Secret HistoryS


Divers Find the Wreck of 17th Century Warship

Battle of Öland
© Wikimedia CommonsBattle of Öland. Claus Møinichen, 1686.
Swedish divers have discovered the wreck of one of the largest 17th century warships.

Found off the coast of the Baltic island of Öland at a depth of between 160 and 320 feet, the wooden wreck is believed to be that of the royal warship Svärdet.

According to Deep Sea Productions, the underwater research team who identified the wreck, the vessel is "a prime example of richly decorated 'gaudy' ships, built largely to impress the enemy."

The 82-foot Svärdet (the Sword) sank in 1676 in the largest naval battle in the Baltic, when Sweden was defeated by a Danish-Dutch fleet.

After fighting for five hours, the Svärdet was set afire by a Dutch ship.

"The commander, admiral Claes Uggla, chose to go under with his ship, rather than surrender to the enemy," Deep Sea Productions said in a statement.

The Svärdet went down with its sister ship the Kronan (the Crown), whose wreck was discovered in 1981. It has yielded more than 30,000 archaeological artifacts, many of which are displayed at the Kalmar County Museum in Sweden.


Tribal Fates: Why the Navajo Have Succeeded

The 3 Sisters Rock
© David P. Smith | ShutterstockThe Three Sisters rock formation found in the Navajo nation land of Monument Valley. Two geographers argue that the relatively isolated and rugged nature of Navajo country ultimately contributed to the tribe's success.

While other tribes have disappeared from North America over the centuries, the Navajo Nation has done the opposite. Two geographers from the University of California, Los Angeles, offer an explanation for why the Navajos have been able to grow to more than 300,000 members today: a combination of geography and culture.

Jared Diamond and Ronan Arthur propose that the geographical isolation and cultural flexibility of the Navajos, who call themselves the Diné, allowed them to expand, even after the arrival of Europeans in North America in 1492 and efforts four centuries later to assimilate them into white U.S. culture.

"Many tribes decreased their numbers, disappeared or lost their homeland, language or cultural identity," Arthur and Diamond write in the Nov. 18 issue of the journal Science. "The Navajos are a striking exception."

In fact, they are arguably the largest American Indian tribe in the United States. (The Cherokee Nation, with different membership requirements, also can make that claim.) And the Navajo reservation, established in 1868, has expanded from roughly 3.3 million acres to more than 17 million in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.


UK: Cirencester Roman dig is 'history changing'

© Cotswold ArchaeologyArchaeologists have uncovered more than 40 burials at the site
Excavations in Cirencester have unearthed one of the earliest burial sites ever found in Roman Britain. The dig at the former Bridges Garage on Tetbury Road has uncovered over 40 burials and four cremations. Experts say it is the largest archaeological find in the town since the 1970s.

Neil Holbrook, chief executive at Cotswold Archaeology, said he could not "underestimate the potential significance" of the discovery. Archaeologists said they were particularly excited by the discovery of a child's grave containing a pottery flagon, which could date to the early Roman period, between 70 AD and 120 AD.

They said if the burial could be dated to this time, it could "challenge the current belief amongst archaeologists" that inhumation burials were not common practice until the later Roman period. "Whilst we are being cautious, we can't underestimate the potential significance this discovery could have for archaeologists in Britain," said Mr Holbrook. "Our specialists are working hard to provide further information to try to confirm the dating of this site."


Discoveries at Mendes and Theban Tombs Opening More Windows on Ancient Egypt

© Susan Redford, The Theban Tomb SurveyEntrance and courtyard of one of the newly-discovered tombs of the Assasif concession (the region that includes Parennefer's tomb).
A wealth of discoveries and information already, with a promise of more to come.

One might think that the archaeological treasures of ancient Egypt have been pretty much picked over by now. Of all the civilizations that have graced the pages of archaeological romance, ancient Egypt stands arguably on top. For thousands of years, tomb robbers have looted it, and since the 18th century, archaeologists have systematically pored over the remains. Thus it could be said that this field has already seen its heyday.

But for Professor Donald Redford and Dr. Susan Redford of Pennsylvania State University, like other scholars in their field, it offers a seemingly inexhaustible supply of new finds and surprises that continue to excite the imagination of would-be Egyptologists and archaeologists.

For the past two decades, they have directed expeditions to two separate ancient locations in Egypt, one near the west bank of the Nile in the Valley of the Nobles, part of the Theban necropolis opposite Luxor, and the other much farther to the north in the Nile Delta region. Both locations have yielded discoveries that have made archaeology news headlines and have created new questions and avenues of investigation.


Famous Nasca Lines of Peru at Risk, Say Conservationists

© Unknown
The monumental Nasca lines may not be around for long if steps are not taken, according to conservationists in the know.

Located in the arid coastal plain south of Lima, Peru, these incredible lines are only visible in their entirety from a tower, airplane or from space. Created on a gigantic scale, they consist of hundreds of simple lines, geometric shapes, and zoomorphic figures representing entities such as human figures, hummingbirds, spiders, sharks, orcas, llamas, jaguar, lizards, fish, and a monkey. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, the geoglyphs or "lines" of Nasca and the pampas of Jumana are well-known to the world, and are today an important tourist destination.

These Nasca Lines, as they are popularly called, date from 500 B.C. to 500 A.D. and cover an area consisting of foothills and desert for more than 450 square kilometers. Attributed to three different stages of development corresponding to the Chavín, Paracas, and Nasca cultures respectively, they were made by removing the overlying dark sand and iron oxide gravel to expose a lighter ground underneath. Although numerous theories abound concerning their origin and meaning, many scholars suggest that they had ritual astronomical functions.


US - Colorado: Earthquakes Could Have Created Snowmastodon Site

Tremors Could Have Deposited Thousands Of Fossils

Just before beginning his weekend on Friday, Dr. Kirk Johnson of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science received some exciting news.

"We found a baby ground sloth," said Johnson, the chief curator at the museum."We found it about an hour ago. It is pretty exciting."

The fossil of the adolescent Jefferson's ground sloth is the first discovered and just one of many discoveries that have come from the Snowmastadon Project.

The Snowmastadon Project began in the summer of 2010 when construction crews excavating earth to enlarge the Ziegler Reservoir outside of the resort town of Snowmass unearthed the bones of a juvenile mammoth.
© Jan Vriesen

Since that small discovery, teams of paleontologists squeezed in two large digs that produced a bevy of fossils that surprised even them.

"This one is so good it's a once-in-a-lifetime find," Johnson said.


Crusader's Arabic Inscription No Longer Lost in Translation

Ancient Inscription
© Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities AuthorityThe 800-year-old inscription was created with special Arabic characters, making it tricky to translate.

A rare Arabic inscription from the Crusades has been deciphered, with scientists finding the marble slab bears the name of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, a colorful Christian ruler known for his tolerance of the Muslim world.

Part of the inscription reads: "1229 of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus the Messiah."

The 800-year-old inscription was fixed years ago in the wall of a building in Tel Aviv, though the researchers think it originally sat in Jaffa's city wall. To date, no other Crusader inscription in the Arabic language has been found in the Middle East.

"He was a Christian king who came from Sicily, the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and he wrote his inscription in Arabic," said Moshe Sharon, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, adding that it would be like the U.S. president traveling to a region and leaving an inscription in that area's language.


US: Ancient bronze artifact unique in Arctic Alaska archaeology

Nothing like this has ever before been found in an Arctic Alaska archaeological site: a cast bronze buckle-like object, discovered in August in a 1,000-year-old Inupiat dwelling on Cape Espenberg, just south of Kotzebue on the Chukchi Sea coast. Since ancient Alaskans had no bronze culture, the object was either carried across the Bering Strait by ancestors of modern Inupiat or obtained by trade from Asia, say the University of Colorado-led scientists who discovered it.


10,000 Unique Archaeology Treasures to Be Unveiled in Bulgaria

Bulgaria's National History Museum will put on display about 10 000 "extremely valuable" archaeological finds and artifacts.

The finds in question were seized from a treasure hunting and antiques trafficking crime group back in 2004, and are now being transferred from the Sofia City Prosecutor's Office to the ownerships of the National History Museum in Sofia.

© BGNES10 000 previously unexplored archaeological finds are to be shown to the public in Sofia.
They feature archaeological items from various ages - from prehistory all the way to the 20th century, the Bulgarian National History Museum announced.

Some of the more interesting treasures to be put on display include:

22 silver coins from the rule of medieval Bulgarian Tsar Mihail Shishman (1323-1330 AD);

154 silver coins minted in the northwest of the Second Bulgarian Empire in the 14th century, as well as Venetian and Serbian coins;

56 silver coins minted by the last ruler of the Second Bulgarian Empire before it was conquered by the Ottoman Turkish Empire - Tsar Ivan Sratsimir, who was killed in 1396 AD by the Ottomans.


Paleontologists turning to neural networks to find new dig sites

For hundreds, if not thousands of years, researchers of one kind or another have dug into the earth in search of clues to help explain our past. In so doing they have found evidence of ancient peoples that roamed around in an environment that we can only vaguely imagine. Such evidence is generally composed of remnants of dwellings, clothing, tools and most especially bones. Traditionally, such relics have been found either by accident or by serious-minded teams of professional scientists scanning likely terrain and having at it with small axes and shovels.

Now however, new technology is helping such teams better their chances. Satellite imagery, for instance can highlight certain types of geographical regions that are similar to others that have been found to contain fossils, thus reducing the amount of ground that paleontologists must cover. But even that can only reduce the work so much. Enter Bob Anemone, a paleontologist and his team from Western Michigan University; they've developed a computer system that can scan satellite images for them and highlight the areas that are most likely to contain fossils, thus increasing the chances of finding fossils while doing far less work. They have published their findings in Evolutionary Anthropology.