Secret HistoryS


Sherlock

Archaeologists protest removal of Muslim graves

Bethlehem -
Image
© MaanImages/StringerA general view of the Mamilla graveyard in Jerusalem on 9 May 2006 upon
which the Simon Wiesenthal Center is constructing the Museum of Tolerance.
The "surreptitious and unscientific" removal of hundreds of bodies from ancient Muslim graves in Jerusalem violates international and Israeli law, a group of archaeologists warned Friday.

Some 84 archaeologists and and professors of archaeology from universities and research centers around the world signed a letter appealing to Jerusalem's mayor, the Israeli Antiquities Authority and the Simon Wiesenthal Center to abandon plans to build a Museum of Tolerance on the historic Mamilla cemetery.

The cemetery is the burial ground of thousands of Muslim leaders, Sufi saints and Jerusalem families dating back to at least the 12th century. It is said to have been in use as early as the seventh century, when the companions of the Prophet Muhammad were reputedly buried.

Alarm Clock

Flashback SOTT Focus: The Capture, Trial and Conviction of Saddam Hussein - Another US Intelligence Farce

Image
© Steve Bell - Guardian
At the time, much was made of the capture of Saddam Hussein. Touted by the US government-controlled American mainstream press as a fatal blow to the insurgency that would lead to rejoicing in the streets of Baghdad, the reality, as we have seen, has turned out to be rather different. Iraqis, logically enough, seem to be less concerned about Saddam's capture and trial than about the fact that a brutal US military force of occupation has essentially taken possession of their country and its resources and has caused the deaths of 655,000 of their fellow citizens.

After his initial capture in December 2003, Saddam was paraded in front of the press at his first court appearance in July 2004 where he stood accused of up to 12 crimes, including the alleged gassing of the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988. But fate (and in Iraq these days "fate" wears the red white and blue ) has decreed that "Saddam" will not suffer the ignominy of answering those particular charges because his first trial for the killing of 148 people in a Shiite town in 1982 was enough, it seems, to convict and sentence him to death. The sense of relief in the White House over the fact that the "gassing" allegation will not have to be dissected is surely palpable, given that, if Saddam gassed anyone, it was with the chemical weapons supplied to him by the US government.

Sherlock

Treasure hunters on the verge of finding Sir Francis Drake's watery grave after locating two of his ships off Panama coast

A team of international treasure hunters is close to finding the final resting place of British Naval hero Sir Francis Drake.

They have found two of his ships which were scuttled off the coast of Panama over 400 years ago following the adventurer's death.

The team believes Drake's lead-lined coffin could be near to the location of the two ships Elizabeth and Delight and have begun a search for the historical artefact.

Image
© UnknownMajor breakthrough: The treasure-hunting team led by American explorer Pat Croce, pictured in action, believe they have found two of Sir Francis Drake's ships which were scuttled off the coast of Panama over 400 years ago - taking them closer to the site of the British naval hero's final resting place
The ships were scuttled by Drake's crews in 1596 after the English captain was buried at sea following his death at the age of 55 from dysentery.

Drake is considered one of Britain's greatest naval heroes having led the English fleet in victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 as they prepared for an invasion of Britain.

Sun

US: Virginia - Archaeologist Claims 12,000-Year-Old Solstice Site in Clarke County

Archaeologist Hranick
Archaeologist Jack Hranicky believes that a 12,000-year-old solstice site has been discovered in Clarke County, Virginia
Bear's Den Rock has captured the attention of travelers in the northern Shenandoah Valley since colonial times and for thousands of years before by the indigenous people who hunted and fished in the region. Now, a local archaeologist believes that the prominent outcrop just south of Virginia's Route 7 in Clarke County is a part of a larger 12,000 year old celestial calendar used by Native Americans to mark the changing of the seasons.

"Although archaeological sites have been discovered across the United States, there's nothing like this above ground or this old in North America," says Dr. Jack Hranicky about the site located just off Ebenezer Road. Hranicky, also known as "Dr. Jack" to friends and associates, is a Virginia Registered Professional Archaeologist (RPA) credited with authoring 32 books on North America's prehistory and discoverer of over a half-a-dozen other Native American solstice sites.

"This preserved site has numerous properties that prove its use 12,000 years ago by Paleo-Indians and classifies it as a major ceremonial and calendar site on the Shenandoah River," said Dr. Jack "I classify it as an 'Horizon Observation Station' which produced a Paleo-calendar for early Americans."

Bacon

Mastodons were hunted in North America 800 years earlier than thought

Mastodon hunting
© University of Copenhagen/PAA mastodon rib with an embedded bone spear tip: (a) Closeup view; (b) reconstruction showing the bone point with the broken tip (the thin layer represents the exterior of the rib); (c) CT scan; (d) the entire rib fragment.

Humans were hunting large mammals in North America about 800 years earlier than previously thought, new analysis of a controversial mastodon specimen - with what appears to be a spear tip in its rib - seems to confirm.

The find suggests humans were hunting mastodons using tools made from bone about a thousand years before the start of the "Clovis culture", reputedly the first human culture in North America. Other evidence points to mammoth hunting using stone tools around this time, but the notion of pre-Clovis hunting has remained highly controversial.

The mastodon was found in 1977 by a farmer called Emanuel Manis. He contacted archaeologist Carl Gustafson, who excavated the skeleton and noticed a pointed object embedded in its rib. Gustafson took a fuzzy x-ray and interpreted the object as a projectile point made of bone or antler.

By dating organic matter around the fossil, he estimated that it was about 14,000 years old. Other archaeologists challenged Gustafson's dates and his interpretation of the fragment as a man-made point.

Sherlock

Scotland: Ardnamurchan Viking boat burial discovery 'a first'

The UK mainland's first fully intact Viking boat burial site has been uncovered in the west Highlands, archaeologists have said.

The site, at Ardnamurchan, is thought to be more than 1,000 years old.

Artefacts buried alongside the Viking in his boat suggest he was a high-ranking warrior.

Image
© Getty Images
Archaeologist Dr Hannah Cobb said the "artefacts and preservation make this one of the most important Norse graves ever excavated in Britain".

Dr Cobb, from the University of Manchester, a co-director of the project, said: "This is a very exciting find."

House

Piles of Ancient Rubbish Could Prove Incredible Temple That's 6,500 Years Older Than Stonehenge was Actually a House

It has long been considered the world's oldest temple and even thought by some to be the site of the Garden of Eden.

But a scientist has claimed that the Gobekli Tepe stones in Turkey, built in 9,000 BC and 6,500 years older than Stonehenge, could instead be a giant home 'built for men not gods'.

Ted Banning, a professor at the University of Toronto, has branded it 'one of the world's biggest garbage dumps,' with piles of animal bones, tools and charcoal found there proving that it was an ancient home rather than a religious site.

Gobekli Tepe_1
© AlamyAncient: Much of the 11,000 year-old site is still yet to be explored and it has even been considered the place of the Garden of Eden.
When excavation started at Gobekli Tepe in southern Turkey in 1994, archaeologists were sure it was a temple and largely uninhabited.

Remarkably it was deliberately buried under thousands of tonnes of soil and only a small amount of the 20-acre area has been excavated since its discovery.

The incredible site was put up long before humans mastered language or skills like pottery or metal work, making it one of the true wonders of the world pre-dating any previously discovered religious site by 1,000 years.

Sherlock

Researchers at SMU-led Etruscan dig in Italy discover ancient depiction of childbirth - first of its kind ever found

An archaeological excavation at Poggio Colla, the site of a 2,700-year-old Etruscan settlement in Italy's Mugello Valley, has turned up a surprising and unique find: two images of a woman giving birth to a child. Researchers from the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project, which oversees the Poggio Colla excavation site some 20 miles northeast of Florence, discovered the images on a small fragment from a ceramic vessel that is more than 2,600 years old. The images show the head and shoulders of a baby emerging from a mother represented with her knees raised and her face shown in profile, one arm raised, and a long ponytail running down her back.

Image
© Phil PerkinsCloseup photo of the fragment taken by Phil Perkins, professor at The Open University in the U.K.
The excavation is a project of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Tex., Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn., and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, in collaboration with The Open University in Milton Keynes, England.

Blackbox

Why the Black Death was the Mother of All Plagues

Plague germs teased from mediaeval cadavers in a London cemetery have shed light on why the bacterium that unleashed the Black Death was so lethal and spawned later waves of epidemics.

The DNA of Yersinia pestis shows, in evolutionary terms, a highly successful germ to which the population of 14th-century Europe had no immune defences, according to a study published Wednesday in the British journal Nature.


Comment: Even if it's true that these cadavers from a London cemetery tested positive for Yersina pestis, keep in mind that the field of DNA analysis has been plagued by problems of contamination from the DNA that is ever present on human hands, bacteria and other sources. Alan Cooper, head of the Ancient Biomolecules Centre at Oxford University has said that Yersinia DNA found in bodies buried in France have been a case of mistaken identification because of accidental contamination of samples. In addition to that, it is not the first time that bodies buried in "medieval" graves actually belonged to an earlier or later period other than that of the Black Death. In Italy, health authorities in the northern states called outbreaks of bubonic plague "minor pests", to distinguish them from the "major pests", which they took much more seriously.

There is compelling evidence that the Black Death was not an outbreak of bubonic plague, but was in fact caused by a hemorrhagic virus. This case is synthesized in the book Return of the Black Death, in which Susan Scott and Christopher Duncan from Liverpool University carefully put all the available clues together, tracking the plague from its first appearance out of nowhere and chronicling its unprecedented catastrophic effects on European civilization.

Studying the parish records and the historical data registered in English provinces, using information about the critical events in the lives of real people and computer modeling, Duncan and Scott were able to not only surmise the amount of time from the appearance of symptoms to death, but also to establish the following about the pandemic:
"It seems that the plague's latent period was 10-12 days", says Chris Duncan, "while the infectious period prior to the appearance of symptoms lasted 20-22 days, giving a total incubation period of about 32 days. This is exceptionally long and it explains why the plague could jump very long distances even in the days of primitive transport: for three weeks, people didn't realise they had been infected. People generally died five days after the first symptoms appeared, so the average time from infection to death was about 37 days. This is an interesting finding, because European health authorities had quickly determined on 40 days as a safe quarantine period for the plague." [From legend to legacy]

It also lays bare a pathogen that has undergone no major genetic change over six centuries.

Image
© AP Photo/Museum of London ArchaeologyThis undated handout photo provided by Museum of London Archaeology shows skeletons in the East Smithfield Cemetery in London, where Black Death victims were buried in the 13th Century. Scientists used skeletons from this graveyard to decode the genome of the plague.
"The Black Death was the first plague pandemic in human history," said Johannes Krause, lead researcher and a professor at the University of Tuebingen, Germany.

"Humans were (immunologically) naive and not adapted to this disease," he said in an email exchange.

No bug or virus has wiped out a greater proportion of humankind in a single epidemic than the Black Death.

Brought to Europe from China, it scythed through the continent from 1347 to 1351, killing about 30 million people - about one in three of Europe's and nearly one in 12 of the world's population at the time.

Comment: The reader is encouraged to review this in-depth article which sheds more light on this subject: New Light on the Black Death: The Cosmic Connection by Laura Knight-Jadczyk.


Sherlock

'Oldest rakiya relic' found in Bulgaria

Image
© Nadezhda ChipevaBozhidar Dimitrov
An inscription on a cup depicting rakiya - a traditional form of brandy - said to date from the 14th century CE is proof that Bulgarians invented the drink, National History Museum director Bozhidar Dimitrov said on October 10 2011.

The cup with the inscription was found during excavation work at the Trapezitsa peak near Veliko Turnovo, Dimitrov said, quoted by local news agency Focus.

He said that the find was "sensational" because it was proof that rakiya was invented in Bulgaria.

A photo of the archaeological finding is to be sent to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, which has been trying to register rakiya as a national product at the European Commission.