Possible Gold-laden Russian Shipwreck Found off S. Korea
July 19, 2018
Searchers have discovered a very large and potentially very gold-laden shipwreck off the coast of South Korea. The ship was the Dmitri Donskoii, a 5,800 ton armored cruiser that sailed the waters in that part of the world in the last two decades of the 19th Century. The ship fell victim to Russia's own scuttling exercise during what would become one of several defeats that led to a Japanese victory in the 1905 Russo-Japanese War. The ship is thought to have sunk with a large amount of gold onboard. One estimate put the possible value of the hoard at $130 billion. Russian historians, however, have cast doubt on the ship's identity as a "treasure ship," saying that the government would have much more likely put such a large amount of gold on a train. Shinil Group, which found the wreck off Ulleungdo Island, said that it had identified the ship by comparing still visible elements to historical blueprints. The big clue, though, was finding the word "DONSKOII" carved into the stern.

Papyrus Experts Solve 2,000-year-old Mirror Writing Mystery

Scientists have decoded a 2,000-year-old papyrus by pulling it apart. The document dates to Ancient Greece and could have ties to the famous physician Galen. The papyrus is one of a number in the hands of experts at the University of Basel. The Swiss collection has included the mysterious papyrus since the 16th Century. The mystery came from what appeared to be mirror writing, found on both sides. The both-sides presentation was just one way in which the mysterious document was different. Most intact papyri are mundane documents, such as contracts and receipts, or letters from one person to another. The newly decoded papyrus contains a literary text, the Swiss researchers said, probably written by Galen. Using infrared and ultraviolet technology, the University of Basel team discovered that the papyrus was, in fact, several layers glued together. The team employed a restoration specialist to separate the sheets. Once the sheets were separate, experts were able to read what was written on them.

14,000-year-old Bread Crumbs Found in Jordan
July 15, 2018
As it turns out, ancient people left their toast crumbs behind just like modern people do. Archaeologists have found charred bread crumbs in a couple of 14,000-year-old fireplaces in Jordan's Black Desert. They're tiny crumbs, but they're bread crumbs all the same, dated using radiocarbon dating. Digging at a site in the northeast part of the country between 2012 and 2015, the team of archaeologists, including Tobias Richter of the University of Copenhagen, found charred remains of 642 lumps of plants and legumes. A total of 24 of those lumps were found to be bread-like, and 15 contain bits from cereal plants, like barley or oats or wheat. Also present were several types of plant material, such as the wetland club-rush. Further analysis convinced the archaeologists that the ancient people who made the bread used sieved flour and that the bread would have been baked on a hot stone or in the ashes of a fire.

Mummification Workshop Discovered in Egypt
July 14, 2018
The discovery of a mummy from ancient times has been a familiar sight in Egypt, but finding a mummification workshop is something else again. A team of Egyptian and German archaeologists have done just that, near the Saqqara necropolis. In a newly discovered 100-foot burial shaft were a silver mask, a handful of mummies, some wooden coffins, and a number of sarcophagi. The people who built the shaft also carved a pair of burial chambers into the bedrock that lined the hallways. More importantly to the further understanding of embalming, the archaeologists found an embalming cachette full of stone statues, jars, and vessels, all of which, they say, will further the understanding of the kinds of oils that the Egyptians used in their embalming process. Estimates are that the artifacts found are more than 2,500 years old.

Winnie-the-Pooh Map Sets Record at Auction
July 14, 2018
It was no bother at all for the buyer who paid a record $570,000 for an original Winnie-the-Pooh map. The map, of the Hundred Acre Wood, was done in 1926 by artist E.H. Shepard as part of publication of the original installment of the famous A.A. Milne series. The map had not been seen in public for 50 years. Shepard had sold it in the year he drew it, and it had remained in a private collection. The map was on the inside cover of the very first book to feature the famous bear, Winnie-the-Pooh, published in October 1926. Familiar characters in that first book included Piglet, Eeyore the donkey, Owl, Rabbit, and kangaroos Kanga and Roo. Another famous Pooh associate, Tigger, appeared in the sequel, The House at Pooh Corner, published in 1928.

Drought Leads to Discovery of Ancient Irish Henge
July 14, 2018
Archaeologists in Ireland are having a field day after the discovery of a previously unknown ancient henge. The country is in the grip of a lengthy drought–it's the longest sustained dry spell since 1976–and crops are struggling up and down the Emerald Isle. The effects of the sustained heat and lack of water are apparent in the Boyne Valley, which contains Newgrange, a well-known prehistoric stone monument. A local photographer flying a drone over the area saw, emerging as if by magic, an otherwise unknown pair of concentric circles. The wider area is already a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to other henges and other monuments. This particular henge had long been covered by the land, with many generations of farmers planting crops directly on top. The henge dates to Neolithic times, about 4,500 years ago, archaeologists said. The henge would have been a circle of massive wooden posts, all of which have rotted away but have left an organic "footprint," which the photographer, Anthony Murphy, discovered on his recent drone flight. He had flown over the area many dozens of times and had never seen the henge before.


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