Secret History


Iran? What about Israel? JFK tried and failed to demand inspections of Dimona nuclear facility

In July 1963, President Kennedy demanded of the newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister that he allow U.S. inspections of the Israeli nuclear facility at Dimona to make sure that the plant was "devoted exclusively to peaceful purposes." U.S. support for Israel would be "seriously jeopardized" if the U.S. could not get information on doings at the facility, Kennedy said.

Kennedy stated his demands in a letter to Levi Eshkol dated July 5, 1963, less than ten days after Eshkol became prime minister of Israel. The document is in the Israel State Archive, and is online at the National Security Archive, in a section titled Israel and the Bomb. Text below (thanks in part to the Jewish Virtual Library).

Comment: Unfortunately, Israel had no interest in "resolving all doubts" concerning the peaceful intent of Dimona, because there was no peaceful intent. Remember, before a nuclear weapon was but a twinkle in the eyes of Iran's leaders, Israel was stocked up and as belligerent as ever. Iran isn't the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East; Israel is. And they'll take the world down with it, if it comes to that.


Bizarre egg-shaped skull unearthed from 4,000 years ago in Arkaim, Russia

Mystery skull: Archaeologists believe the skull belonged to a woman who was in the tribe that was part of what is now modern day Ukraine
A skeleton which has been found on a site known as Russia's Stonehenge has sparked fresh ideas about extra terrestrial visitor to earth.

The elongated skull shaped slightly like an egg on an otherwise humanoid form has brought garnered enthusiasm from UFO watchers rushed who insist it's proof that aliens had once visited Earth.

Archaeologists, however, have insisted that the skeleton, which belonged to a female from a 4,000 BC settlement, had a perfectly reasonable explanation for the skull which looks elongated.

They state that the tribe which had lived in Arkaim near the modern-day city of Chelyabinsk in central Russia used to bind the head to make it grow out of shape.

UFO watchers have countered with the claim that if this was the case, it was simply a way of mimicking the skulls of the alien visitors, offering proof of visitation.

Comment: See in addition -

Arkaim: Russia's Stonehenge and a puzzle of the ancient world

Anomalous zones of Russia: Arkaim town


Mystery over deaths of Napoleonic soldiers in mass grave has been solved

© The Independent, UK
Archaeologists believe starvation was the cause of death for the 3,000 men found buried in Lithuania.
A longstanding mystery surrounding the deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army found in a mass grave in Lithuania has been solved.

The jumbled bones of the men who died on the French leader's ill fated attempt to march on Moscow in 1812 show signs of starvation, according to archaeologists from the University of Central Florida.

According to Forbes, buttons found on the site, which was first discovered in Lithuanian capital Vilnius in 2002, show over 40 different regiments were represented from Napoleon's army as they made their desperate dash back across Europe.

Around 500,000 in the Emperor's army began their long march to Moscow in June 1812, but by the time they were stumbling back to Vilnius in retreat six months later only 40,000 had survived.

Around 20,000 men were believed to have died of hypothermia, starvation and typhus in Vilnius alone.

This failure was seen as the beginning of Napoleon's downfall from power in France, which led to his temporary exile in 1814 before his imprisonment by Britain following the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.


Gruesome Find: 100 bodies stuffed into ancient house in China

© Chinese Archaeology
The 5,000-year-old house found in China was about 14 by 15 feet in size.
The remains of 97 human bodies have been found stuffed into a small 5,000-year-old house in a prehistoric village in northeast China, researchers report in two separate studies.

The bodies of juveniles, young adults and middle-age adults were packed together in the house — smaller than a modern-day squash court — before it burnt down. Anthropologists who studied the remains say a "prehistoric disaster," possibly an epidemic of some sort, killed these people.

The site, whose modern-day name is "Hamin Mangha," dates back to a time before writing was used in the area, when people lived in relatively small settlements, growing crops and hunting for food. The village contains the remains of pottery, grinding instruments, arrows and spearheads, providing information on their way of life.

"Hamin Mangha site is the largest and best-preserved prehistoric settlement site found to date in northeast China," a team of archaeologists wrote in a translated report published in the most recent edition of the journal Chinese Archaeology (the original report appeared in Chinese in the journal Kaogu). In one field season, between April and November 2011, the researchers found the foundations of 29 houses, most of which are simple one-room structures containing a hearth and doorway.


Archeologists find evidence of ancient cities in Amazon rainforest

© Mario Tama/Getty
Dreamscape: the Amazon was once lined with fields and plazas
The first Europeans to penetrate the Amazon rainforests reported cities, roads and fertile fields along the banks of its major rivers. "There was one town that stretched for 15 miles without any space from house to house, which was a marvellous thing to behold," wrote Gaspar de Carvajal, chronicler of explorer and conquistador Francisco de Orellana in 1542. "The land is as fertile and as normal in appearance as our Spain."

Such tales were long dismissed as fantasies, not least because teeming cities were never seen or talked about again. But it now seems the chroniclers were right all along. It is our modern vision of a pristine rainforest wilderness that turns out to be the dream.

What is today one of the largest tracts of rainforest in the world was, until little more than 500 years ago, a landscape dominated by human activity, according to a review of the evidence by Charles Clement of Brazil's National Institute of Amazonian Research in Manaus, and his colleagues.

Comment: See also:


Human evolution's biggest questions may find answers in new analysis

© Brett Eloff. Picture courtesy of Lee Berger and the University of Witwatersrand
Fossils of Australopithecus sediba suggest it had a mix of human and more primitive traits, including a small yet advanced brain a modern pelvis and more primitive ankle and foot bones.
Recent controversies about human evolution — such as what the ancestor of the human lineage might have been, whether the mysterious "hobbit" was a different species and whether ancient humans were all one species — could find answers in new analyses of human fossils, researchers say.

This research, based on statistical analyses of a newly compiled data set of ancient human fossils, supports the proposal that the recently unearthed species Australopithecus sediba may be the ancestor of the human lineage, that the hobbit was a different species and not just a deformed modern human, and that early humans were made up of two species, not one, scientists added.

Although modern humans are the only surviving members of the human family tree, others once inhabited the Earth. However, deducing the relationships between modern humans and these extinct hominins — humans and related species dating back to the split from the chimpanzee lineage — is difficult because fossils of ancient hominins are rare.

"There are lots of competing ideas and incomplete data," said study co-author Mark Collard, a biological anthropologist at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia.


Pobedonostsev: The intellectual giant from the Golden Age of Russian thought

"A close friend to Dostoevsky and a bête noire to Tolstoy, Pobedonostsev is still considered the foremost proponent and representative of an 'unshakeably' autocratic Romanov rule. His name is very often synonymous with monarchical absolutism."

If one studies late Romanov Russia, or the Golden Age of Russian thought, poetry and literature, there is one name in statesmanship and political philosophy that, alongside the literary giants Tolstoy, Turgenev, Chekhov, Gorky and Dostoevsky, you probably can't get away from. Konstantin Petrovich Pobedonostsev, the éminence grise of Russian statecraft under Tsar Aleksandr III and Tsar S. Nikolai II, and Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, was probably the most influential figure in Russia's civic, cultural and political life toward the end of the long 19th century. A close friend to Dostoevsky and a bête noire to Tolstoy, Pobedonostsev is still considered the foremost proponent and representative of an 'unshakeably' autocratic Romanov rule. His name is very often synonymous with monarchical absolutism.

Yet, his Reflections of a Russian Statesman, a broad-ranging work of essays and literary sketches that primarily explores questions of political philosophy, education and statesmanship, paints a somewhat more nuanced picture. It would be foolish to deny that Pobedonostsev's politics are reactionary, but it is a reaction grounded in an instinct which closely resembles that of the Slavophils whom he occasionally critiques. Through each page of his Reflections burns an ardour, what reminds one of an all-consuming erotic lust for truth, as defined by and as borne out in the integrated whole of lived experience. This romantic ardour is matched only by a detestation of those falsehoods which present themselves as thin facsimiles of truth - logical formulae, abstract theories, ideological credos and oversimplifications of complex issues. He rightly points out the hypocrisies of the intellectuals of his time who seek to perform public obsequies for the idols of voluntaristic rationalism, materialism, utilitarianism, modern education, free love, eugenics, the ideology of capital, church-state separation, press freedom and democracy.


Mysterious 'Population Y' may have bred with Amazonia peoples

© Artwork by Sussi Bech
An illustration of the ice age landscape that early Native Americans would have encountered.
A number of natives of the Amazon rainforest may partly descend from peoples in the Pacific, researchers say.

It remains a mystery as to when and how this genetic signature from an Australasia group in the Pacific they call "Population Y" made its way to the Amazon, scientists added.

Most genetic studies have suggested that all Native Americans analyzed to date can trace much or all of their ancestry to a single common origin — a population from Eurasia that probably migrated to the Americas more than 15,000 years ago, back when lower sea levels exposed the Bering land bridge known as Beringia that connected the continents. Some Native Americans from North America and the Arctic may also trace other parts of their ancestry to more recent waves of migration.

However, a number of prior studies of skull shapes hinted that two distinct groups entered the Americas. While one Asian type is similar to the vast majority of modern Native Americans, an earlier type seen in skeletons in Brazil and elsewhere resembled modern people from Australasia — a region that includes Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea and neighboring Pacific Islands — and even some African groups.

To shed light on this mystery, scientists analyzed the DNA of 30 Native American groups from Central and South America and from 197 non-American populations sampled worldwide.

Cow Skull

13th century child mummy wrapped-in-fur, with ax, unearthed in Russia's Far North

© Yamalo-Nenets Regional Museum Complex of I.S.Shemanovsky,
The mummy of a six- to seven-year-old boy dating back to the 13th century has been unearthed in Russia's Far North, scientists say. The child, wrapped in a cocoon of furs and birch bark, was found with a small bronze ax.

The body was found near Zeleny Yar archeological memorial in Russia's Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region, according to a statement from the local museum, where researchers gathered for the delicate mission of freeing the mummy from the fur it was wrapped in.

Before the procedure the scientists performed computer scan on the cocoon which showed that it contains mummified remains of the child, most probably a boy of six or seven years old.
The scientists believe the mummy to be male as they found a small bronze ax which was lying along the right side of the body. Apart from the ax, the archeologists uncovered a pendant in the shape of a bear and silver iron rings.

The boy had suffered from malnutrition or a severe disease, according to Sergey Slepchenko, a junior researcher from the Institute of Northern Development in Siberian city of Tyumen. He came to that conclusion after analyzing the defects on the mummy's bones which showed the child's temporary growth retardation.


Weird horse-cows and 6-legged sheep found in Iron Age burials

© Bournemouth University
The skeleton of a sheep with two added legs. The extra legs came from another sheep, the researchers said.
Weird, "hybridized" animal skeletons, including a cow-horse and a six-legged sheep litter the bottom of storage pits in an Iron Age site in England, archaeologists have found. One pit even holds the bones of a woman with a slit throat laid on top of animal bones, the scientists said.

The unusual remains belong to an ancient people who lived in southern England from about 400 B.C. until just before the Roman invasion, in A.D. 43, said dig co-director Paul Cheetham, a senior lecturer in archaeology at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom.

It appears that the people dug the pits to store food such as grain near their dwellings. They had "no decent way of refrigerating stuff" back then, and the chalky earth would have provided a cool storage area, Cheetham told Live Science. [See Photos of "Hybridized" Animal Sacrifices from Ancient England]

The people would have used each pit for only a year or two before digging a new one. Just before they abandoned a pit, it appears, the people buried a hybridized animal in it, sometimes with the flesh still attached, possibly as a way to honor the gods, Cheetham and his colleagues said. (When skeletons are well connected, or articulated, it indicates that the individual had ligaments and flesh holding it together when it was buried, the researchers said.)

These "hybrids" would have been formed from the body parts of various other animals.

"[They were] creating combinations of prized animals as an offering to particular deities," said dig co-director Miles Russell, a senior lecturer of prehistoric and Roman archaeology at Bournemouth University. "What this meant precisely to the tribes we don't know, as nothing sadly was written down from the period and we have no record of the names or nature of the gods being invoked."

The archaeologists found all kinds of mix-and-matched animals in the pits. Many contained combinations of horse and cow body parts — such as a cow skull with a horse jaw and a horse skull with a cow horn sticking out, resulting in something that looked like a bizarre unicorn.

Some pits contained man-made items, such as combs made from bone and weaving needles. Others held sheep and cow combinations and the entire bodies of sacrificed dogs and pigs. In one pit, the archaeologists found a decapitated sheep's body with a cow skull on its rear.

Such animal sacrifices are not to be taken lightly, the archaeologists said. Cows, sheep and horses were likely the basis of the economy and also a food source, "so to dispose of an animal like a pig is quite a big thing to do," Cheetham said.