English Lost Colony in North Carolina, new research

This video from the USA says about itself:

4 October 2014

Roanoke: The Lost Colony

Josh Bernstein investigates America’s oldest missing person’s case– the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. In 1587, over 100 settlers landed in the New World to build England’s first permanent colony in North America. But, three years later, they had vanished. Did they starve to death? Were they killed by natives? Were there any survivors? Josh travels across two continents to examine the archaeological evidence. He flies high above Roanoke Island in a powered paraglide to scan the terrain; climbs and cores a cypress tree to find out what the climate was like when the colonists disappeared; and conducts a new DNA study that reveals groundbreaking evidence about the fate of the lost settlers.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Rupert Cornwell

Sunday 16 August 2015

Carolina’s Lost Colony: The fate of the first British settlers in America was a mystery… until now

Out of America: They arrived two decades before the Mayflower landed in Massachusetts, but the 115 colonists then vanished

There are places, on America’s mid-Atlantic seaboard, where you can still imagine the coastline as the first English settlers must have seen it, more than 400 years ago. No boat marinas, no highways, no beachfront houses for rent: just reeds, marshes and shimmering expanses of water where the sea meets the sky, and the hazy outline of pristine forests.

So it must have been when John White returned to Roanoke Island for the last time. He was well acquainted with the area – part of what is now North Carolina, guarded by the barrier islands today known as the Outer Banks. White had made a first reconnaissance mission there in 1585. Two years later, he was back, as governor of a new permanent colony sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh. But the going was hard, and soon White sailed back to England to organise further supplies.

Unfortunately, there was the small matter of the Spanish Armada to contend with. No ships were available and the fate of a few score intrepid settlers at the rim of the known world was of little import compared with the survival of the Queen’s realm. Only in 1590 could White return to Roanoke. But when he got there – nothing. The 115 colonists had vanished, among them his own daughter and son-in-law, and their infant daughter Virginia Dare, the very first child born to English settlers in the New World, on 18 August 1587.

But what had happened? The departure seemed orderly. The buildings had been carefully dismantled; the only clues left were the letters C-R-O-A-T-O-A-N carved on a post, seemingly a reference to Croatoan, the old name for Cape Hatteras, the extreme southeastern point of the Outer Banks, 50 miles to the south, or to the Croatoan Indians who inhabited coastal North Carolina.

Thus was born the saga of the “Lost Colony”, a mystery for the ages that still provides welcome distraction to American children plodding through their country’s history. Theories abound: that the colonists were slaughtered by hostile Indians; that they died of famine or disease; that they were assimilated, voluntarily or involuntarily, by tribes; even (this being America) that they were abducted by aliens.

But in the most basic historical terms, Roanoke matters. The settlement, whatever its fate, was the first established by the English in North America, predating Jamestown by 20 years, and the arrival of the Mayflower on the hard shores of Massachusetts by more than three decades. Like Jamestown, the colony was a commercial venture, designed to exploit the vast imagined riches of the New World. Instead, it disappeared from the face of the earth. Until now, that is.

For many years, archaeological digs around Hatteras have yielded some tantalising clues: coins, gun parts, a signet ring and various other artefacts from the 16th and 17th centuries. But the real breakthrough came in 2012, as the British Museum scrutinised a watercolour map in its collection called Virginea Pars, on which John White apparently started work in 1585, during his first visit to the area.

The map itself is both beautifully executed and remarkably accurate. What followed, however, might have been lifted from Treasure Island. In the middle of the map, some 50 miles west of Roanoke, is a patch. Using imaging technology, museum experts found that beneath the patch was a blue and red star, possibly denoting a fort.

The location, on the edge of the mainland on the other side of Albemarle Sound, more or less fitted in with a reference that White himself made later to an intended and more permanent destination, about which the new settlers were talking as early as 1587. Why the spot had been covered by a patch is a mystery in itself. Perhaps it was to keep such a plan, of obvious military significance, secret from Spain, then the leading colonial power in the Western Hemisphere.

So, the researchers focused attention on an impoverished corner of North Carolina called Merry Hill, notable mainly for an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course. The area, called Site X, had been looked at before, but this time the digs yielded some particularly telling finds. Last week, the First Colony Foundation, the group which has been sponsoring the excavation, provided the first details.

No evidence of a fort has come to light, nor of the “Cittie of Raleigh” that the Elizabethan courtier-adventurer-poet intended as centre of his project. But the location makes sense, strategically placed at the confluence of two rivers. And the items unearthed by the archaeologists fit in with the period, including bits of guns, a nail and an aglet (a small metal sheath protecting the end of shoelaces) – and, above all, fragments of a type of English pottery known as Surrey-Hampshire Border ware, of which shipments to America stopped in 1624 when the Virginia Company of London was wound up.

None of this amounts to conclusive proof. The discoveries, however, are the most credible suggestion yet that the “Lost Colony”, or part of it, survived after 1587 and after Roanoke, for a while at least. Scholarly opinion is now shifting from the view that the settlers were simply exterminated towards the theory that they were assimilated by neighbouring tribes – this would bear out local lore, about the odd native who was strangely pale-skinned and blue-eyed – and that perhaps the settlers split up, with some heading south to Hatteras, and others moving west to Site X.

There, for now, matters rest. But as so often in attempts to unravel remote history, one discovery leads only to new hypotheses. What, for instance, happened to the settlers once they got to Site X? As Phillip Evans, president of the First Colony Foundation, almost reassuringly puts it: “The mystery of the Lost Colony is still alive and well.” And on both sides of the Atlantic, for in St Bride’s Church, off Fleet Street in London, you’ll find an enigmatic bronze of the child Virginia Dare, in the very place her parents married, before the voyage to the New World from which neither she nor they would return.

Egyptian Queen Nefertiti’s grave discovered?

This 2013 video is called Discovery Channel’sQueen Nefertiti” The Most Beautiful Face of Egypt.

From the Amarna Royal Tombs Project, by Nicholas Reeves:


Recently published, high-resolution scans of the walls of room J (the Burial Chamber) of Valley of the Kings tomb KV 62 (Tutankhamun) reveal, beneath the plastered surfaces of the painted scenes, distinct linear traces. These are here mapped, discussed, and tentatively identified as the ‘ghosts’ of two hitherto unrecognized doorways. It is argued that these doorways give access to: (1) a still unexplored storage chamber on the west of room J, seemingly contemporary with the stocking of Tutankhamun‘s burial; and (2) a pre-Tutankhamun continuation of KV 62 towards the north, containing the undisturbed burial of the tomb’s original owner: Nefertiti.

From the Daily Mail in Britain today:

Has Queen Nefertiti been found behind King Tut’s tomb? Scientist claims to have discovered a secret door to her burial chamber in Tutankhamun’s grave, the boy king who may have been her son

Radical claim made by Dr Nicholas Reeves at the University of Arizona
He analysed high-resolution scans of the walls of Tutankhamun‘s grave
Dr Reeves says he found ‘ghosts’ of doors that tomb builders blocked
The door on the north side contains ‘the undisturbed burial of the tomb’s original owner – Nefertiti’, Dr Reeves argues

Inspection of King Tut’s Tomb Reveals Hints of Hidden Chambers. Secret doors may conceal the burial chamber of Queen Nefertiti, but tantalizing clues await further testing: here.

Did William Shakespeare smoke marihuana?

This video from Britain is called Shakespeare’s Mother: The Secret Life of a Tudor Woman. BBC Documentary 2015.

If William Shakespeare did indeed smoke marihuana, then he was lucky not to live in South Carolina in the USA in 2015 …

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Was William Shakespeare high when he penned his plays?

Pipes with cannabis residue were found in the Bard’s garden

Francis Thackeray

Saturday 08 August 2015

State-of-the-art forensic technology from South Africa has been used to try and unravel the mystery of what was smoked in tobacco pipes found in the Stratford-upon-Avon garden of William Shakespeare.

Residue from clay tobacco pipes more than 400 years old from the playwright’s garden were analysed in Pretoria using a sophisticated technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry.

Chemicals from pipe bowls and stems which had been excavated from Shakespeare‘s garden and adjacent areas were identified and quantified during the forensic study. The artefacts for the study were on loan from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

The gas technique is very sensitive to residues that can be preserved in pipes even if they had been smoked 400 years ago.

What were they smoking?

There were several kinds of tobacco in the 17th century, including the North American Nicotiana (from which we get nicotine), and cocaine (Erythroxylum), which is obtained from Peruvian coca leaves.

It has been claimed that Sir Francis Drake may have brought coca leaves to England after his visit to Peru, just as Sir Walter Raleigh had brought “tobacco leaves” (Nicotiana) from Virginia in North America.

In a recent issue of a Country Life magazine, Mark Griffiths has stimulated great interest in John Gerard’s Herbal, published in 1597 as a botanical book which includes engraved images of several people in the frontispiece. One of them (cited as “The Fourth Man”) is identified by Griffiths as William Shakespeare, but this identification is questionable.

Possibly, the engraving represents Sir Francis Drake, who knew Gerard.

Gerard’s Herbal refers to various kinds of “tobacco” introduced to Europe by Drake and Raleigh in the days of Shakespeare in Elizabethan England.

There certainly is a link between Drake and plants from the New World, notably corn, the potato and “tobacco”. Furthermore, one can associate Raleigh with the introduction of “tobacco” to Europe from North America (notably in the context of the tobacco plant called Nicotiana, from Virginia and elsewhere).

What we found

There was unquestionable evidence for the smoking of coca leaves in early 17th century England, based on chemical evidence from two pipes in the Stratford-upon-Avon area.

Neither of the pipes with cocaine came from Shakepeare’s garden. But four of the pipes with cannabis did.

Results of this study (including 24 pipe fragments) indicated cannabis in eight samples, nicotine in at least one sample, and in two samples definite evidence for Peruvian cocaine from coca leaves.

Shakespeare may have been aware of the deleterious effects of cocaine as a strange compound. Possibly, he preferred cannabis as a weed with mind-stimulating properties.

These suggestions are based on the following literary indications. In Sonnet 76, Shakespeare writes about “invention in a noted weed”. This can be interpreted to mean that Shakespeare was willing to use “weed” (cannabis as a kind of tobacco) for creative writing (“invention”).

In the same sonnet it appears that he would prefer not to be associated with “compounds strange”, which can be interpreted, at least potentially, to mean “strange drugs” (possibly cocaine).

Sonnet 76 may relate to complex wordplay relating in part to drugs (compounds and “weed”), and in part to a style of writing, associated with clothing (“weeds”) and literary compounds (words combined to form one, as in the case of the word “Philsides” from Philip Sidney).

Was Shakespeare high?

Chemical analyses of residues in early 17th-century clay “tobacco pipes” have confirmed that a diversity of plants was smoked in Europe. Literary analyses and chemical science can be mutually beneficial, bringing the arts and the sciences together in an effort to better understand Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

This has also begged the question whether the plays of Shakespeare were performed in Elizabethan England in a smoke-filled haze?

One can well imagine the scenario in which Shakespeare performed his plays in the court of Queen Elizabeth, in the company of Drake, Raleigh and others who smoked clay pipes filled with “tobacco”.


This piece is based on an article published in the South African Journal of Science in July 2015.

Francis Thackeray is Phillip Tobias Chair in Palaeoanthropology, Evolutionary Studies Institute at University of the Witwatersrand.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Millions of Egyptian mummified dogs discovered

This video says about itself:

Why ancient Egyptians mummified 8 million dogs found in Anubis ‘God of Death’ mass grave

22 June 2015

In ancient Egypt, so many people worshiped Anubis, the jackal-headed god of death, that the catacombs next to his sacred temple once held nearly 8 million mummified puppies and grown dogs, a new study finds.

By James Gerken:

Millions Of Mummified Dogs Discovered In Ancient Egyptian Catacombs

06/22/2015 3:59 pm EDT

Ancient Egyptians are well-known for having worshipped animals, and archaeologists are used to unearthing nonhuman mummies. But a recent investigation in an ancient tomb south of Cairo led to a find of amazing proportions: an estimated 8 million mummified dogs that have been underground for more than 2,000 years.

Researchers from Cardiff University in Wales chronicle their discovery in a study published this month in the journal Antiquity.

The researchers found the remains within the catacombs of a temple dedicated to the jackal-headed god Anubis, in a burial ground called Saqqara. The center passageway is about 568 feet long and side corridors make the tomb up to 459 feet wide, according to Live Science. Many of the mummified canines have disintegrated or been removed by grave robbers.

“It would be quite difficult to easily find complete, nicely wrapped mummies,” Cardiff University archaeology professor and lead researcher Paul Nicholson told CNN. “What you have got is the decayed remains of the mummies.”

The archaeologists examined the number of mummies in a portion of the catacombs and used that count to estimate how many likely filled the tomb.

The tomb, which was likely built in the fourth century B.C., was first discovered in the 19th century, but archaeologists had no idea how many mummies it housed until this latest discovery. Researchers also found the remains of jackals, foxes and several falcons, The Independent reported.

The surrounding area was quite busy in antiquity, according to the researchers. The temples brought economic activity from visitors, merchants and breeders who raised dogs to be mummified for the Anubis temple.

“It would have been a busy place,” Nicholson told Live Science. “A permanent community of people living there supported by the animal cults.”

Oldest Frisian language text discovery

Oldest Frisian text

Translated from the Leeuwarder Courant daily in Friesland province in the Netherlands:

June 23, 2015, 13:45

Leeuwarden – On a few scraps of parchment, almost 900 years old, notes in Frisian have been found. Linguists have never seen before such old written Frisian.

“It’s a great find”

‘Lesa mi’ [Save me] ,’helpe mi’ [Help me] is written in neat letters under a Latin text. Was here perhaps a Frisian youth at work who wanted to become a priest? The words are a translation from the Latin. From the shape of the letters experts can deduct that the text must have been written between 1100 and 1125.

,,It’s a great find”, said former Frisian language researcher Han Nijdam of the Fryske Akademy. ,,So far we had only written Frisian from the thirteenth century and now suddenly we go back a century in time. We already suspected that Old Frisian had already been written then, but now we really have it.”

See also here.

Spanish Armada cannons discovery off Ireland

This video says about itself:

17 June 2015

Rare cannons from Spanish Armada discovered in seabed after wreckage from ship washed ashore by storms

From the Irish Times:

Relics from Spanish Armada discovered in Sligo

Artefacts more than 425 years old from merchant vessel found off Streedagh

Wed, Jun 17, 2015, 16:41

Severe winter storms over the last two years are believed to have led to the recent discovery of relics from the Spanish Armada off the Irish coast.

A number of cannons from the merchant vessel La Juliana have been found in sands off Streedagh in Co Sligo since timbers from the exposed wreck began washing ashore in April.

The guns date back to 1588 but are said to be in excellent condition.

Two have been taken off the seabed with archaeologists discovering that one bears a dedication to and depiction of St Matrona, a saint particularly venerated by the people of Catalonia.

It is also dated 1570, the year La Juliana was built, putting the identity of the ship beyond doubt, the Government said.

Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, visited the wreck site and saw the archaeological work first hand.

“We have uncovered a wealth of fascinating and highly significant material, which is more than 425 years old,” she said.

“This material is obviously very historically and archaeologically significant.”

Two other vessels from the Armada sank in violent storms in the area in September 1588, La Lavia and Santa Maria de Vision, with more than 1,000 soldiers and mariners drowning when they went down.

They are believed to remain concealed and protected by layers of sand which did not shift in storms over the last two years.

La Juliana traded between Spain and Italy until King Philip II commandeered it for the Armada fleet of 130 ships to invade England and take Queen Elizabeth I’s throne.

The vessel was large, weighed 860 tonnes, carried 32 guns, 325 soldiers and had a crew of 70.

Recovery of the rest of the guns, relics and materials from the sandy seabed off Sligo is expected to last a number of weeks.