This wreath was purportedly recovered in modern day China, in a region which saw tremendous cross-cultural contact exchange due to the trade routes of the famed Silk Road.
Wreaths worn as a crown are among the more recognizable symbols of ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. Awarded for various accomplishments, or simply as symbols of status and rank, wreaths might be made from the leaves of such plants as olive, ivy, oak, myrtle or laurel. The laurel wreath, awarded to victorious athletes and for academic achievement, is perhaps the best known of the wreath crowns. The example seen here, however, depicts artistic variations on a mix of species including the trumpet vine.
Wreaths of mixed foliage, particularly fashioned in precious metal, are believed to have been made as funerary objects or as offerings at temples. The conquests of Alexander the Great, and the later expansion of the Roman Empire resulted in the appearance of such items far beyond the boundaries of modern Greece and Italy.
Silk Road 2.0, the successor to the deep web’s most infamous marketplace, just passed a new milestone. Despite a dramatic holiday season, when three of its staff and several vendors were arrested on conspiracy charges, there are now over 10,000 narcotics listings on its pixelated shelves. And, according to its acting administrator “Defcon”, traffic to the website has doubled since December.
So it appears that the site—where you can anonymously get your hands on pretty much any substance you want, as well as a bunch of other illegal stuff that you’d usually need Turkish mob connections to access—is just as resilient to the feds as its current ownershad promised it would be.
And far from the digital trap house many have depicted it to be, Silk Road 2.0 has continued its predecessor’s aim of allowing drug users to make informed decisions about their use of psychoactive substances, both by providing products that are open to quality checks and through the spread of honest information about how to take those products as safely as possible.
A cemetery dating back roughly 1,700 years has been discovered along part of the Silk Road, a series of ancient trade routes that once connected China to the Roman Empire.
The cemetery was found in the city of Kucha, which is located in present-day northwest China. Ten tombs were excavated, seven of which turned out to be large brick structures.
One tomb, dubbed “M3,” contained carvings of several mythical creatures, including four that represent different seasons and parts of the heavens: the White Tiger of the West, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the Black Turtle of the North and the Azure Dragon of the East. Read more.
For 1,000 years, the Silk Road—the overland trade routes spanning Europe, Central Asia, and East Asia—drove cross-cultural exchange not only in commerce but also in art and culture. Portable objects such as manuscripts and ceramics helped spread religions, ideas, and materials across the map.
Clues to this influence are found across centuries of European art:
The story of the Buddha reached medieval European audiences by way of the tale of Saints Barlaam and Josaphat, a Christianized version of the Buddha story.
Bactria was an ancient country located in modern northern Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. It was situated near the Silk Road between the Hindu Kush mountains in the south and the Oxus River (modern Amu Darya) in the north. The terrain consisted of very fertile alluvial plains, a hot desert, and cold mountains. The region was famous for its fierce warriors and its ancient Zoroastrian religion, which was founded by Zarathustra (aka Zoroaster).
Bactria has often been part of various empires and has been conquered many times — notably by Cyrus the Great and several later Persian rulers, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and by Russia.
My Top Secret Meeting with One of Silk Road’s Biggest Drug Lords
Dread Pirate Roberts captained a ship that many thought was unsinkable. But when the FBI seized the original Silk Road on October 1, 2013 ,and arrested the alleged kingpin—29-year-old Ross Ulbricht—the online drugs empire began to capsize. Its hundreds of thousands of customers scattered across the Deep Web, and up to seven known Silk Road vendors were identified and arrested.
As the chaos unravelled into the mainstream and stories of Dread Pirate Roberts’ (DPR) alleged murder-for-hire antics made headlines, one prominent Silk Road drugs syndicate sat in their European safe-house with a ton of opium and a decision to make—would they cut their losses and disappear into the ether while they were still ahead, or keep their lucrative online drugs network running in the midst of all this extra attention?
The displaced drugs syndicate, known on the Deep Web as the Scurvy Crew (TSC), decided to go back to work. For them, back to work meant laundering Bitcoins, vacuum packing drug parcels, and jumping the Moroccan border with bags stuffed full of uncut drugs. Silk Road may have died a sudden death at the hands of the authorities, but as one of the highest rated vendors before the FBI shut-down, the Scurvy Crew saw its demise as an opportunity to diversify.
After six months of negotiation, via encrypted email and several phone calls from throwaway SIM cards, the boss of the Scurvy Crew agreed to meet me. He told me he would explain to me the inner workings of his Deep Web drugs venture, from its humble beginnings to the near million-dollar profits it now apparently generates. Known to me only by the pseudonym “Ace,” the boss claimed to represent a new breed of drug dealer.
“I don’t do this just for the money,” he wrote to me via email. “I like to provide a premium service.”