Secret HistoryS


A new theory about why Egypt stopped building pyramids

© Yoni Appelbaum
Is it possible they were too perfect?

When structural engineer Peter James arrived at the Bent Pyramid, 25 miles south* of Cairo, his task was to secure the structure's remaining "cladding" -- its smooth exterior envelope. But why was it crumbling in the first place?

The foundation seemed completely stable. The prevailing theory -- that "the missing cladding was removed by local opportunist thieves" -- didn't inspire confidence: That could explain the destruction at the lower levels, but the damage extended far up the pyramid and "in an apparently random manner, with no signs of indentations from temporary scaffolding or of any symmetrical cutting of the blocks to aid removal," James writes in STRUCTURE, a structural engineering trade publication. The damage just did not look like the result of thieves. Rather, as James puts it, it "appears to be caused by a giant whose hand has swept across the face of the pyramid with enormous energy, sucking out the facing and leaving the ragged empty sockets.


Plague helped bring down Roman Empire, graveyard suggests

© Public DomainNew evidence suggests the Black Death bacterium caused the Justinianic Plague of the sixth to eighth centuries. The pandemic, named after the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (shown here), killed more than 100 million people.
Plague may have helped finish off the Roman Empire, researchers now reveal.

Plague is a fatal disease so infamous that it has become synonymous with any dangerous, widespread contagion. It was linked to one of the first known examples of biological warfare, when Mongols catapulted plague victims into cities.

The bacterium that causes plague, Yersinia pestis, has been linked with at least two of the most devastating pandemics in recorded history. One, the Great Plague, which lasted from the 14th to 17th centuries, included the infamous epidemic known as the Black Death, which may have killed nearly two-thirds of Europe in the mid-1300s.

Another, the Modern Plague, struck around the world in the 19th and 20th centuries, beginning in China in the mid-1800s and spreading to Africa, the Americas, Australia, Europe and other parts of Asia.

Although past studies confirmed this germ was linked with both of these catastrophes, much controversy existed as to whether it also caused the Justinianic Plague of the sixth to eighth centuries.

This pandemic, named after the Byzantine emperor Justinian I, killed more than 100 million people. Some historians have suggested it contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire.

To help solve this mystery, scientists investigated ancient DNA from the teeth of 19 different sixth-century skeletons from a medieval graveyard in Bavaria, Germany, of people who apparently succumbed to the Justinianic Plague.

Comment: Plagues helped bring down entire civilizations, but they were most likely caused by dangerous viral diseases. It is well known that studies like this are often led astray by cross contamination. For more info see Return of the Black Death: The World's Greatest Serial Killer by Susan Scott and Christopher Duncan from the University of Liverpool. See New Light on the Black Death: The Viral and Cosmic Connection for a review on the subject.

For more in-depth reading about the Black Death read Laura Knight-Jadczyk's latest new book Comets and the Horns of Moses.


The streets of 'Britain's Atlantis' seen for the first time in centuries: 3D scans reveal the 'drowned' medieval town of Dunwich

Town was once a thriving port similar in size to 14th Century London

Coastal erosion left it 10M underwater in process than began in 1286

British researchers have revealed the street of a lost medieval town dubbed 'Britain's Atlantis', for the first time.

The team from the University of Southampton used advanced 3D scanning to reveal the port town of Dunwich.

Present day Dunwich is a village 14 miles south of Lowestoft in Suffolk, but it was once a thriving port - similar in size to 14th Century London until coastal erosion left it 10M underwater.
© Digital South/University of SouthamptonA 3D visualisation of the Chapel of St Katherine: A University of Southampton professor has carried out the most detailed analysis ever of the archaeological remains of the lost medieval town of Dunwich, dubbed 'Britainís Atlantis'

Funded and supported by English Heritage, the project led by Professor David Sear has produced the most accurate map to date of the town's streets, boundaries and major buildings, and revealed new ruins on the seabed.

'Visibility under the water at Dunwich is very poor due to the muddy water.

'This has limited the exploration of the site.


Electric Universe: Mohenjo Daro

Some of the skeletons found at Mohenjo Daro
© UnknownSome of the skeletons found at Mohenjo Daro
Some have suggested ancient technology glassified these Indus Valley ruins but electricity is a more plausible explanation.

Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent region are thought to be the "birthplace" of civilization and the central focus for human culture dating back to the beginning of recorded history. No one knows for sure just how old the generalized composite that we call "society" really is - both because of archeological deficiencies and because of radiometric disconformity - but one of the oldest sites is located in the Indus Valley of Pakistan and appears to date from around 3000-2500 BCE.

There are many ways to date ancient artifacts and there are just as many ways to interpret the results from those techniques. It is not the purpose of this paper to address the difficulties inherent with using carbon 14, tree-rings, stratigraphic distribution, or any other methodology when attempting to place artifacts or habitations within a chronological sequence. Other articles have addressed those issues, as well as previous Picture of the Day discussions about radioactive decay rates and how external, ionizing sources can change isotope ratios.

There is one intriguing aspect to Mohenjo-Daro that sets it apart from most ancient ruins. It is the one anomaly among several at the site that has caused some researchers to suggest that there might have been forces unleashed in the past that are comparable to modern weapons. Walls, pottery and other items found in the city have been turned into a kind of ceramic glass, indicating that they were exposed to thermal energy equivalent to 1500 Celsius. Evidence of ionizing radiation has also been found in some burial sites.


First western painting of native Americans discovered at the Vatican

Native Americans in Painting
© History BlogA detail of what some art historians believe to be the first European painting of Native Americans.
During the recent restoration of Pinturicchio's Resurrection fresco (1494) on the wall of the Hall of Mysteries in the Borgia Apartment at the Vatican has revealed what may be the first images of Native Americans in European art. Vatican Museums Director Antonio Paolucci believes a detail in the artwork refers to the natives of the American continent that explorer Christopher Columbus encountered when he travelled to the New World for the first time.

"Just behind the Resurrection, behind a soldier who is enthralled by the incredible event he is seeing, you are able to discern nude men wearing feathers who appear to be dancing," Paolucci said.

The History Blog gives the images some context and offers a possible explanation for the imprecise representation considering the artist was working on the Papal apartment between 1492 and 1494, and Columbus had just traveled to the New World:
Since Pinturicchio painted Pope Alexander VI's suite of rooms between 1492 and 1494, these could well be the artist's vision of the friendly naked natives bedecked in parrots that Columbus described upon his return from the first voyage.


Ancient languages research finds 23 words still used 15,000 years later

Ancient Language
© ReutersPeople walk over a world map engraved in marble.
Linguists have found a group of words consisting of nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs that date back 15,000 years. The words have remained unchanged and have the same meaning and also sound almost the same as they did at the end of the Ice Age.

Words have an expiration date and can't survive more than 8,000 to 9,000 years, according to traditional views. Just as the dinosaurs were driven into extinction, so do words evolve and the adoption of replacements from other languages is introduced.

A new study shows that this is not always the case, however, as a team of researchers discovered that there are about two dozen words that have lived 15,000 years. Some of the words, referred to as "ultraconserved words," are predictable, such as "mother," "not," "what," "to hear" and "man."

It's suggested that there was a "proto-Eurasiastic" language that was the common ancestor of the native tongues of over half of the people in the world. This "mother language" gave birth to approximately 700 contemporary languages.

"We've never heard this language, and it's not written down anywhere. But this ancestral language was spoken and heard. People sitting around campfires used it to talk to each other," evolutionary theorist at the University of Reading in England, Mark Pagel, said.


Hanging Gardens of Babylon discovered 300 miles away in Nineveh

Hanging Gardens of Babylon_1
© WhiteHaven / Shutterstock
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon have long been regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, although not without controversy. It seems that the Gardens have also been regarded as purely legendary, with no evidence that this ancient site ever existed in Babylon.

For centuries, historians, archaeologists and others have imagined what the Hanging Gardens may have looked like and several artists, most notably Dutch artist Maarten van Heemskerck in the 16th century painted his concept of the Gardens, complete with the Tower of Babel in the background.

Now, a historian with Oxford University may have cracked the case wide open, potentially solving centuries-old theories of the Hanging Gardens.

Dr. Stephanie Dalley, of Oxford's Oriental Institute, said the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon were not actually located in Hillah and were not built by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. In fact, she says the site was not even in Babylon at all, but rather 300 miles north in Nineveh, and built by the Assyrian ruler Sennacherib.


Before Babel? Ancient mother tongue reconstructed

Towr of Babel
© Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1526/1530–1569)The idea of a universal human language goes back at least to the Bible, in which humanity spoke a common tongue, but were punished with mutual unintelligibility after trying to build the Tower of Babel all the way to heaven. Now scientists have reconstructed words from such a language.
The ancestors of people from across Europe and Asia may have spoken a common language about 15,000 years ago, new research suggests.

Now, researchers have reconstructed words, such as "mother," "to pull" and "man," which would have been spoken by ancient hunter-gatherers, possibly in an area such as the Caucusus. The word list, detailed today (May 6) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help researchers retrace the history of ancient migrations and contacts between prehistoric cultures.

"We can trace echoes of language back 15,000 years to a time that corresponds to about the end of the last ice age," said study co-author Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom.


Stunning astronomical alignment found at Peru pyramid

Astro Alignment_1
© Laura GriffinArchaeologists have discovered a pyramid in southern Peru, built between 600 B.C. and 50 B.C. ago, would have aligned with two stone lines and the setting sun during the winter solstice. Here, a 3D model shows the event that happened at the Cerro del Gentil pyramid during the winter solstice. The two stone lines frame the pyramid with the sun setting directly behind it. This alignment may have had cosmological significance for the people who lived there.
An ancient astronomical alignment in southern Peru has been discovered by researchers between a pyramid, two stone lines and the setting sun during the winter solstice. During the solstice, hundreds of years ago, the three would have lined up to frame the pyramid in light.

The two stone lines, called geoglyphs, are located about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) east-southeast from the pyramid. They run for about 1,640 feet (500 meters), and researchers say the lines were "positioned in such a way as to frame the pyramid as one descended down the valley from the highlands."

Using astronomical software and 3D modeling, the researchers determined that a remarkable event would have occurred during the time of the winter solstice. [See Images of the Pyramid and Solstice Alignment]

"When viewed in 3D models, these lines appear to converge at a point beyond the horizon and frame not only the site of Cerro del Gentil [where the pyramid is], but also the setting sun during the time of the winter solstice," the research team wrote in a poster presentation given recently at the Society for American Archaeology annual meeting in Honolulu.

"Thus someone viewing the sunset from these lines during the winter solstice would have seen the sun setting directly behind, or sinking into, the adobe pyramid," they write. "Thus the pyramid and the linear geoglyph constitute part of a single architectural complex, with potential cosmological significance, that ritualized the entire pampa landscape." (The word "pampa" stands for plain.)

The flattop pyramid is 16 feet (5 m) high and was built sometime between 600 B.C. and 50 B.C., being reoccupied somewhere between A.D. 200 and 400. Finds near the pyramid include textiles, shells and ceramics. The stone lines were constructed at some point between 500 B.C. and A.D. 400.


Mystery of the Mexican 'goldenballs' cave: Scientists baffled by hundreds of spheres found in hidden tunnels

Hundreds of yellow spheres have been found scattered in hidden chamber

Mexican archaeologists admit they have no idea what the orbs are for

Drones and robots made the discovery using infrared scanners

Hundreds of mysterious golden-coloured orbs have been found buried in a hidden chamber deep beneath the Temple of Feathered Serpent in Mexico.

The discovery was made by archaeologists from the Mexico National Institute of Anthropology and History, who admit they have no idea what the spheres are for.

A tiny robot called Tláloc II-TC, which has been scanning tunnels deep beneath the famous temple, found the orbs using infrared scanners.
According to archaeologists from the Mexico National Institute of Anthropology and History, the spheres would have appeared to be made of gold because they are covered in jarosite - a bi-product of the oxidisation of pyrite, also known as Fool's Gold

They were hiding in a previously unexplored ancient chamber at the end of a stretch of 2,000-year-old unexplored tunnel on the Teotihuacan site, near the Pyramid of the Sun.

Jorge Zavala, an archaeologist on the dig said: 'They look like yellow spheres, but we do not know their meaning.

It's an unprecedented discovery.'