Secret History


Over 100,000 British orphans sent overseas as 'child migrants'

© Pamela Smedley
Pamela (right) reunited with her mother in 1990.
Up until the late 1960s the UK sent children living in care homes to new lives in Australia and other countries. It was a brutal experience for many, writes Kirstie Brewer.

In the winter of 1949, 13-year-old Pamela Smedley boarded a ship to Australia with 27 other girls. She had been told by the nuns from the Catholic home she lived in that she was going on a day-trip. In reality, she was being shipped out to an orphanage in Adelaide and wouldn't see England again for more than three decades.

"We thought it would be like going to Scarborough for the day because we were so innocent and naive," says Pamela, who is now in her 70s and still lives in Adelaide.

"The nuns said that in Australia you could pick the oranges off the trees, and I was very excited because I loved oranges."


The tragic, forgotten history of zombies

The horror-movie trope owes its heritage to Haitian slaves, who imagined being imprisoned in their bodies forever.


'The Zombies'​​ by Hector Hyppolite, which hangs in the Museum of Haitian Art of St. Peter College in Port-au-Prince

In the original script for 1968's Night of the Living Dead, the director George A. Romero refers to his flesh-eating antagonists as "ghouls." Although the film is widely credited with launching zombies into the cultural zeitgeist, it wasn't until its follow-up 10 years later, the consumerist nightmare Dawn of the Dead, that Romero would actually use the term. While making the first film, Romero understood zombies instead to be the undead Haitian slaves depicted in the 1932 Bela Lugosi horror film White Zombie.

By the time Dawn of the Dead was released in 1978 the cultural tide had shifted completely, and Romero had essentially reinvented the zombie for American audiences. The last 15 years have seen films and TV shows including Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, World War Z, Zombieland, Life After Beth, iZombie, and even the upcoming Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Comment: Zombie fad: Do we love the undead because we are unhappy with the government?
A History of 'Real' Zombies


NASA satellite images show 8000-year old patterns in Kazakhstan

© DigitalGlobe, via NASA
New satellite images from NASA have revealed unusual, massive patterns on the Earth's surface. The geometric shapes are located in Kazakhstan, and are estimated to be up to 8,000 years old.

The massive earthwork patterns called the Steppe Geoglyphs were originally discovered by a Kazakh economist when he was browsing Google Earth in 2007. When browsing through an otherwise empty Central Asian landscape, Dimitriy Dey found intriguing markings in the soil.

But the study of these mysterious constructs is ramping up, and even NASA has taken an interest. Two weeks ago, the space agency released clear satellite photographs of the figures from about 430 miles in the sky.

"I've never seen anything like this; I found it remarkable," Compton J. Tucker, a senior biospheric scientist for NASA who provided the archived images, told The New York Times.

Black Magic

Pharmakos ritual: Ancient Greeks sacrificed ugly people

© Public domain/WikiCommons
An 1864 painting of the Acropolis in Athens, where the pharmakos ritual became an annual event.
Is the tradition of Halloween tainted by the blood of primeval human sacrifices? The origins of Halloween lie in Samhain, the Celtic New Year festival, in which the Gaelic druids might have ritually sacrificed some human victims, according to some accounts and some recent evidence. Such hypothesis is not unreasonable, as many communities in the ancient world decided to appease their enraged chthonic deities with human flesh.

But the European neighbors of the Celts, the ancient Greeks, did something even more disturbing: they brutally sacrificed the ugliest among them in order to maintain the common good.


Prehistoric "eco-house" 1,300 years older than Stonehenge discovered by archaeologists

© David Jacques/Buckingham University
A fallen tree which forms the wall of a Stone Age ‘eco-home’ near Stonehenge
Academics fear that the 6,300-year-old settlement could be severely damaged by a new road tunnel

Archaeologists have discovered the oldest prehistoric building ever found in the Stonehenge landscape - but fear a new road tunnel could severely damage the site.

Dating from around 6,300 years ago - at least 1,300 years before Stonehenge - it was built immediately adjacent to a sacred Stone Age spring.

Academics have dubbed it an "eco" house because the base of a fallen tree was used as one of the walls.

The building is important as it appears to have been constructed by indigenous Mesolithic hunter-gatherers at the time when the very first semi-agricultural European-originating Neolithic settlers were arriving in the area.


22 Shipwrecks found in single location in Greece

© V. Mentogianis
The cargoes revealed long distance trades between the Black Sea, Aegean Sea, Cyprus, the Levant, and Egypt in all those periods. At least three ships carried amphoras, or jars, that have not been found previously on shipwrecks.
Underwater archaeologists have discovered 22 shipwrecks around a small Greek archipelago, revealing what may be the ancient shipwreck capital of the world.

Hailed as one of the top archaeological finds of 2015, the discovery was made by a joint Greek-American archaeological expedition in the small Fourni archipelago with an area of just 17 square miles. This is a collection of 13 islands and islets located between the eastern Aegean islands of Samos and Icaria.

"Surpassing all expectations, over only 13 days we added 12 percent to the total of known ancient shipwrecks in Greek territorial waters," Peter Campbell, of the University of Southampton and co-director from US based RPM Nautical Foundation, told Discovery News.

Fourni lies right in the middle of the major east-west crossing route, as well as the north-south route that connected the Aegean to the Levant. Ships traveling from the Greek mainland to Asia Minor, or ships leaving the Aegean for the Levant had to pass by Fourni.

"Ikaria and the west coast of Samos have no harbors or anchorages, so Fourni is the safest place that ships could stop in the area," Campbell said.

Book 2

Handwritten draft of King James Bible discovered: Reveals no 'divine powers'

© New York Times
The earliest known version of The King James Bible, perhaps one of the most influential and widely read books in history, has been discovered mislabeled inside an archive at the University of Cambridge. The find is being called one of the most significant revelations in decades. It shows that writing is a process of revising, cutting, and then more rewriting. The Bible is no different in this regard, even though some conservative Christians claim it is the divine word of God himself. Perhaps God, then, is a revisionist. This find certainly seems to suggest that.

The notebook containing the draft was found by American scholar, Jeffrey Alan Miller, an assistant professor of English at Montclair State University in New Jersey, who announced his research in an article in The Times Literary Supplement. The New York Times didn't take long to pick up the story. They ran an article about it, HERE. Mr. Miller was researching an essay about Samuel Ward, one of the King James translators, and was hoping to find an unknown letter at the archives. While you can say he certainly accomplished that end, he definitely wasn't expecting to find the earliest draft of the King James Bible — which is now giving new insights into how the Bible was constructed.

He first came across the plain notebook not knowing what it was — it was incorrectly labeled. That's why no one has found it until now. It had been cataloged in the 1980s as a "verse-by-verse" Biblical commentary with "Greek word studies, and some Hebrew notes." When he tried in vain to figure out which passages of the Bible the commentary was referring to, he realized that it was no commentary at all — it was an early draft of part of the King James Version of the Bible.

Professor Miller described what it felt like when he first knew what he had in his hands:
"There was a kind of thunderstruck, leap-out-of-bathtub moment. But then comes the more laborious process of making sure you are 100 percent correct."

Comment: Read Laura Knight-Jadczyk's book,The Secret History of the World and How to Get Out Alive , where a chapter is devoted to "Who Wrote the Bible".


3,500-year-old tomb of warrior prince discovered in Greece

Experts describe the discovery of tomb packed full of gold, silver and weapons, which sheds light on ancient Mycenaean and Minoan civilisations, as one of the most significant in decades.

Flanked by a three-foot long bronze sword with an ivory handle and surrounded by a treasure trove of gold, silver and precious stones, he lay undisturbed for 3,500 years. Now, the skeleton of an ancient Greek warrior, his tomb protected by a heavy stone slab, has been discovered by archaeologists in the Peloponnese.

Described as one of the most exciting discoveries in Greece for decades, the 30-35 year old man has been dubbed the "Griffin Warrior" after an ivory plaque depicting the half-lion, half-eagle mythical beast that was found alongside him. Experts said it was remarkable that the grave had escaped the attentions of tomb raiders over the centuries.

Comment: Very exciting find!

Related articles of other recent discoveries:


Russia to exhume remains of Tsar Alexander III to solve century-old Bolshevik murder of Romanovs

© Wikipedia
Alexander III with his wife and their children.
Russia is planning to exhume the remains of Tsar Alexander III, the father of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II in an attempt to prove the remains of Nicholas II's last two children belong to the slain Tsar's family. It was requested by Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Forensic experts told Russian media the process is likely to start in the second half of November 2015. However, opening the vault of the Russian Tsar who died back in 1894 may be quite complicated. "It [the burial vault] contains not only a coffin with the Tsar's body but also a separate grave with the tsar's embalmed vital organs," Marina Logunova, senior research associate at the St. Petersburg State History Museum, told TASS. Also Alexander III's impressive height - 1.93 meters - could create additional problems, Logunova added. "It can be assumed that the burial vault is larger than the tombstone, and that can create risks for the nearby graves...."

If the experts prove the remains found in Ekaterinburg are genuine and related to Alexander III, then one more riddle of the slain Tsar family would be solved. At that point, all seven members of the Tsar's family will be buried together.

Nicholas II, his wife and five children, including his only son and heir, Alexey, were killed in 1918 following the 1917 Revolution. Their bodies were thrown down a mine shaft and then quickly buried somewhere near Ekaterinburg in the Urals.

For almost a century no one knew where exactly the Tsar family was buried. However, in 1991 the remains of Nicholas II, his wife and three daughters were discovered in a mass grave near Ekaterinburg. Two years later, in 1993, investigators opened a case into the murder of the Romanov family to identify the suspected remains of the Tsar's family and their retinue. The case was closed in 1998 "owing to the deaths of the perpetrators of the crime."

Comment: Russia's last Tsar Nicolas II exhumed, case reopened into murder of Romanov family


Imaging techniques reveal 17th century religious scenes

Synchrotron light has pierced the mysteries of a small 17th Century metallic box thanks to X-ray imaging techniques developed at the ESRF. Scientists were able to virtually reconstitute, in 3D and with astounding resolution, the inaccessible contents of the very fragile and badly damaged box.

© Paul Tafforeau/ESRF
The medal in the middle of the stack represents Christ's crucifixion and ressurection.
The box was discovered on the archaeological site of the Saint-Laurent church, now the archaeological museum of Grenoble (MAG). Restoration of the very badly damaged and fragile box had been limited to stopping the oxidation process, without providing any insight into the nature of its contents.

Thanks to the non-destructive techniques and high resolution imaging of the ESRF, in particular synchrotron X-ray phase contrast micro-tomography, the research team, made up of members of the MAG and ESRF, were able to identify the contents, and the finer details of three medals.