Friday, November 28, 2014

Diane Turner - London Rocks 28-11-2014

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History Trivia - Bishop Adhemar of Le Puy and Count Raymond IV of Toulouse lead the First Crusade to the Holy Land

November 28

1095 On the last day of the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II appointed Bishop Adhemar of Le Puy and Count Raymond IV of Toulouse to lead the First Crusade to the Holy Land.

1291 Edward I's wife, Eleanor of Castile, died.

1503 Julius II was officially crowned pope. Born Giuliano Della Rovere, Julius was the nephew of Pope Sixtus IV, who built the Sistine Chapel. Although his relationship to Sixtus helped his early career, he was forced to flee Italy to avoid assassination attempts ordered by Rodrigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI), and stayed in exile for ten years before Borgia's death made it possible for him to return.
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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing everyone a blessed Thanksgiving holiday. 
I am grateful for your support and interest in my work. 
God bless.
Mary Ann Bernal  

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History Trivia - Commodus becomes Supreme Commander of the Roman legions

November 27

176 Emperor Marcus Aurelius granted his son Commodus the rank of Imperator and made him Supreme Commander of the Roman legions. 

511 Clovis, King of the Franks (Merovingian Dynasty) died.

1095 Pope Urban II declared the First Crusade to reclaim sacred Christian sites from Islamic hands at the Council of Clermont. 

1295 the first elected representatives from Lancashire were called to Westminster by King Edward I to attend what later became known as "The Model Parliament".

1582 William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway.

1703 The first Eddystone Lighthouse (south west of Rame Head, UK) was destroyed in the Great Storm of 1703.
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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Buried Polish 'Vampires' Likely Had Cholera

A 30-39 year old "vampire" female, buried with a sickle placed across the neck.

by Rossella Lorenzi
News Discovery

“Vampires” buried in northwestern Poland with large stones wedged into their mouths or sickles over their necks were local people probably affected by cholera, says the first biogeochemical study of human skeletal remains from deviant burials.

The study investigated 285 human skeletons which were excavated between 2008-2012 from a post medieval cemetery in Drawsko, a rural settlement site in northwestern Poland. Dating to the 17th and 18th centuries, the remains represented individuals of all ages and both sexes.     
Among the interments, six were identified as so-called vampire burials. They included an adult male, a late adolescent female, three adult females, and a younger person of unknown sex.

“Of these six individuals, five were interred with a sickle placed across the throat or abdomen, intended to remove the head or open the gut should they attempt to rise from the grave,” Lesley Gregoricka from University of South Alabama and colleagues, wrote in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

The remaining two people were found with large stones positioned beneath their chins -- evidence, the researchers say, that it was feared the individuals would rise from their graves to bite others.
Gregoricka and colleagues first hypothesized the people buried as vampires were targeted because of their outsider status as immigrants.

Indeed, abundant written evidence for the post-medieval period describes many waves of immigrants entering into Poland during that time.

To test their hypothesis, the researchers tested permanent molars from 60 individuals, including the six "vampires,” using radiogenic strontium isotope ratios from archaeological dental enamel. Local animals, including hare, mice and fox, were also sampled.

“While historic records describe the many potential reasons why some people were considered at increased risk of becoming a vampire, no previous study had attempted to examine the identity of these individuals using chemical analyses of the human skeleton,” Gregoricka told Discovery News.

Strontium isotopes incorporated into teeth during growth and development can tell about the place someone grew up, whether the individual moved later and whether the person was buried somewhere different from where they spent their childhood.

"Contrary to our hypothesis, we found that all of the vampires were local," Gregoricka said.
"We actually found others in the cemetery that were non-local to the region, but were not buried as vampires," she added.

According to the researchers, there should be another reason for the deviant burials, since the targeted individuals were not suspected of becoming vampires due to their identity as non-locals.
Gregoricka and colleagues propose cholera epidemics as an alternative explanation.

Multiple waves of cholera epidemics struck Europe during the post-medieval period, but people were unaware that cholera was a bacteria spread through contaminated drinking water.

“There was no scientific understanding of how infectious disease was spread. Instead, because they couldn’t explain it, they attributed cholera to the supernatural -- specifically, to vampires,” Gregoricka said.

In this view, the first person to die in an epidemic was thought to seek revenge on the living by returning from the grave to inflict the illness upon others, causing the disease to spread.
“As such, if these six individuals were the first to die in a series of cholera outbreaks that affected Drawsko during the post-medieval period, they may have been buried in this way as a means of preventing them from returning as vampires and attacking the living,” Gregoricka said.

“Disease is often discussed as a possible cause for deviant burials in Europe," said biological anthropologist Kristina Killgrove. "In the case of these post-medieval Polish burials, cholera certainly could be an explanation."

“Unfortunately, cholera leaves no marks on bone, so it's not possible to tell by looking at the skeletons whether or not they suffered from the disease,” she added.

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History Trivia - Danish Vikings attack Paris

November 26

579 Pelagius II became Pope.  When assistance from Emperor Tiberius II of Byzantium was not forthcoming, Pelagius convinced the Christian Franks to defend Rome from encroaching Lombards. He attempted to end a schism in the Church over the Three Chapters Controversy and began a controversy of his own when St. John IV the Faster, Bishop of Constantinople, assumed the title of "ecumenical patriarch" (a position that made him the equal of Pelagius, if not his superior). Pelagius was also responsible for building projects in Rome and turned his home into a hospital that was of great assistance when the city was struck by a disastrous flood. He himself died of the plague. 7

885 Danish Vikings attacked Paris and were paid by the Frankish emperor Charles the Fat not to destroy the city as they had in 845 and 856.

1703 Hurricane-force winds killed as many as 8,000 people as the Great Storm swept southern England. Bristol incurred heavy damage and the Royal Navy lost 15 warships.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mysterious Roman God Baffles Experts

by Tia Ghose
Live Science

unknown god
An unknown Roman god was recently unearthed at a sanctuary in southeast Turkey. The god, who is emerging from a plant, is depicted with both Near Eastern and Roman elements, and may have been a baal, or subdeity, of the temple's major god, Jupiter Dolichenus
Credit: Peter Jülich
A sculpture of a mysterious, never-before-seen Roman deity has been unearthed in an ancient temple in Turkey.
The 1st century B.C. relief, of an enigmatic bearded god rising up out of a flower or plant, was discovered at the site of a Roman temple near the Syrian border. The ancient relief was discovered in a supporting wall of a medieval Christian monastery.
"It's clearly a god, but at the moment it's difficult to say who exactly it is," said Michael Blömer, an archaeologist at the University of Muenster in Germany, who is excavating the site. "There are some elements reminiscent of ancient Near Eastern gods, as well, so it might be some very old god from before the Romans." [See Images of the Mysterious Roman God]
The ancient Roman god is a complete mystery; more than a dozen experts contacted by Live Science had no idea who the deity was.
Cultural crossroads
The temple sits on a mountaintop near the modern town of Gaziantep, above the ancient city of Doliche, or Dülük. The area is one of the oldest continuously settled regions on Earth, and for millennia, it was at the crossroads of several different cultures, from the Persians to the Hittites to the Arameans. During the Bronze Age, the city was on the road between Mesopotamia and the ancient Mediterranean.
In 2001, when Blömer's team first began excavating at the site, almost nothing was visible from the surface. Through years of painstaking excavation, the team eventually discovered the ruins of an ancient Bronze Age structure as well as a Roman Era temple dedicated to Jupiter Dolichenus, a Romanized version of the ancient Aramean sky or storm god, who headed the Near Eastern pantheon, Blömer said.
During the second and third centuries A.D., the cult of Jupiter Dolichenus became a global religion likely because many Roman soldiers were recruited from the area where he was worshipped, and those soldiers took their god with them, said Gregory Woolf, a classicist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, who was not involved in the excavation.
After the temple was destroyed, medieval Christians built the Mar Solomon monastery on the foundation of the site, and after the Crusades, the site became the burial place of a famous Islamic saint.
Blömer's team was excavating one of the old buttress walls of the Mar Solomon monastery when they discovered the relief, which had been plastered over.
The relief depicted a bearded man rising up out of a palm-type plant while holding the stalk of another. The bottom of the relief contains images of a crescent, a rosette and a star. The top of the relief was broken off but when it was complete it would have stood about the size of a human being.
"It was quite a big surprise when we saw the relief coming out of in this area of the site," Blömer told Live Science.
Unknown deity
The mysterious deity may have been a Roman spin on a local Near Eastern god, and the agricultural elements suggest a connection to fertility. But beyond that, the deity's identity has stumped experts.
The relief shows some elements associated with Mesopotamia. For instance, the rosette at the bottom may be associated with Ishtar, while the crescent moon at the base is a symbol of the moon god Sîn, Nicole Brisch, a Near Eastern studies expert at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, wrote in an email. (Brisch was not involved in the current excavation.)
"The bottom bits are from the Near East and the top bits are classical," Woolf told Live Science. "He looks to me like he was somebody from a native, very local pantheon." [Images: Ancient Carving of Roman God]
The fact that he is rising out of a plant is reminiscent of the birth myths of some gods, such as the mystery cult god Mithras, who was born from a rock, or the Greek goddess Aphrodite, who was born out of sea foam, Woolf speculated.
Mashup god
Though the gods' identity is a mystery, the hybridization of gods isn't unusual for the time, Woolf said.
"When the dominant style in the area is Greek and Roman, they give their gods a face-lift," Woolf told Live Science.
For instance, the ancient Egyptian gods end up wearing the clothes of Roman legionaries, and ancient Mesopotamian gods, which were typically depicted as "betels" — stones or meteorites — get human faces, Woolf said.
The best chances of identifying this enigmatic deity is to find a similar representation somewhere with an inscription describing who he was, Woolf said. But getting the word out could also help. Sometimes findings get widely disseminated and "someone turns up a little object that they've had in their private collection and say, 'Do you know, I think this is the same person,'" Woolf said.
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