Archive for the ‘Historical Oddities’ Category

A good omen for the London Olympics

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Beheaded Vikings found at Olympic site 

They were 51 young men who met a grisly death far from home, their heads chopped off and their bodies thrown into a mass grave.

Their resting place was unknown until last year, when workers excavating for a road near the London 2012 Olympic sailing venue in Weymouth, England, unearthed the grave.

But questions remained about who the men were, how long they had been there and why they had been decapitated.

On Friday, officials revealed that analysis of the men’s teeth shows they were Vikings, executed with sharp blows to the head around a thousand years ago.

They were killed during the Dark Ages, when Vikings frequently invaded the region.

“To find out that the young men executed were Vikings is a thrilling development,” said David Score, project manager for Oxford Archaeology, which excavated the remains.

“Any mass grave is a relatively rare find, but to find one on this scale, from this period of history, is extremely unusual and presents an incredible opportunity to learn more about what is happening in Dorset at this time.”

The Romans invented the Swiss Army Knife

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

The Roman Army Knife: Or how the ingenuity of the Swiss was beaten by 1,800 years:

The world’s first Swiss Army knife’ has been revealed – made 1,800 years before its modern counterpart.

An intricately designed Roman implement, which dates back to 200AD, it is made from silver but has an iron blade. It features a spoon, fork as well as a retractable spike, spatula and small tooth-pick.

Experts believe the spike may have been used by the Romans to extract meat from snails.

The 3in x 6in (8cm x 15cm) knife was excavated from the Mediterranean area more than 20 years ago and was obtained by the museum in 1991.

The unique item is among dozens of artefacts exhibited in a newly refurbished Greek and Roman antiquities gallery at the Fitzwilliam Museum, in Cambridge.

Experts believe it may have been carried by a wealthy traveller, who will have had the item custom made.

A spokesman said: ‘This was probably made between AD 200 and AD 300, when the Roman empire was a great imperial power.

Cambyses Lost Army Found!

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Vanished Persian army said found in desert

The remains of a mighty Persian army said to have drowned in the sands of the western Egyptian desert 2,500 years ago might have been finally located, solving one of archaeology’s biggest outstanding mysteries, according to Italian researchers.

Bronze weapons, a silver bracelet, an earring and hundreds of human bones found in the vast desolate wilderness of the Sahara desert have raised hopes of finally finding the lost army of Persian King Cambyses II.

The 50,000 warriors were said to be buried by a cataclysmic sandstorm in 525 B.C.

 ”We have found the first archaeological evidence of a story reported by the Greek historian Herodotus,” Dario Del Bufalo, a member of the expedition from the University of Lecce, told Discovery News.

According to Herodotus (484-425 B.C.), Cambyses, the son of Cyrus the Great, sent 50,000 soldiers from Thebes to attack the Oasis of Siwa and destroy the oracle at the Temple of Amun after the priests there refused to legitimize his claim to Egypt.

After walking for seven days in the desert, the army got to an “oasis,” which historians believe was El-Kharga. After they left, they were never seen again.

“A wind arose from the south, strong and deadly, bringing with it vast columns of whirling sand, which entirely covered up the troops and caused them wholly to disappear,” wrote Herodotus.

A century after Herodotus wrote his account, Alexander the Great made his own pilgrimage to the oracle of Amun, and in 332 B.C. he won the oracle’s confirmation that he was the divine son of Zeus, the Greek god equated with Amun.

The tale of Cambyses’ lost army, however, faded into antiquity. As no trace of the hapless warriors was ever found, scholars began to dismiss the story as a fanciful tale.

Roman ‘Elvis’ Statue goes to auction

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Are you Roman tonight? Statue of ‘Elvis’ chiselled 1800 years before his birth goes under the hammer

With his dashing chiselled features, swept back hair and perky bouffant the resemblance is unmistakable.

But incredibly this carving of Elvis Presley was created around 1800 years before the King of Rock and Roll first warbled his first note.

The amazing likeness has come to light as part of a sale of ancient antiques by the auction house Bonhams.

The Roman Elvis is in fact a genuine marble acroterion – a kind of architectural ornament often found for decoration on the corners of a sarcophagus, a stone tomb or burial chamber.
Elvis

It forms part of a collection owned by Melbourne-based Graham Geddes – one of the world’s most foremost collectors – which is estimated to sell for more than £1m when it goes on sale in October.

Der Führer is back in Berlin!

Friday, July 4th, 2008

Adolf Hitler finally returns to Berlin – but will tight security ensure model behaviour?

Before Adolf Hitler killed himself in April 1945 he explained to his aides that he was determined not to fall into the hands of the Russians — and land up as the freak exhibit in a Moscow waxworks.

As luck would have it, Hitler — or, at least, a waxen effigy — has now been put on display in Berlin, a short stroll away from his former bunker.

Thanks to Madame Tussauds, which has just opened a new affiliate in Berlin, Germans can at last view a realistic model of the Führer. The suspicion, though, is that he will bring nothing but trouble.

To ensure that the wax Führer does not inspire neo-Nazi pilgrimages, Madame Tussauds has cordoned off the dummy and imposed a no-touch rule. You can kiss Robbie Williams or even Angela Merkel, but not Hitler; nor can you pose for a picture with him. There are CCTV cameras and the London-based company has also taken the precaution of moulding a very shrivelled Führer.

You don’t know how lucky you are

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Humans Almost Became Extinct 70,000 Years Ago

Human beings may have had a brush with extinction 70,000 years ago, an extensive genetic study suggests.

The human population at that time was reduced to small isolated groups in Africa, apparently because of drought, according to an analysis released Thursday.

The report notes that a separate study by researchers at Stanford University estimated the number of early humans may have shrunk as low as 2,000 before numbers began to expand again in the early Stone Age.

“This study illustrates the extraordinary power of genetics to reveal insights into some of the key events in our species’ history,” Spencer Wells, National Geographic Society explorer in residence, said in a statement.

“Tiny bands of early humans, forced apart by harsh environmental conditions, coming back from the brink to reunite and populate the world,” he added. “Truly an epic drama, written in our DNA.”

Hitler the Cartoonist?

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

Did Adolf Hitler draw Disney characters?

The director of a Norwegian museum claimed yesterday to have discovered cartoons drawn by Adolf Hitler during the Second World War.

William Hakvaag, the director of a war museum in northern Norway, said he found the drawings hidden in a painting signed “A. Hitler” that he bought at an auction in Germany.

He found coloured cartoons of the characters Bashful and Doc from the 1937 Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which were signed A.H., and an unsigned sketch of Pinocchio as he appeared in the 1940 Disney film.

Hitler tried to make a living as an artist before his rise to power. While there was no independent confirmation yesterday that the drawings were the work of the Nazi leader, Hitler is known to have owned a copy of Snow White, the classic animated adaptation of a German fairy tale, and to have viewed it in his private cinema.

Cave of Romulus and Remus Discovered

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Rome founders’ sanctuary discovered

Italian archaeologists said today they believe they have found one of the ancient city’s holiest sites, the cave venerated as the place where, according to myth, a female wolf nursed the city’s founders, twin brothers Romulus and Remus.

Decorated with seashells and marble, the vaulted space lies buried 16 metres inside the Palatine hill, the centre of power in imperial Rome.

P-38 reappears on British Beach

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Shifting sands reveal World War Two fighter plane lost for 65 years

For 65 years, this Second World War fighter had lain hidden under the surface of a beach where it crash-landed.

Just a short distance above it, holidaying families have built sandcastles, strolled and swum, all unaware of its existence.

But now the P-38 Lightning has re-emerged after freak weather conditions caused the sands to shift and expose its rusting frame.

The U.S. aircraft – with its distinctive “twinboom” design – was discovered on the North Wales coast, but the location is being kept secret in case it is targeted by looters.

Hurricane uncovers European cannons off Mexico

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Hurricane unearthed 18th-century cannons in Mexico

Hurricane Dean’s rampage over Mexico’s Caribbean coast last week unearthed three rusted 18th century cannons that had lain buried under a sandy beach for decades.

The cannons, around 1.80 meter (5.9 feet) long, were spotted poking through the sand on a beach near the arty resort of Tulum after Dean hit on August 21, Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said on Wednesday.

Tank collectors: Read this

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

Bulgarian Nazi-Era Tanks Still Pointed at Turkey

Bulgaria’s southern Turkey is speckled with German army tanks that remain pointed at the fellow NATO member. After decades of service — from World War II to the Cold War — their days are finally numbered.

Taking a closer second look, a visitor to the village of Fakiya in southeastern Bulgaria can just make out a rusting cannon some 10 meters (33 feet) off the side of a narrow road.

It belongs to a tank built in 1943 for Nazi Germany, with which Bulgaria was allied during World War II. Inside, the tank is filled with spider webs and rust. The serial number, stamp of the imperial eagle and a Nazi swastika are still easily recognizable.

Not far away, atop a small hillock, there’s a second armored vehicle. Beneath some oak trees and overgrown with weeds, the tank perched on the edge of an abandoned vineyard has virtually merged into its natural surroundings.

There are still around 40 World War II tanks in the region next to the Turkish border, particularly in the towns of Sharkovo and Voden. The barrels are aimed at Turkey, only a few kilometers to the south.

Danger: UXB!

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

Wartime flying bomb found in British capital

Police closed streets near London’s Canary Wharf financial district on Saturday after an unexploded German flying bomb from World War Two was found on a construction site.

Bomb disposal experts were called in to make the V1 missile safe after it was unearthed close to the east London complex that houses 80,000 office workers during the working week, police said. At weekends the area is busy with shoppers and visitors.

Vampire’s Castle For Sale

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

Bran Castle, Also Known As ‘Dracula’s Castle’

An heir of Romania’s former royal family put “Dracula’s Castle” in Transylvania up for sale Monday, hoping to secure a buyer who will respect “the property and its history,” a U.S.-based investment company said.

The Bran Castle, perched on a cliff near Brasov in mountainous central Romania, is a top tourist attraction because of its ties to Prince Vlad the Impaler, the warlord whose cruelty inspired Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, “Dracula.”

Legend has it that Vlad, who earned his nickname because of the way he tortured his enemies, spent one night in the 1400s at the castle.

Hidden chamber guarded by terracotta army discovered

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

China finds secret tomb chamber

A mysterious underground chamber has been found inside the Chinese imperial tomb guarded by the famous Terracotta Army, Chinese archaeologists say.

Historical records describing the tomb of Qin Shihuang, China’s first emperor, do not mention the room which is 30 metres (98 feet) deep.

The unopened chamber was found at the site near the old imperial capital of Xian using remote sensing technology.

One expert says it may have been built for the soul of the emperor.

Bring Back Chariot Racing!

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

A worldwide push to bring back chariot racing

On a drowsy May day in the country, tractors and combines were lumbering down dirt roads when, suddenly, a cloud of dust rose up on the horizon. Birds scattered. Rumbling across the green landscape came seven racing chariots, each pulled by four horses.

Riding in the chariot decorated with an engraving of Alexander the Great was Luiz Augusto Alves de Oliveira, a 50-year-old sugar-cane farmer who has an epic plan: returning chariot racing to its ancient glory.

Genghis Khan – the world’s most successful breeder

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Genghis Khan, warrior… and sex god

Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan was notorious for his sexual as well as his territorial conquests. But the extent to which he captured women’s hearts has now been revealed with research suggesting that he has 16 million Asian descendants.

Mongolian horsemen, Genghis Khan, warrior… and sex god
Mongolian horsemen: Research suggests that Genghis Khan has 16 million Asian descendants

Scientists traced a genetic trail believed to originate from the ruthless leader, who established the biggest empire the world as ever seen.

Gladiator graveyard in Turkey

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

Gladiator bones found in Turkey:

Scientists believe they have for the first time identified an ancient graveyard for gladiators. Analysis of their bones and injuries has given new insight into how they lived, fought and died. The remains were found at Ephesus in Turkey, a major city of the Roman world, BBC Timewatch reports.

WW2 soldier gets his duffel bag back 63 years later

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

Bag back from Battle of Bulge

Henry J. Roth cheated fate in 1944 when severely swollen feet earned him a coveted seat on a train to an English hospital, weeks before his Army division was pounded by advancing Germans in the Battle of the Bulge.

 Sixty-three years later, a faded relic from his foxhole arrived at Roth’s home in Catonsville.

Roth, an 85-year-old retired accountant, received the package this week from Belgium. As his mailman and wife looked on, Roth opened the box and pulled out a dark green canvas duffel bag, emblazoned with stenciled lettering: “Henry J. Roth 33383648″

It didn’t take long for Roth to recognize the bag. It had once contained some of his Army gear and a picture of his wife. He had left it with the other members of the 395th Regiment of the 99th Infantry Division in a foxhole near the Belgian-German border as he went to wash up in a nearby farmhouse.

Before he could return, doctors diagnosed his trench foot – a condition that afflicted scores of soldiers during the war – and sent him to England.

Never underestimate the power of an 8.1 earthquake

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Quake Raises WWII Ship From Sea Floor

Wreckage from a World War II torpedo boat was tossed up from the sea in the Solomon Islands after a powerful 8.1 earthquake hit the area in early April, an official said Friday

Jay Waura of the National Disaster Management Office said the explosive-laden boat was exposed when reefs were pushed up 10 feet above sea level by the April 2 quake, which caused a devastating tsunami in the western Solomon Islands that killed 52 people.

The Solomons’ coastline is still littered with decaying military wrecks from World War II, including the torpedo patrol boat commanded by U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

“My team members believe that this boat could have been one of those U.S. torpedo boats such as the famous PT-109, which the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy had served aboard during the war,” said Waura.

Oldest business in the world shuts down

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

The End of a 1,400-Year-Old Business:

The world’s oldest continuously operating family business ended its impressive run last year. Japanese temple builder Kongo Gumi, in operation under the founders’ descendants since 578, succumbed to excess debt and an unfavorable business climate in 2006.

How do you make a family business last for 14 centuries? Kongo Gumi’s case suggests that it’s a good idea to operate in a stable industry. Few industries could be less flighty than Buddhist temple construction. The belief system has survived for thousands of years and has many millions of adherents. With this firm foundation, Kongo had survived some tumultuous times, notably the 19th century Meiji restoration when it lost government subsidies and began building commercial buildings for the first time. But temple construction had until recently been a reliable mainstay, contributing 80% of Kongo Gumi’s $67.6 million in 2004 revenues.

Aviators recovered 60 years later

Monday, April 9th, 2007

Ten Missing WWII Airmen are Identified:

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of ten U.S. servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

 On April 16, 1944, a B-24 Liberator crewed by these airmen was returning to the aerodrome at Nadzab, New Guinea, after bombing enemy targets near Hollandia. The aircraft was altering course due to bad weather and was proceeding to the aerodrome at Saidor, but it never returned to friendly lines.

In late 2001, the U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea notified the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command that wreckage of a World War II bomber had been found in Morobe Province. Early the next year, a JPAC team surveyed the site and found aircraft wreckage and remains. They also collected more remains and Grady’s identification tag from local villagers who had found the items at the crash site.

 
Later in 2002, a JPAC team began excavating the crash site and recovered remains and crew-related items, including identification tags for Knight and Smith. The team was unable to complete the recovery, and another JPAC team re-visited the site two weeks later to complete the excavation. The team found additional remains and identification tags for Sargent and King.

Hatfields and McCoys were born bad

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

Disease underlies Hatfield-McCoy feud

The most infamous feud in American folklore, the long-running battle between the Hatfields and McCoys, may be partly explained by a rare, inherited disease that can lead to hair-trigger rage and violent outbursts.

Dozens of McCoy descendants apparently have the disease, which causes high blood pressure, racing hearts, severe headaches and too much adrenaline and other “fight or flight” stress hormones.

No one blames the whole feud on this, but doctors say it could help explain some of the clan’s notorious behavior.

Etruscans were from the Near East

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

DNA Boosts Herodotus’ Account of Etruscans as Migrants to Italy

Geneticists have added an edge to a 2,500-year-old debate over the origin of the Etruscans, a people whose brilliant and mysterious civilization dominated northwestern Italy for centuries until the rise of the Roman republic in 510 B.C. Several new findings support a view held by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus — but unpopular among archaeologists — that the Etruscans originally migrated to Italy from the Near East.

Though Roman historians played down their debt to the Etruscans, Etruscan culture permeated Roman art, architecture and religion. The Etruscans were master metallurgists and skillful seafarers who for a time dominated much of the Mediterranean. They enjoyed unusually free social relations, much remarked on by ancient historians of other cultures.

The original paper pilot of the internet

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

Mundaneum, the Index Card Internet:

When the Mundaneum opened in 1910, its purpose was to collect all of the world’s knowledge on neatly organized 3″ x 5″ index cards. The brainchild of Belgian lawyer Paul Otlet and Nobel Peace Prize winner Henri LaFontaine, the vast project eventually totaled 12 million cards, each classified according to the Universal Decimal Classification system developed by Otlet.

Chopin’s Piano Found

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Chopin’s piano found in country house

THE grand piano Frederic Chopin took on his last concert tour has been found in an English country house thanks to detective work by a Swiss musical scholar.

“It came as a bolt from the blue,” said British collector Alec Cobbe after discovering that the piano he bought 20 years ago for £2000 is a piece of musical history.

For more than 150 years after the composer’s death, Chopin’s piano vanished until Professor Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger researched the ledgers of French pianomaker Camille Pleyel.

Lost Colony Update

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

History buff thinks he has found 1585 English fort:

Amateur historian Scott Dawson thinks he has found what archaeologists and historians have sought for decades — the site of an English fort on Roanoke Island linked to the legendary Lost Colony.

Dawson, a Civil War buff, said that documents written centuries apart led him to an overgrown tract where he believes explorer Ralph Lane established a settlement in 1585.

The site, on the northern end of the island about 200 miles east of Raleigh, is on National Park Service property but not within the Fort Raleigh Historic Site or the area targeted by dozens of searches.

Oldest Solar Observatory in the Americas unveiled!

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

Towers point to ancient Sun cult:

The oldest solar observatory in the Americas has been found, suggesting the existence of early, sophisticated Sun cults, scientists report. It comprises of a group of 2,300-year-old structures, known as the Thirteen Towers, which are found in the Chankillo archaeological site, Peru. The towers span the annual rising and setting arcs of the Sun, providing a solar calendar to mark special dates.

Strom Thurmond’s Ancestors Owned Al Sharpton’s Ancestors!

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

 Family Ties Sharpton to Thurmond

Geneaologists have found that civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton is a descendent of a slave owned by relatives of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The Daily News said professional genealogists, working at the newspaper’s behest, recently uncovered the ancestral ties between one of the nation’s best known black leaders and a man who was once a prominent defender of segregation.

“I have always wondered what was the background of my family,” the newspaper quoted Sharpton as saying. “But nothing — nothing — could prepare me for this.” “It’s chilling. It’s amazing.”

5,500 Year Old City Discovered

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

Scientists stumble upon one of world’s oldest cities

A Spanish scientific team found one of the world’s oldest cities, thought to be about 5,500 years old, in Syria.

The discovery, based on pottery fragments and other ceramics found at the site, was announced in Madrid by two of the scientists in charge of the investigation, Ignacio Marquez of Spain’s CSIC scientific research council and Juan Luis Moreno of the Universidad de La Coruña.

George Washington’s Resignation Speech Unveiled

Monday, February 19th, 2007

Maryland to Unveil the Page That Began a New Chapter

It was a speech so moving the crowd wept. It was a speech so personally important George Washington’s hand shook as he read it until he had to hold the paper still with both hands. After the ceremony, he handed the thing to a friend and sped out the door of the State House in Annapolis, riding off by horse.For centuries, his words have resonated in American democracy even as the speech itself — the small piece of paper that shook in his hands that day — was quietly put away, out of the public eye and largely forgotten.

Today, however, amid festivities celebrating his birthday, Maryland officials plan to unveil the original document — worth $1.5 million — after acquiring it in a private sale from a family in Maryland who had kept it all these years. It took two years to negotiate the deal and raise money for the speech, which experts consider the most significant Washington document to change hands in the past 50 years.

He saved the Republic from monarchy and military dictatorship. If only our successor Presidents were so worthy…

Read his resignation speech here.

Methuselah sapling growing strong after laying dormant for 2000 years

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

2,000-year-old date seed grows in the Arava

The wind ruffles the leaves of the date sapling in its planter, and Dr. Elaine Soloway quickly shields it. “There’s only one plant like this in the world, and I’m still worried about it,” she says. Methuselah – that is the sapling’s name – is indeed unique. In 2005, Soloway, from Kibbutz Ketura in the Arava, germinated it from a 2,000-year-old date seed found at Masada.

For the past two millennia, since approximately the time of the Great Revolt of the Jews against the Romans, in 66-73 C.E., the seed lay dormant, until Soloway and her team breathed life into it, making it the oldest seed ever to germinate.

Time to Party like it’s AD 64

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

Nero’s Golden Palace to partly reopen

Nero’s Golden Palace will partly reopen to visitors next week, offering rare insight into archaeologists’ efforts to preserve the first-century imperial residence from decay and humidity.

Visitors will have access to half of the palace, wandering through a maze of underground passageways, officials said Wednesday. They can also climb a 43-foot scaffolding and take a close look at the building’s frescoed vaulted ceilings, as restorers and archaeologists work to clean the paint.

Chinese Romans?

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Roman descendants found in China?

Residents of a remote Chinese village are hoping that DNA tests will prove one of history’s most unlikely legends — that they are descended from Roman legionaries lost in antiquity.

Scientists have taken blood samples from 93 people living in and around Liqian, a settlement in north-western China on the fringes of the Gobi desert, more than 200 miles from the nearest city.

They are seeking an explanation for the unusual number of local people with western characteristics — green eyes, big noses, and even blonde hair — mixed with traditional Chinese features.

Stonehenge Update

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Houses Found Buried Beneath Stonehenge Site

New excavations near the mysterious circle at Stonehenge in South England have uncovered dozens of homes where hundreds of people lived — at roughly the same time 4,600 years ago that the giant stone slabs were being erected. The finding strongly suggests that the monument and the settlement nearby were a center for ceremonial activities, with Stonehenge likely a burial site while other nearby circular earthen “henges” were areas for feasts and festivals.

Lupercale uncovered!

Friday, January 26th, 2007

Sacred Cave of Rome’s Founders Discovered, Archaeologists Say:

Archaeologists say they have unearthed Lupercale—the sacred cave where, according to legend, a she-wolf nursed the twin founders of Rome and where the city itself was born.

The long-lost underground chamber was found beneath the remains of Emperor Augustus’ palace on the Palatine, a 230-foot-tall (70-meter-tall) hill in the center of the city.

Lost Civilizations Update

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

‘Cloud warrior’ ruin may hold clues to lost civilization

An unusual archeological site discovered in Peru’s mountains may hold clues to the history of the Chachapoya people, known as “cloud warriors,” who fought the Inca Empire before the Spanish conquest. Keith Muscutt, a British-born Chachapoya researcher with the University of California Santa Cruz, said Wednesday the site was “strikingly anomalous” because of its size, shape and remote location in the dense forest full of spider monkeys and toucans. The unfortified, possibly ceremonial structure is located in an area previously considered on the periphery of the Chachapoya domain in the upper Amazon region.

Yet another reason to avoid French military food

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

French food ‘helped kill Napoleon’

NEARLY 186 years later, a scientific study has cleared Britain of the calumny that it murdered Napoleon, declaring instead that l’empereur was felled by stomach cancer – and French military food was a possible cause.

$78 million to buy Dracula’s castle

Friday, January 12th, 2007

‘Dracula Castle’ put up for sale:

‘Dracula Castle’ put up for sale Bran Castle in Transylvania The castle is one of Romania’s top tourist attractions The descendants of the Habsburg monarchy have confirmed they want to sell a Transylvanian castle mythically linked to the fictional Count Dracula.

Barbarian Update

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

1,600 Years Ago: Barbarian Invasion

1,600 years ago today, on December 31, 406, the Vandals invaded France. Europe was going through a minor ice age. The Rhine had frozen over. Several Germanic tribes, the Vandals, Suebians, Alamannians, Alans and Burgundians, fleeing the Huns, crossed the river near Mainz and invaded Gaul.

Blast from the Past: Il Duce’s Villa Restored

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Mussolini’s Roman villa restored to glory

The magnificent historic villa that was the home of Benito Mussolini when he was the all-powerful Duce of Italy has been reopened to the public after nearly 30 years of restoration. The nine buildings and gardens of the Villa Torlonia, which were largely built in the 19th century by the Torlonia princes of the Vatican aristocracy, will now house an art museum dedicated to the Roman school of 20th-century painting.