Greek Gold Olive Wreath, 4th Century BC
A wreath made from wild olive branches, also known as kotinos, was the prize for the winner at the ancient Olympic Games. According to Pausanias, the sacred olive tree at Olympia, from which the champion’s wreaths were made, came from the land of the Hyporboreans. It was brought to Olympia by Herakles and planted near the temple dedicated to his father, Zeus, in his honor. Legend says that it was Iphitos who first used a crown of wild olive leaves from sacred tree, called the kallistephanos, to crown victors at the Olympic games.
Olive wreaths were also made for the champions of the Panathenaic Games in Athens. Mythology says that these wreaths were made from the sacred olive tree that grew from where Athena struck her spear on the ground at the Acropolis. For the ancient Greeks, the olive tree was a symbol of peace, wisdom and triumph.
Gold wreaths were made imitating  their natural counterparts in various forms, including oak, olive, ivy, vine, laurel and myrtle. Most of these trees or plants have associations with various deities. Because of their fragility, gold wreaths were probably not meant to be worn very often, only during special functions. They were also dedicated to the gods in sanctuaries and placed in graves as funerary offerings for wealthy or important people. Though they were known in earlier periods, gold wreaths became much more popular in the Hellenistic age, probably due to the greatly increased availability of gold in the Greek world following the conquests of Alexander the Great.
Herodotus describes the following story which is relevant to the olive wreath. Xerxes was interrogating some Arcadians after the Battle of Thermopylae. He inquired why there were so few Greek men defending the Thermopylae. The answer was “All other men are participating in the Olympic Games”. And when asked “What is the prize for the winner?”, “An olive-wreath” came the answer. Then Tigranes, one of his generals uttered: “Good heavens! Mardonius, what kind of men are these against whom you have brought us to fight? Men who do not compete for possessions, but for virtue.”
A rare & fascinating coin pertaining to the Oracle at Delphi:
This coin is from the Asyut Hoard of 1968/9 and it sold for $600,000. It is extremely rare and of the greatest artistic, historical, and architectural importance - a superb example, probably the finest known.
This tridrachm from Delphi, Phokis (c. 480-475 BC) shows two drinking vessels (rhytons) in the form of rams heads; above them, two dolphins swimming toward each other. On the reverse is a quadripartite incuse square in the form of a coffered ceiling; each coffer decorated with a dolphin and a spray of laurel leaves.
The tridrachms of Delphi are among the most historically interesting of all Greek coins. The fact that almost all the known examples were found in Egypt suggests that the unusual weight standard might have been chosen specifically with Egyptian trade in mind. The obverse type is a direct reference to the Greek victory over the Persians at Plataea in 479 BC, when a great deal of booty, including silver vessels like the two on this coin, were taken by the Greeks. These two rhyta, which are of Persian design, were certainly from that booty and must have been brought as a dedication to Apollo in Delphi (rams were sacred to Apollo, along with dolphins).
The reverse is also very unusual: it is not a normal quadripartite incuse but, rather, clearly shows the stepped coffering that we know decorated ancient ceilings, especially those of prestigious buildings like that of the Temple of Apollo. It is interesting to consider that the coffered ceiling design might be an actual representation of the ceiling that existed in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. The dolphins that ornament these coffers make the identification sure as they are a punny play on both the name of Delphi (delphis means dolphin) and on the fact that Apollo himself could appear in the form of a Dolphin. Mythology says that he first came to Delphi in the guise of a dolphin swimming into the Corinthian Gulf.
Delphi was famous in the ancient Greek world for being the mountain location of the Temple of Apollo and the Delphic Oracle. The oracle was consulted by kings and by private individuals, the responses being interpreted by the Pythia, who would sit in a trance-like state while she spoke. It is from this place where many important questions were asked and decisions were made in the ancient Greek world - Alexander the Great’s decision to conquer Persia and the rest of the known world being one of them.
Monumental Double Spiral, Urnfield Period, 12th - 10th century BC
An unusually large example made of square wire, the upper edges with decorative notches in some places. Beautiful dark green patina. Width 21 cm.
The Urnfield culture (c. 1300 BC – 750 BC) was a late Bronze Age culture of central Europe. The name comes from the custom of cremating the dead and placing their ashes in urns which were then buried in fields. The Urnfield culture followed the Tumulus culture and was succeeded by the Hallstatt culture. The Urnfield culture is the earliest archaeological period that can be justifiably considered Proto-Celtic.

archaeodonnell:

I want to do a tumblr poll on Scottish Independence, just to see what people around the world are thinking about it.
So reblog this if you think Scotland should be an independent country, and like it if you don’t, and then after a couple days I’ll count up the totals :)

Okay I’ll be the first to reblog, I know I have followers from both sides of the debate here so go ahead, like or reblog

Yes! I’m an American of Scottish descent and if I had a vote it would be for independence. Ok now, I know I have some lovely Scotophiles from all over the world following my little history blog so speak up. Reblog if you support Scottish independence or like if you think things should remain as they are.