Κυριακή, 13 Νοεμβρίου 2016

The Russian land battleship - KV-VI Behemoth tank



Read this fascinating tale of state power over commonsense military design. Stalin wanted a land battleship, and he was going to get one no matter how impractical it was.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, new facts have surfaced about the secret weapons developed by the Red Army during WWII.

Σάββατο, 12 Νοεμβρίου 2016

Wars of Religion

Detail of a Hadith referring to the succession of the Twelve Imams, at the shrine of Sayyida Ruqayya, Damascus; from People of the Prophet’s House edited by Fahmida Suleman (275pp. Azimuth. £35. 978 1 898592 32 7)

This piece forms part of a TLS Special Feature, our primer on the complex politics and religions of the Middle East
A hadith (or saying of the Prophet Muhammad) considered sound by all major authorities and widely circulated among Sunni Islamists states that the history of the umma will go through five phases: first, the Prophet himself will rule over it and teach it the right way to live; then will come the time of caliphate, when caliphs will rule according to the Prophet’s teachings; then the time of benign kingship obtained by force, followed by the time of oppressive kingship; finally, the time of caliphate will rise again, where a caliph will rule once more in accordance with the Prophet’s teachings, and usher in the end of the world.
From this eschatological perspective, Ataturk’s abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1923 marked the end of the third of those five phases, the phase of benign kingship. Since then, the Islamic world has been suffering the injustice of oppressive kingship, whether at the hands of brutal dictators or morally bankrupt monarchs. And though jihadist groups differ over the best way to achieve it, they are united by an ultimate aim, which they share, broadly speaking, with all forms of Islamism: the restoration of the Caliphate as a necessary step along the way to the Last Judgement.

Παρασκευή, 11 Νοεμβρίου 2016

Struggling with reality | On reading Mein Kampf



ANSON RABINBACH

On October 29, 1945, the Allied Control Council in Germany issued a decree dissolving the organizations of the National Socialist Party including its leading press agency and publishing house, the Franz Eher Nachfolger GmbH. Since the headquarters of the firm was in Munich, the property of the Eher Verlag was transferred to the Free State of Bavaria, which also assumed legal succession and trusteeship of its assets. A provisional court in Munich (Spruchkammer) initiated criminal proceedings against Max Amann, who had amassed a considerable fortune as the head of Nazi Germany’s largest publishing enterprise, sentencing him to ten years imprisonment. In 1948, all copyrights were transferred to the Bavarian State Ministry of Finance, including the copyright to Mein Kampf, which belonged to the literary estate of Adolf Hitler. Since German copyright law stipulates that all rights revert to the public domain seventy years after the death of the author, the copyright to Mein Kampf expired on December 31, 2015. Mein Kampf was never actually banned in the Federal Republic of Germany; it was sold in second-hand bookshops, was obtain­able in libraries, and in recent years has been readily available on the internet. Only the publication of the book was proscribed.

Πέμπτη, 10 Νοεμβρίου 2016

Graf Zeppelin: Diving at the unique WW2 German aircraft carrier (photos and videos)


 


Underwater photos by Tomasz “Tomek” Stachura
Graf Zeppelin (Flugzeugträger A, Aircraft Carrier A) was the only aircraft carrier launched by Germany during World War II. It represented part of the Kriegsmarine’s attempt to create a well-balanced oceangoing fleet, capable of projecting German naval power far beyond the narrow confines of the Baltic and North Seas.
A diving team from Poland, including experienced scuba divers Dimitris “Dima” Stavrakakis and acclaimed underwater photographer Tomasz “Tomek” Stachura share with pierrekosmidis.blogspot.com their experience and stunning underwater photos of a unique WW2 Wreck, the only German aircraft carrier that was never meant to see active duty.
Stavrakakis says:
“The diving expedition was well prepared and planned, since we were the first scuba divers to visit the shipwreck, with special permission from the authorities.
“We had two doctors and a hyberbaric chamber on board, because of the demanding nature of those dives at depths ranging from 75 to 95 metres.
By Pierre Kosmidis / pierrekosmidis.blogspot.gr

Τετάρτη, 9 Νοεμβρίου 2016

WWII Super Submarine discovered off the coast of Hawaii




A Second World War mega-submarine of Imperial Japanese Army had been successfully mapped and filmed, a year and half after it was first discovered off the coast of Hawaii.
Decades ahead of its time, the I-400 submarine was among the largest and technologically most advanced submarines of its era. The aircraft hangar of the submarine was large enough to facilitate the launch of at least three float-plane bombers.

Τρίτη, 8 Νοεμβρίου 2016

China's Race To Space Domination

 


To gain an edge here on Earth, China is pushing ahead in space

Before this decade is out, humanity will go where it’s never gone before: the far side of the moon. This dark side—forever facing away from us—has long been a mystery. No human-made object has ever touched its surface. The mission will be a marvel of engineering. It will involve a rocket that weighs hundreds of tons (traveling almost 250,000 miles), a robot lander, and an unmanned lunar rover that will use sensors, cameras, and an infrared spectrometer to uncover billion-year-old secrets from the soil. The mission also might scout the moon’s supply of helium-3—a promising material for fusion energy. And the nation planting its starry flag on this historic trip will be the People’s Republic of China.
After years of investment and strategy, China is well on its way to becoming a space superpower—and maybe even a dominant one. The Chang’e 4 lunar mission is just one example of its scope and ambition for turning space into an important civilian and military domain. Now, satellites guide Chinese aircraft, missiles, and drones, while watching over crop yields and foreign military bases. The growing number of missions involving Chinese rockets and taikonauts are a source of immense national pride.
“China sees space capability as an indication of global-leadership status,” says John ­Logsdon, founder of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University. “It gives China legitimacy in an area that is associated with great power.”

Δευτέρα, 7 Νοεμβρίου 2016

The cutting edge U-boat that sunk in 1945 was raised in 1957 & returned to service – today you can go aboard yourself




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Here she is in all her glory. Type XII introduced streamlining in U-Boat design, resulting in a quantum leap in underwater performance. All submarines before this one were basically designed to submerge and stay under the surface in one place (sans minor pedestrian manoeuvres using electric power). Type XXI could easily steam in circles around any Allied convoy - all under water. source
Here she is in all her glory. Type XII introduced streamlining in U-Boat design, resulting in a quantum leap in underwater performance. All submarines before this one were basically designed to submerge and stay under the surface in one place (sans minor pedestrian manoeuvres using electric power). Type XXI could easily steam in circles around any Allied convoy – all under water. source
U-2540 was an advanced submarine which entered service on 24th February 1945. Less than 3 months later, on 4th May, she was scuttled by her own crew.
In 1957, she was raised and returned to service on 1st September 1960 as the research submarine Wilhelm Bauer. She served in a civilian role under various research projects before decommissioning on 15th March 1982. On 24th April 1984, she was transferred to the Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum (German Maritime Museum) as the Technikmuseum Wilhelm Bauer.


The entrance to the museum is adorned by two propellers, one of which is shown here. I'm quite certain that these are the original propellers of this U-boat. source
The entrance to the museum is adorned by two propellers, one of which is shown here. I’m quite certain that these are the original propellers of this U-boat. source
In the spring of 1943, Germany was clearly losing the battle of the Atlantic. Improvements in Allied escort material and tactics, combined with cracking the German military code dramatically increased the U-Boats´ losses, rendering them near useless. The German high command saw its best reaction in the speedy development of improved submarines.

Κυριακή, 6 Νοεμβρίου 2016

The History of Armored Trains And Why They Are Now A Thing Of The Past


by Nikola Budanovic

Autro-Hungarian armored train, 1915. Wikipedia, Public Domain,


Armored trains are a relic of the past by today’s standards but in the late 19th and early 20th century, these big steel-plated locomotives besieged cities, pierced frontlines and supported infantry attacks all over the world.
The beasts of the railroads began their epic service in the American Civil War when a single car was built to defend the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad. Then war trains saw action in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and the First and the Second Boer Wars which led the machines into the 20th century.

A 1861 "Railroad battery" used to protect workers during the American Civil War. By Sketch by William C. Russell, engraver unknown, for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper - Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. Page 9, May 18, 1861, No. 287--Vol. XII. From digital scan at http://archive.org/details/franklesliesilluv1112lesl, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20572199
An 1861″Railroad battery” used to protect workers during the American Civil War. By Sketch by William C. Russell, engraver unknown, for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper – Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. Page 9, May 18, 1861, No. 287–Vol. XII. From digital scan at http://archive.org/details/franklesliesilluv1112lesl, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20572199
In 1905, these trains were used in the Far East as part of the Russo-Japanese War, where the advantage of a large armored vehicle on rails during harsh winters proved to be irreplaceable. Russia later saw the even more extensive use of armored trains during the First World War and the Civil War which commenced immediately after the October Revolution.
Trains were seen as transport mainly at the time, as they were capable of carrying a large number of people and equipment in a short period of time. Its transport use revolutionized the way battlefield logistics were executed at the time. The fact that the machine was tied to the tracks didn’t represent such a disadvantage, for this was the only dawn of the automobile age and the four-wheelers were still lagging behind the locomotive.
Needless to say, tanks were only in development during the First World War, so flawed designs often lost sympathy in the military, and trains proved to be more reliable. Mounted with cannons and encased with thick armor, the trains were fearsome fighting machines.

A typical Polish artillery car from 1939. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=89125
A typical Polish artillery car from 1939. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=89125
But trains are perceived as transport mainly today, so this appendix of history takes place in a time before the rapid development of armored vehicles in the interwar period. During the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920), the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the Second World War armored trains were actively used by all parties included in the conflicts.
In Poland, trains were active in the defense effort of the September campaign against the invading Germans. The Germans, on the other hand, developed super cannons on a train chassis, most famous being the Schwerer Gustav, which saw limited service, but had a devastating effect during the siege of Sevastopol.
Apart from official military use, trains often served as support for partisan groups which staged massive offensives during the last years of the Second World War. Such was the case in Slovakia, where three armored trains ―  The Hurban, Štefánik, and Masaryk ― delivered a decisive blow to the weakened German units in September of 1944.





A Russian WW II-era armoured train with antiaircraft gunners. By Unknown - http://mechcorps.rkka.ru/files/bepo/media/bepo_094.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5150971
A Russian WW II-era armored train with antiaircraft gunners. By Unknown – http://mechcorps.rkka.ru/files/bepo/media/bepo_094.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5150971
The reason for its abandonment was clearly the change within the methods of warfare, as tanks and motorized infantry dictated military doctrines that slowly pushed out the armored train. Since trains were limited to railroads, they were more vulnerable to bombers and artillery.
In addition to that, the railways were more and more subjected to acts of sabotage by commando or partisan units, which slowed the advance of the trains significantly. The mere fact that it relied on the use of tracks turned these war machines into vulnerable giants.
Nevertheless, trains continued to serve in battle even after WWII (but far less actively), most notably in Indochina.
But in the countries of the Eastern Bloc, the use of trains as means of battle was nurtured as a tradition. Even though it was old-fashioned in a way,  it was still suitable for serving as a mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launching ramp. In the late stages of the Cold War, the RT-23 Molodets, an intercontinental ballistic missile,  entered service in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Rt 23 complex "Molodets" as a cargo train with a sensor for orientation on the lighting mast. By Vitold Muratov - Сопствено дело, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27780149
Rt 23 complex “Molodets” as a cargo train with a sensor for orientation on the lighting mast. By Vitold Muratov – Own Work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27780149
It was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. One of the options for transporting and launching the missile was from a specially designed train across the Trans-Siberian Railway. The strategic importance of this railway was emphasized during the 1970s after the split between the Soviet and the Chinese government. According to different accounts, four or five armored trains were built in order to protect the southeastern borders of USSR.
Every train included ten main battle tanks, two light amphibious tanks, several AA guns, as well as several armored personnel carriers, supply vehicles and equipment for railway repairs. They were all mounted on open platforms or in special rail cars. Different parts of the train were protected with 5–20mm-thick armor.
So it is not surprising that some of the last known uses of armored trains happened during the conflicts following the collapse of the Soviet Union 1990s, most notably in the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh, between today’s Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Also, during the Yugoslav Wars from 1991 to 2001, some improvised armored trains were used by paramilitaries in the conflict in Croatia and Bosnia. These were regular passenger trains transformed into terrible land cruisers, capable of laying siege to towns and villages across the war-torn Bosnia.
The most infamous train that was in service during those years was the Krajina Ekspres, employed by the members of a Serbian paramilitary in Bosnia. The train took part in a three-year-long siege of the town of Bihac, which lasted from 1992 to 1995.
Even then the technology was considered to be obsolete, but in a conflict between various paramilitary and guerilla groups, such hardware proved to be intimidating. In late 2015, Pro-Russian militants in the Donbass region of Ukraine were pictured operating a homemade armored train.
One armored train that remains in regular use is that of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, which the former received as a gift from the Soviet Union and the latter used heavily for state visits to China and Russia as he had a fear of flying.

Σάββατο, 5 Νοεμβρίου 2016

STUNNING Pics of Allied Planes Pressed Into Nazi Service


The Luftwaffe P-38 Lightning & Other





Ever wondered what happened with the airplanes that made an emergency landing in occupied territory? When captured (relatively) intact they were tested by the Germans and sometimes put into service!
Enjoy these amazing pictures of familiar Allied airplanes in very unfamiliar colors and markings!

Παρασκευή, 4 Νοεμβρίου 2016

2,000-year-old skeleton salvaged from Antikythera shipwreck may hint at earliest evidence of human DNA


antikythera-shipwreck-evidence-human-dna_1
The waters off the coast of Antikythera in Greece hold many mysteries of the ancient world that are yet to be uncovered. Site of the largest shipwreck from antiquity, the region boasts a treasure trove of invaluable artifacts as well as the famous Antikythera Mechanism, a 2,000-year-old astronomical calculator that is widely considered the world’s oldest computer. Recently, researchers working at the site have discovered a well-preserved skeleton of a young man, which they believe could provide the earliest DNA evidence ever retrieved from a sunken vessel.

Πέμπτη, 3 Νοεμβρίου 2016

Much More Than Code Talking – The Native Americans’ Role in World War II



 Lincoln Riddle




Native Americans made an enormous contribution to the World War II effort. Sadly, their involvement in the conflict is widely overlooked. Sometimes, they are portrayed as codebreakers and nothing more. This is not the case. Native Americans played a huge role in the war from its beginning to its end.
From the time the Europeans began settling in the New World, the population of the Native Americans began decreasing at an alarmingly rapid rate. The group’s population was seeing a little bit of a rise during the beginning of the 21st century. However, another large chunk of this growing population would fall prey to another harsh crime of the Western world – World War II. In fact, 44,000 Native American individuals participated in the war.

Τετάρτη, 2 Νοεμβρίου 2016

The Tortoise, An Unknown WW2 Heavy Tank – Video from The Tank Museum





The Heavy Assault Tank or Assault Gun, Tortoise, was a British tank design developed in World War II but never put into mass production. It was developed for the task of clearing heavily fortified areas and as a result favoured armour protection over mobility.
In the early part of 1943, the Allied forces anticipated considerable resistance in the projected future invasion of Europe, with the enemy fighting from heavily fortified positions such as the Siegfried Line. As a result, a new class of vehicles emerged, in the shape of Assault tanks, which placed maximum armour protection at a higher priority than mobility.

Δευτέρα, 31 Οκτωβρίου 2016

The macuahuitl was a sword with obsidian blades used mostly by the Aztecs. It was sharp enough to decapitate a man, and even a horse


 
Macuahuitl
 
 
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A macuahuitl, a type of macana, is a wooden sword with obsidian blades. The name is derived from the Nahuatl language. Its sides are embedded with prismatic blades traditionally made from obsidian, famous for producing an edge far sharper than even high-quality steel razor blades. It was a common weapon used by the Aztec military forces and other cultures of central Mexico. It was described during the 16th-century Spanish conquest of the region.

Κυριακή, 30 Οκτωβρίου 2016

‘Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane’ Was A B-17 Gunner In WWII



 
 


He joined the Army Air Force in 1945 and was qualified as a B-17 “Flying Fortress” Radio Operator/Aerial Gunner, serving in Europe at the end of WWII. He was awarded the American Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal and German Occupation Medal.
James Best (born Jewel Franklin Guy; July 26, 1926 – April 6, 2015) was an American actor, who in six decades of television is best known for his starring role as bumbling Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane in the CBS television series The Dukes of Hazzard. He also worked as an acting coach, artist, college professor, and musician.

Σάββατο, 29 Οκτωβρίου 2016

10 things you should know about the Anglo-Saxon warriors


10-facts-anglo-saxon-warriors
While comprising a group of Germanic tribes from continental Europe, the Anglo-Saxons established themselves in Great Britain from the 5th century. This consequent Anglo-Saxon epoch (from roughly 449 – 1066 AD) led to the creation of the English nation and the resurgence of Christianity in Britain. And even beyond culture and religion, one of the lasting legacies of these Germanic people is their contribution to the ambit of language – what we know today as Old English. However in this article we have decided to explore one of the lesser known avenues relating to the Anglo-Saxons, and it pertains to their incredible military that bridged the gap between the ancient ‘barbarian’ Germans and the ordered medieval armies. So without further ado, let us take a gander at ten fascinating things you should know about the Anglo-Saxon warriors.

1) The Roman influence? 

10-facts-anglo-saxon-warriors_1
Illustration by Angus Mcbride
While the diminishing of Roman imperial rule set the tone for Anglo-Saxon arrivals at the shores of the British islands (circa 5th century AD), it should be noted that the late Roman Empire already followed an ‘inclusive’ military doctrine that allowed the employment of auxiliary units. By 4th century, in the northern frontier, these auxiliary units were often composed of entire Germanic sub-tribes, who were settled as foederati (allied troops) in marches, buffer zones and areas of conflict. During the same time-period, the Romans (or Romano-British) had already begun to set up coastal defenses to protect their shores from the forays of the independent Anglo-Saxon tribes.

Πέμπτη, 27 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Archaeologists may have located the ancient theater at the famed Greek city of Akragas


ancient-theater-greek-city-akragas_1Google Earth top-view of the possible theater at Akragas. Credit: AgrigentoSette
The ancient city of Akragas (or Ἀκράγας) in Sicily was one of the major Greek-populated settlements of Magna Graecia, during what is termed as the golden age of Greek city-states (circa 5th century BC). The city was originally founded in early 6th century by Greek colonists from Gela (in Sicily), and by the turn of the century it possibly had a population of more than 100,000 people. In fact, even after numerous political and military upheavals during the Punic Wars, the city managed to regain its prosperity, so much so that its inhabitants (the city being renamed Agrigentum) were granted Roman citizenship after the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BC.

Τρίτη, 25 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Does an ancient Hebrew treatise reveal the ‘doom’ of the Ark of the Covenant?


Ancient_Text_Hebrew_Ark_Of_The_Covenant_1Carrying the Ark of the Covenant: gilded bas-relief at the Auch Cathedral.
Last month we showcased the (what if) 3D reconstruction of the Solomon’s Temple in accordance to its Biblical measurements. Now beyond its religious status as the grand First Jewish Temple built on the Temple Mount, Solomon’s Temple is also known for its housing of the fabled Ark of the Covenant. This naturally brings us the million-dollar question – what exactly was the Ark of the Covenant? Well as literary sources mention, the legendary artifact was possibly a gold-plated chest that stored the sacred tablets containing the original Ten Commandments. But as every Indiana Jones fan worth his salt would know, the Ark is elusive (or perhaps even ‘illusory’) – and as such is still lost to the researchers of our modern age. But an ancient Hebrew text translated in 2013, might provide some (possibly fancy) insights into the whereabouts and status of this puzzling artifact, along with the other treasures of King Solomon – who was said to be the richest man of his time in Biblical sources.

Δευτέρα, 24 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Listen to the ‘accurate’ reconstruction of Ancient Greek music with the world’s oldest known complete song


accurate-reconstruction-ancient-greek-musicSymposium scene, circa 490 BC. Wikimedia Commons.
From the historical perspective many scholars believe that music played an integral role in the lives of ordinary ancient Greeks, given its role in most social occasions – ranging from religious rites, funerals to theater and public recitation of ballads and epic-poetry. Both archaeological and literary evidences rather bolster such a theory that points to the crucial nature of music in ancient Greece. In fact, the Greeks attributed the ‘creativity’ of musical compositions to divine entities, and as such etymologically the very word ‘music’ is derived from ‘Muses‘, the personifications of knowledge and art who were the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Interestingly, Mnemosyne herself was the personification of memory, and was also one of the Titans, the children of Uranus the Sky and Gaia the Earth.

Furthermore when it came to the ancient Greek musical instruments, the musicians had a penchant for lyres (and kithara), aulos pipes and syrinx, and even the hydraulis – a setup that was the precursor to the modern organ. And with the aid of the flurry of archaeological and literary evidences of vocal notations and musical ratios, combined with the identification of these instruments, researchers have been able to recreate precise renditions of ancient Greek music. For example, Dr David Creese, Head of Classics & Ancient History at the University of Newcastle, has devised the following reconstruction of a musical piece that was etched on the ‘Seikilos epitaph’ dating from 1st century AD –
Now in case you are interested, the ‘song’ that was recreated by Dr David Creese is actually the world’s oldest known complete song. Inscribed on the Seikilos epitaph, the ancient Greek characters on the slab allude to the piece’s Hellenistic Ionic origin. Interestingly, the completeness of its composition is partly due its short nature. To that end, the lyrics has been roughly translated to English, excluding the musical notation –
While you live, shine
have no grief at all
life exists only for a short while
and time demands its toll.
This lyrical part is also accompanied by a poignant etching that takes narrative of the epitaph itself – “I am a tombstone, an image. Seikilos placed me here as an everlasting sign of deathless remembrance.” In any case, as opposed to the Hurrian Hymns (the oldest known song in the world), the Greek composition on the Seikilos epitaph is complete – and thus is less open to interpretation. Simply put, there is more chance of hearing the originally ‘intended’ rendition of this Ionic song, even when recreated in our modern times. So if interested, you can check out this vocal rendition of the enchanting ‘Song of Seikilos’ – the oldest known complete song in the world –

And in case you are in mood for something more jovial, take a gander at the modern guitar-fueled cover of the ‘Song of Seikilos’, sung and played by famous internet teacher Hank Green

Κυριακή, 23 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Elegantly contrived vase animation presents the Greek Hoplites at war


vase-animation-greek-hoplites-war
The Greek word for military equipment roughly translates to hopla, and thus a hoplite simply pertained to the ancient Greek version of the ‘man at arms’ or ‘armored man’. But as opposed to their late medieval counterparts, the ancient hoplites were first and foremost citizen-soldiers. Simply put, these conscripted men were expected to take part in battles to safeguard their own interests, freedoms and farms, in contrast to viewing military as a contractual well-paying career. And while the ‘classic’ well-armored and trained Greek soldier was ultimately eclipsed by the tactical Macedonian phalanx in late 4th century BC, hoplites (and their predecessors) had dominated the Mediterranean battlefields for almost three centuries before that.

On the other cultural spectrum, the development of ancient Greek art was rather mirrored by the pottery designs that were made between the time-fame of 1000 – 400 BC. Continuing the artistic legacy of the earlier Minoan pottery and Mycenaean pottery, the vase painting in the late Archaic Age (620 to 480 BC) mainly comprised the so-termed ‘black figure’. As Mark Cartwright wrote (for Ancient Encyclopedia) in regard to the predominance of black figures during the aforementioned period –

Σάββατο, 22 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Crusader-era hand grenade found among archaeological artifacts collected by electric company worker


crusader-era-grenade-artifacts-israel_1Credit: Amir Gorzalczany, Israel Antiquities Authority.
The unique legacy left behind by late Marcel Mazliah is something to boast about when it comes to a historical scope. Over the years, the electric company worker had made a personal collection of priceless artifacts (with one of the items being around 3,500-years old) that were salvaged from the Mediterranean Sea bordering Israel. And fortuitously, his family has now decided to hand over the incredible treasure trove to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), which would earn them a good citizen award from the state. But beyond ownership and recognition, one particular artifact from the collection stands out – and it entails an actual Crusader-era hand grenade that rather showcases its medieval brand of fine craftsmanship.

From the perspective of etymology, the term ‘grenade’ was most probably derived from Old French ‘pomegranate’ (possibly influenced by Spanish granada) circa 1590 AD, since the fruit resembles the fragmented-form of the weapon. As for the historical side of affairs, grenades in their rudimentary designs were probably used in the 8th century AD Eastern Roman armies, with Greek Fire concoctions sometimes being stashed inside pots and jars, to be thrown at enemies.
crusader-era-grenade-artifacts-israel_2
Credit: Diego Barkan, Israel Antiquities Authority
Greek Fire in itself is said to be originally created by a Syrian Engineer named Callinicus (who was a refugee from Maalbek). The technology was sort of a precursor to napalm, and it entailed vicious ‘liquid fire’ that continued to burn even while floating in water. In fact, some writers have gone on to explain how the viciously efficient Greek Fire could only be mitigated by extinguishing it with sand, strong vinegar or old urine.
As for the hand grenade in question here, the embellished metal-made bomb-like item probably harks back to the period circa 13th century AD, thus coinciding with the time-frame of the Crusaders, Ayyubids and early Mamluks. The military forces of this time possibly used some variation of an inflammable substance, including a combination of materials like naphtha, pitch (obtained from coal tar), sulfur and resin – for their grenades. On the other hand, a few scholars believe that as opposed to chemical warfare, these ‘grenades’ only had ornamental purposes for storing perfume.
crusader-era-grenade-artifacts-israel_3
Credit: Diego Barkan, Israel Antiquities Authority.
In any case, archaeologists from the IAA were pleasantly surprised by a slew of other metal objects that were stashed by Mazliah. According to his family, the electric company worker got hold of the artifacts from under the sea, as a result of numerous ancient and medieval shipwrecks that dot the Israeli coast. Ayala Lester, a curator with the IAA, stated –
The finds include a toggle pin and the head of a knife from the Middle Bronze Age from more than 3,500 years ago [see above]. The other items, among them, two mortars and two pestles, fragments of candlesticks, and so on, date to the Fatimid period. The items were apparently manufactured in Syria and were brought to Israel.
Lastly beyond the scope of the treasure trove accumulated by Mazliah, the occurrence of shipwrecks around the coastal regions of Levant could be attested by a fascinating find in May of this year. Touted to be the largest hoard of marine-based objects in the last 30 years in Israel, IAA announced that the treasure stash contained both bronze statues and coins, along with other assorted stuff. And interestingly enough, the discovery was made quite by chance when two divers identified the remains of the ancient ship and reported back to the authorities.
crusader-era-grenade-artifacts-israel_4
Credit: Amir Gorzalczany, Israel Antiquities Authority.

Παρασκευή, 21 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Scholar translates 1700-year old Greek epitaph of a Jewish Egyptian woman


1700-year-greek-epitaph-jewish-egyptian_2Credit: Jaren Wilkey/BYU
A 1700-year old limestone epitaph slightly bigger than an iPad sheds light into the fusion of different religious entities prevalent in early 3rd century AD ancient Egypt. Salvaged from a collection of Greek and Coptic artifacts from University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library, this engraved object commemorates a woman named Helene. And while she is identified (in the epitaph itself) as a Jewish woman, Helene is also referred by a title that was usually associated with Christian women in this late-antiquity time period of Egypt, thus alluding to an inclusive societal scope.

The translation was made by BYU associate professor of ancient scripture Lincoln H. Blumell. The inscription reads like this –

Τετάρτη, 19 Οκτωβρίου 2016

10 of the greatest ancient warrior cultures you should know about




10-greatest-ancient-warrior-culturesIllustration by Angus McBride.
The episodes of war and human conflicts are persistent when it comes to the rich tapestry of history. And in such a vast ambit of wanton destruction and death, there have been a few civilizations, tribes and factions that had accepted warfare as an intrinsic part of their culture. So without further ado, let us take a gander at ten of the incredible warrior cultures from the ancient times that pushed forth the ‘art of war’ (or rather the art of dealing with war) as an extension of their social system.

Τρίτη, 18 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Jewish Second Temple courtyard’s ‘regal’ floor tiles restored by archaeologists


second-temple-floor-tiles-restored_2The Jewish Second Temple replica.
Researchers from the Jerusalem-based Temple Mount Sifting Project has accomplished quite a feat by restoring a unique architectural scope of the once-monumental Second Jewish Temple. This fascinating ambit mainly entails the richly decorated floor tiles that adorned the porticoes on the Temple Mount. Simply put, these ancient specimens probably played their decorative role along the courtyards of the huge temple complex, corresponding to the period when King Herod ruled over the Roman client realm of Judea (circa 37 – 4 BC). Now interestingly if the project is assessed to be accurate, this would be the first time that archaeologists had been able to successfully restore any element from the Second Temple.

Δευτέρα, 17 Οκτωβρίου 2016

New pterosaur species discovered in the Patagonia region of Argentina


new-pterosaur-species-patagonia-argentina_1Reconstruction of a ptesosaur. Credit: Gabriel Lío
Researchers announced the discovery of a new (extinct) species of pterosaur from the Patagonia region of South America. The discovery was made from the cranial remains of a specimen that were found to be a pretty well preserved condition, probably dated from the Early Jurassic period (around 200 – 175 million years ago). Interestingly enough, the new species was named as the Allkauren koi, from the native Tehuelche language – with ‘all’ roughly translating to ‘brain’ and ‘kauren’ meaning ‘ancient’.

The very name ‘Pterosaur’ comes from the Greek for ‘winged lizards’. These astounding flying reptiles ruled the skies between the late Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous Period; and quite unsurprisingly, one of the largest known flying animals of all time – Quetzalcoatlus, comes from this extinct clade. In terms of size, the larger variant of Quetzalcoatlus’ is estimated to have had an incredible wingspan of over 36 ft. But interestingly this was just one end of the size spectrum, with some Pterosaur specimens also showcasing the diminutive dimensions of small sparrows.

Κυριακή, 16 Οκτωβρίου 2016

31 Rolls Of Film From A WWII Soldier Were Found & Processed; The Results Are Extraordinary

Joris Nieuwint

 
Just one of the amazing pictures uncovered from the mysterious rolls of film by the Rescued Film Project. (Image captured from the vIdeo below)
 


The Second World War is considered to be one of the most filmed and photographed conflict in recorded history. There were photographers attached to the armies, recording every battle. They filmed and photographed destroyed cities, piles of bodies, scared and shaken citizens and starving Holocaust survivors.
Recent studies show that there were many individuals filming the conflict, but that most of those films were either lost during the war or were not developed in the years following.
Photographer Levi Bettwieser discovered an amazing set of rolls in 2014. He runs the ‘Rescued Film Project’, paying tribute to the unknown photographer who had created the film during the war.
The Rescued Film Project is a short documentary about the processing of these mysterious film rolls. The process itself was quite an exhilarating experience for him, but when he developed and saw the pictures, he was astonished by his discovery.

Σάββατο, 15 Οκτωβρίου 2016

A 1,200-year-old Viking sword found in Norway could still be used today




viking-sword

While hiking an old mountain trail in Haukeli (on the border of Telemark County, Norway),  Goran Olsen was surprised to discover a 1250 year old Viking sword among some rocks near the road when he sat down to rest. The sword was in excellent condition, especially considering its immense age.
The sword was taken to Hordaland County Council, where local archaeologists working for the council were elated to have the opportunity to study such a beautiful artifact. County conservator Per Morten Ekerhovd said, “It’s quite unusual to find remnants from the Viking age that are so well-preserved. It might be used today if you sharpened the edge

Παρασκευή, 14 Οκτωβρίου 2016

VB-107 Attacks U-848 Off Ascension Island, South Atlantic

wwii0202.jpg
Caption: 
U-848 is bracketed by five depth charges dropped by United States Navy PB4Y-1 Privateer "107-B-4" flown by Lieutenant Samuel K. Taylor of Patrol Bombing Squadron VB-107. Lieutenant Taylor attacked from seventy feet (21 meters) at 225 knots (415 kilometers per hour). This ninth attack in one day on U-848 was followed by another run by Lieutenant Taylor, who destroyed the U-Boat with two depth charges. U-848, a Type IXd2 U-Boat, was commissioned on February 20, 1943 under the command of Korvettenkapitan Wilhelm Rollman (August 5, 1907 - November 5, 1943).

Πέμπτη, 13 Οκτωβρίου 2016

2800-year old ancient seeds discovered in eastern Anatolia, to be resurrected


2800-year-old-ancient-seeds-resurrected_1
Haykaberd (or Çavuştepe in Turkish) is an archaeological site in Van Province in Turkey’s Eastern Anatolia region, known for its ancient 8th century BC fortifications and royal palace of the Urartian kings. But this time around, beyond ramparts and walls, archaeologists are interested in seeds. Originally discovered in 2014, from the Çavuştepe Castle that was constructed by Urartian King Sarduri II (circa 8th century BC), these batches of wheat and sesame seeds are almost 2800-years old. And now the researchers are looking forth to resurrect these ancient specimens inside a laboratory environment.

Professor Rafet Çavuşoğlu (Archaeology Department) from the Van Yüzüncü Yıl University, said –

Τετάρτη, 12 Οκτωβρίου 2016

How Erwin Rommel Earned Germany’s Highest Honor, as a Mere Lieutenant!


     Gabe Christy

    By Bundesarchiv / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de,


    Erwin Rommel was undoubtedly one of the finest generals of the Second World War, his strategic mind and patient approach led his men to victory after victory early in the war. But, while his fame and glory came as a General and Field Marshal, it was as a Lieutenant in the First World War that he earned his greatest honor.

    Τρίτη, 11 Οκτωβρίου 2016

    These Jews Took Up Arms Against Nazi Germany & Fought Back Without Hope


    Heather Fishel

    Stroop Report original caption: "Forcibly pulled out of dug-outs". Captured Jews are led by German troops to the assembly point for deportation.
    1.03k
    SHARES
    Life in a Ghetto was the unfortunate fate of many Jewish citizens during the Nazi Party’s reign over Germany and its many occupied territories. Crammed into hastily built quarters, packed amongst other people and families all forced to leave their homes, little about life in these ghettos was desirable.
    Yet in one ghetto, the Jewish residents held within its walls refused to accept the terrible fate the Germans planned for them. In 1942, Warsaw Ghetto decided to fight back against the execution of its people, and the Warsaw Ghetto uprising became the largest revolt of Jewish people to occur during World War II.
    Unfortunately, the uprising led to the total destruction of the ghetto and the deaths of so many of its residents – but before its buildings burned and smoke filled the streets, its people made history.

    Δευτέρα, 10 Οκτωβρίου 2016

    The Revolutionary War Veterans Who Lived Long Enough To Have Their Pictures Taken


    PetaPixel has a wonderful post by Michael Zhang with rare photographs of Revolutionary War veterans who actually lived long enough to have their photographs taken. It’s an amazing post, so don’t miss it.  
    Photography was invented in the 1820s and 1830s, and the Revolutionary War ended decades before, in 1783. This meant that most Revolutionary War veterans didn’t live long enough to have their photographs taken. That being said, there were a few war veterans who did live long enough to be immortalized in portraits.
    In 1864, a full 81 years after the war ended, Reverend E. B. Hillard and two photographers went to New England to interview and photograph the six men known to have survived. All of the veterans were over 100 years old. These amazing photographs were made into a book called The Last Men of the Revolution. This is a fascinating look into history that we’re lucky to have.
    VeteranBook-Hutchings-642x1024

    WILLIAM HUTCHINGS

    Κυριακή, 9 Οκτωβρίου 2016

    VB-107 Attacks U-848 Off Ascension Island, South Atlantic

    wwii0202.jpg
    Caption: 
    U-848 is bracketed by five depth charges dropped by United States Navy PB4Y-1 Privateer "107-B-4" flown by Lieutenant Samuel K. Taylor of Patrol Bombing Squadron VB-107. Lieutenant Taylor attacked from seventy feet (21 meters) at 225 knots (415 kilometers per hour). This ninth attack in one day on U-848 was followed by another run by Lieutenant Taylor, who destroyed the U-Boat with two depth charges. U-848, a Type IXd2 U-Boat, was commissioned on February 20, 1943 under the command of Korvettenkapitan Wilhelm Rollman (August 5, 1907 - November 5, 1943). Rollman was a U-Boat ace who sank over 100,000 tons while the commander of U-34.

    Σάββατο, 8 Οκτωβρίου 2016

    Oh Yes! Inside the Panzer VII Maus – It Has a Massive 44 Litre Engine!







    Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus (“Mouse”) was a German World War II super-heavy tank completed in late 1944. It is the heaviest fully enclosed armored fighting vehicle ever built. Only two hulls and one turret were completed before the testing grounds were captured by the advancing Soviet forces.
    These two prototypes – one with, one without turret – underwent trials in late 1944. The complete vehicle was 33 ft 6 inches long, 12 ft 2 inches wide, and 11.9 ft high. Weighing 188 metric tons, the Maus’s main armament was the Krupp-designed 128 mm gun. This 128 mm gun was powerful enough to destroy all Allied armored fighting vehicles then in service, some at ranges exceeding 3,800 yards.

    Παρασκευή, 7 Οκτωβρίου 2016

    While His Maniac Brother was Busy Killing Jews, Albert Goring Worked Tirelessly to Save Them


    Heather Fishel
     
     


    What would happen to your family should one of your siblings join a deadly political beast? If you were a member of the Göring family in the first half of the 1900s, you would find your entire family divided. This was the situation between Albert and Hermann Göring, two brothers torn apart by World War II. While one brother, Hermann, became a proud member of the Nazi Party, the other, Albert, chose an entirely different direction.

    Πέμπτη, 6 Οκτωβρίου 2016

    German Ace Stumbled Across a Crippled a B-17 and Escorted It Back to England. The Pilots Are Friends Now!


     William Mclaughlin



    Truly touching moments of humanity, ethics and morals are rather rare in warfare. The Christmas Truce of WWI was an excellent example of such humanity, as were the heroic actions of German Luftwaffe fighter pilot Franz Stigler on December 20th, 1943. His actions got nine men home for Christmas.
    Charlie Brown of the USAAF was a Lt. flying his first mission as an aircraft commander flying a B-17, “Ye Olde Pub” on a bombing run over Bremen. Brown’s bomber occupied the especially dangerous left of the formation, sometimes called the Purple Heart Corner. Bremen was defended by a large contingent of fighters and well-manned flak guns. Two B-17s were quickly struck by heavy flak, and many went down. Brown’s bomber was hit at least once in the left wing. The crew had to shut down an engine which took them out of the formation. Soon they were met by about eight enemy fighters.
    The B-17 was sometimes referred to as the flying porcupine and Ye Olde Pub sure lived up to The name. the gunners took out at least one of the fighters and as many as three, all on their own. The remaining fighters were still able to take the fight to the bomber, however, and bullets tore through Ye Olde Pub.

    Τετάρτη, 5 Οκτωβρίου 2016

    This Rogue Nazi General Committed High Treason To Stop The Reign of Terror in Croatia



     Heather Fishel



    Many heroes’ names line the pages of WWII history. Many of these men and women were not recognized and known to the public during their lifetimes – some were secret agents, some worked within underground resistance groups, and some conducted their plans hidden in plain sight.
    One man in particular fought back from within the Nazi Party, reporting its atrocities and plotting to bring them down from the inside. That man was Edmund Glaise-Horstenau, a general within the Austrian military and respected Nazi leader.
    Though so many of his fellow Nazis facilitated the concentration camps and various other horrors conducted during the war, Glaise-Horstenau did not – he wanted the reign of terror to end, even if he had to die to make this dream a reality.

    Τρίτη, 4 Οκτωβρίου 2016

    The Black Dispatches From the Civil War Spies


     Jinny McCormick
     
    The south steps of the Confederate White House teeming with Southern officers and soldiers. Freedwoman Mary Bowser, posing as a slave, often spied here for the Union.
     


    The typical Southern officer’s opinion of African Americans was that they were an inferior subhuman race, lacking in intelligence or cunning. Their ignorance and subsequent disregard of the slaves in their midst led to the most successful intelligence gathering of the Civil War.
    The black men and women that provided information to the Union did so at extreme peril and risk that they would never outlive, even long after the war was over. They did this gambling that the pay-off would be winning the war and trusting that they would hopefully gain their freedom. There would be no accolades or acknowledgment. Such attention, even long after the South fell, would put them in danger of retaliation from disgruntled former Confederates.

    Δευτέρα, 3 Οκτωβρίου 2016

    Made from parts from B-25s, B-29s & a Waco glider, we give you the ‘Flying Crane’



    Great image here for the scale of the 'flying crane'. source
    Great image here for the scale of the ‘flying crane’. source
    OK, it looked ugly and strange but it worked – kind of. Made from parts from various WWII warbirds the Hughes XH-17 “Flying Crane”  was by far ,the most impressive of all rotor-craft in the early 1950s was a strange monster designated XH-17. This was planned and taken through the design process by Kellett, but hardware trials were transferred to Hughes Aircraft at Culver City. Already the aircraft firm of billionaire Howard Hughes had a reputation for being quite undeterred by the most formidable development problems, and certainly the XH-17 made sense on paper. In any case, it was part-funded by the USAF. It was a flying crane, the specialized category pioneered by the German Fa 284 and intended to lift cargo weighing up to 27,000 lb more than ten times as much as any other rotorcraft of its day. To do so it had a radically new form of lift power.


    Howard Hughes (second from left) standing under the blade of the XH-17, Flying Crane with L-R: Rea Hopper, Director of the Aeronautical Division, Hughes Aircraft Company; Hughes; Clyde Jones, Director of Engineering, Hughes Tool Company Aeronautical Division; Warren Reed, Assistant; Colonel Carl E. Jackson, Air Research and Development Headquarters; Gale. J. Moore, Pilot; Chal Bowen?, Flight Engineer/Co-Pilot; unidentified pilot. source
    Howard Hughes (second from left) standing under the blade of the XH-17, Flying Crane with L-R: Rea Hopper, Director of the Aeronautical Division, Hughes Aircraft Company; Hughes; Clyde Jones, Director of Engineering, Hughes Tool Company Aeronautical Division; Warren Reed, Assistant; Colonel Carl E. Jackson, Air Research and Development Headquarters; Gale. J. Moore, Pilot; Chal Bowen?, Flight Engineer/Co-Pilot; unidentified pilot. source

    Scroll down for video

    The prototype was finished in 1949, ahead of schedule and one of the reasons being that it was made from parts poached from WWII warbirds.  The XH-17 was a heavy-lift rotorcraft that was designed to lift loads in excess of 15 metric tons.
    To speed construction, parts of the XH-17 were scavenged from other aircraft. The front wheels came from a B-25 Mitchell and the rear wheels from a C-54 Skymaster. The fuel tank was a bomb bay-mounted unit from a B-29 Superfortress. The cockpit was from a Waco CG-15and the tail rotor from a Sikorsky H-19 was used for yaw control.
    In the late 1940s, Hughes developed an interest in helicopters. In August 1947, helicopter manufacturer Kellett sold his design for the giant XH-17 Sky Crane to Hughes, who commissioned the development of the XH-17 Flying Crane research vehicle. In 1948, the XH-17 began to take shape. The giant helicopter was tested in Culver City, California over a three-year period beginning in 1952. The XH-17 flew in 1953 at a gross weight in excess of 50,000 pounds (23,000 kg). It still holds the record for flying with the world’s largest rotor system. Only one unit was built, since the aircraft was too cumbersome and inefficient to warrant further development.


    Engines: two GE J35 turbojets Weight fully loaded: 52,000 lb Cruising speed: 60 mph Range: 40 miles Number of seats: 2. source
    Engines: two GE J35 turbojets
    Weight fully loaded: 52,000 lb
    Cruising speed: 60 mph
    Range: 40 miles
    Number of seats: 2. source
    The propulsion system was unusual. Two General Electric J35 turbojet engines were used, sending bleed air up through the rotor hub. The blades were hollow, and the hot compressed air traveled through the blades to tip jets where fuel was injected. In flight, the rotors spun at a sedate 88 rpm. Since the rotor was driven at the tips rather than the hub, little torque compensation was required.

    The XH-17 employed an unusual gas-turbine and rotor-tip combustion combination to provide power to spin the gigantic rotors. sourceThe XH-17 employed an unusual gas-turbine and rotor-tip combustion combination to provide power to spin the gigantic rotors.

    Thus, the XH-17 had a very small tail rotor compared to its main rotor. This drive system was inefficient, limiting the test aircraft to a range of only 40 miles. Finally, having received the Air Force serial 50-1842, the XH-17 was first flown by Gale Moore at Culver City on 23 October, 1952. That flight, however, had to be cut short after the XH-17 had been airborne for barely a minute as directional control forces were excessive. While correction of this deficiency could be made quickly, difficulties uncovered later in the trials required more time. In particular, high vibratory stresses in the main rotor blades were difficult to correct and the XH-17 was repeatedly grounded while modifications were incorporated. The off and on test programme ended when the rotor blades reached their design life in December 1955 writes aviastar.org


    Hughes experimental helicopters XH-17 at the front XH-28 mock up at the rear. source
    Hughes experimental helicopters XH-17 at the front XH-28 mock up at the rear. source
    By the end of the test program the XH-17 had proved its concept, that it could fly, and that it could carry a considerable payload – exceeding the original requirement. However it fell short, well short, of the Air Force’s range requirement. Mainly due to its appalling fuel consumption, and there was little which could be done to improve it.
    In the end it became a bit of an engineering cul-de-sac. One derivative, the XH-28, an even larger version, was proposed. But it never got further than a wooden mock-up. The sole XH-17 prototype was eventually scrapped, and sadly nothing remains of this unusual giant except for photos and some video footage.


    Ground tests began towards the very end of 1949, and immediately the sheer size and complexity of the rotors, and their unusual powersource began to throw up some issues for the engineers. However the project continued to develop at a satisfactory pace. source
    Ground tests began towards the very end of 1949, and immediately the sheer size and complexity of the rotors, and their unusual powersource began to throw up some issues for the engineers. However the project continued to develop at a satisfactory pace. source



    The giant rotors promised a huge lifting capacity, so they were attached to stilt-like legs and a box-like fuselage. source
    The giant rotors promised a huge lifting capacity, so they were attached to stilt-like legs and a box-like fuselage. source



    Entry to the cockpit required a pair of tall ladders attached to the forward landing gear legs. source
    Entry to the cockpit required a pair of tall ladders attached to the forward landing gear legs. source