Thursday, August 9, 2012

2000 year old Roman shipwreck discovered so well preserved even food is intact

One of the best preserved shipwrecks ever found has been discovered off the Italian coast.
Divers say they have found a ship off the coast of Italy which they believe is about 2,000 years old.
The ship, which was spotted in the sea off the town on Varazze in the province of Liguria, is thought to be a Roman-era commercial vessel.
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Divers examine one of an estimated 200 pots found on a shipwreck off the coast of Italy. The pots are so well preserved food still remains inside them.
Divers examine one of an estimated 200 pots found on a shipwreck off the coast of Italy. The pots are so well preserved food still remains inside them.
The ship, a navis oneraria, or merchant vessel, was located at a depth of about 200 feet after a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was used to scour the seabed.
A search for the shipwreck was launched after local fisherman revealed they kept finding pieces of pottery in their nets.
The divers found the wreck so well preserved even the food, still sealed in over 200 pots, is intact.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Roger Hudson on the vitriolic reaction to Paul Robeson's open-air concert in Peekskill, new York, 1949.
Angry locals from Westchester County, New York shout hate-filled insults at the carloads of concert-goers arriving to hear the singer Paul Robeson, the most famous African-American of the day, perform at an open-air concert in Lakeland Acres, north of Peekskill, on September 4th, 1949. A state trooper smirks and does nothing.

The first attempt to hold the concert, in aid of the Civil Rights Congress, on August 27th had to be called off when the audience was attacked, Robeson was lynched in effigy and a cross was set on fire – the symbol of the Ku Klux Klan. The police did little to intervene and 300 hostile young veterans made their presence felt. Why was there such bitterness now, when Robeson had already performed at three concerts in the neighbourhood without incident? There was not much secret about his sympathy for Soviet Russia, his anti-war stance and calls for the decolonisation of Africa – both labelled as Communist causes – or his championing of civil rights. But in June he had attended the Soviet-sponsored World Peace Conference in Paris and remarks he made there were grossly misquoted. It was claimed he said that the US government was similar to Hitler and Goebbels and that it was unthinkable that American negroes would go to war against Russia on behalf of those who had oppressed them.

The US emerged from the Second World War as a better-integrated country, but African-Americans remained the exception. Much of the country was segregated as, by-and-large, its armed forces had been throughout the war. It may have been a crusade for freedom, but it was selective in its definitions. When racism was mixed with the fear and hatred of Communism stirred up by the coming of the Cold War it made for a powerful cocktail. Hence the cries of ‘dirty nigger-lovers’ and ‘dirty Commies’ at Peekskill – even ‘dirty kikes’, since the concert organiser, Helen Rosen, a local friend of Robeson’s, was Jewish.

Once news about the scenes on August 27th circulated, left-wing trade unions decided that they would ensure its successor on September 4th did take place. Twenty thousand made it to the venue and 2,500 trade union members formed a human wall to ensure the concert was not interrupted. The real trouble came as people left afterwards. Cars were hit by a hail of stones and rocks, which had been stockpiled by locals and veterans on the roadside. The vehicle in which the singers Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger were travelling had windows smashed, while police and state troopers did little to prevent the violence.

These events foreshadowed the anti-Communist witch hunt which was to begin under the leadership of Senator Joe McCarthy in the following year, using the hysteria stirred up by fear of the ‘Red Menace’ to persecute Democrats, intellectuals and Hollywood figures. Paul Robeson, for his part, had his passport withdrawn.

It was not until the end of 1954 that McCarthy was finally discredited.

From History Today

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hitler's Los Angeles Bunker

t sounds like the bizzare script of a Hollywood B-movie.
In a parallel universe the Nazis have won the war, Adolf Hitler moves to LA where he mingles with the stars of the silver screen while running his evil empire from a luxurious ranch deep in the LA hills.
But during the 1930s, American sympathisers were so confident this exact scenario was actually going happen they spent millions building a deluxe compound ready for their fuhrer's imminent  arrival.
Hitler U.S. HQ: The ruins of the compound from where American Nazis hoped their leader would one day rule the world lies tucked away in the Los Angeles hills
Hitler U.S. HQ: The ruins of the compound from where American Nazis hoped their leader would one day rule the world lies tucked away in the Los Angeles hills
Leader: Hitler's American followers the Silver Shirts were so confident that he would triumph they spent millions building the deluxe compound ready for his imminent arrival
Leader: Hitler's American followers the Silver Shirts were so confident that he would triumph they spent millions building the deluxe compound ready for his imminent arrival
Equipped with a diesel power plant, 375,000 gallon concrete water tank , giant meat locker, 22 bedrooms and even a bomb shelter, the heavily guarded estate was home to a community of Hollywood fascists who hoped to ride out the war there.
 
There were further plans to build five libraries, a swimming pool, several dining rooms and a gymnasium with money from Germany.
But on the day after Pearl Harbour, as America entered World War Two, police raided the premises and rounded up the the 50 or so American fascists who were living there.
The remnants of the huge concrete water tank on the Murphy Ranch where which was built in the 1930s by the Silver Shirts group of American fascists
The remnants of the huge concrete water tank on the Murphy Ranch where which was built in the 1930s by the Silver Shirts group of American fascists
Today the eerie landmark lies in ruins, daubed with graffitti, and awaiting the bulldozers so it can be turned into a picnic area for hikers - a soon-to-be forgotten slice of American history.
Close to the homes of actors and directors such as Stephen Spielberg, the site has been a magnet for historians, curiosity-seekers and modern-day nazis.
At one point after the war it became an artists colony and was home to the novelist Henry Miller.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Torpedoed: Nazis sunk ship carrying 90 children as they escaped Blitz

As a force-ten gale whipped the waves into a fury around the ship, an 11-year-old boy lay alone in his cabin reading The Beano and dreaming of adventure.

It was 10pm. The only sound was from a ball bearing he’d placed in his bedside drawer, which was sliding ever more frantically from side to side. But Colin Ryder Richardson, snug in his bunk, saw no reason for alarm.

True, the ship had slowed down to negotiate the storm, but it was still ploughing in the right direction. ‘Another day nearer America!’ he remembers thinking.

The date was September 17, 1940. Already 600 miles out to sea, the SS City of Benares was carrying Colin and 89 other child evacuees to the U.S. and Canada, where they could wait out the end of the war in safety.
Survivors: Five survivors of the S.S City of Benares passenger ship which was sunk by a German U-Boat in September 1940. Left to right, Kenneth Sparkes, Derek Capel, Freddie Steele, Billy Short and Howard Clayton
Survivors: Five survivors of the S.S City of Benares passenger ship which was sunk by a German U-Boat in September 1940. Left to right, Kenneth Sparkes, Derek Capel, Freddie Steele, Billy Short and Howard Clayton

Far from being distraught at leaving his parents behind, Colin was excited at the prospect of stepping into a real-life Western: ‘I thought of the sun and the hills. And the cowboys — eating around campfires.’

His dreams, however, were rudely interrupted that night by a loud bang. At first, he thought the Benares must have collided with another ship. Then he caught a whiff of the telltale smell of explosives.

From somewhere out there in the deep, a German U-boat had fired a torpedo directly into the ship, just below the children’s sleeping quarters. The City of Benares gave a great shudder and began to sink.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2112768/Torpedoed-clutched-teddies-The-harrowing-story-Nazis-sunk-ship-carrying-90-children-Blitz-America.html#ixzz1opA6TnB9

History of World's Oldest Medical Museum

These astonishing pictures show a range of gruesome maladies which have struck Americans over the last two centuries.

Some of them - like a deformed foetus and a two-headed baby - are so grotesque they almost look like carnival attractions.

But these curiosities were collected with a more noble aim in mind - they form part of what may be the oldest medical museum in the United States.

The exhibits, ranging from shockingly deformed bodies to mediaeval medical textbooks, are kept at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.

The museum opened in 1849 as part of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, which is the U.S.'s oldest medical society, having been founded in 1787.
 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

For Titanic Fans: First map of the entire wreck site

As the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s sinking approaches, a team of scientists, engineers and imaging experts have joined forces to answer one of the most haunting questions surrounding the legendary disaster: Just how did the “unsinkable” ship break apart and plunge into the icy waters of the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912? Two years ago, HISTORY took part alongside the world’s top underwater experts in the most recent expedition to the wreck site. The undertaking yielded unprecedented new discoveries and the first comprehensive map of Titanic’s watery grave, helping specialists solve the century-old puzzle of what went wrong—and determine who or what was responsible. A HISTORY special entitled “Titanic at 100: Mystery Solved,” set to premiere on April 15 at 8 p.m. ET, will document the mission, capture the high-tech mapmaking process, unveil astonishing pieces of never-before-seen wreckage and present the expedition’s unexpected findings. Will the case of the world’s most famous maritime catastrophe finally be closed?

Discovered off the coast of Newfoundland in 1985, Titanic’s wreckage has been the subject of much fascination and debate for over a quarter of a century. But even after 25 years, nearly half of the wreck site remained completely unexplored. That changed after the most recent expedition in 2010, when experts armed with sonar technology and high-resolution cameras mapped the debris field in its entirety, capturing 15 square miles of ocean floor littered with artifacts both large and small. Previous surveys had only comprised 60 percent of the area, leaving out significant pieces of the doomed ship and limiting conclusions about Titanic’s sinking to theories, conjecture and land-based studies.

The first to visit Titanic in five years, the 2010 expedition brought together a number of prominent underwater organizations that had never partnered before, including RMS Titanic, Inc., the wreck’s legal custodian and curator. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Advanced Imaging & Visualization Laboratory, a world leader in underwater imaging, developed special 3-D and 2-D cameras for the mission that delivered high-quality footage of extreme clarity. The Waitt Institute for Discovery, meanwhile, supplied self-controlled robots known as AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles), capable of independently surveying the site with high-resolution side-scan sonar. These devices worked in tandem with an ROV (remote operated vehicle) provided by Phoenix International, a marine services contractor
For the rest of the article and pictures visit: http://www.history.com/news/2012/03/08/first-map-of-entire-titanic-wreck-site-sheds-new-light-on-disaster/ 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Napolean wanted to give a prize for the invention of canned food and other interesting historical contests

A cash prize is an elegantly straightforward economic incentive: Do this thing, get some money.
It's an incentive that's proved popular lately, as a wave of high-profile prizes have been offered to spur technological innovation. The X PRIZE foundation, best known for creating incentives for private space ships, offers a bunch of different prizes. Deep pockets like the Gates Foundation and DARPA are also getting into the prize business.
But, as a column in the NYT recently reminded us, innovation prizes go back hundreds of years. The column linked to a report (PDF) that listed dozens of historical examples. Here are four that caught our eye:

1. Napoleon's Food Preservation Prize (1795)
Napoleon offered 12,000 francs to improve upon the prevailing food preservation methods of the time. Not surprisingly, the purpose was to better feed his army "when an invaded country was not able or inclined to sell or provide food". Fifteen years later, confectioner Nicolas François Appert claimed the prize. He devised a method involving heating, boiling and sealing food in airtight glass jars — the same basic technology still used to can foods.
  2. The Confederate Prize for Inventions that Sink or Destroy Union Ships (1861)
During the Civil War, the confederacy couldn't compete with the Union navy. So the the Confederate Congress authorized a prize for a "new kind of armed vessel, or floating battery, or defense invention" capable of sinking or destroying enemy vessels. The legislation led to the development of the H.L. Hunley — the first submarine ever to sink an enemy vessel (though the Hunley sank on its way back to port, killing its entire crew.)

For more visit: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/03/01/147751097/why-napoleon-offered-a-prize-for-inventing-canned-food?sc=fb&cc=fp