Secret History
Map


Info

Wealthy ancient Egyptians suffered disease

Ancient Skulls
© Miguel Botella Lopez
Two skulls excavated from the Qubbet el-Hawa necropolis in Egypt.
Even the best-off ancient Egyptians suffered from malnutrition and preventable disease, a new analysis of mummies and skeletons finds.

The bodies come from the Qubbet el-Hawa necropolis, which is near the modern city of Aswan in southern Egypt. Constructed in the 12th dynasty (between 1939 B.C. and 1760 B.C.) and re-used in later periods, the necropolis contains remains of people from across the social spectrum.

An analysis of more than 200 of these bodies, which has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, finds that wealth did not necessarily buy health in ancient Egypt.
Clock

The discarded infants of ancient Poggio Civitate horrify, provoke and fascinate 2,500 years later

© Unknown
More than 2,500 years after tiny infant bones were scattered, perhaps offhandedly, amid animal remains on the floor of an Etruscan workshop, recently-discovered fragments of those bones are causing a stir far beyond Italy's Poggio Civitate Archaeological Project.

University of Massachusetts Amherst archaeologist Anthony Tuck recently told an Archaeological Institute America annual meeting in Seattle that the bones discovered in the ancient Etruscan town of Poggio Civitate were "simply either left on the floor of the workshop or ended up in an area with a heavy concentration of other discarded remains of butchered animals."

It is an image that has, in ensuing weeks, resonated powerfully, if not always accurately, in the international press as everyone from religious fundamentalists to luridly invasive tabloids has scrambled to assemble narratives for the baby bones that might be either more or less appalling to modern sensibilities - narratives, notes Tuck, that tell us more about ourselves than they do about perinatal death in ancient Italy.

"Romans may have dumped remains of dead kids with their rubbish," screamed an Asian News International headline; "Grisly discoveries reveal unsympathetic attitudes," wrote a Daily Mail reporter. Other news outlets placed the excavated site on a timeline that might have associated it either with BCE cave dwellers or alternatively in the path of seventh century CE invaders.
Boat

Shipwreck may contain near-mythical Viking navigation aid

© AFP Photo
An oblong crystal found in the wreck of a 16th-century English warship is a sunstone, a near-mythical navigational aid said to have been used by Viking mariners, researchers said on Wednesday.

The stone is made of Iceland spar, a transparent, naturally-occurring calcite crystal that polarises light and can get a bearing on the Sun, they said.

It was found in the remains of a ship that had been dispatched to France in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I as a precaution against a second Spanish Armada but foundered off the island of Alderney, in the Channel.

British and French scientists have long argued that the find is a sunstone - a device that fractures the light, enabling seafarers to locate the Sun even when it is behind clouds or has dipped below the horizon.

Sunstones, according to a theory first aired 45 years ago, helped the great Norse mariners to navigate their way to Iceland and even perhaps as far as North America during the Viking heyday of 900-1200 AD, way before the magnetic compass was introduced in Europe in the 13th century.

But there is only a sketchy reference in ancient Norse literature to a "solarsteinn," which means the idea has remained frustratingly without solid proof.
Info

Megalithic stone circles found on Male Mahadeshwara Hills, India

Stone Circles
© The Hindu
A megalithic stone circle dating back to about 800 B.C. found at Mari Kote in MM hill ranges in Chamarajanagar district.
Over 20 megalithic stone circles dating back to about 800 BC were discovered at Male Mahadeshwara Hills in Chamarajanagar district, according to T. Murugeshi, Associate Professor in the Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, MSRS College, Shirva.

In a press release issued here, Mr. Murugeshi said that Megalithic Culture or Iron Age has been considered as a formative period in the South Indian history.

He said that he had gone with R. Gopal, Director of State Archaeology, Mysore, on a survey of a deserted temple at Alambady on the right bank of River Cauvery on the Male Mahadeshwara (MM) Hills near Gopinathapuram in Kollegal taluk of Chamarajanagar district on February 27.

They had gone on a survey of the temple on a request by Pattada Immdi Mahadeva Swami of Saluru Bruhan Math.
Info

Hindenburg mystery solved after 76 years

Hindenburg
© The Independent, UK
The dream was a fleet of hydrogen-filled airships criss-crossing the globe, silvered hulls shining in the sunlight. And for a while the fantasy became reality, For the Hindenburg was the Concorde of its day - able to cross the Atlantic in about three days, twice as fast as going by sea.

With nearly 100 on board, the 245m airship was preparing to land at Lakehurst, New Jersey, on 6 May 1937, when the age of airship travel ended. In front of horrified onlookers, the Hindenburg exploded and plunged to the ground in flames. Thirty-five of those on board died.

Now, 76 years later, a team of experts claims to have solved one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century: the real cause of the Hindenburg air disaster. And they name static electricity as the culprit.

Led by a British aeronautical engineer, Jem Stansfield, and based at the South West Research Institute in the US, the team blew up or set fire to scale models more than 24m long, in an attempt to rule out theories ranging from a bomb planted by a terrorist to explosive properties in the paint used to coat the Hindenburg.
Sherlock

Was King Richard III a psychopath or a control freak?

© wikipedia.org
University of Leicester psychologists believe Richard III was not a psychopath -- but he may have had control freak tendencies.

University of Leicester psychologists have made an analysis of Richard III's character - aiming to get to the man behind the bones.

Professor Mark Lansdale, Head of the University's School of Psychology, and forensic psychologist Dr Julian Boon have put together a psychological analysis of Richard III based on the consensus among historians relating to Richard's experiences and actions.

They found that, while there was no evidence for Shakespeare's depiction of Richard III as a psychopath, he may have had "intolerance to uncertainty syndrome" - which may have manifested in control freak tendencies.

The academics presented their findings on Saturday, March 2 at the University of Leicester.

Their analysis aims to humanise Richard - to flesh out the bones and get to the character of the man who became one of the most controversial kings in English history.
Cheeseburger

Most ancient Romans ate like 'animals': study

Ancient Romans
© Associated Press
Ancient Romans are known for their sumptuous feasts, but according to a new study, an incredible 98 per cent commoners ate food that was seen fit only for animals.
Ancient Romans are known for their sumptuous feasts, but according to a new study, an incredible 98 per cent commoners ate food that was seen fit only for animals.

Romans are known for eating well, with mosaics from the empire portraying sumptuous displays of fruits, vegetables, cakes - and, of course, wine.

However, common people ate millet, a grain looked down upon by the wealthy as fit only for livestock, according to a new study published in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.

Researchers said the consumption of millet may have been linked to overall social status, with relatively poorer suburbanites eating more of the grain than did wealthier city dwellers.

The results come from an analysis of anonymous skeletons in the ancient city's cemeteries, 'LiveScience' reported.

"We don't know anything about their lives, which is why we're trying to use biochemical analysis to study them," said study leader Kristina Killgrove, an anthropologist at the University of West Florida.
Butterfly

Ice-age flute found in Germany one of oldest instruments discovered


Bone flute from Hohle Fels with an enlarged image of the finger holes.
With its jaw-dropping sculptures and carvings of bulbous women and half-human animals, the British Museum's Ice Age Art exhibition is a sublime reminder of the fact that the creativity of homo sapiens predates what we tend to think of as the dawn of civilisation. But for me, the most moving object in the show is one of the least obviously beautiful: a long, thin flute made from the wing-bone of a griffon vulture. Found in the Hohle Fels cave in south-west Germany, it could be 40,000 years old, making it one of the oldest instruments ever discovered. What's so striking about this ancient wind instrument is how familiar it looks. It's basically an ice age penny whistle: anyone can see it's a tool for making music, with its five finger-holes and a V-shaped notch at one end, through which a prehistoric musician would have blown.

The sounds it makes are strikingly familiar, too. We know this thanks to Wulf Hein, an "experimental archeologist" who made a replica of the instrument - and can be seen on YouTube, dressed in animal skins, using it to play The Star-Spangled Banner. (You will already be familiar with this fascinating figure if you've seen Werner Herzog's 2010 movie Cave of Forgotten Dreams, about the shockingly contemporary-seeming art found in the Chauvet cave in southern France.) Hein shows that the notes the flute can play form the "pentatonic scale", the same scale that's the basis of so many tunes we know and love today. Hein will be on hand at the British Museum next month, to give a carving talk and demonstration, hopefully wearing his animal skins.
Question

Shoe-dunnit? Archaeologists determined to solve the mystery

Ancient Shoes
© 2005 Franco M. Giani - Milano - Italy
The unwrapped shoe bundle showing the two pairs of children's shoes and the adult isolate.
The discovery of shoes deliberately hidden in an ancient Egyptian temple has left archaeologists baffled, not least because they include design features thought to have been invented in Medieval Europe.

Two pairs of tiny children's shoes were among the seven found concealed in a jar placed into a cavity between two mudbrick walls in a temple in Luxor, site of the ancient city of Thebes.

Oddly, they were tied together using palm fibre string and placed within a single adult shoe. A third pair that had been worn by an adult was found alongside them.

But there is no clue as to why the shoes, which would have been costly and unusual footwear for the era, were never retrieved after they were left in the temple just over 2,000 years ago when Egypt was ruled by a dynasty of Greek descent.

Research has shown that at least one of them includes structural elements that historians had previously believed were not invented until the Medieval era, which began in Europe some 500 years later.

At the time the shoes were concealed, most Egyptians would normally have worn sandals.

The shoes were discovered by an Italian archaeological team in 2004, but a new study has now offered fresh insights into them.
Info

God is not the Creator, claims academic

God Not Creator
© PA
The Earth was already there when God created humans and animals, says academic.
Professor Ellen van Wolde, a respected Old Testament scholar and author, claims the first sentence of Genesis "in the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth" is not a true translation of the Hebrew.

She claims she has carried out fresh textual analysis that suggests the writers of the great book never intended to suggest that God created the world -- and in fact the Earth was already there when he created humans and animals.

Prof Van Wolde, 54, who will present a thesis on the subject at Radboud University in The Netherlands where she studies, said she had re-analysed the original Hebrew text and placed it in the context of the Bible as a whole, and in the context of other creation stories from ancient Mesopotamia.

She said she eventually concluded the Hebrew verb "bara", which is used in the first sentence of the book of Genesis, does not mean "to create" but to "spatially separate".

The first sentence should now read "in the beginning God separated the Heaven and the Earth"

According to Judeo-Christian tradition, God created the Earth out of nothing.
Top