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Mystery of Agatha Christie's lost diamonds is solved

© Bonhams, EPA
Jennifer Grant next to trunk she bought in estate sale at Agatha Christie's home. Diamond jewelry belonging to the crime novelist was discovered inside.
Another Agatha Christie mystery is solved: Now we know what happened to her lost diamonds, and the lucky finder gets to keep the riches.

Fans of the best-selling novelist of all time - 2 billion books sold and counting, according to Guinness Book of World Records - are agog Friday about news that her pricey baubles, discovered in one of her antique trunks, are up for auction in London.

On Oct. 8, Bonhams will sell some $22,000 worth of Christie's jewelry, including a diamond brooch and a three-stone diamond ring dating from the 19th century.

Long thought to be lost, the story of how the jewels were found is as twisty as some of Christie's addictive crime novels.

An Englishwoman and devoted Christie fan, Jennifer Grant, who will be the recipient of at least a portion of the proceeds from the sale, went to Greenway, Christie's beloved home in Devon, for an estate sale in 2006. There, she paid about $170 for an old travelling trunk that had belonged to Christie's mother. When she got it home, she found it contained a locked strongbox bolted to the base of the trunk.


A history of Washington's secret agendas

© Stephen Kinzer
One might think that by now even Americans would have caught on to the constant stream of false alarms that Washington sounds in order to deceive the people into supporting its hidden agendas.

The public fell for the lie that the Taliban in Afghanistan are terrorists allied with al Qaeda. Americans fought a war for 13 years that enriched Dick Cheney's firm, Halliburton, and other private interests only to end in another Washington failure.

The public fell for the lie that Saddam Hussein in Iraq had "weapons of mass destruction" that were a threat to America and that if the US did not invade Iraq Americans risked a "mushroom cloud going up over an American city." With the rise of ISIS, this long war apparently is far from over. Billions of dollars more in profits will pour into the coffers of the US military security complex as Washington fights those who are redrawing the false Middle East boundaries created by the British and French after WW I when the British and French seized territories of the former Ottoman Empire.

The American public fell for the lies told about Gaddafi in Libya. The formerly stable and prosperous country is now in chaos.

The American public fell for the lie that Iran has, or is building, nuclear weapons. Sanctioned and reviled by the West, Iran has shifted toward an Eastern orientation, thereby removing a principal oil producer from Western influence.

The public fell for the lie that Assad of Syria used "chemical weapons against his own people." The jihadists that Washington sent to overthrow Assad have turned out to be, according to Washington's propaganda, a threat to America.

The greatest threat to the world is Washington's insistence on its hegemony. The ideology of a handful of neoconservatives is the basis for this insistence. We face the situation in which a handful of American neoconservative psychopaths claim to determine the fate of countries.

Many still believe Washington's lies, but increasingly the world sees Washington as the greatest threat to peace and life on earth. The claim that America is "exceptional and indispensable" is used to justify Washington's right to dictate to other countries.

The casualties of Washington's bombings are invariably civilians, and the deaths will produce more recruits for ISIS. Already there are calls for Washington to reintroduce "boots on the ground" in Iraq. Otherwise, Western civilization is doomed, and our heads will be cut off. The newly created propaganda of a "Russian threat" requires more NATO spending and more military bases on Russia's borders. A "quick reaction force" is being created to respond to a nonexistent threat of a Russian invasion of the Baltics, Poland, and Europe.

Usually it takes the American public a year, or two, three, or four to realize that it has been deceived by lies and propaganda, but by that time the public has swallowed a new set of lies and propaganda and is all concerned about the latest "threat." The American public seems incapable of understanding that just as the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth, threat was a hoax, so is the sixth threat, and so will be the seventh, eighth, and ninth.


Oregon may be the oldest site of human habitation in the Americas

A network of caves in rural Oregon may be the oldest site of human habitation in the Americas, suggesting an ancient human population reached what is now the United States at the end of the last Ice Age, Oregon officials said on Friday.

Dennis Jenkins points to an area inside one of caves
That realization prompted the U.S. National Park service to add the Paisley Five Mile Point Caves to its list of nationally important archaeological and historical sites, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department said in a statement.

Only recently have researchers become convinced that humans lived at the Paisley caves a thousand years before the human settlement documented in the so-called "Clovis" sites in New Mexico, Dennis Jenkins, director of the University of Oregon Archaeology Field School, said in the statement.

The "Clovis First" hypothesis holds that distinctive projectile-point artifacts found at multiple sites across the United States are signs of the first human settlements in North America, the statement said.

But Jenkins' team used radiocarbon dating to determine that more than 200 samples of human feces collected from the Paisley caves were deposited in the area 14,300 years ago, nearly 1,000 years before the human settlement evidenced in the Clovis era.


Columbus' departure point finally confirmed

© Latin American Herald Tribune
The discovery of tell-tale objects during excavations at Palos de la Frontera in southwestern Spain has allowed scholars to determine the exact location from which Christopher Columbus's three ships set off to discover the New World in 1492.

The discovery is of international importance, as it sheds light on one of the most important chapters of history.

For years it had been suspected that the remains of the port's long-vanished infrastructure was located in the area known as "the trough," but until Monday, there was no evidence to confirm it, said Professor Juan Manuel Campos, who led the team that made the discovery.

Historical sources say the port comprised a shipyard, a fresh water fountain called La Fontanilla, a pottery works and a reef, Campos told a press conference.

Traces of the pottery and the reef were discovered in the most recent excavation, confirming Palos as Columbus' point of departure.


Marble door revealed in Greek tomb

© Discovery News
Archaeologists excavating the large and mysterious mound at the Kasta Hill site at Amphipolis, Greece, have unearthed a broken marble door, Greece's Culture Ministry announced today.

Made from marble brought from the island of Thasso, like most of the features uncovered so far in the underground space, the door fragments were found as archaeologists removed dirt from the second chamber.

According to Katerina Peristeri, the excavation's director, the discovery leaves no doubt the structure is indeed a tomb dating to the time of Alexander the Great of Macedonia.

"Based on our findings, we are absolutely sure about our dating to the last quarter of the 4th century B.C.," Peristeri said.

She hinted their dating relies on strong yet unpublished findings.


Early image of Jesus unearthed in Spain

One of the world's earliest representations of Christ has been unearthed in southern Spain by a team of archaeologists, a glass plate which shines new light on the arrival of Christianity in Spain.

© Forvm MMX
The green glass pastern, measuring 22 centimetres in diameter, is the earliest depiction of Jesus found in Spain.
The green glass paten, the plate which holds the Holy Eucharist in churches, is the earliest depiction of Jesus found in Spain and is in excellent condition compared to similar pieces discovered around Europe.

"We know it dates back to the 4th century, in part because popes in the following centuries ordered all patens to be made out of silver," Marcelo Castro, head of the Forum MMX excavation project, told The Local.

The team of archaeologists have so far managed to find 81 percent of the paten at the site of a religious building in Cástulo, an ancient Iberian town in the province of Jaén, Andalusia.

Measuring 22 centimetres in diameter, it shows three beardless men with short hair and halos over their heads.


Another nail in the coffin for dead man on a stick religion: 'Jesus NEVER existed': Writer finds no mention of Christ in 126 historical texts


Writer Micheal Paulkovich has claimed that there is a little evidence for a person known as Jesus existing in history (painting of The Last Supper pictured).
* Writer Michael Paulkovich has claimed that there is little evidence for a person known as Jesus existing in history

* Jesus is thought to have lived from about 7BC to 33AD in the Roman Empire

* However Paulkovich says he found little to no mention of the supposed messiah in 126 texts written in the first to third centuries

* Only one mention of Jesus was present, in a book by Roman historian Josephus Flavius, but he says this was added by later editors

* He says this is surprising despite the 'alleged worldwide fame' of Jesus

* And this has led him to believe that Jesus was a 'mythical character'

Historical researcher Michael Paulkovich has claimed that Jesus of Nazareth was a 'mythical character' and never existed.

The controversial discovery was apparently made after he found no verifiable mention of Christ from 126 writers during the 'time of Jesus' from the first to third centuries.

He says he is a fictional character invented by followers of Christianity to create a figure to worship.

Comment: Was the Jesus legend based on any other popular historical figure?

Was Julius Caesar the real Jesus Christ?

Who was Jesus?


Did the Vikings get a bum rap?

A Yale historian wants us to rethink the terrible tales about the Norse.
© Tom Lovell
This illustration shows the stereotype of Viking marauders wreaking mayhem, even on clergy. The scene depicts the monastery at Clonmacnoise, Ireland.
The Vikings gave no quarter when they stormed the city of Nantes, in what is now western France, in June 843 - not even to the monks barricaded in the city's cathedral. "The heathens mowed down the entire multitude of priest, clerics, and laity," according to one witness account. Among the slain, allegedly killed while celebrating the Mass, was a bishop who later was granted sainthood.

To modern readers the attack seems monstrous, even by the standards of medieval warfare. But the witness account contains more than a touch of hyperbole, writes Anders Winroth, a Yale history professor and author of the book The Age of the Vikings, a sweeping new survey. What's more, he says, such exaggeration was often a feature of European writings about the Vikings.

When the account of the Nantes attack is scrutinized, "a more reasonable image emerges," he writes. After stating that the Vikings had killed the "entire multitude," for instance, the witness contradicts himself by noting that some of the clerics were taken into captivity. And there were enough people left - among the "many who survived the massacre" - to pay ransom to get prisoners back.

In short, aside from ignoring the taboo against treating monks and priests specially, the Vikings acted not much differently from other European warriors of the period, Winroth argues.

In 782, for instance, Charlemagne, now heralded as the original unifier of Europe, beheaded 4,500 Saxon captives on a single day. "The Vikings never got close to that level of efficiency," Winroth says, drily.
© Peter Essick, National Geographic
Erik the Red, a famous Viking explorer and the discoverer of Greenland, built a wooden church (replica above) for his wife in Qassiarsuk, Greenland.


Have archaeologists discovered the dungeon that held Vlad the Impaler?

© Wikipedia Commons
Archaeologists have discovered what they believe is the dungeon that held Vlad the Impaler - the inspiration for Bram Stoker's character Dracula.

The team found dungeons, tunnels, and a military shelter in Turkey's Tokat Castle, where Vlad the Impaler was reportedly held in the beginning of the 15th century. The archaeologists discovered two dungeons during the castle's restoration work, which began in 2009. The restoration work led to the discovery of secrets tunnel between the castle, a military shelter, and the Pervane Baths.

The archaeologists believe Vlad the Impaler - a.k.a. Wallachian Prince Vlad III - was held in the dungeons by the Ottoman Turks in 1442. Tokate was conquered by the Seljuk Turks in the 12th century, and it became a part of the Ottoman empire in 1392. Tokat Castle, a ruined citadel, is in the hills above the city.

"The castle is completely surrounded by secret tunnels. It is very mysterious," archaeologist Ibrahim Cetin said in a statement. "It is hard to estimate in which room Dracula was kept, but he was around here."


13,300 year old spear made of woolly rhinoceros horn found on Arctic island

Discovery means Paleolithic man penetrated hundreds of kilometres further north than previously understood.
© The Siberian Times
The spear tip, almost 90cm in length and seemingly still sharp enough to kill.
Studies on the intriguing rhino spear are still ongoing but this remarkable find - seen as having considerable archeological significance - was shown to Vladimir Putin on his recent visit to Yakutsk, capital of the Sakha Republic.

The spear tip, almost 90cm in length and seemingly still sharp enough to kill, was found on the island of Bolshoy Lyakhovsky, off the northern coast of Siberia, as researchers hunted for remains of woolly mammoths.

'This year we found a spear made of woolly rhino horn and if all the information is confirmed, it will be the northernmost point where a human implement was found - three degrees latitude further north than we had known before,' explained Semyon Grigoryev, Director of the Lazarev Mammoth Museum at Northeastern Federal University.