Secret HistoryS

Quenelle - Golden

Neo-colonialism: France made 'the largest marine cemetery in the world' just to contain Russia and China

Migrants sit in a makeshift boat
© AFP / Fethi Belaid
While the world is transfixed on the migration crisis in the Mediterranean, something similar is currently happening in the Indian ocean
When Comoros gained independence in 1975, the Comorans could move freely in between the archipelago, which was comprised of the Nzwani (Fr. Anjouan), Ngazidja (Grande Comore), Maore (Mayotte), and Mwali (Mohéli) islands.

However, in 1995, France introduced a visa requirement, the so-called Visa Balladur, named after the prime minister at the time, for the three other islands to Mayotte. The legislation disrupted existing local mobilities between the islands, because normal internal movement (given the links among the people of the archipelago anchored in historic, cultural, and religious ties) was considered 'illegal' by French authorities.

Death visa

Since then, the inhabitants have employed very risky migration tactics across the 70-kilometer (43-mile) stretch between Mayotte and the archipelago. The immigrants travel in fast flat-bottomed fishing boats equipped with two engines locally known as the "Kwassa kwassa" boats, which means "an unstable boat" in the local language, because they often capsize. Consequently, the number of deaths and/or missing persons has increased since the introduction of the Balladur Visa.

According to the French senate report, between 1995 and 2012, it is estimated that approximately 10,000 Comorans died on the crossing to Mayotte from the Comoros Islands. However, the governor of Anjouan, Anissi Chamsidine, in May 2015 claimed that more than 50,000 had drowned since 1995. Consequently, he calls the 70 kilometers between Mayotte and the rest of the archipelago "the largest marine cemetery in the world." Visa Balladur is now commonly referred to as "Visa de la mort" ('death visa') for inhabitants of the other three islands.

Comment: France is still very much attached to its colonies and as always it is about resources and power projection. In Africa some countries have started to kick France out of their former colonies much to the chagrin of the ruling French elite.

See also:


Discoveries gleaned from human ancient DNA

Four research articles in Nature follow the genetic traces and geographical origins of human diseases far back in time. The analyses provide detailed pictures of prehistoric human diversity and migration, while proposing an explanation for a rise in the genetic risk for multiple sclerosis (MS).
The Porsmose Man
© The Danish National MuseumThe Porsmose Man from the Neolithic Period, found in 1947 in Porsmose, Denmark.
By analysing data from the world's largest data set to date on 5,000 ancient human genomes from Europe and Western Asia (Eurasia), new research has uncovered the prehistoric human gene pools of western Eurasia in unprecedented detail.

The results are presented in four articles published in the same issue of Nature by an international team of researchers led by experts from the University of Copenhagen and contributions from around 175 researchers from universities and museums in the UK, the US, Germany, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, France, Poland, Switzerland, Armenia, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Italy. The many researchers represent a wide range of scientific disciplines, including archaeology, evolutionary biology, medicine, ancient DNA research, infectious disease research, and epidemiology.

The research discoveries presented in the Nature articles are based on analyses of a subset of the 5,000 genomes and include:
  • The vast genetic implications of a culturally determined barrier, which until around 4,000 years ago extended up through Europe from the Black Sea in the south to the Baltic Sea in the north.
  • Mapping of how risk genes for several diseases, including type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, were dispersed in Eurasia in the wake of large migration events over 5,000 years ago.
  • New scientific evidence of ancient migrations explaining why the prevalence of multiple sclerosis is twice as high in Scandinavia than in Southern Europe.
  • Mapping of two almost complete population turnovers in Denmark, within a single millennium.

Blue Planet

5th Century mosaic overturns understanding of post-Roman Britain

chedworth mosaic
© National Trust- Stephen HaywoodArchaeological tests of the mosaic have revealed what life may have been like in the manor
New tests have confirmed a discovery which challenges the understanding of life in Britain after the Roman Empire.

In 2020, Britain's first known 5th Century mosaic was uncovered at Chedworth Roman Villa in Cheltenham.

New soil samples taken from underneath the mosaic revealed the tiles could not have been laid before 400AD.

Experts say this provides further evidence that sophisticated life at the manor had continued for decades after the country had entered the Dark Ages.

Comment: This follows another recent, related discovery: Mysterious early medieval cemetery unearthed in Wales reveals trade networks reaching as far as North Africa

Blue Planet

Huge 4,000-year-old fortification discovered in Saudi Arabia

© Khaybar Longue Durée Archaeological Project, M. Bussy & G. Charloux.Reconstruction of the fort at Khaybar.
Archaeologists have found a massive ancient fortification enclosing the Khaybar Oasis in the North Arabian Desert. It is one of the two largest fortifications in Saudi Arabia.

Oases in the region have been settled by human populations for 4,000-5,000 years. An oasis is a small patch of vegetation in the desert. Fed by sources of freshwater such as underground rivers and high water tables mean these areas can become vibrant, lush sanctuaries for plant and animal life.

Human-built aquifers and channels can help irrigate these areas making them suitable for long-term settlement.

Comment: And there's evidence in Iraq showing that its people had a seriously sophisticated understanding of the science of water: Ancient Sumerians invented water flumes thousands of years earlier than previously thought

Comment: Evidently it was built to protect something from potential attack by invaders. Which corresponds to evidence elsewhere that not only did societies become more warlike, and this was then followed the collapse of Bronze Age societies across the planet: Other discoveries at Khaybar:

Snowflake Cold

UK's deadliest snow in history that killed 90,000 people, froze seas and saw food prices soar

A shimmering wall of ice on one of the waterfalls on the Brecon Beacons in 1963
A shimmering wall of ice on one of the waterfalls on the Brecon Beacons in 1963
Dubbed the 'Big Freeze', the snowstorm of 1962 lasted three perilous months and took the lives of thousands of Brits as food prices soared and transport stopped running

The UK is facing its worst snowstorm in over a decade - but it still won't compare to the record-breaking Big Freeze when almost 90,000 excess winter deaths were reported.

Countless forecasting sites are warning Brits to prepare for winter weather hazards over the coming weeks, with blanketing snow and harsh overnight frosts expected across the country. The Met Office has refused to put exact figures on how much snow will come down, and where it will land, though the national weather agency predicts an "increasing risk" later in the week.

Exacta Weather forecaster James Madden believes the snow risk is greater than any year since 2010 and predicts the cold spell "will hold out for an extended period". "As well as the risk of snow, we will see harsh overnight frosts and the coldest temperatures dipping as low as -15C in the coldest parts of the country over the coming week," he told GB News.

But it will be nothing compared to the horror of 1962 and 1963 - the snowstorm that lasted for three solid months and claimed the lives of thousands. Temperatures plunged to -22C; planes, trains, lorries, and cars were grounded; schools were closed and people were trapped in their own homes as rivers, lakes, and even the sea froze over.


Laser mapping reveals oldest Amazonian cities, built 2500 years ago

Neighborhoods, farms, and roads are 1000 years older than previous discoveries.

Lidar Map
© ANTOINE DORISON AND STÉPHEN ROSTAINA lidar map of the city of Kunguints in the Ecuadorian Amazon reveals ancient streets lined with houses.
Archaeologists once believed the ancient Amazon rainforest was an inhospitable place, sparsely populated by bands of hunter-gatherers. But the remains of enormous earthworks, pyramids, and roads from Bolivia to Brazil discovered over the past 2 decades have proved conclusively that the Amazon was home to large, complex societies long before European colonizers arrived. Now, there's evidence that another human society — the oldest yet — left its mark on the region: A dense network of interconnected cities, now hidden beneath the forest in Ecuador's Upano Valley, has been revealed by the laser mapping technology called lidar. The settlements, described today in Science, are at least 2500 years old, more than 1000 years older than any other known complex Amazonian society.

Lidar, which allows researchers to see through forest cover and reconstruct the ancient sites below, "is revolutionizing our understanding of the Amazon in pre-Columbian times," says Carla Jaimes Betancourt, an archaeologist at the University of Bonn who wasn't involved in the new work. Finding such an ancient urban network in the Upano Valley highlights the long-unrecognized diversity of ancient Amazonian cultures, which archaeologists are just beginning to be able to reconstruct.

Stéphen Rostain, an archaeologist at CNRS, France's national research agency, began excavating in the Upano Valley nearly 30 years ago. His team focused on two large settlements, called Sangay and Kilamope, and found mounds organized around central plazas, pottery decorated with paint and incised lines, and large jugs holding the remains of the traditional maize beer chicha. Radiocarbon dates showed the Upano sites were occupied from around 500 B.C.E. to between 300 C.E. and 600 C.E. "I knew that we had a lot of mounds, a lot of structures," Rostain says. "But I didn't have a complete overview of the region."


The British empire's gnostic revival of scientific paganism and a new world religion

ehret header
[The following is a sequel to Sir Henry Kissinger: Midwife to New Babylon]
"We had run up against the Judeo-Christian commitment to one God, one religion, one reality, that has cursed Europe for centuries and America since our founding days. Drugs that open the mind to multiple realities inevitably lead to a polytheistic view of the universe. We sensed that the time for a new humanist religion based on intelligence, good natured pluralism and scientific paganism had arrived."

-Dr. Timothy Leary (recounting Aldous Huxley's 1960 demand for a new world religion)
The Science of History: Pregnant Moments vs Linear Chronologies

The study of history can be approached from a number of directions, and using a number of diverse assumptions... but not all of them are equal, and some are extremely destructive.

Some people believe that history is simply associating events onto a linear time line and then adding creative writing to explain away causes of those events. Others presume that history is divided by "ages" with the "causes" of each event explained away by the age in which they occur. Others presume that the events across ages are caused by a never-ending class struggle of rich vs poor while others presume no causality exists behind the events on a time line except for raw hunger, greed or stupidity.

Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that history is best understood as a living process shaped by 1) ideas of good and evil, 2) decisions to act according to those ideas whether right or wrong, and 3) the freedom to embrace error, corruption and lies which often wear the clothing of truth.

When those false ideas are permitted to shape the cultural standards of what is considered "normal" for too long, decay across all spectrums of life can be found.

Comment: See Matt Ehret's prequel: Sir Henry Kissinger: Midwife to New Babylon


Only a Fool Invades Russia?

Putin Looking at Russia Geography
© Armstrong EconomicsRussia Geography
Golden Gate Kiev, Ukraine.
© Armstrong EconomicsGolden Gate Kiev, Ukraine.
Let's get something straight. There have been countless attempts to conquer Russia, and they have all failed over the course of 1,000 years - yea - 1,000 years! The invaders encountered different incarnations of Russians as well. There were the Ancient Rus, the Moscow Tsardom, the Russian Empire, and most recently, the Soviet Union. The enemies have also come in different flavors, like ice cream. There has been a Northern military state, an Eastern empire invasion, and the more recent famous invasions of Hitler and Napoleon. Every single one of them has failed to conquer Russia except one - the Mongols.

The Mongols invaded under the grandson of Genghis Khan. He invaded Russia around the
Ivan III 1485 1505 AR Denga
© Armstrong EconomicsIvan III 1485 1505 AR Denga.
1220s-1230s. The Rus were divided into tribes. Like Julius Caesar understood when he invaded Gaul, divide and conquer. The Mongol warriors succeeded because the various Russian princes at that time were competing against one another in a perpetual rivalry for the Kievan throne. Thus, the lands of Rus' were plundered, and in 1240, Kiev fell. Russian princes were forced to subjugate to the Tatar-Mongol khans. Indeed, there is still a Tatr population living in Crimea to this day. What is left of the Rus fortifications, the Golden Gate, is all that remains standing in Kiev.

In 1380, Moscow prince Dmitry Donskoy famously defeated the Tatar army at the Kulikovo field. Russia was born one hundred years later in 1480 when they were free of the Mongols, and he became the first Grand Prince of Moscow, Ivan III ( 1440-1505). If I actually listed every failed attempt to invade Russia ever since, I think that would require a book. The Mongols were used to the cold, unlike the Europeans.

© Armstrong EconomicsBattle of Poltava 1709.


Ancient Balkan genomes trace the rise and fall of Roman Empire's frontier, reveal Slavic migrations to southeastern Europe

© Ilija Mikić.Exceptionally rich sarcophagus found at Viminacium in which a man of local descent and a woman of Anatolian descent were buried. It features several gold and silver objects including two gold earrings, a silver mirror, a silver brooch and 151 gold beads.
A multidisciplinary study has reconstructed the genomic history of the Balkan Peninsula during the first millennium of the common era, a time and place of profound demographic, cultural and linguistic change. The team has recovered and analyzed whole genome data from 146 ancient people excavated primarily from Serbia and Croatia — more than a third of which came from the Roman military frontier at the massive archaeological site of Viminacium in Serbia — which they co-analyzed with data from the rest of the Balkans and nearby regions.

The work, published in the journal Cell, highlights the cosmopolitanism of the Roman frontier and the long-term consequences of migrations that accompanied the breakdown of Roman control, including the arrival of people speaking Slavic languages. Archaeological DNA reveals that despite nation-state boundaries that divide them, populations in the Balkans have been shaped by shared demographic processes.

"Archaeogenetics is an indispensable complement to archaeological and historical evidence. A new and much richer picture comes into view when we synthesize written records, archaeological remains like grave goods and human skeletons, and ancient genomes", said co-author Kyle Harper, a historian of the ancient Roman world at the University of Oklahoma.


Monumental discovery gives significant insights into Roman Empire's transition from paganism to Christianity

inside walls of an Imperial Cult temple
© Photo by Douglas Boin.An aerial photo of what Douglas Boin, Ph.D., believes to be the inside walls of an Imperial Cult temple. This temple immediately became what Boin calls the largest evidence ever of the Imperial Cult in both fourth-century Italy and the late Roman Empire.
Douglas Boin, Ph.D., a professor of history at Saint Louis University, made a major announcement at the annual meeting of the Archeological Institute of America, revealing he and his team discovered an ancient Roman temple that adds significant insights into the social change from pagan gods to Christianity within the Roman Empire.

"We found three walls of a monumental structure that evidence suggests belonged to a Roman temple that dates to Constantine's period," Boin said. "It dates to the fourth century AD and it would be a remarkable addition to the landscape of this corner of Italy. It will significantly aid in the understanding of the ancient town, the ancient townscape and city society in the later Roman Empire because it shows the continuities between the classical pagan world and early Christian Roman world that often get blurred out or written out of the sweeping historical narratives."

Boin, Dr. Letizia Ceccarelli, Politecnico di Milano, and the rest of the excavation team made the monumental discovery over the summer. Boin, an expert in ancient Roman and its religious transitions, had been digging in the town of Spello, the famous medieval hilltop city about 20 minutes from Assisi and 2.5 hours north of Rome. Boin selected the town based on a rescript of a 4th century letter from Emperor Constantine to the townspeople regarding a religious holiday.

This rescript, which was discovered in the 18th century, allowed the people of Spello to celebrate a religious festival in their hometown rather than travel a great distance to another festival. However, in order to do so, the town was told it must erect a temple to Constantine's divine ancestors, the Flavian family, and worship them, showcasing how multicultural Roman society was at the time.

"There was a remarkable religious continuity between the Roman world and the early Christian world," Boin said. "Things didn't change overnight. Before our find, we never had a sense that there were actual physical, religious sites associated with this late 'imperial cult practice.' But because of the inscription and its reference to a temple, Spello offered a very tantalizing potential for a major discovery of an Imperial cult underneath a Christian ruler."