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Fit for a king? Medieval book 'illuminates' likely theft by Henry VIII

© University of Aberdeen
The illustration of the bat "is a fairly accurate ventral view of a bat whose wings are shown as a membrane stretching from its three fingers down to its toes and tail," according to the University of Aberdeen.
A lavishly illustrated medieval book, full of gold leaf and finely painted images, the "Aberdeen Bestiary" had remained somewhat of a mystery.

Now, with new high-resolution images of each page of the 12th-century manuscript, scientists have found that it was likely seized from a monastic library by scouts of King Henry VIII during the dissolution of monasteries in the 1500s.

As such, the book was likely used as a tool for teaching rather than as a treasure for a royal elite, like one of the king's ancestors, the researchers said.

"The book was used for teaching — many words have accents on them to indicate emphasis for reading out loud," lead researcher Jane Geddes, an art historian from the University of Aberdeen, told Live Science. "On one page, there is an area of dirty finger marks at the center top of the page. This would occur if you regularly turned the page upside down to show an audience."

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This 1492 Ensisheim 'thunderstone' impact was interpreted as an omen from god

© Schedel, Hartmann/Wolgemut, Michael/Pleydenwurff, Wilhelm: Liber chronicarum, Nürnberg
Illustration depicting the “thunderstone” at Ensisheim.
Only a few weeks after Christopher Columbus reached the New World in October 1492, another foreign explorer—this time an errant space rock—touched down on firm ground following its own protracted journey across an inhospitable expanse.

This extraterrestrial visitor came to be known the Ensisheim meteorite, named for the Alsatian town adjacent to the wheat field where it impacted on the morning of November 7, 1492 (according to the Julian calendar). It is the oldest meteorite impact with a confirmed date on record, and has become famous for its dramatic fall from the heavens, an event that was witnessed by onlookers and recorded for posterity by writers like the Italian priest Sigismondo Tizio.

"At this point there has to be mention of the immense portent which was seen this year in Germany: for on the seventh day of November [1492], near the city of Ensisheim and the village of Bauenheim above Basel, a great stone fell out of the sky, triangular in shape, charred, the color of metallic ore, and accompanied by crashing thunder and lightning," Tizio said in his History of the Sienese. "When it had fallen to earth it split into several pieces, for it had traveled at an oblique angle; to the amazement of all, indeed, it flattened the earth when it struck."

A young boy is said to have found the impact site first, attracting a crowd of awed spectators. In an age when comets, shooting stars, and other celestial phenomenon remained unexplained, the appearance of the meteorite was quickly attributed to divine intervention.

Naturally, everyone wanted a chunk of the rock that God had deemed fit to chuck at Earth. Any superstitious reservations they might have had about the "thunderstone" or "firestone" as some took to calling it, did not prevent them from breaking off pieces to take home as souvenirs. Some slices were also saved to be sent to dignitaries, like Cardinal Piccolomini, who later became Pope Pius III.

Георгиевская ленточка

Why Tsar Nicholas II points the way to the restoration of Christian values

The following contains replies to various comments and questions in recent e-mails from Russia, Holland, Great Britain, France and the USA

© Wikipedia
Nicholas II or Nikolai II was the last Emperor of Russia, ruling from 1 November 1894 until his forced abdication on 15 March 1917.
Q: Why are there so many misunderstandings about Nicholas II and so many strident criticisms of him?

A: In order to understand Tsar Nicholas II, you have to be Orthodox. It is no good being secular or nominally Orthodox, semi-Orthodox, 'hobby Orthodox' and retaining your unconverted cultural baggage, whether Soviet or Western - which is essentially the same thing. You have to be consistently Orthodox, consciously Orthodox, Orthodox in your essence, culture and world view.

In other words, you have to have spiritual integrity - exactly as the Tsar had, in order to understand him. Tsar Nicholas was profoundly and systematically Orthodox in his spiritual, moral, political, economic and social outlook. His Orthodox soul looked out on the world through Orthodox eyes and acted in an Orthodox way, with Orthodox reflexes. So we too have to be Orthodox from inside in order to understand him.

Q: Is that why academics are so negative about him?

A: Western academics, like Soviet academics, are negative about him because they are secularists. For example, I recently read the book Crimea by the British historian of Russia, Orlando Figes. This is an interesting book on the Crimean War, with many well-researched details and facts, written as senior academics should write. However, the author starts out from unspoken, purely Western secularist criteria, that since the Tsar of the age, Nicholas I, was not a Western secularist, he must have been a religious fanatic, and that his intention was to conquer the Ottoman Empire. Through his love of detail, Figes overlooks the main point - what the Crimean War was actually about from the Russian side. All he can see is Western-style imperialist aims, which he then attributes to Russia. This attribution is a projection of his Western self.

What Figes misunderstands is that the parts of the Ottoman Empire which Nicholas I was interested in were those where an Orthodox Christian population had for centuries suffered under the Muslim Yoke. The Crimean War was not a colonial, imperialist Russian war to expand into the Ottoman Empire and exploit it, like those conducted by Western Powers to expand into Africa and Asia and exploit them. It was a struggle to liberate from oppression - in fact an anti-colonial, anti-imperialist war. The aim was to free Orthodox lands and peoples from oppression, not to conquer someone else's empire. As for Nicholas I being a religious fanatic, in the eyes of secularists all sincere Christians must be 'religious fanatics'. This is because secularists do not have a spiritual dimension. They are always one-dimensional, unable to see beyond their own secular cultural conditioning, 'to think outside the box'.


Old nuclear bomb discovered in the Pacific Ocean off B.C.

© Canada Journal
Mystery object off Haida Gwaii may be old nuclear bomb.
Sean Smyrichinsky may have found lost nuclear weapon that was packed with lead when it was dumped off B.C. in 1950.

An American B-36 bomber en route from Alaska to Texas during a training exercise lost power in three engines and began losing altitude. To lighten the aircraft the crew jettisoned its cargo, a 30-kiloton Mark 4 (Fat Man) nuclear bomb, into the Pacific Ocean.

The Mark IV was a giant bomb, It was similar to the atomic bomb that killed 39,000 to 80,000 people in Nagasaki, Japan.

"Without a real bomb the support systems could not be tested," explained one of the plane's co-pilots in an interview you can find online.

"There were some dummy bombs made of concrete that were used for load testing, but we weren't carrying one of those. This mission was to be as real as it gets short of war."

The pilot said the bomb aboard the B-36 had lead in its core instead of plutonium, so it wasn't a functional atomic bomb. But the crew decided to jettison it over water before abandoning the plane.

"I suggested to Capt. Barry that we must dump the bomb at sea because we were unsure of our position relative to inhabited areas on the ground and he agreed," said the co-pilot.

"The large amount of TNT in the bomb could have caused major damage where it would have impacted."


49,000-year-old Aboriginal settlement discovered in Southern Australia

Archaeologists working with traditional Aboriginal owners in the northern Flinders Ranges have discovered astounding evidence of the earliest human habitation of inland, arid Australia.

The find has pushed back the date of such occupation by 10,000 years to about 49,000 years ago.

One of the traditional owners of the area, Clifford Coulthard, who is a co-author of the study, said the findings weren't really a surprise to him.

"Our old people know we've been here a long time," he said.
© Giles Hamm
Aerial view of the northern Flinders Ranges where the rock shelter was discovered.
The site, the Warratyi rock shelter in the traditional lands of the Adnyamathanha people, also has evidence of extinct megafauna, including the diprotodon. The authors of the study, published on Thursday in Nature, said it finally settles the question of whether humans and megafauna overlapped chronologically.

"The idea there was no interaction between humans and megafauna has really been put to bed by the Warratyi evidence," said Lee Arnold from Adelaide University, one of the authors.

Just one of these finds would be remarkable on its own. But there are more.


Spectacular 3,800 year old boat carvings found beside Egyptian pharaoh's tomb

© ShantiUniverse / YouTube
An ancient tableau depicting images of boats has been uncovered in a building dating back nearly 4,000 years.

The carvings, which number more than 120, have been re-discovered on the walls of a structure in Abydos, southern Egypt - the same site where the tomb of pharaoh Senwosret III came to light more than 100 years ago.

Associate Professor in Egyptology at the University of Pennsylvania Josef Wegner is leading the team excavating the site. Writing in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, Wegner said the remains of an actual boat, buried alongside the tomb, have also been detected.

Carved onto white plaster walls, the intricate images extend for 82ft (25 meters) and include depictions of sails, masts and oars. More rudimentary representations of animals are also present.


First dinosaur brain fossil suggests they may have been smarter than we thought

© Jamie Hiscocks
Dinosaurs have a fearsome reputation for their hunting abilities but less so when it comes to their intelligence. This is partly due to the fact that many species have long been thought to have had relatively small brains, their heads full of protective tissue that supposedly left little room for grey matter. But the recent discovery of the first recorded fossilised brain tissue could help challenge that image.

The fossilised brain was found by a collector on a beach near Bexhill in Sussex, England. It preserves brain tissue of a large herbivorous dinosaur similar to Iguanodon, one of the first dinosaur species to be identified. Found among rocks laid down during the early Cretaceous Period around 133m years ago, the fossil is an endocast, formed as layers of sediment gradually filled up the skull.

Endocast fossils have been found before but what is unusual about this specimen is that the outer millimetre or so of the brain tissues themselves were mineralised. This means the fossil records some of the fine structure of the original tissues. Looking at the fossil with a scanning electron microscope (a powerful microscope that allows visualisation of very small structures) allowed us to study this structure in great detail.

Comment: See also:

Arrow Up

Fact or Fiction? - The strange case of Sirhan Sirhan

© Miss Open
If a movie is based on a book that is based on a real experiment that later actually happens in real life, is it "real" or "fiction." Join us today on The Corbett Report as we step through the looking glass in search of information about Sirhan Sirhan, the shooting of RFK, CIA mind control experiments, and the blurring of the line between real life and fantasy.


The Name of Rose, an Arkansas Thriller: Clintons' Corrupt Rise to Power

You see a girl walking down the street. You can say, "There goes a beautiful girl" or "There goes a whore." What the hell's the difference? They've both got legs.
~ Jon E.M. Jacoby, executive vice president of Stephens Inc., explaining the Arkansas system of politics and finance as it reached perfection during the Clinton years
Part 1

© Unknown
In Arkansas, the latest backstairs of the national political system, you hear a lot of things. Concerning Whitewater, for example, you are constantly-- and probably correctly--reminded that the dustup involves nothing but a typical loony tunes savings & loans deal from the 1980s, despite the august personages involved and their perplexing insistence on behaving like refugees from a Raymond Chandler novel. In Arkansas memories are long, political rascality is king of regional sports and rumor and truth tend to commingle until otherwise reasonable people are driven slightly bonkers trying to sort out one from the other. In Little Rock the whole Whitewater affair is regarded as something of a hoot--the Yankee carpetbagger press, with the reality of Arkansas staring it in the face, has gone and missed the real story again. But if Whitewater was nothing but a minor peccadillo that the press has glommed onto because it thinks it understands it--and compared with the private financial shenanigans of Arizona Governor Fife Symington, Whitewater resembles a misdeed along the lines of crossing the street against the light--why, then, has the Clinton administration so frantically placed its back to the door, as though a peek beyond would reveal grandpa tied to a chair, surrounded by his looted bank books? In Arkansas the answer to this question eerily resembles the epitaph on the tombstone of Sir Christopher Wren: if you would see Clinton's monument, look around.

Comment: Yeah, it's a great country if you love giving free reign to your baser instincts.

See also:

Crimes of Mena: Billions of dollars' worth of cocaine entered the US under Clinton's nose

His Cheatin' Heart: Bill's Arkansas Bodyguards on Living With the Clintons


Pacific Islanders may have DNA of unknown human species

© Guido Amrein Switzerland/Shutterstock
Melanesian children of Papua New Guinea
Hints of an unidentified, extinct human species have been found in the DNA of modern Melanesians - those living in a region of the South Pacific, northeast of Australia. According to new genetic modelling, the species is unlikely to be Neanderthal or Denisovan - two ancient species that are represented in the fossil record - but could represent a third, unknown human relative that has so far eluded archaeologists.

"We're missing a population, or we're misunderstanding something about the relationships," Ryan Bohlender, a statistical geneticist from the University of Texas, told Tina Hesman Saey at Science News. Bohlender and his team have been investigating the percentages of extinct hominid DNA that modern humans still carry today, and say they've found discrepancies in previous analyses that suggest our mingling with Neanderthals and Denisovans isn't the whole story.

It's thought that between 100,000 and 60,000 years ago, our early ancestors migrated out of Africa, and first made contact with other hominid species living on the Eurasian landmass. This contact left a mark on our species that can still be found today, with Europeans and Asians carrying distinct genetic variants of Neanderthal DNA in their own genomes. And that's not all they've given us.