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Roses

Late Bloomer: 32,000-year-old frozen remains used to grow ancient Arctic flower

fossil flower
© Svetlana Yashina via The New York Times

An undated handout photo of a narrow-leafed campion that has been generated from the fruit of a little arctic flower. Russian biologists say that they have grown a plant that is 32,000 years old from seeds buried in permafrost.
In a discovery that may herald the Jurassic Park-style resurrection of mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers, Russian scientists have grown a plant from the frozen remains of a 32,000-year-old Arctic flower.

The plant is a narrow-leafed campion grown in petri dishes from organic materials pulled from the banks of the Kolyma River in Siberia. Details of the project appear in Tuesday's issue of The Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. It was drafted by a team led by Svetlana Yashina and David Gilichinsky of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Tragically, Mr. Gilichinsky died of a heart attack on Saturday.

The Russian-grown campion is suspected to be the oldest plant ever grown from ancient tissue. If so, it would trounce the previous record held by a date palm grown from a 2,000-year-old seed recovered from Masada, Israel, site of a mass suicide of Jewish rebels in 73 AD.

The Russian-grown campions are extremely similar to their modern-day descendants, although 32,000 years of evolution have given contemporary campions wider, less splayed-out petals.

A long-dead Arctic ground squirrel is credited with unwittingly creating the ancient seed bank.
Stop

Adolf Hitler profile suggests 'messiah complex'

© Press Association
The report talks out of Hitler's paranoia and turn to "Jew-phobia" as Germany struggled militarily
Adolf Hitler developed a "messiah complex" during World War II, a newly unveiled report written for wartime British intelligence says.

The report, written in 1942 by Cambridge academic Joseph MacCurdy, said Hitler was turning increasingly to "Jew-phobia" as defeat loomed.

Social scientist Mark Abrams, who worked on the BBC's overseas propaganda analysis unit, commissioned the report.

The report came to light as a result of research into Mr Abrams' work.

"Hitler is caught up in a web of religious delusions," MacCurdy said in the report.

He outlined how Hitler began to focus on the "Jewish poison" as the tide of World War II turned against Germany.

"The Jews are the incarnation of evil, while he is the incarnation of the spirit of good," MacCurdy said.
Sherlock

Columbus May Not Have Been First to America

First Vovage
© Bristol's City Museum and Art Gallery
"The Departure of John and Sebastian Cabot from Bristol on their First Voyage of Discovery in 1497," as painted in 1906 by Ernest Board.
An investigation worthy of a Dan Brown novel has shed new light on the voyages of John Cabot,‭ ‬the Italian navigator and explorer, revealing that he may have‭ ‬had‭ ‬knowledge of European expeditions to the‭ "‬New World‭"‬ that predated Christopher Columbus's 1492 voyage.

Although commonly credited with "discovering" America, Christopher Columbus would not reach the mainland of the New World until 1498 when he sailed to South America.‭

Farther north, Cabot became the first European since Leif Ericson and the Vikings to land on North American soil when he made three voyages ‬for England's Henry VII between the summers of‭ ‬1496‭ ‬and‭ ‬1498.‭ ‬The second of‭ ‬these expeditions,‭ carried‭ ‬out in‭ ‬1497,‭ ‬resulted in the European discovery of North America -- at Newfoundland‭.

Now a brief entry in a‭ ‬yellowed accounting ledger has revealed an unexpected European dimension‭ ‬to Cabot‭'‬s discovery:‭ ‬In April‭ ‬1496,‭ ‬the Italian-born explorer received financial backing from an Italian bank -- the Bardi banking house in London.

The notation -- found through some serious sleuthing of the works of Alwyn Ruddock, a deceased, secretive historian -- would also suggest that Europeans may have discovered the New World decades before both Cabot and Columbus set sail.

Found in a private Florentine archive,‭ ‬the document records that a‭ payment of‭ ‬50‭ ‬nobles sterling was made to‭ "‬Giovanni Chabotte‭" (John Cabot‭) of Venice so that‭ ‬he could undertake expeditions‭ ‬"to go and find the new land.‭"

"This brief entry opens a whole new chapter in Cabot scholarship.‭ ‬It shows that the Bristol voyages were part of a wider network of Italian-supported exploratory enterprises,"‭ ‬historian Francesco Guidi-Bruscoli,‭ ‬of the University of Florence,‭ ‬told Discovery News.
Info

Dirty Pages Reveal Medieval Reading Habits

Medieval Prayer Book
© University of St Andrews
Quantifying fingerprints on a medieval prayer book.
Dirty pages of centuries-old books have revealed the fears, desires and humanity of medieval Europeans, suggesting that they were as self-interested and afraid of illness as people are today.

Kathryn Rudy, lecturer in the School of Art History at the University of St Andrews, analyzed a number of 15th- and early 16th-century European prayer books to reconstruct the reading habits of people who lived in medieval times.

The book turned out to be a kind of forensic analysis of what interested people of the time. She soon realized that the darkness of thumbed pages correlated to the intensity of their use and handling. The dirtiest pages were most likely also the most read, while relatively clean pages were probably neglected.

Using a densitometer, a machine that measures the darkness of a reflecting surface, Rudy was able to interpret how a reader handled a book, which sections were the most popular and which were ignored.

"Although it is often difficult to study the habits, private rituals and emotional states of people, this new technique can let us into the minds of people from the past," Rudy said.

The densitometer spiked at a manuscript dedicated to St. Sebastian, who was often prayed to for protection against the plague.
Wine

Stone me! Archaeologists' new theory on ancient north Pembrokeshire site

Rare finds have prompted archaeologists to rewrite the history of an ancient north Pembrokeshire stone.

The Trefael Stone, a scheduled ancient monument in a Nevern field, was originally thought to be an ancient standing stone, but is actually the capstone of a 5,500-year-old tomb, according to new research from a Bristol University archaeologist.

Dr George Nash and colleagues' excavations at the site indicate that the 1.2m high stone once covered a small burial chamber, probably a portal dolmen, Wales' earliest Neolithic burial-ritual monument type.
Attention

Native American Burial Ground Discovered

 Dirt Moving Uncovers Remains

US, Nebraska - A Native American burial ground has been uncovered during dirt moving for a highway project. Skeletal remains were not found on the construction site but farmland leased for dirt.

District engineer Tim Weander told Channel Six News Fact Finders that bones were discovered in Cass County not far from the highway 75 reconstruction. The state historical society and Nebraska commission on Indian affairs were notified.

The historical society staff removed the remains and is attempting to determine the tribe. A historical society expert told Channel Six News Fact Finders the bone fragments are very old and may predate Europeans coming to America. He said it appears the remains are of about four or five Native Americans.

The Director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs Judi M. Gaiashkibos provided more information of the remains discovery.
Info

Older Than Giza - Ancient Burial Chamber Revealed

Ancient Grave
© Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation
Even 5000 years ago, Britons were an understated bunch. About 250 years before work began on Egypt's ostentatious Great Pyramid of Giza, the early settlers of Orkney, off the north coast of Scotland, were building impressive stone chambers of their own - and burying them under mounds of dirt. Now, intensive laser scanning makes it possible to virtually peel away the mud, revealing one of those chambers in all its glory.

This is Maeshowe, a 3.8-metre-tall tomb chamber reached via a narrow passage 11 metres long. Maeshowe is one of several Neolithic monuments that comprise the Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was scanned by a team from the Glasgow School of Art's Digital Design Studio and the government agency Historic Scotland. The team is scanning 10 World Heritage Sites, five of which are in Scotland, for the Scottish Ten project. "We scanned Mount Rushmore [National Memorial] in the US in 2010," says Lyn Wilson of Historic Scotland.

All the sites are tourist attractions, which can make conserving them a challenge. The scans, accurate to within 6 millimetres, will form an invaluable record to monitor future wear and tear.

Not all damage made by visitors is unwelcome, though. A thousand years ago, Orkney was under Norwegian rule and Maeshowe was plundered. The robbers left behind the largest collection of runes known outside Scandinavia, carved into the stone. These, too, have been laser-scanned in sub-millimetre detail. That's pretty impressive for 1000-year-old graffiti
Info

How European Farmers Spread Agriculture Across Continent

Ancient Grave
© Göran Burenhult
Osteologists Ove and Evy Persson during the excavation of the grave at Ajvide, Gotland, Sweden, in 1983. The skeleton belongs to a young female in her 20s, and can be dated to around 4,700 years ago.
An analysis of 5,000-year-old genetic material from preserved human remains found in Sweden suggests that people moving from southern to northern Europe spread agriculture across that continent long ago.

In addition to agricultural know-how, the intrepid farmers brought their genes: They interbred with hunter-gatherer communities to create modern humans living in Europe today.

"Genetic variation of today's Europeans was strongly affected by immigrant Stone Age farmers, though a number of hunter-gatherer genes remain," study researcher Anders Götherström, of Uppsala University in Sweden, said in a statement.

The results of this study, to be published in the April 27 issue of the journal Science, match up well with previous archeological evidence of farming in Europe.
Palette

Painting of Queen Elizabeth I unveils Royals' Reptilian Secret?


Revealed once more: The image of a snake has appeared in a 16th century portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. A faint outline of the coils can be seen superimposed on her hand, while the serpent's body - seen as dark shading - follows the line of the flowers she is holding and also passes beneath her fingers
As many a courtier fatally found out, it was never a good idea to displease the Virgin Queen.

Which may explain why an artist carried out some serious alterations to his first draft portrait of Elizabeth I back in the 16th century.

Where he had drawn the Queen clutching a serpent, the painter had second thoughts and substituted a much more feminine bunch of roses.

The revisions would have remained a mystery had it not been for the ravages of time.

For yesterday, the National Portrait Gallery revealed how the image of the coiled snake had re-appeared.

Deterioration over the centuries has meant the serpent depicted in the Tudor monarch's fingers in the original version has revealed itself once more, with its outline now visible on the surface.

The portrait was created by an unknown artist in the 1580s or early 1590s.

The image has not been on display at the London gallery since 1921 but it will form part of an exhibition titled Concealed and Revealed: The Changing Faces of Elizabeth I, from March 13 to September 26.
Newspaper

JFK Assassination: Mark Lane Talks On The 'Reliable' Witness Mrs Helen Markham Recorded In 1964


Mark Lane Talks On The "Reliable " Witness Mrs Helen Markham Recorded in 1964 At A Public Debate Into the Findings Of The Warren Commission

Full audio podcast available from here.
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