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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (08/2010) Headlines (06/2010) Headlines (10/2010)   Vol. 44 August 2010 
Treasure In The Headlines
As seen in the August 2010 edition of W&ET Magazine


Researchers from the University of Michigan have found evidence of an ancient hunting culture beneath Lake Huron.

Surveying an underwater ridge with side-scan sonar and remote-operated vehicles, they discovered stone features that resemble those used today in the Canadian Arctic to hunt caribou. The submerged features date from about 7,500 to 10,000 years ago, when the lake's level was much lower and the ridge was a narrow causeway that ran from present-day Michigan to Ontario, dividing the lake in two.

From the Chronicle Herald, submitted by Daniel Finch, Halifax, NS.


An engraver fired by Chile's mint for an error that led to the release of 1.5 million coins featuring the country of "CHIIE" said recently that his bosses deliberately covered up the mistake.

The error showed up on Chilean 50-peso pieces for the year 2009.

Engraver Pedro Urzua Lizana told the Associated Press he unknowingly left off the bottom part of the letter "l" when, in December 2008, he was hurriedly fixing a minor deformity in the original mold for making the dies to stamp out the coin.

The coins were released to the public last year but no one at the mint, including himself, knew about the error until a coin collector called late last year to point it out, he said.

Once informed, officials at the mint fixed the stamp for future 50-peso pieces, but sent another batch of bad coins to the Central Bank without telling officials there of the error, Urzua said. Those coins never were released to the public, he said.

From The Napa Valley Register, submitted by Jerry R. Hallett, Napa, CA.


She was a beautiful English princess who married one of Europe's most powerful monarchs and dazzled subjects with her charity and charm.

Now a team of scientists say they think they've found the body of Princess Eadgyth (pronounced Edith) - a 10th-century noblewoman who has been compared to Princess Diana.

"She was a very, very popular person," said Mark Horton, an archaeology professor at Bristol University in western England. "She was sort of the Diana of her day if you like- pretty and full of good works."

Eadgyth married Duke Otto of Saxony, who eventually became the first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire.

Horton is one of a team of experts working to verify the identity of some bones found bundled in silk at Magdeburg Cathedral in Germany.

Should the skeleton be positively identified as Eadgyth's, it would be the oldest remains of any English royal. Experts say her closest competitors- the bones of various Saxon royals in Winchester Cathedral- are so jumbled together that no single person can be identified.

"If (Eadgyth's) skeleton is intact the, yes, as far as I'm aware, it would be the earliest identifiable remains from Anglo-Saxon England," said Simon Keynes, a professor of Anglo-Saxon history at the University of Cambridge.

The skeleton was uncovered as part of a wider research project into Magdeburg Cathedral, about 90 miles west of Berlin. Archaeologists opened the monument back in 2008 and found a lead coffin bearing her name, with the bones inside.

Horton said the skeleton belonged to a woman between 30 and 40 years of age. But tests must be performed to figure out the age and area of origin of the bones; historians say bodies of saints and royalty were often moved.

From The Charlotte Observer, submitted by David Wolan, Charlotte, NC.


A Model A Ford that bank robber John Dillinger used as a getaway car sold at auction recently in Scottsdale, Arizona, for $165,000, according to media reports.

The buyer is not being identified.

Dillinger and two members of his gang used the car to escape the Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish Water, Wisconsin, in 1934. The car, which sports a bullet hole from a later gunfight between police and Dillinger partner John "Red" Hamilton, was featured in the 2009 movie "Public Enemies," according to the reports.

From The Chicago Sun-Times, submitted by Bob Bolek, Hometown, IL.


Remains of the first airplane ever taken to Antarctica, in 1912, have been found by Australian researchers.

The Mawson's Huts Foundation had been searching for the plane for three summers before stumbling upon metal pieces of it recently.

"The biggest news of the day is that we've found the air tractor, or at least parts of it!" team member Tony Stewart wrote on the team's blog from Cape Denison in Antarctica's Commonwealth Bay.

Australian polar explorer and geologist Douglas Mawson led two expeditions to Antarctica in the early1900s, on the first one bringing along a single-propeller Vickers plane.

The wings of the plane, built in 1911, had been damaged in a crash before the expedition, but Mawson hoped to use it as a kind of motorized sled.

Stewart said the 1911-14 Australian Antarctic Expedition used the plane to tow gear onto the ice in preparation for their journeys.

But the plane's engine could not withstand the extreme temperatures and was eventually abandoned.

The plane, the first from Britain's Vickers factory, had not been seen since the mid-1970s, when researchers photographed the steel fuselage nearly encompassed in ice.

The foundation- which works at Cape Denison to conserve the huts used by Mawson in his expeditions- said it believed the plane would still be where it was left by Mawson, near the huts and the harbor, which is covered in ice for most of the year.

From The Charlotte Observer, submitted by David M. Wolan, Charlotte, NC.


Archaeologists always suspected they might find the remains of the Byzantine-era street hidden below a road inside the city's main Jaffa Gate.

But this is the first time in centuries that archaeologists have been allowed to dig beneath the road to the site, which is shown on an ancient mosaic map that still exists in Jordan.

Israeli archaeological law says that whenever new construction begins in an area of historical importance, the site must first be opened to archaeological excavation.

In a land so ancient, virtually every square metre of earth is a potential archaeological treasure.

Amazing things can be found in the most unlikely places.

After weeks of digging, archaeologists reached four meters below the road surface and suddenly uncovered the ancient flagstones that once paved one of Jerusalem's busiest streets in Byzantine times.

Metal detectors have uncovered coins and jewelry from about 500 AD.

The head of excavation, Ofer Sion, says it is the first time archaeologists have ever dug so far down in this part of the Old City.

"This is the first time that [we have] ever found the Byzantine street from [the] Madaba Map in Jerusalem," he said.

Even more exciting is the doorway and window of a large building- perhaps a monastery or even a palace- that for centuries has lain hidden under the road.

"Jerusalem in that period was a great city- more than 30,000 to 40,000 people lived in it," Mr. Sion said.

"This was the Christian period of Jerusalem. [There were] so many churches. Hundreds of thousands of Christian people were living in Jerusalem. Pilgrims [from] all over the world were coming to this city and going through this gate."

It is not by chance that archaeologists chose to dig in this exact spot.

They have had more than a hunch as to what they would find because of the Madaba Map- a famous mosaic map, 16 meters long, that was built in about the sixth century into the floor of a church in Jordan.

The map described the city of Jerusalem in intimate detail and is still the only known map of Jerusalem from the Byzantine era.

"We knew that the Byzantine street was down there because of the Madaba Map," said Mr. Sion.

But what archaeologists still do not know is whether this ancient Byzantine road is also the original Roman road built by Emperor Hadrian in 135 AD. They may never know.

As much as archaeologists would love to keep on digging, the tiny window of opportunity while the current road is repaired will not stay open for long.

In a few more weeks the road will likely be back to normal and the deep pit, with its glimpse into ancient life, will most likely disappear back into the earth.

The demands of modern-day life beckon.

From the Associated Press, submitted by Dan Knuth, Thiensville, WI.


Jim Brown grew up in the Civil War's shadow, listening to stories of the fighting from a father who lived it.

"He was in it from the beginning at Manassas to the end at Appomattox," Brown said. "He'd be amazed to see the changes today."

At 98, Brown's part of an exclusive group: the surviving children of Civil War soldiers, removed by a single generation from the nation's bloodiest conflict. Records show fewer than 100 sons and daughters of the blue and gray veterans remain nationwide. Tennessee boasts four Confederate sons- two in the Knoxville area, including Brown- along with a Union son and daughter.

Historians hope to see members of that club hang around long enough to help celebrate the war's 150th anniversary, which begins next year.

"As you might imagine, they're going away pretty quickly," said Ben Sewell, executive director of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

"We know of 32 Confederate real sons across the country, and we're losing them at the rate of about five to nine per year. But a number of these fellows who are remaining have birth dates as late as 1923 or 1924. So there's a pretty good chance of having a few remaining for the sesquicentennial."

Brown, who lives in Tellico Village with his son, plans to be here for the celebration. So does Tom Bruce, 85, who lives in Knoxville with memories of a Confederate father he barely knew.

Bruce was born in Morristown to a 77-year-old former Virginia cavalryman and was just 6 years old when his father died in 1930. Levi Bruce served with the 7th and later the 11th Virginia Cavalry through fighting in what's now West Virginia.

"I'm part of a dying breed, I guess," Bruce said. "The only thing I can remember distinctly about my father is when he bought me a bicycle once. My mother had his sword and a picture of Robert E. Lee he had framed, but she sold them one piece at a time for enough money to get by."

Brown can claim memories a little clearer. He was born in 1912 to a 71-year-old father who survived battles from Gettysburg to the Siege of Knoxville. Brown knew his father for the next 11 years, until the veteran's death at age 82.

James Henry Harrison Brown joined the 8th Georgia Infantry's Company K at age 20 when war erupted in 1861. Records show his regiment saw action from the war's first major battle at Manassas, through the cornfields of Antietam, MD, in 1862, and across the bloody ground at Gettysburg, PA, in 1863.

The father followed Gen. James Longstreet to East Tennessee in the fall of 1863 for the Confederacy's attempt to recapture Knoxville, including battles at Campbell Station near present-day Farragut and at Fort Sanders, where the Siege of Knoxville ended in a 20-minute failed assault near the University of Tennessee campus. He returned to Virginia for the last days of the war, all the way to the surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865.

Brown plans to stand where his father fought next month when he helps celebrate the placement of a Civil War Trails marker near the Campbell Station site. He still shares some of his father's stories in talks to groups such as the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable, where he spoke recently.

Most of those stories dealt less with glory and honor than with hunger and hardship.

"He'd talk about what he endured," Brown said. "He'd talk about marching barefoot through the snow in the East Tennessee winter and leaving bloody tracks behind."

He believes his father would be proud to see the nation that emerged from that struggle.

"He was doing what he thought he had to do," Brown said. "But I never heard him say a harsh word about anyone, Yankees or anyone else. I just wish I could have listened to him more."

From The Knoxville News Sentinel, submitted by Darryl Willett, Ten Mile, TN.


Scientists using a remote-controlled submarine have discovered the deepest known volcanic vent and say the superheated waters inside could contain undiscovered marine species and perhaps even clues to the origin of life on Earth.

Experts aboard the RRS James Cook said they found the volcanic vent more than 3 miles beneath the surface of the Caribbean in an area known as the Cayman Trough, a deep-sea canyon that served as the setting for James Cameron's underwater thriller "The Abyss."

Geologist Bramley Murton, the submersible's pilot, said exploring the area, discovered recently, was "like wandering across the surface of another world."

Volcanic vents are areas where seawater seeps into small cracks that penetrate deep into Earth's crust, some reaching down more than a mile. Temperatures there can reach 750 degrees Fahrenheit, heating the water to the point where it can melt lead.

The intense heat and pressure combine with toxic metals to form a highly acidic undersea cocktail. But the vents host lush colonies of exotic animals such as blind shrimp, giant white crabs and even large, red-lipped tubeworms that lack any apparent digestive system.

From The Chicago Tribune, submitted by Bob Bolek, Hometown, IL.


Yes, Abe Lincoln did his math homework. There's even proof. One hundred and 45 years later, researchers for the "Papers of Abraham Lincoln" project have electronically matched two pieces of a page from an arithmetic copybook Lincoln used in his teen years. The book- from the 1820s- is the oldest known original Lincoln document.

One part of the page is at the University of Chicago. The other is at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

The arithmetic copybook page includes math problems on one side and a series of questions and answers on the other.

Lincoln's stepmother gave the book to law partner William Herndon after Lincoln's death. Ten pages are known to have survived.

From the Sun Times, submitted by Bob Bolek, Hometown, IL.

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