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An Archeology & Natural History Expert’s Take on Valentine’s Day

By Simone | 6th February 2019

For Valentine’s Day this year we decided to do what we do best: celebrate our shared love for unique and hard-to-find objects. To do so, we asked some of our passionate experts, sellers and users a couple of questions about this passion. Our archaeology & natural history experts, however, enthusiastically started telling me about Saint Valentine and Greek Mythology instead. If that doesn’t show how passionate they are, I don’t know what does.

Peter Reynaers is our expert in archaeological finds & remains; something he fell in love with at quite a young age. He was just four years old when he joined his father on an archaeological dig in southern France and his lifelong passion for archaeology was born. A couple of years later, when all of his friends were reading comic books, he was reading about Tutankhamun. For Valentine’s Day, he curated this special minerals collection, wrote an entire guide on “love crystals” and shared with us some facts about the origin of Valentine’s Day, which you can find below.

So who was Valentine?

“Saint Valentine of Rome was allegedly a third-century Catholic martyr who was put to death and buried in Rome on the day we now know as Valentine’s Day: 14th February. Even though he is traditionally recognised as the patron saint of “courtly love”, in 1969 he was actually removed from the General Roman Calendar as a direct result of the patchy historical record surrounding him. Despite this, he continues to be commemorated on a more local basis throughout the Christian world, most recently as the patron saint of love in general, hence the name given to the 14th: Valentine’s Day.”

Venus, the Goddess of Love

“In Greek and Roman times, it was not Valentine but Venus (Greek: Aphrodite) who was honoured as the ultimate Love Goddess. She was helped, of course, by her son Cupid (Greek: Eros) who was happily flying around firing off arrows at humans that were consequently struck by an all-consuming godly love. Venus herself was thought to be born out of the sea, famously portrayed in the painting ‘The Birth of Venus’ by Botticelli, where she is standing in a giant Pecten-shell (scallop).”

Butterflies

“Greeks and Romans had another way of celebrating love: butterflies! In Greek mythology, butterflies were seen as the most ethereal of all beings. In the story of Amor (Cupid/Eros) and Psyche (soul), the unconditional lovers celebrated by the Romans, Psyche was often represented as a beautiful woman with butterfly wings on her back.”

Just as passionate about archaeology and natural history as our expert Peter? He and his fellow experts curated a special Valentine's collection for you this week, which is worth a visit.

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