Dig for ‘lost city’ in Honduras has begun

In this 2012 aerial file photo, a view of the Mosquitia region near the remote community of Ahuas, Honduras.

In this 2012 aerial file photo, a view of the Mosquitia region near the remote community of Ahuas, Honduras. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)

For centuries locals, travelers, and Spanish conquistadors alike have spoken of the legend of the “Lost City of the Monkey God,” or “White City,” in a remote section of the Mosquitia jungle of Honduras.

Now President Juan Orlando Hernandez is announcing a joint partnership with Colorado State University archaeologists and the National Geographic Society to excavate a large swath of jungle where stones and ruins have been recently unearthed in search of the root of the legend, reports the BBC.

“The rest of the world is talking about us and the White City in tourism terms,” says Hernandez, adding that “we need to be ready to take advantage of this great opportunity.” The recent discoveries began in 2012, when an American documentary crew flew over the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve on the Caribbean coast with a plane-mounted lidar scanner and caught glimpses of not just one but three lost cities and what scientists surmise could be remnants of an entire civilization.

Then last March archaeologists discovered several stone objects, including an effigy of a “were-jaguar,” National Geographic reports. Over the next month, “we’re hoping to find out what culture was here,” says the director of the Honduran Institute for Anthropology and History.

They’ll expand the search from there, but they expect that the civilization dates back thousands of years, reports AFP. (After the March news was announced, several scholars penned an open letter calling the claim exaggerated.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Scientists Begin Digging for Honduras’ ‘Lost Civilization’

Beethoven sleuths find old page that sheds light on a work in progress

This photo shows the old Beethoven score.

This photo shows the old Beethoven score. (Bob Luckey Jr. /Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Appraiser Brendan Ryan was at a house in Greenwich, Conn., to take a look at furniture and other items the owner wanted to sell, but it was a framed document hanging on a wall that caught his attention.

“I said to myself, ‘Oh my God, that’s Beethoven,” Ryan tells ABC News. Beethoven’s handwriting is “unmistakable,” explains Ryan, who is also a composer. His hunch panned out, and what turned out to be a rare 1810 Beethoven sketch leaf of Beethoven’s opus 117, König Stephan, sold at auctionin November for $120,000, the Journal News reports.

But before that could happen, the sketch leaf had to be authenticated and the music identified, and Ryan is providing new details about the weeks-long process.

“I equate it to trying to find a word in the dictionary without knowing the first letter,” says Ryan, who sought the help of his former music professor, Mel Comberiati of Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY. The pair pored over the digital archives of Beethoven’s works from the Beethoven Haus in Bonn, Germany. Most composers threw out their notes, but luckily, “Beethoven didn’t throw anything out,” Comberiati told Greenwich Time. One important clue came in the form of three small holes on the side of the leaf that matched up perfectly with known samples from the complete sketchbook. The sketch leaf sheds light on Beethoven’s process, showing ideas in pencil getting tweaked and then made permanent with ink, reports ABC News. “It’s kind of a mess,” Comberiati tells theJournal News. “He’s working out the music.

He writes a line, crosses it out.” It’s like the “moment you get to see inside the composer’s mind.” (Beethoven’s heart arrhythmia may have influenced his music.)

The Japanese soldiers who cannibalized US pilots in World War II

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(AP Photo/U.S. Navy, File)

In 1944, pilots shot down over Chichi Jima Island in the Pacific were captured and executed by the Japanese before being turned into gruesome dishes for the soldiers defending the island.

The U.S. Navy bombed and shelled the Bonin Islands from late 1944 to early 1945 in anticipation of the invasion of Iwo Jima and the eventual attack on Tokyo. One of the islands, Chichi Jima, had asmall airfield, crack anti-aircraft gunners, and communications that supported Japanese positions on other islands.

A number of planes were shot down while attacking Chichi, including one piloted by Navy Lt. (and future President) George H. W. Bush. Bush was rescued by a submarine and was one of the few aviators to go down around Chichi and survive.

A more grisly fate awaited at least four of the 20 Americans who bailed out near the island. Japanese defenders were led by navy Rear Adm. Kunizo Mori and army Maj. Gen. Yoshio Tachibana who approved executions and allowed cannibalism on the island.

Tachibana, with the approval of Mori, had the American prisoners executed by beheading. The day after an early execution, a Japanese major had flesh of the executed prisoner prepared for a feast. The island doctor removed a liver and a portion of the human thigh.

The body of the flyer was served at a large, alcohol fueled banquet that night.

The practice continued on the island for some time, and at least four victims were partially or fully eaten.

Marve Mershon, Floyd Hall, Jimmy Dye, and Warren Earl Vaughn were all victims of the practice, according to James Bradley in his book, “Flyboys.”

American aviators weren’t the only ones to fall victim to Japanese troops practicing cannibalism. ChineseAustralian, and Indian troops were all executed and eaten by Japanese soldiers.

In some cases, including those of the Americans on Chichi Jima, the leaders responsible were tried for war crimes and executed. Tachibana was hanged for his part in the atrocities.

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Originally available here

Archaeologists Unearth Site of Unsolved 1826 Murder

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Posted Jan 8, 2016 9:48 AM CST | Updated Jan 10, 2016 7:01 AM CST

(NEWSER) – When renowned quilt maker Joe Hadley, who lived in a small cottage on the outskirts of Warden in the UK in 1826, was found brutally stabbed to death one cold January morning, the mystery captured a nation. The crime unsolved to this day, his story was retold in the Monthly Chronicle of North-Country Lore and Legend 1887 (as recounted by the blog PieceNPeace), which notes that his cottage was finally taken down in 1872, “so that all landmarks of the mournful tragedy have vanished, leaving nothing to recall the circumstance but the silent page of the local historian.” Well, not exactly nothing. The Evening Chronicle in July reported that old maps, sketches, and reports of the crime enabled the Beamish Museum in County Durham to locate the approximate location of the home.

Now a team of community archaeologists has managed to unearth actual remnants of Hadley’s home, reports theEvening Chronicle as spotted by the Week. “As archaeologists it’s extremely rare to be working on a site inhabited by a named individual about whom we know so much,” project officer John Castling said. “It’s even more unusual that the individual isn’t a royal or a wealthy landowner. It gives us a poignant and tangible link to the day-to-day life of an ordinary working person in the early 19th century.” So far the team has found floor pieces, pottery, remnants of the cottage’s fireplace, and a “silver groat coin given as Maundy money to the poor.” The museum intends to recreate the cottage; “visitors will not only be able to stand in a replica of Joe’s cottage, but they can stand on the flagstones Joe would have stood on,” says Castling. (Over in Ireland, these bones might help archaeologists settle a controversy.)

Book: Amelia Earhart Was a Spy, Lived to Be 86

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By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2016 5:50 PM CST

(NEWSER) – On July 2, 1937, record-setting aviator Amelia Earhart, along with navigator Fred Noonan, likely ran out of fuel and crashed into the Pacific Ocean somewhere between New Guinea and California and disappeared forever, according to the Smithsonian. Not so, says writer WC Jameson. In Amelia Earhart: Beyond the Grave, out Tuesday, Jameson builds on the existing theory that Earhart was a spy and was shot down by the Japanese (or captured after a crash or forced landing) and taken prisoner while on a mission to photograph Japanese military installations in the Pacific, Fox News reports. FDR knew about the whole thing, per Jameson, but kept it quiet. Released by the Japanese in 1945, he claims, Earhart returned to the US and lived under the name Irene Craigmile Bolam until she died in 1982, when she would have been about 86.

The theory that Earhart was a spy and that she and Noonan were taken prisoner has been around for some time. Early last year a group of men traveled to the Marshall Islands (which was held at the time by the Japanese military, Red Orbit notes) to hunt for evidence to back up the claim,WKYC reports. They found about six pieces of metal they believe came from Earhart’s plane. They were having the items tested for authenticity, but there’s been no word on the results. For his book, Jameson reportedly interviewed the nephew of a former US Army official who said it was common knowledge in “high-ranking intelligence circles” that Earhart was “involved in an intelligence-gathering operation.” Jameson also claims that flight logs from the last Coast Guard station she communicated with were altered after her disappearance. (Click for another intriguing Earhart theory.)


Aviator Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan pose with a map of the Pacific Ocean showing the planned route of their round-the-world flight.
Aviator Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan pose with a map of the Pacific Ocean showing the planned route of their round-the-world flight.   (AP Photo)

Is This the Face of a 16th-Century Pirate?

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By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2016 8:00 AM CST

(NEWSER) – Students at a primary school in Scotland are set to get a real-life forensics lesson thanks to a centuries-old skeleton—believed to be that of a pirate—found last year beneath their playground, the Telegraph reports. Workers unearthed the remains while doing survey work for a planned extension at Victoria Primary School in Edinburgh. Initially believed to be from the Bronze Age due to their poor condition, the remains have since been carbon dated to the 16th or 17th century, according to a press release. Based on a facial reconstruction of the skull, it is believed that the skeleton belonged to a man in his 50s. Archaeologists have determined, the press release says, “that the skeleton was likely to have been a murder victim—and quite possibly a pirate.”

That conclusion is supported by a gibbet—a type of gallows the release notes was “commonly used to execute witches and pirates”—that stood 600 years ago near where the school is now located. And, the man was unceremoniously buried close to sea, rather than in nearby graveyards. His body was likely “displayed in plain sight of ships to deter fellow pirates” before being “discarded in nearby wasteland,” per the release. Given the school’s proximity to the harbor in the historic fishing village of Newhaven, workers had anticipated finding remains of the original harbor and shipbuilding. The pupils think it’s fantastic that a skeleton was found deep underneath their playground,” the head teacher says, adding that the archaeologists plan to hold a special lesson for them about the find. (Someancient bones in Ireland are revealing the origins of early settlers there.)


A facial reconstruction based on the skull of the skeleton found beneath the playground at Victoria Primary School in Edinburgh.
A facial reconstruction based on the skull of the skeleton found beneath the playground at Victoria Primary School in Edinburgh.   (Facebook)

New book claims Amelia Earhart was taken prisoner by Japanese during WWII

This May 20, 1937 photo, provided by The Paragon Agency, shows aviator Amelia Earhart at the tail of her Electra plane, taken by Albert Bresnik at Burbank Airport in Burbank, Calif.

This May 20, 1937 photo, provided by The Paragon Agency, shows aviator Amelia Earhart at the tail of her Electra plane, taken by Albert Bresnik at Burbank Airport in Burbank, Calif. (Albert Bresnik/The Paragon Agency via AP)

With just hours to go before the calendar flips to 2016, social media is abuzz with a new theory on: What happened to Amelia Earhart?

And just when you think the theories couldn’t get more incredible, this one appears to be … one for books.

Author W.C. Jameson, in his new book “Amelia Earhart: Beyond the Grave,” claims the great female aviator who disappeared in 1937 was actually on a secret spying mission authorized by Franklin D. Roosevelt when she vanished.

Jameson claims to have found evidence showing Earhart’s plane was equipped with cameras to record Japanese military installations in the Pacific Ocean when it lost contact in the Marshall Islands.

The author writes that Earhart and her co-pilot Fred Noonan were shot down or landed in Japanese territory and held prisoner.

Jameson’s book — set to debut Jan. 5 — goes on to claim the Roosevelt administration — which he says knew of her fate — made no attempts to rescue her because the president did not want to admit the famed, female aviator was used for a spy mission.

When Earhart was freed in 1945, she returned to the United States under a new identity — Irene Craigmile Bolam — so as not to embarrass Roosevelt, according to Jameson. The author claims Earhart lived out her life in the U.S. and died in 1982.

Earhart and Noonan disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937, during her second attempt to circumnavigate the globe by air. Earhart was 41 years old at the time.

Dozens of theories about the nature of Earhart’s death have sprung up over the years. It remains one of the most debated unsolved mysteries in America even today.

The longstanding official theory is that the plane ran out of gas, crashed and sank into very deep ocean waters somewhere off Howland Island, a tiny speck that the pair missed.

Various teams who believe the crashed-and-sank theory —an explanation supported by curators at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum — have tried to pinpoint the crash location using sophisticated equipment to scan the ocean floor and employing computer models, based on the strength of Earhart’s radio transmissions. No one has found a verified plane part or bone fragment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Originally available here

George Washington reenactors make Christmas crossing of the Delaware River

  • John Godzieba, standing second from right, portraying Gen. George Washington, looks towards New Jersey from a Durham boat during a re-enactment of Washington's historic crossing of the Delaware River, Friday, Dec. 25, 2015, in Washington Crossing, Pa. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)

    John Godzieba, standing second from right, portraying Gen. George Washington, looks towards New Jersey from a Durham boat during a re-enactment of Washington’s historic crossing of the Delaware River, Friday, Dec. 25, 2015, in Washington Crossing, Pa. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)

George Washington and his troops have made their annual Christmas Day trip across the Delaware River.

The re-enactors crossed the river between Pennsylvania and New Jersey on a 65-degree day Friday, considerably warmer than the actual crossing which took place on an ice-choked river during a snowstorm.

The annual Christmas tradition drew families and fans of history to both sides of the Delaware River for the 63rd annual re-enactment.

Boats ferried 2,400 soldiers, 200 horses and 18 cannons across the river during the original crossing.Washington’s troops marched 8 miles downriver before battling Hessian mercenaries in the streets of Trenton.

Thirty Hessians were killed, and two Continental soldiers froze to death on the march.


Originally available here


Experts Stumped by Artifact Get Answer From Facebook



By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2015 3:09 AM CST | Updated Dec 23, 2015 4:00 AM CST

(NEWSER) – A mysterious gold-plated artifact that baffled the Israel Antiquities Authority for months was identified within hours after the experts turned to the public with aFacebook post. After suggestions that it was a rolling pin or a cattle insemination device, Italian man Micah Barak correctly identified the object found in an old building at a Jerusalem cemetery as something called an “Isis beamer,”NBC News reports. The solid metal object—named for the Egyptian goddess, not the extremist group—is a modern New Age device made in Germany that “is intended for the use of naturopaths and people dealing with energy healing,” the antiquities authority says.

The cemetery is an important archaeological site, and experts say that while they suspected that the device might be of modern origin, they consulted religious experts, a jeweler, and had a lab at the Weizmann Institute of Science analyze it after finding it, just in case it was an ancient temple treasure that had been lost for thousands of years. “At first we thought it was a military object, but then began to dream. I have been in this business for a long time and cannot recall such a mystery,” the head of the authority’s anti-theft unit tells Haaretz. The antiquities authority has invited Barak to visit Israel, and it says it still wants to find out how the object came to be buried in an ancient structure, NBC reports. (Last month, the authority solved what it calls “one of the great archaeological riddles in the history of Jerusalem.”)


The object's makers claim it emits a form of wave energy that protects against radiation.
The object’s makers claim it emits a form of wave energy that protects against radiation.   (Israel Antiquities Authority)

America’s Oldest European Settlement Has Been Found



By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff


Posted Dec 17, 2015 5:22 PM CST

(NEWSER) – The Pensacola News Journal has a highly interactive and informative look at a major discovery out of Florida: the oldest multi-year European settlement in the United States. “This is one of those almost once-in-a-lifetime type things,” University of West Florida professor John Worth says. “I didn’t even hope to find it as much as just wish.” The settlement is a Spanish colony established by Don Tristan de Luna in 1559—48 years before Jamestown. The Spanish government sent De Luna, 550 soldiers, 200 Aztecs, and African slaves from what is present-day Mexico to settle Florida’s coast. Despite a hurricane destroying all their ships five weeks into the colony’s existence, it persisted for two years. While Europeans lived in what is now the US earlier, none of the settlements lasted more than a few weeks.

Luna’s colony was finally discovered in a downtown Pensacola neighborhood by historian Tom Garner in October when he found part of a 16th century olive jar where a house had recently been torn down, the News Journal reports. He went on to find cookware, beads, and more. Worth had read many descriptions of the colony, and it all came together when he saw Garner’s site. “I walked out and literally it was like every single description in there was describing that precise point,” he says. The colony was inhabited by 1,500 or so people and likely takes up multiple city blocks. Luckily neighbors “responded enthusiastically” to letting archaeologists take a look around. “It’s hard to believe this opportunity, this window, this site is finally here,” Worth says. “Now not only do we have it, but we get to explore it.” Read the full story here.


Painting of de Luna's landing at Pensacola.
Painting of de Luna’s landing at Pensacola.   (Pensapedia)