Sunday, 24 December 2017

St Nicholas burial site

The church in the small coastal town of Demre is one of Christianity's most legendary sites. St Nicholas' body is believed to have laid in a tomb inside the church before being stolen by Italian thieves.

But using radar technology, Turkish archaeologists preparing for restoration work detected another tomb 5ft beneath the marble slabs which make the church's floor. One theory is that the tomb shifted underground during an earthquake and has remained undiscovered.

A well-worn church behind a scruffy shopping square in a small Turkish town has been described as the original Santa's grotto.
St Nicholas is believed to have been born 270 years after Jesus and lived in Demre for most of his life. Inspired by the message of Jesus, he sold all his possessions and gave out the cash to the poor. His legend for gift-giving gave rise was the inspiration behind Santa Claus.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Christmas: The meaning behind the word


Brain being pulled out of the nose with a hook.
When you wish someone a Merry Christmas, you are really wishing them a merry burial, a historian claims. The word Christmas has its origins in ancient Egypt, deriving from the word ‘krst’ meaning ‘at rest’ in the sense of a burial or dead, according to Malcolm Hutton. The word ‘krst’ appears on most coffins which contain Egyptian bodies. Egyptians often referred to mummified bodies as ‘The Anointed’ because the body had been anointed with embalming fluid and natron - a salt mixture blended with oil and used for cleaning the body.

The connection between Christ and anointed was made explicit in both Hebrew and Greek. In Hebrew, anointed translates as ‘Masiah’ (or ‘Messiah’) while in Greek it means ‘Christós’.

Monstrance, a vessel in which the consecrated Host is exposed.
Traditionally, "Christmas" is thought to be a shortened form of "Christ's mass". Some Roman Catholic monstrances - used in the Benediction blessing - still have the image of Ra with a bull’s head below it.

“It was the Church that did the hijacking, taking from the Ancient Egyptians.”

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Royal Mint Unleashes The Red Dragon of Wales


Dragons are found in legends all over the world, and are associated with strength, wisdom and power.
The coin for The Red Dragon of Wales, struck at The Royal Mint’s home in South Wales, captures the spirit of the Welsh nation.

The Red Dragon was an emblem of Owen Tudor, the grandfather of Henry VII. Henry’s troops carried a fiery red dragon standard at the Battle of Bosworth.
The Red Dragon emerged from heroic traditions of King Arthur and his father Uther Pendragon, to become a Royal Beast of the Tudor monarchs. From there it has become the emblem of the modern Welsh nation.

Friday, 8 December 2017

245m year old 'Darth Vader' horseshoe crab fossil found

An uncanny resemblance to an evil villain has earned a fossilized crab the honour of being named after Darth Vader. The unusual shape of the extinct horseshoe crab species bears a striking similarity to the famous helmet of the Star Wars character.

The 245-million-year-old species, whose remains date from the Triassic period, have been dubbed Vaderlimulus tricki, after the Dark Lord of the Sith.
It is the first fossil of its kind from the Triassic Period to be found in North America. When this creature was alive, it would have lived on the supercontinent of Pangea.

Already ancient at that time, horseshoe crabs date back nearly 500 million years and surviving fossils are extremely rare. Today only four similar species remain alive and their numbers continue to dwindle.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Scientists unveil skeleton of ancient human ancestor

Researchers in South Africa have unveiled what they call "by far the most complete skeleton of a human ancestor older than 1.5 million years ever found." The skeleton dates back 3.6 million years. Researchers say it has taken 20 years to excavate, clean, reconstruct and analyze the fragile skeleton.
The skeleton, dubbed Little Foot, was discovered in the Sterkfontein caves, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of Johannesburg when small foot bones were found in rock blasted by miners.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Jonathan, St. Helena's famous ancient tortoise


In his time on St Helena he has seen 28 British governors come and go.
Jonathan the giant tortoise is perhaps the world's oldest land animal, living in pampered luxury on the remote British island of St. Helena. Aged at least 185 -- though no one knows for certain -- Jonathan should prepare himself for an influx of visitors now that an airport has opened on the small island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. The island's most famous resident, Jonathan slowly roams the lush gardens of the governor's house, eating carrots, lettuce, cucumber, apples and pears prepared in the governor's kitchen.
He appears on the island's five-pence coin, on immigration stamps, and in old black-and-white photographs alongside Boer War prisoners in the early 20th century. Jonathan originates from the Seychelles but his arrival on St. Helena remains a mystery and the exact year is disputed. Some unconfirmed reports suggest 1882 -- a few decades after Napoleon died in exile on the island on 1821.

He is now blind, has no sense of smell and is already far beyond his life expectancy of 150 years -- but otherwise he is in good health with good hearing.

St. Helena, located 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers) from the African mainland, is one of the most remote places on Earth.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Ancient Christian mosaic uncovered in the ruins of a monastery in Israel


The tessellated tile work features a four line inscription in Greek, commemorating the builder of the monastery in which it was found. It also includes the date of its construction according to the Georgian calendar, the first evidence of its use in Israel, which corresponds with 539 AD.
An immaculately preserved mosaic created by Christians living in Israel 1,500 years ago has been uncovered by archaeologists.

Inscription reads: 'By the grace of God (or Jesus), this work was done from the foundation under Procopius, our most saintly and most holy bishop, in the month Dios of the 3rd indiction, year 292.
The find was made in the coastal city of Ashdod.

Ashdod was one of the most important cities on the coast of Israel in the Byzantine period.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Ancient Skull from China raises Questions

Most scientists believe all modern humans are descended from African ancestors. But a new analysis of an ancient Chinese skull found too many similarities to the earliest human fossils found in Africa to be a coincidence. The 260,000 year old skull was discovered nearly 40 years ago in China’s Shaanxi Province. It belonged to a member of Homo erectus.

Its possible we need to reassess how our ancestors migrated, interacted and subsequently evolved.
The similarities show that early modern humans may not have been genetically isolated from other parts of the world. Characteristics of modern Homo sapiens may have actually developed in east Asia, and were later carried to Africa.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

The art market’s Disneyland - $ 1.6b

Art auctions in New York are shaping up to be a spectacle. Leading the charge is Da Vinci’s 500-year-old “Christ as Salvator Mundi". It is being sold by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. He purchased it for $127.5 million in 2013.

Warhol’s 32-foot-wide canvas depicting “The Last Supper” 60 times as a massive black and white grid. The 1986 work is estimated at $50 million.
Vincent Van Gogh’s 1889 landscape “Laboureur dans un champ”. Estimated at about $50 million

Peter Doig’s “Red House" is estimated at $18 million to $22 million.
Schumacher’s Ferrari will mark the first time a collector car will be offered at a Sotheby’s art auction. Estimated at $4 million to $5.5 million, the Ferrari F2001, Chassis No. 211, was driven by the racing legend to win the Grand Prix de Monaco.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Hoard of Ancient Coins found in U.K.

A collection of rare coins dating back 2,500 years have been uncovered in a study desk drawer at a 14th century castle in Kent. The unique hoard of 186 coins that came from as far away as China and Syria was discovered by volunteers searching for photographs at Scotney Castle in Lamberhurst, near Tunbridge Wells. The collection includes Greek coins from the seventh century BC and Roman coins from the late second century BC. The majority of the collection features Roman coins from the late second century BC to the fourth century AD.

The cache of coins was discovered hidden in the back of a dusty drawer by National Trust staff who had no idea they were there

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

U.K. treasure hunter finds 600 year old gold rings

The rings were unearthed by a metal detectorist in a field in Dorset after remaining buried there since the Middle Ages. The larger ring is said to be incredibly rare, with a band of four decorated brooch motifs. It is 22mm in diameter and weighs 3.6g. The smaller finger ring features a gothic letter R, which was probably the initial of the medieval owner. It is 19mm in diameter and weighs 1.9g. They were likely worn by someone who was visiting from France. They would have been someone of very high standing, like a bishop or a lord.

The outer ring has been given a pre-sale estimate of £25,000 while the inner one is said to be worth £5,000.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Gold Thief busted at famous Mandalay Pagoda

The Mahamuni Buddha Temple is a temple and pilgrimage site in southwest of Mandalay, Myanmar. Recently a man who scraped gold from Mandalay’s ancient bronze Mahamuni Buddha image was arrested. Security cameras caught the man scraping out the gold from the back of the Mahamuni image.
With a short piece of steel pipe hidden up his sleeve, Tun Aung Kyaw mingled with other pilgrims who were applying gold leaves to the 6.5-ton image as offerings.

Devotees have regularly applied gold leaves to the image over centuries. Except for the face, the image is covered with layers of gold believed to be about 15 centimeters (6 inches) thick. The trustees of the pagoda said this is the first time gold has ever been removed from the image.

Kyaw is being charged with theft and defaming Buddhism, a serious offense in Myanmar.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Mystery ancient Iron Age skeleton unearthed in Ireland

A storm has unearthed an Iron Age skeleton on the coast of Ireland. The complete remains were discovered near Kilmore Quay in Co Wexford. The person lived between 1,500 and 2,500 years ago around the time the Celtic tribes arrived in Ireland.
The remains were buried, not washed ashore. They were found by people out walking on the beach.

Locals are baffled by the find and say it throws up questions about whether there could be more historical sites in the area.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Spectacular fossils of the Green River Formation


Large teeth and rear-placed fins make Phareodus encaustus well suited for catching and eating other fish.
Rocks of the Green River Formation contain a story of what the environment was like about 50 million years ago in what is now parts of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

Streams draining the steep and newly formed mountains carried large amounts of sand, silt, mud and dissolved minerals into lakes that occupied the intermountain basis. Over time the sand, silt and mud began infilling the lakes. Abundant plants grew on broad swampy areas that developed around the margins of the lakes.

This 5.5 inch long bat is the most primitive known.
Claws on each finger of its wings indicate it was probably an agile climber and crawled along and under tree branches searching for insects.
A lagerstätte is a sedimentary rock unit with fossil content. The Green River swamps and lakes provided an exceptional environment for fossil formation.

The lakes and swamps were calm where remains were quickly buried by sediment. This resulted in one of Earth's most spectacular deposits of preserved plants, animals, insects and fish.

This 1.7 meter (5 foot 6 inch) softshell turtle is one of the largest turtles from Fossil Lake. During the Eocene, trionychid turtles reached maximum size.

This fully-articulated early horse is an extremely rare find.

The insect fossils from Fossil Lake sometimes show color patterns, wing venation, and sex-related characteristics.

Palm Tree Flower