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Archaeologists return to ancient Greek 'computer' wreck site: official

© Unknown
A new search has begun at a Greek island where an ancient device known as the world's "oldest computer" was found over a century ago, an official said Thursday, adding that other discoveries were possible.

Archaeologists this week returned to Antikythera, the Aegean Sea island where sponge divers in 1900-1901 found the so-called Antikythera Mechanism, a remarkable 2nd-century BCE device that tracked the cycles of the solar system.

"These are unexplored sea depths beneath a trade route known since antiquity," said Angeliki Simosi, head of Greece's ephorate of underwater antiquities.
Magic Wand

Russian boy stumbles upon best wooly mammoth discovery since 1901

Young boys are often keen to go off exploring close to where they live, digging around in the hope they'll make an extraordinary discovery.

But when one 11-year-old Russian boy decided to explore his local neighborhood, he came across something which hadn't been seen in more than 100 years.

The curious youngster uncovered a nearly intact wooly mammoth - which was discovered complete with flesh, bones, fur and layers of fat.
Mammoth
© Photoshot
Incredible: An 11-year-old boy uncovered this nearly intact wooly mammoth in north Russia
It is believed the remains - which include a tusk - are the right half of the body, weighing in at 500kg.

The Moscow News reports it is a male which died about 30,000 years ago at the age of 15. It has remained frozen in permafrost ever since.
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Mayan tomb may belong to warrior queen

Mayan Tomb
© El Peru Waka Regional Archaeological Project
The carved alabaster vessel (shown from two sides) found in the burial chamber caused the archaeologists to conclude the tomb was that of Lady K’abel.
Archaeologists say they've discovered what could be the tomb of one of the greatest Mayan rulers, the 7th century warrior queen Lady K'abel.

The tomb was revealed during digging at the ancient Maya city of El Perú-Waka' in the rain forest of northern Guatemala. Alongside the body, excavators found a white jar shaped like conch shell with the head and arm of a woman carved at the opening. The artifact had four hieroglyphs that suggest it belonged to K'abel.

"Nothing is ever proven in archaeology because we're working with circumstantial evidence. But in our case we have a carved stone alabaster jar that is named K'abel's possession," David Freidel, an archaeologist working on the site, explained in a video. Freidel, of Washington University in St. Louis, said the find is "as close to a smoking gun" as you get in archaeology.

The plazas, palaces, temple pyramids and residences of El Perú-Waka' belong to the Classic Maya civilization (200-900 A.D.). K'abel was part of a royal family and carried the title "Kaloomte'," which translates to "Supreme Warrior," meaning she had even higher in authority than her king husband, K'inich Bahlam, according to Freidel and his excavation team. K'abel is believed to have reigned with him from about 672-692 A.D.
Book

Irish historian discovers that Abraham Lincoln donated to Ireland during the Great Famine

© Unknown
Former president of the United States Abraham Lincoln donated money to struggling Ireland during the Great Famine
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was one of 15,000 people worldwide to donate money to Ireland during the Great Irish Famine. This is according to evidence unearthed by respected Irish historian Christine Kinealy, who has studied and written extensively on the Famine for 20 years.

Kinealy, a Professor at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, was rustling through the list of donations and was taken aback when she saw the name of the legendary president who donated $10 or $500 in today's financial climate.

'This was back in 1847 when Lincoln was only a newly elected politician to the House of Representatives. It was an insubstantial sum from an unimportant figure at the time but it is retrospectively very interesting,' the Trinity College graduate stated.

The 2009 winner of the Will Herberg Award for Excellence in Teaching asserts that this donation was not out of character for Lincoln, who had a lifelong rapport with the Irish.

'I suppose Lincoln always had a great affinity for the Irish and their plight. He knew and recited Robert Emmet's speech from the dock and his favourite ballad was Lady Dufferin's poem 'The Lament of the Irish Emigrant' set to music.'
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Oldest fake toes made walking easier in Egypt

Prosthetic Toe
© The University of Manchester
The original Cairo toe, made out of wood and leather, is housed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The toe was found attached to a female mummy.
Researchers have suspected that two Egyptian artificial toes are the world's oldest known prosthetic body parts. Volunteers without a big toe in a new study showed that the prosthetics would have made walking around in ancient Egyptian sandals much easier.

One of the artifacts in question is the Greville Chester toe, now in the British Museum. It dates back before 600 B.C. and is made of cartonnage, an ancient type of papier maché made with a mixture of linen, animal glue and tinted plaster. The other is the wood and leather Cairo toe at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which was found on a female mummy near Luxor and is thought to date back to between 950 and 710 B.C.

If the parts were indeed used to help ancient Egyptians missing a big toe walk normally, they would be the earliest known practical prostheses - older than the bronze and wooden Roman Capua leg, which dates back to 300 B.C.

"Several experts have examined these objects and had suggested that they were the earliest prosthetic devices in existence," University of Manchester researcher Jacky Finch, who led the study, said in a statement. "There are many instances of the ancient Egyptians creating false body parts for burial but the wear plus their design both suggest they were used by people to help them to walk."
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La Bastida Unearthed: A 4,100 Year-Old Fort In Europe

La Bastida
© ASOME - UAB. Proyecto La Bastida
Spanish archeologists have announced the discovery of continental Europe's biggest Bronze Age settlement that dates back 4,200 years and represents the pinnacle of architecture and engineering for that time.

The site, known as La Bastida, was protected by 20-foot high walls and towers designed to keep its upper class residents protected and in power. The design of these structures suggests that those who built it were from Asia Minor and the Middle East.

One of the key clues to uncovering the story of La Bastida is the ogival arched postern gate, or secondary door, near the main entrance. The arch is the first one to be found in Europe from this time period, and its roots can be traced to Troy, in modern day Turkey, and urban locations in Palestine, Israel and Jordan. The construction techniques found at La Bastida would not show up in Europe until 400 to 800 years later when Mycenaeans, or city-states residents in Southern Europe, incorporated them into their military architecture.

The structure shows people from the Middle East had a hand in the construction of the fortification. The Spanish archeologists theorized the people who lived in La Bastida moved there after a mysterious crisis devastated the region 4,300 years ago. The archeological record shows the people living in Jordan and Israel at the time abandoned the safety and security of settlements for pastoral life.
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Ancient burial shroud made of surprising material, scientists find

Burial Cloth
© The National Museum of Denmark
The 2,800-year-old Lusehøj textile made from imported nettles and found in a grave along with the bones from what may be a Scandinavian man, scientists report on Sept. 28, 2012.
Ancient scraps of fabric found in a grave in Denmark are not made of cultivated flax as once believed, but instead are woven from imported wild nettles, suggesting the grave's inhabitant may have traveled far for burial.

This discovery, announced today (Sept. 28) in the journal Scientific Reports, casts a new light on the textile trade in Bronze Age Europe, said study researcher Ulla Mannering, an archaeologist at the University of Copenhagen.

"Since the Stone Age, they had very well-developed agriculture and technology for producing linen textiles," Mannering told LiveScience. "So it's really unusual that a society which has established agriculture would also take in material from things that are not of the normal standardized agricultural production" - in other words, wild plants.

A luxurious shroud

The soft and shiny fabric dates back to between 940 B.C. and 750 B.C., making it about 2,800 years old. It was discovered in Voldtofte, Denmark, at a rich Bronze Age burial ground called Lusehøj. The Bronze Age ran from about 3200 B.C. to 600 B.C. in Europe.

The fabric was wrapped around a bundle of cremated remains in a bronze urn. It was a luxurious piece of material, Mannering said.

"The fibers we get from the European nettle are very, very fine and soft and shiny, and we often say this is a sort of prehistoric silk textile," Mannering said. (Silk, made from insect cocoons, is known for its shimmery texture.)
Meteor

Nazi-Acquired Buddha Statue Came From Space

Meteorite Statue
© Elmar Buchner
A Buddha statue dating back to the 8th to 10th centuries is carved from a rare iron meteorite.
It sounds like a mash-up of Indiana Jones' plots, but German researchers say a heavy Buddha statue brought to Europe by the Nazis was carved from a meteorite that likely fell 10,000 years ago along the Siberia-Mongolia border.

This space Buddha, also known as "iron man" to the researchers, is of unknown age, though the best estimates date the statue to sometime between the eighth and 10th centuries. The carving depicts a man, probably a Buddhist god, perched with his legs tucked in, holding something in his left hand. On his chest is a Buddhist swastika, a symbol of luck that was later co-opted by the Nazi party of Germany.

"One can speculate whether the swastika symbol on the statue was a potential motivation to displace the 'iron man' meteorite artifact to Germany," the researchers wrote online Sept. 14 in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science.

Iron man adventure

The iron man first came to Germany after a 1938-1939 Tibet expedition by zoologist and ethnology Ernst Schäfer, who was sent to the region by the Nazi party to find the roots of Aryan origin. The statue then passed into the hands of a private owner.

Stuttgart University researcher Elmar Bucher and his colleagues first analyzed the statue in 2007, when the owner allowed them to take five miniscule samples of it. In 2009, the team had the opportunity to take larger samples from the inside of the statue, which is less prone to contamination by weathering or human handling than the outside where the initial samples were taken.

They found that the statue is carved from a rare class of space rocks known as ataxite meteorites. These mostly iron meteorites have a high level of nickel. The largest-ever known meteorite, the Hoba meteorite of Namibia, is an ataxite meteorite that may weigh more than 60 tons.
Chalkboard

4,000 year-old counting instrument involving the lunar calendar unearthed in Viet Nam

Archaeologists have found a stone tool assumed to be an early calendar dating back 4,000 years in a cave in the northern province of Tuyen Quang. The stone tool, with 23 parallel carved lines, seemed to be a counting instrument involving the lunar calendar, Prof Trinh Nang Chung from the Viet Nam Archaeology Institute told Viet Nam News.
© Trinh Nang Chung
This stone tool with carved parallel lines is thought to be an early calendar dating back some 4,000 years.
A similar tool was found in Na Cooc Cave in the northern province of Thai Nguyen's Phu Luong District in 1985, Chung said. Similar items have been found in various areas in the world, including China, Israel and the UK, suggesting that people 5,000 years ago knew how to calculate the lunar calendar by carving on stones.

The stone tool was found in a tomb marked with 14 large stones laid at a length of 1.6m. Bones were found under the stones but no skull was found, with Chung guessing that the skull may have decayed due to the humidity in the cave.

A number of other stone tools were buried with the corpse, he added.
Info

'Cult Fiction' Traced to Ancient Egypt Priest

Demotic
© Istituto Papirologico "G. Vitelli" – Firenze
This papyrus, now in two fragments, dates back around 1,900 years and was written in a form of ancient Egyptian known as Demotic. It records a fictional story that includes ritual sex.
A recently deciphered Egyptian papyrus from around 1,900 years ago tells a fictional story that includes drinking, singing, feasting and ritual sex, all in the name of the goddess Mut.

Researchers believe that a priest wrote the blush-worthy tale, as a way to discuss controversial ritual sex acts with other priests.

"Our text may represent a new and hitherto unrecognized Egyptian literary genre: 'cult' fiction, the purpose of which was to allow controversial or contentious matters pertaining to the divine cult to be scrutinized in this way," wrote professors Richard Jasnow and Mark Smith, who published their translation and analysis of the papyrus in the most recent edition of the journal Enchoria.

Jasnow, from Johns Hopkins University, and Smith, from Oxford, write that evidence of ritual sex is rare in ancient Egypt and the act probably would have been controversial.

"There is surprisingly little unequivocal Egyptian evidence for the performance of the sex act as such in ritual contexts," Jasnow and Smith wrote.

They added that the Egyptians were known to discuss other controversial matters using fictional stories.
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