Goddess or Priestess Performing a Ritual

    Snake Goddess, indicates figurines of a woman holding a snake in each hand found during excavation of Minoan archaeological sites in Crete dating from approximately 1,600 BC. It seems that the two elegant idols found in Knossos represented goddesses and by implication, the term ‘snake goddess’ also describes the chthonic deity depicted. Little more is known about her identity apart from that gained from the figurines. These idols were found only in house sanctuaries, where the snake appears as “the snake of the household,” and they are probably related with the Paleolithic tradition regarding women and domesticity. Evans tentatively linked the snake goddess with the Egyptian snake goddess Wadjet.
    Links: Top Ten Godesess, Top Ten Snakes,,
  6. Prince of the Lilies, Knossos Palace (2000 – 1400 BC)

    This is a handmade solid bronze statue of the Prince of the Lilies from the Minoan Palace, Knossos.
    Links: Palaces, Top Ten European Palaces,
  7. Three Queens Fresco

    Links: Top Ten Frescos,,
  8. Prince of Lilies or Priest-King Relief

    “Prince of lilies” or “Priest-king Relief,” is a plaster relief at the end of the Corridor of Processions, restored by Gilliéron, believed by Arthur Evans to be a priest-king, wearing a crown with peacock feathers and a necklace with lilies on it, leading an unseen animal to sacrifice.
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten European Relieves,,
  9. Marine Style Vase (1500 BC)

    Links: Top Ten Vases,
  10. Octupus Vase (1500 BC), Spouted Vessel (2100-1700BC)

    Links: Top Ten Vases,,
  11. Fresco of Children Boxing

    Links: Top Ten Boxers, Top Ten Heavyweight Boxers, Top 100 Paintings, Top 100 European Paintings,
  12. Frescos

    Links: Top Ten Frescos, Top 100 Paintings, Top 100 European Paintings,
  13. The Bull Leaper

  14. Links: Artifacts, Top Ten European Artifacts, Top Ten Archaeologists,,

Top Ten Macedonian Artifacts

Top Ten Macedonian Artifacts

       Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient Greek kingdom. The kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, was bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south. The rise of Macedon, from a small kingdom at the periphery of Classical Greek affairs, to one which came to dominate the entire Hellenic world, occurred under the reign of Philip II. For a brief period, after the conquests of Alexander the Great, it became the most powerful state in the world, controlling a territory that included the former Persian empire, stretching as far as the Indus River; at that time it inaugurated the Hellenistic period of Ancient Greek civilization.

  1. The Golden Larnax

    The Golden Larnax, housed at the Museum of Vergina, quite possibly contains the remains of King Philip II.
    Links: Top Ten Kings, Top Ten Tombs,
  2. Krater

    Links: Top Ten Vases,
  3. Alexander the Great Bust

    Links: Top 100 Busts, Top Ten Warriors, Top Ten Generals, Top Ten Military Strategists,
  4. King Phillip II Coin

    Links: Top 100 CoinsTop 100 European Coins,
  5. Macedonian Coins

    Links: Top 100 Coins, Top 100 European Coins,
  6. Links: Artifacts, Top 10 European Artifacts,

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Top Ten Greek Artifacts (Mycenaean)

Top Ten Mycenaean Artifacts

       Mycenaean Greece(1900 BC – 1100 BC) was a cultural period of Bronze Age Greece taking its name from the archaeological site of Mycenaein northeastern Argolis, in the Peloponnese of southern Greece. Athens, Pylos, Thebesand Tiryns are also important Mycenaean sites. The last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, it is the historical setting of much ancient Greek literature and myth, including the epics of Homer.

  1. Mycenean Funeral Masks
    Links: Top 100 Masks, Top 100 Gold Artifacts,
  2. Silver Repoussé Rhyton with Gold Horns

  3. Clay Tablet with Linear B Writing

    Links: Top Ten Examples of Early Writing,
  4. Octopus Jar

    Links: Top Ten Vases,
  5. Lady of Mycenae Fresco

    Links: Top 100 Paintings, Top 100 European Paintings,
  6. Swords

    Links: Top Ten Swords, Top Ten Weapons,
  7. Gold Earring (1600 BC)

    Links: Top 100 Gold Artifacts, Top Ten Examples of Ancient Jewelry,
  8. Links: Sculptures, Top 100 European Sculptures,

Top Ten Hellenistic Greek Artifacts

Top Ten  Hellenistic Greek Artifacts

       The Hellenistic period or Hellenistic civilization is the period of ancient Greek history between the death of Macedonian king Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of ancient Rome. During this time, Greek cultural influence and power was at its zenith in Europe and Asia, experiencing prosperity and progress in the arts, exploration, literature, theater  architecture, music, mathematics, philosophy and science. It is often considered a period of transition, sometimes even of decadence or degeneration, compared to the brilliance of the Greek Classical era. After Alexander the Great’s ventures in the Persian Empire, Hellenistic kingdoms were established throughout south-west Asia (Seleucid Empire, Kingdom of Pergamon) and north-east Africa (Ptolemaic Kingdom). This resulted in the export of Greek culture and language to these new realms, and moreover Greek colonists themselves. Equally, however, these new kingdoms were influenced by the indigenous cultures, adopting local practices where beneficial, necessary or convenient. Hellenistic culture thus represents a fusion of the Ancient Greek world with that of the Near East, Middle East and Southwest Asia, and a departure from earlier Greek attitudes towards “barbarian” cultures.  The Hellenistic periods was characterized by a new wave of Greek colonization (as distinguished from that occurring in the 8th-6th centuries BC) which established Greek cities and kingdoms in Asia and Africa. Those new cities were composed of Greek colonists who came from different parts of the Greek world, and not, as before, from a specific “mother city.” The main cultural centers expanded from mainland Greece to Pergamon, Rhodes, and new Greek colonies such as Seleucia, Antioch and Alexandria. This mixture of Greek-speakers gave birth to a common Attic-based dialect, known as Koine Greek, which became the lingua franca through the Hellenistic world. The Hellenistic period may be seen to end either with the final conquest of the Greek heartlands by Rome in 146 BC, with the final defeat of the Ptolemaic Kingdom at Battle of Actium in 31 BC, or even the move by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great of the capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople in 330 AD.

  1. Winged Victory of Samothrace

    Hellenistic Greece, Samothrace (island in the North Aegean Sea), c. 190 BCE, Nike on the Prow of a Ship, called the “Winged Victory of Samothrace”, gray Lartos marble for the ship’s prow, white Paros marble for the statue, height  3.28 m (floor to top of wings) (10 feet 9 inches), Louvre.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 European Sculptures, Top 100 Greek Sculptures,
  2. Venus de Milo (100 BC)

    Description: Melos (the Cyclades islands), Aphrodite, known as Venus of Milo, c. 100 BC, marble, height 6 feet 10 inches (2 m), Louvre. Signed on the base: “[Alex?]andros son of Menides from Antioch-on-the-Meander made it”.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 European SculpturesTop 100 Greek Sculptures,
  3. Bronze Statuette of a Veiled and Masked Dancer (3rd–2nd Century BC)

    The complex motion of this dancer is conveyed exclusively through the interaction of the body with several layers of dress. Over an undergarment that falls in deep folds and trails heavily, the figure wears a lightweight mantle, drawn taut over her head and body by the pressure applied to it by her right arm, left hand, and right leg. Its substance is conveyed by the alternation of sharp pleats and flat surfaces as well as by their contrast to both the tubular folds pushing through from below and the freely curling softness of the fringe. The woman’s face is covered by the sheerest of veils, discernible at its edge below her hairline and at the cutouts for the eyes. Her extended right foot shows a laced slipper. This dancer has been convincingly identified as one of the professional entertainers, a combination of mime and dancer, for which the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria was famous in antiquity. The statue currently resides in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 European SculpturesTop 100 Greek Sculptures,
  4. Apollo Belvedere (330 BC)

    This marble statue of Apollo Belvedere currently resides in the Vatican Museum.
  5. Borghese Gladiator (100 BC)

    Antium (Italy), 100 BC, Nude Male Combatant, called the “Borghese Gladiator”, marble, height  157 cm, Louvre.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 European SculpturesTop 100 Greek Sculptures,
  6. Bonus: Laocoön and His Sons

    This is a Roman copy of a Hellenistic original from 200 BC, marble, height  1.84 m, Vatican. Trojan priest Laocoön and his two sons are attacked at an altar by giant snakes. Pliny said it was the work of three sculptors from Rhodes, Hagesandros, Polydoros, and Athenodoros. The date of the Laocoon is controversial, some scholars arguing for the late second century BC, others for 50 BC.
  7. Bonus: Discus Thrower (Discobolus)

    The discuss thrower was originally a Hellenistic Greek bronze by Myron, however the statue we see today is a marble Roman copy of the original. (Hellenistic Greek, 485-425 BC).
  8. Homer Bust

    In the Western classical tradition, Homer is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature. Herodotus estimates that Homer lived 400 years before Herodotus’ own time, which would place him at around 850 BC; while other ancient sources claim that he lived much nearer to the supposed time of the Trojan War, in the early 12th century BC. For modern scholars “the date of Homer” refers not to an individual, but to the period when the epics were created. The consensus is that “the Iliad and the Odyssey date from around the 8th century BC, the Iliad being composed before the Odyssey, perhaps by some decades,” i.e. earlier than Hesiod, the Iliad being the oldest work of Western literature. Over the past few decades, some scholars have argued for a 7th century BC date. Some of those who argue that the Homeric poems developed gradually over a long period of time give an even later date for the composition of the poems; according to Gregory Nagy for example, they only became fixed texts in the 6th century BC. The poems are generally seen as the culmination of many generations of oral story-telling, in a tradition with a well-developed formulaic system of poetic composition. Some scholars, such as Martin West, claim that “Homer” is “not the name of a historical poet, but a fictitious or constructed name.” The formative influence played by the Homeric epics in shaping Greek culture was widely recognized, and Homer was described as the teacher of Greece. Homer’s works, which are about 50% speeches, provided models in persuasive speaking and writing that were emulated throughout the ancient and Medieval Greek worlds. Fragments of Homer account for about half of all ancient Greek papyrus finds.
    Links: Top Ten Poets, Top 100 Busts,,
  9. Links: Artifacts, Top Ten European Artifacts, Top 100 Greek ArtifactsSculptures, Top 100 Greek Statues,

Top Ten Aurignacian Artifacts

Top Ten Aurignacian Artifacts

       The Aurignacian culture is an archaeological culture of the Upper Paleolithic, located in Europe and southwest Asia. It began about 40,000 to 36,000 years ago and lasted until about 28,000 to 26,000 years ago. The name originates from the type site of Aurignac in the Haute Garonne area of France. The Aurignacian culture is considered by some archaeologists to have co-existed with the Périgordian culture of tool making. The oldest known example of figurative art, the Venus of Hohle Fels, comes from this culture. It was discovered in September 2008 in a cave at Schelklingen in Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany.

  1. Venus of Hohle Fels (38,000-33,000 BC)

           The Venus of Hohle Fels is an Upper Paleolithic Venus figurine found near Schelklingen, Germany. It is dated to between 35,000 and 40,000 years ago, belonging to the early Aurignacian, at the very beginning of the Upper Paleolithic, which is associated with the assumed earliest presence of Homo sapiens (Cro-Magnon) in Europe. It is the oldest undisputed example of Upper Paleolithic art and figurative prehistoric art in general.
    Links: Top Ten Venus Figurines,
  2. The Lion Man (30,000 BC)

           A lion headed figure, first called the lion man, then the lion lady, is an ivory sculpture that is the oldest known zoomorphic (animal-shaped) sculpture in the world and one of the oldest known sculptures in general. The sculpture has also been interpreted as anthropomorphic, giving human characteristics to an animal, although it may have represented a deity. The figurine was determined to be about 32,000 years old by carbon dating material from the same layer in which the sculpture was found. It is associated with the archaeological Aurignacian culture.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 European Sculptures, Top Ten Big Cats,,
  3. Vulture Bone Flute (38,000 BC)

           A vulture-bone flute discovered in a European cave is likely the world’s oldest recognizable musical instrument and pushes back humanity’s musical roots, a new study says. Found with fragments of mammoth-ivory flutes, the 40,000-year-old artifact also adds to evidence that music may have given the first European modern humans a strategic advantage over Neanderthals, researchers say. The bone-flute pieces were found in 2008 at Hohle Fels, a Stone Age cave in southern Germany, according to the study, led by archaeologist Nicholas Conard of the University of Tübingen in Germany. With five finger holes and a V-shaped mouthpiece, the almost complete bird-bone flute, made from the naturally hollow wing bone of a griffon vulture, is just 0.3 inch (8 millimeters) wide and was originally about 13 inches (34 centimeters) long.
    Links: Top Ten Historical Instruments, Top Ten Instruments,
  4. Links: Artifacts, Top 100 European Artifacts,