Secret History


Lasers unearth Lost 'Agropolis' of New England

© (left to right) UConn MAGIC and CT State Library; CTECO; USDA/NRCS
Hiding in plain sight. Aerial images of Plainfield, Connecticut, show a farmed region in 1936 (left) and 2012 (middle). LiDAR digital elevation maps (right) unveil the roads, stone walls, and buildings of a former “agropolis,” hiding beneath the canopy.
Hidden ruins are customary in the wild jungles of South America or on the white shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Now, researchers have uncovered a long-lost culture closer to Western civilization - in New England.

Today, southern New England is shrouded by lush forests, whose autumnal colors attract thousands of tourists and hikers each year. Urban hubs - Boston, Providence, Hartford - are peppered throughout. Rewind the clock 300 years, however, and the landscape would be unrecognizable, with much of the wooded countryside replaced by hundred-acre farms. Agriculture was king in New England until widespread industrialization in the 19th century led farmers to abandon their fields and move to cities. The forest stirred and soon reclaimed the disavowed land, cloaking the structural relics of a vast agrarian past.

In a new study, which will be published in the March issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science, geographers Katharine Johnson and William Ouimet of the University of Connecticut, Storrs, uncovered these preserved sites without ever lifting a shovel. Using aerial surveys created by LiDAR, a laser-guided mapping technique, the team detected the barely perceptible remnants of a former "agropolis" around three rural New England towns.

Cardboard Box

French government queries U.S. State Dept. about fatal 1951 LSD attack on village in south of France

Prompted by a new book release, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research has received a confidential inquiry from the office of Erard Corbin de Mangoux, head of the French intelligence agency, Directorate General for External Security (DGSE), concerning a recent account of American government complicity in a mysterious 1951 incident of mass insanity in France. The DGSE is the French counterpart of the CIA.

The incident took place in the village of Pont-Saint-Esprit in southern France, and is described in a recent book about the 1953 death of an American biochemist, A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments. The book, by investigative journalist H.P. Albarelli Jr., was published in late November 2009 by TrineDay, which specializes in books about "suppressed information."

The strange outbreak severely affected nearly five hundred people, causing the deaths of at least five. For nearly 60 years the Pont-St.-Esprit incident has been attributed either to ergot poisoning, meaning that villagers consumed bread infected with a psychedelic mold, or to organic mercury poisoning. But Albarelli reports that the outbreak resulted from a covert LSD aerosol experiment directed by the US Army's top-secret Special Operations Division at Fort Detrick, Maryland. He notes that the scientists who produced both alternative explanations worked for the Sandoz Pharmaceutical Company, which was then secretly supplying both the Army and CIA with LSD.

Comment: See here for more on the author's comments regarding the shady deal between the French government and U.S. Army scientists.


The Secret Government - 1987: The Reagan-Bush Years

When the US went off the tracks for real

Bill Moyers got it more right than he realized back in 1987.

That was nearly 30 years ago if you're counting.

A master of deceit and treachery, the son and grandson of traitors, George H. W. Bush, Sr. leveraged his CIA and drug business contacts into a complete subversion of the Constitution.

The last 30 years - Clinton, Bush Jr, Obama - have been all about keeping this criminal enterprise on track while simultaneously training the weapons of war on American citizens.


Toxic wine led to Alexander the Great death: NZ scientist

© Wikimedia Commons
Bust of a young Alexander the Great from the Hellenistic era, British Museum.
An Otago University scientist may have unravelled a 2000-year-old mystery of what killed Alexander the Great.

National Poisons Centre toxicologist Dr Leo Schep thinks the culprit could be poisonous wine made from an innocuous-looking plant.

Classical scholars have been deeply divided about what killed the Ancient Greek leader, who built a massive empire before his death, aged 32, in June of 323BC. Some accounts say he died of natural causes but others suggested members of his inner circle conspired to poison him at a celebratory banquet.

Dr Schep, who has been researching the toxicological evidence for a decade, said some of the poisoning theories - including arsenic and strychnine - were laughable.

Death would have come far too fast, he said.

Heart - Black

How the railroad wiped out Passenger pigeons

The advent of the railroad collapsed our notions of time and space, and it carved out entire industries whole - we of the 21st century have only the internet for comparison. It also swallowed entire species: The story of how railroads drove the passenger pigeon to extinction - and bison to the brink of it - is a story of how a technological system can radically transform an entire landscape in just a few years.

To someone living in 1800, the decimation of passenger pigeons and bison would have seemed impossible. There were so many. Billions of passenger pigeons blotted out the sky for days during their migration. Millions of buffalo rumbled like thunder across the plains. But in 1914, the last passenger pigeon, Martha, died in a zoo, and only a few hundred bison remained in the world.

How did we get there? Let's start with the passenger pigeon, whose demise did, at least, spark the conservation movement that helped spare the bison of the same fate.


Catalhoyuk mural may depict ancient volcanic eruption

© John Swogger
Rendering of a wall painting discovered at Shrine 14 during the original excavations of Çatalhöyük by British archaeologist James Mellaart in the 1960s and said to depict Hasan Dagi erupting
A mural excavated at the Neolithic Çatalhöyük site (Central Anatolia, Turkey) has been interpreted as the oldest known map. Dating to 6600 BCE, it putatively depicts an explosive summit eruption of the Hasan Dağı twin-peaks volcano located 130 km northeast of Çatalhöyük, with a birds-eye view of a town plan in the foreground.

This interpretation has always been controversial, not least because independent evidence for a contemporaneous explosive volcanic eruption of Hasan Dağı has been lacking. However, recent volcanic rock dating suggests the painting of the Çatalhöyük mural may have overlapped with an eruption, according to results published in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Axel Schmitt from the University of California Los Angeles and colleagues from other institutions.

Analysed volcanic rock samples

Scientists analysed rocks from the nearby Hasan Dağı volcano in order to determine whether it was the volcano depicted in the mural. To determine if Hasan Dağı was active during that time, scientists collected and analysed volcanic rock samples from the summit and flanks of the Hasan Dağı volcano using (U-Th)/He zircon geochronology. These ages were then compared to the archaeological date of the mural.


Earliest math document discovered in China

© Xinhua
The bamboo slip mathematical document.
China's earliest mathematical document dating back more than 2,200 years ago has been discovered by archeologists and experts, they announced Tuesday.

The document consists of a mathematical formula inscribed on bamboo slips from the Warring States period (475-221 BCE), according to Li Xueqin, head of the Research and Conservation Center for Excavated Texts of Tsinghua University in Beijing.

The unearthed document provides a formula for the multiplication of any two whole numbers under 100 and certain fractions, said Li, a well-known historian.

The document is the earliest of its kind discovered so far and has filled in a historical blank for mathematical documents prior to the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE), according to Guo Shuchun, director of the Chinese Society of the History of Mathematics.

It is older and had greater calculating functions than other ancient multiplication tables discovered, said Guo.

"It was very advanced for the world at that time and is an important discovery in the mathematical history of China and even the world."

In July 2008, Tsinghua University acquired a rare collection of 2,500 slip bamboo items belonging to the late Warring States period, which had been smuggled out of China.

Source: Xinhua

Eye 1

The slaughter unleashed in 1914 was not a "just war" for freedom - It was a savage industrial slaughter perpetrated by a gang of predatory imperial powers struggling for dominance

© Matt Kenyon
And in case there were any doubt that all the main combatants were in the land-grabbing expansion game, Britain and France then divvied up the defeated empires.'
They were never going to be able to contain themselves. For all the promises of a dignified commemoration, the Tory right's standard bearers held back for less than 48 hours into the new year before launching a full-throated defence of the "war to end all wars". The killing fields of Gallipoli and the Somme had been drenched in blood for a "noble cause", declared Michael Gove. The slaughter unleashed in 1914 had been a "just war" for freedom.

Hostility to the war, the education secretary complained, had been fostered by leftwingers and comedians who denigrated patriotism and painted the conflict as a "misbegotten shambles". Gove was backed by the prime minister, as talk of international reconciliation was left to junior ministerial ranks.

Boris Johnson went further. The war was the fault of German expansionism and aggression, London's mayor pronounced, and called for Labour's shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt to be sacked forthwith if he doubted it. The Conservative grandees were backed up by a retinue of more-or-less loyal historians. Max Hastings reckoned it had been fought in defence of "international law" and small nations, while Antony Beevor took aim at "anti-militarists".
This is all preposterous nonsense. Unlike the second world war, the bloodbath of 1914-18 was not a just war. It was a savage industrial slaughter perpetrated by a gang of predatory imperial powers, locked in a deadly struggle to capture and carve up territories, markets and resources.


Stonehenge Man: not just a pretty face

© English Heritage
Forensic analysis of a prehistoric skull gives the UK's most iconic monument a human face
Tourists entering English Heritage's new £27 million visitor centre at Stonehenge will quickly confront its most spectacular exhibit - a man who was born 500 years before the earliest stone monument appeared at the site.

He may have a touch of Hollywood about him, but this "Stonehenge Man" was once real. His face has been reconstructed from a 5500-year-old skeleton found in the area. Local protest groups continue to press for him to be reburied, but forensic analysis has allowed scientists to create the most lifelike model yet of an individual from British prehistory. Their work reveals how he lived and ate, and may even shed light on the origins of Stonehenge itself.

The well-preserved skeleton was discovered in an elaborate tomb in the 1860s, providing a rare example of the anatomy of Neolithic people. His face has been brought to life by Swedish sculptor Oscar Nilsson, using information from bone and tooth analyses. The length of the man's bones, the skeleton's weight and his age - estimated at between 25 and 40 years old - were used to determine the thickness of the skin on his face and muscle definition.


Fate of Ark of the Covenant revealed in Hebrew text?

© Photo by I. Vassil, released into public domain through Wikimedia
This bas-relief image showing the Ark of the Covenant being carried is from the Auch Cathedral in France. A newly translated Hebrew text claims to reveal the locations of treasures from King Solomon's Temple and discusses the fate of the Ark itself.
A newly translated Hebrew text claims to reveal where treasures from King Solomon's temple were hidden and discusses the fate of the Ark of the Covenant itself.

But unlike the Indiana Jones movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, the text leaves the exact location of the Ark unclear and states that it, and the other treasures, "shall not be revealed until the day of the coming of the Messiah son of David ..." putting it out of reach of any would-be treasure seeker.

King Solomon's Temple, also called the First Temple, was plundered and torched by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II in the sixth century B.C., according to the Hebrew Bible. The Ark of the Covenant is a chest that, when originally built, was said to have held tablets containing the 10 commandments. It was housed in Solomon's Temple, a place that contained many different treasures.

The newly translated text, called "Treatise of the Vessels" (Massekhet Kelim in Hebrew), says the "treasures were concealed by a number of Levites and prophets," writes James Davila, a professor at the University of St. Andrews, in an article in the book Old Testament Pseudepigrapha More Noncanonical Scriptures Volume 1 (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2013).