10 Unexplained Mysteries Of Ancient Venice

Post 8273

10 Unexplained Mysteries Of Ancient Venice



Venice, often known as “the floating city,” was founded in the fifth century AD. Built after the fall of the Roman Empire, the city became the merchant capital of the world.

Venice is completely surrounded by water. People use boats as the main form of transport as the city is made up of many small islands. Everywhere you look, there are breathtaking buildings. But you have to look closer to uncover the ancient secrets that are etched into the walls and foundations of the floating city.

Venice is notorious for its masked balls and elegant parades but less known for the mysteries, legends, and inexplicable events that have taken place there. These mysteries and legends are unsolved to this day and may never find a suitable conclusion.


10The Ghost Of Palazzo Grassi


Photo credit: Didier Descouens

Along Venice’s Grand Canal lie a number of large palaces, including the Palazzo Grassi. Many say that the palace is haunted by the ghost of a young girl who threw herself (or perhaps was thrown) from the balcony after being beaten. Some inhabitants of the palace say that they have heard someonecalling them by name or whispering inaudible words in their ear.

Throughout the restoration of the building in the 1980s, something extremely peculiar happened. A watchman was walking through the halls when he heard a voice calling him and telling him to stop.

The man could not find any evidence that anyone else had been near him. But he did notice that he had heard the voice just over 0.3 meters (1 ft) away from a hole left in the floor by the workers. If not for the voice, he would have likely died.

9Attila’s Throne


Photo credit: venetoinside.com

On the Venetian island of Torcello sits a stone chair, believed to be the throne of Attila, the king of the Huns. During their invasion of Venice in the fifth century, the Huns arrived on Torcello, killing a large number of the inhabitants. Attila had the throne placed in front of the cathedral as a symbol of power and to display his allegiance to God.

Whether the throne actually belonged to Attila is still a mystery as many reports claim that the Huns never made it past Northeast Italy. However, the throne certainly belonged to someone in a position of power. Many ancient scripts contain diagrams of the throne and a figure sitting prominently in it.


8The Statue Of The Woman Who Saw Death


Photo credit: venetoinside.com

In the Castello District in Venice, a church was built by Jacopo Tiepolo near the end of the 1200s. Considered to be the most recognized church in Venice, it has become the final resting place of many famous Venetians.

Attached to the church is an incredible legend that centers around the sculpture of a sad-looking woman. According to the legend, the beautiful woman looked in the mirror one day to see a haggard old lady near her death. She realized that it was her fate and died instantly from shock.

This remains an ancient Venetian mystery as no one has been able to confirm the origin of the statue.

7The Ghost Of Marco Polo’s Wife


Photo credit: Gegetti

During his stay in China, the well-known Venetian merchant Marco Polo fell in love with the daughter of a great emperor and married her. He took her back to Venice with him. However, she never felt at home in the city.

When Marco Polo was captured in battle, his sisters-in-law told his wife that he was dead. She could not cope with the grief and threw herself into the canal. People say that they have witnessed her ghost while walking past the site of Polo’s house at night.

While excavating the foundations of the Malibran Theater (on the site of the old house), the remains of an Asian woman were found, buried with items of Chinese origin. It is still unclear whether this was Polo’s wife.

6The Witch’s Alarm Clock


Photo credit: venetoworld.com

Near the Accademia Museum in the Dorsoduro District, there is something rather odd on the side of an old building. It is nothing but a centuries-old alarm clock. This has raised hundreds of theories as to why it is there, but not one has been agreed on.

The legend goes that an old witch used the clock to mark the time that invoices were due. When she died, no one wanted to live in the house due to their fear of the witch. A nearby merchant asked some workers to put an old alarm clock on the supposedly haunted building as a joke.

When the clock was taken down a few years later, strange things started happening, such as visions and strange sounds during the night. As soon as the clock was put back up, everything went back to normal.

Years later, the clock was taken down again. The odd happenings resumed, including unexplained disappearances of objects and accidents happening around the site. The clock was once again replaced, and these strange events ceased.

The clock was never taken down again. Now it can be found on the side of a house on the Calle della Toletta street in Venice.


5The Sirens Of The Venice Lagoon


The island of Burano in Venice is made up of small, colorful houses and sandy canal banks. It is a beautiful part of Venice and holds the legend of the Sirens.

According to legend, a man was fishing in the canals when he was approached by a group of Sirens who tried to seduce him. However, he was so in love with his soon-to-be bride that he refused them. Impressed by this, the Sirens gave him a gift of beautiful lace that he gave to his wife on their wedding day.

The wife is said to have remade the lace multiple times, ultimately creating the famous Venice lace that we know today. If the story is true and the man was really visited by Sirens, is it possible that they still swim the waters of Venice, preying on young men to seduce? We may never know.

4Freemasons In Venice


Photo credit: Godromil

In the middle of the 18th century, Venice was a huge hub for Freemasonry. The members included many famous people such as the great explorer Giacomo Casanova. The Freemason fraternity was so rich and powerful that they built a church following their beliefs. This was the church of Saint Mary Magdalene in Cannaregio.

A symbol of a pyramid with an eye in the center is etched above the door of the church. Beneath the symbol is the inscription: SAPIENTIA EDIFICAVIT SIBI DOMUM. This is a reference to the cult of divine knowledge, the base of Freemason ideologies.

Many Freemasons are buried inside the church. All their tombs are inscribed with the compass and line symbol of the Masons, defining themselves as builders.

At some point, the Freemasons vanished from Venice and no longer ruled over the people there. No one knows what happened to the Freemasons or why they disappeared from Venice. It will likely remain a mystery forever.

3The Casino Of The Spirits


Photo credit: venetoinside.com

This casino resides along the Fondamenta Gasparo Contarini canal in Cannaregio. It belonged to famous cardinal and patron Joseph Contarini in the 16th century.

The Casino of the Spirits got its name because it is known as a gathering place for the restless spirits of the city. A famous ghost often appears in the rooms of the building at night while many visitors are there. It is thought to be the ghost of the famous painter Luzzo because he committed suicide in the building.

The building is extremely isolated, and the sea emits an eerie sound at night. The casino is now used as an institute for two religious groups, but the garden is still open to visitors.

A frightening tale is often told about the site. On a dark night, if you listen closely, you can hear the screams of a man in another room for a number of minutes. Then the screams die down, and all that can be heard is the sound of the sea against the side of the canal.

2The Devil’s Bridge


Photo credit: mikestravelguide.com

On the remote Venetian island of Torcello is a stone bridge that crosses a canal. It has come to bear an odd name, “The Devil’s Bridge.”

It is thought that a young lady fell in love with an Austrian soldier during the Austrian reign in Venice. He was killed by her family as they did not approve of the relationship.

The girl was so struck with grief that she got help from a witch. They met on the bridge, and the witch brought the soldier back to life. In return, every Christmas Eve for seven years, the young girl had to bring the witch a baby who had recently died. It is said that the Devil himself comes to the bridge every Christmas Eve looking for the souls of deceased babies.

This is a mystery because a number of people believed that they saw aghostly apparition gliding back and forth on the bridge on Christmas Eve in the late 1990s.

1The Mask To Scare The Devil


Photo credit: Milazzi

Most churches in Venice have a bell tower on the side. When the bell was rung, it signified the beginning or the end of the working day.

Often at an angle, a face was sculpted in the doors of these bell towers. But sometimes, more grotesque beings were used to “ward off the Devil” who wanted to enter and ring the bell.

The most grotesque mask is at the church of Santa Maria Formosa Castello. The tower is over 40 meters (130 ft) high and was reconstructed in 1678. The face was designed by priest Federico Zucconi and was very famous at the time of its construction.

A series of mysteries surround the mask. Some say that it howls at nightwhen the Devil is getting near. Others say that it was once a demon that was turned to stone and molded into the side of the church to scare away other passing demons. Many locals have said that they have seen the eyes of the mask turning, but that is possibly the effect of late-night Venetian wine.

I’m Joe, a lover of knowledge and the unexplained. I am the author of the popular truck driver stories on Reddit’s r/nosleep. My priority is to deliver quality content in my writing and keep the reader interested. There is nothing worse than reading a boring article.

10 Suffocating Tales Of People Trapped Underwater

Post 8272

10 Suffocating Tales Of People Trapped Underwater



People are accustomed to water, and why not? It covers most of the planet, it makes up most of our bodies, we need it to live, we recreate in it, and plenty of us travel over it. Water’s ubiquity aside, total immersion in it can certainly be deadly. Some people who have found themselves trapped underwater have survived. Others exhaled their last breath encapsulated in cold, darkness, and terror.


10Edward Young


On July 19, 1941, the HMS Umpire, a brand-new British U-class submarine, departed Sheerness for sea trials. The Umpire was sailing along the surface when she collided with a trawler, which could not see the submarine in the early morning darkness. The submarine’s commander and three others were outside on the bridge during the collision and were left to tread water. TheUmpire sank quickly, trapping the rest of the crew on the seabed, 18 meters (60 ft) down.

Water begin to rapidly flood the sub. Edward Young, a junior officer on theUmpire, later recalled, “In the half-darkness the men had become anonymous groping figures, desperately coming and going.” Young came across a man trying to open a watertight door, saying, “My pal’s in there.” Young could only tell the man that it was hopeless. “There’s no one left alive on the other side of that door.”

Young waded to the wardroom in search of torches. After finding only one working torch, he returned to the control room, only to find it empty and the door to the engine room sealed. He could hear only the sound of water on the other side.

Ultimately, Young and four others climbed up the conning tower to attempt escape. That was not as simple as throwing open the hatch, however. They had to flood the conning tower first to equalize the water pressure, meaning that they had to take their last breath even before filing out of the hatch one by one and swimming for the surface through the dark water. Two of the four men did not survive the ascent.

The sinking of the Umpire claimed 22 lives, with Young and 14 others surviving. Young eventually became a distinguished submarine commander himself.

9The Koosha-1


In October 2011, an Iranian ship called the Koosha-1 was helping to install an underwater oil pipeline in the Persian Gulf, roughly 24 kilometers (15 mi) out from Assaluyeh. On October 20, the ship capsized in bad weather and sank so fast that no distress signal could be sent. Six people drowned in the sinking, but rescuers still managed to save 60 others.

However, bolted to the Koosha-1 was a hyperbaric recompression chamber, which held six divers when the ship went down. The chamber was pressurized to 60 meters (200 ft) at the time of the sinking, but the Koosha-1 came to rest on the sea floor 72 meters (236 ft) down, causing rescuers to fear that the chamber’s seals may have ruptured. Rescue efforts were further hampered by continuing bad weather, with winds reaching 30 knots.

Finally, on October 23, the six divers were confirmed dead, after having run out of air. It is believed that they had enough air to last for two days at the bottom of the Gulf.


8Blizzard River


You do not necessarily have to be out in the open ocean to suddenly and unexpectedly become trapped underwater. Such was the case in Agawam, Massachusetts, on August 7, 1999, at the Riverside Amusement Park (since redubbed Six Flags New England). At around 9:30 p.m., a raft on the park’s “Blizzard River” ride suddenly capsized. Eight belted-in passengers were left trapped facedown in a mere 0.8 meters (2.5 ft) of water.

That was all it took. While park employees did manage to get some of the riders out before rescuers showed up, the riders (including at least two young children and a pregnant woman) nearly drowned, and several were left hospitalized in critical condition. One rider suffered a brain injury, and another was left with “permanent physical injuries.”

In 2001, the eight riders sued the park owners and the manufacturers of the ride. The plaintiffs argued that the defendants should have known of the risk, since a woman died in a similar incident in Texas earlier in 1999. Also, the park employees seated the three heaviest passengers all on one side of the raft, only exacerbating the risk.

7Chao Phraya River Ferry


On September 18, 2016, a ferry carrying over 100 people was traveling along the Chao Phraya River in Thailand. The passengers were primarily Muslim pilgrims returning to Nonthaburi Province after having attended a ceremony in Ayutthaya.

Not far into the journey, the ferry turned to avoid another boat, which caused it to crash into a concrete bridge pillar. The lower deck of the two-level vessel ended up submerged. A chaotic scene ensued. Rescuers threw ropes to passengers swimming to shore, while others desperately tried to resuscitate victims pulled onto the riverbank. In the end, 27 people died, and roughly 40 others were injured. It took two days to pull most of the bodies out of the wreck.

Thailand is known for a high rate of public transportation accidents, as safety regulations are barely enforced. In this case, the captain of the ferry was charged with reckless driving resulting in death.

6Patrick Peacock and Chris Rittenmeyer


Cave diving is a dangerous hobby, not meant for novice scuba divers. Diving in Eagle’s Nest, near Tampa, Florida, is even more so. Divers descend from what looks like an unassuming pond down to a network of 1.6 kilometers (1 mi) of passages, some as deep as 90 meters (300 ft) from the surface. “The Mt. Everest of cave diving” has claimed lives in the past.

Patrick Peacock and Chris Rittenmeyer, two experienced cave divers, submerged into Eagle’s Nest on October 15, 2016. They had dived there the previous day without incident. The men knew the dangers, and when they dove into the cave at around 2:00 p.m., a safety diver named Justin Blakely waited closer to the surface for them. Peacock and Rittenmeyer were due to meet back up with Blakely at 3:00 p.m.

The two did not show. Blakely checked back at the meeting location every 30 minutes until 6:00 p.m. when he called for help. Rescue divers were unable to find Peacock and Rittenmeyer that evening.

A team of divers finally found the two men’s bodies near each other the next day, 79 meters (260 ft) down in an exceptionally dangerous part of the cave. Peacock and Rittenmeyer are the ninth and tenth people to die in Eagle’s Nest since 1981.


5Twin Caves Rescue


Sometimes, cave diving mishaps do have happy endings. Such an ending occurred in another underwater cave in Florida, Twin Caves, in the summer of 2012. A father and his college-aged son and daughter decided to dive into the cave. The father was an open water scuba diving instructor, but none of the three were certified for cave diving.

A group of cave divers exiting Twin Caves, as the open water trio entered, recounted how their open water style kicking disturbed lots of silt in the already generally silty cave. With visibility fast deteriorating, the cave divers quickly made sure their own lines were secure. Before long, the son bumped into one of them and was guided to the surface. The father soon emerged, but the daughter did not. The cave divers called for rescue.

Fortunately, nearby was Edd Sorenson, an expert cave diver and rescuer, who right then was teaching a cave diving class. He ended his class and rushed to Twin Caves with his gear. There, he found “an 18-meter (60 ft) circle of mud where Twin was supposed to be.”

Wasting no time, Sorenson secured his line and began a zigzag search in zero visibility. He soon found the daughter, her face barely above water in a small air pocket on the cave ceiling. She had left the pocket several times to try to surface, but she could not see a thing. Sorenson guided her out.

Before 2012, only four lost cave divers had been successfully rescued, until Sorenson saved four people in that year alone.

4The AS-28


In another happy ending, seven Russian sailors managed to survive beingtrapped underwater for three days.

In August 2005, the AS-28, a Priz-class mini-submarine, itself meant for rescue missions, was submerged roughly 70 kilometers (40 mi) south of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the capital city of the Kamchatka Peninsula. An undersea surveillance antenna snagged the sub, and bits of fishing net became stuck in its propellers, stranding it 190 meters (623 ft) below the surface. Russian rescue attempts failed.

Despite the AS-28 being stranded in a militarily sensitive region which includes the entrance to a submarine base, Russia was willing to appeal to other countries for help. Ultimately, a British submersible robot descended and cut the AS-28 free with its blades, allowing the vessel to surface. The seven sailors were taken to a hospital and were said to be in satisfactory condition.

3Boy Survives Being Submerged for 42 Minutes


In 2015, a group of six boys jumped into a canal in Milan. Five came back up right away, but the sixth, a 14-year-old named Michael, became stuck, trapped in only two meters (6.5 ft) of water. It took 42 minutes before rescuers were able to free him. By then, his heart had stopped.

Doctors managed to restart Michael’s heart. He was then placed on life support so that his heart and lungs could recover. For ten days, Michael remained in an induced coma and underwent extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a technique which removes oxygen-depleted blood from the body and adds oxygen and warms it before returning it to the body. His right leg did have to be amputated below the knee, but 15 days after the accident, an MRI indicated that Michael’s brain was apparently undamaged.

Amazingly, four weeks after Michael went into the canal, he woke up and spoke to his parents. He was completely coherent and could remember the events before the accident. He even asked for a mojito at one point. His doctor speculates that the cold water of the canal slowed down Michael’s bodily functions and likely played a factor in his survival.

2The Johnson Sea Link

1jsl_front_600 (1)

On June 17, 1973, a submersible called the Johnson Sea Link descended into the waters off Key West, Florida, with four men aboard: Archibald Menzies, Robert Meek, Edwin Link, and Albert Stover. Their goal was to retrieve a fish trap from the USS Fred T. Berry, a scuttled destroyer.

They could not retrieve the trap, and at around 9:45 a.m., the Johnson Sea Link became tangled in a cable in the shipwreck, 110 meters (360 ft) underwater. The US Navy sent the USS Tringa to help. The ship arrived around six hours later, but it took time to determine the submersible’s exact location, as it had no distress buoy. To make matters worse, the submersible’s carbon dioxide scrubber failed in the meantime.

By the evening of June 17, the temperature in the submersible had dropped to around seven degrees Celsius (45 °F), roughly the temperature of the surrounding water. The men were not dressed for such conditions, and the air was becoming less and less breathable.

The first rescue attempt by the Tringa’s crew at around 11:00 p.m. was hindered by the shipwreck. Link and Stover were breathing from air tanks by this point, and the helium-oxygen mix they were breathing only exacerbated body heat loss. The atmospheric pressure inside the Johnson Sea Link had also increased greatly. By 1:12 a.m., Link and Stover were convulsing.

Two further rescue attempts by the Tringa failed for various reasons, as did an attempt by another submersible. Finally, with the help of another ship, theJohnson Sea Link was able to break the surface at 4:53 p.m. on June 18. Link and Stover did not survive.

1The Kursk


On August 12, 2000, Russia was conducting a large-scale naval exercise. Among the 33 vessels in the Barents Sea that day was the Kursk, an Oscar-class nuclear submarine. The Kursk was highly regarded. Boasts included that it could withstand a direct torpedo hit, that it could engage entire groups of US ships, and that it was unsinkable.

It is believed that during the exercise, fuel leaking from a damaged torpedo triggered an explosion. The subsequent fire caused five to seven torpedoes to explode, ripping the sub open. It came to rest on the seabed 108 meters (354 ft) below the surface, roughly 135 kilometers (84 mi) off the coast of Severomorsk.

Bad weather hampered Russian rescue attempts for days while they initially refused to admit that any disaster had occurred. Russia was also wary of accepting foreign help, given the advanced nature of the Kursk, but eventually relented. On August 21, they finally admitted that the crew was dead.

Not all of the 118 men aboard the Kursk died immediately, however. Norwegian divers found that 23 men had survived for some amount of time in the Kursk’s aft compartment. There were reports of tapping sounds coming from the wreck on August 13. The tapping was said to have stopped on August 14. A letter found on Lieutenant Captain Dmitry Kolesnikov provided details of the trapped men’s final days, painting a picture of dropping temperatures, dimming lights, leaking water, and fouling air. Some men were badly burned, and others had been injured by flying debris. Kolesnikov wrote, “None of us can get to the surface.”

Anthony occasionally babbles about things on his blog.

Top 10 Archaeological Discoveries From The Nordic Region

Post 8271

Top 10 Archaeological Discoveries From The Nordic Region



The Nordic Region includes several countries and islands. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Aland are all steeped in ancient history. Constant new discoveries prove that there’s still much to learn from this corner of the world. From mysterious settlers and circles to the graves of saints and ships to bloody battles, Nordic soil will keep archaeologists digging for a long time.


10Hiking Viking

Viking Sword

In 2015, Goran Olson decided to take a breather while hiking in Haukeli in Norway, a popular place among outdoorsmen. Sitting down, he made an extraordinary find under some rocks: a Viking sword. Unbelievably, the weapon had remained undiscovered for over 1,000 years, despite being on a well-trodden trail. The sword was missing its handle and looked a bit rusty, but archaeologists were elated when Olson handed the artifact over to the University Museum of Bergen. Despite the damage, it’s still in exceptional condition.

For something from the Viking Age, the sword is both rare and a valuable contribution. The high mountain pass where it resurfaced is packed with snow for at least half the year. This helped preserve the wrought iron blade and could have caused misfortune to its owner. It’s likely that the individual had an accident or succumbed to the weather while traveling the same ancient route that Olson did. Iron swords were difficult to manufacture, which made owning one a status symbol. Roughly dating to AD 750, the 76-centimeter (30 in) sword would have belonged to a rich Viking.

9Miracle King’s Church

Olaf Altar

Photo credit: NIKU

Here’s something you don’t hear every day: A Viking marauder became a saint. Olaf Haraldsson was born around 995, raided as a youth, and turned over a new leaf in 1013, when he was baptized as a Roman Catholic. Wanting to unite Norway, he became king in 1016 and established the Church of Norway a few years later. Olaf sought safety in Russia when Canute I, the king of England and Denmark, added Norway to his kingdom. Olaf died during battle, trying to retake the throne in 1030. He was buried in Trondheim.

Within a year, locals claimed that the dead king caused miracles. Church teachings tell of how when the royal grave was opened and Olaf’s corpse was found unnaturally well-preserved, the local bishop made Olaf a saint. His body was moved to St. Clement’s Church. The pope officially recognized Olaf’s sainthood in 1164.

Archaeologists believe that they’ve located his final resting place. In 2016, they discovered the stone foundations, a sacred well, and a rectangular rock platform that could be the high altar constructed over St. Olaf’s final grave.


8Galiciefarer’s Grave

Galicefarer Grave

Another high-ranking Viking’s tomb was discovered in Denmark. Unlike St. Olaf, Ulv Galiciefarer became notorious for the usual reasons: He terrorized Northern Spain. Looting and pillaging kept the Viking chief busy. Galiciefarer was also the great-grandfather of one of Denmark’s kings, Valdemar the Great, who ruled from 1157 to 1182.

Archaeologists unearthed a tomb in 2009 that had all the signs of an important person. There’s a chance that it might even be Galiciefarer’s grave. The site matches other noble tombs in the area of Naesby in Jutland. Written history calls the chieftain an “earl of Denmark,” which would have called for a stately burial. Royal graves from the time were covered with a building. While there was none at the newly discovered site, a large square in the ground shaped the foundations for one. A sword from the tomb indicated that the person lived during the first half of the 1000s, fitting with when Galiciefarer lived. The land was also Valdemar’s ancestral property, making it likely that Valdemar had Galiciefarer buried on family land.

7Sole Secrets

Foot Petroglyphs

In Stjordal, a team of archaeologists excavated what looked like normal burial mound in 2010. Things turned interesting when they realized that the ancient builders had used a hill as a foundation, shaving time off construction and raising the mound higher than normal. Then they discovered unexpected petroglyphs. Beneath a layer of what appeared to be a double cremation were eight carvings depicting the soles of human feet and five slightly sunken areas. Researchers believe the grave was ritually built over the drawings, which date to the Bronze Age (1800–500 BC).

The exact meaning of the feet remains a mystery. A nearly identical find was made in Ostlandet County, also with illustrated soles beneath a Bronze Age tomb, but this is the first to be found in Stjordal. The excavation also produced scorched animal and human bones from several individuals. A little south of the tomb, which dates between 500 BC and AD 1, were more drawings of soles, this time with toes and a pair of boats.

6Mystery Settlers


Between Norway and Iceland are the Faroe Islands. Called the “steps to the Americas,” the isles allowed Europeans a foothold in the Atlantic before colonizing the continents. Historical accounts place the Vikings as the first arrivals. In 2013, however, researchers found signs that somebody reached the Faroe Islands 300–500 years before the Vikings. Whoever these mysterious pioneers were, they didn’t settle en masse like the Vikings would later do, but they stayed for a long time.

On the island of Sandoy, they dusted the dunes with ash, a known technique used by ancient Europeans to steady sand and prevent wind erosion. The ash contained barley grains dating to a pre-Viking era. Barley was not native to the island and had to have been cultivated or imported. There are the first hard archaeological traces of a colony that history forgot. The find raises the question of how many other unknown companies explored the North Atlantic territories and when.


5The Palisade Fences

Palisade Fence Denmark

Photo credit: Pernille Rohde Sloth

A fascinating phenomenon in Nordic countries are palisade enclosures. In Denmark, near Stevns, one hugs the landscape with such epic proportionsthat it stunned archaeologists in 2017. Built in the Stone Age, it runs like a strange labyrinth over an area of 18,000 square meters (200,000 ft2). Several palisade rings make up the interior. The timber palisade’s center yielded sun symbols and possibly a solar temple. A second, similar construction also exists on the island.

More palisades dot the fields in Denmark’s East Zealand and Falster as well as in Skane, Sweden. In 1988, some of the most intriguing sites were found on the Danish island of Bornholm. The Bornholm sites are the only palisades with any connection to ritual and worship. They are also older than Stevns, which was probably erected from 2900 to 2800 BC. Archaeologists don’t know why palisade patches were created, but they were obviously important. Despite their differences, they enclosed something, perhaps of religious value, like the Bornholm temples.

4Denmark’s Oldest Boat

Denmark Islands

Photo via Ancient Origins

In 2014, an energy company was laying cables under the sea when they found Denmark’s oldest boat. The wreck was tucked away near Asko Island. The 6- to 7-meter-long (20–23 ft) treasure is thought to be 6,500 years old. That’s almost two millennia older than Egypt’s most ancient pyramid.

Thousands of years of being submerged have done their damage, but scientists got excited over a particular crack, which formed when the vessel was brand-new. The owners had attempted to cure the problem by drilling holes around it and plugging the split with a piece of bark. Remarkably, the 2-millimeter-wide bark and sealing mass inside the holes survived.

Connected to the boat discovery was another submerged find. A complete Stone Age village sits nearby beneath the waves. One day, the settlement might help researchers redraw Denmark’s coastlines the way they looked thousands of years ago.

3Proof Of Sverre’s Saga

Sverresborg Castle Well Skeleton

The Kongesagaer is a collection of tales about medieval Norwegian kings. Historians have long been wary about how much is authentic recollection and how much has been embellished. Now, one story appears to be true—very true, in fact. Sverre’s Saga tells of a defeat that King Sverre Sigurdsson suffered in 1197 at his own castle, Sverresborg. After burning down the buildings, the Baglers threw one of the king’s mercenaries down the well to spoil the stronghold’s drinking water. The Baglers then topped up the well with stones.

In Trondheim, Norway, archaeologists were clearing debris from a well belonging to the ancient castle when they found human bones at the bottom in 2016. Radiocarbon testing placed the person’s lifetime during the last part of the 12th century. That slots perfectly into the saga’s time line. The individual who ended up in the castle’s water source is the only known example of remains that can be tied to an act of war as long ago as 1197.

2Sandy Borg Massacre

Sandy Borg Child

Photo credit: Kalmar Lans Museum

On the Swedish island of Oland, the Sandy borg ringfort once held a thriving community. But some 1,500 years ago, a number of villagers were massacred. The horrific event was unearthed when researchers began excavations in 2010. Initially, it was thought that only adults had stayed at the fort, but in 2014, two child victims were also discovered. Whoever ambushed the fort excluded nobody from the massacre, not even small kids. Aged two to five, they were found in a house with a male adult, who met with a particularly gruesome end. The 50- to 60-year-old was incapacitated in some way before he fell face-first into the home’s burning hearth.

Due to a lack of finances, only three percent of the fort has been excavated, but it was enough to reveal the scale of the horror. In that small area, ten bodies were found, the two children among them. A lot more bodies likely await discovery. Whatever happened, the survivors abandoned the fort in such a hurry that they left valuable gold jewelry behind.

1The Blekinge


Photo credit: Javier Kohen

In 2017, marine archaeologists found a vessel on the sea floor near the coast of the Swedish city of Karlskrona. Partially crushed and stuck deeply in the sediment, enough of the ship was visible to identify her. Experts are convinced that this is the warship Blekinge. The historic ship was the first to be built in Karlskrona and was put to sea in 1682. After 31 years of service, she sank near her home city during a campaign to defend Sweden from Russia. The wreck is about 45 meters (150 ft) long and packs around 70 deadly cannons.

At this point, it remains too difficult to remove the vessel, due to its bad condition and depth in the sand. However, the Blekinge strongly resembles another famous warship, the Vasa (pictured above), in age and size. The Stockholm-built Vasa bubbled under during her maiden voyage in 1628 and is the only 17th-century ship to be raised from the sea almost completely intact. The 64-gunner has her own museum, and salvaged artifacts allow a rich glimpse into everyday Swedish life of the era.

10 Dark Secrets Of The Mongol Empire

Post 8270

10 Dark Secrets Of The Mongol Empire



In the 13th century, the Mongols erupted from their isolated homeland, forming one of the greatest empires the world has ever known. Although they had a reputation as simple warriors, the Mongol ruling family soon became the richest and most powerful clan on Earth. Moving from felt tents to their great palace city at Karakorum, the Mongol court hid all sorts of dark secrets.




Photo credit: Burumbator

Genghis Khan committed his first murder at age 14. According to a near-contemporary chronicle known as The Secret History Of The Mongols, the young Temujin was often bullied by his older half-brother Begter. After Begter stole some food from them, Temujin and his younger brother Qasar crept up on Begter through the long grass and riddled him with arrows.

Unsurprisingly, Genghis remained fond of murder as a problem-solving method and a number of his enemies died sudden and suspicious deaths. A particularly petty case involved a famous Mongol wrestler named Buri, who had made the mistake of humiliating Genghis’s brother Belgutei in a match before Genghis’s rise to power.

The Secret History relates that after Temujin became Genghis Khan, he invited Buri for a rematch. Frightened by the khan’s power, Buri took what he thought was the safe option and allowed Belgutei to throw and pin him.

But at a signal from Genghis, Belgutei pressed his knee into Buri’s back and hauled on his collarbone, breaking his spine. The paralyzed wrestler was then dragged outside and left to die, presumably while contemplating his decision to throw a match before a ruler who had never respected cowardice.



Photo credit: indiandefence.com

Although Genghis Khan restricted the use of torture, Mongol executions were often extremely grisly. When Guyuk Khan suspected that the powerful courtier Fatima had poisoned his brother, Guyuk had her tortured into confessing before “her upper and lower orifices were sewn up and she was rolled up in a sheet of felt and thrown into the river.”

The Mongols traditionally had a taboo against shedding royal blood, so another favorite method of execution was crushing. The Abbasid Caliph al-Musta’sim was rolled up in a carpet and trampled to death by stampeding horses. After the Battle of the Kalka River, captured Russian princes were shoved under some floorboards and crushed as the Mongols held their victory feast on top of them.

Genghis himself ordered that a captured Tangut ruler be renamed Shidurqu (“Loyal”) before he was crushed, so that his spirit would be forced to serve the Mongols in the afterlife. He was lucky compared to the Persian noble who was covered in sheep fat, wrapped in felt, and left tied up in the hot sun to meet his fate.




Photo credit: Wikia

Despite the Mongol reputation as bluff, uncomplicated warriors, they were as fond of intrigue as any other people and the court often resembled a snake pit of competing factions. One of the earliest and most serious incidents came during the reign of Genghis himself when the shaman Teb Tengri began maneuvering to replace the khan’s brothers as the dominant power at court.

Teb Tengri first targeted the khan’s brother Qasar, reporting a prophetic vision that Qasar would try to take power for himself. Genghis immediately ordered Qasar arrested and seemed likely to sentence him to death.

The day was saved by Genghis’s mother, Hoelun. When she heard that Qasar had been arrested, she drove her cart through the night and burst into the khan’s tent. With Genghis too astonished to respond, she untied Qasar, whipped her coat off, and demanded to know if her sons could recognize the breasts that had suckled them. She then berated Genghis up and down the tent until the ashamed khan agreed to release his brother.

The shaman waited until Hoelun died before making another move, stealing the inheritance that should have gone to her youngest son, Temuge. When Temuge complained, Teb Tengri’s brothers beat Temuge and forced him to kneel and beg the shaman for his life.

This time, Genghis’s wife Borte intervened, warning that the shaman might move against Genghis one day. At this, Genghis resorted to his favorite trick and staged a wrestling match in which Teb Tengri’s back was broken and the paralyzed shaman was left outside to die.

7Sex Slavery


Photo credit: historyonthenet.com

Although many Mongol women rose to positions of great power, the Mongols themselves weren’t exactly feminists. Foreign women captured on their campaigns were forcibly married to Mongol men or forced into service as concubines. The Mongols also often demanded young maidens as tribute from subject peoples.

In one famous example, the Siberian queen Botohui-tarhun (“Big And Fierce”) became one of the few people to defeat a Mongol army when she lured one of Genghis’s generals into an ambush. A later expedition defeated the Siberians and captured Botohui-tarhun, who was married off to a Mongol soldier and disappeared from history.

Some noble women made the best of a bad situation. When Genghis conquered the Merkids, he gave their princess, Toregene, to his son Ogedei. She soon eclipsed Ogedei’s other wives and ruled the empire for five years after his death.



Photo via Wikimedia

As impoverished herders, the Mongols had limited access to alcohol. They mostly drank fermented mare’s milk, which was only mildly alcoholic and not available year-round.

However, after the conquests of Genghis Khan, wealth flowed into the former backwater and many Mongols found themselves living lives of leisure, with unlimited access to wine and distilled spirits. As a result, alcoholism had already become a huge problem by the time of Genghis’s death.

Even the Great Khan’s family wasn’t immune, and at least two of his sons, Tolui and Ogedei, drank themselves to death. Their brother Chagatai was forced to strictly order his servants not to let him have more than a few cups a day.

The problem was particularly acute with Ogedei, who had succeeded Genghis as khan. Ogedei was almost completely dependent on wine, to the point that Persian historian Ata-Malek Juvayni claims that Ogedei often made key decisions drunk.

His minister, Yelu Chucai, repeatedly made the khan promise to drink less. But the promise never stuck, especially since his wife, Toregene, encouraged him to stay drunk so that she could take power for herself.

The problem didn’t end with Genghis’s sons. The European monk William of Rubruck visited the court of his grandson Mongke and reported a pervasive drinking culture, including a silver tree with four pipes that freely dispensed wine, rice wine, mead, and fermented mare’s milk.


5The Kidnapping That Helped Create And Destroy The Empire


Photo credit: timetoast.com

Around 1178, a newlywed named Borte was kidnapped by Merkid tribesmen. Her enraged husband, Temujin, quickly assembled a small coalition and attacked the Merkids, rescuing Borte and establishing his reputation as a formidable warrior. It was arguably the moment that put Temujin on the path to becoming Genghis Khan.

Yet if the kidnapping helped create the Mongol Empire, it also helped destroy it. By the time Borte was rescued, she was several months pregnant and no one could say for sure whether the father was her husband or one of her rapists. By all accounts, Temujin accepted the child as his. But the rumors persisted.

Many years later, the aging Genghis Khan called his family together to designate a successor. The obvious choice was his oldest son, Jochi. But his second son, Chagatai, insisted that he should take precedence over the “bastard son of a Merkid,” and the meeting descended into an undignified brawl.

Despite their father’s pleas, the brothers refused to reconcile. This forced a compromise where the throne went to Genghis’s third son, the alcoholic Ogedei, setting the stage for years of infighting and strife that eventually broke the empire apart.

4The Purge


Genghis Khan carefully ensured that his son Ogedei would take the throne without opposition on Genghis’s death. The real problems started when Ogedei drank himself to death in 1241. Political infighting escalated into a vicious purge that almost exterminated the descendants of two of Genghis’s four sons.

Power was initially seized by Ogedei’s wife, Toregene, who ruled the empire for five years while she schemed to have her wastrel son Guyuk elected khan. She succeeded after much intrigue, including the execution of Genghis’s surviving brother, Temuge. But Guyuk turned against her after she tried to keep power for herself. Toregene’s advisers were executed, and the queen herself died under extremely mysterious circumstances.

Guyuk’s own sudden death two years later threw things back into chaos as the descendants of Jochi and Tolui teamed up to put Tolui’s son Mongke on the throne. They were opposed by the Chagataids and Ogedeids, who apparently tried to assassinate Mongke and stage a coup. In response,Mongke staged a massive purge.

The ministers of Ogedei and Guyuk were rounded up and murdered. Meanwhile, the army was formed into a massive line and sent sweeping through Mongolia, rounding up Ogedeid princes for execution. Special tribunals called jarghus were sent through the empire, conducting show trials of Ogedeid loyalists. The Ogedeids and Chagataids took years to recover, as the Toluids cemented their grip on the empire.

3Civil War


Photo credit: doliva1.wixsite.com

The first Mongol civil war almost broke out during the short reign of Guyuk. At a banquet in Russia, Guyuk had been involved in a moronic squabble with Jochi’s son Batu, which ended with Guyuk screaming that Batu “was just an old woman.”

The two were fierce rivals after that, and Batu refused to come to Mongolia to pay homage when Guyuk took the throne. In response, Guyuk summoned his army and marched on Batu’s territory in Russia. Fortunately, Guyuk died en route and outright war was averted.

The Mongols were less lucky after the death of Mongke Khan, as his brothers Kublai Khan and Ariq Boke quickly tore the empire apart in a massive civil war to determine who would succeed Mongke. In the chaos, the Ogedei and Chagatai clans made a comeback.

However, the clans of Jochi and Hulagu, Mongke’s other brother, broke away into independent states in the West, which became known as the Golden Horde and the Ilkhanate. The Mongol Empire would never truly be whole again.

2Religious Fanaticism


Photo credit: taringa.net

Although they were among the most religiously tolerant empires in history, the Mongol ruling clan fervently believed they had been set on a divine mission that justified the nightmarish slaughter of their conquests. In 1218, Genghis Khan climbed the pulpit of a mosque in the recently conquered city of Bukhara and informed the quaking citizens: “You have committed great sins. [ . . . ] If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”

Many years later, Genghis’s grandson Guyuk struck a similar note in a letter to Pope Innocent IV: “Thanks to the power of the eternal Heaven, all lands have been given to us from sunrise to sunset. [ . . . ] If you do not obey the commands of Heaven and run counter to our orders, we shall know that you are our foe.”

Another grandson, Mongke Khan, wrote to King Louis of France boasting that “in Heaven there is only one eternal God, and on Earth, there is only one lord, Genghis Khan. [ . . . ] When, by the virtue of the eternal God, from the rising of the Sun to the setting, all the world shall be in universal joy and peace, then shall be manifested what we are to be.”

Hulagu Khan neatly summed things up in another letter: “God . . . spoke to our grandfather, Genghis Khan, through Teb Tengri, saying ”I have set thee over the nations . . . to throw down, to build, and to plant. [ . . . ] Those who do not believe will later learn [their] punishment.”

1The Plan To Exterminate The Chinese


Photo credit: Rrmarcellus

The Mongols were always most comfortable on the open plains, which provided plenty of fodder for their horses. Months or years before embarking on a campaign, they would send smaller detachments of soldiers ahead to burn farms, orchards, and villages. This allowed the land to revert to pasture by the time the main Mongol army arrived.

Infuriated by the difficulty of conquering a heavily developed land like China, Ogedei Khan considered a horrifying expansion of this scheme. Essentially, the plan was to slaughter the northern Chinese peasantry and turn the former territory of the Jin dynasty into one huge pasture.

This genocidal scheme was stopped largely through the efforts of Ogedei’s Chinese adviser, Yelu Chucai. He persuaded the khan that introducing a system of taxation would be more beneficial in the long run by providing a steady stream of revenue to fund the Mongol conquests. Fortunately, Ogedei listened to his minister and never signed off on the plan to ethnically cleanse northern China.