|The Real-Life Da Vinci Code: Historians Discover Tiny Numbers and Letters in the Eyes of the Mona Lisa|
December 13, 2010, The Daily Mail (UK) by Nick Pisa and Luke Salkeld
Intrigue is usually focused on her enigmatic smile.
But the Mona Lisa was at the centre of a new mystery yesterday after art detectives took a fresh look at the masterpiece – and noticed something in her eyes.
Hidden in the dark paint of her pupils are tiny letters and numbers, placed there by the artist Leonardo da Vinci and revealed only now thanks to high- magnification techniques.
|New Jersey to Rebury Colonial Treasures|
December 13, 2010, Reuters by Jon Hurdle
Archeologists who have uncovered the ruins of an important colonial site in New Jersey's capital Trenton will have to rebury them soon because the state doesn't have the money to finish the project.
Petty's Run, an iron and steel forge dating from about 1730, has yielded fragments of guns and pottery, cups, coins and other items from before and after the American Revolution, during a year-long dig next to the State House.
|Louis XIV: The Science King|
December 13, 2010, New Scientist by Laura Spinney
When Louis XIV died in 1715, surgeons still belonged to the same profession as barbers and wigmakers in France, and the only functions they were allowed to perform were to shave, bleed and bring babies into the world. When a surgeon was called to remove the king's anal fistula in 1686, he did the job with a slightly modified barber's razor.
All that was soon to change, however, largely thanks to Louis XIV himself. As a new exhibition at the Palace of Versailles attests, his reign ushered in a century or more of scientific development that would be centred on the royal court, and that began when his chief minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, suggested he establish a national academy of sciences in 1666.
|The Victorian Shaman|
December 13, 2010, Fortean Times by Guy Reid-Brown
No doubt as this Advent comm ences, I, and many others, will be re-reading Charles Dickens’s 1843 seasonal classic “A Christmas Carol” for the umpteenth time. Those of us who have fallen under its spell will doubtless continue to do so every year, even if we live to be as old as the oldest Biblical patriarch, and each time with the same degree of emotion – whether it be delight, wonder or sadness – as the times before.
In any other context, such behaviour might be interpreted as borderline obsessive, but that simply doesn’t apply here. Ponder this for a moment: there are few other works in Western literat ure that have enjoyed such a breadth and variety of adaptations across all media. The tale continually reinvents itself, the same and yet different; yet by any reasonable measure the work is slim, compact – by Dickens’s own expans ive standards positively Lilliput ian. So what is its secret?
|Death, Taxes, and the American Founders|
December 13, 2010, History News Network by Andrew M. Schocket
The proposed tax deal between President Obama and Congressional Republican leaders includes a revision of the federal estate (inheritance) tax. At stake are issues as old as the nation: individual property rights versus the democratic ethos, and the need for savings versus the need for resources for the common good. For many of today's issues—such as Internet neutrality or nuclear disarmament—appealing to the founders seems clearly inappropriate. But in the case of the estate tax, the founders struggled with the same issues that we struggle with today. And many of them—though not all—believed that taxing and reducing large estates was a good idea, for it benefited society as a whole.
...Some founders wanted to eliminate inheritance entirely. In a letter to James Madison, Thomas Jefferson suggested that all property be redistributed every fifty years, because "the earth belongs in usufruct to the living." Madison gently pointed out the plan's impracticality. Benjamin Franklin unsuccessfully pushed for the first Pennsylvania constitution to declare concentrated wealth "a danger to the happiness of mankind."
|What Did the Tories Want in the American Revolution?|
December 13, 2010, History News Network by Thomas B. Allen
The grand story of the American Revolution forms the backdrop of today’s Tea Party, whose members tell us to look to our nation’s origin, when patriots also protested taxes and governance. But when we remember how America began, we should also remember that within the Revolution there raged a civil war. The rebels fought not only the British but also other Americans who called themselves Loyalists. The rebels called them Tories, a derogatory label linked to the Irish word for outlaw.
|No Matter the Weather, Our Lady of Guadalupe Festival Goes on|
December 11, 2010, The Chicago Tribune by Robert Channick
Rain and slush Saturday proved no match for thousands of Catholics who descended upon a sacred Des Plaines shrine honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico, to celebrate the day she reportedly appeared to a peasant in the 16th century.
...The date marks the reported appearance in 1531 of the Virgin Mary to peasant Juan Diego on a hillside in Tepeyac, near what is now Mexico City. While pilgrimages to a shrine at the original site have been taking place for nearly two centuries, the annual trek to a replica on the grounds of Maryville Academy is a more recent tradition.
|EIU Panel Turns Down New Name for Douglas Hall|
December 10, 2010, Journal Gazette & Times-Courier (IL) by Rob Stroud
The Eastern Illinois University Naming Committee voted Tuesday to recommend not changing Douglas Hall's namesake from Stephen Douglas to Frederick Douglass.
The committee also suggested that EIU take steps to emphasize that Douglas Hall, part of a complex with Lincoln Hall, is named as part of a commemoration of the Sept. 18, 1858, Lincoln-Douglas debate in Charleston, not in tribute to Stephen Douglas as an individual, and to promote this debate history.
|Sussex Hospital Helps in Probe of Shipwreck Mystery|
December 09, 2010, WBOC (MD) by Michael Lopardi
Delaware archaeologists turned to a Sussex County hospital this week hoping to find some clues surrounding a marine mystery.
On Wednesday, radiology staff at Beebe Medical Center X-rayed multiple artifacts pulled from the waters of the Roosevelt Inlet near Lewes.
The pieces belong to an unidentified shipwreck about 15 feet below the surface but are too difficult to identify by plain eye. The hope was an X-ray could provide an inside look at artifacts that may help identify the sunken vessel.
|Church: Wis. Site 1st US Virgin Mary Apparition|
December 08, 2010, The Associated Press by Staff
A Wisconsin site where an apparition of the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared three times to a Belgian-born nun in 1859 has earned the Roman Catholic Church's designation as the only of its kind in the U.S.
The site in the town of Champion has long been a popular destination for the faithful since the apparition was reported by Sister Adele Brise.
|Birds of America Sets £7m Sales Record at Sotheby's|
December 08, 2010, BBC (UK) by Staff
A rare copy of John James Audubon's Birds of America, billed as the world's most expensive book, has sold for more than £7m at auction.
The copy, which comes from the collection of Lord Hesketh, had been expected to fetch up to £6m.
Only 119 complete copies of the 19th-Century book are known to exist, and 108 are owned by museums and libraries.
|Rare Native American Birch Bark Canoe Found in Cornwall|
December 08, 2010, BBC (UK) by Staff
A rare Native American canoe thought to be more than 250 years old has been found on a family estate in Cornwall.
The birch bark canoe was discovered in a barn on the Enys estate near Penryn.
It is believed the Canadian boat was brought to Cornwall by Lt John Enys who fought in Quebec during the American War of Independence.
|Czech Replica of Corsair Ship Launched in Suez|
December 06, 2010, The Prague Daily Monitor (CZ) by Staff
Suez, Egypt/Prague, Dec 5 (CTK) - A replica of the corsair sailing ship La Grace of Czech 17th century explorer and merchant Augustin Herman was launched on Saturday and set sail Sunday, project spokesman Jiri G. Soucek told CTK Sunday.
La Grace will ply the oceans as a training ship, Soucek said.
|I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career|
December 06, 2010, Letters of Note by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Now widely considered one of the greatest books of poetry ever written, Leaves of Grass was first published in 1855 and financed entirely by its author, Walt Whitman. Whitman - then an aspiring, unknown poet - immediately sent one of the 795 copies to Ralph Waldo Emerson, a highly respected man who, a decade previous, had publicly cried out for a great American poet by way of his essay, The Poet, and who, instantly recognising Whitman's talent, responded to Leaves of Grass with the following letter; a gushing, five-page appreciation of Whitman's work that was rightfully deemed so valuable to the poet that he later used it to promote future editions.
|In Jane Austen 2.0, the Heroines and Heroes Friend Each Other|
December 06, 2010, The Wall Street Journal by Arden Dale and Mary Pilon
Ben Kemper, 19, plans to wear a frock coat with cuffs to the annual Jane Austen birthday tea in Boise, Idaho, on Saturday.
The outfit will be "the whole shebang," says Mr. Kemper, who hopes to scare up some yard work so he can pay for the new threads. He says his costume may include riding boots, a cane, gloves and a buttoned vest.
Mr. Kemper is among an unlikely set of fans of the long-dead Ms. Austen—young people. The English novelist best known for "Pride and Prejudice" and "Sense and Sensibility" has been dead since 1817, yet she is drawing a cultish pack of young people, especially young women, known as "Janeites" who are dedicated to celebrating all things Austen.
|"A Free Man of Color": A Wild Ride through the Early History of New Orleans|
December 06, 2010, History News Network by Bruce Chadwick
Jacques Cornet was the free, mulatto son of a wealthy New Orleans plantation owner who made extra money by staging a weekly casino night in his large, lavish mansion. When we first meet the very elegantly dressed Cornet, brocaded jacket, white silk stockings, white wig and all, in 1801, he is trying to buy maps, bed every woman he meets, fend off his half brother’s claim to his fortune, host parties, make friends and become the Delta’s “Man of the Year.”
His giddy, party-hearty life story is the central plot of playwright John Guare’s struggling historical drama, “A Free Man of Color,” that opened last week at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater. Through Cornet, Guare tells the story of how New Orleans bounced through control by the Spanish, French and Americans during just three years at the birth of the nineteenth century. It tells the story, too, of the wealthy high society crowd that ran New Orleans’ cultural life in what was the most racially and ethnically diverse city in America.
|Citizens Rally to Save Khotachi Wadi|
December 05, 2010, The Mumbai Mirror (India) by Ashutosh Patil
Residents of all 189 gaothans across the city have joined to fight to save the 18th century locality of Khotachi Wadi at Girgaum. The gaothans with Bombay East Indian Association and St John the Baptist Church Save Committee have threatened to take the fight to the streets. They will soon hold morchas to get their point across.
|Peru: 'Sensational' Inca Find for British Team in Andes|
December 05, 2010, The Guardian (UK) by Staff
A British team of archaeologists on expedition in the Peruvian Andes has hailed as "sensational" the discovery of some of the most sacred objects in the Inca civilisation – three "ancestor stones", which were once believed to form a precious link between the heavens and the underworld.
...Dr Frank Meddens, research associate of Royal Holloway, who was also on the expedition, said they had "danced a little jig on top of the mountain" after discovering the objects that they had only read about in 16th-century Spanish documents.
|Deardurff House Dig Offers Peek at City's Past|
December 05, 2010, The Columbus Dispatch (OH) by Tracy Turner
Pairs of volunteers watched anxiously yesterday as a screen sifted archaeological treasures from cold, damp dirt.
The group of about 20 professional archaeologists, Ohio State University students and history buffs shared a quiet sense of excitement and urgency as each historical find was unearthed yesterday at the Deardurff House, a 193-year-old log house in the Franklinton neighborhood.
|Archeologists Find Artifacts at Fairfax County Site that was a Bustling Port|
December 05, 2010, Fairfax County Times (VA) by Holly Hobbs
Centreville resident Karen Schweikart digs history.
Bent over a shallow pit on a recent Saturday morning, Schweikart, with a garden trowel and metal dust pan, performed the slow and meticulous task of archeology. She was working to exhume what remains of a colonial era building that might help historians learn more about the port town of Colchester.
|The Fight to Preserve Jesuit Heritage in Bolivia|
December 05, 2010, BBC (UK) by Mattia Cabitza
The Jesuit church of Concepcion dominates the town's cobblestone main square. Its orange and yellow images of saints and ornate flower designs painted on the facade glow in the full splendour of 18th century architecture.
On a starry night, recalling the days of Jesuit evangelisation a few centuries ago, a sonata for double violin by Domenico Zipoli resonates inside the huge church.
|Museum Sells Pieces of Its Past, Reviving a Debate|
December 05, 2010, The New York Times by Robin Pogrebin
A galloping horse weather vane sold for about $20,000, and the cigar store Indians brought in more than $1 million. A Thomas Sully oil painting of Andrew Jackson netted $80,500, and a still life by Raphaelle Peale, part of the family that put portraiture in this city on the map, was auctioned at Christie’s for $842,500.
These were just a few of more than 2,000 items quietly sold by the Philadelphia History Museum over the last several years, all part of an effort to cull its collection of 100,000 artifacts and raise money for a $5.8 million renovation of its 1826 building
|Michelangelo's Scribbled Thoughts Reveal the Tortured Poet|
December 05, 2010, The Telegraph (UK) by Nick Squires
The Renaissance artist is best known for great works such as the statue of David and the Sistine Chapel ceiling but he also left behind around 600 cartoons and drawings.
The scraps of writing on about a third of the drawings include lines of poetry, memos to his assistants, explanatory notes to some of his greatest works and "achingly personal expressions of ambition and despair surely meant for nobody's eyes but his own", according to Leonard Barkan, a professor of comparative literature at Princeton University.
|Search of Alamance Battleground Yields Archaeological Jackpot|
December 03, 2010, The Times-News (NC) by Chris Lavender
Those who fought and died at the Alamance Battleground in 1771 left behind artifacts of a struggle that remained under the earth’s surface waiting to be discovered by present-day historians.
For some, there had always been some argument over whether the Regulators battled against Royal Governor William Tryon’s forces at the designated N.C. Historic Site on South N.C. 62 since there had never been an extensive archeological dig at the site.
|Auction of First Edition of 'Star Spangled Banner' Tops $500,000|
December 03, 2010, CNN by Ashley Vaughan
A near two-century-old copy of "The Star Spangled Banner" sold for $506,500 Friday at Christie's auction house in Manhattan.
The famed sheet music is one of 11 known first edition copies of Francis Scott Key's patriotic tune, said to have been written after he witnessed the British naval bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.