Secret History
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Brick Wall

Volcanic ash is secret ingredients for preserving Roman buildings

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© Alamy
They brought us roads and a clever sewer system. But it seems the Romans also knew a thing or two about making concrete.

While Britain's 1960s concrete tower blocks and flyovers are crumbling, Roman monuments such as the Pantheon and the Colosseum are still standing.

Now scientists have discovered the secret ingredient behind the longevity of Roman concrete - volcanic ash.

The study by the University of California, in Berkeley, found Roman concrete showed no corrosion, with a smooth surface suggesting long-term stability.

Manufacturing modern cement requires heating a mix of limestone and clay at 1,450C.

Sherlock

Synagogue from Roman Empire unearthed in Israel

Excavations in town of Magdala in Golan Heights reveal remains of ancient structure; "historic and rare findings" include fragments of columns, parts of benches and pottery.

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© Michael Osband
A part of the ancient structure discovered during excavations.
Archaeologists conducting excavations in the town of Magdala, situated on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, exposed a public structure from the Roman period, it was reported Thursday.

The structure's grandeur led researchers to conclude that the site contained the ruins of an ancient synagogue. "We're still at an early stage of unearthing the structure," they said. "We found parts of the structure, fragments of columns, parts of benches, the threshold of a door and pottery fragments."

Christmas Tree

'Many of these gods come from stars': The truth behind the Christmas adventures of baby Jesus?

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© Dimitrios/Shutterstock
The Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ as a child, a Byzantine iconography in the interior of Hagios
Valerie Tarico interviews Dr. Tony Nugent, scholar of world religions. Dr. Nugent is a symbologist, an expert in ancient symbols. He taught at Seattle University for fifteen years in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and is an ordained Presbyterian minister.

Most Americans know how Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25: The Emperor Constantine chose the date because it was winter solstice in the Julian Calendar, the birthday of dying and rising gods like Mithra and Sol. Some people also know that our delightful mélange of Christmas festivities originated in ancient Norse, Sumerian, Roman and Druid traditions - or, in the case of Rudolph, on Madison Avenue.

But where does the Christmas story itself come from: Jesus in the manger, the angels and wise men?

The familiar Christmas story, including the virgin conception and birth of Jesus, is found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Scholars have pointed out that these stories are somewhat disconnected from other parts of these Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. In fact, by the time he is a young boy in the temple, Jesus's parents seem to have forgotten the virgin birth. They act surprised by his odd behavior. There is never any other mention in the New Testament of these incredible events! These stories seem to be an afterthought, written later than the rest of the gospels that contain them.


Comment: Indeed. The other two gospels, Mark (which was used as a source for Matthew and Luke) and John, totally lack a birth story for Jesus. And the earliest known form of the gospel of Luke (included in the first New Testament canon by Marcion) also lacked the birth story. They are fictions written generations after the events they presume to relate.


Snakes in Suits

Did the U.S. Secret Service help kill JFK?

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A transcript of the Lew Rockwell Show episode 385 with Mark Lane.

ROCKWELL: Well, good morning. This is the Lew Rockwell Show. And what an honor it is to have as our guest this morning, Mr. Mark Lane. Mark has been the champion of peace and of justice his entire legal career. I could spend the entire show talking about his achievements. I remember his beating CIA agent, E. Howard Hunt, and the CIA in a legal victory. I remember him defeating CIA agent or "ex-CIA agent," Bill Buckley. And I was so influenced by his great book Rush to Judgment. This is the first work of Kennedy assassination revisionism, for which he was targeted by the CIA and the rest of the regime. Mark has told the truth his whole life about the Kennedy assassination and the CIA and many other topics.

Comment: For more background info on this subject, we can recommend three books:

The Secret Team: The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World by Fletcher Prouty

JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy by Fletcher Prouty

JFK: The Assassination of America by Laura Knight-Jadczyk


Magnify

Scientists discover oldest recorded stone tool ever found in Turkey

© University of Royal Holloway London
Stone tool approximately 1.2 million years old.
Scientists have discovered the oldest recorded stone tool ever to be found in Turkey, revealing that humans passed through the gateway from Asia to Europe much earlier than previously thought, approximately 1.2 million years ago.

According to research published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, the chance find of a humanly-worked quartzite flake, in ancient deposits of the river Gediz, in western Turkey, provides a major new insight into when and how early humans dispersed out of Africa and Asia.

Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, together with an international team from the UK, Turkey and the Netherlands, used high-precision equipment to date the deposits of the ancient river meander, giving the first accurate time-frame for when humans occupied the area.

Comment: Scientists have been finding other tools that challenge the established timelines of human history:


Info

Mystery of ancient Chinese civilization's disappearance explained

© Bill Perry/Shutterstock.com
An archaeological site unearthed in 1986 in China revealed giant bronze statues from a lost Chinese civilization called Sanxingdui. Here, one of the bronze masks uncovered at the site, which is roughly 3,000 years old. A new theory suggests the ancient culture moved after an earthquake rerouted the flow of the city's river.
An earthquake nearly 3,000 years ago may be the culprit in the mysterious disappearance of one of China's ancient civilizations, new research suggests.

The massive temblor may have caused catastrophic landslides, damming up the Sanxingdui culture's main water source and diverting it to a new location.

That, in turn, may have spurred the ancient Chinese culture to move closer to the new river flow, study co-author Niannian Fan, a river sciences researcher at Tsinghua University in Chengdu, China, said Dec. 18 at the 47th annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Magnify

Imported ancient weapon fragments unearthed in Wales

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© National Museum Wales
Metal detectorists, farmers and archaeologists have helped discover a Bronze Age hoard in west Wales.
Exotic weapons buried in field could have arrived in Wales by long-distance sea travel from England or France

Archaeologists investigating a 2.5-kilogram hoard of sword blades, scabbards and knives found by a metal detectorist in January 2013 say the plough-disturbed artefacts could have been delivered to Wales by sea from southern England or northern France.

Two blade fragments, a scabbard fitting, a multi-edged knife and six copper ingot fragments were discovered by Adrian Young a few metres apart from each other in the corner of a field in Marloes and St Brides .

The Coroner for Pembrokeshire has now officially declared the hoard treasure, with archaeologists at National Museum Wales dating it to between 2,800 and 3,000 years ago.

Hourglass

13,800-year-old Haida site found 400 ft. underwater in Canada


The University of Victoria's Bluefin-12S AUV is being off-loaded from the Parks Canada vessel Gwaii Haanas II at the end of the project. The team plans to return next summer for further investigation. (University of Victoria/Canadian Press)

Estimates of people's presence in the Americas have ranged from about 12,000 to 50,000 years. A new study by a team of archaeologists that has been researching the subject, has found a site dating back 13,800 years, now underwater in the Juan Perez Sound off British Columbia in Canada.

The underwater area they examined was once dry land, inhabited by the Haida people. The Haida have an old flood tale on Frederick Island that tells of how the peoples became dispersed in the New World. Frederick Island is a different site than the one recently studied.

The team, led by archaeologist Quentin Mackie of the University of Victoria, found the site this past September near the Haida Gwaii Archipelago. They found a fishing weir, a stone channel structure that was probably used to catch salmon, the CBC reports.

Boat

Evidence of Viking metalworking found in Arctic Canada

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A small stone container unearthed half-century ago has now been recognised as further evidence of a Viking or Medieval Norse presence in Arctic Canada
A small stone container found by archaeologists a half-century ago has now been recognized as further evidence of a Viking or Medieval Norse presence in Arctic Canada during the centuries around 1000 A.D.

Researchers reporting in the journal Geoarchaeology discovered that the interior of the container, which was found at an archaeological site on southern Baffin Island, contains fragments of bronze as well as small spherules of glass that form when rock is heated to high temperatures.

The object is a crucible for melting bronze, likely in order to cast it into small tools or ornaments. Indigenous peoples of northern North America did not practice high-temperature metalworking.

Magnify

Scientists discover oldest stone tool ever found in Turkey

Scientists have discovered the oldest recorded stone tool ever to be found in Turkey, revealing that humans passed through the gateway from Asia to Europe much earlier than previously thought, approximately 1.2 million years ago.

Image
© Royal Holloway
Turkey's oldest ever stone tool discovered by scientists.
According to research published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, the chance find of a humanly-worked quartzite flake, in ancient deposits of the river Gediz, in western Turkey, provides a major new insight into when and how early humans dispersed out of Africa and Asia.

Researchers from Royal Holloway, together with an international team from the UK, Turkey and the Netherlands, used high-precision equipment to date the deposits of the ancient river meander, giving the first accurate time-frame for when humans occupied the area.

Professor Danielle Schreve, from the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, said: "This discovery is critical for establishing the timing and route of early human dispersal into Europe. Our research suggests that the flake is the earliest securely-dated artefact from Turkey ever recorded and was dropped on the floodplain by an early hominin well over a million years ago."