|Some Experiments with Severed Heads|
January 25, 2011, Charles Fort Institute by Mike Dash
Early on the morning of 18 February 1848, two men and a woman walked into the square in front of the Porte de Hal, in Brussels [below left], where a public execution was due to take place shortly after dawn. They were there to conduct a ground-breaking scientific study, and, by prior arrangement with the Belgian penal authorities, were permitted to climb onto the scaffold and wait next to the guillotine at the spot where the severed heads of two condemned criminals were scheduled to drop into a blood red sack.
One of the men was Antoine Joseph Wiertz, a well known Belgian painter and also a fine hypnotic subject. With him were his friend, Monsieur D_____, a noted hypnotist, and a witness. Wiertz’s purpose on that winter’s day was to carry out a unique and extraordinary experiment. Long haunted by the desire to know whether a severed head remained conscious after a guillotining, the painter had agreed to be hypnotised and instructed to identify himself with a man who was about to be executed for murder.
|Research Uses Space-Age Technology on 16th-Century History|
January 25, 2011, The Guardian (UK) by Chris Arnot
Cutting-edge space science technology of the sort used to analyse moon rock is being applied to fragments of 16th-century tombs. Scientists from the Space Research Centre in Leicester are working with an art historian from the nearby university as well as academics from Oxford and Yale in a three-year project that hopes to shed new light on our understanding of the Tudor Reformation.
The tombs, at the parish church in Framlingham, are close to the family seat of the Howards, the extremely wealthy and powerful Dukes of Norfolk. But they were originally sited 40 miles away at Thetford Priory, traditional resting place of the Howards until Henry VIII had it dissolved in 1539. They were moved and reassembled some time in the 1540s while the third duke languished in the Tower of London. (Henry was becoming increasingly paranoid about the threat that he posed to his infant heir.) The reassembly process was flawed, however. Some different materials were used.
|Chopin's Hallucinations Caused by Epilepsy: Scientists|
January 24, 2011, AFP (France) by Staff
In the great Polish composer, Frederic Chopin, towering genius combined with a wasted frame and a pallid face behind which lurked melancholy, a brooding over death, a disconnection from ordinary life and sometimes horrifying hallucinations.
A force that created this image was the French novelist George Sand, who described lyrically how her lover, cursed by prodigy and doomed by frailty to an early grave, would be shaken by ghostly visions.
|Clues to Ship's ID Elusive|
January 24, 2011, The St. Augustine Record (FL) by Anthony DeMatteo
As a large crowd of people peeked around one another Sunday to watch the event happening about 20 yards beyond her, Marie Valdes stared almost straight up at the St. Augustine Lighthouse, following her 2-year-old grandson, Desmond in pointing at its beacon.
About 150 people eagerly watched Lighthouse Archeological Maritime Program Archeological Conservator Starr Cox carefully chip crustations and debris from the bronze bell of a ship sunk a few miles off the St. Augustine Inlet more than two centuries ago. The bell was lifted from a water-filled crate in which it had been kept untouched since December.
|La Plaza Project Snubbed Historic Preservation in Digging up Old Burial Ground in L.A.|
January 21, 2011, The Los Angeles Times by Hector Tobar
A lot more questions should have been asked before excavation was allowed at the site of the new La Plaza de Cultura y Artes center. Bones from at least 100 bodies have been unearthed.
L.A. has flunked another history test.
Not the kind with questions about George Washington and the Constitution. This was a test of our ability to protect our local history — specifically one particular patch of land where many, if not most, of L.A.'s founders were buried.
|Boy George Returns Stolen Icon|
January 21, 2011, NewsCore by Staff
BRITISH pop star and DJ Boy George returned an 18th century icon to Cyprus after he unwittingly bought the stolen artefact 26 years ago from a London art dealer.
An eagle-eyed priest spotted the post-Byzantine icon of Christ hanging on the singer's wall during a Dutch television show.
|George Washington: The Reluctant President|
January 21, 2011, Smithsonian Magazine by Ron Chernow
The Congressional delay in certifying George Washington’s election as president only allowed more time for doubts to fester as he considered the herculean task ahead. He savored his wait as a welcome “reprieve,” he told his former comrade in arms and future Secretary of War Henry Knox, adding that his “movements to the chair of government will be accompanied with feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution.” His “peaceful abode” at Mount Vernon, his fears that he lacked the requisite skills for the presidency, the “ocean of difficulties” facing the country—all gave him pause on the eve of his momentous trip to New York. In a letter to his friend Edward Rutledge, he made it seem as if the presidency was little short of a death sentence and that, in accepting it, he had given up “all expectations of private happiness in this world.”
|Enlightened Crusade to Save Adam Smith's Home|
January 20, 2011, The Scotsman (Scotland) by Brian Ferguson
CAMPAIGNERS have demanded action over the "sorry state" of the former home of Scotland's most celebrated 18th-century intellectual.
...Dating back to 1691, when it was built for the Earl of Panmure, the house was saved for the nation three years ago after being bought from its then owners, Edinburgh City Council, by Heriot-Watt University's business school.
|National Bard Robert Burns Makes iPhone Debut|
January 20, 2011, BBC (UK) by Staff
The complete works of Robert Burns have been made available free of charge on the iPhone for the first time.
The new iPhone application will allow enthusiasts around the world to download and instantly access Burns' poetry.
|Idaho GOP gets Ready to Nullify Health Care Reform|
January 20, 2011, The Miami Herald (FL) by John Miller
After leading the nation last year in passing a law to sue the federal government over the health care overhaul, Idaho's Republican-dominated Legislature now plans to use an obscure 18th century doctrine to declare President Barack Obama's signature bill null and void.
...Back in 1799, Thomas Jefferson wrote in his "Kentucky Resolution," a response to federal laws passed amid an undeclared naval war against France, that "nullification, by those sovereignties, of all unauthorized acts... is the rightful remedy."
|NAACP Draws Complaints for Covering George Washington Statue on Martin Luther King Day|
January 19, 2011, FOXNews by Staff
The NAACP's South Carolina office chose to cover a statue of George Washington during its annual rally honoring Martin Luther King Jr., drawing complaints from conservatives that the group was offending the legacy of the nation's Founding Father.
The state chapter of the civil rights group claims it meant no disrespect and only covered up the statue to provide a more suitable backdrop for speakers at Monday's event. Pictures taken at the event show the statue was completely covered on three sides by a wooden, box-like structure.
|Castle Masterpiece Work Unveiled|
January 18, 2011, The Scotsman (Scotland) by Staff
A hall at a Scottish castle has been restored to its 16th century glory with the recreation of a lost Renaissance masterpiece.
Replicas of the 37 oak medallions known as the Stirling Heads have been positioned on the ceiling of the King`s Inner Hall at Stirling Castle.
The metre-wide oak medallions were first installed in the 1540s in the royal palace of James V but the ceiling was taken down in 1777.
|Edo Castle Stones Found in Sagami Bay|
January 18, 2011, The Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan) by Staff
Four large stones believed to have been quarried on Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture more than 400 years ago for the reconstruction and expansion of Edo Castle have been found in Sagami Bay.
...The stones are believed to have been quarried in 1606 in a project carried out by feudal lords under the order of the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1867).
|Smallpox: the Most Successful Vaccination Ever|
January 18, 2011, The Telegraph (UK) by Staff
As a 13-year-old, he observed that farm hands and milkmaids who contracted the less severe cowpox from cows were not afflicted during outbreaks of smallpox.
In 1796, as a young trained doctor, he took the fluid from a cowpox pustule on a sufferer's hand and inoculated an eight-year-old boy. The boy was then exposed to smallpox but failed to contract the disease. By 1800 about 100,000 people had been vaccinated worldwide.
|King James Bible: How it Changed the Way We Speak|
January 17, 2011, BBC (UK) by Staff
The impact of the King James Bible, which was published 400 years ago, is still being felt in the way we speak and write, says Stephen Tomkins.
No other book, or indeed any piece of culture, seems to have influenced the English language as much as the King James Bible. Its turns of phrase have permeated the everyday language of English speakers, whether or not they've ever opened a copy.
|340-Year-Old Bible Discovered by School Teacher|
January 17, 2011, Discoveryon by Staff
An old German bible has been discovered in Lutheran church school in Bonduel, Wisconsin. The bible dates back to 340 years ago.
Debra Court, a sixth grade teacher found this bible in her school when she was searching for some old records for baptism for her students. It was a rare piece, discovered unintentionally.
|Cunning, Care and Sheer Luck Save Rare Map|
January 16, 2011, The New York Times by Michael Wilson
It was rolled up among other yellowed maps and prints that came off a delivery truck at the Brooklyn Historical Society’s stately office near the East River. Carolyn Hansen, the society’s map cataloguer, began to gently unfurl the canvas.
“You could hear it rip,” said Ms. Hansen, 29, still cringing at the memory. She stopped pulling. But enough of the map, browned with age and dry and crisp as a stale chip, was open to reveal a name: Ratzer.
|Find Could be from 1500s|
January 16, 2011, The St. Augustine Record (FL) by Justine Griffin
Every morning for the past week, St. Augustine city archaeologist Carl Halbirt and a handful of volunteers worked in the cold to uncover what may be a very big part of St. Augustine's colonial history.
Halbirt and his team spent the past few days at a dig site on State Road A1A across from the Castillo de San Marcos sifting through the soil between the No Name Bar and Liquor Store and the White Lion Restaurant across from the bayfront. This property, which was dug up to create a new trolley pull-in station, soon became one of Halbirt's biggest archaeological digs, and may also hold one of his biggest finds.
"I think the post holes and large soil stains we've found so far are potentially associated with an early fortification," Halbirt said. "This could very well be one of the early wooden forts built in St. Augustine before the Castillo de San Marcos."
|Shakespeare Folio Goes on Display at Durham University|
January 15, 2011, BBC (UK) by Staff
A rare folio of Shakespeare's work is being displayed at Durham University.
The 1623 first edition of the bard's work was stolen from the university in 1998. Its bindings and some pages were removed to try to disguise its origins.
Visitors to the exhibition at the new Wolfson Gallery at the university can view it in its current condition.
|Skeletons Could be Londonderry Siege Grave|
January 14, 2011, BBC (UK) by Staff
Skeletons discovered underneath a Londonderry church could be evidence of a siege grave, according to archaeologists.
Thousands of people died in the siege sparked when a group of apprentice boys closed the gates of the city against the approaching army of King James II in 1689.
Two complete skeletons and an individual skull have been uncovered beneath First Derry Presybterian Church on the city walls.
|Historical Society Sells Artifacts to Survive|
January 14, 2011, The Star-Ledger (NJ) by Staff
Call it a high-end garage sale, or a fabulous rent party: the New Jersey Historical Society is auctioning off prime artifacts from its collection to help pay the bills. You don’t have to be a historian to gasp at the $2.1 million sale last month of an extremely rare 1784 map of the United States. It had been in the historical society’s possession since 1862. No more. Other items will go on the auction block soon, including oil paintings, silverware and 18th-century furniture.
Something is dreadfully wrong when an institution cannibalizes itself to survive. It’s fair to ask whether the society correctly managed its meager resources over the years, and whether corporate and other donors could have been more generous, too.
|Blackbeard's Sword, Found! Archaeologists Discover Pirate Treasure Off North Carolina Coast|
January 14, 2011, Time Magazine by Staff
It's likely Edward Teach didn't need much to scare his enemies. After all, the notorious pirate better known as Blackbeard boasted a thick mass of facial hair so intimidating that it got immortalized in history.
He also numbered among the first corsairs to fly a black flag with bones on it. And, according to some accounts, he had a habit of lighting fuses beneath his hat, a halo of smoke giving the bristly sea dog a decidedly demonic aspect.
|Burmese Letter to King George II Deciphered After More than 250 Years|
January 14, 2011, The Telegraph (UK) by Victoria Ward
A letter made from pure gold that was sent to King George II from a Burmese king in 1756 has finally been deciphered by experts.
The letter, sent by King Alaungphaya, was an effusive and gushing appeal for camaraderie and trade with Britain. But although engraved on a gold sheet and adorned with 24 rubies, it was simply banished to a vault in the King's home town of Hanover, Germany, and not deemed worthy of a reply.
|Pictures: Blackbeard's Ship Yields Ornamental Sword|
January 12, 2011, National Geographic by Willie Drye
Could this partly gilded hilt have held Blackbeard's sword? There's no way to know for sure, though it was found amid the North Carolina wreck of the Queen Anne's Revenge, the flagship of the infamous 18th-century pirate.
Since 1997, archaeologists have been excavating the Queen Anne's Revenge. The sword hilt—found in pieces but reassembled for this picture—is among their latest finds and was revealed to the public this month.
|Siege Dead Found at First Derry|
January 12, 2011, The Londonderry Sentinel by Olga Bradshaw
HUMAN remains dating to the time of the Siege of Derry, as well as remnants of pipes and crockery typical of the period, have been discovered beneath First Derry Presbyterian Church.
It is also believed that the car park between the church and the rear of the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall could be the site of a mass grave or graveyard, possibly containing human remains from those who perished inside Derry's Walls during the 105-day stand off between the Williamite supporters and the opposing Jacobites.