Secret History

Cow Skull

Woolly mammoth bones uncovered by Chelsea, Michigan farmer

A farmer near Chelsea made a startling discovery Monday night: bones of a woolly mammoth possibly butchered by early human hunters thousands of years ago.

James Bristle and a friend were digging in a soy field off of Scio Church Road west of Fletcher in Washtenaw County's Lima Township when they came up with something very out of the ordinary.

"It was probably a rib bone that came up," he said. "We thought it was a bent fence post. It was covered in mud."

Comment: Read more about the woolly mammoth:
  • 'Young' 126,000-year-old steppe mammoth skeleton found in Siberia
  • Ice Age fossils, including bones of ancient mammoths discovered at California construction site


Lost 'Epic of Gilgamesh' verse depicts cacophonous abode of gods

© Farouk Al-Rawi
This is the clay tablet, carved with the new verse from the ancient, epic story.
A serendipitous deal between a history museum and a smuggler has provided new insight into one of the most famous stories ever told: The Epic of Gilgamesh.

The new finding, a clay tablet, reveals a previously unknown "chapter" of the epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia. This new section brings both noise and color to a forest for the gods that was thought to be a quiet place in the work of literature. The newfound verse also reveals details about the inner conflict the poem's heroes endured.

In 2011, the Sulaymaniyah Museum in Slemani, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, purchased a set of 80 to 90 clay tablets from a known smuggler. The museum has been engaging in these backroom dealings as a way to regain valuable artifacts that disappeared from Iraqi historical sites and museums since the start of the American-led invasion of that country, according to the online nonprofit publication Ancient History Et Cetera.

Among the various tablets purchased, one stood out to Farouk Al-Rawi, a professor in the Department of Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London. The large block of clay, etched with cuneiform writing, was still caked in mud when Al-Rawi advised the Sulaymaniyah Museum to purchase artifact for the agreed upon $800.


New finds of a living fossil - ancestors of coelacanth unearthed

Coelacanth fish
The coelacanth fish, found today in the Indian Ocean, is often called a 'living fossil' because its last ancestors existed about 70 million years ago and it has survived into the present -- but without leaving any fossil remains younger than that time. Now, some much older coelacanth remains have been uncovered in a fossil deposit near Bristol by Harry Allard, a student at the University of Bristol, UK. Credit: Harry Allard

The coelacanth fish, found today in the Indian Ocean, is often called a 'living fossil' because its last ancestors existed about 70 million years ago and it has survived into the present - but without leaving any fossil remains younger than that time. Now, some much older coelacanth remains have been uncovered in a fossil deposit near Bristol by a student at the University of Bristol.

While working last summer in Bristol's School of Earth Sciences, Harry Allard, a recent graduate from the University of Exeter, found remains of coelacanth fishes, ranging in size from juveniles to adults, in a section of Late Triassic rocks, dated at about 210 million years old, at Manor Farm, Aust, close to the first Severn crossing.

He discovered the new fossils in a large collection of fish and reptile teeth and bones, representing animals that lived in the shallow seas, and on the neighbouring landmass at that time when Bristol teemed with dinosaurs, and the landscape consisted of numerous tropical islands.


Amber encases a flea infected 20 million years ago with bubonic plague-type bacteria

© George Poinar Jr.
The flea caught in amber
Closely related ancestors of the bacteria that cause the bubonic plague may be millions of years older than the 14th century, when the disease devastated Asia and killed more than half of Europe's population. And diseases like it, borne by insects, may have played a role in the mass extinctions of dinosaurs, a researcher says.

Comment: Or maybe they were brought in on cosmic bodies such as comets. Learn more: The Apocalypse: Comets, Asteroids and Cyclical Catastrophes by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

Dr. George Poinar Jr., an entomologist at Oregon State University in the United States has possibly identified a previously unknown strain of the plague bacteria. The fossilized bacteria are preserved on a flea encased in amber. If the bacteria do belong to the bubonic plague, then at 20 million years, they are the oldest known evidence for that disease.

Poinar, who specializes in specimens caught in amber, says if the fossilized bacteria are related to the plague's Yersinia pestis bug, the disease predates the human race and traveled around much of the world.


Possible ancient Chinese disk strangely found in a Kentucky garden

© Jon R. Haskell/
Two sides of a jade disk, about 2.5 inches in diameter, found in Harrison County, Ky. The red arrows on the right point to dragon and bird motifs.
What may be an ancient Chinese artifact mysteriously appeared in a small garden next to a pond, on a heavily wooded acreage in a remote and sparsely populated area of Harrison County, Ky.

"It was just laying there," said the finder, recalling the moment two years ago when his quest began to understand what the disc is and how it got in his garden. It's been a frustrating, inconclusive quest. With a look on his face of expecting me to have all the answers, he asked, "How do you think it got here?"

As with other such artifacts, which appear to be of ancient Chinese origin found in North America without supporting contextual information, I could only respond that there are multiple possible explanations.


Anger over London housing reminiscent of 1915 Glasgow rent protests

© Wikimedia
Protesters prevent sheriff officers entering the tenements of rent refusers.
Anger over government housing policy is undoubtedly one of the running themes of the 2010s. Most recently we have seen anti-gentrification protests in east London over people being pushed out due to huge increases in private rent costs and a lack of social housing, which made headlines for targeting the hipster Cereal Killer Cafe in Brick Lane.

This is an era of severe shortages in social housing, aggravated by Tory plans to extend the right to buy scheme to housing associations. We have seen staggering increases in the costs of private renting, dwindling owner occupation and of course the bedroom tax. The London protests were a reaction to the effective social cleansing of working-class residents by Tory/Lib Dem coaliton policy. Local tenants' organisations and protest groups have also been formed to co-ordinate discontent. Meanwhile, Corbyn's Labour is proposing the biggest social-housing programme since the 1970s.



Not just the Egyptians: Ancient Britons mummified their dead

© Geoff Morley
This may look like a ordinary skeleton - but the bones provide compelling evidence that these remains were once mummified.
Findings mark major breakthrough in helping archaeologists to understand the nature of society in prehistoric Britain

While the ancient Egyptians were busy mummifying their dead, prehistoric Britons - well beyond the fringes of the known world - were doing the same more than 2000 miles to the north-west.

New research is revealing that people throughout much of prehistoric Britain used mummification to ensure that their dead ancestors appeared to 'live on', at least physically, for decades and probably centuries.

The research is a major breakthrough in helping archaeologists to understand the nature of society in prehistoric Britain.

Scientific investigations are now showing that ancient British tribes mummified some of their dead by immersing them in peat bogs and in some cases by exposing them to heat and smoke. It is a completely different mummification system to the salt-based one used by the ancient Egyptians.

The new research - carried out by Dr Tom Booth at Sheffield University - shows that mummification in Britain seems to have started by 2400BC and continued until at least 1000 BC. It suggests that prehistoric Brits may have been among the first peoples in the world, apart from the ancient Egyptians and Peruvians, to practise deliberate mummification.

Comment: More interesting finds:


Latest treasures from Antikythera shipwreck reveal how elites lived during Julius Caesar's time

The latest expedition to Antikythera shipwreck yields new treasures
The excavation of the ancient Antikythera shipwreck has revealed how the top "1%" of Julius Caesar's time would have lived, with the remains of a bronze throne and luxury ceramics yielded from the latest expedition. Underwater archaeologists have revisited the site of the 2,000-year-old Greek shipwreck and have announced some of their latest findings.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute said more than 50 items have been brought up from the shipwreck, including a bone flute, a bronze armrest (thought to be part of a throne) and a pawn from a board game. The latest treasures will be added to the other artefacts discovered at the site, including 36 marble statues of mythological figures and a life-sized bronze statue.

Most interestingly, the wreck uncovered the Antikythera mechanism - a mechanical device that encoded the movements of the planets and stars. This artefact has been much studied and has been called the world's first computer.

Researchers believe the ship sank around 65BC. It is thought to have been transporting treasures back to Rome from Greece following an expedition by Roman general Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix. Brendan Foley, a marine archaeologist with WHOI, said: "This shipwreck is far from exhausted. Every single dive on it delivers fabulous finds, and reveals how the '1%' lived in the time of Caesar."

Comment: For more information on the Antikythera treasures, see:

Light Saber

Viking Chief Tore Hund and his successful resistance against Christian conversion

© Wikimedia Commons
The death of King Olaf at the hands of Tore Hund, Viking chief
When Christians made their theological push into Europe, suppressing native religions and supplanting them with a foreign God, some pagans resisted by secretly practicing their old religion, while others resisted by meeting force with force. One such case of forceful resistance was by Tore Hund or Thorir the Hound, a powerful Viking born around 990 AD, during the first incursions of Christianity into Norway.

Today, many people around the world still resort to violence over religion, more than 1,000 years after Tore Hund killed King Olaf II or Saint Olaf, who reportedly made a deal to impose Christianity on Norway in exchange for the help of other European powers. Tore killed Olaf at the battle of Stiklestad. There, an army of farmers and laborers overwhelmed the king's army.

Post-It Note

1920's eugenics exhibit reveal the elitist mindset

This is an exhibit about Eugenics, dated 1926.
According to eugenics, "some people are born to be a burden on the rest".

You see, the eugenics movement — which steadily gained popularity for the first nearly 40 years of the 20th century and is the direct reason for forced sterilization laws implemented across America — sought to "breed out" people the elite that ultimately funded and promoted it (the Carnegie Institute and the Rockefeller Foundation, etc.) determined were genetically defective "riff raff" by way of pseudoscience parading as science.

Comment: See also: The fascinating history of eugenics