Secret History


Polish archaeologists discovered an unknown temple of Hatshepsut

© P. Witkowski
Cut in the rock and consisting of two rooms, the walls of which are covered with poorly preserved decoration and hieroglyphic inscriptions: a team of archaeologists working under the auspices of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw started research in the ancient temple at Gebelein in Upper Egypt.

This place was already known to the local authorities, but so far no archaeologist has studied it. Previous researchers could have been discouraged by the poor condition of the decorations. This year's results of Polish research were surprising.

"This temple was dedicated to two gods. There is no doubt that one of them was Hathor, with the cult epithet Lady of Gebelein. The other deity could be Amun-Ra. Unfortunately, his depictions are not preserved and further studies are needed to verify this idea" - explained Daniel Takács, a member of the expedition.


Grave of "Griffin Warrior" at Pylos could be a gateway to civilizations

© Department of Classics/University of Cincinnati
A bronze mirror with an ivory handle found in a grave of a warrior at Pylos in Greece.
Archaeologists digging at Pylos, an ancient city on the southwest coast of Greece, have discovered the rich grave of a warrior who was buried at the dawn of European civilization.

He lies with a yardlong bronze sword and a remarkable collection of gold rings, precious jewels and beautifully carved seals. Archaeologists expressed astonishment at the richness of the find and its potential for shedding light on the emergence of the Mycenaean civilization, the lost world of Agamemnon, Nestor, Odysseus and other heroes described in the epics of Homer.

"Probably not since the 1950s have we found such a rich tomb," said James C. Wright, the director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Seeing the tomb "was a real highlight of my archaeological career," said Thomas M. Brogan, the director of the Institute for Aegean Prehistory Study Center for East Crete, noting that "you can count on one hand the number of tombs as wealthy as this one."


Ancient healing temple dedicated to Asclepius excavated in Greece

Marble relief of Asclepius and his daughter Hygieia. From Therme, Greece, end of the 5th century BC. Istanbul Archaeological Museums.
Archaeologists in Greece have excavated an ancient healing temple in the acropolis of Feneos dedicated to Asclepius, god of healing. Along with the foundations of the sacred temple, researchers also found an enormous statue of Asclepius, and his daughter Hygeia; an elaborate mosaic floor, marble podiums, and offering tables.

International Business Times reports that the 2,400-year-old temple, known as Asclepion (a healing temple dedicated to the god Ascelpius) was first discovered in 1958. However, archaeologists have only recently carried out extensive excavations of the site and have been able to piece together the layout of the site, as well as unearth numerous important artifacts.

Asclepius, the God of Healing

Asclepius, a son of Apollo, was a god of medicine in ancient Greek mythology. We are all familiar with Asclepius in a way, since the symbol that is used for medicine, the snake entwined staff, was the rod of Asclepius. According to mythology, Asclepius was brought up by the mysterious figure of ancient Greek mythology, the centaur Chiron, who raised Asclepius and taught him about the art of medicine. Because Asclepius used his powers to bring people from Hades (meaning resurrecting them), the God of Hades complained to Zeus because Asclepius converted many people from humans to immortals. The result was for Zeus to kill Asclepius with thunder.


Marble Medusa head unearthed in Ancient Roman ruins

© Michael Hoff
The head was unearthed at the Turkish site, Antiochia ad Cragum, a city founded during the first century.
In the ruins of a Roman city in southern Turkey, archaeologists have discovered a marble head of Medusa, somehow spared during an early Christian campaign against pagan art.

The head was unearthed at Antiochia ad Cragum, a city founded during the first century, around the rule of Emperor Nero, that has all the marks of a Roman outpost — bathhouses, shops, colonnaded streets, mosaics and a local council house.

With serpents for hair, wide eyes and an open mouth, Medusa was a mythical monster who could turn a person to stone with her gaze. At Antiochia, a Medusa architectural sculpture would have served an apotropaic function, intended to avert evil —but later, her likeness would have been considered idolatrous by the Christians who came to live at the site.


Plague DNA detected in Bronze Age teeth

© Thinkstock/Zoonar RF
Plague left a deep scar on the Western psyche during the Middle Ages, killing tens of millions of people across Eurasia during the 14th century.
Plague is a disease that conjures a mix of horror and revulsion at its mere mention because of the mark it has left on human history. Plague wiped out entire regions, triggered economic and political collapse, and threatened Western civilization on more than one occasion.

As much of an impact plague has had over the course of millennia, The bacterium that causes plague infections, Yersinia pestis, has been haunting humans even longer than once thought, report scientists in the journal Cell. In fact, Y. pestis was common as far back as the Bronze Age.

For their study, a team of researchers drawn from a network of European academic institutions sequenced the DNA from the teeth of Bronze Age 101 individuals from Europe and Asia. What they found was a common ancestor to Y. pestis dating back 5,783 years.

Comment: See also: It's unlikely that Yersinia pestis caused the Black Death: New Light on the Black Death: The Viral and Cosmic Connection

Bad Guys

Allen Dulles vs. Charles de Gaulle: The untold struggle for French sovereignty (Part 1)

© Book Cover (Harper Collins), Allen Dulles (US Government Photo / Wikimedia)
David Talbot’s new book The Devil’s Chessboard (left) is about the reign and influence of CIA director Allen Dulles (right).
As you watch, perhaps with alarm, as thousands of refugees from Muslim countries make their way through Europe in a seemingly endless parade, you may be wondering if some of them will end up living near you, and how this might affect your life.

If you step back and look at the bigger picture, you will see the situation in reverse: how much the dominating presence of those from the western world has affected the daily lives of people living in Muslim countries.

What the colonial powers have done in Muslim countries is well known. Less well known are the machinations of Allen Dulles and the CIA in one of these colonial powers, France.

Without the knowledge or consent of President John F. Kennedy, Allen Dulles orchestrated the efforts of retired French generals, rightwing French, Nazi sympathizers, and at least one White Russian, to overthrow Charles de Gaulle, who wanted to give Algeria its independence. Dulles et al feared an independent Algeria would go Communist, giving the Soviets a base in Africa.

Comment: Also see: How America's modern shadow government can be traced back to one single psychopath - Allen Dulles


A magical glimpse into the Tudor imagination: Lost library of John Dee to be revealed

© RCP and John Chase
From the Private Library of John Dee, Cicero, Opera, Omnia Vol 2, with ship drawing
Treasured books from the lost Library of Tudor polymath John Dee will be revealed in a special exhibition at the Royal College of Physicians Museum in January 2016

No figure from the Tudor world better exemplifies the diverse and apparently contradictory intellectual and social preoccupations of the period than John Dee.

At once deeply religious and fastidiously superstitious, Dee was a scholar of mathematics and magic, a keen historian and courtier and tutor to Elizabeth I and a polymath whose interests included astronomy, astrology, exploration, the occult, alchemy, spying and imperialism.

Comment: Those are quite some hobbies! Especially those last two...

Comment: Hopefully access to this library and John Dee's annotations in his books will reveal a lot more about the man behind the legend and put to rest the amazing lot of nonsensical theorizing about him that has run rampant for the past dozen years or so.

Cow Skull

Underwater fossil graveyard suggests greater toll of human-caused animal extinctions

© Janet Franklin/Arizona State University
A graveyard of fossils was found at the bottom of a flooded sinkhole known as Sawmill Sink, located on Abaco Island.
If humans had never set foot in the Bahamas, the islands today might be teeming with Cuban crocodiles, Albury's tortoises and rock iguanas.

These creatures survived the thawing of the last ice age, but not the arrival of people, a new study finds. On Abaco Island, a graveyard of fossils at the bottom of a flooded sinkhole suggests that humans caused more animals to go extinct than natural changes in the climate, the researchers said.

The new study, published today (Oct. 19) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that 17 species, all of them birds, disappeared from Abaco during the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene epoch. But when humans showed up about 1,000 years ago, 22 more species of reptiles, birds and mammals vanished. [6 Extinct Animals That Could Be Brought Back to Life]

"These animals could make it through the natural changes of the ice age to the modern climate—the island getting smaller, the climate getting warmer and wetter —but the human-caused changes were too much for them," said David Steadman, an ornithologist and paleontologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History, who led the study.

The fossils were collected from Sawmill Sink, a forbidding blue hole in a pine forest on Abaco Island. The top 30 feet (9 meters) of the sinkhole is filled with clear freshwater that's easy to dive in. But underneath that is a 15- to 20-foot (4.5 to 6 m) layer of opaque water saturated with hydrogen sulfide that blocks out all light and is corrosive to human skin. Still below that is a layer of salt water depleted of the oxygen that would otherwise fuel the growth of bone-decaying fungus and bacteria.

Comment: See also:


Massive historic steamship that sank in 1862 storm discovered in Lake Ontario

© Hons/AP
This August 2015 photo taken from video provided by Roger Pawlowski, shows the bow of the sunken ship Bay State in Lake Ontario near Fair Haven, New York.
The wreck site of one of the earliest propeller-driven steamships to sail the Great Lakes has been found in Lake Ontario more than 150 years after it sank in a storm, killing everyone on board, a team of New York-based shipwreck hunters said on Tuesday.

Jim Kennard and Roger Pawlowski, both of the Rochester area, said the wreck of the Bay State is in water hundreds of feet deep, about seven miles off Fair Haven in central New York, 155 miles west of Albany. The Bay State departed nearby Oswego in November 1862 with a cargo of general merchandise destined for Ohio. But a storm turned into a gale, forcing the ship's captain to turn back. "That was the beginning of the end," Kennard, who has been searching for shipwrecks since 1970, told the Associated Press.

The 137 ft-long, two-tiered ship vessel started coming apart, losing sections of its upper decks to the high winds and waves before eventually sinking and leaving a debris field about a quarter-mile long on the lake bottom. Seven passengers and between nine and 11 crew members were lost. Kennard said records of the exact number of crew were not kept, but the captain and at least four crewmen were from Oswego. The Bay State, owned by a Cleveland, Ohio, company, was built in Buffalo in 1852, a decade after the first propeller-driven steamers joined paddle-wheelers on the Great Lakes, the explorers said.

Kennard and Pawlowski, with underwriting support from National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, Ohio, were searching for wrecks along the lake's south-eastern shore in late August when their side-scan sonar revealed a debris field in several hundred feet of water about seven miles from shore. At the eastern end of the field the sonar detected a large object, which turned out to have the same dimensions as the Bay State, Kennard said.

Book 2

History of Russian relations to the East


Battle of Manzikert - Great Byzantine Defeats.
Russia's military campaign in Syria is front page news at the moment, so it is perhaps appropriate that this week my class 'Russia and the West' will be taking a break from the history of Russian-Western relations to take a look at Russia's interactions with the rest of the world. What such a look reveals is that the historical relationship between Russia and non-European/non-Christian peoples has been somewhat different than that between Western Europe (and later also North America) and most of the rest of the world.

While the Muslim world was more advanced than Western Europe, Europeans don't seem to have looked up to it as something to emulate. Rather it was for many centuries a civilization to be feared, and then once it ceased to be feared (roughly from the relief of the siege of Vienna in 1683 onwards) it became something to look down upon. As European power spread around the world in the era of colonialism, the West acquired a belief in its own superiority and others' inferiority, which to some extent persists to this day and is reflected in the foreign policy obsession with spreading Western liberal democratic norms around the world.