A Pocket Watch From the Titanic Surfaces and Sells for $57,500

Heritage Auctions, HA.com
Heritage Auctions, HA.com

Married couple Sinai and Miriam Kantor boarded the R.M.S. Titanic in Southampton, England on April 10, 1912. The Russian immigrants planned to study dentistry and medicine in the Bronx. Just five days later, Miriam was being ushered on a lifeboat, prioritized in the ship's women and children first mandate as it began to sink into the ocean. She survived. Sinai's body was recovered later.

Like all of the casualties retrieved by ships, Sinai's was taken in and his personal effects recorded. In addition to money, a passport, a notebook, a telescope, and a corkscrew, there was a pocket watch. Over 100 years later, the timepiece has now become part of a Titanic collector's assortment of watches from the doomed ship's excursion.

The inside of the timepiece recovered from the 'Titanic' and put up for auction
Heritage Auctions, HA.com

Heritage Auctions recently held a memorabilia auction, with Sinai's watch among the offerings. John Miottel, owner of Miottel Museum, made the winning bid of $57,500 for the item, which measures three inches in diameter and features Hebrew letters to represent numerals. A back etching depicts Moses holding the Ten Commandments.

The watch, which was handed over to Miriam along with Sinai's other personal effects, remained in the family throughout the 20th century before being put up for auction by a descendant. Miottel plans on adding it to a timepiece collection on display at the San Francisco Bay Area museum's Ocean Liner section. Miottel also owns three other watches recovered from the disaster.

While expensive, it's by no means the most valuable item to be retrieved from the waters surrounding the sunken ship. In 2017, a violin owned by bandleader Wallace Hartley sold for $1.7 million.

[h/t Economic Times]

Advanced CT Scans Reveal Blood Vessels and Skin Layers in a Mummy's Hand

Jenny Romell, et al./Radiology
Jenny Romell, et al./Radiology

Mummies hold some intriguing secrets to their pasts, like the food they ate and the diseases they had when they were alive. Now scientists are using a tool originally designed for medicine to get an even deeper look at the clues mummified bodies carry with them into the present day, Gizmodo reports.

In a proof-of-concept study published in the journal Radiology, researchers from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden detail how a new-and-improved CT scanning technique can be used to visualize the interior of mummies on a microscopic level. By creating detailed X-ray images, CT scans allow doctors to see inside their patients without invasive surgery. Archaeologists have been using this technology to study delicate ancient artifacts for years, but the level of detail that can be achieved this way—especially when it comes to looking at interior soft tissue—is limited.

The upgraded version of the tech, called phase-contrast CT scanning, measures the phase shift, or the change in the position of a light wave, that occurs when X-rays pass through solid objects. The images generated this way have a higher contrast level than conventional X-rays, which means they capture more detail.

Cross-section of mummy hand.
Jenny Romell, et al./Radiology

Doctors have been using this 10-year-old technology to examine soft tissues like organs and veins in living patients, but it hadn't been used on a mummy until recently. Working with a mummified human right hand dating back to 400 BCE in Egypt, which they borrowed from the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm, the researchers fired up a phase-contrast CT scanner. It produced images with a resolution of 6 to 9 microns, giving a clear picture of the different layers of skin, individual cells in the connective tissue, and the blood vessels in the nail bed—all without damaging the artifact. Previously, researchers looking to study these same tissues in mummies would have needed to use a scalpel.

As Ars Technica reports, a phase-contrast CT scanner is similar in cost to the conventional machine. The study authors hope their work will lead to phase-contrast CT scanning becoming just as common in archaeology as regular CT scanning, potentially creating new research opportunities in mummies that will be discovered in the future and even in artifacts that have already been examined.

[h/t Gizmodo]

A 2.63-Carat Diamond Was Unearthed by a Grandmother at an Arkansas State Park

iStock
iStock

Visitors to the Crater of Diamonds Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas clearly have an objective in mind: Excavate one of the diamonds lurking on or beneath the park's soil, the onetime site of a volcanic crater. If they do, it's theirs to keep.

Earlier this month, a 71-year-old grandmother from Colorado made the biggest discovery on park grounds of 2018: a 2.63-carat ice white diamond. And she did it in about 10 minutes.

The retiree, who asked media outlets not to identify her by name, visited Crater of Diamonds with her husband, son, and grandchildren. After briefly scraping away dirt, she saw the gem on the surface. The diamond was so large and clear—roughly the size of a pinto bean—that she assumed it was just a piece of glass. Further inspection by her family and park personnel revealed it was a diamond.

Park officials told press that employees frequently till the soil, which can loosen the gems and allow them to catch the reflection of the sun, making them easier to spot. Roughly 33,000 diamonds have been found by visitors since the park opened in 1972.

It's hard to know the exact value of the diamond. While there is a certain fluctuating value assigned to a carat, appraisers also look at three other "Cs": clarity, color, and cut. A two-carat diamond is often more than double the price of a one-carat diamond because the larger gems are more rare. But tourists have profited from their finds: In 2015, a visitor retrieved a 8.51-carat white diamond that was cut down to 4.6 carats by a jeweler and valued by the American Gem Society at $500,000.

[h/t WGN TV]

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