Secret History
Map

Info

Ancient city's strip mall unearthed in Greece

© Jacques Perreault, Université de Montréal
During excavations in the summer of 2013, archaeologists uncovered the portico of the ancient city of Argilos, which sits along the northern coast of the Aegean Sea in modern-day Greece. This aerial view shows the ruins that were excavated, including five of the seven storerooms that make up the portico.
Along the scenic coast of the northern Aegean Sea, archaeologists have uncovered a Greek portico, which, 2,500 years ago, would have been a bustling public space, something like an ancient strip mall.

The seaside portico, or stoa, stretches 130 feet (40 meters) across with seven rooms inside, each bearing the distinct architectural touches of their ancient shop owners, the site's excavators say. Strewn about the ruins, archaeologists found coins, vases and other artifacts that hold clues to when and how people lived in the archaic city.

"Porticos are well known from the Hellenistic period, from the third to first century B.C., but earlier examples are extremely rare," archaeologist Jacques Perreault, a classicist at the University of Montreal, said in a statement. "The one from Argilos is the oldest example to date from northern Greece and is truly unique." [See Photos from the Portico Excavation at Argilos]

Info

Clues to lost prehistoric code discovered in Mesopotamia

© Anna Ressman/Courtesy Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago
Archaeologists are using CT scanning and 3D modelling to crack a lost prehistoric code hidden inside clay balls, dating to some 5,500 years ago, found in Mesopotamia.
Researchers studying clay balls from Mesopotamia have discovered clues to a lost code that was used for record-keeping about 200 years before writing was invented.

The clay balls may represent the world's "very first data storage system," at least the first that scientists know of, said Christopher Woods, a professor at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, in a lecture at Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum, where he presented initial findings.

The balls, often called "envelopes" by researchers, were sealed and contain tokens in a variety of geometric shapes - the balls varying from golf ball-size to baseball-size. Only about 150 intact examples survive worldwide today. [See Photos of the Clay Balls & Lost Code]

The researchers used high-resolution CT scans and 3D modeling to look inside more than 20 examples that were excavated at the site of Choga Mish, in western Iran, in the late 1960s. They were created about 5,500 years ago at a time when early cities were flourishing in Mesopotamia.

Researchers have long believed these clay balls were used to record economic transactions. That interpretation is based on an analysis of a 3,300-year-old clay ball found at a site in Mesopotamia named Nuzi that had 49 pebbles and a cuneiform text containing a contract commanding a shepherd to care for 49 sheep and goats.

How these devices would have worked in prehistoric times, before the invention of writing, is a mystery. Researchers now face the question of how people recorded the number and type of a commodity being exchanged without the help of writing.

Pharoah

Was Cleopatra beautiful?: The archaeological evidence

© Wiki Commons
The Death of Cleopatra by Guido Cagnacci, 1658 :
Cleopatra VII Philopator, commonly known simply as Cleopatra, ruled over Egypt during the century preceding the birth of Christ. By Robyn Antanovskii

Over the next two thousand years and counting, she would be renowned for her outstanding physical beauty, inspiring innumerable works of art depicting her as an alluring temptress, and spawning countless modern beauty parlours in her name.

No doubt the legend of her beauty is based in part on her famous seduction of both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, both powerful Roman leaders. But what did she really look like? Is there any solid basis to the claims of unparalleled physical beauty? Let's have a look at what the historical and archaeological evidence tells us.

Info

30,000 year old Brazilian artifacts throw wrench in theory humans first arrived in Americas 12,000 years ago

© Museum of the American Man Foundation
Image provided by the Museum of the American Man Foundation shows cave art in a cavern at Serra da Capivara National Park in Brazil.
It's no secret humans have been having sex for millennia - but recently discovered cave art suggests they were doing it in the Americas much earlier than many archeologists believed.

A new exhibit in Brazil showcases artifacts dating as far back as 30,000 years ago - throwing a wrench in the commonly held theory humans first crossed to the Americas from Asia a mere 12,000 years ago.

The 100 items on display in Brasilia, including cave paintings and ceramic art, depict animals, ceremonies, hunting expeditions - and even scenes from the sex lives of this ancient group of early Americans.

The artifacts come from the Serra da Capivara national park in Brazil's northeastern Piaui state, on the border of the Amazon and Atlantic Forests, which attracted the hunter-gatherer civilization that left behind this hoard of local art.

Since the 1970s, Franco-Brazilian archaeologist Niede Guidon has headed a mission to carry out large-scale excavation of Piaui's interior.

"It's difficult to think there exists a site anywhere with a higher concentration of cave art," the 80-year-old Guidon told AFP.

Question

Can you help solve this ancient puzzle with 3,000-pieces?

© Wikimedia
A portion of the Hilton of Cadboll Stone is intact but the rest, which was recently discovered, is in more than 3,000 pieces. A museum had a hospital use a CT scanner take 3-D images of the pieces in the hopes that software and crowd sourcing could virtually piece them back together.
Putting together a historic stone broken into about 3,000 fragments is a daunting task, which is why the National Museums Scotland is hoping online gamers might be able to help them.

The Hilton of Cadboll Stone, which was carved around 800 AD after a Scottish group known as the Picts converted to Christianity, has suffered multiple accidents, according to the National Museums Scotland:
At some point the stone was toppled and broken, possibly in a storm in 1674, and the bottom portion lost. In 1676 the original carving of the Christian cross was chipped off and replaced with an inscription commemorating a local man, Alexander Duff, and his three wives.

From the 17th to the mid 19th centuries, the stone remained by the chapel at Hilton of Cadboll. For much of this time it lay with the original Pictish carving facing down.

In the 1860s the MacLeods of Cadboll took it to Invergordon Castle and installed it as a garden ornament.
The base of the stone was recently found along with 3,000 broken pieces at a chapel and will be displayed in a new exhibit. But officials are also taking CT scans of the pieces and uploading them into a software program, hoping the public can help them put it together again - digitally.

Info

Ancient confession found: 'We invented Jesus Christ'

© PR Web UK
London - American Biblical scholar Joseph Atwill will be appearing before the British public for the first time in London on the 19th of October to present a controversial new discovery: ancient confessions recently uncovered now prove, according to Atwill, that the New Testament was written by first-century Roman aristocrats and that they fabricated the entire story of Jesus Christ. His presentation will be part of a one-day symposium entitled "Covert Messiah" at Conway Hall in Holborn (full details can be found here).

Although to many scholars his theory seems outlandish, and is sure to upset some believers, Atwill regards his evidence as conclusive and is confident its acceptance is only a matter of time. "I present my work with some ambivalence, as I do not want to directly cause Christians any harm," he acknowledges, "but this is important for our culture. Alert citizens need to know the truth about our past so we can understand how and why governments create false histories and false gods. They often do it to obtain a social order that is against the best interests of the common people."

Atwill asserts that Christianity did not really begin as a religion, but a sophisticated government project, a kind of propaganda exercise used to pacify the subjects of the Roman Empire. "Jewish sects in Palestine at the time, who were waiting for a prophesied warrior Messiah, were a constant source of violent insurrection during the first century," he explains. "When the Romans had exhausted conventional means of quashing rebellion, they switched to psychological warfare. They surmised that the way to stop the spread of zealous Jewish missionary activity was to create a competing belief system. That's when the 'peaceful' Messiah story was invented. Instead of inspiring warfare, this Messiah urged turn-the-other-cheek pacifism and encouraged Jews to 'give onto Caesar' and pay their taxes to Rome."

Comet

First ever evidence of a comet striking Earth

© Terry Bakker
An artist’s rendition of the comet exploding in Earth’s atmosphere above Egypt
The first ever evidence of a comet entering Earth's atmosphere and exploding, raining down a shock wave of fire which obliterated every life form in its path, has been discovered by a team of South African scientists and international collaborators, and will be presented at a public lecture on Thursday.

The discovery has not only provided the first definitive proof of a comet striking Earth, millions of years ago, but it could also help us to unlock, in the future, the secrets of the formation of our solar system.

"Comets always visit our skies - they're these dirty snowballs of ice mixed with dust - but never before in history has material from a comet ever been found on Earth," says Professor David Block of Wits University.

The comet entered Earth's atmosphere above Egypt about 28 million years ago. As it entered the atmosphere, it exploded, heating up the sand beneath it to a temperature of about 2 000 degrees Celsius, and resulting in the formation of a huge amount of yellow silica glass which lies scattered over a 6 000 square kilometer area in the Sahara. A magnificent specimen of the glass, polished by ancient jewellers, is found in Tutankhamun's brooch with its striking yellow-brown scarab.


Comment: It is funny that it doesn't amaze the good professor that such a snowball consisting of ice mixed with dust can heat the sand up to a temperature of about 2000 degree Celcius. But then again, the idea of comets being just dirty snowballs is to lull people asleep to the real danger that is lurking as many comets consists of much much harder and denser materials than compressed snow or ice.


Comment: It is not the first ever evidence of a comet exploding in the earths atmosphere.

See:

Did a massive comet explode over Canada 12,900 years ago in North America and propel the Earth into an Ice Age?

The mystery of mammoth tusks with iron fillings

A Different Kind of Catastrophe - Something Wicked This Way Comes


Info

Ancient treasures found in Bolivian lake

© Wikimedia Commons
Gold and silver pieces as well as bones and pottery from 1500 years ago have been discovered in Lake Titicaca by underwater archaeologists, a researcher says.

"We found 2000 objects and fragments," Christophe Delaere, the Belgian co-director of the Huinaimarca Project that unearthed the items, said at a ceremony in La Paz.

President Evo Morales, Bolivia's minister of culture and diplomats from Belgium were also in attendance. The expedition began two months ago on the Bolivian side of the lake, which is shared with Peru. Underwater explorations turned up objects from different eras, both Inca era and pre-Inca (1438-1533).

The project unearthed 31 gold fragments, mainly around the Isla del Sol, where legend holds that mythical founders of the Incan empire emerged from the lake's waters. Underwater excavations were carried out in other parts of the lake where objects from different dates were found.

"There are ceramics and urns from more than 500 to 800 years ago," Delaere said.

Elsewhere, 1500-year-old objects such as stone vessels, incense containers and figures of animals such as pumas were found. Tales about the lake containing underwater citadels and wealth supposedly stashed by indigenous Quechua and Aymara people from Spanish conquistadores have existed for centuries in Bolivia.

In the late 1960s, French explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau conducted several expeditions in Lake Titicaca, finding signs of a civilisation. Morales stressed that Bolivia, South America's poorest nation, is keen to recover its national patrimony on display in countries in Europe and the US.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Magnify

Deadly 13th-century volcano eruption: Mystery solved?

One of history's great disaster mysteries may be solved - the case of the largest volcanic eruption in the last 3,700 years. Nearly 800 years ago, the blast that was recorded, and then forgotten, may also have created a "Pompeii of the Far East," researchers suggest, which might lie buried and waiting for discovery on an Indonesian island.

The source of an eruption that scattered ash from pole to pole has been pinpointed as Samalas volcano on Indonesia's Lombok Island. The research team, led by geographer Franck Lavigne of the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, has now dated the event to between May and October of 1257. The findings were published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"It's been a long time that some people have been looking," said Lavigne. After glaciologists turned up evidence for the blast three decades ago, volcano experts had looked for the origin of the eruption everywhere from New Zealand's Okataina volcano to Mexico's El Chichón.

The previously unattributed eruption was an estimated eight times as large as the famed Krakatau explosion (1883) and twice as large as Tambora in 1815, the researchers estimate. (Related: "Tambora: The Greatest Explosion in History.") "Until now we thought that Tambora was the largest eruption for 3,700 years," Lavigne said, but the study reveals that the 1257 event was even larger.

Info

Surprise: Ashkenazi Jews are genetically European

© Anton Ivanov/Shutterstock
A synagogue in Florence, Italy. Jews have lived in the Mediterranean for at least 2,000 years, historical documents suggest.
The origin of the Ashkenazi Jews, who come most recently from Europe, has largely been shrouded in mystery. But a new study suggests that at least their maternal lineage may derive largely from Europe.

Though the finding may seem intuitive, it contradicts the notion that European Jews mostly descend from people who left Israel and the Middle East around 2,000 years ago. Instead, a substantial proportion of the population originates from local Europeans who converted to Judaism, said study co-author Martin Richards, an archaeogeneticist at the University of Huddersfield in England.