Secret HistoryS


8 Bizarre Body Parts On Display Around The World

The tradition of putting body parts on display is almost as old as religion itself. Reliquaries containing the hands, feet, teeth, and other parts of holy people have been touted around the globe for thousands of years. But 20th-century cultural icons and ancient historical figures? Yeah, those get around too.

While some are proudly on display, many are decidedly better hidden. But with careful planning and a discerning eye, there are some pretty incredible body parts to be seen out there. You just have to know where to look.

© mansionwb/cogdogblog/Flickr
Einstein's Brain, University Medical Center, Princeton, New Jersey

All of us have one, some are a lot more developed than others, and Einstein's was incredible. Yep! We're talking about brains.

When Einstein died in 1955, his brain was removed by Thomas Harvey, a doctor working in the Princeton Hospital in New Jersey where the scientist passed away. Harvey thought that careful study of Einstein's brain would help him figure out what made the guy so gosh darn smart. Harvey was not granted permission to remove Einstein's brain, but he did it anyway, which landed him in some pretty hot water. And after Harvey became frighteningly obsessed with the brain and refused to relinquish possession of the specimen, he was fired from the Princeton Hospital and left in shame. But not before stealing the brain.

Harvey left New Jersey and went on a wild scientist goose chase. He traveled to any research facility or lab that agreed to perform tests on the brain. And here's where things really get weird: after a divorce and a downward spiral that brought him across the Midwest, Harvey ended up losing his medical license. His tragic tale ends with a cross-country road trip intended to return Einstein's brain to his granddaughter, only for her to tell him she didn't want it. 40 years later, Harvey returned the brain, in pieces, to the pathology lab in Princeton.

The bits of brain are somewhere in the Princeton Hospital, although we're not sure exactly where. Anyone got any insider info? We'd love to know.


UK: Housing Excavation Uncovers Remains of Medieval Village

© unknown
Construction work on a new housing development in Runcorn has unearthed what are thought to be the final remains of the medieval village of Norton.

Around 80 archaeological features have been found at the site near Lodge Farm, off Highgate Close, Norton village, since excavation began at the end of April.

Archaeologists have unearthed shards of pottery they believe date from the 13th and 14th centuries, as well as the footings and post holes of former timber-framed houses close to site of the old village road.

Social landlord Riverside is currently developing the site to provide three new pairs of three-bedroom semi-detached homes. The homes, designed by Croft Goode Architects, will provide sustainable housing for local people and will be made affordable under a shared ownership scheme.


Egyptian Pyramids Found by Infra-red Satellite Images

© AFP/Getty ImagesTwo new finds are at Saqqara, an older but less known pyramid site than Giza
Seventeen lost pyramids are among the buildings identified in a new satellite survey of Egypt.

More than 1,000 tombs and 3,000 ancient settlements were also revealed by looking at infra-red images which show up underground buildings.

Initial excavations have already confirmed some of the findings including of two suspected pyramids.

"To excavate a pyramid is the dream of every archaeologist," says Dr Sarah Parcak.

She has pioneered the work in space archaeology from a Nasa-sponsored laboratory in Birmingham, Alabama and says she was amazed at how much she and her team have found.

© unknownAn infra-red satellite image shows a buried pyramid, located in the centre of the highlight box.
"We were very intensely doing this research for over a year. I could see the data as it was emerging, but for me the "A-Ha" moment was when I could step back and look at everything that we'd found and I couldn't believe we could locate so many sites all over Egypt."

The team analysed images from satellites orbiting 700km above the earth, equipped with cameras so powerful they can pin-point objects less than 1m in diameter on the earth's surface.

Infra-red imaging was used to highlight different materials under the surface.


US: 4th-Grade 'Paleontologists' Discover 11,500-Year-Old Mastodon Hair

© Linda AzaroffFourth-grade scientists in action, sifting through dirt from a mastodon excavation.
Earlier this year, Linda Azaroff's fourth-grade class received a 2.2-pound (1-kilogram) box containing what one student described as a "clump of dirt."

But this wasn't just any dirt - it was sediment, or matrix, collected from a backyard in Hyde Park, N.Y., in 2000, where a project to deepen a backyard pond uncovered the remains of a mastodon - an extinct elephantlike animal. Working under a deadline, but not wanting to miss any important pieces, excavators carted away about 22,000 pounds (10,000 kg) of matrix from around the bones, more than they could realistically sort through in the years to come.

The excavators turned to citizen scientists volunteering for the Mastodon Matrix Project, which enlists school classes, hobbyists, families and other volunteers scour the matrix from mastodon excavations. Since 2008 alone, more than 3,500 participants from around the U.S. have worked on matrix from Hyde Park.

"One of the huge limiting things form a scientific standpoint is we often don't have the staff time either from interns or scientists themselves to go through all of this stuff," said Carlyn Buckler, an education and outreach associate at the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI), which operates the Mastodon Matrix Project. "The more data we can get, the more complete a picture we will come up with about the environment."

This approach isn't unique; students and other citizen scientists can contribute their time and effort to a variety of projects, from recording road kill to counting stars. In return, volunteers get hands-on experience with science and the chance to contribute to real research projects.


Vietnam: Mysterious Ancient Square Wells in Vinh Phuc

Old square wells of over 600 years old in the northern province of Vinh Phuc are special, for their square shape and are mysterious through tales told by locals.

The wells in Ba Hien, Vinh Phuc, are different from all wells in Vietnam's countryside, since well mouths are in square shape, which are made by four rectangular pieces of rock. These wells are from 4 to 7 meters deep and they are always full with water.

Local people thought that these wells were built by Chinese because the well mouths have Chinese scripts. Recently the local authorities invited experts to examine the wells, and they said that the wells were build by Vietnamese people over 600 years ago.


UK: Archeology Volunteers Uncover 'Lost' Castle

© North Pennines AONB Partnership
A castle that was once one of the most important buildings in the North Pennines and the gateway to the Bishop of Durham's great deer park of Stanhope, is now revealing its secrets after centuries as a forgotten ruin.

Fifty volunteers from the North Pennines AONB Partnership's Altogether Archaeology and backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage are busy uncovering the ruins of Westgate Castle in Weardale.

From the 13th until the early 17th century, Westgate Castle served as the 'west gate' into the Bishop of Durham's great deer park, and functioned as an administrative headquarters for the Bishop's extensive estate encompassing the Old Forest of Weardale.
© North Pennines AONB PartnershipA wall of the old castle is revealed.

By the mid 17th century it lay in ruins and its masonry was quarried for new buildings.

Paul Frodsham, the North Pennines AONB Partnership's Historic Environment Officer said: "Today, nothing of its masonry survives above ground, but recent geophysical survey suggests that substantial walls survive buried below the surface. We're not aiming to excavate the entire site, but just to uncover a sample of what survives in order to help inform plans for its future".

Arrow Down

Early Bronze Age Battle Site Found on German River Bank

© D JantzenOne of the finds from the site included this human skull with a large fracture
Fractured human remains found on a German river bank could provide the first compelling evidence of a major Bronze Age battle.

Archaeological excavations of the Tollense Valley in northern Germany unearthed fractured skulls, wooden clubs and horse remains dating from around 1200 BC.

The injuries to the skulls suggest face-to-face combat in a battle perhaps fought between warring tribes, say the researchers.

The paper, published in the journal Antiquity, is based primarily on an investigation begun in 2008 of the Tollense Valley site, which involved both ground excavations and surveys of the riverbed by divers.

They found remains of around 100 human bodies, of which eight had lesions to their bones. Most of the bodies, but not all, appeared to be young men.

The injuries included skull damage caused by massive blows or arrowheads, and some of the injuries appear to have been fatal.

One humerus (upper arm) bone contained an arrow head embedded more than 22mm into the bone, while a thigh bone fracture suggests a fall from a horse (horse bones were also found at the site).


Maya Blue: Mysterious Color of the Mayan Rain God

© Ancient-tides.blogspot.comA Mayan mask with still vibrant blue tiles
Azul Maya, or Maya Blue, is a vibrant color that was created and used by the classic and post-classic Maya civilizations more than 1700 years ago, and which is still evident in Mayan ruins and archeological treasures.

The pigment was used to decorate household items, murals, sculptures and, its best known use, for adorning human sacrifices, held important symbolic value for the ancient Maya. The amazing color was extremely important for ritual.

For the Maya, blue was the color of the rain deities, particularly the god Chaahk, their rain god and the patron of agriculture.


Chile: Archaeologists Uncover Oldest Mine in the Americas

iron oxide mine Chile Taltal
Archaeologists have discovered a 12,000-year-old iron oxide mine in Chile that marks the oldest evidence of organized mining ever found in the Americas, according to a report in the June issue of Current Anthropology.

A team of researchers led by Diego Salazar of the Universidad de Chile found the 40-meter trench near the coastal town of Taltal in northern Chile. It was dug by the Huentelauquen people - the first settlers in the region - who used iron oxide as pigment for painted stone and bone instruments, and probably also for clothing and body paint, the researchers say.


Scotland: King Arthur's Table - or Knot?

Kings Knot Stirling
© TripAdvisor
Archaeologists are using the latest scientific techniques this week in an attempt to unravel the mysteries of the King's Knot - one of Scotland's most enigmatic historic sites.

Many stories have been told about this curious geometrical earthen mound just below Stirling Castle - one being that it was the Round Table where King Arthur gathered his knights.

Others have suggested that it might be partly Iron Age or medieval, or was perhaps used as a Roman fort. Then there are those who think it is a natural feature which was modified as recently as the 1620s, when it is known to have been a grand garden feature, highly visible from nearby Stirling Castle.