Secret HistoryS


Discovery of "Oetzi" the iceman: 20 years ago today

© UnknownScientists have recreated the face of "Oetzi," who is believed to have been slightly over 5 foot, 2 inches tall and around 46 years old.
Twenty years ago today Oetzi, the iceman was found frozen in the Alps.

Oetzi, as scientists named the well-preserved remains of this splendidly preserved Stone Age hunter, is believed to have lived in Europe between 5,375 and 5,128 years ago. When the mummified remains were discovered by a couple of German hikers in the Otztal Alps between Austria and Italy, the body was in relatively good shape, thus providing researchers with a rare opportunity to turn back the clock.

He is believed to have lived until he was 45 or 46 but then died a violent death. A flint arrowhead had penetrated his skin and researchers say that the arrow cut a major blood vessel in the man's left arm. That led to heavy bleeding and possibly paralysis of the arm. The body also showed evidence of a deep hand wound as well as several abrasions and bruises. A similarly well-preserved copper axe was also found near the remains, leading some to suggest that Oetzi belonged to a warrior class.


The mysterious disappearance (or not) of the physicist who discovered neutrons (or not)

© Unknown
In 1938, Ettore Majorana boarded a ship to Naples, and never got off at the other end. Since then people have been debating what happened to the physicist, and whether or not he had a larger part in the history of physics than he's given credit for.

Enrico Fermi, the brilliant physicist who developed the first nuclear reactor and won the Nobel prize for his explorations of radioactivity, might possibly have been eclipsed in his own time by one of his colleagues. Five years younger than Fermi, Ettore Majorana was a rising star in physics when he disappeared in 1938, at the age of 32. Rumors have been swirling around his disappearance since the moment he failed to step off the boat that he was spotted boarding in March - a boat set for Naples.

It's no surprise that Majorana was the center of such a mystery. During his life, he was famously enigmatic. There is evidence that he came up with the proof of the neutron before the official confirmation by James Chadwick, but did not publish his findings. Majorana, it is said, was sure that someone else would discover them and unlike almost everyone else in his profession he hated the spotlight. Fermi, though only slightly older, took it upon himself to mentor Majorana, including hounding him into publishing his paper about some particles, like photons, being their own antiparticles. This brought attention to Majorana; attention he responded to by working in near-complete isolation for years.


Did zombies roam medieval Ireland? Sleep on it

Two early medieval skeletons were unearthed recently in Ireland with large stones wedged into their mouths - evidence, archaeologists say, that it was feared the individuals would rise from their graves like zombies.

The skeletons, which were featured in a British documentary last week, emerged during a series of digs carried out between 2005 and 2009 at Kilteasheen, near Loch Key in Ireland, by a team of archaeologists led by Chris Read from the Institute of Technology in Sligo, Ireland and Thomas Finan from the University of St. Louis.

© Chris ReadThis 8th-century skeleton was found in Ireland recently with a large stone shoved in its mouth. Archaeologists say it's possible that citizens feared he would rise from his grave like a zombie.
The project recovered a total of 137 skeletons, although archaeologists believe that some 3,000 skeletons spanning from 700 to 1400 are still buried at the site.

The "deviant burials" were comprised of two men who were buried there at different times in the 700s.


New finds at ancient burial mound near Bulgarian village

© Julia LazarovaArchaeologist Daniela Agre, photographed in 2005 with Thracian artifacts found near Yambol.
A team of archaeologists has reported significant finds in a burial mound from the time of Roman Thrace near the Bulgarian village of Borissovo.

Findings in a tomb, estimated to date from the first and second centuries and believed to have been that of a wealthy noble, include a number of artifacts that archaeologists say were placed there to serve the occupant in the afterlife.

These include a very rare object from the time, a portable table, a stylishly decorated large circular plate, a special form of drinking vessel which archaeologists jokingly dubbed a champagne cup. The latter, according to archaeologist Daniela Agre of the National Archaeological Institute and Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Science, has no equivalent among previous finds in the country.

The team also found a decoration from a burial chariot, although previously illegal treasure hunters previously dug up and almost completely destroyed the chariot itself, according to a report by Bulgarian-language mass-circulation daily 24 Chassa.

The chariot decoration includes four eagles whose wings intertwine with dragons' heads. Each eagle's head is different and overall decoration, which also includes other elements, served as the "face" of the vehicle.


Scotland: Archaeologists probe Abbey Craig secrets

© PAThe fort is on the site of the Wallace Monument in Stirling
Archaeologists are leading volunteers in a four-day dig to uncover the hidden history beneath one of Scotland's most famous landmarks.

Experts are hoping to discover more about a tribe that lived in the fort below Abbey Craig in Stirling, on the site of the National Wallace monument.

The fort was destroyed in 780 AD, more than 500 years before William Wallace watched the English army approach.

The dig is one of a series of events to mark Scottish archaeology month.

Archaeologists first discovered the 1,300-year-old fort 10 years ago and concluded it was engulfed by a ferocious fire that fused together - or vitrified - the stone walls during a siege.


Riddle in the Sands: Thousands of Strange 'Nazca Lines' Discovered in the Middle East

© David BoyerAncient mystery: The stone wheels are thought to be 2,000 years old
Peru's Nazca Lines, the mysterious geoglyphs etched into the desert centuries ago by indigenous groups, are world famous - and now thousands of similar patterns have been found in the Middle East.

Satellite and aerial photography has revealed mysterious stone 'wheels' that are more numerous and older than the Nazca Lines in countries such as Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

The structures are thought to date back 2,000 years, but why they were built is baffling archaeologists and historians.


New Archeological Discovery May Change Historical Date of Tbilisi

Metekhi Bridge

While exploring the vicinity of the 40 martyrs' church, Georgian archaeologists have discovered the remains of an ancient mother-fortress at the Metekhi Bridge, located in the old part of Tbilisi. This find could potentially change the historical date that Tbilisi was actually founded.

Scientists found that layers of the ancient palace date back to an earlier period than current historical records suggest. It is during the reign of King Vakhtang Gorgasali that Tbilisi was previously believed to have been founded. They also found the fence of the fortress, which dates back to the fourth century. This discovery confirms the version that the territory of current Tbilisi was populated before the era of the King Vakhtang Gorgasali.

"This discovery may completely change the history of the founding of Tbilisi, as these ancient constructions existed before Gorgasali discovered hot water and ordered the construction of a city there," Merab Dzneladze, instructor of the ongoing archaeological expedition told Georgia Today.

Scientists also discovered ancient baths there, which they say were constructed in the first and second centuries AD. Scientists are also exploring several dishes and some jewelry that was found in the sepulcher of an 11-12 year-old girl.


Israel: Final Stronghold for Early Islamic Power Uncovered

An ancient harbor at Yavneh-Yam was used for hostage exchange, a Tel Aviv University (TAU) researcher says.

© SkyviewAn aerial view of the excavated areas at Yavneh-Yam.
Archaeologists have always known that Yavneh-Yam, an archaeological site between the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Ashdod on the Mediterranean coast, was a functioning harbor from the second millennium B.C. until the Middle Ages.

But researchers at TAU said they have uncovered evidence to suggest that the site was one of the final strongholds of Early Islamic power in the region.

Prof. Moshe Fischer of TAU's Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures and head of the Yavneh-Yam dig, says the recent discovery of a bath house from the Early Islamic period made use of Roman techniques such as heated floors and walls, which is an indication that Arabic rulers maintained control of the site up until the end of the Early Islamic period in the 12th century AD.

© SkyviewAn aerial view of the promonotory on which Yavneh-Yam is located.


5,900-Year-Old Dress Found in Armenia

© Unknown
Archaeologists have found parts of a woman's colorful dress, which they say dates back 5,900 years, reported AFP on Sept. 14.

The dress is made from straw material, "[The dress] is the only example of clothing made of such an ancient vegetable material," Pavel Avetisian, director of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology at Armenia's Academy of Sciences, told AFP.

It was dated by scientists at the University of California, and it is currently being restored, according to Avetisian.

The dress was found in the Areni cave where recent excavations have yielded what archaeologists say is the world's oldest known leather shoe, about 5,500 years old, and a 6,100 year old winery.


London - Remains of Roman bath house found on Borough High Street

The remains of a Roman bath house have been found by Network Rail engineers working on the site at the corner of Borough High Street and London Bridge Street which is being redeveloped as part of the Thameslink Programme.

© Unknown
The site, formerly occupied by a fish and chip shop and a nightclub, was cleared to make room for the new railway bridge across Borough High Street which was installed earlier this year. A new office building is planned for the corner site.

Network Rail has commissioned a team of specialist archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology and Pre-Construct Archaeology to excavate the site.