Secret HistoryS


Rare Headless Hercules Statue Found in Israel

Hercules Statue
© Israel Antiquities AuthorityA marble statue of Hercules found at the site of a Roman bathhouse in Israel on Aug. 15.
A rare second-century statue of the mythic hero Hercules has been found in Israel, archaeologists reported today (Aug. 15). The buff marble masterpiece likely decorated a niche in a Roman bathhouse.

The intervening centuries have left Hercules headless, but his bulging muscles are still apparent, as is his club and the skin of the Nemean lion, which, according to myth, Hercules slew as one of his 12 labors.

According to Greek and Roman myth, Hercules was half-man, half-god, the son of the god Zeus and Alcmene, a mortal woman. Out of jealousy, Zeus' wife Hera plagued Hercules with misfortune, including a fit of madness that caused him to kill his own wife and children. In penitence, Hercules performed 12 superhuman feats, including the slaying of the vicious Nemean lion.

Ancient artists often portrayed these tasks in murals and statuary. The newly discovered statue was found at Horvat Tabernet, in Israel's Jezreel Valley. The Israel Antiquities Authority uncovered the remains of a Roman bathhouse from the second century, along with dwellings and a well and channel that supplied water to the bathhouse's large pool. The Hercules statue was found in the pool, amidst potshards and broken glass vessels.


Woah Mama! Ancient fossil of pregnant 'sea monster' solves 200-year-old mystery about reptile parenting

sea reptile egg laying
© Marshall UniversityFossilised remains: A pregnant sea monster that died about 78 million years ago carrying a large foetus - the first expectant plesiosaur mother to be found since the species was discovered almost two centuries ago
A pregnant sea monster that died about 78 million years ago may have solved a mystery that scientists have pondered for almost 200 years.

The fossilised remains of a plesiosaur were unearthed in Kentucky carrying a large foetus.

It's the first expectant plesiosaur mother to be found since the species was discovered almost two centuries ago.

Study researcher Frank O'Keefe, of Marshall University in West Virginia, said: 'It demonstrates that the plesiosaur gives live birth and did not crawl out on land [to lay eggs]. It puts this 200-year mystery to rest.

'The really interesting thing is how big this bouncing baby is. It's really large by reptilian standards, by human standards, by any standards you use.'

The fact that the expecting mother only carried one offspring, and the sheer size of the foetus, indicate that the marine reptiles gave live birth.

Mr O'Keefe also said that the plesiosaur may have invested much more time and energy into nurturing their offspring than other marine reptiles at the time, similar to how humans invest years raising their kids.

Cow Skull

Rare polar dinosaur tracks discovered in Australia

© Anthony MartinThe rare tracks were most likely made during a polar summer when melting glaciers created a floodplian soft enough for the dinosaurs to leave tracks on.
A group of more than 20 polar dinosaur tracks have been discovered on the coast of Victoria, Australia, offering a rare glimpse into animal behaviour during the last period of pronounced global warming, about 105 million years ago.

The discovery is the largest and best collection of polar dinosaur tracks ever found in the Southern Hemisphere.

"These tracks provide us with a direct indicator of how these dinosaurs were interacting with the polar ecosystems, during an important time in geological history," said Emory palaeontologist Anthony Martin, who led the research.


Newly discovered relics show ancient Chinese knew how to use fire

Chinese archaeologists have found new evidence to show that ancient Chinese people knew how to use fire. The relics were discovered at the Peking Man cave site in the village of Zhoukoudian near Beijing. Peking Man is an ancient Chinese ape-man that lived as much as 750-thousand years ago.

According to archaeologists, there are about ten cultural layers in the cave of the Chinese ape-men. The fourth layer or ash layer is the top cultural layer indicating a period of human activities. Ancient Chinese probably lived from the third to the tenth level.

Archeologists have been digging the ruins since mid-May. In August they uncovered numerous relics, giving evidence that ancient Chinese knew how to use fire.

There are nearly 400 relics, including scrapers, choppers and hammers made of stone. More than 700 samples of medium and large animal bones, and fossils of rodents and birds have been uncovered.

The fire pits and ashes could be the relics showing the use of fire and the cave-life of ancient Chinese people.


Best of the Web: Centuries of Lying in the Name of Christianity

Forged cover
© HarperOne
A Review of Forged by Bart D. Ehrman
The Bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed. - Thomas Paine
Professor Bart Ehrman has done something that more than 99 percent of American Christians have failed to do. He has devoted much of his adult life to a serious study of the New Testament.

Ehrman commenced his studies at a fundamentalist Bible college, Moody Bible Institute, before completing his undergraduate education at Wheaton College. While at Wheaton, Ehrman did what every serious student of the New Testament must do; he studied Greek. As he explained in Forged: Writing in the Name of God - Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are, "I took Greek, so that I could read the New Testament in its original language." [p. 4]


Explorer Marco Polo "Never Actually Went to China"

Marco Polo's journeys to China and the Far East established him as one of history's greatest explorers but archeologists now believe he never actually went there.

© Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesExplorer Marco Polo
They think it more likely that the Venetian merchant adventurer picked up second-hand stories of China, Japan and the Mongol Empire from Persian merchants whom he met on the shores of the Black Sea - thousands of miles short of the Orient.

He then cobbled them together with other scraps of information for what became a bestselling account, A Description of the World, one of the first travel books.

The archeologists point in particular to inconsistencies and inaccuracies in his description of Kublai Khan's attempted invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281.


Roman-Era Sword Uncovered in Ancient Ditch

Ancient Sword
© Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities AuthorityThe sword with remains of the scabbard on it.

A sword used by a Roman soldier during the brutal pacification of the Jews and the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago, has emerged from an ancient drainage tunnel beneath the city, Israeli authorities announced this week.

Excavated since 2007, the tunnel, which was used by Jewish rebels as a hiding place from the Romans, has also yielded a stone object adorned with a rare engraving of a menorah, the seven-branched temple candelabra that was the symbol of ancient Judaism.

The 60-centimetre (23.6-inches) long weapon, still in its leather scabbard, is the third Roman sword found in Jerusalem.

What makes the finding unique is the fine state of preservation, said the excavation directors Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa.

"It seems that the sword belonged to an infantryman of the Roman garrison stationed in Israel at the outbreak of the Great Revolt against the Romans in 66 AD," the researchers said in a statement.

At that time, the Jewish people revolted against the tyranny of Rome, but despite a remarkable resistance, they were ultimately crushed.


Egypt: World's First Pyramid to Be Restored

The newly appointed Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt Mohammad Abdel-Maksoud announced Sunday that a committee has decided to make funds available to restart restoration work on the Zoser pyramid.

Local media had claimed the inside of the pyramid was falling down, following a default in payment to the company that was operating the restoration works. A statement from the council said that a technical committee met Sunday, and decided that payments would be in three phases with a priority for the workers' salaries and for the delayed company payments.

© UnknownKing Zoser’s step Pyramid of Saqqara
King Zoser's step Pyramid of Saqqara stands about 30 kilometers south of Cairo.

It is thought to be the first pyramid ever built in Egypt and the oldest stone building still standing in the country.


UK: Roman dead baby 'brothel' mystery deepens

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New research has cast doubt on the theory that 97 infants were killed at a Roman brothel in Buckinghamshire.

In 2008, the remains of the newborn babies were rediscovered packed in cigarette cases in a dusty museum storeroom by Dr Jill Eyers from Chiltern Archaeology.

They were excavated from the remains of a lavish Roman villa complex in Buckinghamshire almost 100 years earlier, but had remained hidden ever since.

The story caught the attention of the world's press last year as Dr Eyers suggested that the villa was operating as a brothel and its occupants committing infanticide to dispose of unwanted offspring.


Canada, British Columbia: The Ghost Ships of Royston

It is impossible to paddle alongside the rusting severed hull of the Melanope - a three-masted iron ship dating back to the last great days of the sail - and not consider its remarkable voyage through history.

The Melanope was launched in Liverpool, England, in 1876, when Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the patent for the telephone and Lt.-Col. George Armstrong Custer died in the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

© J. Marc, PNG Merlin ArchiveExamining porthole on the stern of the windjammer Comet. Underwater images from a graveyard of historic ships at Royston near Comox.
The 78-metre windjammer began its life as an Australian emigrant ship, served as a cargo carrier - rice, cotton, lumber, heavy machinery, grain, rail, coal, salt - and encountered its share of misadventure along the way.

She ran ashore at the mouth of Burma's Irrawaddy River, became partly dismasted while rounding South America's Cape Horn, and entertained a near-mutiny during a voyage between Washington state and Cape Town, South Africa, over the perceived unjust punishment of a crewman.