|The Charge of the Light Brigade, 160 Years Ago|
November 24, 2014, History.com by Jesse Greenspan
On October 25, 1854, the commander-in-chief of British troops during the Crimean War issued an ambiguous order that his subordinates misinterpreted, resulting in the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade against a heavily defended Russian position. Facing artillery and musket fire on three sides, British cavalrymen were slaughtered in droves as they galloped headlong down the so-called “valley of death.” Yet because they maintained discipline amid the chaos and even managed to briefly scatter the Russians, the British public glorified them. One participant would later describe it as “the most magnificent assault known in military annals and the greatest blunder known to military tactics.”
|Bell of captain’s ship recovered from Franklin Expedition|
November 06, 2014, The Globe & Mail (Canada) by Kim Mackrael
arks Canada has retrieved a bronze bell from the wreck of HMS Erebus, one of two ships lost during Sir John Franklin’s doomed expedition in search of the Northwest Passage.
The bell was found resting on the upper deck of the ship, surrounded by underwater plant life but in good condition. An arrow, used to signify property of the British Royal Navy, is still visible on the exterior along with 1845 – the year the Franklin expedition began.
|'Demon Traps' Found in 17th-Century English House|
November 06, 2014, Discovery News by Rossella Lorenzi
English archaeologists have discovered “demon traps” under the floorboards of one of Britain’s most important historic houses.
Consisting of carved intersecting lines and symbols, the witch marks were found in a bedroom at Knole, a huge, stately home in Kent which is considered one of the country’s most precious historic houses.
Acquired by the Archbishops of Canterbury in the 15th century and gifted to Henry VIII and remodeled in the 17th century by the Sackville family, the house was the birthplace of poet and gardener Vita Sackville-West and the setting for Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando.
|French museums face a cultural change over restitution of colonial objects|
November 03, 2014, The Guardian (GB) by Laurent Carpentier
Ever since explorers, scientists and soldiers started travelling the world and bringing back treasures, France has upheld the principle of the “inalienability” of public heritage. The works that are now in French museums and collections will, supposedly, remain a part of national heritage for ever. This principle was established in 1566, when the edict of Moulins proclaimed that the royal domain was inalienable and imprescriptible. In simpler terms: the sovereign could not give away the assets he or she inherited. Two centuries later, the French revolution based its definition of the public domain on the same principle. It was the only point of reference for explorers sailing round the world in search of possessions and learning.
|Vessel Buried 20 Feet Under New Jersey Beach Could Be Historical Find|
November 03, 2014, Good Morning America by John Fischer
Historians and town officials are eager to excavate the remnants of a vessel more than 100 years old that was discovered on a New Jersey beach by drillers preparing a protective sea wall in the wake of superstorm Sandy.
The discovery could be nothing more than an old barge, but some officials believe it is a much more historical sailing ship from as far back as the 1850s, and at least one has a hunch that it is the skeleton of the Ayrshire, a Scottish brig that crashed on to a New Jersey sandbar in 1850.
|Vatican admits Sistine Chapel frescoes 'whitened'|
October 30, 2014, The Associated Press by Nicole Winfield
The Vatican revealed a closely kept secret Thursday: The Sistine Chapel's precious frescoes were starting to turn white from the air pollution caused by so many visitors passing through each day to marvel at Michelangelo's masterpiece.
Officials first noticed the whitening patina in 2010 and immediately launched an investigation. The damage wasn't visible from the ground, but close inspection showed pockets of frescoes covered with a powdery patina that caked them like cracked sugar icing.
|Sistine chapel dazzles after technological makeover|
October 30, 2014, AFP by Ella Ide
High above the altar in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, the halo around Jesus Christ's head in Michelangelo's famous frescoes shines with a brighter glow, thanks to a revolutionary new lighting system.
Angels, sybils and prophets in blues, pinks and golds, once lost in the gloom, are brought into sharp relief by 7,000 LED lamps designed specifically for the prized chapel, where red-hatted cardinals have elected new popes since the 15th century.
|The Leonardo hidden from Hitler in case it gave him magic powers|
October 29, 2014, BBC (England) by Dany Mitzman
One of the world's most famous self-portraits is going on rare public display in the northern Italian city of Turin. Very little is known about the 500-year-old, fragile, fading red chalk drawing of Leonardo da Vinci but some believe it has mystical powers.
There is a myth in Turin that the gaze of Leonardo da Vinci in this self-portrait is so intense that those who observe it are imbued with great strength.
|Rewriting history: 400-year-old battle in County Fermanagh|
October 29, 2014, BBC by Julian Fowler
In 1594, soldiers loyal to Queen Elizabeth I, sent to relieve a garrison besieged by Irish chieftain Hugh Maguire in Enniskillen Castle, were ambushed as they crossed the Arney River.
The troops were massacred and their supplies were thrown into the river.
It became known as the Battle of the Ford of the Biscuits.
|Remains of French ship being reassembled in Texas|
October 24, 2014, PhysOrg.com by Michael Graczyk
A frigate carrying French colonists to the New World that sank in a storm off the Texas coast more than 300 years ago is being reassembled into a display that archeologists hope will let people walk over the hull and feel like they are on the ship's deck.
The 1686 wreck of the 54-foot oak frigate La Belle—in an expedition led by famed Mississippi River explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle—is blamed for dooming France's further exploration of what would become Texas and the American Southwest.
|USS Constitution Takes Trip Before 3-year Restoration
October 18, 2014, The Associated Press by Staff
The USS Constitution took one last spin in Boston Harbor before it heads to dry dock for a three-year restoration project.
The world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat left its berth at the Charlestown Navy Yard with about 500 invited guests Friday morning.
|Panic over Ebola echoes the 19th-century fear of cholera|
October 17, 2014, The Conversation by Sally Sheard
On October 19 an inspector sent north from London to Sunderland reported a long-awaited arrival: the first British case of cholera. It was 1831 and as part of a second pandemic cholera had again progressed from its Bengal heartland through Europe, before reaching the Baltic ports. It was only a matter of time.
The British public, informed by newspaper reports, were acquainted with the symptoms: profuse watery diarrhoea, severe abdominal pain and often death within a matter of hours. In advance of its arrival in Russia thousands fled from the cities. In Poland it was killing one in two victims. And unlike today, where oral rehydration solution can prevent dehydration and shock, there was no effective treatment.
|Christopher Columbus: The Absurd Things Kids Used to Be Taught About History|
October 12, 2014, Boston.com by Hilary Sargent
Buy your 5-year-old a book about Christopher Columbus published in the last decade and you’ll find yourself pausing to explain both “mutiny” and “slavery”.
But as anyone old enough to remember what it’s like to rewind a VHS tape knows, it wasn’t always that way.
The Cruise of Mr. Christopher Columbus: A Really Truly Story, by Sadyebeth & Anson Lowitz, was first published in 1932, and remained popular for decades.
|The (Still) Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe|
October 07, 2014, Smithsonian Magazine by Natasha Geiling
It was raining in Baltimore on October 3, 1849, but that didn't stop Joseph W. Walker, a compositor for the Baltimore Sun, from heading out to Gunner's Hall, a public house bustling with activity. It was Election Day, and Gunner's Hall served as a pop-up polling location for the 4th Ward polls. When Walker arrived at Gunner's Hall, he found a man, delirious and dressed in shabby second-hand clothes, lying in the gutter. The man was semi-conscious, and unable to move, but as Walker approached the him, he discovered something unexpected: the man was Edgar Allan Poe. Worried about the health of the addled poet, Walker stopped and asked Poe if he had any acquaintances in Baltimore that might be able to help him. Poe gave Walker the name of Joseph E. Snodgrass, a magazine editor with some medical training. Immediately, Walker penned Snodgrass a letter asking for help.
|U.N. experts say Haiti wreck is not Columbus' flagship, Santa Maria|
October 07, 2014, CNN by Laura Smith-Spark
An American explorer's claim to have found the long-lost Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus' flagship from his first voyage to the Americas, has been dismissed by a group of U.N. experts. Underwater explorer Barry Clifford made headlines when he said in May that he believed a shipwreck on a reef off Haiti's northern coast could be the fabled ship, which went down in 1492.
|AMC Revolutionary War Drama 'Turn: Washington's Spies' Begins Production on Season Two in Colonial Williamsburg
October 01, 2014, TV by the Numbers by Sara Bibel
The second season of AMC’s Revolutionary War drama “TURN: Washington’s Spies” began production this week in and around Richmond, Virginia, including at two historic locations in Williamsburg; Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area and on the campus of the College of William & Mary. The filming in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area will take place at the Governor’s Palace, which was the official residence for the Royal Governors of the Colony of Virginia, as well as home to two of Virginia’s post-colonial governors, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, and marks only the second time a large-scale production has been allowed to film in the historic location, which previously hosted the filming of “John Adams.” The scenes taking place at the College of William & Mary will be filmed in the Sir Christopher Wren Building, which is the oldest college building in the United States and the oldest of the restored public buildings in Williamsburg. Additional production locations in Virginia for the second season include Tuckahoe, the Old Town area of City of Petersburg which will double for New York and Philadelphia; as well as various historic sites and parks in Hanover County, Henrico County, and Charles City County.
|Fantastically Wrong: Magellan’s Strange Encounter With the 10-Foot Giants of Patagonia|
September 17, 2014, Wired by Matt Simon
In 1520, Ferdinand Magellan took time out of his busy schedule of sailing around the world to stop in what is now Patagonia, where he found a naked giant dancing and singing on the shore. Magellan ordered one of his men to make contact (the unwitting emissary’s no doubt hilarious reaction to this sadly has been lost to history), and to be sure to reciprocate the dancing and singing to demonstrate friendship.
|How to Reassemble a 300-Year-Old Lost Ship|
September 17, 2014, Popular Mechanics by Jacqueline Detwiler
In a winter storm in 1686 a 54-foot French frigate carrying a skeleton crew on an exploratory mission off the Texas coast sank in Matagorda Bay, halfway between Galveston and Corpus Christi. For more than 300 years it sat and decomposed, but portions of its keel and hull were mummified in 6 feet of mud. When those diminished but very important remains were raised in 1996, preservationists had an astonishing piece of good luck almost unheard of in the world of shipwreck rescue: Every important plank of wood had been marked with a Roman numeral, like a model in a box. Jim Bruseth, one of the research archaeologists leading the $17 million effort to recover and rebuild the frigate's remains—which are currently in some 600 pieces—calls it a ship kit.
September 15, 2014, Archaeology.org by Samir S. Patel
On the night of July 31, 1761, Jean de Lafargue, captain of the French East India Company ship L’Utile (“Useful”), was likely thinking of riches. In the ship’s hold were approximately 160 slaves purchased in Madagascar just days before and bound for Île de France, known today as Mauritius. It had been 80 years since the dodo had gone extinct on that Indian Ocean island, and the thriving French colony had a plantation economy in need of labor. However, though slavery was legal at the time, de Lafargue was not authorized by colonial authorities to trade in slaves.
According to the detailed account of the ship’s écrivain, or purser, as L’Utile approached the vicinity of an islet then called Île des Sables, or Sandy Island, winds kicked up to 15 or 20 knots. The ship’s two maps did not agree on the small island’s precise location, and a more prudent captain probably would have slowed and waited for daylight. But de Lafargue was in a hurry to reap his bounty. That night L’Utile struck the reef off the islet’s north end, shattering the hull. Most of the slaves, trapped in the cargo holds, drowned, though some escaped as the ship broke apart. The next morning, 123 of the 140 members of the French crew and somewhere between 60 and 80 Malagasy slaves found themselves stranded on Île des Sables—shaken and injured, but alive.
|Uncovering Hidden Text on a 500-Year-Old Map That Guided Columbus|
September 15, 2014, Wired by Greg Miller
Christopher Columbus probably used the map above as he planned his first voyage across the Atlantic in 1492. It represents much of what Europeans knew about geography on the verge discovering the New World, and it’s packed with text historians would love to read—if only the faded paint and five centuries of wear and tear hadn’t rendered most of it illegible.
But that’s about to change. A team of researchers is using a technique called multispectral imaging to uncover the hidden text. They scanned the map last month at Yale University and expect to start extracting readable text in the next few months, says Chet Van Duzer, an independent map scholar who’s leading the project, which was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
|Mystery Surrounds Skeletons in Mass Grave|
September 12, 2014, Popular Archaeology by Staff
Further tests will be conducted on skeletons initially recovered from a centuries-old mass grave in Durham City, in the UK, in 2013.
...The remains of two individuals have been radiocarbon dated and the results point to a date of death sometime within 1440-1630.
|Ship From Doomed Franklin Expedition Found in Arctic After 169 Years|
September 09, 2014, NBC News by Gil Aegerter
A ship that figures in one of the greatest mysteries in Arctic exploration — the 1840s disappearance of the Franklin Expedition — has been found, Canadian authorities said Tuesday.
It’s not known yet whether the ship found in Canada’s Arctic is the HMS Erebus or HMS Terror, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement, but the discovery was confirmed Sunday using a remote underwater vehicle.
|Famous George Washington Painting To Be Restored|
September 08, 2014, The Associated Press by Staff
One of the most famous portraits of George Washington will soon get a high-tech examination and face-lift of sorts with its first major conservation treatment in decades.
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has begun planning the conservation and digital analysis of the full-length “Lansdowne” portrait of the first president that was painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1796, museum officials told The Associated Press. The 8-foot-by-5-foot picture is considered the definitive portrait of Washington as president after earlier images in military uniform.
|'Old Ironsides' sails across Boston Harbor before 3-year-rehab|
August 29, 2014, United Press International by Frances Burns
The USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned ship of war in the U.S. Navy, went for a final sail Friday before a three-year rehab.
The vessel, nicknamed Old Ironsides, will make one more trip across the Boston Harbor in October, said Peter Melkus, a spokesman. But it will be pushed by a tug instead of moving by sail power in an exhibition to mark the 217th anniversary of its launch.
|All the Bar's a Stage, And All the Players Are Drunk|
August 26, 2014, The Wall Street Journal by Pia Catton
Ross Williams aims to put the bar back into the Bard.
His latest ShakesBEER series in August took thirsty theatergoers to four bars in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. At each stop, actors launch into a scene from Shakespeare plays, such as "Romeo and Juliet" or "As You Like It," often in front of regulars and tourists who have no idea what's going on.
At the end of the scene, the ShakesBEER crowd moves on to the next venue. Drink, watch, repeat.