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Winter storms slamming West coast of Ireland have so far revealed 7,000-year-old Mesolithic axes, early Christian burial ground, Medieval harbor, and 18th century village

© Failte Ireland
Irish archaeologist has called on the government to establish a ‘rescue unit’ after an axe washes up.
A prominent Irish archaeologist has called on the government to establish a 'rescue unit' after an axe aged 6,000 to 7,000 years old and other artefacts were washed up by the recent Atlantic seaboard storms.

Michael Gibbons wants the Irish state to immediately harvest the historical items unearthed by the New Year storms all along the Western coast.

He spoke as archaeologists identified yet more historic material thrown up by the storms according to the Irish Times newspaper.

These include a pink granite quern, or hand mill, estimated to be several thousand years old; several Mesolithic stone axes; a late medieval harbour; and early Christian burial grounds.

How we measure time: Why 60 minutes?

© Shutterstock
How did we come to divide the hour into 60 minutes and the minute into 60 seconds? These smaller divisions of time have been in practical use for only about 400 years, but they were vital to the advent of modern science.

For millennia, ancient civilizations looked to the sky to measure the big units of time. There's the year, which is the time it takes Earth to complete one orbit around the sun; the month, which is approximately how long it takes the moon to orbit our planet; the week, which is approximately the time between the four phases of the moon; and the day, which is the duration of one rotation of the Earth's on its axis.

Dividing the day was not so straightforward, though hours and minutes have their origins in traditions tracing back thousands of years.

Did lead poisoning bring down ancient Rome?

Lead Poisoning
© Chris73/Creative Commons
When in ancient Rome, don't drink as the Romans do. High-born Romans sipped beverages cooked in lead vessels and channeled spring water into their homes through lead pipes (pictured). Some historians argue that lead poisoning plagued the Roman elite with diseases such as gout and hastened the empire's fall.

Now, a team of archaeologists and scientists has discovered just how contaminated Roman tap water was. The team dredged sediment downstream from Rome in the harbor basin at Portus, a maritime port of imperial Rome, and from a channel connecting the port to the Tiber River.

The researchers compared the lead isotopes in their sediment samples with those found in preserved Roman piping to create a historical record of lead pollution flowing from the Roman capital. Tap water from ancient Rome likely contained up to 100 times more lead than local spring water, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. While the lead contamination was measureable, the team says the levels were unlikely high enough to be harmful, ruling out tap water as a major culprit in Rome's demise.

The team's thousand-year historical record included noticeable changes in lead pollution from Rome following major events such as the Gothic Wars in 535 C.E., Byzantine repairs to abandoned Roman aqueducts in 554 C.E., and the mid-9th century Arab sack of Rome. The team says this timeline can support historians studying the changing character of Rome and Portus during the turbulent post-empire years.

Black Death found to be Ebola-like virus

Nutritionally deficient foods, plus widespread cereal consumption, added to the overwhelming toxicity of our environment (heavy metals, fluoride, toxic additives in foods, etc), have prepared us as the perfect population for destruction by the return of the Black Death.
History textbooks have got it wrong about the Plague, also known as the Black Death, which they say was caused by bubonic plague spread by rats and their fleas. A new study suggests that it was in fact caused by an Ebola-like virus transmitted directly from person to person.

If the findings are correct it could mean that a modern form of the Black Death can emerge without requiring the unsanitary conditions of the Middle Ages. Generations of students have been taught that the plague bacteria transmitted by flea bites caused the depopulation of medieval Europe. The Plague first appeared in the 14th century and killed at least 25 million people - more than a quarter of the entire population - over a 300-year period. But two infectious disease specialists who have analyzed the Black Death have concluded that it bears a closer resemblance to modern outbreaks of the Ebola virus.

Intuitively, the Black Death has all the hallmarks of a viral disease rather than one caused by plague bacteria, says Christopher Duncan of the University of Liverpool. The history books are wrong, there's little doubt about that.

Comment: Don't miss our research in this topic: New Light on the Black Death: The Viral and Cosmic Connection

Worthy of keeping it in mind, in view of the recent Ebola-like outbreak...

Ebola suspected in Europe: "Broken through all containment efforts"

Eye 2

Hitler, Darwin and the Holocaust: How the Nazis horrifyingly distorted the theory of evolution

Adapted from "How Could This Happen?: Explaining the Holocaust"

"In general, the brain is larger in mature adults than in the elderly, in men than in women, in eminent men than in men of mediocre talent, in superior races than in inferior races." - Anthropologist Paul Broca in 1861
© AP
Charles Darwin, Adolf Hitler
Today the word "racism" means dislike for people whose skin is colored differently from ours, usually paired with the suspicion that they are not as intelligent or morally upright as we are. Yet during the years between about 1890 and 1960, and especially in the 1930s and 1940s, racism meant a great deal more. During those years most educated people in Europe and North America believed that racial differences in intelligence and morality were proven scientific fact. Today racism is seen as the kneejerk reflex of the uneducated and socially marginal, of "losers." In Hitler's day it was instead a conviction shared by most of society's leaders, and by millions of people who ranked below them.

Sometimes, but hardly always, racist belief flowed from some understanding of genetics, of the way that people can inherit physical and mental traits from their parents. Racism usually contained the notion that different races, different nationalities, and also specific classes of society, were born to behave in certain ways. Not only were people of African or Asian descent assumed to naturally act differently from white people, but even different white nationalities - Scotch, Swedes, Greeks, or Poles - were described as having different inborn traits. The poorer classes of every society were also said to have been born with inferior moral and intellectual qualities that kept them at the bottom of the social ladder.

Comment: See also Psychopaths in power: The Parasite on the Human Super-organism


Bacon bombs and the history of the American Fat Salvage Committee

During World War II, the U.S. government urged Americans to save excess fat rendered from cooking and donate it to the army to produce explosives.

It turns out that bacon fat is good for more than sprucing up bitter greens - it's also pretty good for making bombs. And during World War II, handing over cooking fat to the government was doing your patriotic duty.

The American Fat Salvage Committee was created to urge housewives to save all the excess fat rendered from cooking and donate it to the army to produce explosives. As explained to Minnie Mouse and Pluto in one wartime video, fats are used to make glycerin, and glycerin is used to make things blow up.

4,500-year-old boat among Viking artifacts hoard discovered in Galway, Ireland

old boat in lough
© Unknown
Battle axes and weapons among raiders hoard, found in Lough Corrib, County Galway, to be part of Battle of Clontarf anniversary exhibition.
Twelve boats, dating from 2,500 BC to the 11th century AD, along with other Viking artifacts have been discovered in Lough Corrib in Connemara, County Galway.

Archaeologists have used radiocarbon dating to establish that one of the boats dates from 2,500 BC. Other items that were found include several battle axes and other weapons.

Was the Titanic deliberately sunk by JP Morgan?

A mind-blowing documentary about the unsinkable 'Titanic' that presents damning evidence of what really happened to the ship the night it hit the iceberg. The Titanic and its sister ship Olympic were owned by the White Star line, which was owned by banker JP Morgan. This documentary reveals that it was not the Titanic that sank that night, but its sister ship the Olympic; and that it was one of the first mass-cover ups in recent history. Watch it for yourself and decide!


Archaeologists' findings may prove Rome a century older than thought

© WestEnd61/Rex
Rome may be older than its official birthday of 21 April 753BC when founded by Romulus and Remus.
It is already known as the eternal city, and if new archaeological findings prove correct Rome may turn out to be even more ancient than believed until now.

Next week, the city will celebrate its official, 2,767th birthday. According to a tradition going back to classic times, the brothers Romulus and Remus founded the city on 21 April in the year 753BC.

But on Sunday it was reported that evidence of infrastructure building had been found, dating from more than 100 years earlier. The daily Il Messagero quoted Patrizia Fortini, the archaeologist responsible for the Forum, as saying that a wall constructed well before the city's traditional founding date had been unearthed.
Cow Skull

The mysterious "accidental mummies" of medieval Siberia

© The Siberian Times, Natalya Fyodorova/Kate Baklitskaya/Go East
Russian archaeologists are once again digging at Zeleniy Yar, a remote excavation site near the Arctic circle. This same site produced nearly a dozen extraordinary mummies a few years ago - including unintentionally preserved corpses wearing copper masks. The researchers are now hoping to learn more about this mysterious northern community.