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Megaphone

Psychological warfare and Aztec death whistles? They produce intimidating human screams

Aztec ritual human sacrifice
© Unknown, 1550
Human Sacrifice, Magliabechi Codex
When odd, skull-shaped grave items were found by archaeologists decades ago at an Aztec temple in Mexico, they were assumed to be mere toys or ornaments, and were catalogued and stored in warehouses.

However, years later, experts discovered they were creepy 'death whistles' that made piercing noises resembling a human scream, which the ancient Aztecs may have used during ceremonies, sacrifices, or during battles to strike fear into their enemies.
Magic Wand

German historian's 'not so happily ever after' fairytale collection to be published in English

The Turnip Prince

The stories, published in The Turnip Prince were compiled by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth around the same time as the Brothers Grimm.
Most fairytales are overrun with wicked witches, entrapped princesses and dashing young princes.

But a new collection offers a different take on the classics - without the Happily Ever After.

The stories were compiled by German historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth in the 1880s - around the same time as the Brothers Grimm folk tales - from across the Bavarian region of Oberpfalz.

And now the collection, which lay undiscovered in a local archive for 150 years, is set to be published in English for the first time, the Guardian reports.

While the well-known Grimm fairytales often feature a vulnerable princess and dragon-slaying hero, Schönwerth reverses their roles - offering readers powerful female and vulnerable male characters.

In Schönwerth's fantastical version Cinderella, for example, the heroine uses her golden - not glass - slippers to rescue her lover from beyond the moon.

But his work, which also includes untold tales such as The Stupid Wife and The Girl And The Cow, failed to attract the same attention as that of the Brothers Grimm and faded into obscurity.

Comment: For more background on Schönwerth's folklore and the ancient origins of fairy tales, see:

Gift 2

Ancient bronze naval ram from warship of Mithradates VI discovered in Russia

ancient bronze naval ram
Volnoe Delo Oleg Deripaska Foundation, one of the largest private charities in Russia, announces that an ancient bronze naval ram found in the submerged part of Phanagoria, the largest Greek colony on the Taman peninsula, was named the year's most compelling discovery in Russia by the respected Science and Life magazine.

The bronze ram that was found in Phanagoria during the 10th archaeological season in 2014, used to be a part of a bireme, an ancient oared warship with two decks of oars. The latter was in the army of Mithradates VI, the king of Pontus from 119 to 63 BC who was the most powerful king in Anatolia during the 1st century BC. Often called Rome's greatest enemy, he fought three wars against the Roman republic.

The discovery has shed light on the history of anti-Mithradates protests in Phanagoria that led to the king's ouster. The bireme found in 2012, has long believed to be an ancient Byzantine merchant vessel. However, the one-meter long ram unearthed in 2014 dismissed the previous version and proved that the ship was a warship used by Mithradates's army to quell the protests. The vessel was later burned by the protesters in 63 BC.
Brick Wall

Volcanic ash is secret ingredients for preserving Roman buildings

© Alamy
They brought us roads and a clever sewer system. But it seems the Romans also knew a thing or two about making concrete.

While Britain's 1960s concrete tower blocks and flyovers are crumbling, Roman monuments such as the Pantheon and the Colosseum are still standing.

Now scientists have discovered the secret ingredient behind the longevity of Roman concrete - volcanic ash.

The study by the University of California, in Berkeley, found Roman concrete showed no corrosion, with a smooth surface suggesting long-term stability.

Manufacturing modern cement requires heating a mix of limestone and clay at 1,450C.
Sherlock

Synagogue from Roman Empire unearthed in Israel

Excavations in town of Magdala in Golan Heights reveal remains of ancient structure; "historic and rare findings" include fragments of columns, parts of benches and pottery.

© Michael Osband
A part of the ancient structure discovered during excavations.
Archaeologists conducting excavations in the town of Magdala, situated on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, exposed a public structure from the Roman period, it was reported Thursday.

The structure's grandeur led researchers to conclude that the site contained the ruins of an ancient synagogue. "We're still at an early stage of unearthing the structure," they said. "We found parts of the structure, fragments of columns, parts of benches, the threshold of a door and pottery fragments."
Christmas Tree

'Many of these gods come from stars': The truth behind the Christmas adventures of baby Jesus?

© Dimitrios/Shutterstock
The Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ as a child, a Byzantine iconography in the interior of Hagios
Valerie Tarico interviews Dr. Tony Nugent, scholar of world religions. Dr. Nugent is a symbologist, an expert in ancient symbols. He taught at Seattle University for fifteen years in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and is an ordained Presbyterian minister.

Most Americans know how Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25: The Emperor Constantine chose the date because it was winter solstice in the Julian Calendar, the birthday of dying and rising gods like Mithra and Sol. Some people also know that our delightful mélange of Christmas festivities originated in ancient Norse, Sumerian, Roman and Druid traditions - or, in the case of Rudolph, on Madison Avenue.

But where does the Christmas story itself come from: Jesus in the manger, the angels and wise men?

The familiar Christmas story, including the virgin conception and birth of Jesus, is found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Scholars have pointed out that these stories are somewhat disconnected from other parts of these Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. In fact, by the time he is a young boy in the temple, Jesus's parents seem to have forgotten the virgin birth. They act surprised by his odd behavior. There is never any other mention in the New Testament of these incredible events! These stories seem to be an afterthought, written later than the rest of the gospels that contain them.


Comment: Indeed. The other two gospels, Mark (which was used as a source for Matthew and Luke) and John, totally lack a birth story for Jesus. And the earliest known form of the gospel of Luke (included in the first New Testament canon by Marcion) also lacked the birth story. They are fictions written generations after the events they presume to relate.

Snakes in Suits

Did the U.S. Secret Service help kill JFK?


A transcript of the Lew Rockwell Show episode 385 with Mark Lane.

ROCKWELL: Well, good morning. This is the Lew Rockwell Show. And what an honor it is to have as our guest this morning, Mr. Mark Lane. Mark has been the champion of peace and of justice his entire legal career. I could spend the entire show talking about his achievements. I remember his beating CIA agent, E. Howard Hunt, and the CIA in a legal victory. I remember him defeating CIA agent or "ex-CIA agent," Bill Buckley. And I was so influenced by his great book Rush to Judgment. This is the first work of Kennedy assassination revisionism, for which he was targeted by the CIA and the rest of the regime. Mark has told the truth his whole life about the Kennedy assassination and the CIA and many other topics.

Comment: For more background info on this subject, we can recommend three books:

The Secret Team: The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World by Fletcher Prouty

JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy by Fletcher Prouty

JFK: The Assassination of America by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

Magnify

Scientists discover oldest recorded stone tool ever found in Turkey

oldest stone tool turkey
© University of Royal Holloway London
Stone tool approximately 1.2 million years old.
Scientists have discovered the oldest recorded stone tool ever to be found in Turkey, revealing that humans passed through the gateway from Asia to Europe much earlier than previously thought, approximately 1.2 million years ago.

According to research published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, the chance find of a humanly-worked quartzite flake, in ancient deposits of the river Gediz, in western Turkey, provides a major new insight into when and how early humans dispersed out of Africa and Asia.

Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, together with an international team from the UK, Turkey and the Netherlands, used high-precision equipment to date the deposits of the ancient river meander, giving the first accurate time-frame for when humans occupied the area.

Comment: Scientists have been finding other tools that challenge the established timelines of human history:

Info

Mystery of ancient Chinese civilization's disappearance explained

Statue
© Bill Perry/Shutterstock.com
An archaeological site unearthed in 1986 in China revealed giant bronze statues from a lost Chinese civilization called Sanxingdui. Here, one of the bronze masks uncovered at the site, which is roughly 3,000 years old. A new theory suggests the ancient culture moved after an earthquake rerouted the flow of the city's river.
An earthquake nearly 3,000 years ago may be the culprit in the mysterious disappearance of one of China's ancient civilizations, new research suggests.

The massive temblor may have caused catastrophic landslides, damming up the Sanxingdui culture's main water source and diverting it to a new location.

That, in turn, may have spurred the ancient Chinese culture to move closer to the new river flow, study co-author Niannian Fan, a river sciences researcher at Tsinghua University in Chengdu, China, said Dec. 18 at the 47th annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
Magnify

Imported ancient weapon fragments unearthed in Wales

© National Museum Wales
Metal detectorists, farmers and archaeologists have helped discover a Bronze Age hoard in west Wales.
Exotic weapons buried in field could have arrived in Wales by long-distance sea travel from England or France

Archaeologists investigating a 2.5-kilogram hoard of sword blades, scabbards and knives found by a metal detectorist in January 2013 say the plough-disturbed artefacts could have been delivered to Wales by sea from southern England or northern France.

Two blade fragments, a scabbard fitting, a multi-edged knife and six copper ingot fragments were discovered by Adrian Young a few metres apart from each other in the corner of a field in Marloes and St Brides .

The Coroner for Pembrokeshire has now officially declared the hoard treasure, with archaeologists at National Museum Wales dating it to between 2,800 and 3,000 years ago.
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