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Tue, 24 Oct 2017
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Secret History


Watch 'Spooks and Cowboys', 1975 documentary on US 'Phoenix Program' in Vietnam

Michael Maclear's 1975 documentary, Spooks and Cowboys, Gooks and Grunts (Part 1) is more relevant now than ever. Forty-two years after its release, it exposes the suppressed, shameful truths that have corrupted America since the Vietnam War. The documentary makes it perfectly clear that "we" have always known what was going on - and that "we" have perfected the means of denying and obfuscating it.

Maclear's documentary stands in stark contrast to the current Ken Burns documentary, The Vietnam War, which is nothing more than historical revisionism, sprinkled with massive doses of cognitive dissonance, served up as healing.

While Burns assiduously avoids connecting the conflicts of the Vietnam War to America's on-going experiment in technofascism, Maclear's documentary is straightforward in stating several shameful truths. Foremost, that the CIA has corrupted not only the military, but America's political and judicial systems; and that, through its secret control of the media, the CIA's power to create the official version of history has left veterans of the Vietnam War, as well as every subsequent generation of Americans as well, in a state of neurotic delusion.


How an Ottoman Sultan defied the British Empire to send humanitarian aid to starving Ireland


Khaleefah Abdul-Majid I, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, which would later be broken up by the British and French empires.
t has none of the show and glamour of a Paris, Rome or Barcelona, and it lacks the shadowy mood of a Prague or Vienna, but it pleased me with its sense of easy calm, and the casual way in which it balances the ancient and the modern, its clean, vibrant centre set against a crumbling periphery still wealthy with remnants of its Hatti, Hittite, Phrygian and even Roman past. Touched by King Midas and conquered by Alexander the Great, this is ground that has known life virtually since life began. The winds of change have shaped the faces of its rock, but the rock itself endures.

As someone deeply fascinated by antiquity, my heart beats loudest when I can stand and listen to ancient places. Yet as rich in story as Ankara might be, it remains, in essence, a stacking of dirt, stone and sky. What truly gives this place life is its people; it is they who make for a history worth recalling.

Ireland and Turkey lie a continent apart, but while we might look and sound different, and while our minds might be shaped by different troubles, we breathe the same air. What I found in the Turkish people I met were the traits that I'd always assumed defined Irishness: the open-hearted embrace for a stranger, an interest in his journey and a desire to understand his background. Most of all, the hospitality of a warm and friendly welcome.


Mass grave discovered at WWII Nazi concentration camp in Poland

© DD News, India
Decades after WWII, archaeologists still discover bodies at Nazi concentration camp.
Archaeologists in Poland have uncovered a mass grave of prisoners at the Nazi death camp Gross-Rosen, on what is now the site of a memorial museum.

In September 2017, human remains were found in what used to be an anti-aircraft trench and conservation works were suspended. Archaeologists estimated the number of people buried there to exceed 300. "The discovery of human remains matches the account of one of the former prisoners of the camp, a Belgian man who was the camp doctor and was on the site during the last months before the liberation evacuation," said Doctor Katarzyna Pawlak-Weiss, a historian studying Nazi concentration camps located by occupying German forces in Poland. "In his report he mentioned 300 people buried here."

So far archaeologists have uncovered bones belonging to approximately 30 people, whom the team hopes to be able to identify. According to reports by survivors, the bodies of prisoners who died of illnesses and starvation were thrown into the trench in the last days of the camp's operation, but the first unearthed bones had what archaeologists think are markings from bullet wounds.

Eye 1

The mysterious tribe of blue-eyed Native Americans who appeared Caucasian in nature

A drawing of a Mandan tribeswoman by George Catlin
History holds many oddities that we may never fully understand, either through incomplete documentation, disinterest at the time, or simply a big question mark that hangs over all. Among these are mysterious tribes of people that have been encountered and confronted in all corners of the globe, often vanishing before we really understand them and leaving us perplexed at just who they were or where their origins lie.

One such tribe was a mysterious group of Native Americans who appeared to explorers as something quite European in nature, although their ways and beginnings have always been cloaked in shadows. Known mostly from historical accounts, their origins remain murky, their lineage uncertain, and they are a historical curiosity we may never fully understand.

During the era of early European contact, the native peoples of North America held many curiosities for explorers and settlers coming to this new, wild land. These tribes were numerous, and displayed rich variety between different cultures, as well as myriad languages, customs, and traditions that inspired awe, wonder, curiosity, bafflement, and even fear in the European adventurers who bravely delved into this uncharted new world and tried to tame it. Yet as fascinating as these new peoples were, perhaps the most interesting was an alleged tribe of natives who were said to look decidedly Caucasian in nature.


Archaeologists discover signs of ritual violence in Peruvian highlands

© Nagaoka et al, PLOS ONE, 2017
Buried individuals with signs of trauma.
A team of archaeologists has uncovered early evidence of ritual violence in Peru's northern highlands, providing new clues to what lay behind the development of bloody ceremonial mutilation in ancient Andean civilisation.

According to an article published in the journal Plos One, archaeologists examined the remains of 104 individuals from a site called Pacopampa, a place home to "impressively large, ceremonial architecture," that may have played host to "a complex society founded on ritual activity."

Seven of the people showed signs of trauma; and while those buried at Pacopampa were from both elite and commoner classes, all those with evidence of trauma were probably from lower castes.

Analysis of their injuries showed a large proportion of the trauma was sustained by blows to the head and face, rather than the hands and feet. So while the mountainous environment would have been a potentially dangerous place to live, the researchers argue, it is likely that many of the injuries were intentional.


Stonehenge builders and celebrants brought animals from as far away as Scotland for their Neolithic feasts

© Kieran Doherty / Reuters
The ancient architects who created Stonehenge feasted on animals brought from as far away as Scotland and took part in lavish midwinter rituals, an analysis of teeth and bones excavated at the site has revealed.

The findings were unveiled by English Heritage to mark the opening of an exhibition at the Stonehenge museum in Wiltshire called 'Feast! Food at Stonehenge.'

Discarded animal teeth and bones excavated at the site suggest that cows and pigs were herded hundreds of miles along ancient byways to Stonehenge, and may even have been brought to southern England by boat.


Ancient stone structures discovered in Saudi Arabia

© Google Earth
Mysterious stone structures that archaeologists call "gates," due to their loose resemblance to old-fashioned field gates, have been discovered in Saudi Arabia.
Almost 400 mysterious stone structures dating back thousands of years have been discovered in Saudi Arabia, with a few of these wall-like formations draping across old lava domes, archaeologists report.

Many of the stone walls, which archaeologists call "gates" because they resemble field gates from above, were found in clusters in a region in west-central Saudi Arabia called Harrat Khaybar.

The archaeologists involved in the research aren't sure of the purpose, or even the exact age, of these gates. [See Images of the Mysterious Stone Structures in Saudi Arabia]


The powerful Assyrians: An empire of conquest

© CC BY-SA 4.0
Part of the Lachish Relief, British Museum. Battle scene, showing Assyrian cavalry in action. Above, prisoners are led away.
Much of Assyria's history is closely tied to its southern neighbor, Babylonia. The two Mesopotamian empires spoke similar languages and worshipped most of the same gods. They were often rivals on the battlefield for influence in the ancient Middle East.

The history of Assyria spans mainly from about 2000 BC, when the cities of Nineveh and Calah were founded, to the destruction of Nineveh in 606 BC.

Whereas Babylonia is best remembered for its contributions in literature, architecture, and the law, Assyria is chiefly remembered for its military prowess, advances in weaponry, and meticulously recorded conquests.

Geographically, Assyria occupied the middle and northern part of Mesopotamia. It was situated between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers, and its major cities were Calah, Zab, Ashur, and the capital, Nineveh.


Evidence found at Viking burial sites suggests link between Nordic tribes and Islam - Update

Archaeologists studying clothing worn by ancient Vikings have found evidence of a link between the Nordic tribes and Islam.

Researchers from Sweden's Uppsala University examined garments uncovered at 9th and 10th-century burial sites. They found that what they thought were typical Viking Age patterns in silver bands and embroidered clothing, were actually Kufic characters invoking both 'Allah' and 'Ali,' two central figures in the Islamic faith.

Kufic, an ancient Arabic script dating back to the 7th century, appeared in Viking Age chamber graves and boat graves in areas around the capital Stockholm. Astonishingly, the same characters can also be found in mosaics on burial monuments and mausoleums in Central Asia.

Annika Larsson, researcher in textile archaeology at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Uppsala University, believes that the presence of the Kufic characters at two different grave sites suggests that Viking funeral customs were influenced by Islam.

"Presumably, Viking Age burial customs were influenced by Islam and the idea of an eternal life in Paradise after death,"Larsson told the university's website.

"Grave goods such as beautiful clothing, finely sewn in exotic fabrics, hardly reflect the deceased's everyday life, just as little as the formal attire of our era reflects our own daily lives. The rich material of grave goods should rather be seen as tangible expressions of underlying values."

Comment: RT has updated this story with a rebuttal:
Last week Swedish researchers made a startling claim they discovered the word 'Allah' embroidered into ancient Viking burial clothing. These findings have now been questioned by experts claiming the inscription "makes no sense in Arabic."

Annika Larsson's findings, which concluded that the inscriptions were evidence that Viking "burial customs were influenced by Islam and the idea of an eternal life in Paradise after death," were widely reported last week as a 'historic first'.

Associate Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at the University of Texas, Stephennie Mulder, however, claims there is a "serious problem of dating."

Mulder explains that the Kufic script didn't exist at the time of the Vikings and that even if it did, the inscription still doesn't mean anything in Arabic.

Mulder adds that Larsson's claim is "based on extrapolation, not evidence," citing a textile specialist, Carolyn Priest-Dorman, who writes that the interpretation is based on "extensions of pattern, not an existing pattern."

Priest-Dorman and Mulder's analysis details how the texts say 'Allah' only if you presume that the embroidered fabric was originally twice as wide as it is now and that the pattern was replicated in specific ways, leading Mulder to say that "Larsson's extensions are entirely conjectural."

Speaking to RT.com, Annika Larsson, a researcher in textile archaeology at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Sweden's Uppsala University, contested her critics' claims, saying that there is a "misunderstanding" from Mulder about the images.

"The scripts on the ribbons are like secret messages. First I thought they were copied by someone who didn't understand the message. But the patterns in the ribbons are like a puzzle or a rebus to read," she said.

"I have spoken to Muslims that tell me that even today sometimes you don't want to say/write/depict the Gods name clearly, so then you can make it like a puzzle, and even mirror it. I think that is what they have done on these ribbons.

"The project is represented in an Exhibition at Enköpings Museum not far from Stockholm, where we have reconstructed two ribbons.

"In this specific case we see a puzzle of two patterns - then mirrored. It is like a hidden or secret message, that is still sometimes used in the Muslim tradition when writing the name of God," she added.

Brick Wall

Jerusalem: Sections of Western Wall uncovered, hidden for 1700 yrs, includes Roman theater

© Ronen Zvulun / Reuters
Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Dr. Joe Uziel stands inside a theatre-like structure during a media tour to reveal the structure which was discovered during excavation works underneath Wilson's Arch in the Western Wall tunnels in Jerusalem's Old City.
Archaeologists have discovered an eight-meter-high section of the Western Wall and a subterranean Roman theater, which haven't been seen by human eyes for almost two millennia.

The Israel Antiquity Authority announced the discovery on Monday following a two-year excavation of the site. "From a research perspective, this is a sensational find," archaeologist Joe Uziel said at a press conference on Monday morning in Jerusalem's Old City, as cited by The Jerusalem Post.

"The discovery was a real surprise. We did not imagine that a window would open for us onto the mystery of Jerusalem's lost theater. Like much of archeological research, the expectation is that a certain thing will be found. But at the end of the process, other findings - surprising and thought-provoking - are unearthed," Uziel added.

Archaeologists have searched for the ruins for 150 years, according to The Times of Israel, and their discovery is already altering their perceptions of Roman-occupied Jerusalem after the fall of the Second Temple and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE.
© Menahem Kahana / AFP
Workers restore a ceiling of the Western Wall tunnels near the site where Israeli Antiquity Authority recently discovered an ancient roman theatre in Jerusalem's Old City.