Secret HistoryS


UK: World War I mystery in an old battered suitcase

© Unknown
It is a mystery found on a Belfast street corner that dates back to World War I.

A small battered leather suitcase carrying Princess Mary's Christmas gift to soldiers serving on the front line was found in the south of the city.

Police believe it may have belonged to a pilot, called Harry Campbell, from the McMaster area of Castlereagh.

The case also contains a love letter smudged with a lipstick kiss and a poem putting down Hitler.

Now police are trying to trace someone who has lost valuable mementoes that date back a century.


King Arthur's Round Table Found by Archaeologists in Scotland

King's Knot
© AlamyThe King's Knot in the grounds of Stirling Castle
Archeologists searching for King Arthur's Round Table believe they have found a "circular feature" beneath the historic King's Knot in Stirling, Scotland.

Researchers and historians from Glasgow University conducted the first non-invasive survey of The King's Knot, a geometrical earthwork in the former royal gardens in May and June.

The site, which has been described as looking like a cup and saucer, has been cloaked in mystery for years.

Their findings show there was indeed a round feature on the site that pre-dates the visible earthworks.

"Archaeologists using remote-sensing geophysics, have located remains of a circular ditch and other earth works beneath the King's Knot," the Telegraph quoted John Harrison, chair of the Stirling Local History Society (SLHS), who initiated the project, as saying.


Best of the Web: Falling Meteor Depicted in 5000-Year-Old Rock Carving in North China

Ancient Carvings
© Wikipedia Org
Hohhot -- A 5,000-year old rock carving in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region depicts a falling meteor, said archaeologists on Saturday.

A rock on the side of Dahei Mountain in the city of Chifeng has images of people, domed houses and a fire ball with a long tail falling from the sky engraved on it, said Wu Jiacai, head of the Inner Mongolia rock paintings protection association.

"I believe it shows prehistoric people returning at dusk from a hunting trip to their domed houses, as a meteor falls from the sky," Wu shared his findings at the 6th Hongshan Cultural Forum that runs from August 25 to 27.

He added that in the same location several years ago, another set of carvings were found showing people fleeing, snakes slithering and birds flying away, which might be what happened after the meteor hit the earth.

The area has about 1000 carvings all believed to be made by the Neolithic Hongshan people, Wu said.

"The pictures can shed some light on the disappearance of the Hongshan culture, which was quite developed," Wu said.


Scotland: Eye in the sky giving new insight into St Andrews' past

St Andrews is home to the remains of Scotland's first council building, new high-tech research has revealed

Parts of the old tollbooth on Market Street are thought to have been built in or around 1140, according to a new archaeological MikroKopter technique where a GPS device photographs the site from the air and forms a composite map of the area.

© Edward Martin PhotographyThe micro-kopter at work over Market Street.
The tollbooth, or praetorium, was the office from which the provost and baillies organised the running of the burgh over the centuries. It is well documented that this type of building was used throughout Scotland from the 16th century but the archaeological deposits found in St Andrews suggest the building dates back to the first half of the 12th century - a theory supported by medieval charter evidence. It would make them the earliest upstanding remains of a council building in Scotland.

The tollbooth is known to have been rebuilt in the 16th century after a royal proclamation ruled town houses must also include jails, and this building stood in the centre of Market Street until it was demolished in the 1860s.


Archaeologists Uncover Ancient Site In Saudi Arabia

New Discovery
© redOrbit

Saudi Arabian officials said archaeologists have begun excavating the site of a 9,000-year-old civilization, including horse fossils, suggesting people in the Arabian Peninsula domesticated horses in the ancient culture.

HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), submitted the discovery to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah. Salman said the discovery at the al-Maqar site challenges the popular notion that horses were only domesticated 5,500 years ago in Central Asia.

Ali al-Ghabban added that the discovery changed what was known about the evolution of culture in the late Neolithic period.

"This discovery will change our knowledge concerning the domestication of horses and the evolution of culture in the late Neolithic period," Ali al-Ghabban told reporters at a news conference in Jeddah, according to Reuters.

"The al-Maqar civilization is a very advanced civilization of the Neolithic period. This site shows us clearly, the roots of the domestication of horses 9,000 years ago," he added.

Archaeologists also discovered a number of artifacts at the site. These included arrowheads, scrapers, grain grinders, tools for spinning and weaving, and other handicraft tools. Ghabban said carbon-14 tests on the artifacts, as well as DNA tests on human remains at the site, dated them to about 7,000 BC.


Neanderthal Skull Fragment Discovered in Nice

Neanderthal Skull
© The Riviera TimesPaleontologist Marie-Antoinette de Lumley presents the skull fragment of a nordic hunter, discovered at the Lazaret Cave in Nice.

Part of a prehistoric skull, dating back 170,000 years, has been discovered during an archaeological dig in Nice. Experts say the discovery could reveal important clues to the evolution of Neanderthals.

Students Ludovic Dolez and Sébastian Lepvraud were working on the excavation site, Lazaret Caves, on 13th August, when they came across the partial remains of a forehead belonging to a Homo Erectus.

Paleontologist Marie-Antoinette de Lumley, who has been in charge of excavation at Lazaret since 1961, said the bone is an important find: "It belonged to a nomad hunter, less than 25 years old. He may be able to teach us more about the evolution of his successor, the Neanderthal man."

The bone was left to dry for a few days where it was discovered, before being removed for a special public announcement attended by Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi.

Archaeologists have been searching this site patiently for 50 years, unveiling more than 20,000 bone fragments from prehistoric animals.

The last human discovery in the cave was in 2009, when the molar tooth of a child was uncovered.


Roman port discovered at Caerleon 'could change view of how tribes came to Wales'

It had long been thought that the Roman legions who subdued the troublesome tribes in modern-day Wales had crossed Britain by land.

Yet archaeologists taking part in a month-long dig at a previously undiscovered site in Caerleon, Newport, believe they have discovered the well-preserved remains of a port on the banks of the River Usk that could change our understanding of the conquest.

© UnknownAn artist's impression of the newly discovered Roman port at Caerleon
At the site, the academics have discovered a quay wall, landing stages and wharves where ships would have docked and unloaded their cargoes.

Dr Peter Guest, of Cardiff University, said that the site "exceeds all expectations" and could have provided a direct link from Caerleon to the rest of the Roman Empire.

"We believe that the port dates to a period when the legions were fighting and subduing the native tribes in western Britain and it's incredible to think that this is the place where the men who took part in the conquest would have arrived," he said.


Did Queen Hatshepsut Moisturize Herself to Death?

Hatshepsut's Lotion
© Barbara Frommann / University of BonnCorpus delicti? Hatshepsut's tiny flask of lotion contained a cancer-causing tar residue.

Queen Hatshepsut, Egypt's greatest female pharaoh, might have moisturized herself to death, according to controversial new research into the dried up contents of a cosmetic vial.

Researchers at the University of Bonn, Germany, found a highly carcinogenic substance in a flask of lotion housed at the University's Egyptian Museum.

The vessel, which featured an inscription saying it belonged to Hatshepsut, was long believed to have held perfume.

"After two years of research, it is now clear that the flacon was a kind of skin care lotion or even medication for a monarch suffering from eczema," the University of Bonn said in a statement.

The skin lotion's ingredients included large amounts of palm and nutmeg oil, polyunsaturated fats that can relieve certain skin diseases, and benzopyrene, an aromatic and highly carcinogenic hydrocarbon.

"Benzopyrene is one of the most dangerous substances we know," said pharmacologist Helmut Wiedenfeld.


Scotland: Haddo House excavations reveal Palace of Kelly remains

Excavations at Haddo House in Aberdeenshire have revealed remains of the historic Palace of Kelly.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) said work at its property, near Methlick, had uncovered the seat of the Gordons of Haddo prior to the 1730s.

© NTSWork at Haddo House has revealed remains of the Palace of Kelly
NTS said the location had previously been a matter of speculation.

Dr Shannon Fraser, NTS archaeologist for eastern Scotland, said: "It has been described as almost the Holy Grail of local archaeology."


Man Entered the Kitchen 1.9 Million Years Ago

In the Kitchen
© Wikimedia Commons / Steveoc 86Homo erectus, H. neaderthalensis and H. sapiens all had qualities suggesting they ate cooked food, and only spent about 5 to 6 percent of their time eating. Cooked food and less time spent eating directly influenced the evolution of man.

Our ancient human ancestors may have put us on track toward meals a la Julia Child as long ago as 1.9 million years, according to new evidence that extinct hominids were cooking and processing their food. The finding may also explain modern humans' small teeth and guts (for some of us).

"We see a dramatic shift in the tooth size of Homo erectus, which means it was likely responding to a history already of eating cooked and processed food," study researcher Chris Organ, of Harvard University, told LiveScience. "If you're cooking your food you have many more hours of your day free, and you can spend those hours doing other things," since you don't have to eat as much to get your daily requirements.

Processed food is much easier to chew and digest and since chewing breaks up the food it means more surface area is available from which the gut can absorb nutrients, Organ said. The result means more available calories per serving and less gut time needed to digest those calories.

The only snag to their cooking hypothesis is that they haven't found evidence of hearths or fire pits for cooking that long ago.