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)

Anne Frank’s diary now has a co-author


A Swiss foundation now claims Anne Frank's father Otto coauthored his daughter's famous diary in a move designed to extend its copyright on the work.

A Swiss foundation now claims Anne Frank’s father Otto coauthored his daughter’s famous diary in a move designed to extend its copyright on the work. (AP Photo, File)

The copyright on The Diary of Anne Frank—set to expire Jan. 1 in most of Europe—has been extended by at least 35 years after the Swiss foundation that holds the copyright claimed Anne’s diary actually had a co-author: her father, theNew York Times reports.

Otto Frank has long been acknowledged as an editor and compiler. As the Globe and Mail explains, there are A, B, and C versions of the diary: A was the original begun by Anne; B was the rewrite she started in the spring of 1944 after hearing a radio plea from the exiled education minister that the Dutch collect and safeguard their letters and diaries; C is the version Frank created from A and B, and what the debut 1947 edition was based on.

In most of Europe, copyrights expire 70 years after the author’s death. Anne died in 1945, but Otto lived until 1980, meaning the copyright now reaches into 2050, preserving the requirement that anyone in Europe wanting to publish the book ask the Anne Frank Fonds for permission and pay it royalties.

The change isn’t sitting well with many, the Times reports. One lawyer says it implies the foundation has been lying all these years about Anne writing the diary on her own and that it “should think very carefully about the consequences.” Author Cory Doctorow writing for BoingBoing says bestowing copyright protection on editors chips away at authors’ rights.

The foundation—which donates proceeds from sales of The Diary of Anne Frankto charities—says the copyright is needed to, as the Globe and Mail puts, it “protect her work from unchecked commercial exploitation.” That’s not a good enough reason, Doctorow argues.

“Virtually every historical person, from St. Francis to Shakespeare, is in the public domain. The martyrs of every purge and pogrom, the heroes of every war—all in the public domain.” (Anne likely died earlier than thought.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Anne Frank’s Diary Now Has a Co-Author

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Family Finally Learns Fate of Man Who Punched Nazi



By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2015 2:34 AM CST

(NEWSER) – A University of Cambridge archaeologist has discovered the sad end to a tale of resistance on the only British territory to be occupied by the Nazis during World War II—the Channel Islands. Sidney Ashcroft was 20 years old and living on the island of Guernsey in 1942 when, as family members recall, he punched a German officer who had pushed his mother; he may have also stolen food. (TheGuardian notes that there was one German soldier for every three Channel Islanders, making it “more heavily guarded than other occupied territories.”) He was arrested and sent from Guernsey, which sits off Normandy in the English Channel, to a Nazi prison in mainland Europe the day before his 21st birthday, never to return home. His mother, who died in 1981, tried to learn his fate and always believed he would someday surface.

But during a BBC investigation, Dr. Gilly Carr discovered that he had survived the war only to die of tuberculosis in the Straubing prison hospital in Germany just a week after the country surrendered. Carr—who says she had an “overwhelming desire … to seek justice” for Ashcroft after seeing a haunting photograph of the young man—used Red Cross records to find the unmarked mass grave where he was buried. She traveled there with his second cousin, Chris Roberts, who left a memorial stone at the site describing Ashcroft as a political prisoner. “It’s an appalling thought that Sidney just disappeared into the maw of Europe,” Roberts tells the BBC. Ashcroft’s name is also on a memorial to Nazi victims unveiled on Guernsey earlier this year, the Reporter notes. (The forest outside a Nazi death camp has yielded a disturbing find.)

Originally available here


Does this photo of Ulysses S. Grant look strange to you?

 Image result for Does this photo of Ulysses S. Grant look strange to you?

This image entitled “General Grant at City Point" claims to show General Ulysses S. Grant on horseback, in front of his troops at City Point, Virginia, during the American Civil War. (Library of Congress)

This image entitled “General Grant at City Point” claims to show General Ulysses S. Grant on horseback, in front of his troops at City Point, Virginia, during the American Civil War. (Library of Congress) (Library of Congress)

At first glance, this photo entitled “General Grant at City Point” appears to be a rare shot of Grant reviewing his troops during the Civil War.

But take a closer look at the image and questions begin to emerge, according to a blog post on the Library of Congress web site.

It does look like Grant but the “head joins the body at an odd angle and the uniform seems wrong for the time period,” according to the Library of Congress. If the photo would have been taken at City Point, it would have been shot in 1864. But at that point, Grant would have had three stars on his uniform to reflect his title as General-in-Chief for the union forces. In the photo, he has just one star.

Related: New image shows Billy the Kid playing croquet

Then, there is the horse that Grant sits atop. His favorite at the time was named Cincinnati but, according to the blog post,  Cincinnati didn’t have white hair around his ankle as this horse does. It also doesn’t look anything like any of Grant’s other horses.

The image itself raises doubts. If you look closely, there are scratches around Grant’s head and the horse’s body. That would indicate, according to the Library of Congress, that this image was made by combining several images.

Surprised? Don’t be. Before Photoshop became all the rage, photographers even in the 18th century developed techniques to make a photo montage.

“They exposed negatives multiple times, sandwiched two negatives together, or pasted parts of different pictures together and photographed the result,” according to the blog post. “This montage is skillfully done and hard to detect unless you look twice.”

Related: Man says photo at center of Civil War mystery is a 30-year-old hoax he did as a teen

To understand how the image was created, you have to start with the notation “Copyright 1902 by L.C. Handy.”

The copyright date would suggests the image was create long after the Civil War. Levin C. Handy (1855-1932) was the nephew of Mathew Brady, who oversaw the making of many Civil War photographs that have survived in public and private collections. He had access to Civil War photos through his uncle’s negatives, many of which eventually entered the collections of the Library of Congress.

But which images did Handy use to create this montage?

Let’s start with Grant’s head, which appears to have come from a June 1864 portrait of Grant at Cold Harbor, Va. The body and the horse actually weren’t of Grant, but Major General Alexander McDowell McCook. He spent much of his time in the Western theater of the war, not in the Petersburg area of Virginia. It appears the photograph was made near Washington, D.C.

Related: Library of Congress acquires rare trove of Civil War images

For the background, it appears the photographer turned to a a photo of Confederate prisoners captured at Fisher’s Hill, a battle that took place in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in September 1864.

“The Confederate soldiers had no connection to Grant and were nowhere near City Point, but their plight became a handy background to highlight Grant’s leadership nearly 40 years later,” according to the blog post.


originally available here

What really killed notorious English leader Oliver Cromwell?


A portrait of Oliver Cromwell in armor.

A portrait of Oliver Cromwell in armor. (Wellcome Trust)

The last weeks of Oliver Cromwell’s life were marked by a roller coaster of illness. From the beginning of August 1658, the man who (briefly) abolished the British monarchy complained of sharp bowel and back pains. He suffered from insomnia, cold and hot fits, sore throat, cough, confusion, diarrhea and vomiting. He would get worse and then seem like he was recovering, but by the end of the month, his fever gave his attendants “the sadde apprehension of danger.” He died suddenly in London at age 59.

Cromwell’s doctors at the time were unable to come up with a precise cause of death. Of course, that hasn’t stopped other people from coming up with their own diagnoses in the intervening centuries. Suspicions have ranged from the mundane — infected kidney stones — to the conspiratorial — poisoning by a closeted Royalist doctor.

Now, one doctor has a new theory for what killed one of Britain’s most controversial figures: a lethal combination of malaria and typhoid fever caused by a Salmonella infection. [8 Grisly Archaeological Discoveries]

While historians have suspected that Cromwell was suffering from a bout of chronic malaria (a mosquito-borne infectious disease) before he died, Dr. Sanjay Saint, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, does not think it was malaria that ultimately killed him.

“What physicians usually try to do is use Occam’s razor, saying that one diagnosis explains it all,” Saint told Live Science. “In this particular case, I think that Occam’s razor is dull, and I’m invoking Hickam’s dictum, which states that a patient can have as many diseases as he darn well pleases. I think that Oliver Cromwell had two diseases. I think that he had malaria, and I think that on top of that, he had typhoid fever, which ended up killing him.”

Cromwell’s legacy is still disputed today. Some see him as the father of British democracy who toppled the monarchy, while others think of him as a war criminal (especially in Ireland) for his anti-Catholic policies and military campaigns. After leading the Parliamentarians to victory over the Royalists in an English civil war and executing King Charles I, Cromwell ascended to power in 1653 as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, serving until he died five years later.

To reassess Cromwell’s death, Saint looked at the records left by his doctors and associates. During the embalming of Cromwell, examiners found that his brain had overheated, his lungs were engorged, and his spleen, while of normal size, was filled with matter that looked like the “Lees of Oyl,” or the big deposits of oil that might settle at the bottom of a jar, something that is characteristic of a septic spleen, Saint said.

Saint thinks these symptoms are consistent with typhoid fever, which was common in the 17th century and is acquired from fecal-oral transmission, usually when a person eats food or drinks water contaminated with the Salmonella typhistrain of bacteria. This bacterial infection can lead to the thinning of the intestinal wall, which can give way to a rupture, releasing various microbes into the bloodstream, overwhelming the body and causing sudden death.

Saint was asked to review Cromwell’s case for the Historical Clinicopathological Conference, held Oct. 23 at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Each year at this meeting, doctors revisit the death of a historical figure. For example, in 2007, diagnosticians at the conference determined that Abraham Lincoln may have survived his gunshot wound if he had been wheeled into a modern emergency room.

“One of the most exciting parts about being a physician is that you get to be a detective — that’s why many of us go into internal medicine,” Saint said. “It makes it more challenging to understand why someone died when you cannot examine them or ask questions or perform any tests on them.”


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Dartmouth study concludes that famous Lee Harvey Oswald photo is no hoax

The famous backyard photo of Lee Harvey Oswald.

The famous backyard photo of Lee Harvey Oswald. (Warren Commission)

For decades, conspiracy theorists have claimed the famous “backyard photo” of Lee Harvey Oswald, which shows him holding the same type of rifle used to assassinate JFK, is a fake—a claim that Oswald himself made when he was arrested.

But thanks to a scientist who has studied this photo before and stated previouslyit was “highly improbable that anyone could have created such a perfect forgery with the technology available in 1963,” that claim has now been debunked.

A new study out of Dartmouth, published in the Journal of Digital Forensics, Security, and Law, used sophisticated 3D imaging technology to analyze key details of the photo, including Oswald’s pose, and found that the photo is indeed authentic, a press release notes.

“Our detailed analysis of Oswald’s pose, the lighting and shadows, and the rifle in his hands refutes the argument of photo tampering,” Hany Farid, the study’s senior author, says.

Both the Warren Commission and a special House committee on assassinations had already found photo tampering hadn’t taken place, and Farid had done studies in 2009 and 2010 that determined the photo’s lighting and shadows were indeed feasible, per

But some said that Oswald’s pose in the photo, in which he appears to be standing somewhat off-balance, was a physical impossibility, so this time around Farid and his team put the photo through a rigorous 3D stability analysis.

By adding appropriate mass little by little to each section of a 3D model of Oswald, they were able to examine Oswald’s balance to show he certainly could have stood that way.

The study also found, once again, that the lighting, shadows, and rifle length were also plausible. “With a simple adjustment to the height and weight, the 3D human model that we created can be used to forensically analyze the pose, stability, and shadows in any image of people,” Farid says in the release.

(The CIA has admitted to covering up JFK’s assassination, though.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Verdict In on Whether Lee Harvey Oswald Pic Is a Fake

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Did this iceberg sink the Titanic?

 Image result for Did this iceberg sank the Titanic?

(Henry Aldridge & Son)

(Henry Aldridge & Son)

A photo purportedly showing the iceberg that sank the Titanic is expected to sell for over $15,000 when it is auctioned in the U.K. on Saturday.

Henry Aldridge & Son is auctioning the remarkable photo and a fascinating document that accompanies it. The photograph was taken by the chief steward of the liner Prinz Adalbert on the morning of April 15, 1912. The Titanic, which struck an iceberg  at 11.40 p.m. ship’s time on April 14, sank just over two hours later with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.

Related: New image shows Billy the Kid
playing croquet

The crew of the Hamburg America Line liner was unaware of the terrible event when they saw the iceberg, according to the document. “On the day after the sinking of the Titanic, the steamer Prinz Adalbert passes the iceberg shown in this photograph,” it says. “The Titanic disaster was not yet known by us. On one side red paint was plainly visible, which has the appearance of having been made by the scraping of a vessel on the iceberg. SS Prinz Adalbert Hamburg America Line,” the document added. The document is signed by the chief steward and three other crewmen.

While other photos of the iceberg exist, the note makes this one particularly intriguing. “By its very nature, no-one can say beyond reasonable doubt that it is the iceberg, but what is really fascinating is its provenance,” Henry Aldridge & Son Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge told “The cherry on the top is having a copy of the note from the chief steward.”

The related image shows Titanic launch photos taken on May 31, 1911 (Henry Aldridge & Son).

The auction house notes that the photograph was acquired not long after the Titanic’s sinking by Burlingham, Montgomery & Beecher, attorneys for the ship’s owners, White Star Line. Hamburg American Lines, also a client of Charles Burlingham, a senior partner, sent the photograph to him when they learned that he was defending Titanic’s owners in the New York litigation arising out of the sinking.

The lot containing the photo and document has a presale estimate of between $15,482 and $23,223. The artifacts are among more than 200 lots that will go under the hammer as part of Henry Aldridge & Son’s ‘Titanic, Hindenburg and other icons of the 20th century’ auction. Other lots include five unpublished photos of Titanic’s launch on May 31, 1911 and a tray recovered from the Hindenburg crash site.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers


Originally available here

4 Civil War soldiers receive proper burial in Colorado cemetery

1018 colo civil war.jpg

Oct. 3, 2015: Two members of the Buffalo Soldiers of the American West place flags beside the new headstone for Pvt. George Washington in Roselawn Cemetery in Pueblo, Colo. (AP)

Gravestones have been dedicated to four Civil War soldiers who had been buried in unmarked graves at Roselawn Cemetery in Pueblo and went unidentified for more than a century.

The soldiers, including three African Americans born into slavery, fought for the Union in the Civil War and came to Colorado to make lives for themselves after being discharged from the military.

They have been identified as Pvt. James W. Williams, born in 1844 and died in Pueblo in 1921; Pvt. George Washington, born in 1838 and died in Pueblo in 1899; Cpl. Thomas Walker, whose birthdate is unknown and died in Pueblo in 1900; and 1st Lt. Louis Young, who was born in 1843 and died in Pueblo in 1901.

The stones were dedicated by members of the Buffalo Soldiers of the American West.

R. Kenneth O’Neal, an Army veteran, honored the soldiers at a ceremony earlier this month, attended by about 100 people.

“Today we set aside a moment to right a wrong and to honor four brave men as a profound gesture of our appreciation for their service to this country,” O’Neal said.

The unmarked graves were discovered while putting together a presentation about the history of Roselawn, said Lucille Corsentino, founder of Concerned Citizens of Roselawn Cemetery.

More than 350 Civil War veterans are buried in the cemetery, the Pueblo Chieftain reported ( While checking burial records, Corsentino said the number of graves didn’t add up and four were missing.

It took research done at the library scanning obituaries and a book of burial records to identify them.

O’Neal said many Civil War soldiers came west after the war, seeking fame and fortune. Many were broke, and the West offered new opportunities and a way to forget the death and disease they saw in the war.

Originally available here

Chemical lab designed by Thomas Jefferson discovered in University of Virginia Rotunda

 Image result for Chemical lab designed by Thomas Jefferson discovered in University of Virginia Rotunda

A chemical hearth found inside the Rotunda at the University of Virginia. (Dan Addison/ University of Virginia)

A chemical hearth found inside the Rotunda at the University of Virginia. (Dan Addison/ University of Virginia)

An ongoing two-year renovation of the University of Virginia’s Rotunda has revealed a chemical lab designed by Thomas Jefferson that dates from the 19th century.

Workers uncovered the early science classroom behind a wall on Monday,according to the university.

The room was sealed in one of the lower-floor walls of the iconic Rotunda in the mid-1840s and protected from a fire in 1895 that destroyed much of the building’s interior.

The chemical hearth inside was originally built as a semi-circular niche in the Rotunda, with two fireboxes that provided heat. Brick tunnels underneath the building led fresh air to fireboxes and workstations, while ducts carried away the fumes and smoke.

Students at the time worked at five workstations cut into stone countertops.

The school’s senior historic preservation planner, Brian Hogg, said the chemical hearth may have been used by John Emmet, the school’s first professor of natural history, who worked with Jefferson to equip the space.

“This may be the oldest intact example of early chemical education in this country,” Hogg said in a news release.

The university believes the chemical hearth may have been sealed behind the wall when the chemistry laboratory was moved to an annex of the Rotunda before the 1895 fire.

“The hearth is significant as something of the University’s early academic years,” said Mark Kutney, an architectural conservator in the University Architect’s office. “The original arch above the opening will have to be reconstructed, but
we hope to present the remainder of the hearth as essentially unrestored, preserving its evidence of use.”

Once the renovations are completed on the Rotunda, the chemical hearth be on full display behind a barrier.

originally available here

‘Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’ Gets Even More Cryptic


Image result for 'Gospel of Jesus' Wife' Gets Even More Cryptic

Published on

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2015 9:45 AM CDT

(NEWSER) – There are two camps when it comes to the so-called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife: one that believes the Coptic fragment is the real deal, and one that’s convinced it’s a fake. There’s evidence to back up either side: Radiocarbon dating indicates the papyrus dates to AD800, and tests on the ink suggest it’s the same type used at that time. If the ink is authentic, it’s “conceivable” that someone might have scraped ancient ink from another ancient document, mixed it with water, and created the piece, but “no one has ever actually shown that this has ever been done,” reports theAtlantic. On the other hand, the document’s words and phrases—even a grammatical error—appear to have been copied directly from another ancient document, the Gospel of Thomas, leading to doubts. Now new evidence suggests that if the story of the Gospel’s travels is true, a man who once owned the papyrus may have risked all to get it.

The current owner remains anonymous, but documents show he or she bought the papyrus in 1999 from Hans-Ulrich Laukamp, who died in 2002; Laukamp apparently got it from East Germany in 1963, but those who knew him say he was living on the opposite side of the Berlin Wall at the time and didn’t collect antiquities. West Berliners could visit East Berlin but only to see relatives at Christmas, and carrying a papyrus—which would’ve looked like a coded message—would have been risky, reports Live Science. Is it possible Laukamp created a forgery? Maybe. Through his manufacturing company, Laukamp worked with scientists, engineers, and tradespeople who might’ve had the skills to pull off such a ruse. He’d also just built a new factory and a new house and opened a branch office in 1999. Creating a forgery would’ve given him extra cash, but so would selling off the real thing. (Scientists recently found the oldest known Gospel.)


This Sept. 5, 2012, photo shows the so-called Gospel of Jesus' Wife.
This Sept. 5, 2012, photo shows the so-called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.   (AP Photo/Harvard University, Karen L. King)