Secret History
Map

Nuke

Rare photo of A-Bomb cloud found in Hiroshima

© Honkawa Elementary School
The image showing the mushroom cloud from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima split into two parts.
A long lost image from the Hiroshima atomic bombing has been discovered at a Japanese elementary school.

The black-and-white photograph shows the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima split into two distinctly separated parts, one on top of the other.

The rare image was found at the Honkawa Elementary School in Hiroshima city, in a collection of about 1,000 articles on the WWII atomic bombing. The material was donated by a late survivor, Yosaburo Yamasaki, in or after 1953.

According to the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun, a memo on the back of the photo says it was shot near the town of Kaitaichi, some six miles east of ground zero, two minutes after the bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945.

Info

Oldest Roman hairstyle recreated for first time

© Janet Stephens
A modern woman models the Roman Vestal Virgin hairstyle and headdress.
For the first time, the hairstyle of the Roman Vestal Virgins has been recreated on a modern head.

The Vestals were priestesses who guarded the fire of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth, among other sacred tasks. Chosen before puberty and sworn to celibacy, they were free from many of the social rules that limited women in the Roman era. Their braided hairstyle, the sini crenes, symbolized chastity and was known in ancient texts as the oldest hairstyle in Rome.

"These were the six most important women in Rome with the possible exception of the emperor's wife," said Janet Stephens, the Baltimore hairdresser and amateur archaeologist who unraveled the secrets of the Vestals' trademark braids. [See Video of the Braiding Process]

Cow

Heap of cattle bones may mark ancient feasts

© Michael MacKinnon
Archaeologists pulled a metric ton of cattle bones from an ancient Corinth theater, perhaps representing yearly feasts in the 4th and 5th centuries A.D.
A metric ton of cattle bones found in an abandoned theater in the ancient city of Corinth may mark years of lavish feasting, a new study finds.

The huge amount of bones - more than 1,000 kilograms (2,205 pounds) - likely represent only a tenth of those tossed out at the site in Peloponnese, Greece, said study researcher Michael MacKinnon, an archaeologist at the University of Winnipeg.

"What I think that they're related to are episodes of big feasting in which the theater was reused to process carcasses of hundreds of cattle," MacKinnon told LiveScience. He presented his research Friday (Jan. 4) at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Seattle.

Pyramid

Voluntary slavery? Ancient Egyptians paid a monthly fee to become temple slaves

© MacMillan South Africa
Becoming bound by eternal, unquestioning servitude as someone's property is not likely most people's career of choice. 2200 years ago, however, it seems some Egyptians voluntarily signed up to become temple slaves.

Not only that, they even paid a monthly fee for the "privilege."

The revelation comes from the work of Egyptologist Kim Ryholt of the University of Copenhagen, who has been studying papyrus slave contracts found in a rubbish dump in the ancient Egyptian temple city of Tebtunis.

"I am your servant from this day onwards, and I shall pay 2½ copper-pieces every month as my slave-fee before Soknebtunis, the great god."

This is part of the translation of 100 of these papyrus slave contracts that Ryholt has spent years trying to collect and analyse. The documents were scattered in fragments across Egypt, Europe and the US after they were illicitly excavated. In one example, a contract was divided between Copenhagen and the British Museum.

Ryholt is the first to analyze these papyri collectively, publishing his findings in a recent article titled: A Self-Dedication Addressed to Anubis - Divine Protection against Malevolent Forces or Forced Labour?

Document

Japan finds rare Tang Dynasty copy of Wang Xizhi work

Image
An extremely rare copy of a work by fourth century Chinese calligraphy legend Wang Xizhi has been unearthed in Japan, the first such discovery in four decades, Tokyo National Museum said Tuesday.

No original works survive, despite their having been treasured by Chinese emperors throughout history for their contribution to the development of the delicate art form.

However, Wang's innovative style was so influential that Chinese courts created precise replicas of his writings more than a millennium ago, some of which are held by Japan as national treasures.

"This is a significant discovery for the study of Wang Xizhi's work," the museum, which will display it from January 22 to March 3, said in a statement.

The writing, owned by an individual in Japan whose identity was not disclosed, shows 24 Chinese characters in three lines on a piece of paper roughly 26 centimetres by 10 centimetres (10 inches by 4 inches).

Info

Over 300 clay figures found at ancient site

© University of Southampton
Some figurines found at Koutroulou Magoula.
Archaeologists at a Neolithic settlement in Greece have discovered over 300 clay figurines - some that look like people, others that look like human-animal hybrids, all of which date back more than 7,000 years.

The little statuettes were scattered all over Koutroulou Magoula, a site about 160 miles (257 kilometers) from Athens that was occupied during the Middle Neolithic period (c. 5800 - 5300 B.C.). Researchers say Koutroulou Magoula was once home a few hundred people who made houses from stone and mud-bricks and subsisted by farming and keeping domestic animals. The archaeologists are still investigating what the artifacts say about the ancient settlement's culture.

"Figurines were thought to typically depict the female form, but our find is not only extraordinary in terms of quantity, but also quite diverse - male, female and non-gender specific ones have been found and several depict a hybrid human-bird figure," Yannis Hamilakis, co-director of the Koutroulou Magoula Archaeology and Archaeological Ethnography project, said in a statement.

Info

Athenian 'snake goddess' gets new identity

© Athenian Agora Excavations
A mysterious "snake goddess" found in Athens is painted on a plaque with a molded face.
Seattle - A mysterious "snake goddess" painted on terracotta and discovered in Athens may actually be Demeter, the Greek goddess of the harvest.

Once linked to the worship of the dead, the goddess is flanked by two snakes on a slab of terracotta about the size of a piece of notebook paper. She has her hands up above her head, which has given her the nickname "the touchdown goddess" thanks to the resemblance of the pose to a referee's signal. The goddess is painted in red, yellow and blue-green on a tile, with only her head molded outward in three dimensions. This unusual piece of art was found amid a jumble of gravel and other terracotta fragments in 1932 in what was once the Athenian agora, or public square.

The catch, however, is that the snake goddess isn't originally from the agora. The gravel and figurine fragments were fill material, brought in from an unknown second location to build a path or road in the seventh century B.C.

"Not only is our snake goddess unidentified, but she's homeless," said study researcher Michael Laughy of Washington and Lee University in Virginia. "She got mixed up in that road gravel, presumably obtained near the site of her original shrine."

Pills

Ancient remedies found in shipwreck

© Naples National Archaeological Museum, Wikimedia Commons
The doctor Japyx heals Aeneas.
An ancient doctor likely knew the composition of the medicines loaded aboard a doomed ship preparing to sail into the Mediterranean. But it would be another approximately 2,200 years until anyone else learned the ingredients of the six grey pills, which were lost beneath the waves along with the rest of the ship, known as the Relitto del Pozzino.

A team of Italian archeologists, chemists and biologists deciphered the chemical clues to the composition of an ancient medicine packed in the cargo of a ship sunk in 18 meters (59 feet) of water off the coast of Tuscany.

The six flat disks were held in a tin container which was probably once held in a larger wooden box that rotted away. Other medical implements of the time were found nearby.

Discovery News reported on an earlier study that discovered the medicine contained a mixture of mineral and plant materials, but not exactly which chemicals.

Info

Baby bones found scattered in ancient Italian village

© Anthony Tuck
The bucolic site was occupied for centuries, but the bones were found scattered on the floor of 7th-century B.C. structures in the village.
Seattle - The death of an infant may not have been an occasion for mourning in ancient Italy, according to archaeologists who have found baby bones scattered on the floor of a workshop dating to the seventh century B.C.

The grisly finds consist of bone fragments uncovered over years of excavation at Poggio Civitate, a settlement about 15 miles (25 kilometers) from the city of Siena in what is now Tuscany. The settlement dates back to at least the late eighth century B.C. Archaeologists excavating the site have found evidence of a lavish residential structure as well as an open-air pavilion that stretches an amazing 170 feet (52 meters) long. Residents used this pavilion was as a workshop, manufacturing goods such as terracotta roof tiles.

In 1983, scientists uncovered a cache of bones on the workshop floor, consisting mostly of pig, goat and sheep remains. But among the bony debris was a more sobering find: two arm bones from an infant (or infants) who died right around birth.

In 2009, another baby bone surfaced at the workshop, this one a portion of the pelvis of a newborn. [See Images of the Infant Bones]

The bones "were either simply left on the floor of the workshop or ended up in an area with a concentration of discarded, butchered animals," said Anthony Tuck, an archaeologist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who presented an analysis of the bones Friday (Jan. 4) at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Camera

Identity of Princess Diana's mystery friend revealed

Image
© RR Auction COA
The 10 x 8 glossy news photo of a young Diana lying in bed with a young man seated behind her
Reclining on a bed in a ski chalet, a young man leaning cosily against her, this is a teenage Princess Diana pictured before she met her husband.

The question of her companion's identity was solved last night when it was confirmed to be Adam Russell, an Old Etonian and the great-grandson of former Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin.

The picture, to be sold at auction in America later this year, is thought to have been taken in 1979 or 1980, and despite the intimacy it depicts, Mr Russell was said to be "just a friend" of Diana's.

The pair had been injured on the same ski trip and were relaxing togather when the photo was taken.

Had "smitten" Mr Russell made his feelings about her known sooner, the whole future of the British monarchy could have been very different, it was suggested.

Andrew Morton, the royal biographer, told ITV News: "They kept each other company while the others went skiing and at the end of the holiday Adam was somewhat smitten but absolutely nothing happened.