Secret HistoryS


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.


Oldest Human Settlement Unearthed in Sri Lanka

Archaeologists have unearthed a human dwelling in Haldummulla, Sri Lanka, which they believe is the oldest of its kind identified on the island so far.

Prof. Raj Somadeva of the post graduate institute of Archaeology in the Kelaniya University said that it was discovered in an archaeological excavation carried out near Koswatta village in Haldumulla.

Earlier a burial ground was found 0.5km from the recently discovered settlement.

The archaeological site is situated 850 meters above sea level where the foundations of four houses, fireplaces, coal, iron, rock tools, pieces of clay pots and beads have been found.

Prof. Somadeva said that it is the first ancient human dwelling to be found in the central hills. Further investigations are being carried out with regard to the artifacts.


Oldest Fossil on Earth Found

Oldest Fossil
© D. Wacey / UWA The oldest microfossils ever found were discovered in a 3.4 billion-year-old sandstone at the base of Strelley Pool in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Microfossils found in Australia show that more than 3.4 billion years ago, bacteria thrived on an Earth that had no oxygen, a finding that boosts hopes life has existed on Mars, a study published Sunday says.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia and Oxford University say the remains of microbes, located in ancient sedimentary rocks that have triggered debate for nearly a decade, have been confirmed as the earliest fossils ever recorded.

The sample came from the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia, a site called Strelley Pool, where the microbes, after dying, had been finely preserved between quartz sand grains.

Pilbara has some of the planet's oldest rock formations, set down in the so-called Archean Eon when the infant Earth was a primeval water world, with seas that were the temperature of a hot bath.


Deadly Ancient Egyptian Medication? German Scientists Shed Light On Dark Secret of Queen Hatshepsut's Flacon

© Barbara Frommann/Uni BonnMichael Höveler-Müller (left) and Dr. Helmut Wiedenfeld with the mysterious vial.
The corpus delicti is a plain flacon from among the possessions of Pharaoh Hatshepsut, who lived around 1450 B.C., which is on exhibit in the permanent collection of the Egyptian Museum of the University of Bonn. For three and a half millennia, the vessel may have held a deadly secret. This is what the Head of the collection, Michael Höveler-Müller and Dr. Helmut Wiedenfeld from the university's Pharmacology Institute just discovered.

After two years of research it is now clear that the flacon did not hold a perfume; instead, it was a kind of skin care lotion or even medication for a monarch suffering from eczema. In addition, the pharmacologists found a strongly carcinogenic substance. Was Hatshepsut killed by her medicine?

When Michael Höveler-Müller became the curator of the Egyptian Museum of the University of Bonn in 2009, it occurred to him to examine the interior of the vessel that, according to an inscription, belonged to Pharaoh Hatshepsut. Its neck had been blocked with what was generally considered "dirt," but Höveler-Müller suspected that it might also be the original clay stopper. So possibly, some of the original contents might still be inside. In Dr. Helmut Wiedenfeld from the Pharmacy Institute, he found just the right partner, to get to the bottom of this question and of the flacon.


Iowa, US: Archaeologists Dig Up 7,000-Year-Old Remains

© Press-CitizenUniversity of Iowa archaeologists use laser-transit technology for high-precision mapping at the site of a new wastewater treatment facility in Des Moines. The archaeologists discovered artifacts nearly 7,000 years old at the site. office of the state archaeologist
State archaeologists are hoping thousands of artifacts they uncovered at a site in Des Moines will provide some insight into how people in the area lived nearly 7,000 years ago, from the way they made a living to what they ate and how they interacted socially.

"Those are the big research questions that are going to drive the lab analysis that takes place next," state archaeologist John Doershuk said. "We have thousands of artifacts that will tell us about their diet and map info that will tell us how they used their space."

Workers found more than 6,000 artifacts, from arrowheads and spear points to flint chips and even two human skeletons thought to be 6,680 to 6,890 years old at the site of a new wastewater treatment facility in Des Moines, north of the Des Moines River.

They are among some of the oldest and most well-preserved artifacts ever uncovered in Iowa.


Colorado, US: Archaeologists Discover 8,000 Year-Old Stone Shelter

© KKCO/NBCArchaeologists discovered an 8,000-year-old stone shelter in Colorado.
Archaeologists may have discovered evidence of people living in Colorado's Grand Valley 8,000 years ago.

During a recent dig, researchers with the Dominguez Anthropological Research Group (DARG) uncovered a prehistoric stone shelter.

Due to an agreement with the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the land where the shelter was found, the group could not disclose its exact location, but says it was north of Grand Junction, CO, near the Bookcliffs.

After nearly two years of background work and two months of in-ground work, DARG researchers say they made quite the find.

"We found fire pits and storage features," said James Miller, research director for DARG. "We also collected all the lithic artifacts, or stone tools."

The group says it also found remnants of posts where a wall would have gone.


Flashback Lost Amazon civilisation revealed after forests cleared for cattle grazing

Hundreds of geometric monuments unearthed deep in the Amazon may have been left behind by a previously unknown society, say scientists.

Archaeologists have found more than 200 earthworks shaped as perfect circles and squares, many connected by straight roads. They have dated one site to 1283AD but say others could be from as early as 200AD.

Fazenda Colorada
Aerial photograph and plan of the Fazenda Colorada site, which is made up of clear geometric shapes. Excavations suggest inhabitants lived in the three-sided square.


Wreck of 16th century Swedish warship found in Baltic

The wreck of a Swedish warship that historians hope is the Mars, head of king Erik XIV's fleet before it sank in the Baltic in 1564, has been found off Sweden's coast, museum officials said on Friday.

© AP“This is a wreck we have waited a long time to see,” said Andreas Olsson, head of the museum's archaeology department, practically certain that the find is indeed the ship (not pictured) described as “mythical” by the museum.
A team of divers discovered the wreck at a depth of 75 metres (250 feet), 10 nautical miles (18.5 kilometres) north of the Swedish island of Oland, Stockholm's maritime history museum said in a statement.

The find came after several years of research.

"Everything suggests that it is indeed the Mars that we have found," Richard Lundgren, one of the divers, said in the statement. "The size and the age of the ship correspond," with historical records, he added.

A stack of corn, the symbol of the Swedish royal family at the time, was found engraved on a cannon, providing another strong clue.