Intricately Carved Agate Detailing a Battle Scene Is Called a Bronze-Age ‘Masterpiece’

Measuring barely 1.5 inches across and carved with astonishing skill, this 3,500-year-old sealstone is considered one of the finest works of prehistoric Greek art ever discovered.

Emerging from the surface of the agate is a finely detailed battle scene showing a victorious warrior who, having already vanquished one unfortunate opponent sprawled at his feet, now turns his attention to another much more formidable foe. Some of the elements are so incomprehensibly small that they must be viewed with a magnifying glass or via photomicroscopy to be truly appreciated.

The agate masterpiece had been unearthed from the burial site of a Bronze Age Greek warrior near the ancient city of Pylos more than two years ago by University of Cincinnati researchers. At the time, the treasure-laden tomb of the “Griffin Warrior” was hailed as the most spectacular archaeological discovery in Greece in more than half a century.

Recovered from the grave were more than 3,000 items, including four solid gold rings, silver cups, precious stone beads, fine-toothed ivory combs and an intricately built sword, among other weapons.

The agate had been put aside for later review because it was caked with limestone and looked like an average bead. But, when researchers finally completed the task of removing 3,500 years of sediment, what was emerged was so amazing that many team members were overcome with emotion.

“Looking at the image for the first time was a very moving experience, and it still is,” said Shari Stocker, a senior research associate in UC’s Department of Classics. “It’s brought some people to tears.”

A sketch of the artwork offers a clearer picture of the characters depicted in the carving.

Researchers believe the “Pylos Combat Agate” was a sealstone that the Griffin Warrior wore as a bracelet around 1450 BC. He likely pressed the raised image into clay or wax. He was dubbed the Griffin Warrior because he was buried with an ivory plaque depicting a griffin — a mythical beast with the body of a lion and head and wings of an eagle.

“What is fascinating is that the representation of the human body is at a level of detail and musculature that one doesn’t find again until the classical period of Greek art 1,000 years later,” explained UC archaeologist Jack Davis. “It’s a spectacular find.”

Stocker and Davis noted that the skill and sophistication reflected in the Pylos Combat Agate is unparalleled by anything uncovered before from the Minoan-Mycenaean world.

“It seems that the Minoans were producing art of the sort that no one ever imagined they were capable of producing,” explained Davis. “It shows that their ability and interest in representational art, particularly movement and human anatomy, is beyond what it was imagined to be.”

The Pylos Combat Agate is the subject of a paper to be published later this month in the peer-reviewed journal Hesperia.

Credit: Images courtesy of University of Cincinnati.

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Music Friday: After Sad Breakup, Vance Joy Reminisces in His New Release How We Were ‘Like Gold’

Welcome to Music Friday when we often bring you fresh, new tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we feature a nostalgic ballad from Aussie singer-songwriter Vance Joy. Introduced via Joy’s Twitter account on November 2, “Like Gold” tells the story of a perfect love, a painful breakup and the promise of a second chance.

As many authors and lyricists have done in the past, Joy uses “gold” to symbolize something pure and ideal.

He sings, “Closing my eyes, remember how we were like / Gold, when you see me / Hi, if you need me / Babe, that’s the way it was / That’s the history / Blue, how we used to roar / Like an open fire / That’s the way it was / But that’s history.”

“I wrote ‘Like Gold’ after coming off the road at the start of 2016,” Joy said. “It started with a simple melody I was humming and the idea of looking back at a relationship.”

“Like Gold” is the second single from Joy’s upcoming album, Nation of Two, which is set to be released in February of 2018. The first single was titled “Lay It On Me.”

“Like Gold” has already found its way onto Apple Music’s “Best of the Week” list and netted a bunch of positive reviews.

Baeblemusic.com wrote, “Vance Joy lets his mellow tunes blossom once again in his new single ‘Like Gold.’ Joy literally brings joy to our ears with this new track. His unique ability to turn the pain of a past relationship into something hopeful gives this song the flavor we desperately crave.”

“The alternative-folk-meets-pop track hears him reminiscing on a failed relationship with painful imagery of having to let go but not being ready to,” wrote thomasbleach.com. “It’s going to emotionally connect with anyone who’s had to learn to let go in the past with a few touching lyrics that offer a rare sense of calm.”

Born James Keough in Melbourne, Australia, in 1987, Joy took his stage name from a character in the 1981 Peter Carey novel, Bliss. He told Australian radio station Triple J, “The main character’s name is Harry Joy and his grandfather is Vance Joy. He’s the storyteller and a crazy old man. Plus, I thought it was a cool name.”

The strapping 6′ 3″ Joy was an Australian rules football player and pursued a law degree before trying his luck on the Melbourne open-mic scene at the end of the 2000s. His folk-pop single “Riptide” caught the attention of Atlantic Records, which signed him to a five-album deal in 2013.

The artist tours internationally. He will be performing in Australia through the end of November, and then heads to Florida, Oregon, California, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, the UK, Netherlands, Germany and Ireland.

Please check out the audio track of Joy performing “Like Gold.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Like Gold”
Written and performed by Vance Joy.

Time to let it go
It won’t let go of me
Hanging by a thread
Cutting the cord and then falling back into the
Black ’cause if I don’t
If I wait ’til it feels right
I’ll be waiting my whole life
Closing my eyes, remember how we were like

Gold, when you see me
Hi, if you need me
Babe, that’s the way it was
That’s the history
Blue, how we used to roar
Like an open fire
That’s the way it was
But that’s history

O-o-o-o-o-o
O-o-o-o-o
That’s the way it was
But that’s history
O-o-o-o-o-o
O-o-o-o-o
That’s the way it was
But that’s history

I have a memory
You’re visiting me at night
Climbing in my bed
You were so quiet that you never woke me
I love the way you could
See the good in everything
But, do we fuel the fire?
Closing my eyes, remember how we were like

Gold, when you see me
Hi, if you need me
Babe, that’s the way it was
That’s the history
Blue, how we used to roar
Like an open fire
That’s the way it was
But that’s history

Started with a word
Now, look at where we are
Everything we’ve done
It’s there on our faces for anyone willing to
Read between the lines
Now, look at where we are
Everything we’ve done
It’s there on our faces for anyone willing to

O-o-o-o-o-o
O-o-o-o-o
That’s the way it was
But that’s history
O-o-o-o-o-o
O-o-o-o-o
That’s the way it was
But that’s history

Well, I got a feeling
Darling, it’s possible
‘Cause love’s got no ceiling
Now, that it’s just so strong
And I got a feeling
Like everything is possible
I’m trying to change
M-m-m-m-m

Gold, when you see me
Hi, if you need me
Babe, that’s the way it was
That’s the history
Blue, how we used to roar
Like an open fire
That’s the way it was
But that’s history

Started with a word
Now, look at where we are
Everything we’ve done
It’s there on our faces for anyone willing to
Read between the lines
Now, look at where we are
Everything we’ve done
Started out with just one

O-o-o-o-o-o
O-o-o-o-o
O-o-o-o-o
O-o-o-o
O-o-o-o-o-o
O-o-o-o-o
O-o-o-o-o
O-o-o-o

Gold, when you see me
Hi, if you need me
Babe, that’s the way it was
But that’s history

Credit: Photo by Ralph Arvesen from Round Mountain, Texas [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Hoop Star David Lee Picks 8.88-Carat Diamond Ring for Tennis Champ Caroline Wozniacki; Here’s Why

Pro tennis player Caroline Wozniacki’s favorite number is “8,” so when boyfriend and former pro basketball player David Lee was seeking the ideal engagement ring for his “soulmate,” this D-flawless, 8.88-carat, oval-shaped diamond center stone fit the bill perfectly.

Lee popped the question last week during the couple’s romantic getaway to Bora Bora. The vacation celebrated Wozniacki’s surprising victory over Venus Williams at the WTA Finals in Singapore on October 29. The championship earned the 27-year-old Dane a $7 million prize.

Last Friday, Wozniacki turned to Instagram to post a selfie of the ring set against the bright blue waters of the South Pacific paradise, along with the caption, “Happiest day of my life yesterday saying yes to my soulmate.”

Lee posted a romantic Bora Bora sunset shot on his Instagram page and echoed his fiancée’s sentiments: “YES! So thrilled to be engaged to my soulmate.”

Luxury jeweler Joey Hamra worked with the 34-year-old former San Antonio Spurs center on a custom ring design, making sure the diamond pavé band would complement, but not overshadow, the oval diamond.

“We designed the ring with David’s input [expressing] Caroline’s ideas,” Hamra told The Knot. “She liked the diamond band look, [but didn’t want] it to take away any focus from the main center diamond.”

The designer said that he used pointy claw-like prongs to give the ring “that extra fine beauty.”

This will be the first marriage for both Wozniacki and Lee, although the tennis champ was previously engaged to pro golfer Rory McIlroy. The short-live engagement ended in early 2014, and that engagement ring did, in fact, feature an 8-carat center stone. Apparently, McIlroy also was aware of Wozniacki’s favorite number.

Credits: Images Instagram.com/carowozniacki; Instagram.com/dlee042; Instagram.com/HamraDiamonds.

Kit Kat’s Japanese Chocolatory Unveils Birthstone Series Embellished With Edible ‘Jewels’

Now, here’s a novel idea. For the next 12 months, Kit Kat’s Japanese Chocolatory will release limited-edition gourmet wafers that correspond with the month’s birthstone. Each bar is highlighted by two edible “jewels” and sports a color scheme/flavor profile inspired by the birthstone.  

For instance, November’s birthstone is topaz, so Kit Kat’s confectioners came up with an amber-colored, chestnut-flavored bar. At the far end of the wafer is a dollop of chocolate embedded with two sparkly sugar candies that mimic the color of topaz.

The jewel is technically a “dragée” — a tiny, bead-like candy used for decorating baked goods.

Kit Kat will introduce a new birthstone flavor at the beginning of each month. On December 1, Kit Kat will give a nod to tanzanite with a wafer that tastes like a purple yam. On New Year’s Day, Kit Kat will release a garnet-inspired wafer that will smack of raspberry.

The taste of February’s purple amethyst bar will be reminiscent of honeysuckle and March’s aquamarine bar will have a hint of grapefruit mint.

The most bizarre flavor will appear in July, when the ruby wafer will taste like tomato. Yikes.

Here’s the 12-month lineup…
• November, Topaz, Chestnut
• December, Tanzanite, Purple Yam
• January, Garnet, Raspberry
• February, Amethyst, Honeysuckle
• March, Aquamarine, Grapefruit Mint
• April, Diamond, Rum Raisin
• May, Emerald, Pistachio
• June, Blue Moonstone, Coconut
• July, Ruby, Tomato
• August, Peridot, Lemon
• September, Sapphire, Blueberry
• October, Tourmaline, Peach

This will not be the first time Kit Kat has introduced unexpected flavors to its devoted fan base. According to foodandwine.com, parent company Nestlé Japan famously went to market with Kit Kats that tasted like cough drops and sake. If you were wondering, the sake Kit Kats contained 0.8% alcohol.

Kit Kat is positioning the Birthstone Series as a limited-edition, premium confection, and a package of three wafers costs 1,485 Yen (about $13). Currently, the treat is available exclusively in Japan.

Credits: Images via Flickr/Nestlé Japan.

$2 Million ‘Champagne Nights Fantasy Bra’ Glitters With 600 Carats of Diamonds, Sapphires and Topaz

Glittering with white diamonds, yellow sapphires and blue topaz weighing more than 600 carats, the 2017 Victoria’s Secret “Champagne Nights Fantasy Bra” is valued at $2 million and will be modeled later this month by long-time Angel, Lais Ribeiro.

Nearly 6,000 jewels were meticulously hand set into an 18-karat gold floral motif on the foundation of a Victoria’s Secret Dream Angels Demi Bra — a process that took the Mouawad design team nearly 350 hours to complete.

Blue topaz buds are the focal point of a design that includes diamond- and yellow sapphire-accented leaves. The ensemble includes an elaborate necklace, gem-encrusted bra and bejeweled belt.

The 27-year-old, Brazilian-born Ribeiro will reveal the one-of-a-kind creation on the runway at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai, China. The show will be broadcast on November 28, 10/9C on CBS.

This will be the sixth time she’s participated in the high-profile Victoria’s Secret fashion show and the first time she’s been selected to wear the Fantasy Bra. That honor elevates Ribeiro into an elite club, whose members include supermodels Gisele Bündchen, Claudia Schiffer, Tyra Banks, Candice Swanepoel and Adriana Lima.

Ribeiro was overcome with emotion when she learned she would be wearing the $2 million fantasy bra.

“I never cried so much in my entire life — and I have a baby,” Ribeiro said. “It was so emotional. I couldn’t believe it when they told me. It was so beautiful.”

Ribeiro told People.com that the first time she tried on the blinged-out bra it fit perfectly so no alterations were required.

This year’s show will take place at Shanghai’s Mercedes Benz Arena, the largest of any of the previous Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show venues.

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/Victoria’s Secret; Victoriassecret.com; vspressroom.com.

Houston Astros’ Carlos Correa Proposes on National TV Minutes After His Team Wins World Series

Minutes after winning the World Series, Houston Astros star shortstop Carlos Correa shocked his girlfriend, Daniella Rodriguez, and a national TV audience when he pulled a ring box from his back pocket, dropped to one knee and proposed to the former Miss Texas USA during a post-game interview.

A Fox Sports reporter had asked Correa if winning the World Series was everything he thought it would be. His answer caught everyone by surprise…

“It’s everything and more. It’s one of the biggest steps of my life, one of the biggest accomplishments of my life, and right now I’m about to take another big step in my life,” the 2015 American League Rookie of the Year said.

Then — with a ring box in hand — he turned to the first row of the stands, where his girlfriend was watching the interview, and said, “Daniella Rodriguez. You make me the happiest man in the world. Will you marry me?”

Without saying a word, the 21-year-old Rodriguez opened the field-level gate and joined her boyfriend on the playing field, embracing and kissing him to the delight of the fans.

“Oh my God. Oh my God,” she screamed.

A few seconds went by and Rodriguez had not given her answer.

“Yes?” Correa asked.

“Yes!” she affirmed.

Then the 23-year-old shortstop slid the ring on his new fiancée’s finger. Featuring a pear-shaped center stone, halo-setting and split-shank diamond band, the gorgeous ring had been picked out with the assistance of Carlos Beltran, the Astros’ 40-year-old slugger.

Correa and Rodriguez appeared on NBC’s Today Show on Friday, where they offered more details on how the marriage proposal went down.

We learned that Correa had been planning the proposal for more than a month.

“I knew we had championship potential in our team, so I was waiting it out,” he said.

And if the Astros lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of the epic series?

“There was really no Plan B,” he said.

Correa revealed that the ring box he pulled from his pocket had not been hidden there all game.

“It would have been a good story if I said I had it through the whole game,” Correa said. “Way too big for the pocket. And I wouldn’t have been able to slide.”

The ring was safely in the possession of the clubhouse attendant.

“In the 9th inning, I went to the clubhouse and told [the attendant] that I didn’t want to jinx anything, but if we got three outs, he should bring out my ring,” he said.

Correa explained why the proposal caught Rodriguez totally off guard.

“The only thing I was telling her about during those days was baseball, baseball, baseball. It was Game 7,” he explained. “I was laser-focused on just playing baseball that she would have never thought I was going to propose at that point.”

On Instagram, Rodriguez summed up her special day with a video clip of the proposal from Fox Sports and the following caption: “We both came out of game 7 with a ring. God blessed me with such an incredible man! Can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with my soulmate/best friend!!! #2Rings1Night”

Credits: Proposal screen captures via Fox Sports. Close-up ring pic screen capture via today.com. Parade photo via Instagram.com/daniellardzz.

Music Friday: Drawing by 3-Year-Old Julian Lennon Inspires The Beatles’ ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fantastic throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, we deliver the inside scoop on one of the most famous — and controversial — diamond songs of all time. It’s been 50 years since The Beatles released “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” a psychedelic song that stirred a media frenzy over what appeared to be a not-so-subtle reference to drugs. The evidence: the first letter of each of the title nouns spells “LSD.”

Even though the LSD debate persists today, the song’s co-writer John Lennon had debunked the drug ties to Lucy and her diamonds during a 1971 appearance on The Dick Cavett Show. The song, it turns out, was innocently inspired by a kid’s drawing.

Lennon told the host, “My son came home with a drawing of a strange-looking woman flying around. He said, ‘It’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds.’ I thought, ‘That’s beautiful.’ I immediately wrote the song about it.”

Lucy, it turns out, was a classmate of three-year-old Julian Lennon at the private Heath House School in the UK. Lucy O’Donnell (later Lucy Vodden) told the BBC in 2007 that she remembered “doing pictures on a double-sided easel, throwing paint at each other, much to the horror of the classroom attendant.”

Noted Julian, “I don’t know why I called it [Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds] or why it stood out from all my other drawings, but I obviously had an affection for Lucy at that age. I used to show Dad everything I’d built or painted at school, and this one sparked off the idea.”

Co-writer Paul McCartney said the song’s fantastical imagery is a nod to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland books.

McCartney told an interviewer, “We did the whole thing like an Alice In Wonderland idea, being in a boat on the river… Every so often it broke off and you saw Lucy in the sky with diamonds all over the sky. This Lucy was God, the Big Figure, the White Rabbit.”

“Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds” was released as the third track from wildly successful Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, which spent 15 weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart and eventually sold more than 32 million copies worldwide. Rolling Stone magazine ranked the album #1 on its list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”

The Beatles remain the best selling band in history with an estimated 800 million albums sold worldwide.

Trivia: In 2004, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics named a white dwarf star “Lucy” as a nod to The Beatles’ song because they believe the super-dense star is made primarily of diamond. Previously known as BPM 37093, the star is said to be a chunk of crystallized carbon (diamond), weighing 10 billion trillion trillion carats.

Please check out the audio track of The Beatles performing “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Performed by The Beatles.

Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green
Towering over your head
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes
And she’s gone

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Ah

Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain
Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies
Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers
That grow so incredibly high

Newspaper taxis appear on the shore
Waiting to take you away
Climb in the back with your head in the clouds
And you’re gone

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Ah

Picture yourself on a train in a station
With plasticine porters with looking glass ties
Suddenly someone is there at the turnstile
The girl with the kaleidoscope eyes

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Ah
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Ah
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds

Credit: Image by Parlophone Music Sweden [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons