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Sherlock

The Mysterious Serial Killer Who Terrified Nazi-Occupied Paris

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© The New York Times
Three months before D‑Day, in 1944, some Parisians in the chic 16th Arrondissement started complaining about thick smoke with an acrid smell emanating from the stately town house at 21 rue Le Sueur. Worried about a chimney fire, one neighbor finally called the authorities. They discovered that the mansion's basement was festooned with human bones, its coal stove burning body parts. A smaller outbuilding housed a mysterious, virtually soundproof triangular room. The former stable hid a pit about 10 feet deep filled with quicklime and rotting flesh.

Thus was uncovered one of history's most macabre bouts of serial killing. The official victim count was 27; other estimates ranged sharply upward.

The investigation soon centered on the building's owner, Marcel Petiot, a quick-witted, charming doctor with a checkered past. Petiot finagled state reimbursement for unorthodox treatments, often double-­dipping by charging patients too, and was implicated in narcotics dealing. He also claimed to be part of a Resistance organization helping people, especially Jews, escape Nazi Europe, for a sizable fee.

Sherlock

Norfolk, UK: Litcham Cryptogram - a medieval mystery

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© Unknown
A community archaeology project based in Norfolk has stumbled upon a medieval mystery that has so far defied the best efforts of both archaeologists and historians to unravel its meaning.

Whilst examining a rural Norfolk church, members of the Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey (NMGS) came across an intriguing inscription etched deeply into one of the pillars of the building. The discovery, made in All Saints church, Litcham, was traditionally thought to be the work of a pilgrim travelling to the important shrine of Walsingham in North Norfolk. However, closer inspection of the inscription using new technology revealed that all was not as it seemed.

The Litcham Cryptogram

"The inscription is known as the Litcham Cryptogram", explained Project Director Matthew Champion, "and has been known about for some decades. Indeed, it was the reason that we chose to carry out one of our first surveys in All Saints. We were interested in looking to see if the church contained further graffiti inscriptions that had not been previously recorded".

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© Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey
Litcham Cryptogram.
The initial survey work soon proved that the Litcham Cryptogram was by no means the only inscription to be found in the church. Within a matter of days the survey had identified over fifty individual images and inscriptions etched into the soft stone pillars of the church. "Almost every pillar was covered with inscriptions", continued Matthew, "and it was clear that there had once been many more. However, our attention kept coming back to the Litcham Cryptogram".

Sherlock

Russia: Tiny Drone Reveals Ancient Royal Burial Sites

A miniature airborne drone has helped archaeologists capture images for creating a 3-D model of an ancient burial mound in Russia, scientists say.

Archaeological sites are often in remote and rugged areas. As such, it can be hard to reach and map them with the limited budgets archaeologists typically have. Scientists are now using drones to extend their view into these hard-to-reach spots. "There are a lot possibilities with this method," said researcher Marijn Hendrickx, a geographer at the University of Ghent in Belgium.

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© Marijn Hendrickx
A 3-D model of a Scythian burial mound based on images captured by a micro-drone.
The machine tested in a remote area in Russia called Tuekta was a four-propeller "quadrocopter": the battery-powered Microdrone md4-200. The fact it is small ? the axis of its rotors is about 27 inches (70 cm) ? and weighs about 35 ounces (1,000 grams) made it easy to transport, and researchers said it was very easy to fly, stabilizing itself constantly and keeping at a given height and position unless ordered to do otherwise.

The engine also generated almost no vibrations, they added, so that photographs taken from the camera mounted under it were relatively sharp. Depending on the wind, temperature and its payload, the drone's maximum flight time is approximately 20 minutes. [Drones Gallery: Photos of Unmanned Aircraft]

Sherlock

Homer's Iliad: Ancient Greek City Digitally Recreated

A submerged ancient Greek city, from the heroic era portrayed in Homer's Iliad, is being 'raised' from the bottom of the Aegean.

Using cutting edge underwater survey equipment and site reconstruction software, archaeologists and computer scientists have joined forces to map and digitally recreate a Bronze Age port which was swallowed by the waves up to 3000 years ago.

It's the first time that a submerged city has ever been fully mapped in photo-realistic 3D. The entire city - covering 20 acres - has been surveyed in ultra-high definition, with error margins of less than three centimetres.

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© BBC
The survey - carried out by an archaeological team from the University of Nottingham - is the subject of a special BBC Two documentary, tomorrow Sunday evening.

The original name and political status of the site is a complete mystery. The evidence so far suggests that it flourished between 2000 and 1100 BC, peaking in size in the two century period, 1700-1500BC, and being abandoned about a century before the end of the millennium.

Sherlock

Ceremonial Aztec platform used to burn snakes discovered under Mexico City's famous ruin

Archeologists could be on the brink of discovering Mexico's first Aztec royal tomb after they unearthed a ceremonial carved stone platform beneath an existing ruin.

The platform, carved with snake heads, was found under Mexico City's Templo Mayor ruin, a complex of two huge pyramids and numerous smaller structures that contained the ceremonial and spiritual heart of the pre-Hispanic Aztec empire.

The find has raised hopes that there could be an emperor's tomb buried nearby.

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© AP
Discovery: A figure in the shape of a serpents' head decorates a newly discovered platform at the archaeological site Templo Mayor in Mexico City
No Aztec ruler's tomb has ever been located and researchers have been on a five-year quest to find a royal tomb in the area of the Templo Mayor.

Mexico's National Institute of History and Anthropology said the stone platform is about 15 yards in diameter and probably built around A.D. 1469.

The site lies in downtown Mexico City, which was built by Spanish conquerors atop the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan.

Sherlock

UK: Prehistoric Teen Girl's Grave Found Near Henge

The finding of the 17-year-old girl's grave adds more evidence that henges were linked to death rituals

Four to five thousand years ago, a wealthy teenage girl was laid to rest in a grave at what archaeologists believe is a newly found henge in Kent, England.

The discovery of the 17-year-old's grave -- along with a unique prehistoric pot inside of a ringed ditch near two other women -- strengthens the idea that important death-related rituals took place at many of these mysterious ancient monuments when they were first erected.

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© Archaeological Field School
Archaeologists excavate the site of a prehistoric teen girl's grave in Kent, England.
Mystery still surrounds Stonehenge and other sacred sites in the U.K., but a new probable henge in Kent strengthens the idea that important death-related rituals took place at many of these monuments when they were first erected 5000 to 4000 years ago.

"What is becoming clear is that with a series of major excavations in Kent linked to road and rail works, and new aerial photography, there are many circular earthworks that look part barrow and part henge, and like the one fully excavated example at Ringlemere (Kent), some of these may be both," said archaeologist Mike Pitts, publisher of British Archaeology, where a summary of the recent finds appears.

Sherlock

CU-Boulder team discovers ancient road at Maya village buried by volcanic ash 1,400 years ago

A University of Colorado Boulder-led team excavating a Maya village in El Salvador buried by a volcanic eruption 1,400 years ago has unexpectedly hit an ancient white road that appears to lead to and from the town, which was frozen in time by a blanket of ash.

The road, known as a "sacbe," is roughly 6 feet across and is made from white volcanic ash from a previous eruption that was packed down and shored up along its edges by residents living there in roughly A.D. 600, said CU-Boulder Professor Payson Sheets, who discovered the buried village known as Ceren near the city of San Salvador in 1978. In Yucatan Maya, the word "sacbe" (SOCK'-bay) literally means "white way" or "white road" and is used to describe elevated ancient roads typically lined with stone and paved with white lime plaster and that sometimes connected temples, plazas and towns.


Question

Aboriginal Astronomy?

Wurdi Youang
© RayNorris, Wikimedia Commons
A small portion of the Wurdi Youang stone arrangement in Victoria, Australia.
Were Australia's prehistoric Aboriginal people the world's first true astronomers, predating European and ancient Greek and Indian astronomers by thousands of years?

The stunning discovery of what is being called an "Aboriginal Stonehenge", the first of its kind to be found in Australia, could change that continent's history and with it our whole understanding of how and when humans began to accurately chart the night skies.

The 50 metre egg-shaped arrangement of stones in a farmer's field in Victoria, was forgotten after the arrival of European settlers some 200 years ago and until recently overgrown by meadow grass.

Now, the site called Wurdi Youang has got Aborigines and astronomers scratching their heads.

How did its stones come to be perfectly aligned with summer and winter Solstices and the autumn and winter Equinoxes, like Britain's 4,500 year-old Stonehenge?

Sherlock

Turkey: Hundreds of Undiscovered Artifacts Found at Gallipoli

More than 100 artefacts from the First World War have been uncovered in an archaeological fieldwork survey on the Gallipoli battlefield, leading to some interesting theories about life on the frontline according to University of Melbourne survey archaeologist Professor Antonio Sagona.

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© Department of Veterans' Affairs
Bully beef tin with lid
The discoveries were made as part of a second season of fieldwork undertaken as part of the Joint Historical and Archaeological Survey - the only systematic survey of the battlefields of Gallipoli since the First World War.

The survey covered the northern frontline areas on the Turkish and Allied sides. One of the most significant finds was the Malone's Terraces area at Quinn's Post.

William Malone commanded New Zealand's Wellington Infantry Battalion. Malone's men relieved the Australians at Quinn's Post in June 1915. This was a key position, where even the smallest advance by the Turk's would have forced the evacuation of the Anzacs.

Sherlock

UK: Nevern Castle ancient inscriptions to 'ward off evil'

Experts believe rare 12th Century slate inscriptions found on a castle were probably made to protect against evil.

The dozen scratchings were uncovered during a three-week excavation at Nevern in Pembrokeshire.

Archaeologists think the stars and other designs were made by a serf, labourer or soldier some time between 1170 and 1190 when the castle was built.

They say they also give an insight into the beliefs of medieval working men.

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© Unknown
Experts believe the scratchings were made by a peasant some time between 1170 and 1190
Dr Chris Caple of the University of Durham led the archaeological dig at the site and said the slates were from a late 12th century cut-stone entranceway.

"They were found in only one place in the castle and were probably intended to ward off evil," he explained.

"In the late 12th century, Nevern would have been an impressive looking castle and entrance, especially from the south side, and it was clearly visible to all passing along the road between St David's and Cardigan.