Secret History


Don't like that Israel has the bomb? Blame Nixon

nixon kissinger
In the summer of 1969, Richard Nixon's administration was absorbed in a highly secret debate: how to address the diplomatic, strategic, and political problems posed by Israel's emergent nuclear weapons program. Leading those discussions were senior Defense Department officials who believed that a nuclear-armed Israel was not in U.S. interests -- it would dangerously complicate the situation in an already dangerous region, they argued.

According to recently declassified government documents -- published on Sept. 12 by the National Security Archive, in collaboration with the Center for Nonproliferation Studies -- Deputy Defense Secretary David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, warned his boss, Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, that if Washington did not use its leverage to check Israel's nuclear advances, it would "involve us in a conspiracy with Israel which would leave matters dangerous to our security in their hands."

The overall apprehension was palpable for National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, who consequently signed off in 1969 on National Security Memorandum (NSSM) 40, a request for a set of interagency studies -- including policy recommendations -- of the problems posed by the Israeli nuclear program. NSSM 40 and the studies it produced are now public for the first time, making it possible to better understand the environment in which President Nixon made his own secret decisions, which turned out to be at great variance with Packard's arguments.

Packard's memo, among others, exposes the contours of a policy debate that has been hidden for years. By now, Israel's nuclear weapons are the world's worst-kept secret, universally accepted as well-established fact, and yet Washington still respects Israel's nuclear opacity stance, keeping up the charade that the U.S. government does not comment on Israel's nuclear status. Recent unofficial estimates published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (but which are based on U.S. intelligence leaks) suggest that Israel may possess 80 warheads and also an unspecified amount of weapons-grade fissile material in reserve. (Although the National Security Archive first submitted its declassification request to the Defense Department in 2006, the Interagency Security Classification Appeals panel only released the documents in March 2014.)

Return to Antikythera: Divers confident of new finds from 'ancient computer' shipwreck

Antikythera Mechanism

The Antikythera Mechanism—is a 2nd-century BC device known as the world's oldest computer—because it could track astronomical phenomena and the cycles of the Solar System

Archaeologists set out Monday to use a revolutionary new deep sea diving suit to explore the ancient shipwreck where one of the most remarkable scientific objects of antiquity was found.

The so-called Antikythera Mechanism, a 2nd-century BC device known as the world's oldest computer, was discovered by sponge divers in 1900 off a remote Greek island in the Aegean.

The highly complex mechanism of up to 40 bronze cogs and gears was used by the ancient Greeks to track the cycles of the solar system. It took another 1,500 years for an astrological clock of similar sophistication to be made in Europe.

Now archaeologists returning to the wreck will be able to use a new diving suit which will allow them to more than double the depth they can dive at, and stay safely at the bottom for longer.

Europeans ancestry traced to three ancient 'tribes'

ancient stone monument
© Thinkstock
The modern European gene pool was formed when three ancient populations mixed within the last 7,000 years, Nature journal reports.

Blue-eyed, swarthy hunters mingled with brown-eyed, pale skinned farmers as the latter swept into Europe from the Near East.

But another, mysterious population with Siberian affinities also contributed to the genetic landscape of the continent.

The findings are based on analysis of genomes from nine ancient Europeans.

Agriculture originated in the Near East - in modern Syria, Iraq and Israel - before expanding into Europe around 7,500 years ago.

Multiple lines of evidence suggested this new way of life was spread not just via the exchange of ideas, but by a wave of migrants, who interbred with the indigenous European hunter-gatherers they encountered on the way.

But assumptions about European origins were based largely on the genetic patterns of living people. The science of analysing genomic DNA from ancient bones has put some of the prevailing theories to the test, throwing up a few surprises.

Genomic DNA contains the biochemical instructions for building a human, and resides within the nuclei of our cells.

In the new paper, Prof David Reich from the Harvard Medical School and colleagues studied the genomes of seven hunter-gatherers from Scandinavia, one hunter whose remains were found in a cave in Luxembourg and an early farmer from Stuttgart, Germany.
ancient european genetics
The hunters arrived in Europe thousands of years before the advent of agriculture, hunkered down in southern refuges during the Ice Age and then expanded during a period called the Mesolithic, after the ice sheets had retreated from central and northern Europe.
Cow Skull

'Ancient monster' surfaces in Siberian river

Extinct reptile with 'toothy grin' found by fishermen as they rafted in remote area of the Yamal peninsula.
© Wild North Fishing Club
Research has to be carried out to establish the exact age of the remnants.
Is it a mesosaur? Or some other kind of dinosaur? No-one is quite sure yet. Siberian zoologists are rushing to the site to extract the crocodile-like remains before they are covered by ice and washed away in the spring floods next year.

Intrepid tourists from the Wild North Fishing Club found fossil as they rafted on the Ruta-Ru River.

'The boat of our group member Oleg Yushkov bumped against something. It was not very deep there and he could discern a stone looking like the head of a prehistoric animal', said the club's chairman Yevgeny Svitov. 'He made a photo of the discovery and showed it to us. One source claimed it had a 'toothy grin'.

Prehistoric "Atlantis" in the North Sea may have been abandoned after being hit by a 5m tsunami 8,200 years ago

© Unknown
A prehistoric "Atlantis" in the North Sea may have been abandoned after being hit by a 5m tsunami 8,200 years ago.

The wave was generated by a catastrophic subsea landslide off the coast of Norway.

Analysis suggests the tsunami over-ran Doggerland, a low-lying landmass that has since vanished beneath the waves.

"It was abandoned by Mesolithic tribes about 8,000 years ago, which is when the Storegga slide happened," said Dr Jon Hill from Imperial College London.

The wave could have wiped out the last people to occupy this island.

The research has been submitted to the journal Ocean Modelling and is being presented at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna this week.

Dr Hill and his Imperial-based colleagues Gareth Collins, Alexandros Avdis, Stephan Kramer and Matthew Piggott used computer simulations to explore the likely effects of the Norwegian landslide.

He told BBC News: "We were the first ever group to model the Storegga tsunami with Doggerland in place. Previous studies have used the modern bathymetry (ocean depth)."

As such, the study gives the most detailed insight yet into the likely impacts of the huge landslip and its associated tsunami wave on this lost landmass.

Comment: Tsunami created North Sea 'Atlantis' 8,000 years ago


Massive 5,000-year-old stone monument revealed in Israel

Crescent-shaped monument
© DigitalGlobe, courtesy Google Earth
About 8 miles (13 kilometers) northwest of the Sea of Galilee, a newly identified crescent-shaped monument was built about 5,000 years ago.
A lunar-crescent-shaped stone monument that dates back around 5,000 years has been identified in Israel.

Located about 8 miles (13 kilometers) northwest of the Sea of Galilee, the structure is massive - its volume is about 14,000 cubic meters (almost 500,000 cubic feet) and it has a length of about 150 meters (492 feet), making it longer than an American football field. Pottery excavated at the structure indicates the monument dates to between 3050 B.C. and 2650 B.C., meaning it is likely older than the pyramids of Egypt. It was also built before much of Stonehenge was constructed.

Archaeologists previously thought the structure was part of a city wall, but recent work carried out by Ido Wachtel, a doctoral student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, indicates there is no city beside it and that the structure is a standing monument.

"The proposed interpretation for the site is that it constituted a prominent landmark in its natural landscape, serving to mark possession and to assert authority and rights over natural resources by a local rural or pastoral population," Wachtel wrote in the summary of a presentation given recently at the International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East. [See Photos of the Crescent-Shaped Monument]

The structure's crescent shape stood out in the landscape, Wachtel told Live Science in an email. The shape may have had symbolic importance, as the lunar crescent is a symbol of an ancient Mesopotamian moon god named Sin, Wachtel said.

An ancient town called Bet Yerah (which translates to "house of the moon god") is located only a day's walk from the crescent-shaped monument Wachtel noted. As such, the monument may have helped mark the town's borders. While the monument is located within walking range of the city it is too far away to be an effective fortification.
Book 2

Generations of families have been guarding ancient libraries in Sahara Desert

Chinguetti, Mauritania
© Hemis/Alamy
A once-bustling center of learning in the middle of the Sahara Desert is now a dry, sparsely populated town trying valiantly to save its ancient, extraordinary libraries.

In a mud-and-brick town that blends in with the rusty red sand of the vast Sahara, generations of families have been guarding ancient books - some perhaps 1,000 years old - and with them, the reputation of a once-legendary, enlightened city. These libraries - mostly simple, mud-packed shelves stacked high with bound manuscripts in ancient huts - are what remain of a place that in better times was the epicenter of Islamic learning and medieval trading in northern Africa. In Mauritania, Chinguetti once flourished with scholars, pilgrims, and religious leaders. But today, the few thousand people left have been fighting against the harsh desert to maintain control of their precious artifacts.‬

The remaining 10 or so libraries hold frayed remains of ancient books on Quranic studies, science, and law. They're tended to by the same families who've been passing down their literary treasures for generations. Some hold just a few shelves and boxes of manuscripts, but one contains an organized collection of 1,400 texts.

New research reveals civilization is older than previously thought

Gunung Padang

Artist's impression of Gunung Padang as it would have looked in antiquity by and courtesy of architect Pon S Purajatnika
What if everything you've been taught about the origins of civilization is wrong? Be it that certain pieces of our history have been intentionally hidden, or that we have yet to discover and realize the true story of our past, new archaeological and geological discoveries are revealing that sophisticated civilizations have likely existed in prehistoric times.

Until recently, the archaeological community has spread the view that the beginnings of human civilization started after the last Ice Age, which ended around 9,600 BC. All human ancestors prior to this time were recognized as primitive, uncivilized hunter-gatherers who were incapable of communal organization and architectural design. It was only after the Ice Age, when huge 2-mile deep ice caps that covered much of Europe and North America melted, that our human ancestors started to develop and perfect agriculture, forming more-complex economic and social structures around 4000 BC. Archaeologists believed that first cities started around 3500 BC in Mesopotamia and, shortly after, in Egypt. On the European continent, the oldest megalithic sites are dated around 3,000 BC, and the popular Stonehenge is dated between 2,400 BC and 1,800 BC.

Comment: For more on how high civilizations became lost civilizations see:
Comets and the Horns of Moses
Earth Changes and the Human Cosmic Connection: The Secret History of the World - Book 3


Bronze Age armor crafted from bones discovered in Siberia

bronze age bone armour siberia

Protective: The armour would have 'given good protection from weapons that were used at the time - bone and stone arrowheads, bronze knives, spears tipped with bronze, and bronze axes', experts said
Archaeologists in Siberia have unearthed Bronze Age armor crafted from bones in an outfit that George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy character "Rattleshirt" might have worn.

Dating to between 3,900 and 3,500 years old, the armor was buried without its owner at a depth of 5 feet near the Irtysh River in Omsk. Analysis is underway to determine what kind of animal bones were used for the protective outfit, but it was likely assembled with bones from elk, deer and horse.

A reconstruction of the Bronze Age bone armor. Polina Volf, Yuri Gerasimov, A.Solovyev-The Siberian Times

"At the moment we can only fantasize - who dug it into the ground and for what purpose. Was it some ritual or sacrifice? We do not know yet," Yury Gerasimov of the Omsk branch of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography told The Siberian Times.
Cow Skull

Shamans from around the world gather in Siberia for ceremony timed to coincide with cosmic cycles

Stunning pictures as shamans from around the world gather in Sayan Mountains.
© Alexander Nikolsky
'I don't think I even came across a country with as many practicing shamans as Tuva'.
A shaman, in the dictionary definition, is 'a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of good and evil spirits, especially among some peoples of northern Asia and North America. Typically such people enter a trance state during a ritual, and practise divination and healing.'

These images - giving an extraordinary glimpse inside this largely unknown world - have emerged of a conclave held this summer over nine days near the village Khorum-Dag in Tuva Republic.

Comment: Interestingly enough, research indicates that in the past shamans were mostly women, and the role of shamans was quite different from what is perceived today.