Secret History
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Book 2

Helen Keller: Radical activist

Here's what they don't teach: When the blind-deaf visionary learned that poor people were more likely to be blind than others, she set off down a pacifist, socialist path that broke the boundaries of her time—and continues to challenge ours today.
© Los Angeles Times
Helen Keller sitting holding a magnolia flower, circa 1920.
"So long as I confine my activities to social service and the blind, they compliment me extravagantly, calling me 'arch priestess of the sightless,' 'wonder woman,' and a 'modern miracle.' But when it comes to a discussion of poverty, and I maintain that it is the result of wrong economics—that the industrial system under which we live is at the root of much of the physical deafness and blindness in the world—that is a different matter! It is laudable to give aid to the handicapped. Superficial charities make smooth the way of the prosperous; but to advocate that all human beings should have leisure and comfort, the decencies and refinements of life, is a Utopian dream, and one who seriously contemplates its realization indeed must be deaf, dumb, and blind." —Helen Keller (letter to Senator Robert La Follette, 1924)

Clock

Clock based on a 300 year old design keeps accurate to a second for 100 days


The Martin Burgess Clock B, which is based on a design by carpenter John Harrison from 300 years ago, has stunned experts by keeping accurate to a second for 100 days
A clock based on a design from 300 years ago has stunned experts by keeping accurate to a second for 100 days.

The modern-day Martin Burgess Clock B is based on John Harrison's 18th century clock, which he thought up to solve the problem of determining longitude at sea.

It has been part of a 100-day trial at the Royal Observatory, in Greenwich, to see if the claim - that the clock would neither lose nor gain more than a second in 100 days - was true.

The clock, which was built using modern materials, was initially set ticking a year ago after being strapped to one of the Observatory's supporting pillars.

But it quickly became apparent the trial would be a success and wax seals were placed on its case so its accuracy could be verified, the Independent on Sunday reported.

The time was measured using a radio-controlled clock, which received the national time signal, and the BT speaking clock.

Info

Tools found near Lake Turkana in Kenya are world's oldest

© The Independent, UK
They are about 700,000 years older than the previous record holder and are likely to have been made by Australopithecus, an ape-like ancestor of Homo sapiens.
The world's oldest tools - made by ancestors of modern humans some 3.3 million years ago - have been found in Kenya.

Stones had been deliberately "knapped" or flaked to make a sharp cutting edge, researchers said, according to Science magazine.

They are about 700,000 years older than the previous record holder and are likely to have been made by Australopithecus, an ape-like ancestor of Homo sapiens, or another species, Kenyanthropus.

Archaeologist Sonia Harmand, of New York's Stony Brook University, told the annual meeting of the US Paleoanthropology Society: "The artefacts were clearly knapped and not the result of accidental fracture of rocks."

Info

Evidence of pre-Columbus trade found in Alaska house

© University of Colorado
Archaeologists working at the Rising Whale site at Cape Espenberg, Alaska, have discovered several artifacts that were imported from East Asia.
Bronze artifacts discovered in a 1,000-year-old house in Alaska suggest trade was occurring between East Asia and the New World centuries before the voyages of Columbus.

Archaeologists found the artifacts at the "Rising Whale" site at Cape Espenberg.

"When you're looking at the site from a little ways away, it looks like a bowhead [whale] coming to the surface," said Owen Mason, a research associate at the University of Colorado, who is part of a team excavating the site.

The new discoveries, combined with other finds made over the past 100 years, suggest trade items and ideas were reaching Alaska from East Asian civilizations well before Christopher Columbus arrived in the Caribbean Sea in 1492 archaeologists said. [See Images of the New Discoveries at the Rising Whale Site]

"We're seeing the interactions, indirect as they are, with these so-called 'high civilizations' of China, Korea or Yakutia," a region in Russia, Mason said.

Colosseum

Julius Caesar suffered from mini-strokes, not epilepsy says new study

Roman emperor Julius Caesar may have suffered a series of mini-strokes, explaining his dark mood in later life, according to doctors at London's Imperial College.

Caesar, who lived from 100 to 44 BC, has long been the focus of medical debate, with the common assumption being that he suffered from epilepsy.

But medical experts from the London university have reexamined his symptoms, which included vertigo, dizziness and limb weakness, and concluded that he may have in fact suffered from a cardiovascular complaint.

"To date, possible cardiovascular explanations have always been ruled out on the grounds that until his death he was supposedly otherwise physically well during both private and stately affairs," said an excerpt of the study written by Francesco Galassi and Hutan Ashrafian.

Info

Found in UK cathedral, pummeled remains of medieval knight

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© Headland Archaeology
The skeleton of the medieval man, a possible knight, in his stone grave.
The battered remains of a medieval man uncovered at a famous cathedral hint that he may have been a Norman knight with a proclivity for jousting.

The man may have participated in a form of jousting called tourney, in which men rode atop their horses and attacked one another, in large groups, with blunted weapons.

Archaeologists uncovered the man's skeleton, along with about 2,500 others — including a person who had leprosy and a woman with a severed hand buried at Hereford Cathedral in the United Kingdom. The cathedral was built in the 12th century and served as a place of worship and a burial ground in the following centuries, said Andy Boucher, a regional manager at Headland Archaeology, a commercial archaeology company that works with construction companies in the United Kingdom.

Comment: Interesting information brought to light by examination of skeletal remains.


Question

Experts perplexed by ancient structure built in the middle of a Siberian Lake: 'Russia's most mysterious archaeological site'

© Siberian Times
Por-Bajin
Described as "Russia's most mysterious archaeological site," the Archaeological Institute of America says Por-Bajin is located roughly 20 miles from the Mongolian border and boasts outer walls that are 40 feet high.

The structure was reportedly excavated in the 1950s and 1960s, but archaeologists were unable to determine what the purpose of the intricate structure was. Irina Arzhantseva of the Russian Academy of Sciences has begun her own expedition, and is determined to get to the bottom of the ancient mystery.
© gdehorosho.ru
1,300-year-old structure could be a fortress, summer palace, monastery, or even an astronomical observatory.

Cow Skull

1,200-year old tombs filled with dozens of mummies discovered in Peru's Cotahuasi Valley

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© Willy Yépez Álvarez
In addition to the water and rodent damage some of the human remains were taken apart in ancient times, their bones moved to different tombs. This image shows a partially disarticulated mummy. A tupu (an artifact that could have been used to fasten clothing) fell through this mummy’s rib cage when it was moved.
Dozens of tombs filled with up to 40 mummies each have been discovered around a 1,200-year-old ceremonial site in Peru's Cotahuasi Valley.

So far, the archaeologists have excavated seven tombs containing at least 171 mummies from the site, now called Tenahaha.

The tombs are located on small hills surrounding the site. "The dead, likely numbering in the low thousands, towered over the living," wrote archaeologist Justin Jennings, a curator at Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum, in a chapter of the newly published book "Tenahaha and the Wari State: A View of the Middle Horizon from the Cotahuasi Valley" (University of Alabama Press, 2015).

Before rigor mortis set in, the mummies had their knees put up to the level of their shoulders and their arms folded along their chest, the researchers found. The corpses were then bound with rope and wrapped in layers of textiles. The mummies range in age from neonate fetuses to older adults, with some of the youngest mummies (such as infants) being buried in jars. While alive the people appear to have lived in villages close to Tenahaha.

Bits and pieces of mummies

Image
© Willy Yépez Álvarez
Analysis of the mummy remains also found little evidence for human violence. This is also surprising as some sites in Peru, which date to this time period, have a high incidence of cranial trauma (hits to the head). This image shows three vessels found by the feet of an individual.
The mummified remains were in poor shape due to damage from water and rodents. Additionally, the researchers found some of the mummies were intentionally broken apart, their bones scattered and moved between the tombs. In one tomb the scientists found almost 400 isolated human remains, including teeth, hands and feet.

"Though many individuals were broken apart, others were left intact," Jennings wrote in the book. "People were moved around the tombs, but they sometimes remained bunched together, and even earth or rocks were used to separate some groups and individuals." Some grave goods were smashed apart, while others were left intact, he said.

Understanding the selective destruction of the mummies and artifacts is a challenge. "In the Andes, death is a process, it's not as if you bury someone and you're done," Jennings told Live Science in an interview.

Cult

Book review: Hidden History, the Secret Origins of the First World War

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A must-read
The authors of this thought-provoking book make the extraordinary claim that a small group of rich and powerful men sought, as early as 1890, to "bring the whole uncivilised world under British Rule, for the recovery of the United States, for the making of the Anglo-Saxon race but one empire". Led by Cecil Rhodes and backed by the fortunes of the House of Rothschild, the secret society that he formed sought to perfect a system of emigration in which British settlers would take over all of Africa and South America, and integrate the United States into the British Empire. The objective of all this was "the foundation of so great a Power as to render wars impossible, and promote the best interests of humanity".

The authors claim that what is defined as the "Secret Elite" provoked the Boer War so that the Boer colonies could be defeated and incorporated into the British Empire, stating that Jan Smuts, who was once Rhodes' close friend, "allegedly" defected to the Boers and encouraged them to initiate a war they were certain to lose.

During the war in South Africa, Germany had shown moral support for the Boers. This worried the Secret Elite. Germany was rapidly becoming the most powerful nation in Europe and a direct threat to the Secret Elite's plans for world domination. So Germany would have to be dealt with next.

To this end, talks were held in secret with Belgium. From 1905 onwards Britain planned, with Belgium, operations in the event of a German invasion. It was the invasion of neutral Belgium which prompted Britain to declare war on Germany but, according to the authors, this was all premeditated. To explain this, it must be understood that a neutral nation cannot form treaties of alliances with other countries as this means they are no longer neutral - they have taken sides. But Belgium did have a secret agreement with Britain, one devised by the Secret Elite.

Comment: Check out this lecture by one of the co-authors:


See also Joe Quinn's analysis of the causes of the first world war: The Rise of Russia and the 'End of the World'


Video

Historical anomaly: U.S. WWII propaganda film ACCURATELY portrays Russia and 'most epic battle in history'

© US Dept of Defense
I've just watched an excellent 1943 documentary by Oscar Award-winning director Frank Capra, and produced by the US government. It's a rare thing to behold: an accurate - in fact, a rather glowing - portrayal of Russia and its historical role as shock absorber to invading hordes. The film was recently uploaded to the YouTube channel of the US National Archives but, as far as I can make out, has been publicly available since 2011.

While the bulk of the film uses contemporary footage collected by US Army Intelligence during the war to capture the horror, scale and intensity of the Nazi invasion of Russia, and how the Russians ultimately defeated the Nazis through brilliant strategy and sheer force of will, the first part also goes into some historical context about previous invasions of Russia, as well as important geographical detail about the nature of 'Russia'.