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US: Titanic Items to be Sold 100 Years After Sinking

Items as small as a hairpin and as big as a chunk of the Titanic's hull are among 5,000 artifacts from the world's most famous shipwreck that are to be auctioned in April, close to the 100th anniversary of the disaster.

Nearly a century after the April 15, 1912, sinking of the ocean liner that hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic, a New York City auction is being readied by Guernsey's Auctioneers & Brokers.
Image
© The Associated Press/RMS Titanic Inc.
This July 22, 2009 image provided by RMS Titanic, Inc. shows the 17-ton section of the RMS Titanic that was recovered from the ocean floor during an expeditions to the site of the tragedy, on display.
That auction house has garnered headlines in the past by selling off such historical curiosities as prized Beatles photos, famous jewels of the late Princess Diana, beloved Jerry Garcia guitars and a police motorcycle used in the Texas motorcade when John F. Kennedy was slain. But nothing as titanic as the so-called Titanic collection.

On April 11, all of the salvaged items are to be sold as one lot in what Guernsey's President Arlan Ettinger describes as the most significant auction ever handled by that house.

"Who on this planet doesn't know the story of the Titanic and isn't fascinated by it?" he asked. "Could Hollywood have scripted a more tragic or goose-bump-raising story than what actually happened on that ship?"

Sherlock

UK: Roman Brothel Token Discovered in Thames

A Roman coin that was probably used by a lustful legionary has washed up on the banks of the Thames.

Image
© Stephanie Schaerer
The brothel token is set to go on display at the Museum of London
Made from bronze and smaller than a ten pence piece, the coin depicts a man and a woman engaged in an intimate act.

Historians believe it is the first example of a Roman brothel token to be found in this country.

It lay hidden in mud for almost 2,000 years until it was unearthed by an amateur archaeologist with a metal detector.

On the reverse of the token is the numeral XIIII, which experts say could indicate the holder handed over 14 small Roman coins called asses to buy it.

This would have been the equivalent of seven loaves of bread or one day's pay for a labourer in the first century AD.

Info

Mystery of Pompeii's Trashy Tombs Explained

Pompeii's Tomb
© Pompeii Archaeological Research Project: Porta Stabia
A composite photo shows the location of two trash pits in close proximity to a cistern that held drinking and washing water in a home in Pompeii. Residents' casual attitude toward trash explains why tombs were filled with household garbage, an archaeologist says.

The tombs of Pompeii, the Roman city buried by a volcanic eruption in A.D. 79, had a litter problem. Animal bones, charcoal, broken pottery and architectural material, such as bricks, were found piled inside and outside the tombs where the city's dead were laid to rest.

To explain the presence of so much garbage alongside the dead, archaeologists have theorized that 15 years before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, an earthquake left Pompeii in disrepair.

However, this theory is unlikely, according to an archaeologist who says the citizens of Pompeii may have just been messy, at least by modern, Western standards.

"We tend to assume things like that are universal, but attitudes toward sanitation are very culturally defined, and it looks like in Pompeii attitudes were very different than ours," said Allison Emmerson, a graduate student studying Roman archaeology in the classics department of the University of Cincinnati.

Sherlock

Orcadian Temple Predates Stonehenge by 500 Years

Stonehenge
© n/a
Stonehenge in south-west England.
The discovery of a Stone Age temple on Orkney looks set to rewrite the archeological records of ancient Britain with evidence emerging it was built centuries before Stonehenge.

Archeologists have so far found undisturbed artefacts including wall decorations, pigments and paint pots, which are already increasing their understanding of the Neolithic people.

Experts believe the huge outer wall suggests the site was not domestic, while the layout of the buildings has reinforced the view it might have been a major religious site. Archaeologists think the temple was built 500 years before Stonehenge, regarded as the centre of Stone Age Britain.

However, only 10% of the site at Ness of Brodgar has been excavated and it could be years before the scale and age of the discovery is fully understood.

It sits close to the existing Ring of Brodgar stone circles and the standing stones of Stenness, near to the town of Stromness.

People

DNA Unlocks Secret of Early Humans

Homo sapiens may have gone to India first

Image
© Shutterstock
Early humans may not have journeyed north out of Africa after all.
Instead, DNA experts say, they built boats about 60,000 years ago and floated their way from East Africa over to India. That and other interesting tidbits are emerging from a DNA study called the Genographic Project, the Independent reports. Modern-day volunteers are offering their DNA samples in order to help scientists track how Homo sapiens emerged in Africa about 200,000 years ago and later traveled out into the world.

Examination of the female X chromosome shows that their first major migration was via the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait to India. DNA evidence also reveals that the most genetic variation exists in Africa, where early humans spent the most time. Second-most is in India, probably because early humans went there first. The Independent looks at the DNA of several volunteers, revealing whether each person's DNA dates back only to the Ice Age or all the way back to "Mitochondrial Eve."

Info

Drought Led to Demise of Ancient City of Angkor

Angkor Wat
© Mary Beth Day, University of Cambridge
The ancient city of Angkor is best known for its ruined temple of Angkor Wat.

The ancient city of Angkor - the most famous monument of which is the breathtaking ruined temple of Angkor Wat - might have collapsed due to valiant but ultimately failed efforts to battle drought, scientists find.

The great city of Angkor in Cambodia, first established in the ninth century, was the capital of the Khmer Empire, the major player in southeast Asia for nearly five centuries. It stretched over more than 385 square miles (1,000 square kilometers), making it the most extensive urban complex of the preindustrial world. In comparison, Philadelphia covers 135 square miles (350 sq. km), while Phoenix sprawls across more than 500 square miles (1,300 sq. km), not including the huge suburbs.

Suggested causes for the fall of the Khmer Empire in the late 14th to early 15th centuries have included war and land overexploitation. However, recent evidence suggests that prolonged droughts might have been linked to the decline of Angkor - for instance, tree rings from Vietnam suggest the region experienced long spans of drought interspersed with unusually heavy rainfall.

Angkor possessed a complex network of channels, moats, and embankments and reservoirs known as barays to collect and store water from the summer monsoons for use in rice paddy fields in case of drought. To learn more about how the Khmer managed their water, scientists analyzed a 6-foot (2-meter)-long core sample of sediment taken from the southwest corner of the largest Khmer reservoir, the West Baray, which could hold 1.87 billion cubic feet (53 million cubic meters) of water, more than 20 times the amount of stone making up the Great Pyramid at Giza.

Star of David

Jewish Man Exposes Israel's Lies

The author Miko Peled, son of an Israeli general and born in Israel, condems Israeli policies and lies and reveals the truth about the Zionist state.


Comment: Sott.net highly recommends the Controversy of Zion by Douglas Reed for an accurate account of the foundation of Israel.


Hourglass

Spain: Irikaitz archaeological site: only for the tenacious

The recent discovery of a pendant at the Irikaitz archaeological site in Zestoa (in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa) has given rise to intense debate: it may be as old as 25,000 years, which would make it the oldest found to date at open-air excavations throughout the whole of the Iberian Peninsula. This stone is nine centimetres long and has a hole for hanging it from the neck although it would seem that, apart from being adornment, it was used to sharpen tools. The discovery has had great repercussion, but it is not by any means the only one uncovered here by the team led by Álvaro Arrizabalaga: "Almost every year some archaeological artefact of great value is discovered; at times, even 8 or 10. It is a highly fruitful location".

Irikaitz lies behind the bath spa in Zestoa, on the other side of the river Urola, 14 metres from the river bank. The archaeologist from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) has been carrying out excavations here summer after summer, together with students and researchers from this and other universities and in cooperation with Aranzadi Science Society. Since 1998 they have uncovered 32 square metres; nothing compared to the eight hectares (at least) that this "gigantic" open-air site covers. This is archaeology, demanding a lot of patience, but the results are worth it: "You feel as if you have found something that has been waiting to fall into your hands for 200,000 years".

Info

Lovers' Pipe Dreams Emerge from Jerusalem Excavation

Pipe
© Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
This centuries-old pipe bears an inscription that indicates it may have been a gift between lovers.

An archaeological excavation in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem has uncovered a centuries-old clay pipe inscribed with the phrase "Love is the language for lovers."

Literally translated, the inscription reads "Heart is language for the lover." And, not surprisingly, it was most likely a gift to a lover, according to Shahar Puni, of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

"Clay pipes of this kind were very common in the Ottoman period, were mostly used for smoking tobacco, and some were even used to smoke hashish," Puni said in a statement. Hashish comes from the cannabis plant, like marijuana.

During this period, from the 16th to the 19th century, Jerusalem was part of the vast Ottoman Empire, a Turkish state that reached into Asia, Africa and Europe.

Sherlock

Graeco-Roman masks shed light on cultural past

Two masks found in a grave during excavations in the central Anatolian province of Eskişehir's Şarhöyük-Dorylaion Necropolis site are expected to shed light on ancient culture. The masks date back to 1 A.D.
Image
© Hurriyet
The masks date back to 1 AD and symbolize abundance and plentitude
Anadolu University Archaeology Department Professor Taciser Sivas said the masks were regarded as the most beautiful historical findings of the year. Excavations in the necropolis had been continuing since 2005, she said. "The masks were broken, but we have repaired the broken pieces. There are horns of a mythical figure on one of the masks, symbolizing a satyr [a half-human and half-goat god]. The other is bigger and white, with black and red hair."

Sivas said the masks had been worn to symbolize abundance and plentitude at wine-harvest ceremonies in ancient times. They were still being produced through the end of the Roman period.

"Masks were used during religious ceremonies. It is very significant the masks were found in Şarhöyük as Eskişehir became the capital of Turkish world culture."