Posts Tagged With: swords

Spanish treasure of COCOS ISLAND…..

While Simon Bolivar marched through Peru in 1823, a group of Spaniards in Lima seized the state treasure to keep it out of the hands of Bolivar.

The treasure, now estimated to be valued at more than $20 million, consisted of 200 chests of jewels, 250 swords with jeweled hilts, 150 silver chalices, 300 bars of gold and 600 bars of silver, just to describe some of the trinkets taken.

To get their treasure out of South America, it was put on board the Mary Dier which was under the command of a Scotsman called William Thompson.

The governor of Lima and a bishop, along with some other Spaniards traveled with the treasure so that the wrong hands wouldn’t get hold of it. They were no match for Thompson and his crew and were killed outright. Thompson then ordered his crew to sail his vessel to the island of Cocos which is on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. There, the treasure was stashed in a cave. Soon after leaving the island, they were captured by a Spanish frigate and Thompson and a member of his crew was returned to Cocos on the promise that their lives would be spared if they disclosed the whereabouts of the treasure. Once on the island, Thompson and his crew member escaped. The Spanish left the island empty handed and Thompson was rescued when a whaler showed up to get a supply of fresh water. He claimed that the crewman died. Thompson never returned to the island but he later gave his friend John Keating a chart which specifically stated where the treasure could be found.

Keating went to the island and rediscovered the treasure but the crew of the vessel he was sailing on mutinied and Keating and a friend narrowly escaped to the island with their lives. Keating was rescued (without his friend who, not unlike Thompson’s friend, also died) and Keating, like Thompson, never returned to the island. He did however entrust his secret to a friend.

In 1872, Thomas Welsh and his wife, the owners of the South Pacific Treasure Island Prospecting Company and several of their followers dug a tunnel 85 meters into the mountain on Cocos Island but netted nothing for their efforts.

A German named August Gisler, using a treasure map which supposedly belonged to a pirate called Benito Bonito, searched the island from 1899 to 1909. He found no treasure but he did find clues, such as stone with the letter K (for Keating) carved in it and a cable attached to a hook.

Since then, there have been several expeditions to the island, and even Sir Malcolm Campbell, (the famous race driver) Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Count Felix von Luckner tried their hands at searching for the treasure.

In 1932, Colonel J.E. Leckie using the services of a metal detector did uncover some of the gold, however, to this day; the bulk of the treasure still remains on the island. Cocos Island is situated 643 kilometers west of Costa Rica and can be reached only by a chartered boat.

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USA: Ruins of Viking Settlement Discovered near Hudson River

Stony Point, NY| A team of lanscaping workers, proceeding to an excavation near the banks of the Hudson river, has discovered the archeological remains of a Norse village dating from the 9th or 10th Century AD.

The workers were digging with a mechanical shovel near the shores of Minisceongo creek, when they stumbled upon the ruins of an ancient building. A team of archaeologists linked to Columbia University, was called to the site to inspect the findings, and they rapidly identified the site as a possible Viking settlement. They proceeded to extend the excavation, and have finally discovered the remains of six buildings.

The various structures are believed to have been constructed of sod, placed over a wooden frame. Based on the associated artifacts, the buildings were variously identified as four dwellings and two workshops. The largest dwelling measured 88 by 42 feet (26.8 by 12.8 meters) and consisted of several rooms, while two of the dwellings were much smaller and were identified as living quarters for lower-status crew or slaves. The two workshops for their part, were identified as an iron smithy, containing a large forge, and a carpentry workshop.

It is unclear how many men and women lived at the site at any given time, but the archaeological evidence suggests it had the capacity of supporting between 30 to 100 individuals, and that the site was inhabited by the Norse for a relatively short period of time.


During their search of the site, the archaeologists have discovered nine skeletons, who were identified as four adult males, two adult females and three children. Only one of the male warriors had been given a proper burial, being placed in a tomb with his weapon and belongings. The other skeletons showed traces of violent injuries and seemed to have been simply left on the site of their death by the killers.

Many clues discovered on the site suggest that the Vikings could have come into conflict with the indigenous people of the region. Besides the skeletons that were found, who were most likely killed in combat, the numerous remains of native American weapons found on the site suggest the colony suffered a large-scale attack by indigenous warriors.

Several artifacts were also found on the site, suggesting the inhabitants of the site who survived the attack, must have left hastily. These include a dozen of pieces of jewelry, like brooches, pins and arm-rings, mostly made of silver and walrus ivory. The archaeologists also unearthed iron pots, potteries, oil lamps, tools, a whetstone, coins, as well as a few broken weapons and pieces of armor.


The Vikings were Germanic Norse seafarers, speaking the Old Norse language, who raided and traded from their Scandinavian homelands across wide areas of northern and central Europe, as well as European Russia, during the late 8th to late 11th centuries.

Using their advanced seafaring skills and their famous longships, they created colonies and trading posts throughout the North Atlantic islands, navigating as far as the north-eastern coast of North America. Another short-lived Viking settlement was already discovered in 1960, in present-day L’Anse aux Meadows, located in the province Newfoundland and Labrador, in Canada. The remains of butternuts found on that site, had indeed suggested that other settlements further south, because these nuts do not grow naturally north of New Brunswick.

The scientists believe that the settlement could indeed be the legendary Norse colony known as “Vinland”, mentioned in the Icelandic Sagas. Based on the idea that the name meant “wine-land”, historians had long speculated that the region contained wild grapes. Wild grapes were, indeed, still growing in many areas of the Hudson Valley when the first European settlers arrived in the region, so the archaeologists believe that this could really be the colony described in the mythological saga.

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Historic Indian sword was masterfully crafted…….



The master craftsmanship behind Indian swords was highlighted when scientists and conservationists from Italy and the UK joined forces to study a curved single-edged sword called a shamsheer. The study, led by Eliza Barzagli of the Institute for Complex Systems and the University of Florence in Italy, is published in Springer’s journalApplied Physics A – Materials Science & Processing.

The 75-centimeter-long sword from the Wallace Collection in London was made in India in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. The design is of Persian origin, from where it spread across Asia and eventually gave rise to a family of similar weapons called scimitars being forged in various Southeast Asian countries.

Two different approaches were used to examine the shamsheer: the classical one (metallography) and a non-destructive technique (neutron diffraction). This allowed the researchers to test the differences and complementarities of the two techniques.

The sword in question first underwent metallographic tests at the laboratories of the Wallace Collection to ascertain its composition. Samples to be viewed under the microscope were collected from already damaged sections of the weapon. The sword was then sent to the ISIS pulsed spallation neutron source at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK. Two non-invasive neutron diffraction techniques not damaging to artefacts were used to further shed light on the processes and materials behind its forging.

“Ancient objects are scarce, and the most interesting ones are usually in an excellent state of conservation. Because it is unthinkable to apply techniques with a destructive approach, neutron diffraction techniques provide an ideal solution to characterize archaeological specimens made from metal when we cannot or do not want to sample the object,” said Barzagli, explaining why different methods were used.

It was established that the steel used is quite pure. Its high carbon content of at least one percent shows it is made of wootz steel. This type of crucible steel was historically used in India and Central Asia to make high-quality swords and other prestige objects. Its band-like pattern is caused when a mixture of iron and carbon crystalizes into cementite. This forms when craftsmen allow cast pieces of metal (called ingots) to cool down very slowly, before being forged carefully at low temperatures. Barzagli’s team reckons that the craftsman of this particular sword allowed the blade to cool in the air, rather than plunging it into a liquid of some sort. Results explaining the item’s composition also lead the researchers to presume that the particular sword was probably used in battle.

Craftsmen often enhanced the characteristic “watered silk” pattern of wootz steel by doing micro-etching on the surface. Barzagli explains that through overcleaning some of these original ‘watered’ surfaces have since been obscured, or removed entirely. “A non-destructive method able to identify which of the shiny surface blades are actually of wootz steel is very welcome from a conservative point of view,” she added.

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The Detecting Lifestyle Radio Show

Metal Detecting, gold prospecting, bottle hunting, relics, tokens and more. The Radio Show that is about the everyday person enjoying the hobby..We want YOU to join in with us.

Our first Broadcast will be on 3 Jan 13, all details can be found at the following:

Listen in and join the show that is about YOU..the everyday hobbyist that enjoys the outdoors.
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Mass killings have a long history…….not a new event

He came along with a shotgun on his shoulder while a group of children were playing in front of the school. Without warning or provocation, he raised the gun to his shoulder, took deliberate aim, and fired into the crowd of boys.

Although it sounds sadly modern, the account was published in the New York Times more than a century ago.

Dated April 10, 1891, the article described an elderly man firing a shotgun at children playing in front of St. Mary’s Parochial School in Newburgh, NY.

“None of the children were killed, but several were well filled with lead,” the report said.

More than a century earlier, on July 26, 1764, a teacher and 10 students were shot dead by four Lenape American Indians in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, in what is considered the earliest known U.S. mass school shooting.

Indeed, killing or trying to kill a mass of people is not a modern phenomenon. For as long as there has been history, there have been gruesome mass murders.

“The terms amok, a Malayan word, and berserk, a Norse word, have been used to describe individuals going on killing sprees. Both terms have been around for centuries, which reflects the fact that mass murder is neither a modern nor a uniquely American phenomenon,” Grant Duwe,director of research at the Minnesota Department of Corrections, told Discovery News.
Defined as bloody events that occur within a 24-hour period and that involve a minimum of four victims, mass murders have occurred all over the world, in different times, societies and cultures.

Some of the earliest recorded cases include the 1893 killing with guns and swords of 11 people (including an infant) in Osaka, Japan, the 1914 shooting of 7 people in the Italian village of Camerata Cornello, not to mention the case of German spree killer Ernst August Wagner.
In 1913, he stabbed to death his wife and four children in Degerloch, near Stuttgart, then drove to Mühlhausen an der Enz where he opened fire on 20 people, killing at least nine, leaving two animals dead and several buildings burned to the ground.

In 1927, South African farmer Stephanus Swart shot dead at least 8 people and injured 3 others in Charlestown, South Africa, before committing suicide.

In 1938 almost half of the population of the rural village of Kaio, near Tsuyama city in Japan, was murdered as 21-year-old Mutsuo Toi killed 30 people with a shotgun, sword and axe, injured three others and then shot himself to death.

Between 1954 and 1957, William Unek murdered a total of 57 people in two separate spree killings in the Belgian Congo.

He first killed 21 people with an axe, then shot dead ten men, eight women and eight children, slaughtered six more men with the axe, burned two women and a child, and strangled a 15-year-old girl.
More recently in the bloody timeline of shooting sprees, some of the most dramatic incidents include the 1987 Hungerford massacre in England, where gun enthusiast Michael Ryan shot 16 people dead and wounded another 15 before committing suicide, the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Australia, where 28 year old Martin Bryant killed 35 people and wounded 21 before being caught by police, and the 1996 school shooting in the Scottish town of Dunblane.

There, failed shopkeeper Thomas Hamilton opened fire at a primary school, killing 16 children and a teacher before turning his gun on his mouth.

“I could have been one of those children,” tennis player Andy Murray wrote in his autobiography, “Hitting Back.”

Britain’s highest ranked player, Murray was eight when Hamilton burst into the school and began shooting. He and his 10-year-old brother Jamie escaped the fire by hiding under a desk.

In the United States, two mass murder waves characterized the 20th century. One appeared in the 1920s and 30s and another in the mid-1960s, following a tranquil period in the 1940s and 50s.

The two waves, however, were qualitatively different, according to Duwe.

The author of “Mass Murder in the United States: A History,” Duwe researched 909 cases of mass killing that occurred in the United States between 1900 and 1999.

“The first mass murder wave in the 1920s and 30s was comprised mainly of familicides and felony-related massacres, which, then as now, are less likely to garner extensive media coverage,” Duwe said.

On the contrary, the second mass murder wave from the mid-1960s through the mid-1990s consisted of a greater number of mass public shootings, similar to the recent Aurora movie theater shooting and Newtown school shooting.

These incidents “have always captured a great deal of interest and concern,” Duwe said.

Marked by the 1966 Texas Tower shootings where student Charles Whitman climbed a 27-story tower on the University of Texas campus shooting dead 14 people and wounding 31 others, the mid-1960s do not actually represent the beginning of an unprecedented mass murder wave in the United States.

“Since 1900, the highest mass murder rate was in 1929. Mass public shootings are one of several types of mass murder and generally account for roughly 10-15 percent of all mass killings in the U.S.,” Duwe said.

According to the criminologists, the 1990s had the highest number of mass public shootings with a little more than 40 — an average of a little more than 4 each year.

The number of mass public shootings dropped below 30 in the years between 2000 and 2009.

“This year, however, the U.S. has had at least seven mass public shootings, which is the highest number since 1999,” Duwe said.

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Chinese terra cotta warriors had real, and very carefully made, weapons…….

The 7,000 soldiers buried with Qin Shi Huang in 210 B.C. were made of clay. But the bronze weapons the terra cotta army carried into the enormous tomb complex near Xi’an in western China were the real things: tens of thousands of swords, axes, spears, lances and crossbows, all as capable of spilling blood as anything Qin’s real army wielded when they triumphed, ending centuries of war and uniting China under a single rule for the first time.

What has been a puzzle for scientists is how so many weapons could have been made so skillfully, so uniformly and so quickly. (Qin reigned for only 11 years; construction of his mausoleum complex is thought to have started long before his death.) They now have a likely answer. A new study of 40,000 bronze arrowheads suggests they were produced in self-sufficient, autonomous workshops that produced finished items rather than parts that fed into an assembly line of sorts.
Which suggests that something akin to the just-in-time production methods used in industry today may have had a trial run more than two millenniums ago.

“Our initial assumption was that all of these items were mass-produced in large production chains, with the various parts produced in specialized units before they were assembled together. That’s how most cars are made — Fordism, or flow-line production,” said University College London archaeologist Marcos Martinon-Torres. He is lead author of the new study, published last month in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. “However, our data strongly suggest that production was arranged in much smaller units, several working in parallel, each of them sufficiently autonomous and versatile to produce finished items,” or what is sometimes called cellular production, lean production or Toyotism.
While archaeologists who have studied the terra cotta army have long thought that a form of mass production must have been in operation, this is the first time that this assumption has been backed up with such precise data.

The scientists came to their conclusion through metallurgical analysis of the weapons and a statistical analysis of where they were found.

First, they studied some of the 37,348 arrowheads found in 680 locations, using a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, a hand-held tool that determines an object’s precise chemical content.
Although the polished arrowheads seem identical to the human eye, X-ray fluorescence revealed that discrete batches of the copper-tin alloys bore unique chemical signatures. Each batch bore its own mix of copper, tin and lead. Different batches were found throughout the site, suggesting that multiple workshops were operating at the same time.

Then the researchers positioned each artifact and warrior on a digital map based on the detailed records created in the 1970s and 1980s by the Chinese archaeologists who first excavated the site.

An illuminating picture emerged. Each quiver seems to have been produced and assembled by a single workshop. The arrowheads were probably made in batches, tied with linen to bamboo shafts, finished with feathers, bundled into 100-arrow quivers of leather and hemp and placed with terra cotta archers armed with crossbows. (The bows’ organic material hasn’t survived the centuries, but 220 bronze crossbow triggers were found.)
A surprising find

The archaeologists had expected that the quivers’ components would have been produced at a variety of locations and then assembled later. But if that were the case, the arrowheads found together shouldn’t bear the same chemical signature. They should be all mixed up, but they are not.
Finding evidence that the weapons weren’t made in an assembly-line fashion “was a bit of a surprise for us,” Martinon-Torres said. “It was only when we saw this in the terra cotta army that we started to look for modern parallels and found Toyotism.”

“What they did is very sophisticated and convincing,” says Toyotism expert Jeffrey Liker, referring to the researchers. Liker is a professor of industrial and operational engineering at the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan and has written five books on Toyotism.
However, Liker said, the distinction between Fordism and Toyotism in Qin’s weapons workshops was less notable than the fact that characteristics we associate with modern mass production — standardization, quality control, flow — were present at all.

Archaeologists believe that the tomb-outfitting teams were composed of artisanal groups, each of which worked under a master craftsman, with a foreman overseeing quality control. They have identified the seals or signatures of at least 87 foremen on warriors’ backs, indicating a form of personal accountability for the quality of each statue.
No room for error

The statues seem to have been placed in the pit fully outfitted with weaponry because they were so tightly packed in the tomb that there was no room to maneuver around them. This means that the weaponmakers had to coordinate with statue workshops or the flow of work would have stalled, said Martinon-Torres.

Any production problems would probably have been bad news for workers, said Robert Murowchick, director of the International Center for East Asian Archaeology and Cultural History at Boston University. Qin leaders identified who was responsible for each step so that problems in quality or consistency could be tracked to their source “and no doubt punished harshly, as the Qin culture was big on the carrot-and-stick model of management,” he said.
However advanced the Qin manufacturing system was, other modern ideas — such as, say, don’t kill your employees — were absent.

The main historical record that archaeologists rely on for clues to the tomb’s construction is a 1st-century B.C. account by Sima Qian, who wrote that 700,000 people labored to build Qin’s mausoleum complex. Slaves, indentured servants, prisoners of war, foremen, masters, artisans — all were conscripted into a strict hierarchical system with brutal work conditions. Skeletons in iron shackles unearthed at the site back up this account.

Even if the weapons’ makers had high status, it’s likely that some suffered a similar fate. “You don’t want people to have the skills to make these very powerful Qin weapons and then have them disappear and go work for your neighboring state,” said Murowchick.

Murowchick said the weapons production system for the tomb probably mirrored how the real Qin army sourced its weapons and was probably a factor in its battlefield success. “The Qin had a fantastically powerful military by ensuring a standardization of weaponry and also the ability to quickly replace and repair broken pieces on the battlefield,” said Murowchick. “It makes perfect sense to have a cellular production model. If you’re 200 miles from home and need more crossbow locks or triggers or arrowheads, you have teams that can produce things.”

However efficient the Qin manufacturing machine was, Martinon-Torres doesn’t romanticize the megalomania that drove it.
“This was a society ruled by a ruthless autocrat. The mausoleum is a celebration of that super-ostentatious, centralized personality through the sheer investment of manpower and resources,” he said. “We can look at the mausoleum and say, ‘Wow, look how powerful that emperor was.’ But we can also try to reconstruct the hundreds of thousands of anonymous laborers who made it possible. In that sense, we are hopefully giving them a little bit of credit for what they’re worth.”

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UK….Are bodies of 10,000 lost warriors from Battle of Hastings buried in this field?

Historian believes the 10,000 victims of the Battle of Hastings may be buried in a field one mile north west of the official site at Battle.
The site of where the Battle of Hastings has been commemorated for the last 1,000 years is in the wrong place, it has been claimed.
Ever since the 1066 battle that led to the Norman Conquest, history has recorded the event as happening at what is now Battle Abbey in the East Sussex town.
But although some 10,000 men are believed to have been killed in the historic conflict, no human remains or artefects from the battle have ever been found at the location.
This has given rise to several historians to examine alternative sites for the battle that was a decisive victory for William the Conqueror and saw the death of King Harold.
Now historian and author John Grehan believes he has finally found the actual location – on a steep hill one mile north west of Battle.
It is documented that Harold assembled his English army on Caldbec Hill before advancing on Senlac Hill (Battle Hill) a mile away to meet the invading Normans.
But Mr Grehan believes his research shows Harold never left his defensive hilltop position and the Normans took the battle to the English.
He has studied contemporaneous documents in the national archives and built up a dossier of circumstantial evidence that, when put together, make a more than convincing argument in his favour.
Witness accounts from 1066 state the battle was fought on steep and unploughed terrain, consistent with Caldbec Hill. Senlac Hill was cultivated and had gentle slopes.
The Normans erected a cairn of stones on the battle site to commemorate their victory, known as a Mount-joie in French. The summit of Caldbec Hill is still today called Mountjoy.
One English source from the time, John of Worcester, stated the battle was fought nine miles from Hastings, the same distance as Caldbec Hill. Senlac Hill is eight miles away.
Harold is supposed to have abandoned his high position to meet William on lower ground, a tactical move that makes no sense at all as he would have been moving away from his reinforcements.
Furthermore, Mr Grehan believes he has identified the site of a mass grave where the fallen soldiers were buried after the battle at a ditch at the foot of Caldbec Hill.
He is now calling for an archaeological dig to take place there straight away.
If he is proven right, the history books published over the last millennium may have to be re-written.
Mr Grehan, a 61-year-old historian from Shoreham, West Sussex, has made his arguments in a new book about to be published called ‘The Battle of Hastings – The Uncomfortable Truth’.
He said: “I assumed everything was known about the Battle of Hastings but I found that almost nothing is known by way of fact.
“The evidence pointing towards Caldbec Hill as the scene of the battle is, at present, circumstantial, but it is still more than exists for the current Battle Abbey site.
“Excavations have been carried out at Battle Abbey and remnants pre-dating the battle were found but nothing relating to the conquest.
“The Battle of Lewis took place 200 years later 20 miles down the road and they dig up bodies by the cart load there.
“Some 10,000 men died at the Battle of Hastings; there has to be a mass grave somewhere.
“You would have also expected to find considerable pieces of battle material like shields, helmets, swords, axes, bits of armour.
“Having carried out the research, there are 11 main points which suggest the battle was fought in the wrong place.
“Harold is supposed to have abandoned his assembly point on Caldbec Hill to take up a position on the lower ridge of Battle Hill even though many of his men had still not arrived.
“This means that even though he could see the Normans approaching he moved further away from his incoming reinforcements. This makes no sense at all.
“The primary sources state Harold was taken by surprise.
“This means he could not have been advancing to meet the Normans as his troops would have been in some kind of formation.
“The only possible interpretation of this can be that Harold was not expecting to fight at that time and was taken unawares at the concentration point with his army unformed.
“This must mean that the battle was fought at the English army’s assembly point.”
Mr Grehan said he believes the human remains from the battle were hastily rolled down the hill and buried in an open ditch by the victorious Normans.
He said: “Two days after the battle the Normans moved on towards Winchester. They had two days to get rid of the thousands of bodies. You can’t dig that many graves in such a short space of time.
“At the bottom of Caldbec Hill is Malfose ditch, I believe the bodies were rolled down the hill and dumped in this ditch which was filled in.
“A proper archaeological dig of that ditch now needs to happen.
“Whatever the outcome, it doesn’t make a difference which hill the battle was fought on.
“But history books may need to be re-written if I am proved right.”
Roy Porter, the regional curator for English Heritage which owns Battle Abbey, said they were obliged to look into alternative theories for the battle site.
But he said the spot the abbey is built on was not the most obvious at the time as it required major work to dig into the hill.
He said: “Archaeological evidence shows that the abbey’s impractical location required extensive alterations to the hill on which it sits.
“Any suggestion that the battle occurred elsewhere needs to explain why this difficult location for the abbey was chosen instead.
“The tradition that the abbey was founded on the site of the Battle of Hastings is based on a number of historical sources, including William of Malmesbury and is documented before 1120.
“It would be premature to comment on Mr Grehan’s thesis until the book is published.
“The interpretation of our sites is subject to periodic revision and this process involves our historians reassessing the available evidence and considering new theories.
“Battle Abbey will be the subject of this work in due course but at the present time there is little reason to discount the scholarly consensus regarding the site.”

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