Nopperabou The Faceless Ghost

The faceless ghost or the Noppera-bō or nopperabou, is a Japanese legendary creature. They are sometimes mistakenly referred to as a mujina, an old Japanese word for a badger or raccoon dog. Though the nopperabou is able to appear to others like a normal person, this is just an illusion. The Nopperabou really lacks eyes, a nose or a mouth. Instead of normal human features, nopperabou have only smooth skin. People who encounter nopperabou usually do not immediately realize that they are talking to something that is otherworldly, as the creatures are able to create the illusion that they have a normal human face. A nopperabou will wait for the right moment before causing their features to disappear, scaring the person they are speaking with. People usually run into nopperabou at night in lonely rural settings, although they can appear anywhere as long as the area is deserted. Such creatures were thought to sometimes transform themselves into noppera-bō in order to frighten humans but are usually harmless.

In Japanese there are two folklore stories about the noppera-bō:

The Noppera-bō and the Koi Pond
This tale recounts a lazy fisherman who decided to fish in the imperial koi ponds near the Heiankyo palace. Despite being warned by his wife about the pond being sacred ground and near a graveyard, the fisherman went anyway. On his way to the pond, he is warned by another fisherman to not go there, but he again ignores the warning. Once at the spot, he is met by a beautiful young woman who pleads with him to not fish in the pond. He ignores her, and to his horror, she wipes her face off. Rushing home to hide, he is confronted by what seems to be his wife, who chastises him for his wickedness before wiping off her facial features as well.

The Noppera-bō of the Akasaka Road
On the Akasaka Road, in Tokyo, there is a slope called Kii-no-kuni-zaka,--which means the Slope of the Province of Kii. On one side of this slope there is an ancient moat, deep and very wide, with high green banks rising up to some place of gardens;--and on the other side of the road extend the long and lofty walls of an imperial palace. Before the era of street-lamps and jinrikishas, this neighborhood was very lonesome after dark; and belated pedestrians would go miles out of their way rather than mount the Kii-no-kuni-zaka, alone, after sunset. All because of a Noppera-bō that used to walk there. The last man who saw the Noppera-bō was an old merchant of the Kyobashi quarter, who died about thirty years ago. This is the story, as he told it:--One night, at a late hour, he was hurrying up the Kii-no-kuni-zaka, when he perceived a woman crouching by the moat, all alone, and weeping bitterly. Fearing that she intended to drown herself, he stopped to offer her any assistance or consolation in his power. She appeared to be a slight and graceful person, handsomely dressed; and her hair was arranged like that of a young girl of good family.

"O-jochu [("honorable damsel"), a polite form of address used in speaking to a young lady whom one does not know]," he exclaimed, approaching her,--"O-jochu, do not cry like that!... Tell me what the trouble is; and if there be any way to help you, I shall be glad to help you." (He really meant what he said; for he was a very kind man.) But she continued to weep,--hiding her face from him with one of her long sleeves. "O-jochu,", he said again, as gently as he could,--"please, please listen to me!... This is no place for a young lady at night! Do not cry, I implore you!-- only tell me how I may be of some help to you!" Slowly she rose up, but turned her back to him, and continued to moan and sob behind her sleeve. He laid his hand lightly upon her shoulder, and pleaded:--"O-jochu!--O-jochu!--O-jochu!... Listen to me, just for one little moment!... O-jochu!--O-jochu!"...

Then that Ojochu turned around, and dropped her sleeve, and stroked her face with her hand;--and the man saw that she had no eyes or nose or mouth,--and he screamed and ran away. Up Kii-no-kuni-zaka he ran and ran; and all was black and empty before him. On and on he ran, never daring to look back; and at last he saw a lantern, so far away that it looked like the gleam of a firefly; and he made for it. It proved to be only the lantern of an itinerant soba-seller, who had set down his stand by the road-side; but any light and any human companionship was good after that experience; and he flung himself down at the feet of the soba-seller, crying out,
"Ah!--aa!!--aa!!!"...
"Kore! kore!"[An exclamation of annoyed alarm], roughly exclaimed the soba-man. "Here! what is the matter with you? Anybody hurt you?"
"No--nobody hurt me," panted the other,--"only... Ah!--aa!"
"--Only scared you?" queried the peddler, unsympathetically. "Robbers?"
"Not robbers,--not robbers," gasped the terrified man... "I saw... I saw a woman--by the moat;--and she showed me... Ah! I cannot tell you what she showed me!"...
"Was it anything like THIS that she showed you?" said the soba-man, stroking his own face--which therewith became like unto an Egg with no eyes, nose and mouth... And, simultaneously, the light went out.

Nopperabou Sightings Outside Japan
Though most sightings of noppera-bō tend to be historical, reports within the 20th century have not been uncommon, both in Japan itself as well as locations where Japanese have emigrated, most notably the U.S. state of Hawaii and where the term "mujina" vice "noppera-bō" is most deeply ingrained. Among the most recent reports:

The faceless ghost made her first appearance
at the Waialae Drive-In Theater in Kahala.Hawai`i on May 19, 1959 when Bob Krauss reported in The Honolulu Advertiser. A girl left her car and went into the restroom around midnight to put on fresh lipstick. In the mirror she saw a figure behind her with long hair and no face. She saw that the figure had no legs, only half a body. When the girl turned around, there was nobody behind her. The door slammed shut and locked as the poor girl screamed and fainted.

In another version reported by Krauss, the woman went to the restroom. As she entered, she noticed the place was occupied by another woman who was standing in front of the mirror combing her long, beautiful hair. The first woman came closer and spoke. The second woman turned slightly. She had no face. The first woman was so frightened she ended up in the hospital with a breakdown. The suggested cause for the haunting of the faceless ghost was the fact that the Waialae Drive-In Theater was located next to a cemetery. Although manager Albert Silva strongly denied in 1959 the stories that the restrooms of his drive-in theater were haunted, he did note that the stories helped business. "Every night a couple dozen people asked me if I've seen the ghost," he said. "I haven't but I've sure heard enough about it. Business has been booming since Thursday."

The faceless ghost has evidently expanded her appearances to other venue throughout the Islands. For example, rumors now circulate that she has been seen in two different restaurants in Hilo, and that several shopping malls on the island of O`ahu have be envisited by the faceless ghost. Specifically reporting where these sightings have taken place would be inappropriate, but needless to say, the fascination with the faceless ghost continues.

(Sources : Japan Culture Research Project 2003 :” Youkai and Kaidan” by Robert Jay Gould; http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Hollow/6166/faceless.html; http://www.scaryforkids.com/no-face/; and wikipedia)

(Pic source:http://www.honolulumagazine.com/images/2008/Oct2008/ghosts/EdwinUshiro_Mujina.jpg)
05:10 | 5 komentar

The Kecksburg UFO Case

On December 9, 1965, a large, brilliant fireball was seen by thousands in at least six U.S. states and Ontario, Canada. It streaked over the Detroit, Michigan/Windsor, Ontario area, reportedly dropped hot metal debris over Michigan and northern Ohio, starting some grass fires, and caused sonic booms in western Pennsylvania. It was generally assumed and reported by press to be a meteor. On that night, dozens of people in Kecksburg watched the meteor apparently slow down, make a gradual turn, and crash in the forest just outside of town. Instantly, calls poured into the local police station reporting a crash. Some thought it was a meteor. Others, however, were sure that it was some type of aircraft. As with Roswell, several of the firsthand witnesses claimed they were ordered or threatened by unnamed military officials not to speak about what they saw. And so, like Roswell, the events that occurred in Kecksburg remained hidden for years.

Policemen, firemen, and concerned citizens converged on the scene. When they arrived, they saw an incredible sight. A few people who managed to get close to the crash site said that they observed a twelve-foot-tall, acorn-shaped object. The object was metallic and had a band of hieroglyphic-type writing around its circumference. It was also reportedly glowing. As dozens of people began to surround the area, the United States military suddenly arrived. They ordered everybody away from the crash site at gunpoint, and quickly cordoned off the area. The object was then allegedly lifted up by crane onto a large flatbed truck, covered with a large tarp, and driven out of Kecksburg.


UFO Crash Site at Kecksburg

Then, in the early 1980s, a few witnesses began to come forward. Investigators then began the long search for more firsthand witnesses. It took a while, but eventually more than 50 people came forward with firsthand knowledge about the events. Jim Romanowski said he observed the crashed UFO before being forcefully removed from the scene by military officials. Truck driver, “Myron X,” told investigators that he not only saw the object, he also saw what appeared to be an alien body. Although it was covered with a sheet, he could tell it was about four to five feet tall. He could see a hand sticking out from underneath. The hand looked “lizard-like” and had only three fingers. Another witness, “Joel X,” also watched as the Army surrounded the object and actually opened a hatch. Inside he saw “two fingers and an unusually long arm.” The witness is certain it was not human. Kecksburg resident Don Sebastian heard about the crash on the radio. He drove to the site but was stopped by a roadblock. Sneaking past the roadblock, he saw rows of soldiers marching through the field, searching the area.

Many more witnesses reported similar stories. Clearly, something unusual crashed outside of Kecksburg. Kecksburg resident Bill Bulebush was also there and saw the object carted away by the military. A reporter, the director of WHJB radio in Greensburg, John Murphy, was the first reporter to have arrived on the scene. He also said that he had went down into the wood and saw the object. He took several photographs and conducted interviews with witnesses. His former wife Bonnie Milslagle later reported that all but one roll of the film were confiscated by military personnel. WHJB office manager Mabel Mazza described one of the pictures: "It was very dark and it was with a lot of trees around and everything. And I don't know how far away from the site he was. But I did see a picture of a sort of a cone-like thing. It's the only time I ever saw it."

In the following weeks, Murphy became enveloped with the incident and wrote a radio documentary called Object in the Woods, featuring his experiences and interviews he had conducted that night. Shortly before the documentary would have aired, he received an unexpected visit at the station from two men in black suits identifying themselves as government officials. They requested to speak with him in a back room behind closed doors. The meeting lasted about 30 minutes. A WHJB employee, Linda Foschia, recalled the men confiscated some of Murphy's audio tapes from that night, and that no one knows what happened to the remaining photographs.

A week after the visit, an agitated Murphy aired a censored version of the documentary, which he claimed in its introduction had to be edited due to some interviewees requesting their statements be removed from the broadcast in fear of getting in trouble with the police and Army. After the airing, Murphy became uncharacteristically despondent and completely stopped all investigation on the case and refused to talk to anyone about it again, and never gave clear reasons why. In 1969, Murphy was struck and killed by an unidentified car in an apparent hit-and-run while crossing a road. The hit-and-run occurred in California, while Murphy was on vacation.

From what eye witnesses have said, the object appeared to have been slowing down miles before the impact. During it's flight, it appeared to have made several turns and when the object did drop from the sky, it was moving very slowly towards the woods. This may account for its good condition. What ever this object was, it created a lot of stir between the civilizians and the military. Various witnesses said there were armed soldiers around their town and were preventing anyone from going near the crash site. Jerry Betters, a popular jazz musician from Pittsburg said that soldiers had actually threatened him and his friends with the soldiers rifles aimed at them. Another report came in from a now prominent businessman of the area, that when this ocurred him and his friends were just teenagers they went into to sealed off area and was stopped by military personnel and frightened, thinking that the soldier was actually going to shoot him.

The public demanded answers. The meteor theory had already fallen apart because the speed of the object was much too slow, and several witnesses saw it turn in mid-flight. The military explained their presence in Kecksburg by saying they were recovering a Russian satellite. However, research showed that the satellite had actually fallen to earth more than 13 hours earlier. The controversy continued in 2002 when the Sci-Fi Channel funded a new investigation, locating the actual crash site and bringing several more witnesses to light. In May 2003, researchers used the Freedom of Information Act to force NASA to release any documents they might have about the incident. As of 2006, the lawsuit against NASA remains unresolved. Today, research into the incident continues.

(Sources : Mysteries, Legends And Unexplained Phenomena : “UFO and Aliens” by Preston Dennet; http://www.burlingtonnews.net/kerksburgufo.html, and Wikipedia)

(Pics sources : Mysteries, Legends And Unexplained Phenomena : “UFO and Aliens” by Preston Dennet page 90;
http://files.abovetopsecret.com/images/member/cbf051dff5f9.jpg)
16:13 | 1 komentar

Gremlin

The term “gremlin” was derived from the Old English word greme, which means to vex and annoy, commonly depicted as mischievous and mechanically oriented, with a specific interest in aircraft. The word "gremlin" originated in Royal Air Force (RAF) aviators' slang in Malta, the Middle East and India, with the earliest recorded printed use being in a poem published in the journal Aeroplane, in Malta on April 10, 1929. The concept of gremlins responsible for sabotaging aircraft was popularised during World War II among airmen of the UK's RAF, in particular the men of the high-altitude Photographic Reconnaissance Units (PRU) of RAF Benson, RAF Wick and RAF St Eval. The creatures were responsible for otherwise inexplicable accidents which sometimes occurred during their flights. Gremlins were also thought at one point to have enemy sympathies, but investigations revealed that enemy planes had similar and equally inexplicable mechanical problems. And that is certainly what the gremlins did to the pilots and their aircraft in World War II (1939–45) when the pesky entities were routinely blamed for engine troubles, electronic failures, and any other thing that might go wrong with an airplane.

An early reference to the Gremlin is in an article by Hubert Griffith in the servicemen's fortnightly Royal Air Force Journal dated April 18, 1942 although that article states the stories had been in existence for several years, and there are later recollections of it having been told by Battle of Britain Spitfire pilots as early as 1940. Later sources have sometimes claimed that the concept goes back to World War I, but there is no print evidence of this. Dave Stern, an aerospace, aviation, and history writer, says that the legend began in 1923 when a British navy pilot crashed into the sea. Once he was rescued, he blamed the accident on some little people who had jumped out of a beer bottle and had tormented him all night. It was these wee troublemakers who had followed him into the airplane, entered into the engine, messed with the flight controls, and caused him to crash. Not long after this reported gremlin attack, some pilots and mechanics stationed at an overseas RAF aerodrome complained of being bothered by the annoying entities, and by 1925, British pilots were cussing the little monsters and blaming gremlins for almost anything that might possibly go wrong with their aircraft.

According to airmen who swore that they had survived close encounters with the mischief makers, the gremlins dressed in red or green double-breasted frock coats, old-fashioned tricorn hats with a feather (or sometimes stocking caps with tassels at high altitudes), tights, and pointed footwear. Some of the gremlins loved to suck the high octane gas out of the tanks; others messed with the landing gears; and still others specialized in jamming the radio frequencies. Just as the pilots and mechanics were learning to respect the gremlin crowd, it wasn’t long before they also began to be annoyed by the gremlins’ girlfriends, the finellas, nicknamed the widgets.

When the U.S. Army Air Force pilots were stationed in Great Britain after the United States entered World War II in December 1941, they found the gremlins waiting for them. The men may have scoffed at their allies at first, but they were soon suffering unexplained attacks on their instrument panels, their bombing sights, and the de-icer mechanisms. The Yanks found that they had also fallen victims to the annoying antics of the gremlins. Although the most intense activity of the gremlin throng occurred during World War II, one stills hears on occasion a pilot cussing a mechanical failure in his aircraft as having been caused by a gremlin attack.

(Sources : Encyclopedia of Unusual and Unexplained Things; and Wikipedia)

(Pic source : http://reparent.blog.uvm.edu/images/Gremlin.gif)
08:31 | 1 komentar

The White Witch of Rose Hall

Rose Hall is widely regarded to be a visually impressive house and the most famous in Jamaica. Built in the 1770s on Montego Bay, Rose Hall was restored in the 1960s to its former splendour, with mahogany floors, interior windows and doorways, panelling and wooden ceilings. It is decorated with silk wallpaper printed with palms and birds, ornamented with chandeliers and furnished with mostly European antiques. Rose Hall Plantation was an island paradise— though only for those who lived in luxury within the house. For the slaves who worked the sugar cane plantation, Rose Hall could sometimes be deadly. Rose Hall was once the home of Annie Palmer—a woman the locals feared in her day. Even today, her legend is used to scare children across the island of Jamaica, and she is best-known as “The White Witch of Rose Hall.”

It is a Georgian mansion with a stone base and a plastered upper storey, high on the hillside, with a panorama view over the coast. There is a bar downstairs and a restaurant. Rose Hall is also known for holding seances to try and conjure her spirit and gain answers about the mysterious deaths of her husbands and fanciful legends of underground tunnels, bloodstains and hauntings that surround it. There is little evidence to support the legend other than a version of which was written by H. G. de Lisser in his 1928 novel The White Witch of Rose Hall.

Rose Hall, Jamaica

Annie Palmer was born as Annie Mae Patterson in the early 1800s and grew up in Haiti. She had a Haitian nanny who taught her voodoo from a young age. When Annie was 10, her parents died under mysterious circumstances, and her nanny raised her until she was 18. Ever ambitious, Annie wanted wealth and wanted it quickly—she came to Jamaica and enchanted local plantation owner John Palmer. They were soon married, and Annie became mistress of the plantation. But Annie was hungry for more excitement and had gotten bored with her husband. She demanded that some of the slave men come to her bedroom so she could have her way with them. When she grew tired of these lovers, she would have them killed so they couldn’t tell anyone else.

According to the legend, Annie’s husband died mysteriously one evening, and Annie inherited everything. She married twice more, and again, two more husbands died. Each time, she acquired more wealth. And all the while, she brought slaves into the Great House for her pleasure before having them dispatched when she grew tired of them. The other slaves were suspicious, but they didn’t say anything publicly out of fear of the White Witch. According to Beverly Gordon, a native Jamaican and the current manager of the Rose Hall Great House, Annie Palmer not only beat the slaves in daylight but she also brought them back to the mansion for further torture. Gordon said, “Where the ladies’ and gentlemen’s rooms are now, that’s what she used as her dungeon, and those two pits went 16 feet down. That’s where she kept the slaves if they were caught trying to run away from the property. She would get them there, throw them in the pit, and then leave them there to die without food or water, no medical attention whatsoever. She was gruesome, awful.”

Tomb of Annie Palmer

In 1971, a group of psychics came to Rose Hall to try and trap the spirit of Annie Palmer. Gordon said, “They tried to raise Annie, and she was giving them a hard time. She came out of the tomb, they were trying to get her back in, and they could not. On her tomb, they placed three crosses on three sides. They wanted to trap her spirit back inside the tomb and they could not, so they did not put the fourth cross on. They just left that side open.” Today there are ghostly phenomena in every corner of Rose Hall. People report hearing doors slam on their own, and men’s screams echo through the chambersand hallways. Apparitions have been sighted and even photographed throughout the building, especially in the bedrooms.

Now, Rose Hall has been used as a museum for tourists who wish to see where Annie Palmer ate, slept and also areas of the house where she is said to haunt. Possibly areas where the murders took place e.g in her bedroom, where she suffocated one of her lovers with a pillow.

(Sources : Encyclopedia of Haunted Places : “Ghostly Locales From Around The World” by Jeff Belanger; and Wikipedia)

(Pics sources : http://www.lovetripper.com/video/uploaded_images/annie-portrait-755578.jpg; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Annie_Palmer_-_Tomb_at_Rose_Hall.jpg;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rose_Hall_(Jamaica).jpg)
14:29 | 4 komentar

The Lost Tomb of Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan was a Mongol warrior from the vast steppes of Central Asia, who amalgamated the disparate tribes and nations of his native lands into a potent army, and used it to conquer an empire that stretched from the Pacific to the Caspian. The peoples of Europe quailed at the mention of his name, while the inhabitants of the Middle East, Central Asia and China knew the full force of his wrath and might. The location of the tomb of Genghis Khan (died 1227) has been the object of much speculation and research. As of 2009, the site remains undiscovered. This is the legend of the lost tomb of Genghis Khan, the precise whereabouts of which remain one of history’s great mysteries.

When he died on 18 August 1227, on campaign in Western China, he was taken back to his native land to be buried. According to one legend, his tomb was built into the bed of a diverted river, which was then allowed to resume its course; another tells of how hundreds of horses were stampeded across the grave to utterly flatten the mound and render the site invisible, and an impenetrable forest was planted atop it. In both versions, the slaves who built the tomb were then massacred, as were the soldiers who killed them, so that no one should know where the great Khan was buried and to keep safe the secret of the vast hoard of spoil and tribute believed to have been interred with him. A curse was placed on those who should try to disturb his eternal slumber, so that in Mongolia the tomb of Genghis Khan became known as Ikh Khoring, the Great Taboo.

For many years the area of Genghis’ homeland was largely inaccessible to Western scientists since Outer Mongolia was a client state of the Soviets, while Inner Mongolia remains a jealously guarded part of China. The impoverished local governments did not have the resources to undertake archaeological explorations of their own. With the fall of the Soviet Union, however, Outer Mongolia became much more accessible, triggering a new wave of interest in the tomb of the great conqueror. This interest is twofold. Firstly, remarkably little is known about the era of early imperial Mongolia, owing in part to the lack of direct sources of information. The Mongols of Genghis Khan were largely illiterate and did not go in much for keeping records or writing histories. Almost everything we know about this period comes from foreign sources or from histories written after the time of Genghis.

There is also little archaeological evidence, partly because of a lack of exploration, and possibly also because Genghis and his hordes were nomadic, used perishable materials and were relatively light on massive construction projects. The second reason is the romance of the potential discovery, or, as Indiana Jones might put it, ‘fortune and glory’. Apart from being the final resting place of one of the great figures of world history, Genghis’ tomb could also hold a hoard of loot that might, as would-be tomb-raider Maury Kravitz puts it, ‘eat the Tut [Tutankhamun] exhibit for breakfast.’ In the course of his conquests, Genghis and his generals looted and despoiled empires and kingdoms in China, Central Asia, Persia and well into Eastern Europe, bringing back huge quantities of tribute and loot to Mongolia. Academics are divided over whether Genghis would have been buried with grave goods but legend says that he was – and, if so, it could be the greatest collection of grave goods in history.

Kravitz, the sponsor and leader of a long-running project to investigate early imperial Mongolian sites and search for the tomb, points out that none of the Mongols’ accumulated loot from around Eurasia has ever been recovered or even rumoured, suggesting that a large quantity of it may still be out there somewhere in the steppes or mountains. Locating Genghis’ tomb might also solve a related but subordinate mystery – the whereabouts of the tombs of the emperors of the Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368), founded by his descendants (who included the great Kublai Khan).

According to legend, the Yuan emperors wanted to follow Genghis’ example and be buried in the same secret location. In other words Genghis and his burial trove might be only the tip of the iceberg. Many scholars do not believe the tomb of Genghis Khan exists at all. According to Morris Rossabi, professor of Mongol and Chinese history at Columbia University, New York, ‘There was no tomb culture among them [the Mongols] at the time of his death.’ Instead it was traditional to leave the body to the wild animals and to nature, by tying it to a horse and sending it into the wilderness or leaving it in the desert.

Whether they would have applied such brusque treatment to the corpse of their greatest leader, a godlike figure, is unclear, but two factors suggest they might have. Firstly, Genghis Khan made a virtue of his simplicity, his espousal of the traditional Mongol lifestyle and his closeness to the common warriors who served him. In a letter probably written for him, addressed to a Taoist monk, Genghis says, ‘I, living in the northern wilderness, have not inordinate passions. I hate luxury and practise moderation. I have only one coat and one food. I eat the same food and am dressed in the same tatters as my humble herdsmen.’ Secondly, Mongolian tradition holds that after death the body is not important, only the soul, so that it might not have seemed disrespectful to Genghis’ men to dispose of his mortal remains in such an unceremonious fashion. If there was no burial, how do we explain the legends about his tomb? One approach is to look at the parallels between these stories and other folklore.

Great figures like Genghis Khan can quickly become more than historical personages and achieve mythic status. Alexander the Great’s exploits, for instance, gave rise to a rich heritage of legend and folklore about him in all the lands he touched. The same is true of Genghis. The story of his burial bears a strong resemblance to that of the Sumerian hero Gilgamesh, who was interred in the bed of a temporarily diverted river. Folklore speaks of early Iron Age Celtic kings being similarly entombed. In this context it is more difficult to take Genghis’ burial legend seriously. Plenty of people, however, disagree, and since the 1990s there have been a number of serious attempts to find the lost tomb.

Between 1993 and 1996 an extensive Japanese operation employed everything from satellite imagery and magnetometers to helicopter spotting, but came away empty-handed. Then in 2000 the ongoing Chinggis Khan Geo-Historical Expedition began (Chinggis is the spelling of Genghis preferred in Mongolia). This was a joint American–Mongolian venture, instigated and driven by a remarkable American character, Chicago gold-trader Maury Kravitz. He has dedicated 40 years to the search of the tomb. In a 15th-century account of a French Jesuit, he found a reference to an early battle where Genghis Khan, at the time still known as Temüjin, won a decisive victory. According to this source, he selected the confluence of the Kherlen and "Bruchi" rivers, with Burkhan Khaldun over his right shoulder, and after his victory, Temüjin said that this place would be forever his favourite. Kravitz, convinced that Temüjin's grave would be near that battlefield attempted to find the "Bruchi" river, which turned out to be unknown to cartographers.

Kravitz has been obsessed with Genghis Khan since reading about him during his national service days. During the late 1990s he put together a board of academics and experts and struck an agreement with the Mongolian government to allow them to start excavations at sites linked to the early imperial era. The expedition’s first discovery was the site of the Kurultai, or Great Convention, where Genghis was acclaimed Khan in 1206. Later they explored one of the mountains called Burkhan Khaldun, where some academics believe the tomb might be hidden (although it is uncertain which mountain).

In 2001 they made their most exciting discovery: the Ölögchiin Kherem, or Almsgivers’ Wall – also known as the Ulaan Khad (Red Rock), and, most suggestively, Chinggis’Wall. At present the main focus of the hunt for Genghis’ tomb remains the Kherem site. Kravitz’s expedition returned again in the summer of 2006 for another season of exploration – at the time of going to press what they’ve found is unknown. But is this really the best place to look? While the Kherem burial ground may well be an important site, it does not tally with the legends of Genghis’ entombment. The presence of at least 39 other graves would suggest that the site was far from secret, while the fact that none of the graves stands out as being of particular magnificence does not fit with expectations.

Kravitz himself has spoken of his personal belief that Genghis was buried on Burkhan Khaldun, his youthful mountain redoubt. Those who would beat the driven American to his life’s goal might do well to identify which Burkhan Khaldun is the real one, and explore there. But be warned – this is difficult territory: dangerous mountains set in an isolated wilderness, plagued with maddening swarms of flies and, perhaps, protected by the curse of the Khan.

(Sources : Lost Histories : “Exploring the World’s Most Famous Mysteries” by Joel Levy; and Wikipedia)

(Pic source : http://www.logoi.com/notes/img/genghis-khan.jpg)
07:27 | 5 komentar

Mystery of The Olmec Heads

Olmec culture was unknown to historians until the mid-19th century. In 1869 the Mexican antiquarian traveller José Melgar y Serrano published a description of the first Olmec monument to have been found in situ. The Olmec flourished during Mesoamerica's Formative period, dating roughly from 1400 BCE to about 400 BCE. They were the first Mesoamerican civilization and laid many of the foundations for the civilizations that followed. Among other "firsts", there is evidence that the Olmec practiced ritual bloodletting and played the Mesoamerican ballgame, hallmarks of nearly all subsequent Mesoamerican societies. The most familiar aspect of the Olmecs is their artwork, particularly the aptly-named colossal heads. As no known pre-Columbian text explains them, these impressive monuments have been the subject of much speculation.

Once theorized to be ballplayers, it is now generally accepted that these heads are portraits of rulers, perhaps dressed as ballplayers. Infused with individuality, no two heads are alike and the helmet-like headdresses are adorned with distinctive elements, suggesting to some personal or group symbols. There have been 17 colossal heads unearthed to date. In 1858, inhabitants of the village of Tres Zapotes in the state of Veracruz on the Gulf Coast of Mexico were digging when they encountered a stone object. Removing more soil, they found to their astonishment that it had a polished, curved surface. They dug further and realized that they were uncovering what appeared to be the head of an immense stone statue. Superstitiously afraid of what they might reveal if they continued, they shoveled the earth back over their find and it remained hidden for the best part of a century.

In 1938, the head of the Smithsonian Institution’s Bureau of American Ethnology was Matthew Stirling, one of the world’s leading archaeologists and a specialist in Middle American cultures, specifically interested in sites where the various prehistoric factions of Mexico had met and reacted and Tres Zapotes on the Gulf Coast emerged as a prime possible site. A close colleague of Stirling was William Duncan Strong, the head of Columbia University’s Department of Anthropology and at one of their discussions, Stirling told Strong of his intentions to explore the Tres Zapotes location and asked if he knew anyone with knowledge of the area. Strong did not pointing out that the area was undeveloped but he suggested Clarence Wolsey Weiant, one of his most promising graduate students who was at that time completing his doctorate— and hoping to make Tres Zapotes his doctoral fieldwork.

Clarence Weiant with his Tres Zapotes discovery

Strong took Weiant on an Indian dig in North Dakota to observe his performance. He was sufficiently impressed that when a joint expedition of the Smithsonian Institution and the National Geographic Association was proposed and Strong was invited to be its leader, Strong’s immediate choice as chief assistant was Weiant. Strong must have known how Weiant supported himself and his studies but it must not have influenced him in any way. Nevertheless, that means of support was a remarkable contrast to archaeology— because Weiant was a chiropractor!

At the time, the discipline of chiropractic was highly controversial and scorned by most of the medical profession. Yet it was lucrative and Weiant quickly built up a busy practice after obtaining his professorship from the Eastern Chiropractic Institute of New York. Still in his twenties and with a mind open to unorthodox disciplines, he became interested in parapsychology and assisted the well-known Hereward Carrington in his experiments on thought-photography. In these, they were able to prove that it was possible for human thoughts to produce images on fresh, unexposed photographic film. Their results formed the basis for the work done in more recent times—and more widely publicized—by Ted Serios.

It was when Weiant was in his thirties that he formed a passion for archaeology. This grew until it led him to be certain that this was to be his life’s work and prompted his enrollment at Columbia University. Weiant was forty-one years old when he and Stirling went to the site at Tres Zapotes. There, they encountered a swampy terrain, continual rain, waist-deep mud, tarantulas, snakes and interminable insects. Despite these terrible conditions, they conducted a thorough search of a two-mile-long stretch and during their four months there they made several remarkable discoveries. A number of stone tablets were excavated and these later proved to bear the oldest recorded date discovered in the New World up to that time.

At first it was believed to be 291 B.C. but later work adjusted this to the date that still prevails to today—31 B.C. A figurine of what was believed to be a religious personage was also found, also fifteen U-shaped stone sculptures, intensively worked and polished. The purpose of these is still a matter of contention. An earlier belief, now less popular but not yet discarded, is that they were yokes to be attached to the necks of persons being sacrificed to the gods. This could have been to restrict their struggles when their chests were cut open and their hearts removed or at least to prevent the victims from spoiling the dignity of what was a religious ceremony in which they were the reluctant sacrificial ‘goats’. Most current authorities disdain this theory today and a more popular current belief is that the yokes were used in a ball game—several of these were played in Central America in prehistoric times.

The most striking of all the discoveries, though, came after one of the locals related to Weiant the story of the find made many years before and covered over in superstitious fear. The tale had become a part of the word-of-mouth history of Tres Zapotes and passed into local mythology. Weiant wasted no time in investigating the legend. He quickly gathered together some men. The digging team cut a trench through the area shown to them and unearthed one of the most famous objects ever discovered on the American continent. It was promptly named ‘La Cabeza Colosal’, the Giant Head. More than six feet high and weighing over ten tons, it provoked a storm of controversy. The features are somewhat negroid with a short broad nose, thick heavy lips with drawn-down corners and slit eyes. These generated early suggestions that this indicated an African origin but it is now considered more likely that these characteristics were brought when the first humans entered the Americas from Asia and Africa.

The head is made from basalt, a hard, volcanic rock with an almost glassy appearance. None of the digging team at Tres Zapotes could even conjecture how the people had carved such an effigy. Neither iron or copper occurs in the area so tools of iron or bronze could not have been used. It would be theoretically possible to cut with other stone materials— but which? It would also be an incredibly time-consuming task. These and other practical aspects were hotly debated when the expedition returned to the USA in April 1939 but a much more profound discussion arose. Until that time, the Mayan civilization had been believed to be the ‘mother culture’ of Mexico. Their area of influence was in what is today the Yucatan peninsula, stretching from Belize in the east as far as the state of Tabasco in Mexico in the west. The Aztec civilization was still further west, from Oaxaca up to Hidalgo and Tlaxcala and close to what is now Mexico City.

The findings at Tres Zapotes on this and later expeditions to the area produced a remarkable shift in the thinking that prevailed concerning pre-Colombian civilizations. This led to the astonishing conclusion that the then-current conviction that the Mayans were the ‘mother culture’ of Central America was wrong. In fact, the Olmecs, dominant from 1300 B.C. to about 400 B.C. most have been the true ‘mother culture’ and the roots of both the Maya and the Aztecs must lie with the Olmecs. Much theorizing has taken place about where the Olmecs came from but the most recent work using carbon dating indicates that the region was inhabited as early as 1700 B.C. These inhabitants were the direct ancestors, corn farmers who were also energetic fisherman and hunters. This meant that five hundred years before Rome was founded and as far back as Trojan Wars, the Olmecs were building great cities and erecting pyramids bigger than those to be built later in Egypt.

Over 170 Olmec monuments have been excavated in the Olmec domain and these include polished jade ‘celts’—prehistoric axe-like tools resembling chisels, floors of colored tiles and burial chambers containing sandstone sarcophagi, some of these carved to represent crocodiles. Much Olmec art has been found damaged and broken, statues of rulers have been decapitated and altars have been found with huge pieces missing—though all of the ‘Olmec heads’ are intact. Early speculation was that this damage was done by vandals and grave-robbers but it is the current belief that mutilation of monuments in this way was done by the Olmecs La Venta. themselves, probably for ritualistic reasons.

One popular theory is that when a ruler died, all the monuments associated with him were damaged or destroyed. Two of the stone heads found at San Lorenzo have been identified as being originally altars. The dominating feature of altars in the Olmec world was the throne of a ruler and it seems likely that when a ruler died, he was venerated by converting his throne into a gigantic stone likeness in commemoration. The region comprising the centers where the heads have been found is densely populated by thick forests of rubber-bearing trees known as heveas. From a later Indian name for rubber, ollin, the people who created this culture were known as Olmec. Though slow in gaining acceptance, the theory of the Olmec as the mother culture grew over the ensuing years and further expeditions contributed data and findings to finally confirm it. Petroleum geologists began to dig for oil in the Tabasco region and they exhumed buried archaeological treasures. The advent of radiocarbon dating added confirmation.

Recent excavation (1991) has yielded more information on the procedure of making monuments. A large unfinished altar was found at Llano del Jicaro indicating that the monuments were cut roughly to shape at the quarry then transported to the religious site for finishing and assembly. Further gigantic stone heads have been found over the years and, to date, the total is seventeen. San Lorenzo and La Venta, a short distance along the coast from Tres Zapotas, have been the sites of most of these, and it is without doubt that more will be discovered.

All have conformed to that historic first find, ‘La Cabeza Colossi’ found at Tres Zapotes. The statues range from 5 to 11 feet in height, weigh 8 to 12 tons and all are carved in painstaking detail from basalt, the original block of stone weighing as much as 18 tons. Debate and discussion continue today on how they were carved. It is speculated that the tools they used must have been of a stone only a little harder than the basalt of the figure, making the work incredibly lengthy and tedious. Some of the heads excavated have what may be a crown or a helmet. If it is assumed to be a type of crown, perhaps it signifies that the head is that of a ruler. Some of these headpieces have a symbol believed to be specific to that particular sovereign. The second proposal, that it is a helmet, stems from the theory that the statues represent the decapitated heads of losers of a ball game which had religious undertones.

Small hard rubber balls have been found at El Manati near San Lorenzo, these being rather like squash balls. Helmets might well have been essential in such games as the balls weigh as much as 4 lbs and some protection might have been necessary in this dangerous game. Courts where this game might have been played have been found at various locations. It is known that the Toltecs, at least a thousand years later, played a similar game. Two teams played, using a hard rubber ball, and the object of the game was to pass the ball through stone rings hung at either side of the court. The ball could not be propelled by the feet or hands, however— only other parts of the body. It is possible that the stone yoke around the neck and a helmet would have helped the Olmec players considerably. Scoring a ‘goal’ was very unusual nonetheless but, for both cultures, the penalty for defeat was possibly beheading.

Another puzzle is that no basalt is available near Tres Zapotes, La Venta and San Lorenzo— the three sites that between them, account for almost all the 17 heads. The nearest basalt quarries are in the Tuxtlas Mountains, nearly a hundred miles away. (This is an intriguing parallel with Stonehenge where the bluestones used in its building were brought from the Prescelly Mountains, 240 miles away in South Wales, and with the ten-mile-wide Bristol Channel blocking the way.) It has been theorized that the blocks of basalt were roughly trimmed at the quarry where they were excavated then finished after removal to the site. Rafts along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico is a possible means of transportation though not without enormous problems of loading and unloading.

An alternate theory is that they were dragged overland on specially constructed sledges during the dry season, although such a route is crisscrossed with massive rivers and dense swamps. The ability of the Olmecs to overcome all these difficulties of quarrying, carving and transport by land or sea suggests a fairly sophisticated culture, and with the gradual acceptance that the Olmecs were the earliest civilization in Central America has followed a great amount of curiosity concerning everything about them. It has been learned that they had a barand- dot system for indicating numbers and this was used to date many carved artifacts— the oldest of these is still one of the stone tablets found by Clarence Weiant, corresponding to a date of 31 B.C.. A bar represented a numerical value of 5 and a dot represented a value of 1. The Mayans later adopted this system of counting in their calendars.

The Olmecs had a writing system that was used as early as 1,000 B.C. that consisted of both hieroglyphics and syllabic signs. Decipherment of this language has contributed vastly to an understanding of the Olmec world. This has also indicated that two of the sites where the giant heads have been found, La Venta and San Lorenzo, were inhabited as early as 1,700 B.C. and this has been confirmed by radiocarbon dating of excavated objects. The fascinating world of the Olmecs and the role they played in shaping the destiny of Central America is still being unraveled. Many aspects of the Olmecs’ life remain a mystery to this day and one of the most mysterious is, without doubt, Las Cabezas Colosales, the Giant Heads. And as for the question of where the Olmecs, themselves, came from, the answer, so far, is no one knows.

(Sources : Atlantis Rising Magazine vol.57 : “The Riddle of The Olmec Heads by Peter King”; and Wikipedia)

(Pics sources : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mexico.Tab.OlmecHead.01.jpg; Atlantis Rising Magazine vol.57 : “The Riddle of The Olmec Heads by Peter King” page 36)
15:58 | 1 komentar

Christopher Marlowe Murder Case

Christopher Marlowe, (c. 26 February 1564–30 May 1593) was an English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. A warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on 18 May 1593. No reason for it was given, though it was thought to be connected to allegations of blasphemy—a manuscript believed to have been written by Marlowe was said to contain "vile heretical conceipts." He was brought before the Privy Council for questioning on 20 May 1593, after which he had to report to them daily. Ten days later, he was stabbed to death by Ingram Frizer. Whether the stabbing was connected to his arrest has never been resolved.

As with other writers of the period, little is known about Marlowe. What little evidence there is can be found in legal records and other official documents. This has not stopped writers of both fiction and non-fiction from speculating about his activities and character. Marlowe has often been described as a spy, a brawler, a heretic and a homosexual, as well as a "magician," "duellist," "tobacco-user," "counterfeiter" and "rakehell." The evidence for most of these claims is slight. The bare facts of Marlowe's life have been embellished by many writers into colourful, and often fanciful, narratives of the Elizabethan underworld.

Historians acknowledge that his murder was probably the result of a bar brawl—a dispute over who should pay the bill, in fact—but some people believe that his mysterious death may well have had a political cause. Prior to his death, accusations of blasphemy, subversion and homosexuality had destroyed his public image; he was also charged with atheism on the evidence of his former roommate and fellow dramatist, Thomas Kyd. As a result of his sacrilegious beliefs, some scholars allege that Marlowe was murdered by Francis Walsingham, a Puritan sympathizer and agent of Elizabeth I. Others accuse royalists, in particular the supporters of the Earl of Essex, of his murder. Significantly, Marlowe’s killer eventually received a pardon from the Queen. In the sixteenth century, the punishment for such crimes as Marlowe was accused of included being boiled alive, burnt at the stake, or hanged, drawn and quartered. Taking these penalties into consideration, it is hardly surprising that some people believe that Christopher Marlowe faked his own death. Had he simply fled the country, or gone into hiding, he would have been pursued as a fugitive for the rest of his life. A much better solution would have been to stage his own murder and assume a new identity. Having worked as a secret agent for years, Marlowe would have had both the experience and the contacts to hatch such a plan. Indeed, the fact that the coroner’s inquest and subsequent burial of the body—in an unmarked grave—were completed within forty-eight hours of the “killing” gives even more credence to this idea.

In 1592 Marlowe was arrested in the Dutch town of Flushing for attempting to counterfeit coins and use the proceeds to assist seditious Catholics. He was sent to be dealt with by the Lord Treasurer (Burghley) but no charge or imprisonment resulted. This untimely arrest may have disrupted another of Marlowe's spying missions: by giving the resulting coinage to the Catholic cause he was to infiltrate the followers of the active Catholic plotter William Stanley and report back to Burghley.

In early May 1593 several bills were posted about London threatening Protestant refugees from France and the Netherlands who had settled in the city. One of these, the "Dutch church libel," written in blank verse, contained allusions to several of Marlowe's plays and was signed, "Tamburlaine". On 11 May the Privy Council ordered the arrest of those responsible for the libels. The next day, Marlowe's colleague Thomas Kyd was arrested. Kyd's lodgings were searched and a fragment of a heretical tract was found. Kyd asserted, possibly under torture, that it had belonged to Marlowe. Two years earlier they had both been working for an aristocratic patron, probably Ferdinando Stanley, Lord Strange, and Kyd suggested that at this time, when they were sharing a workroom, the document had found its way among his papers.

Marlowe's arrest was ordered on 18 May. Marlowe was not in London, but was staying with Thomas Walsingham, the cousin of the late Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth's principal secretary in the 1580s and a man deeply involved in state espionage. However, he duly appeared before the Privy Council on 20 May and was instructed to "give his daily attendance on their Lordships, until he shall be licensed to the contrary". On 30 May, Marlowe was murdered. Various versions of Marlowe's death were current at the time. Francis Meres says Marlowe was "stabbed to death by a bawdy serving-man, a rival of his in his lewd love" as punishment for his "epicurism and atheism." In 1917, in the Dictionary of National Biography, Sir Sidney Lee wrote that Marlowe was killed in a drunken fight, and this is still often stated as fact today.

The facts only came to light in 1925 when the scholar Leslie Hotson discovered the coroner's report on Marlowe's death in the Public Record Office. Marlowe had spent all day in a house in Deptford, owned by the widow Eleanor Bull. With him were three men: Ingram Frizer, Nicholas Skeres and Robert Poley. All three had been employed by the Walsinghams. Skeres and Poley had helped snare the conspirators in the Babington plot and Frizer was a servant of Thomas Walsingham. Witnesses testified that Frizer and Marlowe had earlier argued over the bill for their drink (now famously known as the 'Reckoning') exchanging "divers malicious words". Later, while Frizer was sitting at a table between the other two and Marlowe was lying behind him on a couch, Marlowe snatched Frizer's dagger and began attacking him. In the ensuing struggle, according to the coroner's report, Marlowe was accidentally stabbed above the right eye, killing him instantly.

The jury concluded that Frizer acted in self-defence, and within a month he was pardoned. Marlowe was buried in an unmarked grave in the churchyard of St. Nicholas, Deptford, on 1 June 1593. Marlowe's death is alleged by some to be an assassination for the following reasons:

  1. The three men who were in the room with him when he died were all connected both to the state secret service and to the London underworld. Frizer and Skeres also had a long record as loan sharks and con-men, as shown by court records. Bull's house also had "links to the government's spy network".
  2. Their story that they were on a day's pleasure outing to Deptford is alleged to be implausible. In fact, they spent the whole day closeted together, deep in discussion. Also, Robert Poley was carrying confidential despatches to the Queen, who was at her palace of Nonsuch in Surrey, but instead of delivering them, he spent the day with Marlowe and the other two.
  3. It seems too much of a coincidence that Marlowe's death occurred only a few days after his arrest for heresy.
  4. The manner of Marlowe's arrest is alleged to suggest causes more tangled than a simple charge of heresy would generally indicate. He was released in spite of prima facie evidence, and even though the charges implicitly connected Sir Walter Raleigh and the Earl of Northumberland with the heresy. Thus, some contend it to be probable that the investigation was meant primarily as a warning to the politicians in the "School of Night", or that it was connected with a power struggle within the Privy Council itself.
  5. The various incidents that hint at a relationship with the Privy Council (see above), and by the fact that his patron was Thomas Walsingham, Sir Francis's second cousin, who was actively involved in intelligence work.
For these reasons and others, Charles Nicholl (in his book 'The Reckoning' on Marlowe's death) argues there was more to Marlowe's death than emerged at the inquest. There are different theories of some degree of probability. Since there are only written documents on which to base any conclusions, and since it is probable that the most crucial information about his death was never committed to writing at all, it is unlikely that to this day, conspiracy theories rather than facts shroud the events leading up to Marlowe’s death. Though Ingram Frizer was named as the writer’s killer, the real truth about Marlowe’s end will probably never be known.

(Sources : Conspiracy Theories by kate Tuckett; and Wikipedia)
(Pic source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Christopher_Marlowe.jpg)
16:10 | 3 komentar

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