The Whaley House

The Whaley House or The Thomas Whaley Mansion was built in 1856 by Thomas Whaley, a merchant from New York, the house was used for business purposes as well as the family residence. This mansion, completely furnished with antiques from the days of early California, is also considered to be a haunted house. Immediately after its construction was completed in 1857, the mansion became the center of business, government, and social affairs in Old San Diego. The oldest brick house in Southern California served as a courthouse, a courtroom, a theater, and a boarding house—as well as the family home of Thomas and Anna Whaley and their children. The property was the town gallows before the house was built. The most regular spirits present today are: Thomas Whaley, Anna Whaley (wife), James Robinson (hung on the property before the house was built), and a small girl (around 3 years old). Today, no one is allowed in the Whaley House after 4 P.M., but police officers and responsible citizens say that someone—or something—keeps walking around half the night turning all the lights on.

Located at 2482 San Diego Avenue in Old San Diego, the Whaley House has been restored and is now owned and operated by the San Diego Historical Society as a tourist attraction. Often, while conducting tours through the old mansion, members of the society have heard eerie footsteps moving about other parts of the house when the rooms were visibly unoccupied. June Reading, a former director of the Whaley House, told of footsteps being heard in the master bedroom and on the stairs. Windows, even when fastened down with three four-inch bolts on each side, would fly open of their own accord—often in the middle of the night, triggering the burglar alarm. People often reported having heard screams echoing throughout the second story of the mansion, and once a large, heavy china closet had toppled over by itself. Numerous individuals had sensed or psychically seen the image of a scaffold and a hanging man on the south side of the mansion.

According to Reading, 10 years before Thomas Whaley constructed his home on the site, a sailor named Yankee Jim Robinson had been hanged on the spot of what would later become the arch between the music room and the living room in the mansion. Whaley had been an observer when Yankee Jim kept his appointment with the hangman. Some visitors to the Whaley House have reported seeing a gaudily dressed woman with a painted face lean out of a second-story window. In Reading’s opinion, that could well be an actress from one of the theatrical troupes that had leased the second floor in November 1868. The Court House Wing of the mansion is generally thought to be the most haunted spot in the Whaley House, due to the violent emotions that were expended there in the early days of San Diego.

An 1872 map of the Whaley House identified a contemporaneous feature, marked by a circle inside of a square, approximately 20' behind the house. It was directly in line with the eastern wall of the structure. On the basis of its size, shape, proximity to the main structure, and alignment with the drainage gutters that currently run down the edge of the house, Mallios, Coons, and Christenson deduced this figure to be the cistern to the Whaley House.

Many individuals who have visited the old house have heard the sounds of a crowded courtroom in session and the noisy meetings of men in Thomas Whaley’s upstairs study. According to many psychical researchers, the fact that this one single mansion served so many facets of city life, in addition to being a family home, almost guarantees several layers of psychic residue permeating themselves upon the environment. Many sensitive visitors to the Whaley House have also perceived the image of Anna Whaley, who, some feel, still watches over the mansion that she loved so much. And who, according to a good number of those who have encountered her presence, deeply resents the intrusion of strangers. Reading remembered the night in 1964 when television talk show host Regis Philbin and a friend saw Anna Whaley as they sat on the Andrew Jackson sofa at 2:30 A.M. The ghostly image floated from the study, through the music room, and into the parlor. At that moment, Philbin, in nervous excitement, dissolved the apparition with the beam of his flashlight.

In the fall of 1966, a group of newspeople volunteered to stay in Whaley House to spend the night with Yankee Jim. Special permission was granted to the journalists by the historical society, and the ghost hunters settled in for their overnight stay. The wife of one of the reporters had to be taken home by 9:30 P.M. She was badly shaken and claimed that she had seen something on the upper floor that she refused to describe. The entire party of journalists left the house before dawn. They, too, refused to discuss the reason for their premature departure, but some people say the ghost of Yankee Jim, still protesting the horror of his death, confronted them. Since that time, night visits have not been permitted in Whaley House. In addition to the sightings of the primary spirits of Thomas and Anna Whaley, Reading said that the other ghosts most often seen include those of Yankee Jim, who walks across the upstairs sitting room to the top of the stairs; a young girl named Washburn, a playmate of the Whaley children; and “Dolly Varden,” the family’s favorite dog. And then there are the screams, the giggles, the rattling doorknobs, the cooking odors, the smell of Thomas Whaley’s Havana cigars, Anna’s sweet-scented perfume, the sound of footsteps throughout the house, and the music box and piano that play by themselves.

In 1993, Bonny Vent (Spirit Advocate, San Diego Paranormal Research Project) visited the Whaley House. Some might remember that there used to be some very spooky-looking mannequins in the upstairs bedrooms. She walked past the master bedroom and she heard the spirit voice of Anna Whaley. She explained to Bonny that she did not like her dress on that mannequin and that people visiting were spooked by the mannequins. She found it disrespectful. So Bonny went up to the caretaker and said, “Excuse me, I hope you do not think I am crazy, but Anna told me she doesn’t like her black dress on that mannequin.” The caretaker looked at her and said, “I believe you. Not many things in this house actually belonged to a Whaley family member, but that is indeed Mrs. Whaley’s dress.” The lady also remarked that she and Anna were the only ones who knew that fact, so of course she believed her. This caretaker was June Reading, who was instrumental in saving the house.

Bonny came back to the house a few months later and found that all of the mannequins had been removed, and the black dress was now laid out on the bed. As she was standing there, Anna’s spirit thanked her for delivering her message. Little did she know that in the year 2000, a battle would ensue in court over what was and what was not Whaley property. She told every docent who would listen to save Anna’s black dress. To this day, she do not know if it was her insistence or some documentation left by June Reading, but the dress was saved. There is a theater stage there now, but if you look at old pictures of the Whaley House, you will see Anna’s black dress laid out on the bed.

Up to this point, Bonny only had a spirit voice and the word of June Reading, who passed in 1998, as proof of that being Anna’s black dress. In August of 2003, she was researching through newspapers from the 1887 to 1888 timeframe. In the San Diego Union she found an article about a Gala Ball held at the Hotel del Coronado in 1888. Anna is included on the guest list. There is a detailed description of Anna’s black dress! This must have been the occasion that caused her to buy the dress from Paris. Ten years after first communicating with Anna’s spirit, Bonny have found tangible proof of what she told her in a local newspaper printed in 1888.

(Sources : Encyclopedia of Haunted Places : “Ghostly Locales From Around The World” compiled & edited by Jeff Belanger; Encyclopedia of Unusual & Unexplained Things; http://whaleyhouse.org/archeology.htm )

(Pics sources : Encyclopedia of Haunted Places : “Ghostly Locales From Around The World” compiled & edited by Jeff Belanger page 203; http://whaleyhouse.org/images/dig2_2.jpg)
07:36 | 2 komentar

The Lost Gospel

In December 1945 an Arab peasant made an astonishing archaeological discovery. A collection of early Christian Gnostic texts discovered near the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi. That year, thirteen leather-bound papyrus codices buried in a sealed jar were found. The Nag Hammadi Gospel (popularly known as The Gnostic Gospels) comprised fifty-two mostly Gnostic tractates (treatises), but they also include three works belonging to the Corpus Hermeticum and a partial translation / alteration of Plato's Republic. Rumors obscured the circumstances of this find, perhaps because the discovery was accidental and its sale on the black market illegal. In his "Introduction" to The Nag Hammadi Library in English, James Robinson suggests that these codices may have belonged to a nearby Pachomian monastery, and were buried after Bishop Athanasius condemned the uncritical use of non-canonical books in his Festal Letter of 367 AD. The contents of the codices were written in Coptic, though the works were probably all translations from Greek. The best-known of these works is probably the Gospel of Thomas, of which the Nag Hammadi codices contain the only complete text.

After the discovery it was recognized that fragments of these sayings attributed to Jesus appeared in manuscripts discovered at Oxyrhynchus in 1898, and matching quotations were recognized in other early Christian sources. Subsequently, a 1st or 2nd century date of composition circa 80 AD for the lost Greek originals of the Gospel of Thomas has been proposed, though this is disputed by many if not the majority of biblical matter researchers. The once buried manuscripts themselves date from the 3rd and 4th centuries.

For years even the identity of the discoverer remained unknown. One rumor held that he was a blood avenger; another, that he had made the find near the town of Naj ‘Hammadi at the Jabal al-Tarif, a mountain honeycombed with more than 150 caves. Originally natural, some of these caves were cut and painted and used as grave sites as early as the sixth dynasty, some 4,300 years ago. Thirty years later the discoverer himself, Muhammad ‘Ali al-Samman, told what happened. Shortly before he and his brothers avenged their father’s murder in a blood feud, they had saddled their camels and gone out to the Jabal to dig for sabakh, a soft soil they used to fertilize their crops. Digging around a massive boulder, they hit a red earthenware jar, almost a meter high. Muhammad ‘Ali hesitated to break the jar. But realizing that it might also contain gold, he raised his mattock, smashed the jar, and discovered inside thirteen papyrus books, bound in leather. Muhammad ‘Ali asked the priest, al-Qummus Basiliyus Abd al-Masïh, to keep one or more for him.

Some of the leather-bound manuscripts found at Nag Hammadi

During the time that Muhammad ‘Ali and his brothers were being interrogated for murder, Raghib, a local history teacher, had seen one of the books, and suspected that it had value. Having received one from al- Qummus Basiliyus, Raghib sent it to a friend in Cairo to find out its worth. Sold on the black market through antiquities dealers in Cairo, the manuscripts soon attracted the attention of officials of the Egyptian government. Through circumstances of high drama, as we shall see, they bought one and confiscated ten and a half of the thirteen leather-bound books, called codices, and deposited them in the Coptic Museum in Cairo. But a large part of the thirteenth codex, containing five extraordinary texts, was smuggled out of Egypt and offered for sale in America.

Word of this codex soon reached Professor Gilles Quispel, distinguished historian of religion at Utrecht, in the Netherlands. Excited by the discovery, Quispel urged the Jung Foundation in Zürich to buy the codex. But discovering, when he succeeded, that some pages were missing, he flew to Egypt in the spring of 1955 to try to find them in the Coptic Museum. Arriving in Cairo, he went at once to the museum, borrowed photographs of some of the texts, and hurried back to his hotel to decipher them. Tracing out the first line, Quispel was startled, then incredulous, to read: “These are the secret words which the living Jesus spoke, and which the twin, Judas Thomas, wrote down.” Quispel knew that his colleague H.-C. Puech, using notes from another French scholar, Jean Doresse, had identified the opening lines with fragments of a Greek Gospel of Thomas discovered in the 1890s. But the discovery of the whole text raised new questions: Did Jesus have a twin brother, as this text implies? Could the text be an authentic record of Jesus’s sayings? According to its title, it contained the Gospel According to Thomas; yet, unlike the Gospels of the New Testament, this text identified itself as a secret gospel.

Quispel also discovered that it contained many sayings known from the New Testament; but these sayings, placed in unfamiliar contexts, suggested other dimensions of meaning. Other passages, Quispel found, differed entirely from any known Christian tradition: The “living Jesus,” for example, speaks in sayings as cryptic and compelling as Zen koans: “Jesus said, ‘If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.’ ” What Quispel held in his hand, the Gospel of Thomas, was only one of the fifty-two texts discovered at Nag Hammadi. Bound into the same volume with it is the Gospel of Philip, which attributes to Jesus acts and sayings quite different from those in the New Testament:
“ ... the companion of the [Savior is] Mary Magdalene. [But Christ loved] her more than [all] the disciples, and used to kiss her [often] on her [mouth]. The rest of [the disciples were offended.] ... They said to him, ‘Why do you love her more than all of us?’ The Savior answered and said to them, ‘Why do I not love you as [I love] her?’ ” Other sayings in this collection criticize common Christian beliefs, such as the virgin birth or the bodily resurrection, as naïve misunderstandings. Bound together with these gospels is the Apocryphon (literally, “secret book”) of John, which opens with an offer to reveal “the mysteries [and the] things hidden in silence” which Jesus taught to his disciple John.

Muhammad ‘Ali later admitted that some of the texts were lost—burned up or thrown away. But what remains is astonishing: some fifty-two texts from the early centuries of the Christian era, including a collection of early Christian gospels, previously unknown. ... What Muhammad ‘Ali discovered at Nag Hammadi, it soon became clear, were Coptic translations, made about 1,500 years ago, of still more ancient manuscripts. The originals themselves had been written in Greek, the language of the New Testament: As Doresse, Puech, and Quispel had recognized, part of one of them had been discovered by archaeologists about fifty years earlier, when they found a few fragments of the original Greek version of the Gospel of Thomas. About the dating of the manuscripts themselves there is little debate.

Examination of the datable papyrus used to thicken the leather bindings, and of the Coptic script, place them about A.D. 350-400. But scholars sharply disagree about the dating of the original texts. Some of them can hardly be later than about A.D. 120-150, since Irenaeus, the orthodox Bishop of Lyon, writing about 180, declares that heretics “boast that they possess more gospels than there really are” and complains that in his time such writings already have won wide circulation, from Gaul through Rome, Greece, and Asia Minor. Quispel and his collaborators, who first published the Gospel of Thomas, suggested the date of about 140 for the original. ... But recently Professor Helmut Koester of Harvard University has suggested that the collection of sayings in the Gospel of Thomas, although compiled about 140, may include some traditions even older than the Gospels of the New Testament, “possibly as early as the second half of the first century” (50-100)—as early as, or earlier, than Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John. ...

Why were these texts buried—and why have they remained virtually unknown for nearly 2,000 years? Their suppression as banned documents, and their burial on the cliff at Nag Hammadi, it turns out, were both part of a struggle critical for the formation of early Christianity. Some scholars said the Nag Hammadi texts, and others like them, which circulated at the beginning of the Christian era, were denounced as heresy by orthodox Christians in the middle of the second century.

(Sources : Secret of The Da Vinci Code : “The Unauthorized Guide To The Bestselling Novel” Collector’s Edition; and Wikipedia)

(Pics sources : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kodeks_IV_NagHammadi.jpg;
Secret of The Da Vinci Code : “The Unauthorized Guide To The Bestselling Novel” Collector’s Edition page 34)
15:50 | 4 komentar

Mystery of Lol-Tun Cave


This cave is located 110 km from Merida via federal highway 31 in the State of Yucatan, Mexico. Only 4.3 miles from Oxkutzcab and 15 miles northeast from Labna ruins. Loltun Caverns are one of the biggest known from the huge cave system that covers a great territory in southern Yucatan. The Lol-Tun cave network, at its lowest levels, holds secrets that literally rewrite history. These same secrets also bear witness to the ultimate disaster that probably destroyed earth’s first major civilizations. Other material remains have been found in this and other parts of the grotto including pottery, marine shells, stone artifacts, bas-relief carvings, petroglyphs and mural paintings, corresponding to the distinct development stages of the Maya Culture. From the Formative period (600 B.C. - 150 A.D.) stands out the bas-relief carving known as "The Loltun Warrior", located in Nahkab (beehive) entrance, presenting inherited traits from ancient Olmecs.

From Classic (150 - 900 A.D.) and Post classic (900 A.D. to 16th century) can be observed cultural features such as mural paintings representing hands, faces, animals, geometric motifs and inscriptions; "haltunes" or artificial containers carved in the rock for gathering natural dripping water (suhuy-ha); as well as many petroglyphs, standing out those with flower motifs, which gave the name to the cavern. There are also 19th century barricades constructed by rebel Mayas who sheltered in this and other southern Yucatan caves during the so called "War of Castes".

In March, 1962, a small expedition headed by explorer/ author George Hunt Williamson, was reportedly guided by Mayan priests into a number of lower-level chambers. Dorris Andre, the wife of George Van Tassell (builder of the worldfamous Integetron Building) was the only woman in the party. The expedition’s Mayan language interpreter, Professor Vincente, was impressed with Dorris’s great interest in Mayan history and soon the Mayan priests themselves accepted her as a white Shaman. In recognition of the spiritual aura they saw in her persona, she was told a most insightful history of the area’s Mayan population.

Afterward, she and the rest of the party were guided to a chamber with a luminous fossilized ceiling. There, to their amazement, they later reported that they found the skeletal remains of woolly mammoths, large (sabertoothed?) tigers and bison—a virtual museum of Ice Age large, upper North American animals. Williamson and Dr. J. Manson Valentine would later debate how these extinct northern climate animals came to be in this southern Yucatan graveyard. The most logical theory (though thoroughly unacceptable to most anthropologists): the southern Yucatan was once located near present-day Newfoundland— before a pole shift. This is the story told by the Mayan priests: There once was a great movement of the earth’s surface, causing oceans to overrun their basins and flood all land. A great civilization was destroyed, with survivors clinging to floating debris. Despite the heavy rains that followed for many days, the survivors were ‘carried’ by winds and current to the shoreline below the Yucatan. (The priests literally pointed in a southward direction—toward present day Belize. The proof that this area is the genesis of the early Mayan civilization lies under the jungle floor in Belize. Over one hundred population centers/cities have been geographically mapped and are under the protection of the Belize government.)

Lol-Tun Pottery

In approximately 989 A.D., The Aztecs and Mayans in close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean were visited by White Gods from the north. Their leader had hair so red it seemed to be almost on fire. (In celebration of their visit, some pottery pieces were painted with a picture of a Viking head and his ship. The White Gods/Vikings promised to return. Five hundred years later, the great Aztec chief, Montezuma II, and his priests assumed the Spanish invaders were those returning Gods. So did the Mayans. After their conquest by the Spanish, many of the Mayan priests took up residence in a few of the larger cave systems. There they continued to practice in private all their traditional ceremonies, except for human sacrifices, which no longer had purpose. To some of the priests, their Spanish-catholic conquerors insisting on their acceptance of the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross was most disturbing. It seemed to them that the sacrifice of Christ that created the religion of their conquerors meant their own human sacrifices had not been as acceptable to their gods. As more and more Mayans escaped the Spanish by hiding in the caves, the marvels of the lower levels of the Lol- Tun caves were discovered.

From their own ‘hand me down’ history, these present-day Mayans knew of the significance of the animal bones. Ceremonies dedicated to their ancestors were often held in the ‘Chamber of Great Animal Bones’. Because of the maze of passages throughout the lower levels, only a few known passages were used by the Mayans. Shortly after the Spanish conquest, several hundred Mayans and a few priests descended into what they believed was a land of artificial light and plentiful water and fish stocks. Even plant life was alleged to be abundant. Carrying only provisions of food, water and seeds for planting, they descended out of sight and were never seen again. They are believed to have found a paradise below the earth and to be thriving there today. Yet, it became a taboo to try to follow those that descended, as they are considered the ‘chosen’ ones. As to why the Mayan calendar ends in 2012, the priests simply stated, “that is the end of the Mayan civilization.”

A number of cave visitors and explorers have actually disappeared into the maze of tunnels in the lower levels of the Lol- Tun cave system. The lower levels have been closed to tourists for several years. As a parting gift to Dorris Andre, the Mayan priests gave her a set of ceremonial bowls that had once been used in a human sacrifice. One of the bowls bears the unmistakable likeness of a Viking head and Viking long boat. There is believed to be human DNA in one of the bowls. A strange faced (God?) protrudes from one of the pieces, with hands linked behind his head. The pottery pieces were inherited from Dorris Andre by George Riddle and sold to the present owners in November 2001.

In an interview with the author in the late 1980s, Dorris Andre was asked why the 1962 Williamson expedition never received any publicity. She replied, “George (Williamson) never completed his book on the expedition. He did send the National Geographic some photos, which I believe they did publish later in 1962 or ’63. George was not very popular with the ranking anthropologists, who usually discredited whatever he wrote. I understand Dr. Valentine mentions the expedition in one of his books, but I have not read it myself. I do believe if Professor Vincente had ever written a book on the history of the Mayans, it would be quite different from the anthropology version.”

In 1986, Dorris’s son was murdered. Only his head was recovered and he is believed to have been murdered by Satanists he was trying to expose. At the time of his death, he was in possession of some of the photographic documentation of the expedition. These slides and 16 mm footage were never found. Only the photos sent to National Geographic magazine and the pottery pieces remain to document this most meaningful expedition.

(Sources : Atlantis Rising Magazine No.38 (The Lol-Tun Cave Mystery : Do The Vast Caverns of Belize Hold Secrets of Human Origins? by Ron Libert); and http://www.tourbymexico.com/yucatan/loltun/loltun.htm)

(Pics sources : Atlantis Rising Magazine No.38 page 36;
http://wikitravel.org/upload/shared//thumb/9/91/Lol_Tun_Caves_Yucatan_Mexico.JPG/250px-Lol_Tun_Caves_Yucatan_Mexico.JPG)
08:16 | 4 komentar

King John's Lost Treasure

John, King of England from 1199–1216, is remembered today for many reasons, most of them unfavourable. To children he is best known as the arch-villain in the Robin Hood story, and in history he is remembered as ‘bad king John’, who lost most of the overseas possessions of the Angevin empire, irritated the barons so much that he was forced to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, and lost his Crown Jewels in the Wash. The legend of John’s lost treasure has been handed down and grown in the telling for 700 years, largely by word of mouth, and anyone brought up in the Fens has heard it from an early age. John was born on Christmas Eve, the youngest son of Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. As a child, John tended to be overshadowed by is older brother Richard. Like his father, John developed a reputation for violent rages which lead to him foaming at the mouth. Henry left no land to John when he died so John was given the nick-name John Lackland.

In 1189, all of Henry's territory went to his oldest son, Richard I, better known as Richard the Lionheart. In 1199, Richard was killed in France and John became the king of England. His reign started in an unfortunate way. In 1202, John's nephew, Arthur of Brittany, was murdered. Many in Brittany believed that John was responsible for his murder and they rebelled against John.
In 1204, John's army was defeated in Brittany and John had no choice but to retreat. His military standing among the nobles fell and he was given a new nickname - John Softsword. The defeat in north France was a major blow for John and a costly one. To pay for the defeat, John increased taxes which was not popular with anybody other than John and his treasurers. John also succeeded in falling out with the pope in 1207. John quarreled with the pope over who should be Archbishop of Canterbury. The pope excommunicated John and put England under a Medieval Church law that stated that no christening or marriage would be legal until the time the pope said that they would be. Medieval Church law said that only christened people could get to Heaven while children born out of marriage were doomed to Hell. This placed people in England under a terrible strain and they blamed one person for this - John.

In 1213, John had to give in and surrender the spiritual well-being of the whole country to the pope. However, the pope never fully trusted John and in 1214, the pope proclaimed that anybody who tried to overthrow John would be legally entitled to do so. In the same year, John lost another battle to the French at Bouvines. This defeat resulted in England losing all her possessions in France. This was too much for the powerful barons in England. In 1214, they rebelled. John was forced to sign the Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215. This guaranteed the people of England rights that the king could not go back on. In 1216, John tried to go back but this only provoked the barons into declaring war on him. By 1216, John was ill. During the war, he suffered from dysentery.

The basic story of his lost treasures, as related by historians from the 13th century onwards, is that King John was travelling in the East of England in late 1216. By the autumn of 1216, John’s fortunes had sunk to a new low. He had inherited the mighty Angevin empire in England and France forged by his father Henry II, pawned to pay for the crusades by his brother Richard – and squandered by himself. Having already lost his lands in Normandy to the French king, he had faced a rampaging French army on his own soil aided and abetted by his own rebellious barons. The previous year he had been forced by them to sign the Magna Carta, reducing the powers of the crown. Although he had won some victories since then, he had earlier been ex-communicated by the pope and his whole country had been placed under an interdict from Rome – every church in England was ordered to be closed.

On October 9, 1216, though, he arrived in Lynn, one of the few places where he was still popular. He had journeyed from Lincolnshire to Bishop’s Lynn (now King’s Lynn) in Norfolk, but when he arrived he began to feel ill. It was decided that he would return back towards Lincolnshire, which was probably thought to be safer at this time, as the French king, Louis, had recently invaded the country to the south. On 12 October, John attempted to cross the Wash, the large bay that separates East Anglia from Lincolnshire. At this time it extended much further inland than it does today, and would have been a region of mudflats and marshes, traversable at low tide but dangerous to the unwary, riddled with quicksand and deeper channels and vulnerable to rapid movements of water with the tide.

The king is said to have crossed over at Wisbech, where it was possible to ford the Wellstream, one of the rivers running into the Wash. Meanwhile the king’s baggage train, which supposedly included all of the royal treasures including the Crown Jewels (the regalia the monarch bore during the coronation), was also trying to cross the Wash, but was surprised by the tide and got lost amidst the rising waters and quicksand. The traditional account of this disaster is well represented by this passage from Charles Dickens’ A Child’s History of England’: “looking back from the shore when he was safe, he [the king] saw the roaring water sweep down in a torrent, overturn the waggons, horses, and men, that carried his treasure, and engulf them in a raging whirlpool from which nothing could be delivered.” Undone by this tremendous stroke of ill fortune, John was taken to the monastery at Swineshead Abbey in Lincolnshire where he was greeted with ‘quantities of pears, and peaches, and new cider’. He was taken ill again, with dysentery, and moved a few more times, eventually dying on the 18 October at Newark.

Historians disagree about many aspects of this tale. For would-be treasure hunters, one of the most interesting issues is the question of what the king actually lost. Although it is traditionally said that he lost the Crown Jewels, there is no contemporary record that says exactly this. Roger de Wendover’s Flores Historiarum (Flowers of History), written around 1230, gives the lost loot as ‘treasures, precious vessels, and all the other things which he cherished with special care’. Ralph of Coggeshall’s Chronicon Anglicanum describes it as ‘his chapel with its relics … and diverse household effects’. Another source describes the king’s ‘pricely carriage and furniture’. In his book “Undiscovered”, Ian Wilson surveys the theories about John’s lost treasure and points out that the official records of the time show that the king was moving round the countryside at quite a rate – sometimes as much as 60 kilometres (37 miles) a day. This suggests that he was not accompanied by a large baggage train, which in that day and age would have been extremely sluggish. So perhaps the contemporary accounts are exaggerated. Set against this is the evidence that genuinely valuable treasure was lost that October day.

King John’s favourite hobby was collecting jewellery, while as monarch he also owned a hoard of gold and silver plate and other valuables, which he had spent much of 1215 and 1216 gathering together from the various monasteries where it was deposited. Of particular value were the imperial regalia he had inherited from his grandmother, the Empress of Germany, which made up part of his Crown Jewels. During John’s reign all this treasure is listed in the royal inventories called the Rolls (which John himself instituted), but most of it is absent from the inventory of regalia used during the coronation of John’s successor, Henry III in 1220. In other words, it seems likely that a priceless collection of royal valuables did indeed disappear.

The central issue is the probable location of the disaster. The coastline in this region is much changed since the Middle Ages. Drainage projects in later centuries reclaimed a lot of land and radically altered the way that sediment was deposited, and the coastline advanced many kilometres. Wisbech in particular, which used to be close to the sea, is now several kilometres inland. For treasure hunters this is potentially encouraging, because it means that where the jewels were lost is now dry land, but it also means that the paths, fords and causeways used to cross the Wash in medieval times now exist as relicts only, occasionally identifiable from the air or as the basis for modern parish boundaries or roads. On top of this there is serious disagreement about whether John was travelling with or separately from his baggage train, and which route would have been taken in either scenario.

Most modern sources confidently state that John was travelling separately from his baggage train. While he had gone the long way round the Wash, via Wisbech, his train was taking a short cut across the Wash, presumably to make up for the fact that it moved more slowly than he did. As Wilson points out in “Undiscovered”, however, the contemporary sources specifically state that the king barely escaped the disaster, which suggests he was with the baggage train when it was overcome. If the train was indeed carrying his collected loot, he probably would have been loath to let it out of his sight. Safety would have been a particular issue because of the unsettled times and the fact that the fenland of Lincolnshire was hostile territory where the Norman monarchy had never been popular. (This area had been the haunt of the 11th-century rebel Hereward the Wake, a historical figure who was one of the main sources for the legendary figure of Robin Hood.) These considerations are of prime importance, because it is known that John did cross the Wellstream at Wisbech. If his baggage train was with him, it must have crossed there too. The Wellstream no longer exists, but the River Nene flows more or less in the same course.

Wilson describes three theories about the exact site of the disaster. For many years the traditional view was that the baggage train crossed separately from John, travelling from Cross Keys on the western side of the Wash to Long Sutton on the eastern side, and being overwhelmed near present-day Sutton Bridge. Many treasure hunters have looked in this area, without success. Historian Gordon Fowler, assuming that the baggage train was with the king, has pinpointed the likely crossing point of the Wellstream as being just between Wisbech and Walsoken (although today these are now more or less the same town). He even suggested an explanation for the disaster – the sudden appearance of a tidal bore, known as an eagre in that region, which is where a tidal surge funnels water up a river as a series of large, potentially destructive waves. A third candidate – based on the theory of historian J C Holt that the traditional crossing point of the Wellstream in those days was to the north of Wisbech, between Walpole and Foul Anchor – puts the location near modern-day Tydd Gote. There is evidence in this region of medieval quicksand beds, which ties in with the contemporary accounts of the disaster.

More recently a fourth candidate has emerged, based on a reconstruction of the exact tide tables for that day in 1216, which suggests that the baggage train would have got further than the Wellstream by the time the rising tide caught up with it, and was probably crossing the mouth of the Welland River at modernday Fosdyke, to the north-east of Wisbech. With so many candidate locations it is hard for a treasure hunter to know where to look, and any search will not be helped by the 10 metres (33 feet) of soil believed to have accumulated over the previous ground level in the last 800 years, which puts the treasure well beyond the range of normal metal detectors. However, this may be only part of the problem. Various sub-plots and intrigues behind the traditional story suggest that the treasure may not be there after all.

After John’s death, rumours proliferated that he had been poisoned, probably via those ‘quantities of pears, and peaches, and new cider’ laid out for him by the monks of Swineshead. Although most modern historians discount these rumours, not everyone agrees, and medieval conspiracy theories have been advanced, based on the ‘coincidence’ between the loss of the king’s treasure and his untimely death. Another theory suggests that the Crown Jewels were not lost at all, but were either sold/used by John as collateral for loans, with the Wash incident being staged as a kind of misdirection or medieval fraud.Whatever maleficent plan the king was hatching was cut short by his premature death/murder, and the treasure was subsequently stolen.

At least one contemporary report speaks of suspiciously heavily laden men seen leaving Newark in the wake of his death. There’s absolutely no evidence for this, but it makes a good story. The ailing king made it to Newark Castle, where he died, aged 49, on October 18, just two days after re-entering Lincolnshire. He was buried at Worcester – minus his missing regalia. Maybe someone else did make off with the loot and the lost treasure in The Wash story was just a ruse to cover the glaring absence of the jewels. Certainly it reinforces the negative image of King John that even recent revisionist historians have not been able to change. We have to ask if a suspicious character like John would really travel without his most precious jewels.

If the treasure is really buried somewhere near modern-day Sutton Bridge, then it would be covered by 20 feet or more of silt, so we can all put our metal detectors away. But that hasn’t stopped people looking. During the 1930s a group of American treasure hunters paid local farmers 2s 6d an acre for their help in looking for the jewels at Walpole Island. More recently a team from Nottingham University took soil samples in a bid to discover the causeway the wagon train used. The search goes on. We may never know the truth.

In the 14th century it was commonly rumoured that Robert, Lord Tiptoft, had salvaged the treasure, setting himself up as a wealthy man in the north country on the proceeds. According to East Anglian folklorist W A Dutt, local legend in the Sutton area talks of King John’s Hole, a pool where the jewels were hidden, either by John himself for some nefarious purpose, or by those who recovered them after the disaster in the Wash. The pool is said to be on the southern side of the King’s Lynn to Long Sutton Road. But it is possible that this booty hidden in the hole has already been recovered. In the 14th century local baron Robert, third Lord Tiptoft, suddenly became immensely wealthy. There was no apparent source for his sudden affluence, and rumours spread that Tiptoft had discovered King John’s lost treasure. So perhaps there is nothing out there left to recover …

Sources :
Lost Histories : “Exploring the World’s Most Famous Mysteries” by Joe Levy;
http://www.edp24.co.uk/content/edp24/norfolk-life/PlaceinHistory/content/41KingJohn.aspx;
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/king_john.htm;
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval_church.htm

Pic source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_of_England_-_Illustration_from_Cassell%27s_History_of_England_-_Century_Edition_-_published_circa_1902.jpg
07:17 | 17 komentar

Antikythera Mechanism

The Antikythera mechanism is one of the world's oldest known geared devices. It has puzzled and intrigued historians of science and technology since its discovery. A number of individuals and groups have been instrumental in advancing the knowledge and understanding of the mechanism including: Derek J. de Solla Price (with Charalampos Karakalos); Allan George Bromley (with Frank Percival, Michael Wright and Bernard Gardner); Michael Wright; The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project and Dionysios Kriaris, a Greek mathematician. Discovered in 1900–1901 by sponge divers from a shipwreck of ca 60 BCE off Antikythera island, this bronze and wood device (a box ca 10 by 20 by 30 cm) containing triangular-toothed gears was reconstructed by Price as a calendar computer for predicting lunar and (possible) solar eclipses; a crank was turned to drive the gears from day to day. The device displays the Babylonian “Saros” cycle, the 235 months of the 19-year cycle of Meton, and the 76 years of the cycle of Kallippos. Enough of the text survives to show that a parapegma was inscribed on the bronze front of the box. Recent re-examination by Freeth at al. has recovered further text, containing the word sphairion, which Keyser argued was the name for such a device. They also establish that the gearing was based on Hipparkhos / Hipparchus’ model of lunar motion.

It contains many gears, and is sometimes called the first known analog computer, although its flawless manufacturing suggests that it had a number of predecessors which have not yet been discovered. It appears to be constructed upon theories of astronomy and mathematics developed by Greek astronomers and it is estimated that it was made around 150 to 100 BC. The mechanism has three main dials, one on the front, and two on the back. The front dial has two concentric scales. The outer ring is marked off with the days of the 365-day Egyptian calendar, or the Sothic year, based on the Sothic cycle. Inside this, there is a second dial marked with the Greek signs of the Zodiac and divided into degrees.

Schematic of the Artifact's Mechanism

The calendar dial can be moved to compensate for the effect of the extra quarter day in the year (there are 365.2422 days per year) by turning the scale backwards one day every four years. Note that the Julian calendar, the first calendar of the region to contain leap years, was not introduced until about 46 BC, up to a century after the device was said to have been built (and the leap year was implemented with errors until the early first century). The front dial probably carried at least three hands, one showing the date, and two others showing the positions of the Sun and the Moon.

The Moon indicator is adjusted to show the first anomaly of the Moon's orbit. It is reasonable to suppose the Sun indicator had a similar adjustment, but any gearing for this mechanism (if it existed) has been lost. The front dial also includes a second mechanism with a spherical model of the Moon that displays the lunar phase. There is reference in the inscriptions for the planets Mars and Venus, and it would have certainly been within the capabilities of the maker of this mechanism to include gearing to show their positions.

There is some speculation that the mechanism may have had indicators for all the five planets known to the Greeks. None of the gearing for such planetary mechanisms survives, except for one gear otherwise unaccounted for. Finally, the front dial includes a parapegma, a precursor to the modern day Almanac, which was used to mark the rising and setting of specific stars. Each star is thought to be identified by Greek characters which cross reference details inscribed on the mechanism. The upper back dial is in the form of a spiral, with 47 divisions per turn, displaying the 235 months of the 19 year Metonic cycle. This cycle is important in fixing calendars. The lower back dial is also in the form of a spiral, with 225 divisions showing the Saros cycle; it also has a smaller subsidiary dial which displays the 54 year "Triple Saros" or "Exeligmos" cycle. (The Saros cycle, discovered by the Chaldeans, is a period of approximately 18 years 11 days 8 hours—the length of time between occurrences of a particular eclipse.)

The designers did not need a theory of planetary motion to compute planetary positions. The Babylonian 'System B', the mathematical formulae which calculated planetary positions, and which the Greeks inherited, was devised by 260 BC, and perhaps as early as 500 BC. There was a huge scientific and cultural gap between the very few educated elite who understood basic rules of solar, lunar and planetary motion and the common people who were ignorant of those things. Many ancient references from Cicero, Pliny, Plato, Seneca, Ptolemy, Aristotle et al. indicate that common people viewed solar and lunar eclipses as supernatural events, linked with fear: "... easy for the ignorant to imagine that all has become confusion and doom".

The device is unlikely to have been intended for navigation use because:
a) Some data, such as eclipse predictions, are unnecessary for navigation.
b) The harsh environment of the sea would corrode the gears in a short period of time, rendering it useless.

On 30 July 2008, scientists reported new findings in the journal Nature showing that the mechanism tracked the Metonic calendar, predicted solar eclipses, and calculated the timing of the Ancient Olympic Games. Inscriptions on the instrument closely match the names of the months on calendars from Illyria and Epirus in northwestern Greece and with the island of Corfu. One hypothesis is that the device was constructed at an academy founded by the ancient Stoic philosopher Posidonius on the Greek island of Rhodes, which at the time was known as a centre of astronomy and mechanical engineering, and that perhaps the astronomer Hipparchus was the engineer who designed it since it contains a lunar mechanism which uses Hipparchus' theory for the motion of the Moon.

Investigators have suggested that the ship could have been carrying it to Rome, together with other treasure looted from the island to support a triumphal parade being staged by Julius Caesar. However, the most recent findings of The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, as published in the July 30, 2008, edition of Nature also suggest that the concept for the mechanism originated in the colonies of Corinth, which might imply a connection with Archimedes. The circumstances under which it came to be on the cargo ship are unknown. Consensus among scholars is that the mechanism itself was made in Greece. All the instructions of the mechanism are written in Greek.

(Sources : Encyclopedia of Ancient Natural Scientists : “The Greek Tradition and Its Many Heirs” Edited by Paul Keyser & Georgia Irby-Massie; and Wikipedia)

(Pics sources : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NAMA_Machine_d%27Anticyth%C3%A8re_1.jpg; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Meccanismo_di_Antikytera.jpg)
07:04 | 2 komentar

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