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Sherlock

Mysterious Labyrinth of Buda: Ancient caves beneath castle in Budapest

© CC BY-SA 3.0
Prehistoric-style art decorates the walls of the labyrinth. CC BY-SA 3.0
Deep under the imposing stone walls of a 13th century palace, the Labyrinth of Buda contains, in its twisting paths and pitch-black corridors, the dark history of the ancient castle district of Budapest. Here, the skeletons of the dead reveal violent deeds, but in more recent times the caverns have been open to the public, showcasing their haunting beauty. Suddenly, in 2011 police raided the labyrinth and locked the doors for reasons unexplained. What prompted this strange closure? What was being hidden beneath the streets of Budapest?

The Dark History of the Caves

The complex of underground caves and passages were carved out of solid rock by rushing thermal waters long before prehistoric man used them as shelter and hunting more than half a million years ago. Archaeological evidence of 350,000-years-old stone tools belonging to Homo erectus were reportedly located in the caves.

The passages and chambers stretch out over 1200 meters (4000 feet) and are nearly 16 meters (53 feet) beneath the ancient castle district of what is now Budapest, the largest city in Hungary. So historic and unique are the caves that they were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 as an outstanding urban landscape. The caves have been a part of the history of mankind and the culture of Budapest since prehistory, and have seen many changes over the eons.

Colosseum

Were American volcanoes responsible for dust cloud that ended Roman Empire?


Thomas Cole's 'The Fall of Rome'
On March 24 536AD the sky suddenly darkened across continental Europe as a thick dust cloud rolled in and stayed put for 18 months.

Historians such as Prokopios record that the Sun shone as dimly as the Moon, sparking summer frosts and snow showers and providing too little light to ripen crops and fruit. Three years later a similar dust veil blocked out sunlight for several months.

The natural catastrophes led to widespread famine and was responsible for the Great Justinian Plague which wiped out one third of Europeans and probably dealt the fatal blow to the struggling Roman Empire.

Now scientists have determined that the cause was probably a series of North American volcanoes which shot huge amounts of sulphate and ash into the atmosphere, followed by further eruptions in the Tropics.

New studies of ice cores and historical records by the British Antarctic Survey, Nottingham University and 17 other international universities and institutions, show that there was a huge volcanic eruption in 535AD or early 536AD in North America. A second eruption occurred in 539AD.

Comment: As Pierre Lescaudron shows in his book Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection, catastrophes tend to be related to common causes, whether volcanoes, storms, earthquakes or cometary bombardment. So it's probably no simple coincidence that there is also evidence of a comet bombardment around the same time, in 540 AD. See:


Bad Guys

Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed (Documentary)

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© Microsoft
Dutch UN safe area around Srebrenica during the Bosnian War
This controversial documentary by Norwegian director and independent journalists Ola Flyum and David Hebditch, talks about the events in Srebrenica and surrounding villages from 1992 to 1995, during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, when many Serbs were executed under the leadership of Naser Oric, after which more than 5,000 Muslim men were killed by the Serbian army.

Ola Flyum and David Hebditch made a film based on material recorded in the field and interviews with combatants and witnesses of this terrible event and brought a different picture of the Balkan tragedy. The sources were exclusively Muslim, and war survivors explained how they felt betrayed by their superiors in the game about the territories. From these testimonies we can clearly see that Muslim leaders were willing to sacrifice Srebrenica in order to get the area around Sarajevo. Throughout the film takes us a journalist Mirsad Fazlic who speaks with witnesses about the events in Srebrenica: Sefer Halilovic, a former commander of the Bosnian army; Miodrag Mica Urosevic, a combat cameraman in Bosnia; pathologist Dr Zoran Stankovic, a former minister of health and defense of Serbia, which talks about the massacre of Serbs; Hakija Meholjic, former chief of police in Srebrenica, which provide many details about the operation which was prepared by Alija Izetbegovic; Huso Sahilovic, former officer of the Bosnian army; Muhamed Filipovic, the former ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the UK...

Comment: Read also:


Chess

UN Chief: Case of crash that killed Dag Hammarskjöld should be reopened

© UN/DPI
Dag Hammarskjöld

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has claimed that plane crash that killed former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold in 1961 should be re-investigated, as new evidence pertaining to the accident has been uncovered.


A panel appointed by Ban revealed new information suggesting that the plane transporting the second Secretary-General of the United Nations to Katanga, part of present-day Democratic Republic of Congo, may have come under an aerial attack. The plane crashed in Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, taking lives of 15 people along with Hammarskjold.

"The panel ultimately found significant new information that it assessed as having sufficient probative value to further pursue aerial attack or other interference as a hypothesis of the possible cause of the crash," Secretary-General Ban wrote in a letter to the General Assembly released on Monday.

Specific information about the 1961 plane crash was requested from Belgium, France, Germany, South Africa, the United States and Britain by the three-member panel, which said not all of its requests were satisfied.

Comment: UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold -- whom JFK considered the greatest statesman of the era -- was killed in his plane flying over the Congo in 1961. Mystery has surrounded his untimely death ever since. Could the call for this case being reopened now, having found "new evidence", relate to the intensifying geopolitical maneuvering we are witnessing globally these days?See also:


Fire

Did our early ancestors start cooking to make carrion safe to eat?

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Fire would have provided our early humans, like the Neanderthals shown in the artists rendition above, warmth but also allowed them to cook their food.
Early humans may have first started cooking their food to make carrion safer for them to eat, new research has suggested.

Anthropologists at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have found humans scavenging for meat from carrion would risked exposure to dangerously high levels of bacteria.

They claim that simply roasting meat on hot coals can kill most of the bacteria that grows on carrion, making it safer for human consumption.

This they say could have helped to transform the diet of early humans, allowing them to access a rich supply of meat long before the development of weapons made hunting more efficient.

The findings provide strong support for theories that early humans obtained much of their meat by scavenging the kills of other predators.

Arrow Down

The legacy of the atomic bomb: Radium contamination in New York City

© National Park Service
A lingering Manhattan Project mystery is still buried at New York’s Great Kill Park.
In August 2005, the New York Police Department, with the Department of Energy, conducted an anti-terrorism radiation flyover survey. The survey was intended to provide a baseline of radiological activity, in order to catch a suspicious construction of a dirty bomb.

They didn't find a dirty bomb—but there was plenty of radiological activity. Surveyors found 80 radioactive locations in the city—one of them being Great Kills Park in Staten Island, one of the city's five boroughs. The Park is a popular place near a suburban enclave inhabited by cops, firefighters and other unsuspecting residents. The Park, more than 500 acres of woods surrounding softball and soccer fields and a marina, was constructed from garbage dumped in the bay between 1944 and 1946. Unregulated and illegal dumping has a long history in New York City.

Children Are Especially Vulnerable

The radium is the legacy of nuclear weapons production coupled with a cavalier attitude towards the odorless, tasteless and invisible threat posed by radioactivity.

"This is potentially a very dangerous situation," said former Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) in 2013, whose congressional district includes the park. "The last thing I want is to have anyone or their children get sick or hurt because of this contamination."

Comment: See also: Undark and the Radium Girls


Boat

Mongol ship sent by Genghis Khan's grandson to invade Japan is discovered after 700 years underwater

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Historic: Archaeologists have discovered a Mongol ship which took part in a failed invasion on Japan over 700 years ago

The Mongolian ship which was sent to invade Japan in the 13th Century had been decaying underwater for over 700 years.

Dispatched by Genghis Khan's grandson Kublai, it formed part of two massive armadas - made up of 4,000 ships and 140,000 men - tasked with invading the island and expanding the legendary Yuan Dynasty in 1274 and 1281.

But both fleets were destroyed by destructive typhoon winds which have gone down in Japanese history as 'kamikaze' - or the divine wind - which saved the country from foreign invasion.

It was found in a bay close to the city of Matsuura on the west coast of Kyushu island - and archaeologists believe it was taking shelter from the storm when it sunk.

Question

Gun collector's dream: WW2-era tank and anti-aircraft gun found hidden in German villa's basement

The tank, among the weapons haul discovered hidden in the cellar of a villa in Kiel, took nine hours to remove
© European Press Agency
A World War Two era 'Panther' battle tank is removed from a residential property in Heikendorf, Germany
German soldiers grappled for nine hours with an unusual task: trying to remove a Second World War tank found in the cellar of a villa.

Almost 20 soldiers struggled to remove the tank from a villa on Thursday in a wealthy suburb of Kiel in northern Germany, after police searching the property discovered the tank, a torpedo, an anti-aircraft gun and other weapons in the cellar on Wednesday.


A WWII era flak canon is prepared to be transported
Police raided the home in the town of Heikendorf under instructions from prosecutors, who suspected that the villa's 78-year-old owner held the weaponry illegally under a law controlling the possession of instruments of war.

The army was called in to try to remove the 1943-vintage Panther tank, and struggled for nine hours to tow it out using two modern recovery tanks designed to haul damaged battle tanks off the field.

The soldiers ended up having to build their own wooden ramp in order to free to tank.

Ulrich Burchardi, an army spokesman, described the difficult task of removing the tank without damaging the house as "precision work".

The other weapons have also now been confiscated by police.

Palette

Ancient South Africans used milk-based paint over 49,000 years ago

An international research team led by the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa has discovered a milk-and ochre-based paint dating to 49,000 years ago that inhabitants may have used to adorn themselves with or to decorate stone or wooden slabs.
© University of Boulder Colorado
(A) MOD flake before sampling, scale bar = 1 cm. (B) Detail of residue left after sampling for chemical and proteomic analyses. (C) View at 40 x. (D) View at 128 x.
While the use of ochre by early humans dates to at least 250,000 years ago in Europe and Africa, this is the first time a paint containing ochre and milk has ever been found in association with early humans in South Africa, said Paola Villa, a curator at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History and lead study author. The milk likely was obtained by killing lactating members of the bovid family such as buffalo, eland, kudu and impala, she said.

"Although the use of the paint still remains uncertain, this surprising find establishes the use of milk with ochre well before the introduction of domestic cattle in South Africa," said Villa. "Obtaining milk from a lactating wild bovid also suggests that the people may have attributed a special significance and value to that product."

The powdered paint mixture was found on the edge of a small stone flake in a layer of Sibudu Cave, a rock shelter in northern KwaZulu-Natal, Africa, that was occupied by anatomically modern humans in the Middle Stone Age from roughly 77,000 years ago to about 38,000 years ago, said Villa. While ochre powder production and its use are documented in a number of Middle Stone Age South African sites, there has been no evidence of the use of milk as a chemical binding agent until this discovery, she said.

Vader

France narrowly avoided becoming a US protectorate after WW2

© WikiCommons
Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark presenting newly arrived U.S. equipment to the French Ground Forces in a ceremony held at Casablanca, 9 May 1943.
General Auguste Nogués is at the left.
In 1941-42 the United States intended that France, together with soon-to-be defeated Italy, Germany and Japan, was to be part of a protectorate run by the Allied Military Government of the Occupied Territories (Amgot). According to the agreement of November 1942 between Admiral Jean-François Darlan and US General Mark Clark, which secured France's commitment to the Allied cause, Amgot would have abolished its national sovereignty, including its right to issue currency.

Some US historians believe this plan stemmed from President Franklin D Roosevelt's antipathy towards Charles de Gaulle. Roosevelt saw him as a dictator-in-training and sought to prevent him from ruling post-Pétain. (Marshal Henri-Philippe Pétain led the pro-Nazi government of unoccupied France at Vichy,1940-44.) The argument that Roosevelt intended to establish universal democracy is compelling but wrong (1).

The US was concerned that France, although weakened by its 1940 defeat, might reject the plan, especially if its presidency went to De Gaulle, who had vowed to restore French sovereignty. It feared France might use its nuisance capacity as it had when it opposed pro-German US policies after the first world war. France would not have wanted to relinquish its empire, rich in raw materials and strategic bases. The US had long called for an open door policy for goods and investments in all colonial empires(2). The US relied on twin strategies: ignoring De Gaulle, and dealing with Pétain's regime with a combin ation of accommodation and toughness. It realised that Vichy, like the Latin American regimes dear to its heart, was more malleable than a government with broad popular support.

The US plan for a "Vichy-sans-Vichy" took shape. French elites supported the idea: they clung to the Vichy regime, which had restored privileges taken away by the pre-war republican government, and were eager to make a painless transition from German rule to the pax americana.

Comment: Imposing a 'pax americana' by force is not a new idea. US dreams of world hegemony have a long history.