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Thu, 23 Feb 2017
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Search for hidden chambers in King Tut's tomb begins

© Wikimedia Commons
King Tut’s tomb.

An investigation of King Tut's tomb to find secret chambers will begin tomorrow and will last until Friday, Egypt's Minister of Antiquity announced on Wednesday.

The announcement, reported in the Egyptian media, comes on the 93rd anniversary of the tomb's discovery in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. On this day in 1922, British archaeologist Howard Carter found the entrance to King Tutankhamun's treasure-filled tomb.

A team from Cairo University's Faculty of Engineering and the Paris-based organization Heritage, Innovation and Preservation will investigate the tomb using infrared thermography.

The non-invasive search follows a claim by Nicholas Reeves, a British Egyptologist at the University of Arizona, that high-resolution images of the tomb's walls show "distinct linear traces" pointing to the presence of two still unexplored chambers behind the western and northern walls of the tomb.

According to Reeves, one chamber contains the remains, and possibly the intact grave goods, of queen Nefertiti, the wife of the "heretic" monotheistic pharaoh Akhenaten, Tutankhamun's father.


Ancient Greek fort of Acra unearthed in Jerusalem

© Assaf Peretz, Israel Antiquities Authority
Archaeologists in Jerusalem may have just solved one of the city's greatest geographical mysteries.

Excavators recently unearthed what they think are the ruins of the Acra, a fortress constructed more than 2,000 years ago by the Greek ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes (215-164 B.C.). At one time mercenary soldiers and Hellenized Jews controlled the ancient fortress, enforcing a brutal rule over Jerusalem's residents.

The Acra's existence is recorded in historical documents, but archaeologists and historians have debated its location.

The religious Books of Maccabees and a work by historian Flavius Josephus seemed to point to the City of David.

Flavius Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews 12:252 - 253, wrote, "... and when he had overthrown the city walls, he built a citadel [Greek: Acra] in the lower part of the city, for the place was high and overlooked the temple, on which account he fortified it with high walls and towers, and put into it a garrison of Macedonians."


66-million-year-old giant raptor discovered in South Dakota

© Emily Willoughby
An illustration of Dakotaraptor steini running with sparrow-size birds (Cimolopteryx petra) during the Late Cretaceous, about 66 million years ago.
Sixty-six million years ago, a giant raptor with feathered arms chased prey around the ancient South Dakotan landscape, according to a new study.

Researchers named the newly identified species Dakotaraptor steini, after the state and the Dakota First Nations Tribe, as well as raptor, which is Latin for "plunderer." The species name also honors paleontologist Walter Stein, said the researchers, who found the remains in South Dakota's Hell Creek Formation, a famously fossil-rich area.

Dakotaraptor is one of the largest known dromaeosaurids (raptors) on record, according to D-Brief, a Discover Magazine blog. An analysis of the dinosaur's partial skeleton suggests it measured 16 feet (4.9 meters) long, making is larger than the turkey-size Velociraptor, but smaller than the 22-foot-long (6.7 m) Utahraptor, D-Brief reported.

Dakotaraptor also had "quill knobs" or papilli, on its ulna (arm bone), which "is our first clear evidence for feather quills on a large dromaeosaurid forearm," the researchers wrote in the study, published online Oct. 30 in the journal Paleontological Contributions. It's unlikely Dakotaraptor could fly given its large size, but perhaps it used its feathers for display or to keep its eggs warm, D-Brief reported.


Paving over history: Ancient Greek fortress found in Jerusalem parking lot

© Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
Shown are the remains of the citadel and tower.
The remnants of the Acra, a fortress built by the Greek King Antiochus IV more than 2,000 years ago and sought for over 100 years, has emerged from a parking lot in Jerusalem, Israeli archaeologists said Tuesday.

Mentioned in Jewish biblical sources and by historians like Josephus Flavius, the fortress was unearthed after 10 years of excavations under the parking lot.

The discovery solved "one of Jerusalem's greatest archaeological mysteries," the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said.


4,000 year old secret tunnel discovered under ancient Hittite castle in Turkey

© AA Photos
The excavation team has discovered a structure like a hidden tunnel in the Gevale Castle. The tunnel establishes a connection with the outside but is hard to realize from the outside of the castle.
A secret tunnel has been discovered in Gevale Castle, located on the Takkel Mountain in the Central Anatolian province of Konya's Selçuklu district, which had been home to many civilizations during the Hittite, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, Karamanids and Ottoman eras.

The head of the excavations at the castle, Necmettin Erbakan University History of Arts Prof. Ahmet Çaycı, said the excavation works at the site had been carried out with a team of 30 people.

He said they had discovered many historical findings which were delivered to the Directorate of Museums after they were inventoried.


How Ancient Greeks took trippy journeys to the Land of the Dead

© Evilemperorzorg/CC BY-SA
The Nekromanteion, or the "Oracle of Death," was an ancient Greek temple in which supplicants sought to consult shades of the dead.

Sensory manipulation through acoustics, choreographed movement, darkness, and hallucinogens likely made this a genuinely ethereal experience for such supplicants.

The late Greek archaeologist Sotirios Dakaris found a large amount of broad beans at the site when he excavated it in the 1950s and '60s. These beans are known for their hallucinogenic properties when eaten in their green state. They can also cause giddiness. Similar effects are caused by lupine seeds, which were also found at the site.


14,000-year-old Ice Age engravings found on British Isles

© Sarah Duffy
Newly-found stone artifacts found on the English Channel island of Jersey could hold some of the oldest man-made carvings ever found on the British Isles, according to a report from BBC News.

The archeologists who found the artifacts have yet to finish their analysis and publish the results, but preliminary reports have dated the stone carvings to about 14,000 year ago.

The artifacts themselves are stone pieces with criss-crossed line engravings similar to those found at other Paleolithic sites in northern Europe.

If this estimate holds up, it would make artifacts the oldest carvings in the UK since a discovery in 2003. The estimate would also put the carvings' origin at around the end of the last ice age.

The research team that discovered the artifacts has been at the same site in the southeast area of Jersey for the past five years.

"We're hoping this is a hint of what is to come, because at some other sites you get hundreds of these pieces. What we've got at the moment is only a fragment of something much larger," Chantal Conneller, a senior lecturer at the University of Manchester, told BBC News.


British 'Wartime Domesday' book now available online - a snapshot of life in 1939

A group of young evacuees sit on a hay cart outside Chapel Cleeve Nursery in Washford Somerset
Stored for 76 years in a government building in Lancashire, the files include metadata covering 41 million people

In a move that will transform the study of key aspects of 20th century British social history, one of the country's most important data collections is being made available to historians and the general public from 2 November. Historical researchers have for the first time digitized and placed on-line a detailed survey of English and Welsh society at the beginning of World War Two.

Stored for the past 76 years in a government building in Southport, Lancashire, it includes metadata covering 41 million individuals (with personal information publicly available on 70% of them) and fills a major 'knowledge void' about British social history in the mid-20th century. In terms of detailed digitally available metadata, it is the only major source available for the 1920s to 1940s era - while, in terms of accessible personal data on millions of named individuals, it's the only publically available source for most of the 20th century.

The only other similarly detailed 20th century sources for personal information about millions of individuals are the 1901 and 1911 census records which were only made public in 2002 and 2009. Under the UK's '100 year rule' privacy convention, post-1920 census information about individuals must remain confidential for a full century after the data was collected.


Over 100,000 British orphans sent overseas as 'child migrants'

© Pamela Smedley
Pamela (right) reunited with her mother in 1990.
Up until the late 1960s the UK sent children living in care homes to new lives in Australia and other countries. It was a brutal experience for many, writes Kirstie Brewer.

In the winter of 1949, 13-year-old Pamela Smedley boarded a ship to Australia with 27 other girls. She had been told by the nuns from the Catholic home she lived in that she was going on a day-trip. In reality, she was being shipped out to an orphanage in Adelaide and wouldn't see England again for more than three decades.

"We thought it would be like going to Scarborough for the day because we were so innocent and naive," says Pamela, who is now in her 70s and still lives in Adelaide.

"The nuns said that in Australia you could pick the oranges off the trees, and I was very excited because I loved oranges."


The tragic, forgotten history of zombies

The horror-movie trope owes its heritage to Haitian slaves, who imagined being imprisoned in their bodies forever.


'The Zombies'​​ by Hector Hyppolite, which hangs in the Museum of Haitian Art of St. Peter College in Port-au-Prince

In the original script for 1968's Night of the Living Dead, the director George A. Romero refers to his flesh-eating antagonists as "ghouls." Although the film is widely credited with launching zombies into the cultural zeitgeist, it wasn't until its follow-up 10 years later, the consumerist nightmare Dawn of the Dead, that Romero would actually use the term. While making the first film, Romero understood zombies instead to be the undead Haitian slaves depicted in the 1932 Bela Lugosi horror film White Zombie.

By the time Dawn of the Dead was released in 1978 the cultural tide had shifted completely, and Romero had essentially reinvented the zombie for American audiences. The last 15 years have seen films and TV shows including Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, World War Z, Zombieland, Life After Beth, iZombie, and even the upcoming Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Comment: Zombie fad: Do we love the undead because we are unhappy with the government?
A History of 'Real' Zombies