Fake History – WIF Myths and Misconceptions

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Historic Myths

and Misconceptions

Even though history is, in theory, a fixed and unchangeable field of study, in practice it evolves all the time. Things and events that we were sure to have happened can be turned on their head by a single archaeological discovery or a reinterpretation based on new facts.

It is after these changes in historical perspective that certain notions, myths, and misconceptions stick around. In other cases, however, it could just be that not so historically accurate movies have created them as such for dramatic effect. Whatever the case may be, we are here to set the records straight for 10 of them…

10. The Viking Name

The Norsemen, more commonly known as the Vikings, were a group of peoples from Northern Europe, particularly the Scandinavian Penninsula, Denmark, and Iceland. They made a name for themselves from the 8th to 11th centuries AD mostly by pillaging, enslaving, but also trading with other European and Middle Eastern peoples.

The most common misconception about the Vikings is in regard to their very name. The term Viking didn’t appear in the English language until the middle of the 19th century. There are several possible origins for the term; the most widely accepted being that it came from vikingr, an Old Norse term meaning to raid or piracy. A similar theory proposes that the term Vikings refers to men rowing in shifts.

What’s more, the Norsemen had different names to the different people they came in contact with. The Germans knew them as the Ascomanni (ashmen), the Irish knew them as Lochlannach (lake people), while the Slavs, Byzantines, and Arabs know them as the Rus. The fact of the matter is that we don’t really know what they called themselves. Nevertheless, the Vikings that ended up living in Ireland began calling themselves Ostmen (east men) at some point.

9. Napoleon Was Short

There’s a common misconception that Napoleon Bonaparte was really short in stature. This myth is so ingrained in today’s collective consciousness that we even have a psychological issue named after it: the Napoleon Complex. This type of inferiority complex manifests itself in some shorter people, particularly men, where they feel the need to overcompensate by exhibiting aggressive and/or domineering social behavior.

As far as the actual Napoleon was concerned, he was 5-foot-2, to be exact. That’s not particularly tall. But the fact of the matter is that he wasn’t shorter than the average Frenchman from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. So, why all the fuss about his height, then? The answer lies in the difference between the measuring systems of France and England at the time. Both nations used inches in their measurements, but the French inch was longer than its British counterpart.

In reality, Napoleon was 5-foot-6 in British inches and 5-foot-2 in French. At some point, a confusion was made, and people started believing that Napoleon was 5-foot-2 in British inches. To make matters worse, Napoleon was often surrounded by taller guards, making him seem smaller by comparison. But the Imperial Guard had height requirements, which account for Napoleon’s by-name of le petit caporal or the little corporal. 

8. Benjamin Franklin Discovered Electricity

Many people around the world are under the misconception that Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity during his famous Kite Experiment. And while Franklin was a renowned scientist of his time with an interest in many areas of study and an inventor of many things, such as bifocal glasses, he did not discover electricity.

In fact, scientists of the 17th century had been experimenting with static electricity. What Benjamin Franklin did, however, was to prove that electricity had both positive and negative elements and that lightning was, in fact, a type of electricity. His initial idea for the experiment was to use a 30-foot rod. But after two years, he decided on the silk kite, instead. Little did he know at the time, however, that a French naturalist by the name Thomas-Francois Dalibard did conduct the experiment as Franklin originally intended — on May 10, 1752, just one month before Franklin. Dalibard concluded that Franklin’s hypothesis was right.

7. Peasants Ignited the French Revolution

Revolutions are almost always idealized as an event in a nation’s history where the lower class people took up arms against a brutish and authoritarian regime. Yet, as history has shown us time and time again, for a revolution to be successful, it oftentimes requires more than just the peasantry. The same thing can also be said about the French Revolution of 1789.

Explaining the actual causes and how the revolution went down is something way beyond the scope of this list. Nevertheless, the common “knowledge” is that impoverished people began the revolution. There were several notable uprisings prior to the revolution, when the people of Paris rebelled against the government. But every time, the middle class prevented things from degenerating further. In 1789, however, things were different. The middle class and lower nobility, themselves — dissatisfied with the high taxes and levels of corruption — joined the commoners. Thus, sealing the fate of the French monarchy.

6. Hernan Cortes and the Aztec Empire

At its height during the early 16th century, the Aztec Empire managed to cover much of what is now central Mexico. It encompassed an area of over 52,000 square miles and a population of around 11 million. Though relatively young, the Mesoamerican nation managed to gather a lot of wealth and expand its reach in a short amount of time. This, however, also attracted a lot of hatred from the people they subjugated, as well as the attention of the Europeans stationed in Cuba.

Hearing reports of strange stone monuments and brightly dressed and golden-covered natives on the mainland, the Spanish Governor of Cuba, Diego Velasquez, organized an expedition comprised of a fleet of 11 ships, 500 soldiers, and 100 sailors. At the head of this expedition was Hernan Cortes. And even though the expedition was later canceled, Cortes sailed to the mainland anyway.

The historical myth surrounding Hernan Cortes is that he, alongside his men, managed to bring the mighty Aztec Empire to its knees all by themselves. Truth be told, they were sporting state-of-the-art weapons such as crossbows, steel swords, guns, pikes, cannons, and full plate armor. They also had horses, something which the natives had never encountered before. All of these weapons made the Spanish hundreds, if not thousands of years ahead technologically, proving their worth time and time again on the battlefield — mainly as morale breakers for the enemy.

Nevertheless, this would not have been enough to bring down an Empire — let alone in a timespan of just three years. It was by employing the help of several subjugated tribes and their armies, as well as smallpox that was introduced several years earlier that managed to do the job — alongside Cortez and his heavily-armed men, of course.

5. Richard the Lionheart was English

Richard I of England, later known as Richard the Lionheart, was born on September 8, 1157 in Oxford. He was the son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Second only to Henry VIII, Richard I was among the most famous kings of England. Among his most notable achievements was his involvement during the Third Crusade (1189-1192) alongside Frederick I Barbarossa, King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor, and Philip II of France.

The campaign was ultimately a failure, with the Crusaders not being able to take the Holy City of Jerusalem. There were, however, several victories along the way, most notably the capture of the city of Messina in Sicily, the capture of the island of Cyprus, the capture of Acre in what is now present-day Israel, and the Battle of Arsuf. Though not able to fulfill its intended objective, the Crusade created a Christian foothold in the Middle Eastern mainland.

Even though he was born in England, Richard the Lionheart became the Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Poitou at age 11 — both in France. Among Richard’s other deeds were two rebellions against his own father, after which he became sole heir of the Kingdom of England, as well as Normandy, Maine, and Aquitaine. He died in 1199, leading a siege at the age of 42, and throughout his life he only set foot in the British Isles twice for a total of six months. He never learned how to speak English and, prior to the crusade, he emptied the Crown’s coffers and sold off many lands and titles in preparation for the campaign.

4. Chivalry

People, by and large, have a fairly idealistic view of history. Many of us like to think that the past was a simpler, nicer, and overall better time. But this is a common misconception so deeply ingrained into our common consciousness that even historians sometimes have trouble distancing themselves from it. Many of us oftentimes forget just how war-ridden the world was or how little access most people had to so many things that we take for granted today.

The purpose of history is, or should be, to examine events and systems in the most objective way possible. To see what worked and what didn’t, and how we can use those things to improve the future. History shouldn’t be about keeping score or grudges, nor should we look at it through a nostalgic lens so as to better fit with our idealistic point of view.

One example of this is chivalry. Popularized by numerous medieval and modern novels, stories, and epic poems, chivalrous knights are often seen as valiant, noble, courteous men, defined by their high-minded consideration, particularly towards women. Yet, the reality is quite different. The origins of the term and concept stem back to the 10th century France. It was introduced by the church as an attempt at regulating the endemic violence in French society. The term comes from chevalier, or knight, which in turn, derives from cheval, or horse.

In reality, these knights were quite violent, with numerous accounts of sacking and pillaging towns, villages, monasteries, as well as regularly committing acts of murder, torture, rape, and so on. In short, chivalry evolved to become somewhat of a code of conduct in warfare and had almost nothing to do with what we now consider chivalrous today.

3. The Infamous Vomitoriums

According to popular culture, a vomitorium was a room in Ancient Rome where Romans would go to purge during feasts so as to continue gorging themselves and make room for more. But while the actual Romans did love their food and drink, the purpose of the vomitorium was a completely different one that had nothing to do with vomiting.

For the actual Romans of old, vomitoriums were the entrances and exits to stadiums, arenas, and theaters. They were dubbed as such by the Roman writer and philosopher Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius in his work entitled Saturnalia. He called them this based on how these exits spewed crowds of people onto the streets.

It was sometime during the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the term was reintroduced with its wrong connotations. In his 1923 novel Antic Hay, author Aldous Huxley writes about vomitoriums as literal places for people to vomit.

2. Vincent van Gogh Cut off His Own Ear

Many people around the world have seen Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear. He painted it shortly after returning from the hospital in 1889. The official version of the story is that, in a fit of madness, the disturbed Dutch painter severed his left earlobe with a razor blade shortly before Christmas 1888. He then wrapped it in a pieced of newspaper or cloth, walked to a nearby brothel and handed it to a prostitute, who immediately fainted.

He then went back home, went to sleep and almost bled to death before the police found him the next morning in a blood-drenched bed. Being unconscious, he was taken to the hospital. When he woke up, van Gogh asked for his friend, the French artist Paul Gauguin, who refused to see him.

Nevertheless, two German historians have proposed a different version of events. The two argued that, after reviewing numerous witness accounts and letters, the official story had plenty of inconsistencies. Their interpretation points to Paul Gauguin, van Gogh’s friend, who was a keen fencer and, during a heated argument, lopped off his earlobe with a sword. The two made a so-called pact of silence where Gauguin was looking to avoid prosecution while van Gogh wanted to keep his friend, with whom he was infatuated.

A somewhat recent discovery, however, seems to disprove (or at least significantly alter) both the original version and the one proposed by the two German historians. A letter written by Dr. Felix Rey explains in full detail the extent of the wounds. As it turns out, the entire left ear was sliced off, not just the earlobe, as it was previously assumed.

1. Emperor Nero Played the Fiddle as Rome Burned

For an entire week in 64 AD, the citizens of Ancient Rome watched helplessly as their city burned to the ground. As with many similar tragedies, ordinary people who’ve lost everything often look for someone to blame. Old stories say that Nero, himself, set fire to the city, after which he climbed on the city walls and began playing the fiddle and reciting long-lost poems about the destruction of Troy. Truth be told, Emperor Nero was not a particularly good man. Going from cruelty to incest, murder, and the like, Nero is considered by many to be the Biblical Antichrist.

But when it comes to the fire of 64 AD, Nero didn’t sit idly by or play his instrument as the city burned. He was actually at his Palace in Antium when the fire began. When news reached him, Nero rushed back to the city where he personally coordinated the firefighting efforts during the first night. He also opened all public buildings and his own private gardens to act as temporary shelters. In addition, Nero imported grain from all nearby cities and offered it to the citizens at only a fraction of the cost.


Fake History –

WIF Myths and Misconceptions

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 203

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 203

…The librarian attempts to explain the inexplicable…

Oconomowoc Public Library

CC and AB thank their Danforth host and take to the back roads into Oconomowoc proper. Hwy 16 bisects the city from east to west, so once you locate that, informational signage will guide you to schools, hospital, or in this case, the library. Their concrete friend, Hwy 67, will take them 3 blocks north to the Oconomowoc Public Library.

Lodged between lakes Labelle and Fowler, the two-story wooden structure is full of books (duh) and one dedicated librarian named Sarah Sauer. Whatever the need, from Dewey D. to F. Scott, she is the go-to gal.

Aramaic

Once given, twice careful, Miss Sauer unfurls the mystery scroll, exposing what she identifies as Aramaic in nature.

“This is a script for exorcising demons. I believe the literal translation would be banishment. There is a reference to Jesus the Christ then the passage, ‘I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations…’.”

Sarah’s delivery surely would cause Doctor Faust to hurtle itself from the shelves of OPL.

“From there, there seems to be a formula as a guide to handle Satan.”

Constance and even the hyperactive Ace are transfixed.

“The medium is lambskin vellum and I would estimate that it is only a few days old, the ink is barely dry.” Sarah was educated at the University of Haifa and is amazed at what she is reading. “Where did you get this? This is ancient text on brand new material. I don’t know why I’m sorry, but I’m sorry, this type of manuscript hasn’t been produced for 800 years.”

She is kilig, in explaining the inexplicable…

“Papyrus replaced this type of parchment around 500 A.D. Chopping down a water plant is easier than killing a lamb. Eventually, mass papermaking started in China and spread from there.”

But the fact remains…

“This parchment is so pristine, so refined, that it is almost beyond human means to produce it.”

The librarian is exhausted by the sheer depth of this experience.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 171

Conquering a New World – WIF Into History

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Why the Conquistadors

Were in

the New World

When Christopher Columbus arrived at Hispaniola (the island now split down the middle between Haiti and the Dominican Republic), he could hardly believe his eyes. With its extraordinary lushness and biodiversity, mighty rivers flowing with gold, and abundance of honey and spices, it was the embodiment of Heaven on Earth, Paradise, the Garden of Eden especially compared to back home.

Even the human inhabitants went about in the nude, with only leaves to cover their genitals. They were also unusually innocent, being entirely without greed. Appearing to lack any concept of property, they shared freely with their alien arrivals?and were overjoyed to receive old broken pottery fragments in return.

Columbus was astounded. If this wasn’t the biblical Garden, he wrote to the King and Queen of Spain, then it must be somewhere nearby. This wasn’t hyperbole either; he was absolutely certain of his claim: Some 5,000 years after God kicked us out, Man had found his way back to Eden.

His plan? To ruin it.

True to form, Columbus immediately set about plundering Hispaniola for its wealth. He built mines, military forts, cities, and farms no doubt devastating forests in the process. Worse, he enslaved the friendly natives to do it for him, threatening to send many back to Europe in chains.

Although he was eventually arrested by the Spanish for his appalling governance of the island, Columbus was far too powerful to lock up. In any case, it did nothing to change human nature. His treatment of the Tano people proved a horrifying portent of the conquest yet to come. Before long, thousands of Europeans followed him across the Atlantic, every one of them hungry for adventure, wealth, and prestige whatever the human cost.

What’s interesting is that while the conquistadors called this strange new continent the New World, they saw everything in terms of the old filtering their understanding and perceptions through Bible stories, classical myths, and outmoded maps and ideas.

Before he stuck a flag in the Garden of Eden, for example, Columbus thought that Cuba was Japan. He even made his crew take an oath on pain of a hundred lashes and having the tongue slit never to contradict his assertion, so insistent was he on imposing the old world on the new.

Likewise, when he came across Antillean manatees, he saw not an exciting new species to classify but a shoal of legendary mermaids (although he did concede they weren’t half as beautiful as in pictures).

Ferdinand Magellan also appealed to mythology when he called the Tehuelche (A’nikenk) of Patagonia giants. Sure, they may have been taller than average, but his encounter reads like a fairy tale: Seeing the first of them singing and dancing on the shore, he and his crew went up to greet them with gifts, cleverly tricking two of the giants into handcuffs and charting a course back to Europe?only for the specimens to die in terror en route.

According to Antonio Pigafetta, a scholar along for the ride, the giants had deep, booming voices and a fear of their own reflection; and they were so tall that even the tallest among the crew only came up to their waists. These giants were later depicted on maps of the New World, alongside mermaids, sea monsters, dragons, and UFOs even though Sir Francis Drake made it clear that they didn’t exist. Having gone looking for the giants himself, Drake concluded they must be a myth and suggested the Spaniards, who probably did not think that ever any English man would come hither to Patagonia to reprove them, had simply made the whole thing up.

But virtually all the conquistadors?Spanish or not were guilty of fanciful projections, imposing time-worn ideas on every square inch of new land, scrutinizing the wide open Western hemisphere through the old narrow lens of the past. Hence they didn’t see the natives as people, they saw them as savages and monsters; and they didn’t see the Aztecs as civilized but as a blasphemous affront to their God.

Basically, the conquistadors were in a world of their own and an often absurd one at that. For hundreds of years they interacted not so much with reality as with a mythological nowhere realm in which nothing was too extraordinary to believe.

El Dorado

In particular, the idea of rivers flowing with gold and other precious metals and gems became a tantalizing trope for the conquistadors?culminating most famously in their obsession with El Dorado.

Spanish for the golden or gilded one, El Dorado originally referred to a man, a fantastically wealthy ruler covered from head to toe in pure gold. The myth most likely originated with the Muisca tradition of crowning a new leader by covering his body in gold dust and rowing him to the middle of a sacred lake surrounded by fires and priests. For the Muisca, the alluringly shimmering metal was a symbol of spiritual power and their connection to the divine. But the conquistadors weren’t interested in ethnology; they were dazzled by the prospect of gold. Hence the legend of the gilded one quickly turned into a city, and the city became an obsession, inspiring boatloads of Europeans to find it.

Among the first to go looking, in 1529 and then again in 1531, was Ambrosius Ehinger, the ambitious German governor of Venezuela. He was aided in his search by hundreds of men including captured Indians and trailed by pigs and dogs. Together, they crossed marshes, rivers, and mountains deep into unknown territory. But in the end, having no qualms about killing or torturing the natives that he came across, Ehinger was slaughtered in return.

Later, in 1541, Gonzalo Pizarro and Francisco de Orellana mounted their own quest from Quito, enslaving natives along the way to help them carry their gear?only to meet with disaster in the end. The same happened to Pedro de Ursa, who was mutinied by his men in 1561.

Even Sir Walter Raleigh was taken in by the myth and twice went in search of the city. Scouring the highlands of Guiana, he ended up battling with the Spanish and losing his son in the process. When he finally returned to England in disgrace, by now an old man, he was beheaded by King James I.

Expeditions for El Dorado were hopelessly open-ended, called off only when they ran out of food (or men) to keep going. After all, they were chasing a mirage across a vast, uncharted continent so there was really no other end in sight. Of course, it didn’t help that any natives they interrogated barely understood what they were looking for, let alone where on Earth it might be, and usually just pointed to the next tribe with a shrug.

Ironically the conquistadors did actually find El Dorado, in one of the first places they looked. In 1536, Gonzalo Jiminez de Quesada conquered the Colombian Cundinamarca plateau, home of the Muisca, and drained their sacred lake. Naturally he found plenty of gold religious offerings from generations of priests and new leaders, but not nearly as much as he wanted. So the conquistadors took their search elsewhere, far from the origin of the myth, and continued to pursue El Dorado until at least 1800, when Alexander von Humboldt finally declared it a sham.

The Seven Cities of Gold

But El Dorado wasn’t the only golden city; there were said to be seven more.

Shipwrecked on an expedition to Florida in the late-1530s, two men (of only four survivors) found themselves wandering the wastes of New Mexico. One was the Franciscan friar and missionary Marcos de Niza and the other a North African slave by the name of Estevanico. Having already been captured by natives and escaped (perhaps explaining the distance they covered), they were keen to avoid any further contact until they reached the nearest safe haven.

But something caught their eye.

Situated on the brow of a roundish hill, de Niza claimed, once he’d made it back to Mexico, was a very beautiful city, the best that I have seen in these parts.? In fact, it looked to be made out of gold. But when Estevanico got too close, he was killed by the native inhabitants and de Niza was forced to run.

It was an irresistible tale. For some, it meant only one thing: The long lost Cities of Gold had been found. Unlike El Dorado, however, these were from the folklore of Spain. When King Roderic lost Hispania to the Muslims in 711-712 AD, he is said to have sent seven of his bishops to found a new one. Sailing across the Atlantic to Antillia one of a number of early phantom islands that was probably the American mainland they each built a city to govern. And then they burned their ships and navigational equipment to ensure they could never go home.

Needless to say, if the legend was true and any of these cities remained, the gold would belong to the Spanish. In 1541, the conquistador Francisco Vazquez de Coronado boldly retraced de Niza’s steps back to the site of the city, accompanied by hundreds of other men and backed by some hefty investments.

Unfortunately, it was only a pueblo, an adobe Zuni settlement that, to a distant observer at sunset, might look a little like it had a kind of glow. It definitely wasn’t made out of gold, though. Plus it had only five neighboring settlements?one short of the fabled seven in total.

The expedition had failed and its financial investors were ruined. It did, however, open up a route to the north, since de Coronado and his men pressed on all the way to Kansas before finally giving up on the search.

The Fountain of Youth

De Niza could hardly be blamed. He was primed to see fantastical things. After all, the shipwrecked expedition that stranded him in the desert in the first place had been in search of the Fountain of Youth a wild and ultimately ruinous goose chase led by Pnfilo de Narvez. Evidently, they’d all been taken in by a rumor about Juan Ponce de Len, who never really looked for the Fountain. Instead, the myth is thought to have been spread as a smear against Ponce de Len’s manhood his quest for eternal youth being a search for an impotence cure.

The Fountain was also mentioned by Pietro Martire d’Anghiera, a contemporary Spanish historian who seems to have believed it was real. In his Decades of the New World, he even gave rough directions:

Beyond Veragua the coast bends in a northerly direction, to a point opposite the Pillars of Hercules  Amongst these countries is an island  celebrated for a spring whose waters restore youth to old men.

This placed it somewhere in the Bay of Honduras, on the island of Boinca or Aganeo. Meanwhile, the Ponce de Len smear pointed more toward his own land of Florida. In truth, though, anyone looking for it, wherever they were, was always on the verge of its discovery. Because whenever the natives were asked for the whereabouts of this miraculous restorative spring, they would have just pointed to water.

The Amazons

Place names were another way for the conquistadors to impose their own version of reality onto the New World. Venezuela (Little Venice), for example, got its name because the stilt houses on Lake Maracaibo reminded Amerigo Vespucci of Venice (Venezia). And it was grouped with other proto-countries (like Colombia, from Columbus) under the Viceroyalty of New Granada, after the city in southern Spain. Indeed, all conquered territories in the New World were collectively branded New Spain.

The Amazon, meanwhile was named for the legendary Amazons, the ancient female warriors from Themiscyra in modern-day Turkey.

Why? Because the conquistadors imagined they lived there.

In 1542, having blustered through the rainforest for almost a year looking for El Dorado, Pizarro and de Orellana’s expedition was in shambles. They’d eaten all their pigs and many of their horses and dogs, and were now facing sickness, starvation, and death. They couldn’t ask the natives for help (on account of all the torture they’d put them through), but they could probably steal something to eat. Desperate not to die in the jungle, Pizarro sent de Orellana and 50 of his men along a wide open river they’d discovered, urging them to come back with food.

But they never did. Evidently the men were a little disgruntled with Pizarro and refused to return upriver to save him, especially from a fate that he probably deserved. (It?s unclear whether de Orellana was in agreement, but he made them all sign a declaration to say that he wasn’t and continued downriver regardless.)

On their meandering way to the sea, they continued to seek El Dorado and the natives kept shrugging their shoulders or more often bracing for attack, having had just about enough of the Spaniards and their conquest. In fact, as they pressed on, de Orellana and his men were shocked to find even women firing arrows from the river bank.

Surely these were no ordinary women, they thought; these women could fight! They were also nude, fair-skinned, and exceptionally skilled with a bow and arrow. They were nothing like the women they knew.

So they had to be the legendary Amazons.

De Orellana assumed their capital must be a few days inland and the riverside villages they passed were outlying vassal states. Of course, when he tortured natives for intel, they only confirmed his suspicions?saying just about anything to make him go away.

In any case, de Orellana and his men were in no mood to go trekking through the jungle in search of this mighty queendom, particularly if it meant certain death. So they sailed on to the Atlantic, returned to New Spain, and got royal backing to settle the region by force. Obviously they never found Amazonia, but they gave it the name all the same. Otherwise, it might have been called New Andalusia, after the region in southern Spain.

The Devil and Prester John

The conquistadors were obviously nuts; that much can be said for sure. But they were really just children at heart vicious, out-of-control, lunatic children, but children nevertheless.

Interestingly, many of their fruitless pursuits?be it for mythical warriors, immortality, untold wealth, or even Paradise itself can be traced to just one earlier myth: the legend of Prester John?s kingdom.

Sometime in the 1160s, long before anyone heard of the ?New World,? a mysterious letter arrived at the court of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus. Purporting to be from one Prester John, a descendant of the Three Magi, it described a vast and otherworldly empire with 72 tributary kingdoms and a strange assortment of inhabitants, including vampires and dog-headed men. It also had a Fountain of Youth, which Prester John claimed could revert anyone to the age of 32, no matter how old they were at the time. He himself had supposedly lived for more than half a millennia by drinking from its waters. There was also a tremendous river, filled with gold and precious gems, that flowed directly from the Garden of Eden. Furthermore, this being a Christian empire, it was entirely free of sin and its people had plenty to eat.

Pope Alexander III, seeing in Prester John a formidable ally for the Crusades, dispatched an envoy to seek out this land. At first, it was thought to be in India, then in Central Asia or possibly Africa. For a while, everyone assumed it was Abyssinia (Ethiopia), which was already a Christian country. Europeans even started addressing the Abyssinian ruler by the name of Prester John, despite his attempts to correct them. They also altered maps of the African kingdom to depict various elements from the letter, including Mount Amara, where Prester John?s sons were allegedly held in captivity.

The real location of his kingdom (if it had one) was never found, but there?s every reason to suspect the New World revived these old hopes.

Obviously, the natives weren’t Christians but neither were they thought to be evil?not entirely. Although Hernan Cort’s described one indigenous leader as a Satanic monster: huge, fat, with hands drenched in blood and blackened with smoke, and a striped black-red face with red mouth and teeth, spilling blood,? this wasn’t the general consensus. The Spanish preferred to see the natives as playthings of the Devil as opposed to the Devil himself, or in other words as souls crying out for salvation.

The existence of the Devil in the New World justified its conquest by the Spanish. So it came to be seen as the Devil’s playground, a New World in mockery of the old. It was the world turned upside down,world inverted by the Devil.

Hence the Aztecs were the inverse of the Israelites, as Satans chosen people against Gods. It wasn’t a New World so much as a black mirror for the old one, a bizarro realm where nothing was new, just darkly topsy-turvy.

This doesn’t excuse their behaviour, of course, but it explains the conquistador mindset.


Conquering a New World –

WIF Into History

Pope Secret (Not the Popcorn) – WIF Conspiracies

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Diabolical Things

(Supposedly)

Stashed in

the Vatican

Founded in 1611 by Pope Paul V, the Vatican Secret Archives are an ultra-secure repository for the Church’s oldest, most valuable documents. Access has always been limited; even today, only Vatican officials and qualified academics are allowed inside, and only then with a letter of recommendation. And since browsing isn’t permitted, they also need to list precisely which documents they need — even without knowing exactly what’s in there.

Naturally, anything this secretive is bound to give rise to rumors, especially when it involves the Vatican. And while the occasional exhibition has revealed some of the hidden material, most of it remains in the shadows.

That said, here are 10 diabolical theories as to what we might be missing.

10. The World’s Largest Porn Collection

Copenhagen’s Museum Erotica claims the Vatican has the largest porn collection in the world. Other high-profile figures, including William F. Buckley, Jr. and the academic Camille Paglia, have said the same. As plausible as it might sound, however, there’s apparently very little truth to the rumor. At least, the Kinsey Institute didn’t find any when they perused the Vatican’s holdings on microfilm.

Then again, the Vatican is unlikely to have made copies of everything – and even more unlikely to allow the Kinsey Institute access, having already turned them down in the past. This is of course one of the world’s most secure private collections we’re talking about. In any case, a number of other eyewitnesses claim to have seen thousands of erotic volumes.

Either way, there’s been a long tradition of erotic “art” at the Vatican. In the 16th century, for instance, one of Raphael’s students, Giulio Romano, was commissioned to paint a series of 16 frescoes in Cardinal Bibbiena’s private bathroom – each depicting a unique sexual position in graphic detail. Naturally, etched copies of the paintings were leaked, circulating around Rome in a pamphlet called I Modi — a sort of renaissance porn mag. When the Vatican jailed the creator, it only heightened their appeal.

Even today, the original paintings are kept hidden from public view, but times have of course changed anyway. Nowadays the Holy See gets most of its porn from the internet.

9. The Essene Gospel of Peace

On a locked shelf in 1923, the academic and bishop Edmond Bordeaux Szekely found an ancient Aramaic manuscript. This, he claimed, contained the teachings of the Essenes, a Jewish mystical sect who lived entirely apart from society.

The Essenes were mentioned by several ancient historians, including Philo, Pliny and Josephus, and were known for their communistic style of living. But what’s interesting is their total absence from the New Testament, leading some to believe they were actually the ones who had written it, and that Jesus was himself an Essene. There are plenty of parallels between the two groups to back this up, including the importance of baptism and prophecy, and a shared emphasis on charity and goodwill.

The Essenes also showed an aversion to Old Testament-style animal sacrifices, preferring to offer vegetables instead. This latter point was of particular interest to Szekely, who claimed the Essenes were vegetarians by the order of Christ.

Unfortunately, nobody else ever saw the manuscript. And it’s doubtful even Szekely did either, since there’s no record of his visit to the Archives. Also, given that he was a pretty radical vegetarian activist himself, most think he made it all up to lend an air of divine credibility to his cause.

On the other hand, it’s not entirely clear why he would, considering all the evidence that Jesus actually preached a plant-based diet.

8. Details of Jesus’s Bloodline

The idea that Jesus was married with kids is a recurrent meme among the Dan Brown crowd, and not without justification. Practically nothing is known about Christ’s life between his childhood and his early 30s, just a few years before he was crucified.

Naturally, it’s possible, even probable, that he started a family during that time, and this raises questions of lineage. According to some theorists, the specific details of his bloodline are hidden away in the Vatican Archives. After all, if anyone alive today was found to be the direct descendant of Jesus Christ (and therefore God), the implications for the Church would be huge. At the very least the Pope would be rendered useless as humanity’s go-between.

It’s a compelling theory but in reality things aren’t so simple. Whatever information the Vatican may or may not have about the earliest descendants of Christ, there would be far too many of them to keep tabs on today. In fact, almost everyone would be included; that’s just the way human ancestry works in an ever-growing population. Tracing your heritage back just 20 generations, for instance, would turn up 600,000-1,000,000 biological forebears. Tracing it back 120 generations (to 1000 BC), would turn up everyone in the world.

So, in other words, not only would most of us be related to Jesus, we’d all be related to King David, King Solomon, and Zoroaster the Iranian prophet. That certainly makes the Adam and Eve story more plausible.

7. The Grand Grimoire

The Grand Grimoire is one of the few items on this list that’s actually known to exist — although who wrote it and when is less certain. It may have been discovered in the tomb of King Solomon in 1750 or it may have been written much later.

In any case, the grimoire is said to contain a ritual for summoning Lucifuge Rofocale, the Prime Minister of Hell, among other denizens of the underworld. Apparently, the summoner also has to give up their soul in the process – a necromantic procedure that 19th century occultist A.E. Waite said only a “dangerous maniac or an irreclaimable criminal” would be qualified to carry out to the full.

Grimoires have proliferated throughout history, but none have had so wide an appeal as this one, thought to be “the most atrocious of its type.” A French translation, “Le Dragon Rouge,” made it all the way to the Caribbean, where it’s said to be still in use.

6. The Third Secret of Fátima

In 1917, three shepherd children from Fátima, Portugal received three prophetic visions of the Virgin Mary. Known as the “Three Secrets of Fátima,” the first and second concerned the nature of Hell and the rise of Communist Russia. Wars, famine, persecution, and the spread of Russia’s “errors throughout the world,” the Virgin said, would all come to pass if her calls went unheeded.

These first two secrets were published in 1941; however, the third secret was not. Instead, it was sealed in an envelope and given to the Bishop of Leiria, who placed it, unopened, in the Vatican Secret Archives. In 1959, the envelope was brought before Pope John XXIII; however, after some deliberation, he chose not to look inside.

It wasn’t until 1965 that anyone actually read the prophecy, and even then Pope Paul VI refused to make it public. Pope John Paul II was next to read it — following an assassination attempt in 1981 — but he also continued to keep it a secret. He did, however, immediately consecrate the Earth to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, perhaps hinting at the gravity of its content.

Finally, in 2000, John Paul II revealed what the prophecy said: there was to be an apocalyptic battle between good and evil, and the pope would figure centrally within it. A description of the vision can now be read online, but some refuse to believe that it’s complete. Even Pope Benedict XVI implied in 2010 that the real Third Secret of Fátima has yet to be revealed(although the Vatican denies that’s what he meant).

5. Extraterrestrial Artifacts

The Vatican might appear to be focused on the past, but they’re actually kind of progressive – at least when it comes to science and technology. In particular, they’re quite open to the possibility of extraterrestrial life, even holding conferences on astrobiology and using the Vatican Observatory to find Earth-like planets beyond our own.

And actually this might not be as recent a development as it seems.

Allegedly, the Church has known about alien civilizations for centuries. Long before the Roswell incident, they’re said to have been gathering ET remains and artifacts, as well as technical documents for engineering alien weaponry. While there’s pretty much zero evidence to back this claim up, the purpose of the Vatican Archives has long been to hide knowledge the world isn’t ready for. They demonstrated that much by withholding the Third Secret of Fátima for so many years.

Furthermore, according to the extraterrestrial cover-up theory, the Archives aren’t the only facility of the kind. Supposedly, the Great Pyramid at Giza served essentially the same function, hiding alien artifacts and earth-shattering revelations from the people of the ancient world. This, the theorists claim, is why Napoleon and Hitler both headed straight there after spending time at the Vatican.

4. The Chronovisor

Father Pellegrino Ernetti, who died in 1992, claimed to have seen the ancient Roman senator Cicero deliver a speech in 63 BC. He was, apparently, just as powerful an orator as they say. And that wasn’t the only thing he’d seen. He and his team, he claimed, had seen Napoleon giving speeches too, as well as Jesus at the Last Supper, and even the crucifixion. Using a device called the Chronovisor, they could view any event that they wished — just as if they were watching TV.

According to Ernetti, the device was co-designed with top scientists Enrico Fermi (who developed the first nuclear reactor) and Wernher von Braun (the first space rockets) and it could also record images. Hence, in 1972, a “photo of Christ” emerged in the Italian magazine La Domenica del Corriere. And Ernetti also produced a transcript of the lost play Thyestes in the original Latin.

Naturally, there were doubts. The alleged transcript of the play could hardly be verified after all, and, as it turned out, the “photo of Christ” was from a postcard of a plaster cast crucifix in a church.

But the photo never actually came from Ernetti himself and he certainly never claimed it was real. The Chronovisor he designed wasn’t capable of close-ups, he said, nor anywhere near as much detail as the photo showed. The real evidence, says Ernetti’s friend François Brune, was destroyed when Pope Pius XII and Benito Mussolini decided it posed a threat to society. They especially feared it meant an end to all secrets, whether political, economic, military, or religious, not to mention personal.

Ernetti shut down the Chronovisor project and entrusted the plans to notaries in Switzerland and Japan. However, as Brune himself admits, it’s quite possible that the Vatican still uses the original.

3. The Devil

As the Vatican’s most senior exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth knew how to recognize a demon. Before his death in 2016, he’d conducted literally tens of thousands of exorcisms, and had frequently spoken to the Devil.

“Satan is pure spirit,” he told The Exorcist director William Friedkin, although “he sometimes appears as a raging animal.” Often called upon to expel the demon from possessed individuals, Amorth used Pope Paul V’s 1614 ritual to do the job — stoically commanding the Devil to leave under some of the tensest, most frightening circumstances.

So it made shocking headlines in 2010 when Amorth claimed Satan was hiding in the Vatican. He wasn’t speaking figuratively. In his view, the scandals and corruption that have beset the Church in recent times are all attributable to the Devil. Even Pope Paul VI said something similar in 1972, lamenting that “from somewhere or other, the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”

2. Proof that Jesus Wasn’t Crucified (Not Endorsed by WIF)

The story of Christ’s crucifixion lies at the heart of Catholic doctrine. Take that away, and you’ve got a whole bunch of meaningless symbols. According to Michael Baigent, however,none of it really happened – at least, not the way the Bible says it did.

Unlike some, Baigent isn’t denying that Jesus ever existed – far from it. In fact, he says the prophet probably lived long after his supposed death in 33 AD.

Allegedly, Jesus escaped execution by striking a deal with Pontius Pilate – the man who sentenced him to death. It was in Rome’s interest to keep Jesus alive despite the pressure to kill him, Baigent says, because he instructed his followers to pay tax. The best solution for all was to fake the crucifixion.

By simulating a rapid death with hashish, opium and belladonna, the prophet’s enemies would be satisfied and Christ could be taken down from the cross before sustaining mortal wounds. The drugs may have been administered via the “vinegar-soaked sponge,” lifted to his mouth on a reed ostensibly to quench his thirst.

Baigent doesn’t have any proof, of course, but he says that it does exist. Supposedly, an important document was unearthed by the French priest Berenger Sauniere at his church in Rennes-le-Chateau. Shortly afterward, the documents disappeared and Sauniere became immensely rich, which suggests to Baigent that the Vatican paid him off and hid the document away.

However, there remains an intriguing clue inside Sauniere’s church. Unlike in other churches, Station XIV of the Cross (depicting Jesus’s placement in the tomb by his disciples) shows a night sky with a full moon, indicating that Passover has begun. Since Jews are forbidden from handling the dead during Passover, the disciples carrying Jesus in this image can only be understood to be removing him from the tomb alive, not interring his corpse inside.

1. Proof that Pope Pius XII Helped Hitler

Pope Pius XII is commonly referred to as “Hitler’s Pope” for his role in supporting the Nazis. However, while it is true that he never openly condemned them, the Vatican is adamant that he was always against them. According to them, he circulated pamphlets in Germany condemning Nazism from a Christian perspective, and saved more than 800,000 Jews from extermination in eastern Europe. His meetings with the German leadership, they insist, were not to collaborate with Hitler but to hold him to account. Anyway, from the Nazi perspective, Pius XII is said to have been a “Jew loving” enemy who they wanted to kidnap and imprison in Liechtenstein. All things considered, it seems Pope Pius XII may well have been victim to a persistent and fanciful smear.

Except for two points: One, the Vatican has so far refused to release crucial documents on their Holocaust-era activities; and two, those who have already seen them say the pope definitely helped Hitler to power.

John Cornwell, a respected academic and Catholic, is one of them. Although initially hoping to exonerate the pope (one of the only reasons he was allowed to view the documents in the first place), he found a damning indictment instead. Not only did the pope hate Jews, linking them to filth and refusing to help them – he also deliberately undermined Catholic resistance to Hitler. He was also against blacks, calling them rapists and child abusers despite having proof to the contrary. Evidently, Pius XII had much in common with Hitler – not least of all his ideological commitment to absolute power and autocratic control.

Worst of all, says Cornwell, is that he refused to speak out even after discovering the plans for the Holocaust. And by this time, Nazis were rounding up Jews in Rome, and delegates from all over the world were urging the pope to act.

Whether Pope Pius XII really supported the Third Reich and its Final Solution is debatable. According to some, he may have wanted to remain neutral in order to protect the Church. But the fact remains that in those days the pope was by far the most influential man in Europe. If anyone had the power to stop Hitler, it was him.


Pope Secret (Not the Popcorn) –

WIF Catholic Conspiracies

The NULL Solution = Episode 193

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The NULL Solution = Episode 193

…Like a doting parent,      observes nurtures and guides…

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

They Call Me Lorgan

There is chaos in disorder. Chaos breeds contempt. Contempt leads to conflict. Conflict destroys order. Order is good. Our purpose is to restore order. – The Mission Statement of ⃝   .

Stardate 11 billion B.C.E.

Right after the dawn of creation, there came an enforcer, the purpose of which was to maintain a reasonable structure for life that may form out of the molecular ingredients that will be spreading to infinity.

As eon-after-eon passes, life from nonlife comes to be, the complexity of which increases steadily. As the stars gather in galactic groups of millions, masses of debris coagulate and coalesce. These planets orbit each according to gravitational serendipity.

     oversees the Great Expanse, vigilant to its assigned task of order out of chaos, compiling notes along the way. Like a sponge it soaks in every aspect of what it means to be alive. From the infinitesimal to the intellectual,      sees all, thereby knows about all. It will be called the Library of Life.

Like a doting parent, ⃝     observes nurtures and guides. True to its directive,      tracks the progress of every single hotspot pocket of burgeoning civilization. Indiscriminately placed and varied in progress, such distances between these is a natural barrier to interaction. Each believes they are alone among the many stars.

Intelligent life develops ways to communicate. Ideas are molded and recorded. Records are compiled.      categorizes and takes in every shred. It is the task      is assigned.

Still more eons come and go. Interaction on individual worlds increases. Rules are made. Populations grow. Technologies advance at varying rates. Levels of communication rise. The thirst for knowledge is insatiable.

     is witness to it all. We do not interfere with the natural progression of life.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 193


page 188

The NULL Solution = Episode 181

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The NULL Solution = Episode 181

…What will the John Q Eridanian say when a princess is allowed to leave for another, god forbid, primitive world like Earth?…

Primitive Pyrimids

  1. Female – Alien {Cerella} – Planet of Origin – Eridanus – Eupepsia
  1. Male – Mixed Galactic Strain {Joyner} – Planet of Origin – Earth – Texas USA

There are some inescapable complications to the blending of civilizations.

What happens when Cerella goes to the grocery store? Will the other children make fun of Joyner’s pale face, not the paleface of the Native Americans?

The real question is whether Ekcello allows them to leave at all. In his book, if it were not for her revolutionary pregnancy, Cerella would never have set foot on Earth. But is it his book to write?

As in any sound decision, giving the issue enough time to sink in is important and that is the only tool Ekcello & Fortan can use, “If the Earthlings take our daughter away, they will use NEWFOUNDLANDER to do so. We cannot allow Earth to inherit the TSF technology. It is too soon in their SOL development.” Now that is practicality personified.

This is the equivalent of a father and mother, grandmother and grandfather talking amongst them selves. Though not especially sentimental by nature, there is the bond of tradition. Their daughter is considered Eridanus royalty by most, if not all its residents, Gifted or not. What will the general public say when a princess is allowed to leave for another, god forbid, primitive world like Earth?

Say that Cerella & Joyner do leave. It will take nearly two years, during which time she can change her mind. At least that is one optimistic way to look at it. Joyner’s boundless energy alone may tempt them to turn back {out of exasperation}.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 181


page 176

Grim Archaeology – WIF Almanac

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Grim Archaeological

Discoveries

With archaeology, we are able to take a peek into the past. Ancient texts, though revealing, often times are subjective, written by conquerors and victors, skewing the facts to make themselves appear in a more positive light. But ancient relics, buried deep in the ground by time or people, tell a more complete story of what happened hundreds, if not thousands of years ago.

 With the help of archaeology, scientists and historians can slowly piece together the story of humanity and the planet itself. And as these things often are, long forgotten secrets can sometimes be scary, if not downright gruesome. Here are 10 such grim archaeological discoveries.

10. The First Recorded Boomerang Victim – Australia

Even though we tend to think of boomerangs as toys to be thrown around, they are in fact deadly weapons with which the Aboriginals have been hunting and killing for thousands of years. In 2014, in Australia’s Toorale National Park, on the banks of the Darling River, a skeleton belonging to an Aboriginal was discovered by a local man. Knowing it to belong to one of his ancestors, William Bates, an Aboriginal himself, named him Kaakutja – “older brother” in the Baakantji language. Taking a closer look, Mr. Bates noticed a gash over Kaakutja’s right eye, extending all the way to his jaw. It first appeared as if the skull was struck by an iron blade, with the skeleton belonging to one of the many victims of frontier violence from the time of British colonization of Australia.

However, on closer inspection by Michael Westaway, a paleoanthropologist at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, it was discovered that this was not the case. In fact, Kaakutja lived some 500 years before the British ever set foot on the continent, and that the man was in his 20s or 30s when he died. Moreover, several other signs of trauma were discovered all over the skeleton, marks which were made by a wooden object, rather than a metal sword. Scientists were puzzled at first since no one had ever seen trauma such as this in Australia’s entire archaeological history. While several of the other wounds came from a Lil-lil, a wooden club made to look and perform like an ordinary axe, the gash on his face was clearly from a battle boomerang. When found, Kaakutja was lying on his right side in a tightly curled up position and with his mouth wide open. These all indicate a gruesome and violent death sometime between 1260 and 1280 AD.

9. The First Victims of War – Kenya

War was always believed to have appeared onto the world stage alongside agriculture and animal husbandry, when mankind renounced its hunter-gatherer lifestyle and opted for a more sedentary way of life. This is also the time when wealth and belongings beyond one’s immediate needs came into existence, and also when it became profitable for a person to own another. These, of course, don’t rule out the occasional individual murders among various families. They refer to actual wars between groups of hunter-gatherers without a strict social hierarchy system, which were believed to be virtually nonexistent. This notion, however, may have been turned on its head when a group of 27 skeletons were found on the edge of Lake Turkana, Kenya, in 2012.

Dating back to between 9,500 and 10,500 years ago, these 27 bodies of men, women, and children, all showed signs of blunt force trauma and projectile wounds. One of the women had both her knees broken, was lying on her side, and with her wrists in front as if they were once bound together. This large number of skeletons found together rule out the notion of any small-scale feud between prehistoric families, suggesting that these people belonged to a sizable hunter-gatherer group, some of which may have escaped death in this particular conflict.

These gruesome findings have lead archaeologists to believe that these people were members of a somewhat large, semi-nomadic tribe of hunter-gatherers who settled the banks of Lake Turkana. This was not so uncommon since lakes acted as both a stable water source, as well as ensuring a constant influx of wild game suitable for hunting. “Violence is a pretty ubiquitous part of the human behavioral repertoire,” said Robert Foley, anthropologist and archaeologist at the University of Cambridge. “Having said that, so too is altruism, cooperation, and caring.”

8. The Pit of Death – France

Close to the border with Germany, in a French village known as Bergheim, a circular pit dating to around 6,000 years ago was discovered back in 2012. It contained the remains of eight people, and seven severed left arms, among other hand fragments. Circular pits like this one were common all throughout Central and Western Europe during Neolithic times, but none contained such grisly examples of human savagery. These cylindrical pits may have been used as storage silos or as graves for high-ranking individuals, though scholars aren’t entirely sure and still debate the issue. It is also a possibility that slaves or relatives were killed in order to accompany the buried noble into the afterlife. But this seems to not have been the case here.

This particular 6.5 foot deep pit became the final resting place for two men, one woman and four children, which may have been the victims of a raid, or some sort of violent encounter. Their bodies were already piled over several left arms, hand fragments and severed fingers, which appeared to have been hacked off with axes. Their origin or purpose is unknown, but some speculate that these were some sort of trophies. One of the severed limbs belonged to a child no older than 16, while one of the bodies was of an infant. The deepest skeleton belonged to a middle-aged man who also had his left arm cut off, as well as several other wounds which most likely proved fatal. One later addition to the pile, a woman, was added some almost 700 years later, but she showed no signs of a violent death or trauma.

7. Mass Graves from the Great Rebellion – England

Wanting to build a café next to its library back in 2013, Durham University began construction with some preliminary excavations. But soon after work began, it came to an abrupt halt when they came across something believed to be forever lost. Two mass graves were uncovered, holding the bodies of over 1,700 Scottish soldiers who had been taken as prisoners of war after the Battle of Dunbar in 1650 by Oliver Cromwell in his Civil Wars for the British Crown. The battle, which took less than an hour, was fought between Cromwell’s parliamentarian army and the untrained Scottish Covenanters, who supported Charles II’s claims to the Scottish throne.

Over an area of less than 11 square feet, up to 28 bodies were uncovered, belonging to boys of ages between 13 and 25. The lack of any healed signs of trauma on the skeletons indicate that these soldiers didn’t have much experience in waging war, and most of them probably died of starvation, dysentery or exhaustion. In the aftermath of the battle only about 100 Englishmen perished while some 3,000 Scotsmen were killed and another 6,000 were taken prisoner. Those who were too sick or wounded, some 1,000 soldiers in total, were set free, while the others were taken on a 100-mile-long march from Dunbar to Durham. Another 1,000 boys died along the way. Others escaped, while some were executed for trying to do so. The remaining 3,000 were imprisoned in the then-disused Durham cathedral and castle.

During their time in captivity, some 1,700 died and were then tipped into these two pits, which were located at the far end of the castle’s grounds. Other mass graves may also exist, but they’re most likelyunder the University. DNA analysis has revealed that most of the soldiers were from Scotland, while a few were Dutchmen, also part of the Scottish army at the time.

6. Incan Child Sacrifice to the Gods – Argentina

Back in 1985, a group of mountaineers, while on a hike high up in the Andes near Cerro Aconcagua, at an altitude of about 17,400 feet, came across a partially unearthed mummy. As it turns out, the remains belonged to a 6 or 7-year old Incan boy who lived some 500 years ago. Moreover, later research revealed that the boy was sacrificed as part of a ritual known as capacocha. The ritual involved children of great physical beauty who would act as messengers to the gods in times of important events. Events like a volcanic eruption, the death of an Emperor, an epidemic, a great military victory, or defeat. These children were gathered from all across the Incan Empire, drugged and then left to die of exposure to the elements, high in the mountains. Whether these children were taken by force, or offered willingly by their parents, is unknown and still debated today.

Whatever the case may be, the Aconcagua boy, as he came to be known, proved to be even more important to scientists than previously believed. His DNA analysis placed him as a direct descendant of the people who crossed into the Americas over the Bering Land Bridge more than 18,000 years ago. This initial group of peoples was called C1b. However, the boy didn’t belong to any previously identified, genetically distinct subgroups of peoples from C1b, and was dubbed as C1bi. His subgroup most likely emerged in the Andes some 14,000 years ago, proving that people moved south relatively fast over North America, once they crossed into the New World. To date, only four other individuals have been identified as belonging to this group. Three are currently living in Peru and Bolivia, while another lived during the ancient Wari Empire, which flourished from 600 to 1000 AD.

5. The Shackled Skeletons – Greece

Back in the 7th century BC, the ancient city state of Athens was shaken to its very core after an aristocrat and Olympic Games victor, Cylon, attempted to occupy the Acropolis and establish a dictatorial government. Fortunately, his coup d’état failed, forcing some of Cylon’s followers to take refuge in the Temple of Athena; a place considered sacred and a safe haven for all those inside. In order to break the stalemate, Megacles, archon of Athens, promised them safe passage under truce. The insurgents then came out, but holding on to a rope tied to the altar. Once outside, the rope was cut and Megacles quickly shouted that the goddess had forsaken the rebels and ordered his men to attack. In the aftermath of his treachery, Megacles was convicted for wrongfully killing Cylon’s supporters and was then exiled from the city, along the entire Alcmaeonid family of which he was part.

Now archeologists think they might have discovered some of the bodies of these slaughtered rebels, four miles away from Athens, in the port city of Phalaeron. The 80 skeletons, 36 of which had their hands bound in iron shackles, were discovered by accident while working on the new National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera. Some vases found among the bodies have pinpointed the massacre between 650 to 625 BC, in accordance with Cylon’s Coup of 635 BC. However, Athens was experiencing a tumultuous period at the time with several riots, crop failures and struggles for power. These make it difficult to certainly identify these men as Cylon’s rebels. Nevertheless, their position at the moment of death indicates that they were buried with respect. Even though their deaths were violent, and many had their hands shackled above their heads, they weren’t thrown inside without consideration, as one might expect to find slaves or common criminals from that period.

4. A Man Rose from the Grave – Ireland

A fierce storm hit northwest Ireland, close to the Atlantic coast in May, 2015. The storm uprooted a two-century-old beech tree, which held a gruesome secret tangled in its roots. A thousand year-old skeleton was literally raised from the grave when the tree collapsed on one side, exposing its bones for the world to see. As it turns out, the skeleton belonged to a 17 to 20 year-old Gaelic man who lived in Ireland sometime between 1030 and 1200 AD. More disturbing is the fact that the body presented signs of trauma on his ribs and hands, which may have been inflicted by a knife or blade of some sort.

Though ripped in half when the tree fell, the initial east-west position of the body would indicate that the man received a proper Christian burial. At 5.8 feet, the boy probably belonged to a relatively wealthy family, able to afford a more nutritious diet for his above average height at the time. Now, there is no way of knowing if he died in battle or during a personal dispute, but archaeologists are fairly certain that he was of true Irish descent since thy believe the burial took place before the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169.

3. A Debt Collection Gone Terribly Wrong – Romania

Throughout much of their medieval history, the three Eastern European principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania of present-day Romania were either under complete control, or vassals to their neighboring empires such as the Ottoman Turks or Austrians. And always, rulership of these principalities under foreign government influence came at a price. In 1593, Prince Michael bought his place on the throne of Wallachia from the Turks. Two years later he would start a rebellion against the Ottomans, the outcome of which would ensure him the title as one of Romania’s most famous historical heroes and the byname of Michael the Brave.

But while he was waging a military campaign across the banks of the Danube River to the south, conquering fortresses and consolidating his borders, three Turkish janissaries, either military commanders or elite Ottoman infantry, were being brutally murdered in the Wallachian capital city of Bucharest. These three are believed to have been the men who provided Prince Michael with the necessary money to secure his place as ruler of Wallachia, and now were looking to collect on that debt. What happened to them next was in a story of savagery worthy of Vlad the Impaler’s countrymen.

While under renovations in 2010 and 2011, Bucharest’s University Square finally unveiled its gruesome secret. The area also contained a cemetery with 688 bodies dating back to between the 16th and 19thcenturies, but the three mangled skeletons were found some distance away, thrown in a pit and covered with all sorts of animal remains, bricks and pottery shards. This debris, however, helped archaeologists date the unmarked grave to around the end of the 16th century, the same time when the previously mentioned events were taking place.

But the most gruesome part about this discovery was the multiple physical signs of trauma these men endured just before their deaths. One man suffered a fractured collarbone, ribs, wrist, kneecap, hips, spine, and skull. Another suffered a total 18 wounds, while the third also had a musket ball in his neck, an arrowhead in one of his ribs, along with a viciously cracked skull. Many of their wounds were around the face area, and most blows came from the front, with both swords and projectile weapons. Two of the men were even partially beheaded. Archaeologists can’t, of course, be absolutely sure if these skeletons belonged to those three moneylenders or not. But they are, however, certain that the men were Turkish. Otherwise, the locals would have given them a Christian burial.

2. Exploratory Voyage Turned Desperate Fight for Survival – Canada

As part of the ongoing European expeditions to find a western shortcut to Asia, John Franklin, an English Royal Navy officer and explorer, embarked on his fourth and final exploratory voyage of the Arctic, trying to find a way around the Canadian Archipelago and onto the Pacific Ocean. On the morning of May 19, 1845, two ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, with a total crew of 24 officers and 110 men, set sail from Greenhithe, England, never to be seen again. The first two years of the expedition went on without a hitch and made it all the way to King William Island in northern Canada. But as the 1846 winter began to set it, the water froze and the ships got entrenched in the ice. As an experienced Arctic explorer, Franklin was aware of this possibility and provisioned his ships accordingly. But the following summer came and went, and the ice didn’t melt, keeping the ships stranded.

Franklin and two dozen other men died during this period, forcing the remaining explorers to abandon their ships and attempt a 1,000-mile-long trek through the frozen Canadian wilderness to the nearest Hudson Bay trading post. But as the men would soon realize, their journey would have a bitter ending, none of them making it even a fifth of the way there. Between 1847 and 1859, Lady Franklin, with the aid of the British Admiralty, personally funded over 30 expeditions in search of her husband and his crew, but to no avail. Search missions continued well into the 19th and early 20th centuries, gradually finding evidence that would piece together the gruesome events that happened.

Over the years, scientists found more and more skeletal remains belonging to the crew, with clear signs of cut marks on many of the bones. These are indicative of acts of cannibalism, showing a glimpse at the extremely dire situation those men were in. Some bones had signs of breakage, revealing that even the marrow was extracted, in an attempt to get the last bits of calories and nutrition possible. Both wrecked ships have been discovered in recent years, once and for all solving the mystery of the Arctic’s most tragic expedition.

1. Demons and Sickles – Poland

Our mythology has no shortage of monsters, demons, or evil spirits lurking in the shadows and out to get those still living. Medieval Europe is no exception, and this can clearly be seen in a 17th century cemetery in northwestern Poland. Since 2008, archaeologists have been digging up the 400-year-old cemetery near the village of Drawsko, exposing more than 250 skeletons. And to their surprise, five of them were buried with iron sickles across their necks or hips. Two women in their 30s, a man in his early 40s, and a teenage girl were all sporting an iron sickle tightly across their necks. Another, older woman, probably in her 50s or 60s, had a sickle across her pelvis. These discoveries initially led some to believe it to be a case of “vampires rising from the grave” and the sickles were there to prevent that from happening. However, other scientists have concluded that this was not precisely the case, though “demons” were still involved.

Poland in the 1600s was going through a tumultuous period, riddled with wars, famine, pestilence and poverty. Death was commonplace throughout the country, and even though devoutly Christian, the population often times turned to pagan beliefs, witchcraft and superstitions in an attempt to make sense of the horrific events taking place all around them. Those who died swiftly of a disease, without receiving the proper rituals for entering the afterlife, or those who suffered a violent death, were viewed at “great risk of demonization.” But unlike true “vampire” burials, these people received a proper Christian funeral, were not mutilated, and were mingled with the other deceased members of the community, with their heads pointing westward. Radiocarbon dating has also shown them to be of local origin, since dead foreigners were often seen as potential vampires. These sickles, then, acted as possible wards against evil spirits for both the living and the dead.


Grim Archaeology

WIF Almanac