Secret History


Long-lost mummy of Amenhotep II's foster brother found

© Rossella Lorenzi/Discovery News
The skeletonized mummy of Qenamun.
The mummy of the pharaoh Amenhotep II's foster brother may have been found in a former monastery, according to archival research into 19th-century documents.

The mummy, now reduced to a skeleton, is believed to be that of Qenamun, the chief steward of Amenhotep II (about 1427 - 1400 B.C.) who was the 7th Pharaoh of Egypt's 18th Dynasty and likely Tutankhamun's great-great-grandfather.

Qenamun was effectively Amenhotep II's foster brother, as his mother, Amenemipet, was the chief royal nurse of the future king. The two grew up together and the bond endured in adult life, with Qenamun enjoying a high and powerful status.

But the whereabouts of Qenamun's afterlife journey had remained a mystery -- no coffin nor mummy was found in his large and beautifully decorated tomb in Thebes.

Rare 800-year-old lead seal unearthed from the Monastery of St. Sabas

The seal, stamped by the Monastery of St. Sabas, bears a Greek inscription; the find is noted for importance Christian history in the Holy Land

The Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday that it unearthed a rare 800-year-old lead seal from the Monastery of St. Sabas in Jerusalem. Although the authority said the seal was found over a year ago in the capital's Bayit Vagan neighborhood, it was only after recent processing and analysis that it officially authenticated the rare relic.

According to the excavation's directors on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, Benyamin Storchan and Dr. Benyamin Dolinka, the discovery is unprecedented. "This is an extraordinarily rare find because no such seal has ever been discovered to date," the archeologists said in a joint statement. "Also, the object possibly contributes important historical information about the surroundings of the site in the Bayit Vagan neighborhood."
Eye 1

Released transcript of phone conversation between Nixon and Kissinger reveals U.S. intervention in Chile to block Allende began long before September 1970 election

Kissinger & Pinochet

Henry Kissinger and General Augusto Pinochet
"Kissinger said we should present to the President an action plan to prevent [the Chilean Congress from ratifying] an Allende victory and noted that the President may decide to move even if we do not recommend it."
Covert U.S. planning to block the democratic election of Salvador Allende in Chile began weeks before his September 4, 1970, victory, according to just declassified minutes of an August 19, 1970, meeting of the high-level interagency committee known as the Special Review Group, chaired by National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. "Kissinger asked that the plan be as precise as possible and include what orders would be given September 5, to whom, and in what way," as the summary recorded Kissinger's instructions to CIA Director Richard Helms. "Kissinger said we should present to the President an action plan to prevent [the Chilean Congress from ratifying] an Allende victory and noted that the President may decide to move even if we do not recommend it."

The document is one of a compendium of some 366 records released by the State Department as part of its Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series. The much-delayed collection, titled Chile: 1969-1973, addresses Richard Nixon's and Kissinger's efforts to destabilize the democratically elected Socialist government of Salvador Allende, and the U.S.-supported coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power in 1973. The controversial volume was edited by two former officials of the State Department's Office of the Historian, James Siekmeier and James McElveen.

Comment: Intelligence officers confirm Kissinger role in Turkish invasion of Cyprus and Chilean coup


Unraveling the mystery of the Hannah M. Bell

In the Nov. 15, 1909, edition of the Boston Daily Globe, officers of the British steamship Hannah M. Bell reported being chased by six "monster waterspouts" near Cape Hatteras, N.C.

On that same day, the New York Tribune's account of the incident stated that Captain Cooper saved the ship and crew with his shotgun. When those whirling spirals of forceful water got dangerously near the steamer, they were "disintegrated by the sea captain's well aimed shots."

But less than two years later, good fortune ran out for the 315-foot steel cargo ship. In stormy weather, it crashed into Elbow Reef, which juts close to the Gulf Stream and lies in an average of 20 feet of water in the Atlantic Ocean, about six miles offshore of Key Largo.


The mammoth and the history of mankind

© Patrick Paillet
The fragment of ivory, unearthed in 1864, whose fine detail convinced palaeontologists that man had existed far earlier than was previously known.
Next month, scientists will meet in the Dordogne to mark the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the La Madeleine mammoth - an engraving on ivory that proves man had lived alongside these prehistoric creatures

Just a few weeks from now, scientists from across the globe will gather in the town of Les Eyzies in the Dordogne to commemorate one of the most important - and fortuitous - events in the study of human origins. They will congregate to mark the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the Madeleine mammoth, a small piece of ancient art that provided unequivocal proof of the deep antiquity of Homo sapiens.

The uncovering of the engraving, in 1864, was the handiwork of a joint British-French archaeological expedition and it provided the first, unambiguous evidence that human beings had once shared this planet with long-extinct animals such as the mammoth. Its discovery was also an act of extraordinary good fortune, it transpires.

"On the day the engraving was found, two of the world's leading palaeontologists happened to be at the site," says Jill Cook, an ice age art expert at the British Museum. "The piece had been fragmented and workmen carrying out the excavations would never have realised this. They would have simply dumped the bits into a bag and forgotten about them."

But by extraordinary good fortune, Edouard Lartet, who was overall director of the dig, and Hugh Falconer, a Scot who was visiting him, were present that day and realised that the bits formed a single item.

Hidden paintings revealed at ancient temple of Angkor Wat

Hidden Paintings Angkor Wat_1
© Antiquity, Tan et al
A technique called decorrelation stretch analysis, which exaggerates subtle color differences, revealed images like this one showing two elephants facing each other.
Each year, millions of visitors flock to Angkor Wat, an ancient temple in modern-day Cambodia. There, they marvel at the 900-year-old towers, a giant moat and the shallow relief sculptures of Hindu gods. But what they can't see are 200 hidden paintings on the temple walls.

New, digitally enhanced images reveal detailed murals at Angkor Wat showing elephants, deities, boats, orchestral ensembles and people riding horses - all invisible to the naked eye.

Many of the faded markings could be graffiti left behind by pilgrims after Angkor Wat was abandoned in the 15th century. But the more elaborate paintings may be relics of the earliest attempts to restore the temple, researchers said. [See Photos of Angkor Wat's Secret Paintings]
Wine n Glass

Origins of inebriation revealed

Alcohol Drinking
© schankz/Shutterstock
Prehistoric people of Europe didn't use mind-altering substances for hedonistic pleasure. Drugs and alcohol were an important part of ritual ceremonies.
In prehistoric Eurasia, drugs and alcohol were originally reserved for ritual ceremonies, and weren't used merely to satisfy hedonistic motives, a new study suggests. What's more, given the sacred role of the substances, their use was likely highly regulated and only available to elite citizens.

Many Eurasian cultures are known to have an ancient history with psychoactive substances, as evidenced by early written documents. The Greek historian Herodotus, for example, once described the Scythians' (Iranian equestrian tribes) post-funeral purification ceremony involving hemp, which dates back to the fifth century B.C.

But written records aren't the only indication of early drug and alcohol use.

"It is generally thought that mind-altering substances, or at least drugs, are a modern-day issue, but if we look at the archaeological record of prehistoric Europe, there are many data supporting their consumption," said study author Elisa Guerra-Doce, a prehistory expert at the University of Valladolid in Spain.

"Apart from the presence of macrofossil remains of plants with these [mind-altering] properties, there are artistic depictions of opium poppies, for instance, and some designs in megalithic tombs may have been inspired by altered states of consciousness."

Despite numerous indications, archaeologists have largely overlooked the use of mind-altering substances in Eurasian prehistory. So Guerra-Doce decided to sort through the scarce and scattered information in the scientific literature, in hopes of gaining a better understanding of the history and context of ancient drug and alcohol use.

She reviewed four lines of evidence: macrofossil remains of psychoactive plants, residues from fermented alcoholic drinks, psychoactive alkaloids (chemical compounds) on artifacts and skeletal remains, and artistic depictions of psychoactive plants and drinking scenes.

Amazing 7,000-year-old hunting scenes discovered inside a Spanish cave

Cave paintings dating from 7,000 years ago have been discovered in Spain, which show hunting scenes including human archers and primitive bulls (pictured) called aurochs
* Cave paintings were discovered in Vilafranca in Castellón, Spain

* They include drawings of two aurochs, two human archers and a goat

* A layer of dust protected 10 figures, which were exposed to the weather

* Computer analysis has revealed unseen details

Amazingly well-preserved cave paintings dating back seven millenia have been discovered in Spain.

The stunning murals provide a rare glimpse into daily prehistoric life - showing dramatic hunting scenes including human archers.

Despite being exposed to harsh weather, the 'totally unique' artwork has survived on a 19ft (6 metre) long wall inside a small cave in Vilafranca in Castellón, in the east of the country.

Students in 'at-risk youth' program discover 7,000-year-old mummy in Chile

Chile mummies
© Claudio Santana/AFP
A group of Chinchorro mummies on display in the cultural centre of the La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, on August 27, 2008
A group of students discovered a 7,000-year-old mummy during a trip to northern Chile, local media reported Monday.

La Tercera newspaper reported that the find was made by chance Saturday during a visit to the Morro de Arica site by local students.

The children, at-risk youths enrolled in an archeology workshop, were performing excavation work when one found a strange shape under dog droppings.

Remains of burnt ancient city found in Chandigarh, India

Ancient Ruins
© The Asian Age
Archaeologist J.R. Bhagat inside the trench with charred patches surrounding him.
Remnants of a burnt ancient city, believed to be dating back to 2nd century BC, have been found in an archaeological site in Tarighat, nearly 30 km from here. The "gutted settlement" reminds one the famed Roman city of Pompeii that got buried under 13-20 feet of ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

The remains of the charred city have been found around 20 feet below Tarighat archaeological site which came into national focus when excavation had brought to surface a 2,500-year-old urban centre in 2013.

"It is a stunning discovery. Our excavation, which began last year, has reached 35 feet deep now. The excavation has so far yielded remains of various settlements that had come up at the site from sixth century AD to second century BC.