Posts Tagged With: execution

Shackled remains at ancient Greek site tell tale of intrigue….

By Deborah Kyvrikosaios


ATHENS (Reuters) – At least 80 skeletons lie in a mass grave in an ancient Greek cemetery, their wrists clamped by iron shackles.

They are the victims, say archaeologists, of a mass execution. But who they were, how they got there and why they appear to have been buried with a measure of respect – that all remains a mystery.

They were found earlier this year in part of the Falyron Delta necropolis – a large ancient cemetery unearthed during the construction of a national opera house and library between downtown Athens and the port of Piraeus.

Few people have been able to get in to have a close look.

But on a rare tour of the site, archaeologists carefully showed Reuters the skeletons, some lying in a long neat row in the dug-out sandy ground, others piled on top of each other, arms and legs twisted with their jaws hanging open.

“They have been executed, all in the same manner. But they have been buried with respect,” Dr. Stella Chryssoulaki, head of excavations, said.

“They are all tied at the hands with handcuffs and most of them are very very young and in a very good state of health when they were executed.”

The experts hope DNA testing and research by anthropologists will uncover exactly how the rows of people died. Whatever happened was violent – most had their arms bound above their heads, the wrists tied together.

But the orderly way they have been buried suggest these were more than slaves or common criminals.


The cemetery dates from between the 8th and 5th century BC.

“It is a period of great unrest for Athenian society, a period where aristocrats, nobles, are battling with each other for power,” said Chryssoulaki.

One of the strongest theories is that they were supporters of Cylon, an Athenian noble and Olympic champion who staged an attempted coup in Athens in 632 BC with the help of his father-in–law, the tyrant of Megara.

The coup failed and Cylon hid in a temple of the Acropolis. He managed to escape, but the people who backed him were killed.

“Perhaps with the DNA tests that we will do on these skeletons we may confirm or not this hypothesis that these deceased, these young people could be … part of a coup … an attempt by a noble to take power by force,” said Chryssoulaki.

More than 1,500 bodies lie in the whole cemetery, some infants laid to rest in ceramic pots, other adults burned on funeral pyres or buried in stone coffins. One casket is made from a wooden boat.

Unlike Athens’ renowned ancient Kerameikos cemetery, the last resting place of many prominent ancient Greeks, these appear to be the inhabitants of regular neighborhoods.

The dig is within a 170,000 sq m landscaped park, shadowed by the vast new modern library and opera house buildings being built by the Stavros Niarchos philanthropic foundation.

High-rise apartments dot the skyline to the north while a noisy motorway snakes by the site’s east side.

Chryssoulaki wants to see a museum built on the spot, as a monument to the daily lives of Athenians from another era.

“A cemetery is a first and last photograph in antiquity of those people that pass from life to death,” she said.

Categories: Ancient Treasure, artifacts, Legends, Myths, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia Is Set to Crucify Pro-democracy Teenage Protester…..


Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, a 17 year old Saudi Arabian, was arrested in February 2012, and is slated to be executed by crucifixion at the hands of the Saudi Arabian government, who disregarded any form of due process whatsoever to prosecute al-Nimr under the charge of “encouraging pro-democracy protests using a Blackberry.”

For this alleged crime, al-Nimr will be taken to a public square and have his head chopped off as onlookers watch, leaving his corpse hung there for people to see as a warning. Al-Nimr was tortured into giving a false confession, never had a lawyer, had his appeal done in secret without his knowledge. A criminal justice system as medieval and gruesome as this should not exist in the world today.

“Saudi Arabia may so far this year have executed at least 134 people, which already represents 44 more than the total for the whole of last year,” United Nations Human Rights Experts wrote in a press release. “Such a surge in executions in the country makes Saudi Arabia a sad exception in a world where States are increasingly moving away from the death penalty.”

To allow this crucifixion to occur is an inexcusable injustice and contradicts International Law as well as the law of the Saudi Arabian government. Saudi Arabia’s recent appointment to the UN’s Human Rights Council is a farce when they perpetuate egregious human rights violations and enact barbaric methods of punishment themselves.

The European parliament recently passed a resolution urging Saudi Arabia to stop the execution and issue a moratorium on the death penalty. The Prime Minister of France, Francois Hollande, has also spoken out to Saudi Arabia on behalf of Al-Nimr. The leader of the Labour Party in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn, has called upon the UK Prime Minister David Cameron to put pressure on the Saudis as well. As a global leader, the United States cannot be silent when such stark human rights violations occur at the hands of our presumed allies. The Obama administration

Al-Nimr’s family is extremely worried that his execution can come at any moment. The last time they spoke with him, he reported being kept in solitary confinement. The boy’s fate lies in the hands of 79 year old King Salman, who has already been under intense scrutiny over Saudi Arabian led bombings in Yemen that have killed thousands of civilians, and two tragic incidents in September, a crane collapsing and a stampede, that killed hundreds of people in Mecca.

The alleged reason for Al-Nimr’s arrest and sentence is surmised to be his relation to his uncle, Nimr al-Nimr, a well-known Shiite cleric. His uncle was a leader of protests against the Saudi government, demanding they treat Shiites, a minority in Saudi Arabia, as equals. The uncle was shot in the back of a police car in 2012. As subsequent protests increased, so did the charges filed against the boy.

Saudi Arabia is abusing its power to dissuade any forms of dissent, and has one of the highest execution rates in the World. The country has dismissed criticism as protecting the rights of the killer. The United Nations and global leaders need to put more pressure on Saudi Arabia to curb their human rights violations. Instead, Saudi Arabia was selected as one of the nations to oversee a United Nations panel on human rights. In September, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Geneva was elected chair of the UN Human Rights Council that appoints independent experts to investigate violation claims. The legitimacy of the council is completely undermined by having a leader presiding over it that perpetuates human rights violations within their own borders on a regular basis. The United Nations should be holding the perpetrators of human rights violations accountable, not rewarding them. Calling on Saudi Arabia to release Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr is an opportunity to reverse lax policies that accept such cruel forms of capital punishment to go without any sort of repercussions. The Death Penalty has no place in the 21st century,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in a press release. The words and policies of the United Nations are completely pointless if they refuse to capitalize on the opportunity to call out Saudi Arabia to change their practices.

Categories: Execution, Middle East, Saudi Arabia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

England…King Charles chessboard sells for over £600,000……

Normally, the tale of a chess game ends with the capture of a king.
The story of this unique piece of gaming history, however, starts with the execution of one.
Chess enthusiast King Charles I of England, to be precise, who went to see the executioner in January of 1649 after being found guilty of high treason. When he went to meet his maker, he took with him two treasured possessions: his Bible, and this amber chessboard, which this week sold at a London auction for a record £601,250 — almost $970,000.
Made in Prussia in 1607, the board passed into the hands of the English Royal Family and found its way to Charles I via either his father, James I, or his brother, Henry Frederick. After Charles’ execution it was taken by Bishop William Juxon, who ministered to Charles after his death. It remained in the Juxon family until the 1700s.
Sculpture expert Erik Bijzet of London auction house Sotheby’s described the board as “a tour-de-force of amber working,” in an interview with The Daily Mail.
“We only know of four comparable boards, none of which have seemed to survive in good condition,” he said.
In addition to being a chessboard, the object also unfolds into configurations allowing it to be used to play backgammon, one of the oldest known games in the world, and Nine Men’s Morris, a simple strategy game of Roman origins.
Here’s hoping its new owner, an unnamed private collector, has better luck than Charles

Categories: Lost Treasure, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeking Lost Treasure After 94 Years…..

Rudolf Kavchik showing some old coins that he dug up while treasure-hunting with his Australian-made metal detector. By law, three-fourths of his findings belong to the Russian government.
It’s been nearly 100 years since a jewel case containing family and imperial jewelry crashed through the ice to the bottom of Lake Baikal. The last hands it touched before disappearing into the watery depths were those of a Russian woman who was fleeing the country to save her life.

The year was 1917. The Bolsheviks had seized power, and White Russians were forced to move out of their homes or face execution.

Vadim and Zinaida Smit had no hope of staying in the country. Vadim was railway minister for the east-west Siberian route and a personal friend of Tsar Nicholas II, and Zinaida was the godchild of the queen mother.

With little time to think, they packed up whatever they could and fled St. Petersburg to China, from which they would catch a boat to Europe. They traveled by any means and walked when no transportation was available. They trudged through the Siberian snow and ice, losing their belongings in their haste to get to safety.

Just when they were crossing the frozen Lake Baikal, they heard the crack.

The ice had shattered beneath them, and the case that Zinaida was carrying slipped from her grip and plummeted to the bottom of the lake. It contained jewels that her husband and the imperial family had given to her. The Smits couldn’t afford to stop to search for it. They continued on, paying bribes at border checkpoints until they finally arrived at their destination in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

The story of the jewel case was passed down through generations of the Smit family until it reached Helen Cleary, Vadim and Zinaida Smit’s great-granddaughter. Cleary, who lives in Melbourne, Australia, was in her 40s when she first heard the story from her mother.

Cleary’s grandmother and father, direct descendants of the Smits, have already died, but her 81-year-old mother still hopes to find out what happened to the sunken treasure.

“It would be amazing for it to be found,” Cleary said by telephone. “It’s astonishing that it all happened.”

The family has waited 94 years to solve the mystery of the lost treasure chest. Now some people in Russia could be getting close to the answer.

Giving Treasure Hunters a Hand

Rudolf Kavchik found his first antique coins 15 years ago when he was scouring the beach with a metal detector owned for his work at a biology institute. But once he dug up the coins, Kavchik got hooked on treasure hunting.

Kavchik is now one of the most experienced treasure hunters in the Irkutsk region and a countrywide distributor of Australian metal detectors. Kavchik said there are up to 300 other treasure hunters in the region who are on the lookout for lost valuables. And their searching brings results.

A group of treasure hunters, including Kavchik, conducted a series of dives into Lake Baikal at the beginning of September. The dives produced a handful of old coins and a heavy case, which Kavchik believes was used for carrying weapons. Last year, another group found a female prosthetic hand made out of silver in the lake. The hand was discovered at a 50-meter depth, and treasure hunters are still scratching their heads over how it got there, Kavchik said.

Such large finds are rare, though. It is more common to find coins and other small trinkets.

“People didn’t use to have pockets,” Kavchik said. “They dropped coins, and [the coins] always have value.”

Kavchik said 90 percent of the 300,000 treasure hunters across Russia go searching for valuables as a hobby. Professional hunters also exist but, even as a hobby, treasure hunting can be profitable. A silver ruble dating to the times of Peter the Great or Catherine the Great will fetch upward of $3,000 on the market. A rare test coin recently found near Yekaterinburg was valued at a price equal to that of an apartment in the city.

Irkutsk enthusiasts plan to open the world’s first and only museum of treasure hunting in their city in January to showcase their finds and change the negative perceptions some people have of their pastime.

“Many people have a bad outlook on the hobby,” Kavchik said. “They have little interest in it. That is unfortunate.”

But people are hearing the call, and many of them are heading out on the hunt.

Russia’s Treasure Maps

It doesn’t take a master sleuth to go online and find information to get started as a treasure hunter. There are numerous forums with advice for beginners. Some even provide treasure maps of various Russian regions. The odds of finding treasure are very good, according to the treasure hunters.

“There are more chances of finding treasure than winning a lottery,” Kavchik said. “People lived everywhere, which means they always lost something, hid something.”

The Moscow region is particularly abundant with treasure. Moscow-based hunter Roman Katko has found coins, crosses, icons and jewelry in the region.

“There is always a possibility of finding treasure,” he said.

Treasure hunting has become more popular in Russia recently, Katko said. Each year he sees more people with metal detectors around old village sites when he goes on his own weekend explorations. Sometimes he even stumbles on places that have already been searched. But even in these places he can always find something, Katko said.

The key is to know where to look.

Katko uses archived maps to find where old villages were located. Kavchik studies the history and legends of the region where he is going. One out of 10 legends turns out to be true, he said.

The locals of one village told Kavchik the story of a rich man who had buried treasure beneath an oak tree in his garden. Kavchik and his fellow treasure hunters went to the spot with their metal detectors and quickly retrieved an old chest filled with paper money and coins. Kavchik said he was amazed that everybody in the village knew the legend, yet nobody bothered to see for themselves whether it was true.

“What stops the Russians from taking out a shovel and digging up treasure?” he said.

Lost History

But not everybody wants Russians to take out their shovels and go on treasure hunts. Archeologists warn that treasure hunters devalue artifacts when they take them out of their cultural context. The archeologists are then not able to piece together the story of the object.

“There is somebody’s life behind every treasure,” said Alexei Alexeyev, senior associate at the archeology department at the Pushkin Historical-Literary Museum in Bolshiye Vyazyomy, outside Moscow. “For us it is a historical reference.”

Another risk is that artifacts will be lost if they end up in the hands of people who don’t realize their full value, Alexeyev said. Experienced treasure hunters agree that this lack of knowledge is a problem.

An elderly woman once approached Kavchik to show him a gold coin that she had found. The coin was cut in half because she molded a part of it into a tooth. Kavchik determined that the coin was from the times of Catherine the Great and would have brought the woman $20,000 if it had been undamaged.

“For this amount of money she could have put in three layers of teeth,” Kavchik said.

Archeologists are so overwhelmed in number by treasure hunters that it makes monitoring such cases difficult. There are 20 archeologists working on digs in the Moscow region, Alexeyev said. In comparison, the region has an estimated 20,000 treasure hunters.

By law, people who find treasure are required to give three-quarters of it to the government. In reality, the rules are rarely enforced. Kavchik said the government doesn’t have the structures to take in treasure, so treasure hunters simply don’t declare their findings.

“We are losing our history,” Alexeyev said. “In five to 10 years if this continues we will lose all artifacts in the Moscow region, and future archeologists will be left with a desert of looted archeological sites.”

So far no one has announced that they have found a chest with jewels in Lake Baikal. Kavchik said the Smits’ treasure would be hard to find since the lake is very deep. Divers can go down 50 to 60 meters, and 100 meters if they have special equipment, but the chest could be even further down.

In Australia, Helen Cleary wears the wedding ring she inherited from her grandmother. The ring bears the inscription “1917” — the year of her grandmother’s wedding and the year when the jewels fell into the lake. Clearly said she is not giving up hope that her family’s heirloom will be found.

“It sort of like a fairy tale. It just doesn’t happen to normal people,” she said. “To be a part of it, it’s just amazing.”

Categories: Lost Treasure, Strange News, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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