Category Archives: Reference


Secrets of the Colosseum

A German archaeologist has deciphered the great stadium’s complex stagecraft.

The floor of the colosseum, where you might expect to see a smooth ellipse of sand, is instead a bewildering array of masonry walls shaped in concentric rings, whorls and chambers, like a huge thumbprint. The confusion is compounded as you descend a long stairway at the eastern end of the stadium and enter ruins that were hidden beneath a wooden floor during the nearly five centuries the arena was in use, beginning with its inauguration in A.D. 80. Weeds grow waist-high between flagstones; caper and fig trees sprout from dank walls, which are a patchwork of travertine slabs, tufa blocks and brickwork. The walls and the floor bear numerous slots, grooves and abrasions, obviously made with great care, but for purposes that you can only guess.

The guesswork ends when you meet Heinz-Jürgen Beste of the German Archaeological Institute in Rome, the leading authority on the hypogeum, the extraordinary, long-neglected ruins beneath the Colosseum floor. Beste has spent much of the past 14 years deciphering the hypogeum—from the Greek word for “underground”.

Secrets of the Colosseum | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine.

ruby and diamond ring - circa 1850

Precious minerals used as gems.

Rubies & Sapphires

Corundum is aluminum oxide. The ruby is a transparent variety of corundum. Pre-Cambrian gneisses rocks yield rubies.

Rubies are mined in the region of Mogok, Burma (Myanmar). Rubies have been mined there since the 1400 s. Rubies are also found in Afghanistan, Ceylon, Siam, China and Russia in the Ural mountains. Since Burma rubies are believed to be the most valuable, rubies mined elsewhere are passed off as Burma rubies. For example, rubies mined in the U.S. in Montana may be purchased and then sold as “Burma rubies”.

The color varies from deep cochineal to pale rose-red, in some cases, with a tinge of purple, the most valued tint being pigeon blood color.

A large, clear, transparent purplish red or “pigeon blood” red ruby is worth much more, perhaps as much as four times more than a diamond of equal weight.

A sapphire is corundum (aluminum oxide) and may be pink, yellow, orange, blue according to the other elements included, such as chromium, iron, chromium and iron, or titanium and iron respectively.

Some of the world’s most beautiful treasures can be seen in the Tower of London – Crown jewels; in Iran – at the National Bank in Tehran and in the Kremlin Museum in Moscow, Russia. There are 2500 gems in a portrayal of Christ in the Cathedral of St. Mark in Venice. A wonderful display of rubies, sapphires and other gems are in the museum above the Bosporus in Istanbul.

It would be quite a wonderful sight – the Peacock Throne – if one could ascertain the exact present location of the real Peacock Throne – once housed in the palace of Shah Jahan. It may be in Iran. The peacock tails are inlaid with rubies, sapphires and other gems.


1. A child picked up a pebble that turned out to be a diamond. This led to discovery of the largest diamond ever found.

2. A housewife picked up a large diamond from a small plot.

3. A digger handed over a large diamond he picked up.

4. A Mogul ruler handed over a large diamond to a man who started out life in a tent with his mother and father (who died when he was young). Afterwards he and his mother were taken and sold into slavery.

5. There was another very poor man who, while loading a truck, picked up a large diamond.

The above diamond are as follows:

1. The Cullinan diamond wt. 3106 carats

2. The Lesotho diamond wt. 601.25 carats

3. The Congolese diamond wt. 265.82 carats

4. The Koh-i-noor diamond wt. 186 carats

5. The Excelsior diamond wt. 969.5 carats

Incidentally, the one who was sold into slavery came back and became the Shah of Persia. Then he invaded India and took $l20,000,000 worth of loot which included the “Mountain of Light” (the Koh-i-noor).


Platinum was $598.90 per troy ounce on Friday 15 November 2002 and as high as $1,047.00 in 1980. In 1916 a cubic foot of platinum was $2,500,000 @ $183 per troy ounce. A cubic foot of silvery-grey-white platinum weighs more than half a ton. In 1940 Colombia produced half the platinum mined in the world. In 1957 Canada produced half or more of the world’s platinum. Russia ranked next, followed by Colombia and the Union of South Africa. of equal weight.


Emeralds were mined in ancient Egypt in 1650 B.C. The Spanish conquerors took large amounts of emeralds from Peruvians. The chief source of deep green emeralds was then and now the famous mine at Muzo in Colombia Emeralds occur in calcite. Chemically the emerald is a metasilicate of alumina and glucinum. Gem stones are composed of alumina or silica or a combination of them. A large, brilliant, flawless emerald is rare and costlier than a diamond of equal weight.