Secret History


Who made the desert bloom in Palestine before over half of it was allocated to Israel?

In December 1945 and January 1946, the British Mandate authorities carried out an extensive survey of Palestine, in support of the work of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine. The results were published in the Survey of Palestine, which has been scanned and made available online by Palestine Remembered; all 1300 pages can be read here.

One of the subjects investigated in the Survey of Palestine is land use; specifically, which crops were Palestine's leading agricultural products at the end of the British Mandate, and whose farms were producing them.

So, according to the Survey of Palestine, who really made the barley fields of Beersheba bloom?

The British government survey found that in 1944-45 Palestine's farmers produced approximately 210,000 tons of grain.

About 193,400 tons of that grain were cultivated on Palestinian farms; about 16,600 tons were cultivated on Jewish farms.

See the precise numbers, from a scan of the relevant page of the Survey of Palestine, here.
Magic Wand

Mysterious rock lines Found in Peru predate ancient Nazca lines by centuries, scientist say

© David W. Haynes via Getty Images
Nazca lines. The newfound glyphs are believed to be centuries older.
New rock lines discovered in Peru predate the famous Nazca Lines by centuries and likely once marked the site of ancient fairs, researchers say.

The lines were created by people of the Paracas, a civilization that arose around 800 B.C. in what is now Peru. The Paracas culture predated the Nazca culture, which came onto the scene around 100 B.C. The Nazca people are famous for their fantastic geoglyphs, or rock lines, built in the shapes of monkeys, birds and other animals.

The new lines date to around 300 B.C., making them at least 300 years older than the oldest Nazca lines, said Charles Stanish, the director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles, who reported the new find today (May 5) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The somber history of Mother's Day

Anna Jarvis
© Bettmann, Corbis
Anna Jarvis was the driving force behind the first Mother's Day observances in 1908
As Mother's Day turns 100 this year, it's known mostly as a time for brunches, gifts, cards, and general outpourings of love and appreciation.

But the holiday has more somber roots: It was founded for mourning women to remember fallen soldiers and work for peace. And when the holiday went commercial, its greatest champion, Anna Jarvis, gave everything to fight it, dying penniless and broken in a sanitarium.

It all started in the 1850s, when West Virginia women's organizer Ann Reeves Jarvis - Anna's mother - held Mother's Day work clubs to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination, according to historian Katharine Antolini of West Virginia Wesleyan College. The groups also tended wounded soldiers from both sides during the U.S. Civil War from 1861 to 1865.

Most of the harmful mutations in human genes arose in the past 5,000 to 10,000 years

© Wiki Commons
Spectrum of human genetic diversity today is vastly different from only 200 to 400 generations ago

A study dating the age of more than 1 million single-letter variations in the human DNA code reveals that most of these mutations are of recent origin, evolutionarily speaking. These kinds of mutations change one nucleotide - an A, C, T or G - in the DNA sequence. Over 86 percent of the harmful protein-coding mutations of this type arose in humans just during the past 5,000 to 10,000 years.

Some of the remaining mutations of this nature may have no effect on people, and a few might be beneficial, according to the project researchers. While each specific mutation is rare, the findings suggest that the human population acquired an abundance of these single-nucleotide genetic variants in a relatively short time.
"The spectrum of human diversity that exists today is vastly different than what it was only 200 to 400 generations ago," said Dr. Joshua Akey, associate professor of genome sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is one of several leaders of a multi-institutional effort among evolutionary geneticists to date the first appearance of a multitude of single nucleotide variants in the human population.

4,000-year-old irrigation system unearthed in China

Ancient Irrigation System
© Want China Times
The protective dam of the irrigation system found in Chengdu. (Internet photo).
An ancient irrigation system that dates back 4,000 years has been unearthed in Chengdu in southwestern China's Sichuan province, according to the city's municipal museum on Thursday.

The system, with a 147-meter-long bank protective dam, was discovered at a real estate construction site in the Wenjiang district of the city.

The dam is 14 m wide at the bottom, 12 m at the top and 1.3 m high with eight grooves dug by hand.

The remains of five houses and 54 tombs were discovered on the east side of the dam, which is evidence that the dam was built to protect the community, according to the museum.

The dam is the earliest irrigation system in the area along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, said Wang Yi, curator of the museum.

It is 2,000 years older than the Dujiangyan irrigation system, a world cultural heritage site near Chengdu, he said.

Sinking the Lusitania: An act of mass murder by the banksters

Sinking The Lusitania_1
© Fools Crow Blog
Lusitania on fire.
On this day 99 years ago, a German U-boat sunk the RMS Lusitania off the southern Irish coast with the loss of 1,195 lives, including 128 Americans. 94 children perished, 31 of them mere babies. This incident became the major catalyst for drawing a reluctant America into the European slaughter pens of World War 1.

But was the sinking of the Lusitania one of those unfortunate acts that occur randomly during war or was there a more sinister and deliberate hand at work?

In a disputed incident like this, one often gets to the truth of the matter by asking the question, "Cui bono?" "Who benefits?" After a detailed examination of the facts, one can only come to the conclusion that it was the banksters who benefitted, and grossly at that.

The RMS Lusitania was one of the world's biggest ships and the pride of the Cunard Line at the time of her demise. "RMS" stands for "Royal Mail Steamer" which meant that the Lusitania was certified to carry the mail, earning her owners an annual fee of some £68,000.

At the time of her final voyage, leaving New York for Liverpool on May 1st, 1915, Europe was embroiled in war. Germany had declared the seas around the United Kingdom to be a war-zone and German U-boats were wreaking havoc on enemy shipping. 300,000 tons of Allied shipping were sunk every week and one out of every four steamers leaving Britain never returned. Britain was virtually cut off from her allies and her waters were fraught with danger.

Archaeologists discover 5,600-year-old tomb in Egypt

Ancient Tomb
© Photograph courtesy of NebRaatMa
A 5,600-year-old tomb containing the scattered bones of a skeleton has been unearthed by archaeologists in southern Egypt, says Ali El-Asfar, head of the ancient Egyptian section at the country's antiquities ministry.

A 32cm ivory statue of a bearded man, 10 ivory combs, and a number of tools and weapons were also found in the tomb by the Hierakonpolis Expedition team led by Renee Friedman.

The tomb was constructed before the Dynasty of the Pharaohs and unification of Upper Egypt, which stretched along the Red Sea, and Lower Egypt, to the north on the coast of the Mediterranean, and should provide some incites into pre-dynastic Egyptian rituals.

The discovery was made at Hierakonpolis, ancient Egyptian Nekhen and capital of Upper Egypt, which was a vibrant and bustling city that stretched over 3km along the Nile river.

500-year-old vampire grave unearthed in Polish marketplace

Vampire Grave
© Lydia Smith/IB Times
Archaeologists have discovered the grave of a suspected vampire in Kamien Pomorski, northwestern Poland.

The body, which dates back to the 16th century, was unearthed during a dig in a marketplace in the town, situated in the West Pomeranian Province.

As reported in, the team found unusual features which indicated the burial site was vampiric.

The teeth, or "fangs" had been removed and a fragment of rock had been inserted into the mouth. In addition, his leg had been staked in order to prevent the body from rising from its grave.

Slawomir Gorka, who led the dig, said: "A piece of brick rubble in the mouth and pierced thigh indicates that it is a vampire burial. This was done not for him, but for the community, who lived here."

Gorka added that the same rituals were common in burials in the Kamien Pomorski area between the 13th and 17th centuries. The body was buried in the cemetery next to the town church.

Mysterious writing in rare 16th-century Homer identified

Bibliotheca Homerica Langiana
© University of Chicago Library
The mysterious notes scrawled in a 1504 edition of Bibliotheca Homerica Langiana donated to the University of Chicago Library have been identified. As suspected by the book's donor, the curling, 150-year-old script is a form of French shorthand in use in the 19th century.

In order to identify the script, the library was offering a US$1000 bounty to the first person who could provide a translation with supporting evidence for their claim. The winner was one Daniele Metilli, a digital humanities student at the Archivio di Stato di Milano who has hopes for a career as an archival librarian.

Working with colleague Giulia Accetta, who is proficient in contemporary Italian stenography and fluent in French, Metilli identified the script as a form of shorthand invented by shorthand author Jean Coulon de Thévénot in the late 18th century. The shorthand notes in the text are mostly French translations of Greek phrases from the Odyssey.

Ancient bones show signs of struggle with coeliac disease

© Soprintendenza ai Beni Archeologici della Toscana
The skeleton of a woman who lived in Tuscany 2,000 years ago shows signs of malnutrition and perhaps of an attempt to avoid certain foods.
If going gluten-free seems hard now, try doing it in ancient Rome. A well-heeled young woman with coeliac disease tried to adapt her diet in an unsuccessful effort to cope with gluten sensitivity, studies of her remains suggest.

The woman's remains were buried in a 2,000-year-old tomb at the Cosa archaeological site on the Tuscan coast in Italy. The ancient Roman city's economy depended on growing wheat and olives and was not particularly prosperous, yet archaeologists discovered gold and bronze jewellery entombed alongside the woman's bones. They concluded that she was relatively wealthy and would have had access to plenty of food.

Yet the skeleton of the woman - who researchers estimate was 18 - 20 years old - bore signs of malnutrition and osteoporosis. Both can be complications of untreated coeliac disease, which is characterized by a severe allergic reaction to gluten in the intestinal lining. Many of the woman's bones were eroded at the tips, and she would have stood just 140 centimetres (4 feet, 7 inches) tall.