10 Incredible Pets That Returned Home After Years Of Being Lost

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10 Incredible Pets That Returned Home After Years Of Being Lost



Anyone who has had their pet go missing knows the heart-wrenching fear and sadness that is mixed with the small hope that their pet will reappear someday. In these 10 stories, the owners got their wishes. They were able to reunite with their lost pets several years after the animals went missing.

Featured image credit: nydailynews.com


10Nigel The Parrot


Photo credit: The Guardian

A British man named Darren Chick was living in California with his parrot, Nigel. The bird was learning to talk and even adopted Darren’s British accentwhen it spoke. In 2010, Nigel managed to fly away, and Darren never found him.

Four years later, someone else found Nigel and brought him to a veterinarian. They scanned his microchip and returned him to Darren, but the parrot no longer spoke with a British accent. Somehow, in his four years away, Nigel had learned to speak Spanish.

It turns out that Nigel had been living with the Smith family during all that time. They had purchased him for $400 at a yard sale shortly after he went missing from Darren’s home.

Ruben Hernandez, the 86-year-old grandfather of the Smith family, had formed a special bond with Nigel and renamed the bird Morgan. Ruben had lost his wife, so he dealt with the loneliness by speaking with Morgan instead.

When the parrot flew away from the Smiths’ home, Nigel’s miraculous return to Darren after four years was all over the news. Liza Smith, Ruben’s granddaughter, contacted Darren to explain where the bird had been all that time. Touched by the story, Darren brought Nigel, now officially renamed Morgan, back to the Smith family.

9Woosie The Cat


Photo credit: plymouthherald.co.uk

Helen and Phillip Johns from Cornwall, England, were devastated when they could not find their seven-year-old cat, Woosie, in 2011. After enough time went by, they decided it was best to accept that he was never coming back.

Unknown to the Johns family, little Woosie had wandered a full 50 kilometers (30 mi) away, stopping at the Ginsters pasty factory. Workers thought that Woosie was simply adorable and decided to adopt him as a sort of mascot. They renamed him George and spoiled him with bits of sausage and assorted meats that are normally stuffed inside the miniature pie’s crust.

Three years later, after living in what seems to be a cat’s version of Heaven, the workers of Ginsters finally decided that it was time for George to visit the veterinarian. They had assumed that he was a stray. But when the doctor scanned the cat for a microchip, the doctor discovered Woosie’s true identity and contacted Phillip and Helen. They happily reunited with their now-chubby cat.


8Corky The Dog


Photo credit: ABC News

In 2009, one-year-old Corky, a scruffy little terrier mix, escaped from his kennel in the backyard of his home in Texas. He had been a gift for the young children of the Montez family.

Nearly seven years later in 2016, someone reported seeing two little stray dogs wandering together by the side of a road. Animal control workers picked up the dogs and scanned them for microchips. They were able to contact the Montez family, who reunited with Corky after all those years.

During his time away, Corky had become best friends with a younger, one-eyed dog, which was named Captain by the Montez family. From the dogs’ behavior, it was clear that Corky had looked after Captain like he was a little brother. Corky makes sure that Captain always eats first and protects him by standing guard.

The two dogs most likely survived in the wild by helping one another. With his missing eye, Captain might not have survived without Corky’s help. The Montezes refused to separate these two best friends and welcomed Captain as a new addition to the family.

7Charlie The Cat


Photo credit: intrepid-optimist.com

In Hampshire, England, in 2006, Jo and Ade Haigh began to worry when their indoor-outdoor cat, Charlie, did not return home for dinner. They posted signs and searched for the cat all over town for several months. After giving up on ever finding Charlie again, the couple moved to a different town a few miles away.

In 2012, six years after Charlie’s disappearance, life was very different for Mr. and Mrs. Haigh. They were the new parents of twins. Jo’s mother was looking to buy a new house, so Jo took her mother to look at real estate in the old neighborhood where Charlie had gone missing.

Sure enough, Jo spotted a cat that looked exactly like Charlie walking down the street where Jo used to live. She scooped up the cat in her arms and knocked on the door of the nearest house. The man confirmed that the cat was a stray that he occasionally fed, but no one knew to whom the cat belonged.

After taking the cat to the vet, Charlie was scanned for his microchip and his identity was confirmed. It turns out that Charlie had intended to return home after all. He was just a few years late to dinner. Charlie is now strictly an indoor cat.

6Manuela The Tortoise


Photo credit: The Telegraph

In 1982 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Almeida family could not find their pet tortoise, Manuela. While the house was being renovated, construction workers had left the front door wide open for long periods of time as they carried materials inside the house. Manuela’s owners decided that this must have been how she escaped.

Over 30 years later in 2013, the Almeida children were all grown up. The father, Leonel, had passed away. The children were cleaning out his house and opened a storeroom that their dad normally kept locked.

It was filled with his collection of record players, radios, televisions, and other electronics that he would find on the side of the road and claim that he would fix one day. Leonel contained his hoarding habit to this one storage room, only opening the door long enough to add more junk to the piles.

When the children brought the piles of trash out to the front of the house, they discovered that Manuela, the tortoise, was inside one of the cardboard boxes. They immediately brought her to the vet.

He confirmed that the red-footed tortoise can survive for two to three years without eating. The flooring in the house was infested with termites, so they theorize that Manuela had survived by eating the bugs whenever she got the chance.


5Fuzzy The Cat


Photo credit: wmur.com

In 2010, Michelle Wright of Barrington, New Hampshire, had asked a friend to pet-sit her young cat, Fuzzy. When they began searching for the cat, one of the neighbors told Michelle that a black-and-white cat had been run over and killed nearby. Convinced that the cat must have been Fuzzy, Michelle gave up on the search.

Four years later, Michelle had moved on and gotten new pets. While she was shopping at a local pet store less than 1.6 kilometers (1 mi) from her home, she browsed the section of cats they had for sale. She was shocked to see a cat that was the spitting image of Fuzzy.

As Michelle stared at the cat, she recognized more similarities to Fuzzy. After asking the pet store owner where the cat had come from, he explained that the cat had been picked up on the side of the road. The veterinarian had estimated that the cat was about four years old—the same age that Fuzzy would have been.

Michelle brought in photographs of Fuzzy, including one that showed a unique birthmark on the pad of his paw. After paying the $85 adoption fee, which included all of Fuzzy’s shots and the implantation of a microchip, Michelle was able to bring him home at last.

4Opie The Horse


Photo credit: today.com

In 2002 in San Antonio, Texas, a woman named Michelle Pool was admitted to the hospital to have surgery on her back. Rather than pay the expensive boarding fees for her horse, Opie, she asked her father to watch over her pet while she was recovering.

Her father did not have a stable, so Opie stayed enclosed by a wire fence in his pasture. Someone clipped the metal fence in the middle of the night, led Opie to a horse trailer, and drove away with the stolen horse.

Opie is a Saddlebred Pinto, which is a breed worth anywhere from $1,200 to as much as $15,000. Michelle submitted the case to an organization calledStolen Horse International. Ten long years later, she received a phone call that they had found Opie.

He was allegedly found by a pastor in Dayton, Texas, over 320 kilometers (200 mi) away from where Opie had been captured. According to the pastor’s story, he had seen the horse wandering on the side of the road and just happened to have an empty horse trailer available to bring her home.

Rather than contact the authorities, the pastor tried to sell the horse on Craigslist. A woman was shopping for a horse for her daughter and realized that the horse’s image had popped up on a list of stolen horses. The markings on Opie’s body were so unique that it was clearly the same horse.

The woman reported her suspicions to the authorities. The Dayton sheriff’s department hired a group of contract cowboys to raid the house of the pastor, and they recovered Opie around 2:00 AM the next day. There was not enough evidence to convict the pastor of theft, but Michelle was reunited with her long-lost pet.

3Suika The Cat


Photo credit: BBC

On March 11, 2011, a tsunami hit the Iwate Prefecture in Japan. A black cat named Suika was swept up in the waves and carried away from her home. Owners Takeo and Kazuko Yamagishi had already evacuated to high ground to survive the tsunami. They did not have time to find their indoor-outdoor cat.

When they returned home, Suika was nowhere to be found. The couple searched for her for three months while their town was recovering from the tsunami. They eventually gave up hope of ever finding her.

Three years later, a couple was hiking in a forest not too far from the Yamagishis’ home. The hikers noticed a black cat curled up in the high branches of a tree. After rescuing the cat, they noticed that her collar had a charm with the name and phone number of the owners. After the Yamagishis received a phone call, they were reunited with little Suika.

We will never know what really happened. But with little else to save her from the rushing tides, there is a good chance that these tall trees probably saved the cat’s life during the tsunami. She most likely returned to them because it was where she felt safe.

2Reckless The Dog

In 2012, the devastating Hurricane Sandy destroyed many parts of the East Coast of the United States. Chuck and Elicia James lived in New Jersey during the storm. The fence in their backyard had become damaged. Their terrier-pitbull mix named Reckless was able to escape.

Chuck and Elicia were heartbroken. They searched for Reckless for several months and finally accepted that he must have died in the storm. After a year and a half, the couple was finally ready to move on and adopt a new dog. They visited a local animal shelter . . . only to see that Reckless was there, waiting for them all this time.

The shelter had renamed him Lucas. According to Chuck, Reckless “jumped three feet in the air” when he saw the couple. Reckless had a telltale scar on the top of his head, which was enough for them to confirm that this was the same dog.

1Willow The Cat


Photo credit: today.com

In Boulder, Colorado, a calico cat named Willow escaped from her home in 2006 when contractors left the door open during renovations. For five years, Jamie and Chris Squires assumed that Willow must have been eaten by a coyote or any of the other predators in the Rocky Mountains.

One can only imagine their surprise when they received a phone call that Willow had been found—in New York City. Over 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi) away from her home, the calico cat was found walking the streets of Manhattan. Soon after, a veterinarian scanned her microchip.

The Today Show offered to pay for the Squires family’s flight to New York in exchange for an exclusive on the story. Willow became an overnight cat celebrity. No one knows exactly how Willow managed to find herself in The Big Apple, and her journey remains a mystery.

Michael Bloomberg, the then-mayor of New York City, was quoted saying, “Cats reputedly have nine lives, and he clearly wanted to spend at least one of them in New York City.”

Shannon Quinn is a writer and entrepreneur from the Philadelphia area. You can find her on Twitter.

10 Foreign Fighters Who Helped America Win Its Independence

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10 Foreign Fighters Who Helped America Win Its Independence



The American Revolution was about more than just America. It was a worldwide event. America did not fight alone. They got help from every part of the globe.

And we don’t just mean Marquis de Lafayette and Casimir Pulaski. Countless soldiers from all over the world stood up and fought with America, and without them, the United States never would have won its independence.


10Crispus Attucks
The Slave Who Was The First Casualty Of War


Photo credit: Wikimedia

The first man to fight and die in the War of Independence was born in America, but most of his fellow Americans didn’t think of him as a countryman. His name was Crispus Attucks, and he was a runaway African slave.

Attucks was working as a sailor, even though there was a price on his head. His master wanted him back, and he was willing to pay anyone who would drag him back into slavery. Nobody tried it, and if someone had, the American Revolution might never have happened.

Attucks and his fellow seamen were in a pub when a British soldier walked in. Attucks and his friends didn’t take kindly to the British presence, and they started taunting the soldier. Staring down a hulking 6’3″ man, the soldier got nervous. Seven of his friends, other British soldiers, rushed in to help. In short time, things got out of hand, and the British opened fire.

Attucks fought back. He grabbed a soldier’s bayonet and knocked him over, but the British gunned him down before he could do any more. Four other men in that bar would die before the massacre was over.

History has debated whether Attucks was a hero or just a violent drunk, but it can’t deny his impact. He was the first to die in the Boston Massacre, a moment that would spark the American Revolution.

9Von Steuben
The Prussian Who Trained The American Army


Photo credit: Wikimedia

The Americans who fought for Independence weren’t all seasoned veterans. Before Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben came in from Prussia, they were using bayonets to skewer meat more often than they were using them to skewer their enemies.

Von Steuben crossed the ocean to teach the Americans how to fight. He was the Inspector General of the American Army, in charge of drilling the soldiers and organizing their training, and he barely spoke a word of English. Von Steuben would bark at people in Prussian, his secretary would translate it into French, and then another secretary would translate that into English.

It was complicated, but it worked. He taught the American army how to fight and how to use bayonets, and that made a huge difference in the war.

In 1779, General Wayne used Von Steuben’s lessons to take Stony Brook. He and his men took a fort protected by 750 men without firing a single shot. They won the battle entirely with bayonets. Without filling the night with the sound gunfire, they were able to launch a sneak attack the British didn’t expect. Thanks to Von Steuben, Stony Brook was taken.


8Tadeusz Kosciuszko
The Polish War Hero Who Tried To Free The Slaves


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Tadeusz Kosciuszko was one of the chief engineers for the US Army. He planned the defensive strategy in Saratoga, a moment that turned the war in America’s favor. He built the military fort at West Point, which, today, is the site of the US Military Academy.

The real story for Kosciuszko, though, happened after he died. He became close friends with Thomas Jefferson, and when he died, he trusted the president to carry out his final wishes. Every penny he had, he said, should be used to free and educate African slaves.

Thomas Jefferson was almost 75 years old, so he passed the job on to someone else. That man didn’t want the responsibility of trying to get white people to educate black people, though, and he passed it on, too. Eventually, Col. George Bomford was put in charge of it, and he decided to blow the money on himself instead.

By the time Col. Bomford died, only $5,680 of Kosciuszko’s $43,504 was left. His will made it into the hands of the Supreme Court, and they just threw it out. Despite his wishes, not a single penny was put toward freeing slaves.

7De Galvez
The Spanish Governor Who Secretly Supplied The American Army


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Bernardo de Galvez was the governor of Louisiana, which, at the time, was a Spanish colony. He wasn’t exactly invested in the cause of democracy, but he was deeply involved in the cause of messing with England.

And so, when America went to war with England, he started sending them everything he could. He promised them all the weapons and medicine he could get them, warning them, “It must appear that I am ignorant of it all.”

Spain entered the war in earnest in 1779, and De Galvez didn’t have to hide it anymore. He could fight, and he did. Within a year, he’d chased the British out of Mobile, Alabama. The year after that, he chased them out of Florida.

6Moses Hazen
The Man Who Led A Canadian Regiment For America


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Canada was a British colony during the Revolutionary War. They were, quite directly, America’s enemies, which makes it surprising that some of them fought alongside America. The Americans sent out political tracts and messengers to try to get Canadians to switch sides, and some of them did. A ragtag group of Canadians, most of them French, joined the American army.

The American army had two Canadian Regiments. The first group of turncoats, appropriately enough, was commanded by Benedict Arnold. They tried and failed to take over Quebec and then spent the rest of the war stationed in New York.

The Second Canadian Regiment, commanded by Moses Hazen, was a bit more successful. Hazen was a Canadian himself, and he led his army through some of the most important battles in the war. That included the Siege of Yorktown, the battle that ended the war.

When the war ended, Moses Hazen and the Canadians who fought with him no longer had the option to return home. They had to give up everything they’d known to fight for American Independence and had to live, from then on, in the United States.



5Antonio Barcelo
The Spaniard Who Fought The Biggest Battle Of The War


Photo credit: Wikimedia

We usually think of the American Revolution as a war on American soil, but it was more than that. The Spanish and the French took the fight straight to the English. In fact, the biggest and longest battle of the whole war took place in Europe.

It was on Gibraltar, a tiny, 3-square-mile island that happened to be in an important strategic location. On June 24, 1779, a fleet of French and Spanish ships tried to take it, and they kept trying for more than three years.

Their best attack was the brainchild of Antonio Barcelo. He set up a fleet of small ships loaded with cannons called “floating batteries” and sent them against the British. It didn’t work. The British held them off, but it was the closest they got.

The siege didn’t end until the peace treaty was signed. Antonio Barcelo and his men failed, but even if it was a waste, 3,000 Spanish soldiers gave their life fighting in Gibraltar.

The Dutchman Who Led A Guerrilla Army


Photo credit: Donna White

In its early years, there were a lot of Dutch settlers in the United States. They had their own community, one that seemed separate from the rest of America, and when the Revolutionary War started, that let them do things the Americans couldn’t.

After the British took New Jersey, John Mauritius Goetschius formed a guerrilla militia of Dutch farmers and struck back. They would attack and raid the British under the cover of night, and then, when morning came, pretended to be nothing more than farmers.

They might have been farmers, but they were capable of a lot more than they seemed. That became clear when, in 1781, Washington sent his army to take Fort Lee from the Loyalists. By the time the American troops had made it to their destination, the Loyalists were gone. Goetschius and his Dutch guerrillas had already taken the fort on their own.

The Native Chief Who Fought For The Us


Photo credit: Allison Giles

No one could be more American than the Native Americans, but they weren’t treated that way. They played a role in American Revolution, though, and it’s one that’s often overlooked.

Most, if they picked a side, went with the British. That only makes sense: Part of the reason the Americans wanted independence was so that they could move into native land.

The Oneida tribe, though, refused to believe that the Americans had any intention of hurting them. Their main contact with Europeans had been through a missionary named Rev. Samuel Kirkland, and he had been good to them. And so, when they knew that Kirkland’s people needed their help, they raised up their arms and fought alongside them.

The Oneida tribe worked as guides, harassed British sentries, and even joined some of the battles. They were good at it, too. In the Battle of Oriskany, their War Chief Tewahangarahken single-handedly took out nine British soldiers.

Despite that, they still had to struggle to convince America they were on their side. At one point, they sent them six prisoners from another tribe and a rescued American soldier. The Americans had asked for scalps instead, but they sent along a letter that apologetically explained, “We do not take scalps.” They ended it, “We hope you are now convinced of our friendship toward you and your great cause.”

The French General Who Made The British Surrender


Photo credit: Wikimedia

The decisive battle of the American Revolution came when George Washington led a troop of American soldiers into battle against the British at Yorktown. Washington, though, was not alone. He was joined by an even bigger army of French soldiers and ships, led by Comte de Rochambeau.

The Siege of Yorktown ended in the British surrender. Lord Cornwallis was the leader of the English soldiers there, but he refused to stand in front of his enemy and surrender—instead, he sent his deputy, Brigadier General Charles O’Hara.

O’Hara offered the sword of surrender to Rochambeau, but Rochambeau refused it. This, he believed, was America’s war. He insisted that the English surrender to George Washington instead.

Washington, too, refused the sword. He made O’Hara surrender to his second-in-command, Benjamin Lincoln. Lincoln had been overwhelmed by the British in Charleston and was denied the honors of a proper surrender. Washington wanted to see he got to experience one firsthand.

1Hyder Ali
The Indian Sultan Who Fought The British


Photo credit: Wikimedia

The last battle of the American Revolution wasn’t on American soil. It was in India. In the 18th century, communication was far from instant, and so the men fighting on the other side of the world had no idea it was over.

India had been a battleground for the American Revolution for the last five years of the war. When France declared war on England, the British East India Company started attacking their colonies there. Hyder Ali, the Sultan of Mysore in India, took the side of the French and led the fighting there.

When Hyder Ali died in 1783, the British started making serious advances on French India. They moved their forces to Cuddalore, a city on the Bay of Bengal, and very nearly took it. The French, however, managed to send a fleet in time to fight them off.

That French fleet kept the battle going. An army of French and Mysorean soldiers fought across India, struggling to hold back the British. Then, on June 29, 1783, word finally came in that the war had been over for eight months. The last fighters of the American Revolution put down their arms and went home, a whole world away from the country they had liberated.

10 Hot Spots Where Global Conflict Could Erupt

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10 Hot Spots Where Global Conflict Could Erupt



As we have learned from the previous two World Wars, global conflict can begin in unlikely places. For better or worse, it has become all too clear that our modern global political orientation has made the fate of every nation more linked to the fate of other nations than ever before.

Thus, in order to secure their own power, nations such as the United States, China, and Russia continue to maintain a presence in some key strategic areas, often butting heads with one another. Tensions in these areas, as well as others, are high, and some believe that these could be the places where World War III breaks out.




Photo credit: cfr.org

As most are aware, Syria is currently in the midst of an ugly civil war. The conflict began in 2011 when protests against Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, and his crackdown on civil liberties escalated into a full-blown rebellion.

Russia and Iran have backed the Assad regime while the United States has supported the antigovernment rebel forces. The war has now been raging for more than five years with little headway being made on either side.

It has, however, created a massive humanitarian crisis due to the hundreds of civilians (men, women, and children) being killed every month. As a result, Syrian refugees are fleeing by the thousands to escape the bloody conflict, creating a refugee crisis which has strained several nations.

The situation is further complicated by the presence of the Islamic State, which has gained territory in Syria. US President Donald Trump has vowed to implement safe zones in Syria, which may include a no-fly zone.

If this no-fly zone were to be implemented, Trump may give US forces the authority to shoot down Russian planes that enter the zone. This could easily escalate the conflict to a global scale, possibly even World War III.



Since its founding in 1948, Israel has had no shortage of enemies. The small Jewish state located between Egypt and Jordan on the Mediterranean Sea is surrounded by a number of Arab Muslim nations, many of which harbor resentment toward Israel for a number of reasons.

Many Arab nations contend that Israel has no right to the territory it is on. Other Arab nations have based their hatred in their theological differences. The result is that Israel has had to fight its neighbors a number of times.

In recent years, Iran, one of Israel’s oldest enemies, has taken steps to obtain nuclear capabilities and possibly nuclear weapons (despite the deal). If Iran obtained nuclear weapons, this would immediately threaten the national security of Israel.

In response, Israel might attack Iran first. If this happened or if Iran launched an attack on Israel, it is highly likely that a war would break out in which the United States and other nations would become involved.


8The Persian Gulf


The Persian Gulf has recently become a hot spot of global tension. The Iranian navy has been conducting a series of provocative maneuvers around a number of US warships in the Gulf. In some cases, the US Navy has gone so far as to fire warning shots at the Iranian vessels.

According to some top officials, these actions are part of an intentional effort by the Iranians to heighten tensions in response to frustrations they feel over the ongoing sanctions placed upon them by the US and others. One US naval commander said, “This kind of provocative, harassing technique risks escalation and miscalculation.”

Tensions have only grown since the election of Donald Trump, who has talked of scrapping the Iran deal, and the testing a new ballistic missile by Iran. President Trump has contended that military action is an option that he could use. The Persian Gulf remains a dangerous place where global conflict could erupt.



Photo credit: sputniknews.com

Kashmir is the northernmost region of India. However, Kashmir is predominantly Muslim and many within the area contend that they should be a part of the majority Muslim nation of Pakistan instead of India.

The region has become highly contested with an active separatist movement fighting against Indian control. Several terrorist groups have also become active in Kashmir and have frequently attacked the Indian government.

In response, India has ramped up security forces in the area. At times, Pakistan has harbored and possibly even supported many of these terrorist and separatist groups, which has inflamed the already-contentious relationship between Pakistan and India.

Border skirmishes between the two nations are not uncommon. The situation is complicated by the fact that both India and Pakistan have nuclear arsenals. It is certainly possible that war between the two countries could break out soon, starting in Kashmir.

Similarly, if a war did break out, it is possible that it could escalate to a nuclear level. This would demand attention from global powers such as the United States and China.

6The Korean Peninsula


Photo credit: i24news.tv

The Korean Peninsula has drawn lots of attention from the international community due to the unpredictable and aggressive nature of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un. On numerous occasions, North Korea has threatened war with South Korea and the United States.

The United States and South Korea have responded to these threats by keeping a strong military presence in the area on standby. However, things could easily escalate should North Korea continue on its path to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile which could reach the United States.

If North Korea had this capability, they would hypothetically be able to launch a nuclear strike at the United States. There are some who contend that this very real and possible threat to the US would force them into action and, if need be, war.

Similarly, recently appointed US Defense Secretary James Mattis has stated that any attack by North Korea on Japan or South Korea would also incur the full wrath of the US military. However, under the tyrannical rule of the irrational Kim Jong Un, we cannot rule out anything and there remains a high risk that the Korean Peninsula could become the site of the next major global conflict.


5The South China Sea


Photo credit: The Guardian

The South China Sea is currently one of the most hotly contested regions in the world. Tensions have arisen over China’s claim that it has “irrefutable” sovereignty over a number of disputed islands and the seas surrounding them in the South China Sea. A number of other nations—including Vietnam, Japan, and Taiwan—have claimed that this is not the case.

The South China Sea is strategically valuable due to its rich natural resources and the military advantage provided by its islands. The situation has only become tenser as China has built a number of man-made islands in the area and an airbase on one of the preexisting islands.

Similarly, the Chinese have also deployed their first aircraft carrier to patrol the area. These territorial claims have not gone unchallenged, however, as the United States has maintained a strong military presence in the South China Sea as well.

Some in Washington have made calls for military action if Chinese expansion in the region continues. It would seem that if a war were to break out between China and the United States, immersing the world in what likely would be the next world war, it would begin in the South China Sea.



Photo credit: BBC

Another point of major contention between the US and China, the two most powerful nations in the world, is Taiwan. Since China’s civil war in the 1940s, Taiwan has been home to the exiled Chinese Nationalist government. Although for all intents and purposes Taiwan functions as an independent nation, it is technically still under the control of the Chinese.

The possibility that China may try to reclaim this rogue territory by force has always been present and has created an atmosphere of incredible tension. The stakes were raised when the United States signed the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979, which brought Taiwan under America’s veil of protection.

However, this has not stopped the Chinese from exercising their power in the area. They have conducted a number of naval and air operations quite close to Taiwan. Especially with the recent election of Donald Trump and his contact with Taiwan (a violation of the “One China” policy), China will be looking to test the resolve of the new US leader.

It goes without saying that any move made by China on Taiwan would lead to certain global conflict between the Chinese and the Americans, the likes of which the world has never seen. Yet it remains a potential reality that both sides continue to prepare for.



Photo credit: Foreign Policy

According to Dr. Paul Miller, a national defense expert who predicted the annexation of Crimea, the path to World War III begins in, of all places, Latvia. For those who don’t know, Latvia is one of the Baltic states of Northern Europe bordering Russia to the east and the Baltic Sea to the west.

Miller claims that Putin, after successfully annexing Crimea with relatively little international pushback, has set his sights on Latvia as his next target and will make an aggressive move within the next two years. Miller contends that it will not be a conventional invasion, however.

He believes that Putin will instigate civil unrest among the large number of ethnic Russian Latvians and support them with arms and training. Then, once the fighting and unrest is underway, Putin will step in under the guise ofprotecting the ethnic Russians in the area.

According to Miller, one of two things will happen from there. In scenario one, the NATO nations will back down and refuse to come to the defense of Latvia. In this case, NATO will be rendered useless and Russia will continue its expansion into Europe.

In scenario two, the United States, as a member of NATO, will come to Latvia’s aid and engage Russia with the assistance of other NATO nations. This very likely would be the beginning of World War III. The international community would be wise to keep its eye on Latvia.

2The Suwalki Gap


Photo credit: tembisan.co.za

If Russia were to attack Europe, its first move would be to capture the Suwalki Gap. The Suwalki Gap is a 100-kilometer (60 mi) stretch of narrow land in northwest Poland running along the border with Lithuania.

It is a prime target for Russian aggression because it also connects the Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad and the Russian ally Belarus. The Russians have a strong military presence in both regions and could quickly deploy forces into the gap.

If this occurred, the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia) would be cut off from their NATO allies and would be surrounded by Russian forces. One of the top US generals in Europe admits that the possibility of the Russians capturing the strategically valuable gap keeps him up at night.

Apparently, the Pentagon shares the general’s fears as it has decided to quadruple its budget for European defense. The buildup of military forces on all sides of the gap, as well as the high number of training operations, makes the area quite dangerous. If a conflict between the West and Russia breaks out, it will likely begin with the Suwalki Gap.



With the ever-evolving nature of technology, the ways we wage war must also change. In our modern world, it has become a distinct possibility that the next global war could begin in cyberspace.

Power plants, satellites, financial markets, military communications, and countless other things essential to our everyday lives rely on the Internet. Therefore, they can all be infiltrated. We have already seen cyberwarfare take place with the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee, the use of the virus Stuxnet against Iran, and numerous other instances.

The United States, Russia, and China are all continuing to develop their cyber capabilities and defenses. Just what this will look like remains unclear. What is clear, however, is that cyberwarfare will be a key aspect of any major global conflict to come. It is also the quickest way to attack another nation or group and, therefore, would most likely be the first move in any major offensive campaign.

The political and economic fallout of a successful cyberattack could be truly disastrous and could be the precursor to a large-scale conventional war. The realm of cyberspace and the reality of cyberwarfare should be taken very seriously.

Brad is currently a student studying at Fordham University. He can be reached for questions or comments at bsylvester3@fordham.edu.


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The area of Aswan and its surroundings was the northernmost part of a country known as Nubia in ancient times. Aswan is a city that witnessed many civilisations come and go since prehistoric times. It has however preserved its original traditional heritage.

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Aswan has a mixed and diverse population with a distinct Nubian culture. It has therefore an African atmosphere which is different from the rest of Egypt. The pace of life is slow and relaxing. To get a real taste of this ancient and rich culture, visit Nubia Museum and a number of Nubian villages in and around Aswan, often very picturesque and worth visiting. You can also stay overnight in one of the Nubian houses. It’s a memorable experience!

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Nubians live in houses painted with bright colours. Traditionally, the floor was made of sand and not all the rooms were roofed. Protection against rain is not a priority since Aswan is one of the driest places in the world.

Nubians are friendly and hospitable. They often invite you to their homes for a cup of tea or “Karkade”, a drink made of hibiscus flowers. Many would happily show you their handicrafts. They sometimes invite you to taste their unique “Shamsi” bread which has a special baking technique. The bakers, usually the women of the village, let the dough rise in the sun before baking it. Some connoisseurs claim that the “Shamsi” bread is one of the best kinds of bread in the world. After such hospitality, a reciprocal gesture of generosity is not necessary but would certainly be appreciated!

Nubian villages are found in and around Aswan. A couple of them are located only 150 meters from the corniche onElephantine Island in Aswan archipelago. The island can be reached by felucca or by a public ferry.

Other interesting villages are located on the west bank of the Nile and can be reached by boats or cars. A famous one is “Gharb Sehel” which is located near the old dam south of the archipelago on the west bank.

Many Nubians used to live in the Nile Valley, south of Aswan. However, the artificial Lake Nasser created by the construction of the high dam flooded many Nubian villages. As a result, more than 100,000 Nubian inhabitants of the area were relocated to villages north of Aswan and around Kom Ombo.

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If you are interested to learn more about the Nubian people and their history and culture, then a visit to Nubia Museum, located close to the Old Ctaract hotel, is a MUST.

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Image Gallery: Beautiful Nubian Art

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Image Gallery: Beautiful Nubian Art

Ancient Nubia: A Brief History

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Ancient Nubia: A Brief History

Top 10 Remarkable Moments Involving Mummies

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Top 10 Remarkable Moments Involving Mummies



Mummies aren’t just for museum viewing and freaking out sensitive moviegoers. Sometimes, these time capsules return lost information capable of answering mysteries—or, just as easily, starting some fresh ones. As silent as these people and animals are, they convey information invaluable to experts trying to understand the rituals, illnesses, and even scandals of the past.


10The Tebtunis Portraits


As the first man-made pigment, Egyptian blue was sought after by ancient painters. When researchers studied 11 mummy portraits, they were stunned to find the precious tint hidden instead of flaunted.

Mummy portraits were paintings of the deceased placed over the face. Found at Tebtunis, Egypt, between 1899 and 1900, the portraits reflected a popular second-century trend—using only the four colors favored by the masterful Greeks. Closer inspection of the white, black, yellow, and red revealed something surprising. The Tebtunis painters stayed true to the vogue color scheme but worked blue into the art in a way never before seen in the ancient world.

Normally, Egyptian blue received a place of honor in paintings and sculptures throughout the Mediterranean, but here, it was used as underdrawings, enriching the four Greek colors with more hues and shading. Even today, researchers aren’t certain that all the ways in which Egyptian blue was used is known.

9Sacred Scandal


Today, the scandal merely lifted a few academic eyebrows, but during ancient Egypt, it would have been epic.

When scientists at the Manchester Museum scanned 800 animal mummies, one-third proved to be empty of skeletal remains. When worshipers wanted to connect with a certain animal god, they bought a related mummified creature as an offering. The faithful fully expected a wrapped cat to contain a dead kitty. As it turned out, the fervently religious nation’s demand couldn’t be met.

Perhaps the profit-minded sellers didn’t want to let a good opportunity go, but the researchers believe the deception wasn’t so much forgery-orientated as it was to supply people with a religious experience. There just wasn’t enough time or animals to match the rapid sales. To speed things up, the beautifully crafted mummies were secretly filled with something linked to that animal, such as nest stuffing and egg shells for birds.


8The Sand Skull


A 3,200-year-old Egyptian mummy named Hatason sparked serious scientific interest after a scan. She died between 1700–1000 BC, a time when brains stayed intact during mummification. Adding material inside the skull cavity while it still contained gray matter is unheard of, but somebody forced a substance into her head. Strangely, the skull appears to be stuffed with dark sand.

The woman was likely a citizen experimented on by a mortician. It’s hard to tell, since few mummies remain from that era and not a lot is known about her—or if she’s even a woman. Pelvic bones can reveal sex, but Hatason’s is crushed. The skull appears to be female. The coffin depicts a woman wearing the clothing of a standard citizen but there’s no way to prove it was hers. The mummy, currently in San Francisco, was removed from Egypt in the 1800s when buyers switched coffins as the need arose.

7Sobek Surprise


At the Dutch National Museum is a wrapped “crocodile.” Measuring three meters long, a previous scan revealed it contained two of the fearsome reptiles shaped as one giant croc about 3,000 years ago. In 2016, the mummy was sent to an Amsterdam medical center to undergo a cutting edge 3-D CT scan. The images were extraordinary.

Egyptologists expected nothing new, but dozens of previously undetected bundles appeared to be tucked away between the wrappings. Closer examination proved that they were all individually bandaged baby crocodiles. While not unique, this type of mummy is extremely rare, and the Dutch one is also in superb condition. It would’ve made a great offering to the Egyptian crocodile god Sobek, which was probably what it was created for. The idea behind the strange arrangement is not clear. Experts suspect the different ages of the animals could be symbolic of rejuvenation after death.

6Practical Prosthetics


Looking at old personal items, it can be hard to discern which had a practical or cosmetic use. This holds true for ancient Egypt. Burial preparations often included false body parts, even when the deceased had no amputations. Recently, the University of Manchester strapped a special kind of replica on volunteers lacking a right big toe.

The recreations copied two Egyptian artifacts that may be the first known prosthetics. Respectively, the toe sets consist of cartonnage (before 600 BC) and wood and leather (950–710 BC). The second was found on a Luxor mummy’s foot. Signs of long-term use hinted at prosthetics in the truest sense and not burial props.

The volunteers went barefoot then wore the toes, with and without authentically remade Egyptian sandals. The study revealed that both devices were highly successful replacements for real toes and removed the crippling pressure traditional sandals would’ve caused.



5Rediscovery Of C1bi


Photo credit: Schobinger, J. et al

In 1985, hikers found a body on Argentina’s Aconcagua mountain. The child, dead for five centuries, turned out to be an Incan boy killed during a sacrifice. The height at which he died, 5,300 meters above sea level, provided extreme dryness, and the seven-year-old mummified naturally.

His good condition allowed geneticists to extract his entire mitochondrial genome. The DNA placed the boy in a genetic group called C1b, an ancient Paleoindian lineage older than 18,000 years. However, he didn’t match any of the plentiful subgroups dividing up the population. Researchers created a new one, called it C1bi, and scoured databases for more members of this lost line. Only four turned up. Three were from modern Peruvians and Bolivians. The last belonged to a person of the pre-Inca Wari Empire of Peru.

An estimated 90 percent of native South Americans perished during the Spanish conquest. This genetic annihilation is behind C1bi’s scarcity today and also why it remained unknown until the discovery of the Aconcagua boy.

4The Hathor Tattoos


Photo credit: Radio-Canada

Egyptologists once believed priestesses were painted with images, not tattooed. A well-preserved woman changed that.

Cedric Gobeil, a Canadian researcher working in Egypt since 2013, noticed dark shapes on the body and dismissed it as embalming residue. However, when the 3,300-year-old skin was extended with imaging software, the historic tattoos reappeared. They are the only depictions of recognizable things, not just shapes, ever found on a dynastic Egyptian. Lotus flowers, animals including cows and snakes, as well as symbols are part of 30 tattoos adorning the upper body and hips.

Nobody knows what the full collection looked like. Her head and legs have never been found. Gobeil believes the skin art marked her as a priestess of the goddess Hathor, since several of the images are linked to this deity. That alone makes it a unique case. She’s also the first proof that murals showing figures with recognizable objects as body decorations are depictions of tattooed Egyptians.

3The Age Of Smallpox


Photo credit: Kiril Cachovski

In the crypt of a Lithuanian church, the remains of a toddler yielded the oldest traces of the smallpox virus. The first human disease to be wiped out with vaccination, the origins of smallpox remains a mystery. For a long time, it was thought to be a millennia-old disease that even plagued the Egyptians, when the latter provided a few pockmarked mummies. The Lithuanian discovery challenged this when analysis concluded the virus was only a few hundred years old.

By comparing the 360-year-old strain from the child against all the known mutations, researchers determined they shared a single ancestor that first appeared sometime between 1588–1645. Had smallpox been thousands of years old, there would’ve been a significant increase in the number of strains, but the variety simply isn’t there. Some Egyptian mummies dating back thousands of years do have the trademark scarring, but measles and chickenpox could also have been responsible.

2The Cladh Hallan Burials


A decade ago, scientists were excavating a buried 3,000-year-old couple from the prehistoric village of Cladh Hallan, Scotland. Things didn’t get weird until one man noticed the female mummy’s jaw looked out of sorts, like it didn’t fit.

DNA tests told a macabre story. The pair had been pieced together from parts belonging to six unrelated people. Those assembling the woman date back to the same time period, but her male counterpart’s contributors died at different times, some hundreds of years apart. Even their burial took centuries to complete. First they were placed in a peat bog until they were mummified and were then reburied at the village, 300–600 years later. Interred in the fetal position, all soft tissue was destroyed by the soil of their new grave. It remains a riddle why the villagers went through all that trouble.

1Otzi Speaks

The superstar of the mummy world is undoubtedly Otzi. German tourists discovered him 25 years ago in South Tyrol, Italy. Researchers already determined his last meal, that he might have been murdered, looked at his DNA, tattoos, and health, then famously recreated his looks. In 2016, they finally returned Otzi’s voice.

The team faced several obstacles in the quest to hear him speak. One arm is flung across his throat, obstructing an examination. The tongue bone was also incomplete. An MRI scanner was preferred for its greater detail, but the body’s fragility meant it couldn’t be moved. After the scientists settled on a CT scan, Otzi’s vocal tract was inspected, and the tongue bone was recreated virtually. With the help of additional software and mathematical models, sound came to life.

It ranged between 100 and 150 Hz, normal for a human male. Since researchers don’t know how vocal cord tension and soft tissues affected his speech, his true speaking voice cannot be recreated. However, the tone of his vowels can, and it reveals a man sounding almost like a heavy smoker.

10 Fascinating Cave Finds That Will Blow Your Mind

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10 Fascinating Cave Finds That Will Blow Your Mind



Caves have served as homes, storage sites, and sacred spaces throughout history. This makes them rich and rewarding hunting grounds for archaeologists. Far from yielding just the occasional odd fossil, caves hold tough-to-crack ancient mysteries, reveal unknown behaviors from the hominid clan, and are sometimes home to the rarest and oldest artifacts. Even legends are found in them.


10The Rhino Cave Ritual

Rhino Cave Python

Photo credit: The Times

A cave in Botswana has yielded intriguing artifacts that could have been used in the world’s oldest ritual. First examined in the 1990s, Rhino Cave produced over 100 spearheads in bright colors. Also inside was a python carved from rock. The stone reptile measures 6 meters (20 ft) by 2 meters (6.5 ft) and rests on a crushed wall. Some of the cracks in the cavern were stuffed with quartz chips.

The site clearly held great importance for the San people who used it. The weapon points were delivered, often from a great distance away, and then burned during what researchers believe was python worship practiced around 70,000 years ago, smashing the previous oldest-known rites by 30,000 years. Other scientists feel that more research is needed and even argue that there was no ritual. Yet, throughout the Tsodilo Hills, home to Rhino Cave, rock art shows the San engaged in acts resembling the ceremony. The handling of the spearheads and quartz flakes is previously unknown behavior documented for the first time in Rhino Cave.

9The Liang Bua Teeth

Liang Bua

Photo credit: Rosino

A case of hobbit murder might be afoot. Ever since the diminutive hominidHomo floresiensis was documented in 2003, scientists have pondered why they swirled down the extinction drain. Now, a toothy find could clinch the case. Two human molars turned up in 2010 and 2011, respectively, in the Liang Bua cave on Flores. This is the same cave where the only known hobbit remains were excavated years before. The Homo sapiens snappers slightly postdate the hobbits’ final bow, which experts claim happened 50,000 years ago.

Humans already lived in Southeast Asia by then, making an overlap of the two species possible. They might even have interbred or competed for food—although the 1-meter-tall (3 ft) hobbits hardly qualified as opponents. Most likely, the humans obliterated their smaller cousins. There is additional evidence that the arrival of hunter-gatherers wiped out more than H. floresiensis. Several animal species also disappeared from the island around the same time.


8Earliest Winery

Areni Cave Winery

Photo credit: Gregory Areshian via National Geographic

The world’s oldest shoe is a perfectly preserved moccasin, despite its 5,500 years. It also led to the world’s earliest winery near the village of Areni. Returning in 2007 to the Armenian cave where the footwear was unearthed, archaeologists found equipment for producing ancient alcohol. There were dried vines, vats for trampling grapes by foot, storage containers for fermenting the juice, and tasting cups. The complete production line is over six millennia old.

The large-scale factory indicates that the grape was domesticated earlier than thought, which is not impossible, considering the location. DNA studies have traced the beginnings of winemaking back to Armenia and surrounding countries. The prehistoric winemakers left their shoes and equipment but no clue as to who they were. Apparently, they kept their dead involved. A cemetery surrounds the site, with drinking vessels around and even inside the graves.

7Witchcraft Island

Bla Jungfrun

Photo credit: Anchor2009

An island near Sweden is wrapped with legends of the dark arts. Removing a rock from Bla Jungfrun will guarantee lifelong bad luck, and the island is best avoided on Easter, because that’s when the witches arrive for some Devil worship.

These ancient beliefs may hold a grain of truth. You might not be cursed for life for stealing a stone or witness a holiday witch convention, but some people once took rituals seriously on Bla Jungfrun. Archaeologists visited the uninhabited island in 2014 and were astonished to find that 9,000 years ago, Stone Age ritualistic activity was rife.

People traveled there specifically to partake in these rituals, and two caves in particular were adapted for this purpose. One contains an altar-type construction to perhaps prepare religious offerings. A fireplace lies in the other, beneath a large hollow hacked from one of the walls. The entrance to this cave offers a theater view of below. Researchers speculate that, together, the blazing fire and the hollow being enlarged was an act viewed by audiences for some unknown reason.

6Cave Of Games

Promontory Gambling Canes

Photo credit: Ives and Yanicki via Western Digs

The Promontory culture, forerunner to the Apache and Navajo nations, settled in a cave near Utah’s Great Salt Lake. During excavations in the 1930s and 2010s, an aspect of this mysterious people came to life in magnificent numbers: They loved gambling. Hundreds of gambling aids showed that the Promontory competed with guessing, chance, and physical prowess.

Women’s games consisted mostly of what were essentially dice matches, using split canes marked with burns and playing for low-risk wagers between them. Even so, these were social times, avidly followed by the men, who placed bets. Male games ranged from domestic recreation (such as seeing who could shoot a dart first through a moving hoop) to interactively forging bonds with other tribes.

The Promontory flourished in the late 1200s, while their neighbors faced drought and famine. Gambling while sharing feasts with their neighbors likely created better relations and prevented raids. The rich variety of Promontory games is unmatched in Western North America and could have been the key to their success as a peaceful culture.


5Hellenistic Petra

Little Petra Cave Painting

Photo credit: The Courtauld Institute via The Guardian

The ancient capital of the Nabataeans has a canyon cave complex known as Little Petra, not far from the more well-known Petra. This second site served as a getaway for wealthier citizens. In the main chamber and a connecting compartment awaited a discovery that still shocks scholars since its find in 2007. Wall paintings may not sound like much, but the quality and rarity of these 2,000-year-old Hellenistic scenes shook everyone.

There are no complete artworks bearing this style, leaving almost nothing of the color and composition of the great masterpieces to study. Little Petra’s paintings could change that. Restoration took three years, but what emerged was an exceptional slice of this lost style. Exquisite realism allowed the identification of plants, birds, and insects. Children play flutes, collect fruit, and shoo birds away. The extensive range of colors were made even more luxurious with the addition of gold leaf and glazes. The wall paintings are now considered the best examples of Nabataean art and are the only figurative paintings that survive at Petra.

4The Lupercal


Photo credit: AP/Italian Culture Ministry, HO via National Geographic

The Lupercal (or Lupercale) is part of Rome’s intricate past, where legend and history often overlap. It is the city’s most sacred site, since it involves the twin brothers Romulus and Remus. Said to be the founders of Rome, the children were supposedly raised by a she-wolf in a cave known as the Lupercal. In 2007, an Italian team of archaeologists located a cavern 16 meters (52 ft) under the Palatine Hill. Part of it had already collapsed, and the fragility of the site prevented a full-scale excavation, but endoscopes and scanners revealed details about the inside of the grotto.

Decorated with marble and seashells, a round space measures 8 meters (26 ft) high, with a diameter of 7.5 meters (24 ft). The best evidence that this is the Lupercal comes from its location as well as a white eagle insignia within the vault. Emperor Augustus, who died in AD 14, is said to have restored the holy site, situated near his palace, and added such an eagle. Indeed, this grotto lies beneath the ruins of where Augustus once lived.

3Neanderthal Builders

Neanderthal Wall Cave

Photo credit: Michel Soulier/SSAC via The Guardian

Neanderthal achievements aren’t bad for a hominid still viewed by many as brainless animals. They produced stone tools, glue, clothing, and jewelry, They used fire and shelters, and there’s evidence that their dead were buried with ritual. Their greatest and most mysterious act came to light in the 1990s. Cave explorers were 300 meters (984 ft) into the Bruniquel cave in France when they stumbled upon strange formations. Almost 400 stalagmites had been used as building material to construct walls. The most extraordinary are two ring-shaped walls, the biggest running 7 meters (23 ft) across and 40 centimters (16 in) high in places.

Building occurred 175,000 years ago, and Neanderthals were the only human branch that lived in Europe during that time. This unique display proves once again that they were more intelligent than is generally accepted. The walls were erected in a place of total darkness, which might explain scorch marks found on the inside, as if hearths burned within. Researchers still don’t know the exact purpose of the stalagmite structures or if building underground was something that Neanderthals normally did.

2Buddha’s Life

Buddha Cave Painting

Photo via Meta Religion

In 2007, an international team archaeologists was restoring murals at a Nepalese monastery and asked the locals about ancient art in the area. The kingdom of Mustang, once a part of Tibet, has managed to keep its Tibetan and Buddhist heritage unscathed throughout history. This interested the team very much. A shepherd recalled something he’d seen as a child and led them to a cave. After scaling a 3,400-meter (11,200 ft) height to reach the site, the researchers received the treat of a lifetime.

Inside the cavern were 55 untouched paintings showing the life of Buddha. The scenes were full of color and were done by skilled artisans showing a strong Indian influence, rather than Tibetan. At the same time that the 12th- to 14th-century works were discovered, another religious treasure, ancient Tibetan manuscripts, were found in nearby caves. It’s possible that the area was a Buddhist school or retreat. The exact location of the paintings is being kept secret to prevent looters from making off with the rare collection.

1Egypt’s Lost Fleet

Ancient Egypt Boats

Photo credit: Stephane Begoin via Discover

Wall carvings discovered at an Egyptian temple in the 19th century showed cargo ships returning from a legendary land called Punt. In 2004, archaeologists found the missing fleet. Eight caves near the Red Sea held the remains of equipment, ships, and a harbor community. Incredibly, the vessels were built to be assembled like puzzles, something nobody had ever done before. From the harbor oasis, Mersa Gawasis, great sea voyages were launched.

When a 20-meter (66 ft) replica was made, the dubious-looking ship was essentially a giant hull without a frame and made from immensely thick wood. Sailing on the Red Sea for weeks, it performed with agility, surfed out a storm, and reached 16 kilometers per hour (10 mph). Perhaps more tantalizing than proving that ancient Egypt was a phenomenal maritime nation is the link between Mersa Gawasis and the mythical Punt. Among the artifacts were stones inscribed with factual-sounding accounts of sailing to Punt.

The harbor was abandoned after four centuries, and everything was sealed up in caves. After 4,000 years, the historic rediscovery includes some of the oldest seafaring ships.

10 Incredible Mysteries Of Ancient Ireland

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10 Incredible Mysteries Of Ancient Ireland



Hidden away on Europe’s Atlantic fringe, Ireland has long been thought to be a “fly in amber”—a backwater frozen in time. However, the island not just a window into Europe’s pre-Roman past. This cosmopolitan land has witnessed waves of immigration from around the ancient world and enjoyed cultural contact with civilizations as far away as India. From the hidden tombs to magical tree-based alphabets, there are countless mysteries to explore in the Emerald Isle’s mist.


10Indian Musical Connection


Photo credit: Stuart Hay

In 2016, a student of Iron Age Irish music was shocked to discover the tradition alive in southern India. Long thought to be extinct, this ancient Irish music and its modern Indian analog revealed a 2,000-year link between the cultures.

The breakthrough came when Australia National University’s Billy O’Foghlu discovered that modern Indian horns in Kerala were nearly identical to prehistoric European versions. O’Foghlu reveals: “The musical traditions of south India, with horns such as Kompu, are a great insight into music cultures in Europe’s prehistory.”

Horns similar to Kompu have been discovered in Europe for decades. Oftentimes, they were sacrificed. Initially, musicologists thought their discordant nature reflected poor craftsmanship. However, O’Foghlu points out that this dissonance is considered “deliberate and beautiful” in Indian music. Traditionally, Indian horns are used as a rhythm instrument—rather than playing melodies. Experts have long suspected interconnectivity between European and Indian musical cultures.

9Irish Tree Alphabet


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Ogham (pronounced “owam”) is an ancient Irish tree alphabet. The markings emanate from a central line known as the “stem.” Crosses—or “twigs”—emerge from the reference line to differentiate letters. There are 20 letters in ogham, most of which are named after trees. To date, 400 ogham inscriptions have been found—360 of them are in Ireland. The oldest dates to the fourth century. However, linguists believe it was used on perishable items like wood as early as the first century.

Most ogham inscriptions are names and places and likely served as property boundaries. Why ogham emerged remains a mystery. Latin and Greek script were both in common usage on the island at the time. Some theorize it was invented to prevent the British from deciphering the Irish messages. Others insist early Christian missionaries developed ogham due to Latin’s inefficiency in capturing the Celtic tongue.


8Cave Of Excarnation


Photo credit: Irish Mirror

In 2014, archaeologists discovered evidence of ancient excarnation in Knocknarea Cave. This is the practice in which bodies are allowed to decompose in one area, before being buried elsewhere. Dr. Marion Dowd’s team found 13 small bones and skeletal fragments in an inaccessible reach of the cave. They belonged to one man, who died about 5,500 years ago, and a child who perished about 300 years later. Dowd revealed that the number of small bone fragments suggests this was a place where bodies were allowed to skeletonize before burial elsewhere.

Where the bodies ultimately were interred remains a mystery. However, it is likely they were not taken far. Knocknarea is the highest mountain in County Sligo. It contains Queen Maeve’s cairn, one of Ireland’s most famous Neolithic sites, and five other stone memorials. The mountain is visible from any of the Neolithic sites yet discovered in the county.

7Niall’s Offspring


Photo credit: Curious Ireland

Reigning between 379 and 405, Niall of the Nine Hostages was a mythic Irish high king, who according to legend was one of the most fruitful men in history. Recent DNA analysis has revealed that there may be truth behind these claims. Trinity College’s Professor Dan Bradley discovered that three million men descended from one Irish man—perhaps Niall.

One in 12 Irish men carry R1b1c7 Y-chromosomes. In northwestern Ireland, which corresponds with the U Neill dynasty’s holdings, the number rises to one in five. It also occurs in great concentration in Scotland and New York. Some speculate that 1 in 50 New Yorkers with European roots are descended from Niall. Irish names are derived from one’s paternal line and thus correlate with Y-chromosomes. The common surname “O’Neill,” means “descendants of Niall.”

6Pagan Christianity Fusion


Photo credit: ancient-origins.net

In 2014, excavations around County Clare revealed that Ireland’s early Christians hedged their spiritual bets with pagan practices. Archaeologists at Caherconnell unearthed a tomb belonging to a woman and two infants. One of the infants was between one and two years old, and the other died shortly after birth. The woman was about 45 years old and suffered from joint disease.

Radiocarbon dating revealed the burial dates between 535 and 645—well within the “Early Christian” period. However, the tomb contains many pagan elements. They were not buried within consecrated ground. Instead, they were placed in cists beneath a stony mound. Between the 10th and 11th century, a high-status Caher—or enclosure—was built over the tomb. This practice was common in pre-Christian Ireland. The enclosure’s drystone wall passed directly over the ancient grave. It may have been a form of ancestor worship, or a way to legitimize rule.



5Ireland’s Oldest Human Burial


Photo credit: University of York

Archaeologists studying the oldest human burial in Ireland have made startling discoveries into the lives of the island’s early Mesolithic hunter gathers. Dated between 7530 and 7320 BC, the burial was located on the banks of the River Shannon in County Limerick. The tomb is unique, because its inhabitant had been cremated prior to burial. The site also contains evidence of post, which would have served as a grave marker.

Researchers discovered a highly polished stone axe—or adze—along with the cremated remains. It is believed to be the earliest known adze in Europe. Microscopic analysis revealed that the tool was little used and intentionally blunted, suggesting it was commissioned as a grave offering. The blunting may have been a symbolic gesture representing the individual’s death. The adze shocked researchers, who associated these tools with the arrival of agriculture in Europe 3,000 years after the burial.

4Celtic Curse


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder resulting in excessive iron retention. “Iron overload” is so common in Ireland it is known as the “Celtic Curse.” Genetic analysis reveals that this mutation was brought to the island by Bronze Age men with DNA originally from the Pontic steppe. Researchers compared the genetics of a 5,200-year-old Irish Neolithic farmer and Bronze Age men from 1,200 years later. The brown-haired, dark-eyed female had some hunter-gather ancestry but “possessed a genome of predominately Near Eastern origin.”

The Bronze Age men all had genes for blue eyes (carried the most common Y chromosome in modern Ireland), lactose tolerance, and the mutation of the C282Y gene leading to the “Celtic curse.” Some theorize that the ability to retain extra iron provided a survival advantage with Ireland’s grain-rich diet—or perhaps aided against parasites. The massive difference in genetics suggests Ireland witnessed a “profound migratory episode.”

3Sea God Offering


Photo credit: Wikimedia

In February 1896, Thomas Nicholl and James Morrow unearthed the Broighter Hoard while plowing fields in Limavady, Northern Ireland. They took the treasure home and washed it—but had no idea they were holding gold from the first century BC. J.L. Gibson, who had hired Nicholl and Morrow, sold half the haul to a local antiquarian. Morrow’s sister sold another portion to a jeweler.

The most renowned piece in the hoard was a golden boat. The 7.5″ by 3″ boat contains two rows of nine oars, oarlocks, a paddle rudder, and benches. Initially, it did not receive much attention. However, archaeologists now believe it is the key to understanding the hoard. Some believe the gold was an offering to Manannan mac Lir—god of the sea. The presence of non-Irish loop-in-loop torcs—or necklaces—suggests that merchants with foreign interests likely made this offering to the “son of the sea.”

2Hellfire Club’s Hidden Tomb


Photo credit: Wikimedia

In October 2016, archaeologists discovered an ancient passage tomb beneath Dublin’s Hellfire Club. Jonathan Swift referred to the Hellfire Club as “a brace of monsters, blasphemers, and bacchanalians.” Designed for depravity and debauchery, the shooting lodge was built in 1725 for politician William Connolly. Researchers believe the tomb was destroyed during construction. Connolly died soon after the lodge’s completion and never lived there.

Symbols carved into dark rock revealed the burial’s entrance. The same motif appears on the entrance to Neolithic passage tombs throughout the country. It is typical of Neolithic burials, with a large circular mound with a stone passageway. The team suspects that lower levels remain intact. Researchers have discovered 5,000-year-old tools and bits of cremated remains. Radiocarbon dating will determine the tomb’s age. Researchers suspect that the tomb below the Hellfire Club may be part of an extended tomb complex throughout Dublin and Wicklow.

1Mysterious Milesians


Photo credit: Wikimedia

The mystery of the Milesians will never be solved. According to the medieval Christian text Lebor Gabala Erenn, these Spanish Celts from Galicia conquered Ireland. They derived their name from the legendary Mil Espaine—or “Soldier of Spain.” The ninth-century Historia Brittonum also mentions the Milesians, claiming that Mil Espaine became the father of the Irish Gaels. Despite no archaeological evidence of Spain invasions in Ireland, the legend persists.

More than 84 percent of Irish men carry the R1b haplogroup marker. Alastair Moffit of the genetic testing firm IrelandsDNA indicates that first farmers carrying the “G” marker arrived in Ireland around 4350 BC. However, around 2,500 years ago, this line was virtually obliterated—reduced to 1 percent of Irish men. R1b is very common in northern Spain and southwestern France. It is likely the Y chromosome was introduced from the south—lending some credence to the Milesian myth.

Dubbed the “Indiana Jones of folk music” by TimeOut.com, Geordie McElroy has hunted spell songs, incantations, and arcane melodies for the Smithsonian, Sony Music Group, and private collectors. A leading authority on occult music, he is also a singer of LA-based band Blackwater Jukebox.

Images: Viking Jewelry Revealed in Sparkling Photos

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Images: Viking Jewelry Revealed in Sparkling Photos