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Unique, uncensored color footage of Stalin's funeral shot by US diplomat unearthed

© Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty / YouTube
The death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was one of the most momentous occasions in Russia's history, but previously only official reels had been available. Now, 64 years later, a new film captured by a US diplomat later expelled for spying, has been published.

Army Major Martin Manhoff was assigned to the USSR in 1952, with the Cold War in the ascendant, and over the next two years took hundreds of pictures, and filmed hours of 16 mm color footage, for reasons that may have been personal, professional or both.

On March 5, 1953, it was announced that 73-year-old Josef Stalin had died of a cerebral hemorrhage. The exact details of his last days as he lay paralyzed and helpless, while none of his subordinates intervened, remain a source of historical controversy.

Comment: See also: Previously unseen photographs of Stalin's Russia revealed by US historian


Pyramid

Ancient Egyptian statue believed to depict Pharaoh Ramses II discovered in Cairo wasteland

© Khaled Desouki / AFP
Remains of an ancient Egyptian statue believed to depict Pharaoh Ramses II have been found hidden in an area of flooded wasteland in Cairo.

The statue's head and broken torso were recovered from a pit of earth and water by a team of German and Egyptian archaeologists in Cairo's Matareya district on Thursday, reports Almasry Alyoum.

Modern day Matareya is where the ancient Egyptian city of Heliopolis once stood and archaeologists suspect the newly discovered eight-meter-tall effigy could be a tribute to a pharaoh who ruled Egypt between 1279-1213 BCE.

Archaeology

Massive eight-meter Colossus statue depicting Ramses II found in Egypt

© REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Matariya residents rest against what appears to be the head of an unearthed statue that workers say depicts Pharaoh Ramses II, in Cairo, Egypt, March 9, 2017.
Archaeologists from Egypt and Germany have found a massive eight-meter statue submerged in ground water in a Cairo slum that they say probably depicts revered Pharaoh Ramses II, who ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago.

The discovery, hailed by the Antiquities Ministry as one of the most important ever, was made near the ruins of Ramses II's temple in the ancient city of Heliopolis, located in the eastern part of modern-day Cairo.

"Last Tuesday they called me to announce the big discovery of a colossus of a king, most probably Ramses II, made out of quartzite," Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani told Reuters on Thursday at the site of the statue's unveiling.

Archaeology

Ancient dental plaque DNA shows Neandertals used 'aspirin' and 'penicillium'

© Paleoanthropology Group MNCN-CSIC
El Sidron upper jaw: a dental calculus deposit is visible on the rear molar (right) of this Neandertal. This individual was eating poplar, a source of aspirin, and had also consumed moulded vegetation including Penicillium fungus, source of a natural antibiotic.
Ancient DNA found in the dental plaque of Neandertals - our nearest extinct relative - has provided remarkable new insights into their behaviour, diet and evolutionary history, including their use of plant-based medicine to treat pain and illness.

Published today in the journal Nature, an international team led by the University of Adelaide's Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) and Dental School, with the University of Liverpool in the UK, revealed the complexity of Neandertal behaviour, including dietary differences between Neandertal groups and knowledge of medication.

"Dental plaque traps microorganisms that lived in the mouth and pathogens found in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, as well as bits of food stuck in the teeth - preserving the DNA for thousands of years," says lead author Dr Laura Weyrich, ARC Discovery Early Career Research Fellow with ACAD.

"Genetic analysis of that DNA 'locked-up' in plaque, represents a unique window into Neandertal lifestyle - revealing new details of what they ate, what their health was like and how the environment impacted their behaviour."

Quenelle - Golden

A Secret World War: How the Haitian Revolution Crushed Slavery Worldwide

The Haitian Revolution, which ran from 1791-1804, was one of the most important events in modern history. It was the first successful anti-slavery revolution. Not only did Haiti's slaves manage to liberate themselves, they also inflicted crushing defeats on three empires - the Spanish, French, and British. Each suffered catastrophic losses trying, and failing, to take back the island from its heroic defenders.

I dealt with this glorious moment in human history in my "Revolution in Haiti" based on C.L.R James classic "The Black Jacobins." I also dealt with the enormous importance that slavery held in the global economy and its role in fueling the industrial revolution in "Capitalism and Slavery" based on the classic book of the same title by Eric Williams. Next I tackled the role of slavery as the prime motive behind the launching of the so called "American War for Independence" in the "Counter Revolution of 1776," based on Gerald Horne's instant classic of the same title.

Now I will deal with the part the Haitian revolution played in not only ending slavery on the island but throughout the Americas. I will rely on yet another masterpiece from Gerald Horne, "Confronting Black Jacobins: The United States, The Haitian Revolution, and The Origins of the Dominican Republic," which is both a sequel to "The Counter-Revolution of 1776" and a companion to his excellent "Negro Comrades of the Crown" which covers the same time period. Negro Comrades of the Crown is about the alliance between American blacks and the British empire, which hoped to use the issue of slavery to destabilize it's former colony - turned imperial rival - the United States.

Info

Aboriginal hair DNA shows 50,000 years connection to country

© The University of Adelaide Adelaide
DNA in hair samples collected from Aboriginal people across Australia in the early to mid-1900s has revealed that populations have been continuously present in the same regions for up to 50,000 years - soon after the peopling of Australia.

Published today in the journal Nature, the findings reinforce Aboriginal communities' strong connection to country and represent the first detailed genetic map of Aboriginal Australia prior to the arrival of Europeans.

These are the first results from the Aboriginal Heritage Project, led by the University of Adelaide's Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) in partnership with the South Australian Museum.

Researchers analysed mitochondrial DNA from 111 hair samples that were collected during a series of remarkable anthropological expeditions across Australia from 1928 to the 1970s and are part of the South Australian Museum's unparalleled collection of hair samples.

Mitochondrial DNA allows tracing of maternal ancestry, and the results show that modern Aboriginal Australians are the descendants of a single founding population that arrived in Australia 50,000 years ago, while Australia was still connected to New Guinea. Populations then spread rapidly - within 1500-2000 years - around the east and west coasts of Australia, meeting somewhere in South Australia.

"Amazingly, it seems that from around this time the basic population patterns have persisted for the next 50,000 years -showing that communities have remained in discrete geographical regions," says project leader Professor Alan Cooper, Director of ACAD, University of Adelaide.

"This is unlike people anywhere else in the world and provides compelling support for the remarkable Aboriginal cultural connection to country. We're hoping this project leads to a rewriting of Australia's history texts to include detailed Aboriginal history and what it means to have been on their land for 50,000 years - that's around 10 times as long as all of the European history we're commonly taught."

Fire

Massive eruption at Mount Etna in 1669 killed thousands


Mount Etna
The biggest eruption in Mount Etna's history began on 8th March 1669, causing horrifying devastation to the island of Sicily.

Mount Vesuvius may be Italy's most infamous volcano, thanks in large part to its cataclysmic eruption in 79 CE, yet Etna is the country's most active. Records document eruptions by the massive volcano dating as far back as 1500 BCE. In the last hundred years alone 73 eruptions have been recorded there.

Etna is an ominous sight on the Sicilian skyline, towering above the city of Catania with a peak some 3,300 metres above sea level. The volcano is the result of the meeting of the European and African tectonic plates, stresses of the continents' collision forcing one under the other and causing a subduction zone.

On 8th March 1669 Etna started rumbling. A series of eruptions over the following weeks would see an estimated 20,000 people killed by the volcano.

Dig

Stunning 700-year-old giant cave used by Knights Templar found behind a rabbit hole beneath a farmer's field in Britain

© Michael Scott/ Caters News
The stunning labyrinth is lit with candles
The cave, beneath a farmer's field in Shropshire, was used by the medieval religious order that fought in the Crusades and these stunning images were captured by photographer Michael Scott

Info

"The salt of the earth": A precious commodity throughout history

All through history the availability of salt has been pivotal to civilization. Humans have always tended to build communities either around sources of salt, or where they can trade for it.

In Britain, the suffix "-wich" in a placename means it was once a source of salt, as in Sandwich and Norwich.

The Natron Valley was a key region that supported the Egyptian Empire to its north, because it supplied it with a kind of salt that came to be called by its name, natron.

What is now thought to have been the first city in Europe is Solnitsata, in Bulgaria, which was a salt mine, providing the area now known as the Balkans with salt since 5400 BC.

Even the name Solnisata means "salt works".

Comment: See also:
Salt has been an integral part of civilization dating back as far as 6050 B.C. It has been such an important element of life that it has been the subject of many stories, fables and folktales and is frequently referenced in fairy tales.

It served as currency at various times and places, and it has even been the cause of bitter warfare. Offering bread and salt to visitors, in many cultures, is traditional etiquette.

Aside from all of the uses that salt performs in terms of baking, food flavor and food preservation, salt has a number of other uses that you may never have thought of.



Radar

Before radar, Britain used giant concrete "sound mirrors" to detect incoming enemy aircraft during World War II

Scottish physicist Sir Robert Watson-Watt invented the first practical radar system back in 1935. The system used pulsed radio waves, and it could detect airplanes up to 100 miles away.

A few years later, a chain of radar stations was established throughout England, which helped defend the British and played a crucial role in the Allied victory in World War II. It was a huge discovery and the inventor Sir Robert Watson-Watt was knighted for it in 1942.

But what about the period before the radar was invented? What was the forerunner of radar and how the British defended themselves from the German Zeppelins during World War I?