Secret History
Map

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

Image

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."

Hourglass

The first people?

"Why should we be so arrogant as to assume that we're the first homo-sapiens to walk the earth?" (J.J. Abrams et al., 2010)
No one remembers one's moment of birth and neither does humanity. The beginning of man is a scientific mystery. This article, however, is not about how man came to be, but about shortly after that; it is about the dawn of humanity, a missing chapter in human history. People, in this forgotten chapter, mapped the earth and sky long before there were ancient Egyptians or Jews. They are not to be confused with Australopithecus, Homo Habilis, or Homo Ergaster. Instead, they are remembered by ancients as 'gods' because it is they who first engineered societies, leaving baffling traces on earth.

The idea of how humanity's progress began is relative. Before the enlightenment, human civilizations throughout history viewed the past as glorious and expected the future to simply resemble and repeat the past. Mankind did not think highly of themselves until after Kant declared the motto "Sapere aude," - dare to think for yourself. But the question remains: what is it in our distant past that made the ancients behold it with such impressiveness?

Scientific and technological progresses do not necessarily take thousands of years. The pace can be exponential, slow, or even regressive - exponential through accidental breakthroughs and inventions, e.g. the 20th century, but slow when impeded by a major force such as the Roman church or the Black Death that prolonged the dark ages for a century. Regression occurs due to a massive loss of knowledge, e.g. the burning of the Alexandria Library in 391 A.D. The idea that scientific and technological development takes millennia is an impression that we get from our assessment of the known history. Progress is inevitable and desirable for any civilization.

The progress of science and technology changes the way we live presently as well as how we see the past and future. Our expectations of the future change based partly on the breakthroughs we make and the pace of the scientific development. Our visions of the past, too, change as we develop new ways of investigating facts. The current worldview of the past is that things were primitive, and that mankind emerged from a state of barbarism to become smarter and more capable. However, emerging evidence suggests otherwise beginning with Plato's account of Atlantis, although, across the past two millennia, his account was considered fictional. In 1882, U.S. Congressman Ignatius Loyola Donnelly published his book Atlantis: The Antediluvian World in which he gathers the then-available evidence in favor of an early mighty civilization that was far more advanced than they had any right to be. He mainly studied ancient myths and believed Plato's account of Atlantis to be historically accurate.

Forty-seven years later, in 1929, a medieval map called Piri Reis was found at the Imperial Palace library in Constantinople (Istanbul). This map inexplicably depicts, with unprecedented fine details, the continents of South America and Antarctica corresponding to present longitude and latitude albeit it dates back to 1513. It was not until after the Piri Reis map discovery that other maps of high precision started emerging, eg: the Ribero maps 1520-30, the Ortelius map 1570, and the Wright-Molyneux map 1599 (McIntosh, 2000:59).

Comment: For more history on ancient, prediluvian civilizations and the nature of cyclical cosmic catastrophes check out The Secret History of the World and its sequels, Comets and the Horns of Moses and Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection.


Heart - Black

Ghost of Christmas Past: 70 years after his execution, 14-year old black boy exonerated for double murder

© Reuters/South Carolina Department of Archives and History
George Stinney Jr
It took 70 years, but a 14-year-old African American boy from Alcolu, South Carolina who was executed for allegedly killing two white girls has now been exonerated of murder.

In a ruling issued Wednesday by Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen, the murder conviction against George Stinney was vacated over concerns that the young boy's constitutional right to a fair trial was violated to the point that his name should be cleared, WIS TV reported.

Stinney, who was so small at the time of his execution by electric chair that he had to sit on a phone book, is often cited as the youngest American to be put to death by the state in the 20th century.

During his trial in 1944, Stinney's white lawyer did not present witnesses or cross-examine witnesses presented by the prosecution. In 2009, Stinney's sister claimed in an affidavit that her brother could not have killed the two young girls because he was with her at the time their deaths occurred.

"The state, as an entity, has very unclean hands," attorney Miller Shealy argued at a hearing in January, as quoted by the Huffington Post.

Comment: He was 14 years, 6 months and 5 days old - and the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th Century


Music

Earliest known piece of polyphonic music discovered

© MS Harley 3019. Reproduced with the permission of the British Library Board
The music was written around the year 900, and represents the earliest example of polyphonic music intended for practical use.

New research has uncovered the earliest known practical piece of polyphonic music, an example of the principles that laid the foundations of European musical tradition.


The earliest known practical example of polyphonic music - a piece of choral music written for more than one part - has been found in a British Library manuscript in London.

The inscription is believed to date back to the start of the 10th century and is the setting of a short chant dedicated to Boniface, patron Saint of Germany. It is the earliest practical example of a piece of polyphonic music - the term given to music that combines more than one independent melody - ever discovered.

Written using an early form of notation that predates the invention of the stave, it was inked into the space at the end of a manuscript of the Life of Bishop Maternianus of Reims.

The piece was discovered by Giovanni Varelli, a PhD student from St John's College, University of Cambridge, while he was working on an internship at the British Library. He discovered the manuscript by chance, and was struck by the unusual form of the notation. Varelli specialises in early musical notation, and realised that it consisted of two vocal parts, each complementing the other.

Polyphony defined most European music up until the 20th century, but it is not clear exactly when it emerged. Treatises which lay out the theoretical basis for music with two independent vocal parts survive from the early Middle Ages, but until now the earliest known examples of a practical piece written specifically for more than one voice came from a collection known as The Winchester Troper, which dates back to the year 1000.

Varelli's research suggests that the author of the newly-found piece - a short "antiphon" with a second voice providing a vocal accompaniment - was writing around the year 900.


Arrow Down

Scottish orphans used in 'military experiments'

© The Express, UK
Lennox Castle Hospital is one of four Scottish institutions alleged to have been involved.
The allegations centre on at least four institutions where thousands of children are said to have been experimented upon in conditions described as "like something out of Auschwitz".

It is alleged that Porton Down, the top secret military facility in Wiltshire, was involved in trialling drugs for use in the Cold War on youngsters who were regarded as "feeble-minded".

One survivor told this newspaper he has obtained written and video evidence that he will pass to the public inquiry into historical abuse of children in care when it begins next year.

The man, now in his 50s, has been advised by lawyers to conceal his identity for his own safety until his full submission can be lodged at the inquiry announced by Scottish Education Secretary Angela Constance.

However, he was willing to divulge some of his intended testimony about the treatment he and others suffered.

He said: "Six and seven year olds were tied to racks and given electric shocks.

"I was incarcerated with orderlies armed with rubber coshes.

"We were imprisoned, experimented upon, lobotomies, you name it, they did it.

"I was there, I saw it with my own eyes.

Christmas Tree

The forgotten Christmas truce of 1914 - Psychopaths versus the rest of us

Image
It was exactly 100 years ago this month when the Christmas Truce of 1914 occurred, when Christian soldiers on both sides of the infamous No Man's Land of the Western Front, recognized their common humanity, dropped their guns and fraternized with the so-called enemies that they had been ordered to kill without mercy the day before. As mentioned in last week's column, the truth of that remarkable event has since been effectively covered up by state and military authorities (and the embedded journalists at the time) because they were angered (and embarrassed) by the breakdown of military discipline.

In the annals of war, such "mutinies" are now unheard of. The generals and (as well as the saber-rattling, chest-thumping politicians and war profiteers back home) rapidly developed strategies to prevent such behavior from happening again.

Christmas Eve of 1914 was only 5 months into World War I, and the cold, weary, homesick soldiers found themselves not heroes, as expected, but rather miserable, frightened and disillusioned wretches living in rat- and louse-infested trenches. Most of them had dreamed heroic dreams when they had signed up to kill and die for King and Country a few months earlier, and hey had been fully expecting to be home for the holidays.

Lower echelon officers on both sides of No Man's Land, who were suffering right along with the troops, allowed a lull in the war - just for Christmas Eve. Then they allowed the troops to sing Christmas hymns, and many of the not-yet hardened soldiers started to recognize the humanity of the demonized "other" that had been fingered as sub-humans deserving of death.

Comment: "As tantalizing as is the story of the Christmas Truce, it is also a reminder of what could have happened if there had been less obedience to authority and more organized opposition to senseless war in the families, schools and churches."

Unfortunately, not much has changed since WWI, in fact things have gotten much worse. Control of the press has been massively increased, authoritarianism has been institutionalised into every seam of our society, the citizenry is being relentlessly spied on, and basic human rights have been watered down or abolished.

Would such a Christmas truce still be possible today - probably not!


Meteor

1 million bodies found in Egyptian cemetery - scientists stumped

Image

A mummy of a 18 months old girl was found
An ancient cemetery in Egypt contains 1 million bodies, according to a team of archeologists who discovered the burial ground. What the site represents remains a mystery, as the scientists are still puzzled about where exactly all the people came from.

"We are fairly certain we have over a million burials within this cemetery. It's large, and it's dense," said Project Director Kerry Muhlestein, an associate professor in the Department of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University (BYU). Muhlestein presented his findings at the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities Scholars Colloquium, held in Toronto in November, Live Science reported.

Archaeologists from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, have been exploring a mysterious cemetery in Egypt for about 30 years. They excavated about 1,700 mummies within the project in Egypt so far. But there is still much work to do.

The cemetery is now called Fag el-Gamous, which means "Way of the Water Buffalo," a title that comes from the name of a nearby road. Archaeologists from Brigham Young University have been excavating Fag el-Gamous, along with a nearby pyramid, for about 30 years. Many of the mummies date to the time when the Roman or Byzantine Empire ruled Egypt, from the 1st century to the 7th century A.D.cemetery]

Magnify

Cathedral builders reinforced stone with iron

A team of French researchers from the Laboratoire archéomatériaux et prévision de l'altération, the Laboratoire de mesure du carbone 14, and the Université Paris 8, has extracted carbon from the iron used to support Gothic cathedrals, and used radiocarbon dating and archaeological evidence to determine that such reinforcements had been implemented in the initial phase of construction.

Image
© Library of Congress
Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France in late 1800s.
Using radiocarbon dating on metal found in Gothic cathedrals, an interdisciplinary team has shown, for the first time through absolute dating, that iron was used to reinforce stone from the construction phase. This study, the result of a collaboration between the Laboratoire archéomatériaux et prévision de l'altération1 (CNRS/CEA), the Laboratoire de mesure du carbone 14 (CNRS/CEA/IRD/IR SN/French ministry of Culture and Communication) and the team "Histoire des pou voirs, savoirs et sociétés" of Université Paris 8, sheds new light on the technical skill a nd intentions of cathedral builders. It will be published in the January 2015 issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

This innovative method could improve understanding of medieval buildings in Europe, such as the Sainte-Chapelle, as well as in Asia, such as the temples of Angkor.