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Buried Soldiers May Be Victims of Ancient Chemical Weapon

Image
© Yale University Art Gallery, Dura-Europos Collection
The skeleton of a Persian soldier found in the siege tunnels of Dura. The man may have choked on toxic fumes from a fire he himself started. The man's armor is pulled up around his chest; archaeologists suspect he was trying to pull it off as he died.
Almost 2,000 years ago, 19 Roman soldiers rushed into a cramped underground tunnel, prepared to defend the Roman-held Syrian city of Dura-Europos from an army of Persians digging to undermine the city's mudbrick walls. But instead of Persian soldiers, the Romans met with a wall of noxious black smoke that turned to acid in their lungs. Their crystal-pommeled swords were no match for this weapon; the Romans choked and died in moments, many with their last pay of coins still slung in purses on their belts.

Nearby, a Persian soldier - perhaps the one who started the toxic underground fire - suffered his own death throes, grasping desperately at his chain mail shirt as he choked.

These 20 men, who died in A.D. 256, may be the first victims of chemical warfare to leave any archeological evidence of their passing, according to a new investigation. The case is a cold one, with little physical evidence left behind beyond drawings and archaeological excavation notes from the 1930s. But a new analysis of those materials published in January in the American Journal of Archaeology finds that the soldiers likely did not die by the sword as the original excavator believed. Instead, they were gassed.

Sherlock

Skulls point towards mass beheading: experts

Hubli: Archaeologists and historians, who have taken up excavation and study of skulls discovered in Annigeri near here have said that the manner in which the human skulls are neatly arranged indicates that it could be a case of mass beheading.

Director of the department of archaeology and museums R Gopal and historian M S Krisnamurthy, who paid a visit to the site along with Dharwad deputy commissioner Darpan Jain on Monday also termed it to be a rare find in the history of India's archaeology and ancient history.

Gopal said that Annigeri had a history of more than 1,000 years and there was a mention of a massacre at Annigeri in an inscription dating back to the 12th century. However, he said it is only after the carbon dating report that they can arrive at a conclusion.

Black Cat

17th Century Witch Chronicles Put Online

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© chiccmanchester.wordpress.com
The English Civil War diary of Nehemiah Wallington
A 350-year-old notebook which documents the trials of women convicted of witchcraft in England during the 17th century has been published online.

The notebook written by Nehemiah Wallington, an English Puritan, recounts the fate of women accused of having relationships with the devil at a time when England was embroiled in a bitter civil war.

The document reveals the details of a witchcraft trial held in Chelmsford in July 1645, when more than a hundred suspected witches were serving time in Essex and Suffolk according to his account.

"Divers (many) of them voluntarily and without any forcing or compulsion freely declare that they have made a covenant with the Devill," he wrote.

"Som Christians have been killed by their meanes," he added.

Of the 30 women on trial in Chelmsford, 14 were hanged.

Sherlock

California Islands Give Up Evidence of Early Seafaring: Numerous Artifacts Found at Late Pleistocene Sites on the Channel Islands

chert
© Courtesy of Jon Erlandson
A three-view look at a chert crescent dating to ancient seafarers on San Miguel Island.
Evidence for a diversified sea-based economy among North American inhabitants dating from 12,200 to 11,400 years ago is emerging from three sites on California's Channel Islands.

Reporting in the March 4 issue of Science, a 15-member team led by University of Oregon and Smithsonian Institution scholars describes the discovery of scores of stemmed projectile points and crescents dating to that time period. The artifacts are associated with the remains of shellfish, seals, geese, cormorants and fish.

Funded primarily by grants from the National Science Foundation, the team also found thousands of artifacts made from chert, a flint-like rock used to make projectile points and other stone tools.

Some of the intact projectiles are so delicate that their only practical use would have been for hunting on the water, said Jon Erlandson, professor of anthropology and director of the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon. He has been conducting research on the islands for more than 30 years.

Wall Street

Is the Amelia Earhart mystery finally about to be solved? Diving team to explore plane wreckage at bottom of ocean

  • Body of the downed plane was discovered in 2002 by fishermen
  • Divers claims there is gold bullion on board coral-covered wreck
  • But they have been unable to get it because of 20ft poisonous sea snake
  • Tests on bones believed to be Earhart's found on island 'inconclusive'
A diving team is being put together in Papua New Guinea to swim down to the wreckage of a rust-and-coral-covered plane in the hope of solving one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries - the 74-year-old disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

The 40-year-old American and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared while attempting to fly around the world in 1937 in a Lockheed Model 10 Electra plane and most theories say they crashed near Howland Island in the central Pacific.

She and her navigator had completed 22,000 miles of the journey when they arrived at Lae in New Guinea, as the country was then known, and just 7,000 miles across the Pacific remained before they were due to land back in the U.S.
Image
© Corbis
Earhart posing by her plane in Long Beach California in 1930

Pharoah

Mysterious objects from Mexico's past

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© Unknown
Old days: “Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico” at the de Young Museum showcases a range of objects, such as this group of standing figures and celts dated from 900–400 BC.
The headline items in the de Young Museum's new special exhibit, "Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico" are indeed colossal, similar to the iconic - if much more contemporary - Easter Island heads.

The unique show, organized by many and led by the de Young's Kathleen Berrin and Virginia M. Fields of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, represents the only chance for visitors to see 140 ancient objects outside their homes in 25 Mexican and U.S. museums. In addition to the huge heads, the exhibition also features many small, fascinating works of art.

The Olmec ("people of the rubber country") created a pre-Columbian civilization in south-central Mexico, now the states of Veracruz and Tabasco. Thriving some 3,500 years ago, the Olmec pre-dated other Mesoamerican civilizations, such as the Zapotecs, Teotihuacans, Aztecs and Mayans.

Unlike many other ancient civilizations, the Olmec disappeared without a trace, leaving uncertainty behind them. Their contemporaries were the golden age of Greece and the Zhou dynasty of China, both known in great detail today, unlike the Olmec.

UFO

Vapour trails, bright lights and a mysterious balloon

Image
© Unknown
Details of a mystery cylinder floating in the sky over Torquay, star-shaped lights with vapour trails over Torbay and a silver ship hovering over Brixham are revealed for the first time today.

All three UFO incidents are included in the largest-ever release of official files on unexplained phenomena.

But the Herald Express had already solved one of the 'mysteries' seven years ago thanks to a group of local teenagers and a £13 balloon.

Files released today by The National Archives reveal how UFOs were discussed at the highest level worldwide.

Among the files is a sighting reported by an un-named man from Torquay.

He wrote: "On April 28 1967 I, along with 100 others including schoolteachers, witnessed a silver UFO pass over Torquay at approximately 11.30am.

"The UFO traveled towards Brixham, where it remained stationary for approximately one hour.

"The object was observed by Brixham Coastguards, which was reported to the RAF in Plymouth.

"The object, after remaining stationary over the town, proceeded to fly off."

Magnify

Roman Find on Cumbrian Farm Stuns Visiting Archaeologist

Roman fort
© Flickr
A freelance archaeologist and his wife came face to face with a chunk of unique Roman history as they walked across a Wigton farm.

Karl James Langford, 36, and his wife Lisa, 43, are over the moon with their chance discovery of a sandstone fragment which still bears part of a Roman inscription.

The couple had gone with their two children - a boy aged two and a five-month-old girl - to visit the remnant of the Maglona Roman fort near Wigton last week when Lisa spotted the stone on the ground. It had been exposed by a heavy rain storm.

Still clearly visible on the sandstone fragment - which is about the size of a tea saucer - are the Roman letters M, R and P.

Karl, 36, believes the artefact may once have spelled the name of the settlement, which was abandoned a few decades before the Romans pulled out of Britain in AD 410.

Pharoah

Time capsules unearthed amid ChCh devastation

nzchurchcapsules
© TVNZ
Anthony Wright of Canterbury Museum with the time capsules.
Contractors working in the Christchurch Square area have unearthed two artefacts, exposed by the force of the 6.3 quake a week ago.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker presented the two time capsules at a media briefing today - and says he hopes they will serve as a symbol for the city's recovery.

The capsules, a glass one with a hand-written letter on gold parchment inside, and the other yet to be opened but in a metal container, were found beneath a statue of founding citizen John Robert Godley at Cathedral Square.

It was found by one of the crane operators for Daniel Smith Industries (DSI) and his boss said his first thought was to contact Parker.

Sherlock

Scientists Probe Lake Huron for Signs of Pre-Historic Caribou Hunters

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© University of Michigan
John O'Shea (right), the University of Michigan researcher heading an archeological probe of an underwater ridge in Lake Huron, prepares to deploy a side-scan sonar device with graduate student Eric Rupley. Scientists are planning a dive this spring to search for artifacts from what they believe was once a major caribou migration corridor and hunting hotspot about 10,000 years ago for some of the earliest inhabitants of present-day Canada and the United States.
Guided by computer simulations that reconstruct a lost world now lying at the bottom of Lake Huron, a team of scientists is preparing to search this spring for ancient artifacts along an underwater ridge that straddles the U.S.-Canada border - a place the researchers believe was a caribou-hunting hot spot about 10,000 years ago for some of the earliest inhabitants of North America.

The planned probe of the Alpena-Amberley Ridge - named for the Michigan and Ontario towns that respectively mark the western and eastern ends of the 160-kilometre-long lake bottom feature - is expected to involve remotely operated sonar devices for mapping the underwater terrain, as well as a team of scuba divers to comb the long-submerged landscape in search of spearheads and other signs of hunting activity from the end of the last ice age.

University of Michigan researchers first announced in 2009 that they'd discovered rock formations along the drowned ridge that appeared eerily similar to well-documented caribou-hunting structures used in prehistoric times by the "Paleo-Indian" peoples who once occupied Canada's Arctic and sub-Arctic territories.

Now under about 35 metres of water, the Lake Huron ridge was once a 16-km-wide upland corridor in a lake-dotted landscape that linked caribou wintering grounds in the south to their summer ranges in present-day Northern Ontario and beyond.

"Scientifically, it's important, because the entire ancient landscape has been preserved and has not been modified by farming, or modern development," project leader John O'Shea, a University of Michigan archeologist, said when the rock structures were discovered. "That has implications for ecology, archeology and environmental modelling.''