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Question

Were the Salem witch trials spurred by food poisoning?

© GreenMedInfo
Most Americans have read about the Salem witch trials in their history classes. Outside of religious beliefs that led to hysteria, it is difficult to imagine what might have sparked the insanity of 1692 as transplants from Puritan England fought to survive in a foreign and often inhospitable land. But there are a few researchers who have come up with a possible cause - ergot poisoning.

When religious beliefs spark a deadly explosion

Certainly people of the 17th Century were familiar with madness, but to the unenlightened, mental and emotional problems were linked to an evil force possessing the soul.In 1692, scientific thinking was only recognized by scholars and not by the superstitious and poorly educated settlers who huddled in fear at the thought of evil spirits holding sway over their lives. If they had been open-minded enough then perhaps they would have made a connection between the symptoms and the effects of eating tainted food.

Tainted food, tainted ideas

The year 1692 was hardly situated in an era of sound thinking. With the Age of Reason far off in the future, the Puritan settlers strongly believed in religious notions of devils, witches, spells, and possessed souls. As a result, nineteen men and women were convicted of witchcraft in Salem and marched to Gallows Hill for public hanging. Plus there were scores of tortures including one of a man more than eighty years old who was crushed to death under heavy stones for refusing to admit he was guilty of practicing witchcraft. The madness spread throughout New England. And it was madness it was in the greater sense of the word.

Info

What happened at the OK Corral?

© Kieran Mulvaney
The purported grave site of the men who were killed in the Gunfight at the OK Corral.
On Oct. 26, 1881, four men met at the corner of Fifth and Allen Streets in the bustling silver mining town of Tombstone, Arizona. They walked north on Fifth, turned left on Fremont Street and headed toward a vacant lot next to the OK Corral.

Minutes later, three men would be dead, and the four men who had walked to the corral and killed them - Tombstone marshal Virgil Earp, his brothers Wyatt and Morgan, and Wyatt's friend Doc Holliday - had unknowingly secured their places in history.

The Gunfight at the OK Corral is arguably the single most famous incident in the Old West. But what was it about? And why has it, above all the many other gunfights that took place in the era of frontier justice, achieved such infamy?

To understand the gunfight, you have to first understand the town. Tombstone in 1881 was a thriving, bustling silver mining community.

"There's a huge misconception about Tombstone in the 1880s: that it was a violent, dangerous place," says local author and historian Don Taylor. "It was extremely sophisticated and massively wealthy. Thirty-seven million dollars in 1880s dollars of silver was mined here; that's $8.25 billion today. They had everything.

"They had fresh seafood every day. They would catch it in Baja California; pack it in barrels of salt, ice and seaweed at dusk; freight it by train to Benson or Contention City, immediately pack it on to wagons and bring it here by dawn every day. It was a very opulent town. But again, people don't understand - especially if they come today - Tombstone was open 24 hours a day.

The miners worked rotating 10 hour shifts; everything had to be open when they got off, including banks. They were also pumping 2.5 million gallons of water out of the mines every day to keep them dry; so you had all the mining activity, all the milling activity, all the water rushing down Toughnut Street, and the town open 24 hours a day. It must have been noisy as hell."

Info

'Oldest Mayan tomb' found in Guatemala's Retalhuleu

© Agence France-Presse
The scientists named the grave's occupant K'utz Chman, which in the Mayan language means Grandfather Vulture, due to a vulture-headed figure found at the site
One of the oldest Mayan tombs ever found has been uncovered in western Guatemala, say archaeologists.

Located at a temple site in Retalhuleu province, the grave is thought to be that of an ancient ruler or religious leader who lived some 2,000 years ago.

Carbon-dating indicated the tomb had been built between 700 and 400 BC, said government archaeologist Miguel Orrego.

A rich array of jade jewels, including a necklace depicting a vulture-headed human figure, were found.

The scientists found no bones at the tomb in the Tak'alik Ab'aj site - some 180km (110 miles) south of Guatemala City - probably because they had disintegrated.

But the vulture-headed figure appears to identify the tomb's occupant as an ajaw - or ruler - because the symbol represented power and economic status and was given to respected elder men.

Info

Easter Island statues could have 'walked'

© Ian Sewell/Wikimedia Commons
Moai on Easter Island.
The giant stone statues in Polynesia's Easter Island may have just been "walked" out of quarry, according to a controversial new theory on how the monolithic human figures were transported to every corner of the island.

In a piece of experimental archaeology, a team of local and U.S. researchers showed that the massive statues, known as moai, can be moved from side to side by a small number of people, just as one might move a fridge.

"We constructed a precise three-dimensional 4.35 metric ton replica of an actual statue and demonstrated how positioning the center of mass allowed it to fall forward and rock from side to side causing it to 'walk,'" Carl Lipo, an archaeologist at California State University, Long Beach, and colleagues wrote in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Nearly 1,000 huge statues stand on the remote Rapa Nui, the indigenous name of Easter Island. With sizes ranging from about 6 to 33 feet in height, the rock effiges feature human-like figures ending at the top of the thighs with large heads, long ears and pursed lips.

Scholars have long debated how the multi-ton statues were moved from the quarry in Rano Raraku, an extinct volcano where they were carved, throughout the island's rugged terrain.

Claims ranged from extra-terrestrial intervention to molding in situ. However, most archaeologists agree that the colossal stone statues were moved by rolling them on logs. In doing so, the statue-obsessed Rapa Nui people would have depleted the island of its forests.

But according to Lipo's team, new evidence challenges the "longstanding notions of 'ecocide' and population collapse before European contact."

Question

A Swedish Stonehenge? Stone Age tomb may predate English site

© Annika Knarrström, Swedish National Heritage Board
A 5,500-year-old tomb possibly belonging to a Stone Age chieftain has been unearthed at a megalithic monument in the shape of a ship called the Ale's Stenar (Ale's Stones). Here, archaeologist Björn Wallebom clears the northern brim of the dolmen, or several upright stones with a horizontal boulder on top in which a body would be placed.
A 5,500-year-old tomb possibly belonging to a Stone Age chieftain has been unearthed at a megalithic monument in the shape of a ship called the Ale's Stenar (Ale's Stones). The tomb, in Sweden, was likely robbed of stones to build the Viking-era ship monument.

"We found traces - mostly imprints - of large boulders," said lead archaeologist Bengst Söderberg of the Swedish National Heritage Board. "So my conviction is that some of the stones at least, they are standing on the ship setting."

Perched on a seaside cliff in the village of Kåseberga stands the Ales Stenar, also called Ale's Stones, 59 massive boulders arranged in the 220-foot (67-meter)-long outline of a ship. Most researchers believe the 1,400-year-old ship structure is a burial monument built toward the end of Sweden's Iron Age. Local legend has it that the mythic King Ale lies beneath the site.

The Ales Stenar megaliths, some of which weigh as much as 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilograms), have distinctive cut marks similar to ones found at Stone Age sites. So researchers wondered whether the stones were stolen from an even older monument, Söderberg told LiveScience. [See Photos of Ale's Stones & Tomb]

Bad Guys

Pointless bloodbath? Historians claim battle at El Alamein sacrificed thousands for the sake of propaganda

Image

During the Second Battle of El Alamein the Allied forces of the 8th army lead by General Bernard Montgomery (pictured) defeated the Axis forces lead by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
The Sahara is cold at night, and for the young soldiers waiting to go into battle, it felt perishing. Many, such as those in the Durham Brigade, were only wearing shirts, shorts and flimsy pullovers, and shivered while they clutched their rifles.

Nearby were soldiers from an Australian battalion, one of whom, a Private Crawford, took pity on a youthful-looking private in the Durhams, and gave him his sweater.

Two hours later, an enormous barrage started up from the British guns, the like of which had not been seen since World War I. The soldiers, many now trembling more from fear than cold, advanced into what swiftly became a terrifying and chaotic inferno.

Comment: The authors seem to be doing damage control to keep the meme going that some wars are justified, even those fought only for the sake of political expediency. In the psychopathic mindset any collateral damage, including the deaths of thousands, are insignificant in their quest for power and domination. They cannot allow anyone - even historians - to question this.

Take this sentence, for example:
"Today, we often talk about trying to win over the hearts and minds of our potential enemies, but El Alamein shows that it is just as crucial to win over the hearts and minds of one's own people, without which it is impossible to fight a war, let alone win it."
The purpose of winning hearts and minds in Afghanistan and elsewhere isn't to win the hearts and minds of the locals 'over there', who know full well that the invading forces of occupation are the enemy. The purpose is to win over hearts and minds in the West for continued support of a war whose true purpose is to channel revolutionary discontent at home to somewhere far, far away where it can be safely disposed of. It's the same with all wars really. It has certainly proven to be the case with certainly modern wars where there is never a 'casus belli' (just cause for the war) and where both sides are funded by the same sources.


Document

Oldest writing nearly deciphered

© Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons
Economic tablet with numeric signs and Proto-Elamite script. Excavated by Jacques de Morgan, 1907.
The world's oldest undeciphered writing system is close to being cracked thanks to a new technology and online crowdsourcing, Oxford University researchers have announced.

Called proto-Elamite, the writing has its roots in what is now Iran and dates from 3,200 to 3,000 B.C. So far, the 5,000-year-old writing has defied any effort to decode its symbols impressed on clay tablets.

Now a high-tech imaging device developed at the Universities of Oxford and Southampton in England might provide the necessary insight to crack the code once and for all.

Comprising a dome with 76 lights and a camera positioned at the top of the dome, the Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) is able to capture extremely high quality images of ancient documents.

As the object is placed in the center of the dome, 76 photos are taken each with one of the 76 lights individually lit.

The 76 images are then joined in post-processing so that researcher can move the light across the surface of the digital image and use the difference between light and shadow to highlight never before seen details.

"The quality of the images captured is incredible. I have spent the last ten years trying to decipher the proto-Elamite writing system and, with this new technology, I think we are finally on the point of making a breakthrough," Jacob Dahl, from Oxford University's Oriental Studies Faculty, said.

UFO

So that's what was flying around near Roswell? Laughable US government report on 'secret flying saucer' program made available

The truth isn't out there ... it's been stored in a warehouse for 56 years. The National Declassification Center in College Park, Md., opened one of more than 100 cardboard boxes from the Air Force recently and came across a 114-page document from 1956 sure to interest the tin-foil-hat crowd: a document describing a secret program by the Air Force to build a flying saucer. "These records have been classified probably since their creation during the '50s," Neil Carmichael, director of the declassification review division at NDC, told Popular Mechanics, which first posted news of the complete document. "It's like somebody went into somebody's office, emptied out a filing cabinet, stuck it in a box, sealed it, and sent it off to the federal records center. It was deemed permanently valuable at some point in its life and that's why we have it today."

Last week, the group posted a few images and a brief blog entry on the program, which was estimated to cost just $3.2 million, the report said. But an NDC representative told FoxNews.com that the group is "in the process of digitizing" the entire document and has not yet released it onto its website.
Image
© National Archives
A close-up image shows the cockpit from a 1950s Air Force concept for a flying saucer.
Additional images

Info

Ancient tomb found near Sweden's 'Stonehenge'

© Annika Knarrström, Swedish National Heritage Board
Archaeologists clearing part of the trench with Ale's Stones in the background.
The remains of a 5,500-year-old tomb near Ale's Stones, a megalithic monument where, according to myth, the legendary King Ale lies buried, has been discovered by Swedish archaeologists. The discovery is the product of a geophysical investigation of the area carried out in 2006.

Intrigued by a circular structure measuring about 165 feet in diameter with a rectangular feature in its center, archaeologists of the Swedish National Heritage Board decided to dig a trial trench.

"The outer circle was difficult to prove, but we did find vague traces at the spot, possibly imprints of smaller stones," archaeologist Bengt Söderberg told Discovery News.

In the middle, the researchers found "several components" that are evidence of a dolmen, a megalithic portal tomb usually made of two vertical stones supporting a large flat horizontal stone on top.

"The components consisted of imprints of large stones belonging to a central grave chamber, which was surrounded by large stones and a brim of smaller stones," Söderberg said.

Info

Expedition to legendary city of Troy begins in 2013

© Photos.com
Troy is a legendary city and center of The Trojan War, as described in The Epic Cycle, and especially in The Iliad, one of the two epic poems attributed to Homer. Today it is the name of an archaeological site, the traditional location of Homeric Troy, Turkish Truva, in Hisarlık in Anatolia, close to the seacoast in what is now Çanakkale Province in Northwest Turkey, Southwest of the Dardanelles under Mount Ida.
"Like the generations of leaves, the lives of mortal men. Now the wind scatters the old leaves across the earth, now the living timber bursts with the new buds and spring comes round again. And so with men: as one generation comes to life, another dies away." ― Homer, The Iliad
The city-state of Troy is the stuff of legends, with mythical heroes, women of unsurpassed beauty and the fabled wooden Trojan Horse. Now a cross-disciplinary team of scientists will begin a new excavation project in 2013.

University of Wisconsin-Madison classics Professor William Aylward will lead the expedition. Aylward is an archaeologist with a long history of experience digging in the ruins of the classical world, including in Troy itself. The new excavation project, which will be a series of summer-time expeditions, will be an international collaboration with many organizations, conducted under the auspices and in cooperation with Turkey's Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University, which is close to the site of Troy.

"Troy is a touchstone of Western civilization," says Aylward. "Although the site has been excavated in the past, there is much yet to be discovered. Our plan is to extend work to unexplored areas of the site and to systematically employ new technologies to extract even more information about the people who lived here thousands of years ago."