|Old-growth Tree Stumps Tell the Story of Fire in the Upper Midwest|
March 14, 2011, University of Illinois Press Release by Diana Yates
Researchers have constructed a 226-year history of fire in southern Illinois by looking at fire scars in tree stumps. Their study, the most in-depth fire history reported for the upper Midwest, reveals that changes in the frequency of fires dating back to the time of early European settlement permanently altered the ecology of the region.
...The researchers found evidence of more than 100 fires in Hamilton County between the 1770s and 1996, when the trees were cut down. Prior to 1850, the woodlands burned roughly every two years. A "fire-free" interval followed between 1850 and 1885, as settlers rapidly colonized the area and suppressed fires. Then in 1885, the fire scars appear again, probably as a result of the localized burning of woodlots, which was a tradition in the region in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the researchers said.
|Another Mystery from the Garo Hills|
March 13, 2011, Fortean Zoology Blogspot by Richard Freeman
Hi Jon Can you put this on the blog and see if anyone knows what it is?
...Can you please look into the East India Company 1818 and dig out what does it contain ?
|Wemyss Artwork Taken Out of Sale|
March 12, 2011, The Scotsman (Scotland) by Staff
A 17TH century Italian painting of St Andrew from the Wemyss family home in East Lothian has been withdrawn from sale, the estate said yesterday.
The Crucifixion of St Andrew was due to appear at the Maastrict art and antiques fair next week on the stand of the London fine art dealer Simon Dickinson, valued at £2 million.
|Cannons, Cheers and a Customized Cake Help Dedicate New Visitor Center at Fort McHenry National Monument|
March 12, 2011, National Parks Traveler by Jim Burnett
Ribbon cutting ceremonies for new buildings are commonplace, but the dedication of a new visitor center for Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore on March 3, 2011, included plenty of unique touches. Among them was a customized bakery creation that proved you can have your cake and shoot it too.
Given the history of the fort, it's appropriate that the event included deep drum rolls and cannon fire that could be heard a mile away, and when organizers decided to include music by a local choir, the choice of a song seemed pretty obvious. This performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by the City College Choir occurred on the 80th anniversary of the formal adoption of the composition as country's official national anthem.
|17th Century Merman Carving to go on Display at the DIG Centre in York|
March 12, 2011, The York Press (UK) by Staff
A 400-year-old carving of a merman, discovered among the remains of a 17th century merchant ship in Dorset, will have its first public outing as part of York Archaeological Trust’s Shipwrecks exhibition, which opens in York on Monday.
The 1.5 metre-long baroque-style carving was found among the remains of the Swash Channel wreck, which was originally discovered off the Dorset Coast in 1990. The carved wooden merman will sit in water in the display case which will form the first stage of the conservation programme, helping to flush out harmful salts that have leached into the wood following 400 years immersion in the sea.
|French Artist Watteau Features in Rival London Shows|
March 11, 2011, Reuters by Mike Collett-White
Whether by coincidence or design, French 18th century artist Jean-Antoine Watteau has two major London shows dedicated to him, both opening on Saturday.
The Royal Academy's show "Watteau: The Drawings" focuses on the artist as draughtsman, an important element of his work which acquaintances said he preferred to painting.
At the nearby Wallace Collection, the museum has re-displayed its extensive Watteau canvases including examples of the "fete galante" -- an elegant social gathering in parkland setting -- for which the artist is probably best known today.
|Sweden's Vasa Warship Set for Make Over|
March 11, 2011, The Local (Sweden) by Staff
The 17th century royal warship Vasa, one of Stockholm and Sweden's most popular visitor attractions, began a major refurbishment on Thursday to arrest corrosion.
The ship is housed in a special museum built over an old dry dock in central Stockholm will be given an anti-corrosion treatment and get the 5,000 bolts lodged in its hull replaced, museum officials said.
|Caravaggio Exhibition Gives Fresh Insight into Painter's Technique|
March 11, 2011, The Telegraph (UK) by Nick Squires
The exhibition, in Rome's Palazzo Venezia, focuses on three great Caravaggio works – the Martyrdom of St. Matthew, the Calling of St. Matthew and St. Matthew and the Angel.
It supports a theory first put forward by the British artist David Hockney that the Renaissance artist used a primitive form of photography to create his paintings.
March 11, 2011, The New York Times by Edward Rothstein
Here, in this lovely town, once one of the most prosperous in the American colonies, there is no escape.
In the Old Slave Mart Museum that opened in 2007, you read: “You’re standing in the actual showroom, the place where traders sold — and buyers bought — American blacks who were born into slavery.”
Or go to Drayton Hall, a local plantation hewn out of the Low Country landscape by hundreds of slaves, who also made its rice fields so profitable. At a clearing in the woods near the entrance, you see an information panel and a memorial arch: this was a “burying ground,” used at least as early as the 1790s, where the plantation’s slaves buried their dead.
|LA Birthplace Becomes Battleground Over History|
March 11, 2011, The Associated Press by Jacob Adelman
Inside his trinket shop in the city's El Pueblo historic district, Mike Mariscal is surrounded by painted masks, woven blankets and Day of the Dead figurines he's long sold to tourists.
Mariscal fears his own day of reckoning is near as a series of disputes surround the adobe buildings, shops and Mexican-era churches in an increasingly trafficked corner of the city's revitalizing downtown.
El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument is believed to have been on the fringes of a Gabrielino-Tongva Indian village before 1781, when an expedition of Spanish subjects of varying ethnic backgrounds first established the settlement that grew into Los Angeles.
|King Henry VIII's Madness Explained|
March 11, 2011, Discovery News by Emily Sohn
Among a long list of personality quirks and historical drama, Henry VIII is known for the development of health problems in mid-life and a series of miscarriages for two of his wives. In a new study, researchers propose that Henry had an X-linked genetic disorder and a rare blood type that could explain many of his problems.
By suggesting biological causes for significant historical events, the study offers new ways to think about the infamous life of the notorious 16th-century British monarch, said Catarina Whitley, a bioarchaeologist who completed the research while at Southern Methodist University.
|Possible Chopin Photo Surfaces in Poland|
March 10, 2011, The Telegraph (UK) by Staff
A photograph said to be of the 19th century composer Frederic Chopin just after his death has surfaced in Poland – an extremely rare find that experts are trying to determine the authenticity of.
If real, it would be only the third known photograph of the Polish-French musical genius who lived from 1810-1849.
|University Archaeologists to Dig for Tregaron Elephant|
March 10, 2011, BBC (UK) by Staff
The Tregaron Elephant has long had its place in local folklore - a beast that died while on tour rumoured to be buried behind the town's Talbot Hotel.
A small-scale excavation in April will search for clues in the hope of revealing its final resting place.
The elephant was said to have fallen ill after drinking contaminated water in the town in 1848.
|Old Point Headquarters Project Uncovers 17th Century Artifacts|
March 10, 2011, Virginia Business by Staff
Construction on Old Point National Bank’s new headquarters should get underway this summer after archaeologists preserve 2,000 artifacts uncovered during the excavation of the bank’s new home in downtown Hampton.
Bottle and ceramics fragments have been found at the site on Queen Street along with such features as two eighteenth-century cellars, two wells and a refuse pit dating from the 1700s.
|How to Make Anything Signify Anything|
March 09, 2011, Cabinet Magazine by William H. Sherman
For much of his long and largely secret career, Colonel William F. Friedman kept a very special photograph under the glass plate that covered his desk. As desks go, this one saw some impressive action. By the time he retired from the National Security Agency in 1955, Friedman had served for more than thirty years as his government’s chief cryptographer, and—as leader of the team that broke the Japanese PURPLE code in World War II, co-inventor of the US Army’s best cipher machine, author of the papers that gave the field its mathematical foundations, and coiner of the very term cryptanalysis—he had arguably become the most important code-breaker in modern history.
...The photograph was an enduring reminder, then, of Friedman’s favorite axiom—and he was so fond of the phrase that some fifty years later he had it inscribed as the epitaph on his tomb in Arlington National Cemetery.2 It captures a formative moment in a life spent looking for more than meets the eye, and it remained Friedman’s most cherished example of how, using the art and science of codes, it was possible to make anything signify anything. This idea will no doubt strike us as quintessentially modern, if not postmodern, but Friedman took it straight from the great Renaissance scholar-statesman Sir Francis Bacon (1561–1626), along with both the hidden motto in the image and the method used to convey it. In other words, the graduation photo from Friedman’s earliest course in military cryptanalysis is at once a tribute to Bacon’s philosophy and a master class in the use of his biliteral cipher.
|Victorian Smokers had Rotten Teeth to Match Lungs|
March 09, 2011, Reuters by Stefano Ambrogi
Smoking was as bad for the Victorians as it is for anyone today, but back in those days it seems it did far more damage to their teeth. In the mid-19th century, prior to the invention of the cigarette, when tobacco was copiously consumed through clay pipes, smoking often resulted in nasty dental disfigurement.
...Osteological analysis of 268 adults buried between 1843 and 1854 found that some disfigurement had occurred in 92 percent of adults exhumed, while wear associated with habitual use of pipes was evident in 23 percent.
|Virginia's Other War|
March 08, 2011, Capital News Service by Destiny Shelton
When you think of wars fought in Virginia, what comes to mind?
Probably the Civil War: During the war that began 150 years ago, most of the battles were waged and more than 100,000 soldiers were killed in Virginia.
Or maybe the American Revolution: Virginians led the drive for independence in 1776, and Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown in the war’s last major battle.
But Virginia state officials want you to think of a different conflict – the War of 1812. Virginia has an official group working to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the second war against Great Britain. Delegate Christopher Peace (R-Mechanicsville) chairs the Virginia Bicentennial of the American War of 1812 Commission.
|Phineas Gage: The Man with a Hole in His Head|
March 06, 2011, BBC (UK) by Claudia Hammond & Dave Lee
"Phineas Gage had a hole in his head, and ev'ryone knew that he oughta be dead. Was it fate or blind luck, though it never came clear, kept keepin' on year after year…"
That song by banjo man Dan Lindner probably sounds like an outlandish myth, an old wives' tale passed around a small town.
But incredibly, his jaunty tune about Phineas Gage is true.
|Rare King James Bible Found in Wiltshire Village Church|
March 06, 2011, BBC (UK) by Staff
A rare original King James Bible has been discovered on a shelf in a Wiltshire church.
The discovery was made by residents researching the history of St Laurence Church in Hilmarton, near Calne.
|NC, SC Politely Fight Over Presidential Birthplace|
March 06, 2011, The Associated Press by Staff
South Carolina claims Andrew Jackson as its only president. But wait — on the grounds of the North Carolina capitol, a bronze statue of Jackson sits with two others as "Presidents North Carolina Gave the Nation."
For a century, the two Carolinas have quarreled over which can claim to be the birthplace of the seventh American president.
Dueling monuments sit within miles of each other south of Charlotte, N.C. For decades, one high school in Lancaster County, S.C., and another in Union County, N.C., played a football game in which the winner got to claim Jackson for the next year. And don't look to the White House for the answer: its website lists Jackson's birthplace a "backwoods settlement in the Carolinas."
|17th Century Witch Chronicles put Online|
March 04, 2011, Reuters by Michelle Martin
A 350-year-old notebook which documents the trials of women convicted of witchcraft in England during the 17th century has been published online.
The notebook written by Nehemiah Wallington, an English Puritan, recounts the fate of women accused of having relationships with the devil at a time when England was embroiled in a bitter civil war.
|Michelangelo's David 'Could Collapse Due to High-Speed Train Building'|
March 04, 2011, The Telegraph (UK) by Nick Squires
Michelangelo’s statue of David is at risk of being toppled by the construction of a high-speed railway line beneath Florence because of his flimsy ankles.
The statue is riddled with tiny cracks, particularly in the ankles of the boy warrior, and could collapse as a result of vibrations from the 1.4 billion euro project, which is due to start in the summer.
|Rare Anti-Slavery Booklet Acquired by U.Va.|
March 03, 2011, The Associated Press by Zinie Chen Sampson
The University of Virginia has acquired a rare first edition of an 1829 anti-slavery manifesto that was considered a rallying cry for black Americans and a major threat to Southern leaders, who worked vigorously to ban it.
The copy of abolitionist David Walker's "Appeal in Four Articles; Together With a Preamble to the Coloured Citizens of the World, But in Particular, and Very Expressly to Those of the United States of America" is one of seven known to still exist. The pamphlet is on display at U.Va.'s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.
|Thieves Offered to Sell £1.2 Million Stradivarius Violin for £100, Court Told|
March 03, 2011, The Telegraph (UK) by Murray Wardrop
Irish traveller John Maughan snatched the 313-year-old instrument from South Korean-born violinist Min-Jin Kym as she stopped to buy a sandwich at London’s Euston railway station.
Despite researching the violin online, Maughan, 40, and his two teenage accomplices were so ignorant of its value that they offered it to a stranger in an internet café for just £100.
|Captain Morgan's Lost Cannon Recovered in Panama's Waters|
March 02, 2011, The Independent (UK) by David Usborne
An international team of marine archaeologists has recovered six iron cannon from a reef in shallow waters not far from the mouth of the Panama Canal. They believe the weapons were lost during one of the less glorious chapters of British adventurism in the 17th-century featuring Captain Henry Morgan.
The cannon were prised from the reef a week ago amid fears that they might be plundered by treasure-hunters and could be the only physical evidence tying Capt Morgan to the region upon which he had such an impact more than 300 years ago. He remains a legend thanks to the brand of rum named after him. "Every school kid learns about Morgan's activities, but we have never seen any of his materials," said archaeologist Tomas Mendizibal, of Patronato Panama Viejo, a government agency that is overseeing excavation of the original site of Panama City. "If these are indeed his cannon, it would be a first."