Secret History
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Sun

Solar eclipses and the middle ages

Dr Anne Lawrence from the University of Reading's Department of History examines what solar eclipses meant to our ancestors.

Looking forward to the solar eclipse? I am and I suspect much of the UK is too. Scientists in particular are chomping at the bit to record this once in a generation event, especially here at Reading where we have organised the National Eclipse Weather Experiment which we can all take part in.

But looking back through the history books excitement wasn't the only emotion being felt leading up to an eclipse. These events had a shadowy effect not just on the weather, but people's lives as well... or so it was believed.

In the 12th century the chronicler John of Worcester wrote: 'in 1133 a darkness appeared in the sky throughout England. In some places it was only a little dark but in others candles were needed. ... The sun looked like a new moon, though its shape constantly changed. Some said that this was an eclipse of the sun. If so, then the sun was at the Head of the Dragon and the moon at its Tail, or vice versa. ... King Henry left England for Normandy, never to return alive.'

The account mixes astronomical knowledge of eclipses with a fateful link to political turmoil, encapsulated by the image of the great celestial dragon, whose head and tail mark the points on the orbits of the sun and moon at which eclipses can occur. In spring the moon's path crosses that of the sun at the 'head of the dragon', whilst the autumnal point is the 'tail'.

Comment: For more on the history on ancient civilizations, the nature of cyclical cosmic catastrophes and the part humanity may play in them, read: The Secret History of the World and its sequels, Comets and the Horns of Moses and Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection.


Info

DNA study reveals fate of ancient Britons

© Lightphoto/iStockphoto
Ancient Britons were not overrun by invading Saxons in the Dark Ages, suggests a new map based on the DNA of people from the UK and Europe.

The study, published today in Nature, provides the first strong genetic evidence of the Saxon invasion, and shows how much they interbred with the locals once they got there.

"When I first made this map I nearly fell out of my chair because what came up was this incredible pattern, and I could see that it matched lots of things that I already knew about British history, says lead author Dr Stephen Leslie, a statistical geneticist at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

Leslie and colleagues used a sophisticated statistical technique to analyse subtle genetic differences between over 8000 individual people across the United Kingdom and Europe.

They used protocols to make sure they were only studying DNA that was local to the area, by, for example, only taking the UK samples from people whose four grandparents were all born in the same rural area.

The researchers then clustered individuals into colour-coded groups, based only on their genetics, and were amazed to find that when they plotted the results on a map, the clusters corresponded to specific areas of the UK. The clustering showed northern and southern English people were genetically distinct, and in some cases clusters very accurately reflected geographical borders.

"For example you could see Cornwall was separate from Devon and that that separation was almost perfectly along the county boundary," says Leslie.

While past studies of this type have been able to use genetics to tell what continent or country people come from, this is the first study to be able to pinpoint people to regions within countries, says Leslie.

"Nobody has been able to see differences on this scale before," he says.

Despite some distinct groupings, however, the researchers found most of England was genetically very similar.

"Central and southern England, along with the north-eastern coast was relatively homogenous compared to everything else," says Leslie.

"It's pretty striking we can't separate out places like East Anglia and Kent."

UFO

Ancient UFO 'flying saucer' found 40 meters below ground in Siberia


Coal miners in Siberia's Kuznetsk Basin, Russia, have found, buried 40 meters underground, a saucer-shaped object that UFO researchers claim is an ancient alien "flying saucer" craft that crashed to Earth from space thousands of years ago.

Coal miners with the mining company Kuzbassrazrezugol found the bizarre and mysterious circular or disk object while excavating deep underground. The object was described as "perfectly circular with a diameter of about 1.2 meters and weighing about 440lbs," that is, about 200 kilograms.

Boris Glazkov, 40, the company excavator, said he was surprised to find such mysterious object in "the middle of nowhere." "I have to say it wasn't hard to see as it was really distinctive and large. I've never seen anything like this object, which is obviously man-made out, here in the middle of nowhere before. It is a real mystery."

Comment: Certainly is a curious object and will attract much speculation and imagination.


Info

Oldest Roman fort protected soldiers from 'infamous pirates'

© Image courtesy of Civil Protection of Friuli Venezia Giulia
Lidar (the laser equivalent of radar) revealed the oldest known Roman military camp called San Rocco (C). Also shown are the Roman military camps Grociana piccola (A) and Montedoro (B). Scale bars: 100 m.
Using airborne laser scanners, researchers have discovered ancient fortifications in Italy that make up the oldest known Roman military camp, where soldiers may have fought pirates more than 2,000 years ago.

This camp may help reveal clues about how the Romans developed their army, and the structures might have served as the foundations of the modern Italian city of Trieste, the researchers said in the new study.

The Roman army was among the most successful militaries on Earth, and helped to create an empire that spread across three continents. A key factor behind the strength of the Roman army was the art of building orderly military camps.

The origin of the Roman military camp remains unclear, the researchers said. Until now, the oldest confirmed Roman military camps had been located in Numantia and Pedrosillo in Spain, which date to about 154 B.C. and 155 B.C., respectively.

But the recently discovered Roman camp described in the new study was probably built in 178 B.C., thus predating the oldest Spanish camps by decades, the researchers said.

They suggested that these newfound fortifications may have provided the foundation for the colony of Tergeste, the ancestor of the modern city of Trieste. [In Photos: Ancient Roman Fort Discovered]

"They are probably the most ancient examples of Roman camps in the entire Roman world," lead study author Federico Bernardini, an archaeologist at the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste and the Fermi Center in Rome,told Live Science.

Books

Happy St. Patrick's Day: The Irish Holocaust, an untold history lesson


Celtic (Irish)God of youth, love, and beauty. One of the Tuatha De Danaan, name means "young son". He had a harp that made irresistible music, and his kisses turned into birds that carried messages of love. His brugh, underground fairy palace, was on the banks of the Boyne River.
In The Secret History of the World, my Irish ancestors, the Celts, are described as:
...proud, imaginative, artistic, lovers of freedom and adventure, eloquence, poetry and the arts... and were VERY suspicious of any kind of centralized 'authority'.
Most knowledgeable among them were the Druids, who placed great value in living harmoniously with nature, in developing memory-based records, and who adhered to the principles of the 'Third Force' - simply put, there is good, bad and the specific situation that determines which is which'.

When I was younger I never really saw the relevance of history. It had no meaning in my life - no place in my 'history'. It was interesting to some extent, but I failed to appreciate its importance. What does the oft-quoted saying, 'those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it', actually mean? If we reflect on our own personal histories, we see that we learn our most important life lessons from making mistakes that invariably produce suffering, for ourselves and others. Yet how many times do we, or did we, keep making the same mistakes?

Sometimes we suppress painful episodes, but they can 'come back to haunt us' and negatively affect our present health. Gabor Mate explores this mind-body connection in When the Body Says No, which provides transformative insights into how disease can be the body′s way of saying 'No!' to what the conscious mind cannot or will not acknowledge. Regardless of what country we hail from, access to our true national history may enable us to learn, and therefore heal, collective wounds on this larger scale.


Skellig Michael (Sceilig Mhichíl in Irish Gaelic, meaning Michael's rock), County Kerry, Ireland. The Irish Celtic monastery was built in ca. 7th Century.
Historical Revisionism

In a wider context, knowledge of our national, planetary and perhaps even cosmic history is important for us to gain understanding of "ourselves and our wider environment," as Lobaczewski put it. I recently listened to this SOTT Radio show: 'Behind the headlines: Historical Revisionism in the 20th and 21st centuries', which reminded me of an episode of modern Irish history that I was never taught when attending school in Ireland, namely the 1845-1850 Irish Holocaust, or the 'Great Famine' (Irish potato famine), as it is still euphemistically termed.

Info

Caver finds 20,000 year-old drawings in the northern region of Cantabria

© Government of Cantabria
Paintings found in the Aurea cave in Cantabria.
Prehistoric cave drawings have been discovered in the northern region of Cantabria, dating back about 20,000 years, making the area "the European capital of rock art".

The discovery is the first time that Paleolithic art had been found in the immediate area, the government of Cantabria said in a statement on Thursday.

Culture minister Miguel Angel Serna said the findings make the region a "museum of the Paleolithic period."

"A finding of these characteristics is not found every day, and represents a significant contribution to our heritage, making Cantabria the European capital of rock art," said Serna in a statement.

The art was discovered in the cave 'Aurea', located 50 metres above the river Deva, by the president of a caving club and his wife, La Razón reported.

The couple immediately notified the Museum of Archaeology and Prehistory in Cantabria. Experts examined the cave on Sunday and have since closed it for preservation, though officials told La Razón that the site could become attractive to tourists.

The cave drawings include what appears to be a reoccurring sign, consisting of a red vertical line and dots and appearing at different locations within the cave. Some paintings appear to be draw by fingertip while others appear to be made by blowing paint onto the wall.

Info

Coral pyramids in Micronesia date back to Middle Ages

© Jean-Paul Hobbs
Researcher Zoe Richards inspects the corals used to build a royal tomb at Leluh known as Bat.
On a remote Pacific island not much bigger than Manhattan, there are ancient pyramids built out of living coral. New evidence reveals that these tombs could be up to 700 years old — much older than experts had previously thought.

The royal tombs are tucked away in an artificially built ancient city called Leluh just off the mainland of Kosrae, a Micronesian island. Leluh was home to Kosraean high chiefs (as well as some lower chiefs and commoners, too) from about 1250 until the mid-1800s, when foreign whalers, traders and missionaries started to arrive on the island.

With impressive canals and walled compounds built from basalt, Leluh is often considered a companion city to the more famous Micronesian settlement of Nan Madol, on the nearby island of Pohnpei. While the tiny islets of Nan Madol were built on top of a coral reef, at Leluh, coral was actually incorporated into the construction material of many buildings, including the royal tombs.

"Today, the ancient tombs of the royal burial complexes are one of the few parts of the ancient Leluh site that remain intact," said Zoe Richards, a coral expert at the Western Australian Museum and lead author of a new study detailing the findings. "Much of the historical site is overgrown by the tropical forest and has succumbed to hundreds of years of tropical weather and tidal inundation, and some parts of the site have been dismantled and reused in modern construction."

Rocket

Secret SS archive reveals Hitler bombed thousands of Germans to test V-2 rockets

Image
© wikipedia.org
Damage Caused by V2 Rocket Attacks in Britain, 1945.
During WWII Nazi leader Adolf Hitler bombed thousands of Germans with V-2 rockets to test their force, putting the blame for the damage on Allied Forces, according to a highly classified archive kept secret for decades by a German collector.

The top secret SS documents, revealing how Hitler used German citizens as live targets for bombing practice - before attacking Britain and continental Europe in the last years of WWII - are to be sold off by a London auction house on March 18, The Daily Mail reports.


Comment: If this is true then it was really despicable.


Phoenix

War crime: Tokyo fire bombing 70th anniversary, 100,000 people died in a single night

Image

On the 70th anniversary of Tokyo’s fire bombing, relatives are asking for a real tribute to its victims
It was just after midnight when the rumble of B-29 bombers was heard, jolting Tokyo awake. The incendiaries that fell from their bellies, full of jelly petroleum, were like nothing anyone had ever seen.

They turned canals and rivers into flame and if the jelly stuck to you, it kept burning till flesh turned to bone. "The planes filled the sky like dragonflies," recalls Michiko Kiyoka. "Everywhere you looked there were charred bodies."

Today, Ms Kiyoka, now 91, will join a small group of elderly Tokyoites and mark the death of her father and sister in the 1945 firebombing, which killed about 100,000 people in the single night of 10 March.

Because men of fighting age were away, most of the victims were women, the elderly and children. A US survey later concluded that probably more people lost their lives during the raid by 300 bombers than at any single moment in history.

Magnify

Archeologists begin excavation of 16th - 17th century burial ground under path of London's Crossrail transit line

© AP Photo/Matt Dunham
Archaeologists excavate the 16th and 17th century Bedlam burial ground uncovered by work on the new Crossrail train line next to Liverpool Street station in London, Friday, March 6, 2015. The excavation team estimate there to be 3,000 human skeletons at the site, which was a burial ground to the then adjacent Bedlam Hospital, the world's first psychiatric asylum. The 118-kilometer (73-mile) Crossrail project to put a new rail line from west to east London is Britain's biggest construction project and the largest archeological dig in London for decades.
They came from every parish of London, and from all walks of life, and ended up in a burial ground called Bedlam. Now scientists hope their centuries-old skeletons can reveal new information about how long-ago Londoners lived—and about the bubonic plague that often killed them.

Archaeologists announced Monday that they have begun excavating the bones of some 3,000 people interred in the 16th and 17th centuries, who now lie in the path of the Crossrail transit line. They will be pored over by scientists before being reburied elsewhere.

One recent workday, just meters (yards) from teeming Liverpool Street railway station, researchers in orange overalls scraped, sifted and gently removed skeletons embedded in the dark earth. In one corner of the site, the skeleton of an adult lay beside the fragile remains of a baby, the wooden outline of its coffin still visible. Most were less intact, a jumble of bones and skulls.

"Part of the skill of it is actually working out which bones go with which," said Alison Telfer, a project officer with Museum of London Archaeology, which is overseeing the dig.

Due to open in 2018, the 118-kilometer (73-mile) trans-London Crossrail line is Britain's biggest construction project, and its largest archaeological dig for decades. The central 21-kilometer (13-mile) section runs underground, which has meant tunneling beneath some of the oldest and most densely populated parts of the city.

Comment: See also: Back to Bedlam: Crossrail digging unearths ancient London burial ground