Secret HistoryS


500-year-old book, a history of the world, surfaces at small town US museum

© AP/ Brian SkoloffIn this photo taken April 23, 2011, a copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle published in 1493 is displayed at Ken Sanders Rare Books in Salt Lake City. The Utah book dealer came across the 500-year-old German language edition while appraising items brought in by locals at a fundraiser for the town museum in Sandy, about 15 miles south of Salt Lake City. It's considered to be one of the earliest and most lavishly illustrated books produced after the invention of the printing press.

Book dealer Ken Sanders has seen a lot of nothing in his decades appraising "rare" finds pulled from attics and basements, storage sheds and closets.

Sanders, who occasionally appraises items for PBS's Antiques Roadshow, often employs "the fine art of letting people down gently."

But on a recent Saturday while volunteering at a fundraiser for the small town museum in Sandy, Utah, just south of Salt Lake, Sanders got the surprise of a lifetime.

"Late in the afternoon, a man sat down and started unwrapping a book from a big plastic sack, informing me he had a really, really old book and he thought it might be worth some money," he said. "I kinda start, oh boy, I've heard this before."

Then he produced a tattered, partial copy of the 500-year-old Nuremberg Chronicle.


The Meaning of Words: New Evidence of Ancient Maya History

Figure 1. Lithograph of Stela at Copan, Published in 1844 by Frederick Catherwood in Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan.
The ancient Maya culture flourished in Mesoamerica. At the height of their splendor there's an overwhelming rise in architectural construction, the type of buildings that pay homage to their rulers and their ancestors. Archaeologists call this phenomenon the Classic Maya Period, a time between 200 and 900 A.D. Within these centuries, archaeologists have found evidence that city-states expressed their power by creating unique architectural centers that in many ways were meant to replicate their cosmology. Perhaps the most important social act for a new king was to establish their relationship with the founder of the lineage and they did so by sponsoring magnificent works of art.

Our fascination with the Maya is credited to John Lloyd Stephens, a New York Lawyer who travelled to the Yucatan and Central America in the 1840s, and Frederick Catherwood, an Englishman whose mission was to visually document the journey, a talent that has inspired many of us in becoming archaeologists.

Along with multi-leveled stepped pyramids, ball courts, plazas and freestanding monuments called Stelae, the Maya also literally told the stories of their parents, ancestors, founders, foes, captured enemies and military alliances. Maya writing is a unique feature of this culture that along with the perfection of their calendar has intrigued and mystified the world. Their texts are expressions of a ruling class, however, the question remains, are we reading history, political propaganda or both?


Early Somali Life Depicted In Cave Paintings

© Abdullah Geelah/WikipediaSome of the paintings in the Laas Geel caves
Known today for its bloody conflicts and instability, Somalia's little known history can be found in the colorful cave paintings of animals and humans discovered in 2002 by a French archaeology team.

Laas Gaal, Somalia (also known as Laas Geel), just outside of Haregeisa, the capital of Somalia's self-declared Somaliland state, contains 10 caves that show vivid depictions of a pastoralist history which dates back to some 5,000 years or more, reports AFP.

A French archaeology team was sent in 2002 to survey Somalia in search of rock shelters and caves that might contain stratified archaeological infills that could document the period when production economy appeared in this part of the Horn of Africa, according to Wikipedia.

During the survey, the Laas Geel cave paintings were discovered. The paintings were in excellent condition, depicting ancient humans who lived in the area raising their hands and worshipping humpless cows with large lyre-shaped horns.

Although the paintings were known to the local Somali people for centuries, it was not advertised to the international community until a team of experts returned to the area in November 2003 to study the paintings and their prehistoric context in detail.

Even with the history of Somalia wars, natural weathering, animals and other factors, the paintings have been well preserved and have retained their clear outlines and vibrant colors.


Brain illness could have affected Stalin's actions, secret diaries reveal

© Getty ImagesOne diary excerpt tells how Stalin was advised that the best way to win Churchill round was to get him drunk
Accounts by his inner circle give new insight into dictator's life.

It's one of the great questions of history, and indeed philosophy: what does it take to create a Hitler or a Stalin? What circumstances does it require to produce such evil? Newly released diaries from one of Joseph Stalin's personal doctors suggest that, in Stalin's case, illness could have helped to contribute to the paranoia and ruthlessness of his rule over the Soviet Union.

Alexander Myasnikov was one of the doctors called to Stalin's deathbed when the dictator fell ill in 1953, and, in diaries that have been kept secret up to now, he claims that Stalin suffered from a brain illness that could have impaired his decision-making.

"The major atherosclerosis in the brain, which we found at the autopsy, should raise the question of how much this illness - which had clearly been developing over a number of years - affected Stalin's health, his character and his actions," Dr Myasnikov wrote in his diaries, excerpts of which were published for the first time in the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets yesterday. "Stalin may have lost his sense of good and bad, healthy and dangerous, permissible and impermissible, friend and enemy. Character traits can become exaggerated, so that a suspicious person becomes paranoid," the doctor wrote.

Comment: Could Stalin's "brain illness" be in fact a frontal characteropathy, as described by Andrew M, Lobaczewski in Political Ponerology (A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes)?
Comparative considerations also led the author to conclude that Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, also known as Stalin, should be included in the list of this particular ponerogenic characteropathy, which developed against the backdrop of perinatal damage to his brain's prefrontal fields. Literature and news about him abounds in indications: brutal, charismatic, snake-charming; issuing of irrevocable decisions; inhuman ruthlessness, pathological revengefulness directed at anyone who got in his way; and egotistical belief in his own genius on the part of a person whose mind was, in fact, only average.


Has the mystery of Easter Island finally been solved?

Moais Easter Island Mystery
© EPAThe moai, giant stone statues that line the Easter Island coasT
A scientific battle over the fate of Easter Island's natives is ready to erupt this summer with the publication of a book challenging the notion that their Neolithic society committed ecological suicide.

The debate has a modern political dimension. At stake is the central example, cited by Jared Diamond in his 2005 book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive, of the dire consequences that threaten if humans don't take care of the planet.

The archaeological argument revolves around the moai, hundreds of stone statues that line the coast of the now treeless South Pacific island, known to its inhabitants as Rapa Nui.

The almost-naked natives discovered by a Dutch expedition on Easter Sunday 1722 were considered too impoverished to have carved and moved the statues themselves.

The accepted theory is that a more advanced civilisation, numbering some 15,000 people, must have erected the statues, with hundreds of men hauling them to the shore and whole industries devoted to making ropes, rollers and sledges while the rest struggled to feed the workers.

Comment: Sometimes the theories about "ecological suicide" are a way to avoid the possibility of cycles of cosmic and planetary catastrophes at all.

For more about this subject the reader might wish to read:
The Hazard to Civilization from Fireballs and Comets
New Light on the Black Death: The Cosmic Connection
Impact Hazards on a Populated Earth?
Planet-X, Comets and Earth Changes by J.M. McCanney

And also it is interesting to notice the references about giants and cannibalism during times of changes and planet upheaval.

For more about that, read:
The Golden Age, Psychopathy and the Sixth Extinction


The Celestial Computers of Ancient Greece

The Antikythera Mechanism
© davelin66The Antikythera Mechanism at the Boston Museum of Science.
Just before Easter 1900, Greek sponge-fishers were on their way to the waters of Tunisia when a violent storm threw their boats to Antikythera, a tiny island located north of Crete in the Aegean.

After the storm, the sponge-fishers explored the waters of Antikythera for sponges. One of the divers, Elias Stadiatis, discovered the remnants of an ancient ship full of statues - horses, men, women and vases.

Of several treasures, the most precious was a very small piece of metal with gears, which the archaeologists of the National Museum in Athens originally dubbed astrolabe, which in Greek means, "star catcher." Astrolabes helped figure out the position of the sun and the stars in the sky. Astrolabes were not complicated devices. However, the machine of Antikythera was complex and, eventually, Greek archaeologists renamed it the Antikythera Mechanism and dated it from 150 to 100 BCE.

The shipwreck probably happened in the middle of the first century BCE. The doomed Roman ship was sailing from Rhodes to Rome. It carried looted Greek treasure: more than 100 bronze and marble statues, amphorae and coins.

Magic Wand

Austrians hail a 'fairy-tale find' of medieval riches

© Bettina Sidonie Neubauer-Pregl / BDA via APThis photo provided by Austria's federal conservation authority shows a brooch that was unearthed in a backyard south of Vienna.
Authorities say 'Andreas K.' found jewels and ornaments in his backyard

A man turning dirt in his backyard stumbled onto buried treasure - hundreds of pieces of centuries-old jewelry and other precious objects that Austrian authorities described Friday as a fairy-tale find.

Austria's department in charge of national antiquities said the trove consists of more than 200 rings, brooches, ornate belt buckles, gold-plated silver plates and other pieces or fragments, many encrusted with pearls, fossilized coral and other ornaments. It said the objects are about 650 years old and are being evaluated for their provenance and worth.

While not assigning a monetary value to the buried bling, the enthusiastic language from the normally staid Federal Office for Memorials reflected the significance it attached to the discovery.

"Fairy tales still exist!" said its statement. "Private individual finds sensational treasure in garden."

It described the ornaments as "one of the qualitatively most significant discoveries of medieval treasure in Austria."

Arrow Down

Parts of ancient vessels discovered in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's National Archaeological Department has discovered the parts of 20 ancient vessels in the south of the country, an archaeologist said Thursday.

Sanath Karunarathne, an archaeologist with the National Archaeological Department said the ancient vessel parts were discovered as they were conducting a marine archaeological survey in the southern coastal belt.

Karunaratne said they have also been able to locate wreckage of a very ancient ship close to the historical Godavaya Port in the Hambantota District.


UK: Anglo-Saxon hall unearthed at Bamburgh Castle

An archaeological research team in Northumberland has unearthed a medieval hall underneath Bamburgh Castle.

© unknownThe research group started in 1996 to investigate the history of the castle
Bamburgh Castle Research Project dug up a small trench under the inner courtyard at the core of the castle and discovered an Anglo-Saxon hall.

The team believes that the discovery probably dates back to medieval times.

The dig was carried out after the researchers invited Channel 4's Time Team to the castle to help them with their latest archaeological project.

Graham Young, Director of Bamburgh Castle Research Project, said: "Although it's a small trench, because we've seen rock-cut structural features elsewhere, we can fit that into a background.

"We know it's occupied, it's written about in contemporary texts so it's fascinating to see the actual material itself, the archaeology."


US: Archaeological research gives glimpse of life on Maine coast

© Courtesy of: Dr. Arthur SpiessThe darker cod vertebra, left, was excavated from a shell midden site in Acadia National Park and is estimated to be 2,000 years old. It is shown in comparison to vertebra from a more recently caught cod, right.
An archaeological research project focusing on the food remnants left by pre-Columbian inhabitants of coastal Maine is shedding new light on the diet and habits of some of Maine's earliest citizens. The big find: indigenous people in Maine held to the coast during the winter until the arrival of Europeans changed their long established migratory patterns.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Arthur Spiess - who is both the lead archaeologist for the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and a board member with Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor - have since the summer of 2010 been examining items recovered from a coastal shell midden within Acadia National Park. The project was funded by the L.L. Bean Acadia Research Fellowship and was facilitated by Acadia National Park staff.

A shell midden is essentially an ancient dump site where the leftovers of the meals of native Maine inhabitants were discarded. According to Spiess, the discovery of clam and mussel shells mixed with bones of other food animals at such sites is a great boon to archaeologists. Typically, the acidic soil common to Maine will cause most discarded bones to completely decompose within 100 years. The presence of shells at midden sites has the effect of neutralizing the soil, allowing fish, bird and mammal bones to remain intact for millennia. There reportedly exist thousands of shell middens worth excavating along the coast of Maine, three quarters of which are located around Frenchman Bay.

The items Spiess and his team have been studying recently are estimated to be around 2,500 years old - a period of time known as the ceramic period - and were excavated from a site within Acadia National Park in the late 1970s by University of Maine archaeologist Dr. David Sanger. For Spiess, the research of items from the Acadia shell midden site is one small part of a larger study.