Secret HistoryS

Magic Wand

UK: 'Extraordinary' genetic make-up of north-east Wales men

© UnknownWhy more men in north Wales carry a rare marker in the Y chromosome is not yet known
Experts are asking people from north-east Wales to provide a DNA sample to discover why those from the area carry rare genetic make-up.

So far, 500 people have taken part in the study which shows 30% of men carry an unusual type of Y chromosome, compared to 1% of men elsewhere the UK.

Common in Mediterranean men, it was initially thought to suggest Bronze Age migrants 4,000 years ago.

Sheffield University scientists explain the study at Wrexham Science Festival.


Oldest pregnant lizard fossil discovered

© Susan Evans/UCLThe pregnant gravid female Yabeinosaurus fossil.
A new paper published in Naturwissenschaft reveals a fossil from 120 million years ago that proves that some lizards were not laying eggs but rather giving birth to live young.

The fossil was discovered by Susan Evans, a professor from the University College London Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, in the Jehol region of Northeast China. This area has revealed hundreds of dinosaur, amphibian, reptile, fish, bird, mammal, invertebrate and plant fossils.

The lizard in this case has been identified as Yabeinosaurus which scientists believe to be similar to the gecko. Evans did not pay much attention to the fossil when it was first discovered but Yuan Wang from the Chinese Academy of Sciences examined the fossil and discovered 15 tiny fossilized embryos.

The embryos were almost fully developed and the researchers believe that the foot-long mother died only a few days before she would have given birth.


Archaeologists Discover High Priest's Bell?

© Israel Antiquities AuthorityRare ancient bell
Archaeologists have discovered a rare gold bell during an excavation in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem.

Archaeologists have discovered a rare gold bell with a small loop at its end. The finding was made during an archaeological excavation in the City of David National Park (near the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem) by the Israel Antiquities Authority in cooperation with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Ir David Foundation.

The directors of the excavation on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, archaeologists Eli Shukron and Professor Ronny Reich of Haifa University, said after the finding, "The bell looked as if it was sewn on the garment worn by a man of high authority in Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period.

"The bell was exposed in the city's main drainage channel of that period, between the layers of dirt that had been piled on the floor of the channel," they continued. "This drainage channel was built and hewn west to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount and drained the rainfall in the different parts of the city, through the City of David and the Shiloah Pool to the Kidron valley."


US: 600-Year-Old Artifact Found in Hells Canyon

A hiker stumbled upon a really old piece of Idaho history in Hells Canyon. Now, archaeologists know just how old it is. It dates back centuries.

"We know that people have lived in Idaho for at least 130 centuries," said State Archaeologist Dr. Ken Reid.

And those people left evidence of their lives. Their artwork in the form of petroglyphs and pictographs decorates the rocks and cliffs in Hells Canyon. Their house pits sit in neighborhoods along the banks of the Snake River.

Hells Canyon is beautiful. It's also rich in history.

"There's an intact outdoor museum really of Idaho's past that survives," said Dr. Reid.

A hiker found part of that surviving past under a rock pile under a rock ledge made by a huge boulder.

"It was a perfect place to get some shade on a hot hike down the Snake River Trail," Reid said.


Few Grandparents Until 30,000 Years Ago

paleolithic family group
© Unknown
Grandparents barely existed until as recently as 30,000 years, research suggests, because early humans died so young.

But when people did start to survive into older age, it had "far-reaching effects" that led to the development of new tools and art forms.

The advantages that humans enjoyed by having larger families with older relatives could have helped them "out-compete" rivals such as Neanderthals, it is claimed.

A feature in the magazine Scientific American concludes: "The relation between adult survivorship and the emergence of sophisticated new cultural traditions, starting with those of the Upper Paleolithic, was almost certainly a positive feedback process.

"Initially a by-product of some sort of cultural change, longevity became a prerequisite for the unique and complex behaviours that signal modernity. These innovations in turn promoted the importance and survivorship of older adults, which led to the population expansions that had such profound cultural and genetic effects on our predecessors. Older and wiser, indeed."

In the article, Rachel Caspari describes how analysis of the teeth of Neanderthals found in Croatia, who lived about 130,000 years ago, suggests "no one survived past 30".

Because of gaps in the fossil record, she and colleagues tried to estimate when grandparents became common by working out how many individuals from different prehistoric groups reached 30.

They calculated the ratio of older to younger adults - the OY ratio - in fossil samples of 768 individuals spanning 3million years, stretching back from the most primitive australopithecines to modern Europeans of the early Upper Paelolithic, who lived between 30,000 and 20,000 years ago.


UK: Roman Jug Unearthed at Site of New Theater

© Doncaster Free PressArchaeologists working on the site of Doncasters Civic and Cultural Quarter (CCQ) have uncovered a rare Roman glass jug dating back to about AD150 on the site of a former Roman cremation cemetery.
They came, they saw, they conquered - and they left behind some fascinating artefacts.

Archaeologists working on the site of Doncaster's new civic and cultural quarter have unearthed a rare Roman glass jug dating back to around AD150.

The area is believed to have been the site of a Roman cemetery where cremations took place.

And on Saturday visitors will be able to tour the excavation site in the company of archeologists to learn about the jug and other finds, as well as about the town's important Roman history.

"To find such a fascinating Roman artefact in exceptional condition is quite remarkable. Doncaster has a long and distinguished Roman history which pre-dates places like York, " said mayor Peter Davies.


Found: Ancient Peruvian Executioner's Lost Head

© AP Photo/Violeta AyastaA skull and bones sit on a pre-hispanic tomb recently discovered in Lambayeque, northern Peru.
Archaeologists in Peru have discovered the tomb of a lord of the Lambayeque culture, believed to have been an executioner due to the three ceremonial knives found buried with him.

Near the pre-Hispanic tomb were human remains, as well as ceremonial knives, ceramic pots, a dress made from native cotton and a series of rolled copper discs, said Carlos Wester, director of the Bruning Museum in Lambayeque and one of the tomb's discoverers.

Wester told AFP the person buried there was most likely in charge of human sacrifice.

"We found the perfectly preserved tomb of a sacrificer of the Lambayeque culture, with copper machetes and human offerings laid around them," Wester told the news agency.

The tomb was found in a place called "ceremonial fertility and water," two weeks ago in the archaeological complex Chotuna Chornancap, a thousand-year-old temple complex discovered in January 2010.


Stone Age Erotic Art Found in Germany

© Jens Schlueter/AFP/DDPArchaeologists work on remains found in eastern Germany.
Researchers in Germany have discovered Stone Age cave art in the country for the first time including carvings of nude women that may have been used in fertility rites, officials said Wednesday.

Archaeologists working for the Bavarian State Office for Historical Preservation came upon the primitive engravings in a cave near the southern city of Bamberg after decades searching, a spokeswoman for the authority said.

The spokeswoman, Beate Zarges, confirmed a report to appear in the weekly newspaper Die Zeit that the engravings were believed to be around 12,000 years old, which would make them the first Stone Age artwork ever found in Germany.

"They include schematic depictions of women's bodies and unidentifiable symbols, among other things," she said.

The ancient artists appear to have taken their inspiration for the erotic images from rock formations in the caves resembling breasts and penises and then carved the images in the walls of the cave, Zarges said.


US: Ship's Remains Give Peek at Past

Divers return to study century-old schooner

The five-masted Jennie French Potter, 260 feet long and bound for Boston with a cargo of Appalachian coal, sailed into Nantucket Sound in May 1909 on what was the interstate highway for East Coast maritime commerce.

A perilous combination of weak winds and strong tides pushed the Maine-built behemoth onto shallow Half Moon Shoal, where the vessel was grounded, stripped by salvagers of its 150-foot masts, and abandoned in 25 feet of water about 10 miles south of Yarmouth.

The Jennie French Potter would remain there for more than a century, until two Cape Cod divers found the old workhorse in December on a blanket of white sand, its iron wheel upright, and its oaken ribs scattered among a school of tropical triggerfish.

They returned to the ship last week, when 25-foot visibility and 75-degree water gave them dream conditions to study the aftermath of a nightmare voyage for Captain Joseph Potter, his two daughters, and his crew, all of whom survived.

"When I got underwater and saw the length and the size and the girth of the ship, all I could do was smile, because we had captured another shipwreck from the pages of history,'' said Don Ferris of Sandwich, one of the divers.


French Soldiers Weighed Down by Armour at Agincourt in 1415

France may have lost the battle of Agincourt because their soldiers' armour was so heavy it left them breathless, researchers have claimed.

Wearing a full suit of armour doubled the amount of energy used in battle, according to a new study in which volunteers dressed as 15th century knights were made to run on a treadmill.

The exertion of carrying the steel plate armour, which weighed between 30 and 50kg, (66-110lb), would have placed additional weight on each limb and hampered the wearer's breathing, making them weaker in a fight.

This meant that heavily-armoured French soldiers stood little chance when advancing across boggy ground towards more lightly attired British archers at Agincourt in 1415, experts said.