Bronze Age gold spirals found in Boeslund, 900-700 BC. Credit: Morten Petersen / Zealand Museum.
A team of archaeologists working in Boeslunde, Denmark recently stumbled onto an intriguing mystery: nearly 2,000 tightly-wound golden spirals dating back to the Bronze Age. The discovery of gold in Boeslunde isn’t uncommon, as numerous gold objects have been unearthed in the region over the last few years. But the purpose of these coils has stumped archaeologists who refer to the find as the “golden enigma.”
The spirals are made from extremely pure gold that was hammered flat to just 0.1 millimeter thick. Some pieces measure up to 1.18 inches long and all together weigh between 200 to 300 grams (7-10 ounces). Their exact purpose is anyone’s guess, but Flemming Kaul, a curator with the National Museum of Denmark, believes the coils are most likely related to prehistoric Bronze Age people who were known to offer gold to higher powers as part of sun rituals.
“The sun was one of the most sacred symbols in the Bronze Age and gold had a special magic,” Kaul writes. “Maybe the priest-king wore a gold ring on his wrist, and gold spirals on his cloak and his hat, where they during ritual sun ceremonies shone like the sun.” It’s also suggested the gold was simply buried as part of an elaborate sacrifice.
Whatever the use or meaning behind the pieces, it’s an extraordinary and priceless find. The local museum in Skaelskor already held a temporary viewing before the spirals find a permanent home. You can read more over on the History Blog. (via Neatorama, Gizmodo)
Gold spirals surrounded by flakes of birch pitch. Credit: Flemming Kaul / National Museum of Denmark.
Gold spiral in situ. Credit: Flemming Kaul / National Museum of Denmark.
Credot:Morten Petersen / Museum Vestsjælland.
Update: Adam Swickle writes: “The shavings are from shaving gold coins down. Merchants did this when they paid in quantity instead of weight, and that is why coins have ridges now, to show they haven’t been shaven down.”
For her MA degree project at the University of West Hungary, Budapest-based graphic designer Barbara Bernát devised this lovely concept for the Hungarian euro. The project involved five denominations of increasing scale, each made with a set of copperplate etchings; animals of increasing size on the front and related plants on the back. The kicker is a security feature that reveals the skeleton of each animal under UV light, not unlike the new Canadian passport. Regardless of whether this would translate well into actual currency, this is phenomenal way to get hired. Design students take note. (via Kottke)
About two years we featured a great selection of skull nickels, a numismatic curiosity where miniature bas relief sculptures are carved into coins, an artform that’s broadly referred to as hobo nickel art. While researching a follow-up article on Hobonickelart.com I stumbled onto the work of Paolo Curcio (aka “mrthe”) who appears to have taken the process of carving coins to an entirely new level. Using a variety of different coins the Barcelona-based artist creates etched homages to pop culture, illustrations of figures from literature, and most commonly: macabre portraits of skulls and death, probably the most prevalent theme in hobo nickel art.
One aspect of Curcio’s process that’s really amazing is his ability to use coins made from multiple layers of metal (referred to as clad coins) which he then strategically reveals to create colored flourishes and background patterns. You can see much more of his work over on his website, and keep an eye on his Ebay page for occasional coin listings.
The Avant/Garde Diaries recently did a short feature on collage artist Mark Wagner (previously) and got some excellent footage of the artist at work as well as a timelapse of one of his recent pieces coming together. Directed and produced by Kelly Nyks and Jared P. Scott.
Artist Robert Wechsler (previously) was recently commissioned by the The New Yorker to create a series of coin sculptures for their October 14th money-themed edition. Wechsler used a jeweler’s saw to cut precise notches in coins from various currencies and then joined them together in several geometric forms. While nine pieces were selected for the magazine, a total of 22 were created, all of which can be seen in his Money gallery. (via Colossal Submissions)
Brooklyn-based artist Mark Wagner (previously) has been referred to as “the greatest living collage artist” and even “the Michael Jordan of glue”. The artist has a wide variety of artistic pursuits from writing and artist bookmaking to drawing and assemblage, though he is probably best known for his intricately cut and assembled currency collages using the one dollar bill. From his artist statement:
The one dollar bill is the most ubiquitous piece of paper in America. Collage asks the question: what might be done to make it something else? It is a ripe material: intaglio printed on sturdy linen stock, covered in decorative filigree, and steeped in symbolism and concept. Blade and glue transform it-reproducing the effects of tapestries, paints, engravings, mosaics, and computers—striving for something bizarre, beautiful, or unbelievable… the foreign in the familiar.
The medium of choice for artist Robert Wechsler is U.S. pennies, tens of thousands of which (the largest uses 26,982 coins) he has carefully cut and assembled into a latticework forming perfect cubes. Weschler says of the penny:
With fifty billion currently in circulation, the penny is one of humanity’s most numerous objects, but despite its commonality, it is an extraordinarily rich artifact. As a symbol of American culture, it is on par with the Statue of Liberty. It is a monument to a beloved president. It is a proclamation of a national faith and creed. It is a time stamped record of our civilization. As much ornament as legal tender, the penny is equal parts form and function. It defines elegance just as its ubiquity, low monetary value, and high symbolic value defines humility.