Mystery of Kryptos

Kryptos, an encrypted sculpture created by Jim Sanborn which is located in a courtyard of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters in Langley, Virginia has baffled code crackers around the world with its secret message since 1990, even Dan Brown has referred to it in his novels. Mystery continues to surround this puzzling work of art since no one has ever fully deciphered Kryptos’ coded message. In 1999, three of the puzzles, 768 characters long, were solved, revealing passages — one lyrical, one obscure and one taken from history. But the fourth message has resisted the best efforts of brains and computers.

The name Kryptos comes from the Greek word for "hidden", and the theme of the sculpture is "intelligence gathering." Jim Sanborn, the creator decided to interpret the subject in terms of how information is accrued throughout the ages after reading extensively on the subject of intelligence and cryptography. To produce the code for “Kryptos,” he worked for four months with a retired CIA cryptographer to devise the codes used in the sculpture. He wrote the text to be coded in collaboration with a prominent fiction writer.

The sculpture comprises four large copper plates with other elements made of red and green granite, white quartz, and petrified wood. The most prominent feature is a large vertical S-shaped copper screen resembling a scroll, or piece of paper emerging from a computer printer, covered with characters constituting encrypted text. The characters consist of the 26 letters of the standard Latin alphabet and question marks cut out of the copper.
    Kryptos
  • The petrified tree symbolizes the trees that once stood on the site of the sculpture and that were the source of materials on which written language has been recorded.
  • The bubbling pool symbolizes information being disseminated with the destination being unknown.
  • The copperplate screen has exactly 1,735 alphabetic letters cut into it.
The sculpture has been a source of mystery and challenge for Agency employees, other government employees, and interested people outside of government. In early 1998, a CIA physicist announced to the Agency that he had cracked the code for three of the four sections. This was followed a year later by a public announcement from a California computer scientist that he had done the same.

The following are the solutions of parts 1–3 of the sculpture:

Solution for Part 1
BETWEEN SUBTLE SHADING AND THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT LIES THE NUANCE OF IQLUSION
(Keywords: Kryptos, Palimpsest)

Solution for Part 2
IT WAS TOTALLY INVISIBLE HOWS THAT POSSIBLE ? THEY USED THE EARTHS MAGNETIC FIELD X THE INFORMATION WAS GATHERED AND TRANSMITTED UNDERGRUUND TO AN UNKNOWN LOCATION X DOES LANGLEY KNOW ABOUT THIS ? THEY SHOULD ITS BURIED OUT THERE SOMEWHERE X WHO KNOWS THE EXACT LOCATION ? ONLY WW THIS WAS HIS LAST MESSAGE X THIRTY EIGHT DEGREES FIFTY SEVEN MINUTES SIX POINT FIVE SECONDS NORTH SEVENTY SEVEN DEGREES EIGHT MINUTES FORTY FOUR SECONDS WEST X LAYER TWO
(Keywords: Kryptos, Abscissa)

Solution for Part 3
SLOWLY DESPARATLY SLOWLY THE REMAINS OF PASSAGE DEBRIS THAT ENCUMBERED THE LOWER PART OF THE DOORWAY WAS REMOVED WITH TREMBLING HANDS I MADE A TINY BREACH IN THE UPPER LEFT HAND CORNER AND THEN WIDENING THE HOLE A LITTLE I INSERTED THE CANDLE AND PEERED IN THE HOT AIR ESCAPING FROM THE CHAMBER CAUSED THE FLAME TO FLICKER BUT PRESENTLY DETAILS OF THE ROOM WITHIN EMERGED FROM THE MIST X CAN YOU SEE ANYTHING Q ?

Part 4 remains unsolved. In 2010, Jim Sanborn is nudging the process along. He has provided The New York Times with the answers to six letters in the sculpture’s final passage. The characters that are the 64th through 69th in the final series on the sculpture read NYPVTT. When deciphered, they read BERLIN. However there are many steps to cracking the code, and the other 91 characters and their proper order are yet to be determined.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kryptos;
https://www.cia.gov/about-cia/headquarters-tour/kryptos/flash-movie-text.html;
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/us/21code.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Pic Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kryptos_sculptor.jpg
22:17 | 2 komentar

Unsolved Mystery of the Somerton Man Case

The Somerton Man Case or Tamam Shud Mystery is considered to be one of Australia's unsolved mysteries, it revolves around an unidentified man found dead in December 1948 on Somerton beach in Adelaide, Australia. Aside from the fact that the man could never be identified, the mystery deepened after a tiny piece of paper with the words "Tamam Shud" was found in a hidden pocket sewn within the dead man's trousers. (It is also referred to as "Taman Shud.") Adding to the mystery, a copy of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam's collection was later found that contained a scribbled code in it believed to have been left by the dead man himself.

On 30 November 1948, a jeweller called John Baines Lyons, went for a walk with his wife along Somerton Beach at about 7 pm. Near the foot of the steps which led down to the beach they saw a man sitting, supported by the sea wall. As they passed, he extended his right arm and then let it fall. They concluded that he was not dead, although possibly dead drunk, and walked on.

Around 7.30 pm, Olive Constance Neill, a telephonist, saw the seated man from the road above the seafront. It was a warm night and there were other people about, including a man in his fifties, wearing a grey suit and hat, who was looking down, possibly at the man on the beach. On 1 December 1948 at about 6.50 am, John Lyons went for an early morning swim. After he emerged from the sea, he noticed the man he had seen the night before still there. On inspection, he affirmed that the man was dead. He went home to call the police and then returned to the scene.

The man was lying with his feet toward the sea, still against the wall. He was well-dressed but he had no hat. He didn't appear to have suffered any stab wounds or bullet wounds. No bruises or blood were observed and there was no disturbance of the scene. He seemed to have died very quietly and peacefully, where he sat. His half-smoked cigarette had fallen out of his mouth and onto his lapel as he slumped but his chin not even blistered. Eventually the local people called him the Somerton Man.

The Mysterious Somerton Man

The police ambulance took Somerton Man to the Royal Adelaide Hospital on North Terrace. At 9.40 am, the doctor declared that he's dead and suggested that he must have a heart attack and sent him to the morgue for a post-mortem. The body was processed in the usual way, being stripped and tagged, and then refrigerated. There was nothing odd about a heart attack victim, but the contents of his pockets were logged, as follows:
  • Railway ticket to Henley Beach
  • Bus ticket to North Glenelg
  • American metal comb
  • Packet of Juicy Fruit chewing gum
  • Packet of Army Club cigarettes with seven Kenistas cigarettes inside
  • Handkerchief
  • Packet of Bryant & May matches
He had no wallet, no identity documents, no money and no passport. He was wearing jockey shorts and a singlet, a white shirt with a narrow tie in red, white and blue, fawn trousers, a brown knitted pullover, a brown double-breasted suit coat, socks and highly polished brown, laced shoes, Snazzy.

On examination of the clothes, it was found that every identifying label had been removed. Dr JM Dwyer, the doctor who examined the Somerton Man, decided that he had died of some irritant poison and sent samples of his organs (liver, muscle, blood, urine and stomach contents) for analysis.

While the forensic tests were performed, the police set about trying to found out who he was. Detective Strangway of Glenelg Station and his associates began by checking all the missing persons reports on hand but Somerton Man fitted none of them. Then they checked his fingerprints, which were not on record. And after that they went to the papers.

At first two people were sure that he was Robert Walsh, a woodcutter, but this positive identification was withdrawn when one of them looked at the body again and decided that it wasn't him. In any case, Walsh was sixty three and Somerton Man was younger and had soft hands, which woodcutters don't. Another firm identification as EC Johnson rather fell flat when the man concerned walked into a police station and asserted very firmly that he wasn't dead. So Somerton Man wasn't EC Johnson either.

Then on 14 January, in response to a police appeal for unclaimed baggage directed to all lodging houses, hotels and railway stations, a suitcase was found in a locker at Adelaide's Central Railway Station. It had been checked in after 11 am on 30 November 1948, the last day of Somerton Man's life.

It was a nice, clean, respectable and not inexpensive brown leather suitcase. All the labels had been removed. The suitcase contained the following items:
  • Red checked dressing gown
  • Red felt slippers, size 7
  • Undergarments (four pairs)
  • Pijamas
  • Four pairs of socks
  • Shaving kit containing razor and strop, shaving brush
  • A Screwdriver
  • A cut-down table knife
  • A stencilling brush
  • A pair of scissors
  • A sewing kit containing orange Barbour's waxed thread
  • Two ties
  • Three pencils
  • Six handkerchiefs
  • Sixpence in coins
  • A button
  • A tin of brown shoe polish, Kiwi brand
  • One scarf
  • One cigarette lighter
  • Eight large envelopes and one small envelope
  • One piece of light cord
  • One scarf
  • One shirt without name tag
  • One yellow coat shirt (a shirt with an attached collar)
  • Two airmail stickers
  • One rubber (eraser)
  • One front and one back collar stud
  • Toothbrush and paste
The most interesting discovery in the suitcase was the orange Barbour thread, which was not sold in Australia. Identical thread had been used to repair the pocket of Somerton Man's coat. It seemed that the Barbour's thread in the suitcase and the Barbour thread in Somerton Man's coat were likely connected, so the suitcase probably belonged to Somerton Man. Also, the clothes are his size and the slippers would fit his feet. And some of the garments in the suitcase actually had labels with a name on them. The name, written on a singlet, a laundry bag and a tie, was T. Keane or T. Kean(*). The call went out and a local sailor named Tom Reade was said to be missing. Was Somerton Man perhaps Tom Reade?

But when Tom Reade's shipmates viewed the body, they all said that it was not their Tom Reade. After a widespread searches through maritime agencies had revealed that no one was missing a T. Keane or T. Kean.

(*There is some mis-information about T. Keane, thanks to Mr. Peter Bowes for provide additional information on his website "The somerton man. The tamam shud mystery")

The clothes were also marked with drycleaning or laundry marks, which were applied to clothes when they were submitted for cleaning, so that the cleaner could identify them if their tag was lost. These marks were 1171/1 and 4393/7 and 3053/7 but extensive searches of laundries, and drycleaners found no one who used those combinations numbers.

A few days after the body was found, a coroner's inquest was conducted by coroner Thomas Erskine Cleland, commenced  but it was adjourned until 17 June 1949. Sir John Burton Cleland, a pathologist who investigate the body, re-examined it and made a few discoveries. He noted that the Somerton Man's shoes were remarkably clean and it seems have been polished recently. This shoes proved that he's not using it to wander around Glenelg all day. He added that this evidence also fit in with the theory that the body may have been brought to Somerton beach after the man's death. Beside, because the lack evidence of the two main effects of poison which is vomiting and convulsions, did not found on his clothes.

Interestingly, a tiny piece of rolled-up paper with the words "Tamam Shud" printed on it was found deep in a fob pocket sewn within the dead man's trouser pocket, around the same time as the Inquest. Based on the translation of the public library officials, the text identified it as a phrase meaning "ended" or "finished" which can be found on the last page of the The Rubaiyat authored by Omar Khayyam. The poems' themes meaning is that one person should live life to the full and have no regrets when it ended. At the back side of the paper was blank and soon the police conducted an Australia-wide search to find a copy of the book that had a similarly blank at the back side but were unsuccessful.

Few days later, a photograph of the paper with words "Tamam Shud" was sent to interstate police and then released to the public. This evidence later leading to a man who admit that he had found a very rare first edition copy of The Rubaiyat, which is translated by Edward FitzGerald, published in 1859 by Whitcombe and Tombs, New Zealand. It was found in the back seat of his unlocked car that had been parked in Jetty Road Glenelg about a week or two before the body was found. He had no idea between the book's connection to the case until he saw an article in the previous day's newspaper. Because he wished to remain anonymous. This man's identity and profession were withheld by the police.

Although there was no other evidence to back the theory, the poem's subject immediately led the local police to theorise that the man had committed suicide by poison. The book matched with the missing the words "Tamam Shud" on the last page, which had a blank reverse, and based on the microscopic tests indicated that the piece of paper was from the page torn from the book

Another clue also found in the back of the book. There were of five lines of capital letters with the second line struck out written with faint pencil markings. The strike out is now considered significant with its similarity to the fourth line possibly indicating a mistake and thus, possible proof the letters are code: 

 The Somerton Man Code

Code experts were called in to decipher the lines at the time but were unsuccessful.

In the back of the book was found another clue which is an unlisted telephone number belonging to a former nurse who lived in Moseley St, Glenelg, around 400 metres north of the location where the body was found. The lady said that while she was working during World War II at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, she admitted that she owned a copy of The Rubaiyat. However in 1945, she had given it to an army lieutenant named Alfred Boxall who was serving in the Water Transport Section of the Australian Army at the Clifton Gardens Hotel in Sydney.

According to the local media reports, the woman stated that after the world war she had moved to Melbourne and married. Later she had received a letter from Boxall, but had told him she was now married. In late 1948, she said that Boxall had asked her next door neighbour about her. However there is no evidence that he, who did not know the lady's married name, had any contact with her after 1945. Detective sergeant Leane shown her the plaster cast bust of the dead man, but she could not identify it. Police believed that Boxall was the Somerton Man until they found Boxall still alive, and he even showed his 1924 Sydney edition copy of The Rubaiyat, complete with "Tamam Shud" on the last page. Boxall was unaware of any link between the dead man and him, and now he's working in the maintenance section at the Randwick Bus Depot.

The lack of success in solving the code, determining the identity, and cause of death of the Somerton Man had led authorities to call it an "unparalleled mystery" and believe that the cause of death may never be known. An editorial called the case "one of Australia's most profound mysteries" and noted that if he died by poison so rare and obscure it could not be identified by toxicology experts, then surely the culprit's advanced knowledge of toxic substances pointed to something more serious than a mere domestic poisoning.

Tamam Shud: The Somerton Man Mystery by Kerry Greenwood;

Pic Sources:
Tamam Shud: The Somerton Man Mystery by Kerry Greenwood;
15:26 | 6 komentar

Chak Chak Shrine

Chak Chak Shrine located on the side of a mountain near the city of Ardakan in Yazd Province, Central Iran. Local legend said that the ghost of a beautiful woman often seen at this site. The word 'Chak Chak' which means 'drop-drop' in Persian. The shrine has weathered the ravages of time because of the protection offered by the towering cliffs that shelter it from the sweltering heat of the dry, Iranian desert. The woman in life was Nikbanou, a Persian princess, who lived in the seventh century. During her life, the Arabians invaded her land on horseback to establish Islam in her homeland. Fearing for her safety, she fled to the mountain and was forced to stay there as the religion spread quickly. Here she lived until her death, where her corpse was left for the vultures.

The dead are not buried, for Zoroastrians believe the dead body will contaminate God’s pure earth, so the deceased are taken to two outcrops that are called the Towers of Silence. The dead are left here for the vultures to devour and for the bones to be bleached in the sun.

Chak Chak Shrine
At this site there is a holy spring and growing beside the source of the spring is an immense and ancient tree which legends says used to be Nikbanou's cane, and the waters of the spring are believed to be tears of grief shed by the mountain for Lady Nikbanou.

Goshtasb Belivani (a priest in Iran’s pre-Islamic religion) told the story of the young man, having left the body of his dead father and feeling ill, and, being completely overcome with grief and exhaustion from the trip, lay down and fell asleep. He woke up with a jolt and, regaining his awareness, saw a beautiful woman with long, dark hair and wearing a green gown standing just to his side. Her gaze brought him such calm that he found himself in tears and feeling totally at a peace, a place where, in his emotional body, he had never been before. She offered him a cool drink, and as he took the drink from her hand, she disappeared. After finishing the drink, he then fell into a deep sleep and didn’t awake until mid-morning. When he awoke, he was filled with joy and had an energy that he had not experienced since he was a child.

Over the rest of his lifetime, the man returned to the cliff where he saw the apparition to honor the lady who had given him new life and in hope of seeing her once again.

Word spread fast, and many people sick with disease or crippled went to find what quickly became a shrine to the “lady in green” and her curative powers. Tales of the many miraculous cures bestowed by the apparition brought the sick and the diseased from all over the world.

Sources:
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places compiled and edited by Jeff Belanger;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chak_Chak,_Iran;
http://sacredsites.com/middle_east/iran/zoroastriansacredsites.html

Pic Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chak-chak.jpg
20:09 | 0 komentar

Explosion of the USS Maine

The USS Maine was an American battleship on a peaceful visit to Havana, Cuba, when it suddenly exploded at 9:45 P.M. on February 15, 1898, killing all 274 American sailors aboard. The ship was at anchor at the place assigned by port authorities. The exact cause of the disaster was never determined, but most speculation at the time and subsequent investigations pointed to the explosion of an external mine that set off five tons of gunpowder in the ship’s magazines. The explosion came during escalating tensions between the United States and Spain regarding Spain’s maladministration of Cuba, one of its last colonial possessions, and harsh suppression of the island’s independence movement.

Two months after the event and largely because of it, the United States declared war on Spain. Immediately after the explosion, Spain offered its regrets and helped the survivors. The Maine’s captain said he could not explain what had happened. President William McKinley and most American opinion leaders called for a suspension of judgment until the navy reported on its inquiry a month later.

USS Maine

The Maine had been commissioned as a battleship (although it was originally classified as an armored cruiser) on 17 September 1895. Her captain in 1898 was Charles D. Sigsbee, who sent the note to Washington informing them of the disaster. In part it read: “Maine blown up in Havana Harbor and destroyed. Many wounded and doubtless more killed and drowned. . . . Public opinion should be suspended until further report”.

Despite Sigsbee’s plea against jumping to conclusions and the refusal of the U.S. government to speculate on the cause of the explosion, public opinion began to make its own judgment, inflamed by the “yellow press” of Hearst and his rival, Joseph Pulitzer.

Pulitzer’s New York World of 17 February 1898 ran the headline, “Maine Explosion Caused by Bomb or Torpedo?” with a graphic illustration of the Maine exploding (complete with bodies being thrown from the ship) beneath. Articles quoted “experts” speculating that “a torpedo was used,” and the wounded survivors of the Maine expressed their opinion that it was “a deep laid plot of Spaniards.”

Three days later, Sigsbee himself was quoted as believing “a submarine mine blew up the Maine” (New York World, 20 February 1898). By 24 February, not even ten days after the explosion, headlines ran in the World that left no doubt that the papers believed that it had been no accident: “Experts at Havana Say Some Great Exterior Force Rent and Sunk the Ship” and “Fifty Physical Proofs that Maine Was Blown Up by a Mine or Torpedo.”

The speculation in the press in the first days after the explosion was based on little actual evidence, but fed into the growing public clamor for action against the Spanish. The government continued to refuse to comment, instead waiting for the results of the official investigation that had been launched immediately after the disaster. Divers and armor experts were sent to investigate the physical evidence of the wreck, and a Naval Court of Inquiry was held. The public believed that it would provide concrete evidence of Spanish guilt. At the same time, the Spanish conducted their own investigation (as the Maine had blown up in their territorial waters) and concluded that it was caused by an internal explosion.

On 28 March, the official report was submitted: “In the opinion of the Court, the Maine was destroyed by the explosion of a submarine mine, which caused the partial explosion of two or more of her forward magazines. The Court has been unable to obtain evidence, fixing the responsibility for the destruction of the Maine upon any person or persons”.

The U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry interrogated survivors and eyewitnesses, and several navy divers explored the sunken wreck. The explosion of the forward ammunition magazines, they determined, obviously had caused the sinking. Divers said the ship’s bottom plates were all bent inward, consistent with an external mine. (If an internal accidental explosion had occurred, the bottom plates would have been bent outward.) On the floor of the harbor, a large cavity was seen, presumably from the explosion. On hearing the report, many groups demanded war.

Public opinion in the United States had been hostile to Spain for several years as that country tried to suppress growing rebellions in Cuba and other colonies. The Maine was sent to Havana to protect American citizens in case of rioting and to show the intense American interest in resolving the crisis. The Maine explosion so dominated headlines and public attention that quiet diplomacy became extremely difficult. Although opposed to war, McKinley demanded that Spain immediately end the chaos. Madrid repeatedly stalled for time, making promises that never took effect, hoping perhaps to gain diplomatic support from European powers that never came.

Cuban insurgents advised McKinley that their insurrection would fall apart if Spain granted an armistice. The American business community, although opposed to war, warned that further months of uncertainty were intolerable. Finally, McKinley told Congress to make the decision, knowing that the war hawks dominated Congress.

On April 25, 1898, Congress declared war on Spain. “Remember the Maine” became a popular rallying cry and song. The United States quickly won the Spanish-American War, and Cuba gained its independence from Spain. But the mystery of what caused the Maine to explode continued.

A thorough investigation in 1911 by the navy pointed to an outside mine as the source of the initial explosion. Sixty-five years later, U.S. Admiral Hyman Rickover reanalyzed the data and concluded it might have been an accident.

The latest inquiry, completed in 1999, was sponsored by the National Geographic Magazine. It commissioned an analysis by Advanced Marine Enterprises (AME), using computer modeling that was not available for previous investigations. The AME analysis concluded that “it appears more probable than was previously concluded that a mine caused the inward bent bottom structure and the detonation of the magazines.”

Multiple theories have circulated as to what happened. The first theory is that it was an accident, caused by spontaneous ignition of the bituminous coal in the coal bunkers, located near the powder room, that could have heated the gunpowder to 450°F and set it off. There was no direct evidence for this hypothesis. The blast effects on the hull seem o show the causal force was outside, not inside; the coal bunkers were inspected daily, had never shown problems before, and the coal used was not known to spontaneously ignite. The alternative theory held that an external mine was detonated underwater on the port side by experts who knew what they were doing. Spain had recently purchased mines that could easily have done the job. One could have been seized by Cuban insurgents and set off to incite Americans into declaring war, or a mine could have been detonated by rogue Spanish officers angry at the intervention of the Americans. Perhaps Spanish authorities had ordered the mine placement, or one could even have been placed by American authorities seeking to escalate the conflict.

Historians agree that it is highly unlikely that the Spanish government or the American government ordered the sabotage. The most likely suspect, for most historians, are the insurgents or rogue Spanish officers, but there is no direct evidence to implicate either group. Spain’s reluctance to negotiate in 1898 was caused by its own internal crisis. Spain was itself on the verge of civil war, but simply withdrawing from Cuba would have worsened its crisis. One honorable solution was to lose a short war to a much more powerful country, which is what happened. A new generation came to influence in Spain (the “Generation of 98”), and civil war was averted for another 35 years.

Historians have debated whether American public opinion was deliberately inflamed by the sensationalistic “yellow journalism” of newspaper publishers William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer in New York City. Early 20th-century historian James Ford Rhodes concluded that the press “had manipulated the real news, spread unfounded reports, putting all before their readers with scare headlines.” By contrast historian John Offner has insisted, “there is no evidence” to indicate that the “sensational press” influenced McKinley’s policy, suggesting that “its impact on changing public opinion may have been limited.” When the war came—“a splendid little war,” one official called it—it lasted only six months and drew Americans together, especially the southerners whose patriotism had been in doubt since the Civil War a generation earlier.

Sources:
Conspiracy Theories in American History: "An Encyclopedia" edited by Peter Knight;
Disasters, Accidents, and Crises In American History by Ballard C. Campbell

Pic Source:
Conspiracy Theories in American History: "An Encyclopedia" edited by Peter Knight page 701
05:57 | 0 komentar

Mystery of the Lake Toplitz

According to legend, in the spring of 1945 numerous crates of secret cargo were trucked through the dense mountain forest to Lake Toplitz and dumped into the 350-foot-deep lake by Nazi officers just before U.S. and allied forces closed in on them. Nobody knows exactly what was inside. Some believe they contained gold looted by German troops throughout Europe and carried back to Germany while others believe that they contain documents showing where assets confiscated from Jewish victims were hidden in Swiss bank accounts.

During 1944-1945, the shore of Lake Toplitz served as a Nazi naval testing station. Using copper diaphragms, scientists experimented with different explosives, detonating up to 4,000 kg charges at various depths. They also fired torpedoes from a launching pad in the lake into the Tote Mountains, producing vast holes in the canyon walls. Millions of counterfeit pound sterling notes (£100+ million) were dumped in the lake after Operation Bernhard, which was never fully put into action. There is speculation that there might be other valuables to be recovered from the bottom of the Toplitzsee such as diamonds and gold worth millions, stolen art, and also documents detailing the whereabouts of other Nazi treasures.

Lake Toplitz

Old Toplitz-watchers believe that if there was treasure down there, it has long since been recovered and spirited away. That would have been possible in so isolated a region — the lake is frozen at least five months of the year, and much of the older local population still has a certain sympathy for swastika-related times past.

In 2005, the Austrian government has given a US team permission to make an underwater expedition to the log-infested bottom of the lake. This is not the first time explorers and treasure hunters have tried to retrieve the lake's legendary lost gold. Treasure hunters have been flocking to Lake Toplitz ever since a group of diehard Nazis retreated to this picturesque part of the Austrian Alps in the final months of the second world war.

In 1947 a US navy diver became entangled in Lake Toplitz's many submerged logs and drowned. Then in 1959 a team financed by the German magazine Stern had more luck, retrieving £72m in forged sterling currency hidden in boxes, and a printing press apparently created by the Nazis in an attempt to crash the British economy. Wooden boxes containing secret Nazi documents have also been found. In 1963 the Austrian government imposed a ban on explorations after another diver, led to the lake by an SS officer, drowned during an illegal dive. More recent expeditions have had mixed fortunes. In 1983 a German biologist accidentally discovered more forged British pounds, numerous Nazi-era rockets and missiles that had crashed into the lake, and a previously unknown worm. The last diving team to explore the lake, in 2000, had less luck. After a three-week search in an underwater diving capsule they came away with nothing more than a box full of beer lids, apparently dumped in the lake as a practical joke.

However, treasure hunters believe that the real treasures remain where the Nazis allegedly sank them -- on the bottom of the lake encrusted with a thick cover of logs and mud. Several divers have been killed over the years after becoming entangled in the branches on the bottom of the lake, but that hasn't dimmed the interest in exploring.

Sources:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/apr/06/austria.secondworldwar;
http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/divers-banned-secret-nazi-treasures/story?id=8752013#.UZJDBrL4NSJ;
http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=83199&page=1;
http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=83199&page=2#.UZJUvbL4NSI;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Toplitz

Pic Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Toplitzsee.jpg
23:10 | 0 komentar

Lost Treasure of Petra

Few people realize that there is actually a treasure connected with the legend of Petra. According to the news article in the Ottawa Journal for January 29, 1927. Headlined: “Will Hunt for Enormous Treasure Hidden for Years in Mystery City of Petra,” it reads as follows: “LONDON (by Mail) - Exquisite gold ornaments and precious stones—part of what may prove the greatest ancient treasure ever recovered, making insignificant even the splendors of Tutankhamun’s tomb—have come into the hands of an eminent archaeologist connected with the British Museum.“ The story of the discovery by a wandering Bedouin, who literally tripped on the “Open Sesame” to a labyrinth of underground passages that led to the treasure-house of a long vanished race, transcends the imaginings of the “Arabian Nights” author.

  Headline news of Ottawa Journal (29-1-1927)

Further romance is added by the theory that the treasure includes the loot of ancient pirates and so plausible does the story appear in the light of the genuine finds, including a Cretan gold buckle of long ago, that an expedition of scientists has been sent to the site of the mysterious stone city of Petra, between the Gulf of Akabah and the Dead Sea.

Investigation revealed that the first treasures had been obtained from an Arab sheik at Jerusalem, who furnished protection to caravans in Northern Arabia. After months of effort this man was traced. It was then discovered that the treasures had been unearthed by Arabs at Petra.

The city was, in its prime, the capital of Nabateans, an ancient Arab tribe which conquered the Edom of the Bible, and a hundred years before Christ, had created a powerful kingdom extending north to Damascus, west to Gaza, and into Palestine and Central Arabia. The Nabateans controlled the caravan routes of the interior and were also great sailors and pirates. Both King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba used them to carry goods by sea and land to distant countries.

This region remained unconquered until a mysterious and unrecorded tragedy emptied it of its hundreds of thousands, practically wiped out the Nabatean race and caused it to be shunned for centuries by the Arabs and nomads around it.

There’s no record that the accumulated wealth of Petra has ever been carried away. If that treasure ever existed it is believed that it still must be there. Expeditions before the war (World War I) were dangerous because of the attitude of the Arabs and the isolated locality. The city was lost to European knowledge for centuries until it was rediscovered in 1812 by the German explorer Buckhardt. Since then not more than a dozen archaeologists have visited it because of its inaccessibility.

But since the war, under the British protection of Palestine, matters have changed, and the party now on its way under military guard will have no trouble in investigating and excavating. The clue to the treasure chambers is shown close to a remarkable building called: ‘The Treasury of Pharaoh’, which like all the other temples is cut out of the side of the mountain.

According to the story of the Arab, some wandering Bedouins encamped in Petra, in the upper valley, close to the Treasury. One of them passed back into the deep rooms within the cliffs. Poking around among the debris be stepped upon ‘a moving stone.’ The stone tilted and dropped back into a shallow vault, then crashed back into place, leaving him in darkness. He cried out in vain for help. Feeling around the vault, he came across the opening of a passage. After groping his way along it for about half a mile, always moving upwards, he saw a faint light. He came out into a large chamber, from which six other passages led back into the mountain. In the center of the chamber, on a pedestal, was a huge urn. He climbed the pedestal and within the urn saw a heap of gems and gold. Taking a couple of handfuls, he knotted them in his cap and went to a fissure in the wall through which the light streamed and found himself out on the side of the mountain far above the valley. Scrambling and falling, he got back safely to his camp near sunset.

He showed his find to the half-dozen members of his family, and they spent several days trying to discover “the stone that moved,” and the fissure, but without success.

The ancients had great skill, British Museum authorities point out, in contriving secret passageways and doors whose entrances were apparently part of the stone walls themselves, but which, by a cunningly devised system of balances, would easily open under pressure at a certain point.

The treasure may have been found in an entirely different way, but the Arab’s story is considered worth investigating.

Since the news article appeared 75 years have passed and one cannot help but wonder if the treasure mentioned and the secret door still are untouched. People in 1927 did not have ground penetrating radar and modern electronic technology, so if something does still exist on the site, it is only a matter of time before it once again comes to light.

Sources:
Atlantis Rising Magazine Vol.35 : Indiana Jones' Treasure—Was It Real? Petra’s Magnificent and Mysterious Ruins May Be the Home of Unclaimed Wealth written by W. Ritchie Benedict;
http://unmyst3.blogspot.com/2009/03/petra-mysterious-hidden-city.html

Pic Source:
Atlantis Rising Magazine Vol.35 : "Indiana Jones' Treasure—Was It Real? Petra’s Magnificent and Mysterious Ruins May Be the Home of Unclaimed Wealth" written by W. Ritchie Benedict page 71
06:30 | 0 komentar

Siberian Stonehenge

Siberian Stonehenge also known as Sunduki located on a remote flood plain on the bank of the Bely Iyus river in the republic of Khakassia is a series of eight sandstone outcrops. Professor Vitaly Larichev, a Russian scientist believes Siberian Stonehenge may be the first place that humanity began to follow the movements of the heavens. This 16,000-year-old site was not only a place of huge religious significance in the ancient world, but also its stargazing capital, yet it is older than the British standing stones, and arguably 'more mysterious'.

Sunduki comprises eight fantastical sandstone mounts rising incongruously from a flood plain on the bank of the Bely Iyus. Parallel to each other, almost equal in size, they are crowned with strange rock hats looking like giant boxes or chests.

The word 'Sunduk' in Russian means 'chest' or 'trunk' which explains how the place got its modern name.

 Siberian Stonehenge

3,500 years ago the first known sundials came into existence, found by archeologists in ancient Egypt. Yet the professor thinks these ancient Siberian astronomers, without any instruments, used giant rocks and chinks in the stone architecture in the landscape for their calculations and observations.

He claims to have found 'numerous ancient solar and lunar observatories around Sunduki'.

There is a gallery of rock art. Some dates back several centuries BC and so is relatively modern. High on one cliff wall is a rock engraving showing dragon heads in one direction, and snake heads in the other.

'If the sun were shining, we could tell the time,' said Professor Vitaly Larichev, of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography at the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 'In the morning the shadow moves along the snake's body from his head to his tail, and in the afternoon it comes from the other direction along the dragon.

'From the same observation point you can determine true north and south by sighting along the mountains'.

A mysterious white horse symbol found not far from the first 'chest' on Black Mountain was carved in the rock and is well preserved may have appeared 16,000 years ago, during the Ice Age, establishing this as a site of human activity over many millennia.

But the site has not yielded all its mysteries. There are also burial mounds and other man-made constructions - including irrigation channels - which have yet to be fully explored by archaeologists.

Sources:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2312902/Is-Siberian-Stonehenge-really-birthplace-astronomy--Astonishing-theory-remote-spot-used-stargazers-16-000-years-ago.html;
http://siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/is-this-the-oldest-astronomical-observatory-in-the-world-dating-back-16000-years/

Pic Source:
http://siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/is-this-the-oldest-astronomical-observatory-in-the-world-dating-back-16000-years/
21:08 | 0 komentar

Scythians the Ancient Warriors

Scythians were magnificent warriors. They were embodiment of horror. Nobody dared to fight against them. They were quite barbaric in their treatment of the enemy. They used to behead their enemy and often skinned them alive. Even this was not enough to quench their blood thirst. Scythians indulged in the most brutal tactics of cleaning their enemy's skull by sawing through below the eyes and dipping it into a richly appointed drinking vessel. The royal funerals were drenched in blood. However, Scythians were not only barbaric. They were remarkable military strategists and created innumerable dazzling golden objects. Combs, breastplates, chalices, scabbards, helmets, rings, all made of gold, have been found amidst the carnage of royals graves. 
Battle between the Scythians and the Slavs (Viktor Vasnetsov, 1881)
Scythians were an odd mixture of gold and blood, beauty and bestiality, fact and myth. These are some of the inexplicable paradoxes of the Scythians. Besides these, we do not have much details about them. Scholars are unsatisfied with these facts. They ask who were they, where did they come from and what was their life like, 2,500 years ago? As they have left no written record or coin, there is no evidence to prove their odd mixture of beauty and bestiality.

Fortunately, Father of History, Herodotus, and Peter the Great have mentioned about them in their accounts. Herodotus has written about them in his book 'Persian Wars'. He took great pains in accumulating facts about Scythians. He travelled to the Don river, to the west of the Carthanian mountains, to the Danube river and to the Pontic steppes.

Herodotus wrote that Scythians made coats, caps and cushions out of the human skins. The skull was cleaned and used as a drinking cup. The guests, Herodotus wrote, were often served drinks in these cups and the host proudly narrated the incident where and how they committed the'glorious' act. With all this, Scythians themselves were blood-thirsty. They drank the blood of the first enemy they killed. It was considered to be a disgrace for a Scythian not to have killed anyone since the last festival. They used the scalp of their enemy as a napkin. The more the number of the napkins, the more chivalrous he was considered to be. However, all prisoners were not scalped. They left some to be offered as a sacrifice to God of war. Even the sacrifice was offered in the most peculiar way. The prisoner was first killed then his right hand and limb were severed. The severed arm and limbwere tossed into the air.

Besides these interesting incidents which Herodotus has described at length, he has also provided.a grim picture of Scythian society. He tells that Scythians were wild people with cavernous eyes, long and untidy hair and hardly ever took a bath. Herodotus tells that men were cruel and hard and had many wives.

Herodotus has also described the Scythians victory over Darius' powerful armies. The Persian force of 700,000 was very neatly finished by the Scythians who fought brilliantly and used to take the enemy by surprise. Finally Darius had to leave because of the sudden paucity of food. The Scythians were left complete masters of the steppes.

Scythians were not agriculturists. They depended on cattle for their living. They had no houses and lived on wagons. Hippocrates, the Father of medicine described the wagon having four wheels, constructed in the manner of houses and being pulled by oxen.

Despite the vivid portrayal of Scythians' nature, their origin remains unknown. Herodotus himself told three conflicting stories about their origin. According to one story it is suggested that they came from Asia. Second theory suggested that they descended from Targitaus and the third story suggests that they descended from the union of Heracles and a half woman, half snake creature who lived in the Scythian woodlands.

Such bizarre tales were not believed and Herodotus's version about Scythians' origin was dismissed as craftwork of the 'Legend monger'. Although his accounts of Scythian raiding activities contemporary to his writings have been deemed more reliable. Moreover, the term Scythian, like Cimmerian, was used to refer to a variety of groups from the Black Sea to southern Siberia and central Asia. "They were not a specific people", but rather variety of peoples "referred to at variety of times in history, and in several places, none of which was their original homeland" The Bible includes a single reference to Scythians in Colossians 3:11, immediately after mentioning barbarian, possibly as an extreme example of a barbarian.

It was in 1715, that the truth about Scythians came to limelight. A Siberian mine owner gave a gift of gold to Tsar, Peter the Great of Russia which sparked the excavations. The graves of Scythians were excavated. And with each opening of the grave and the gold treasure unearthed from them, scholars came closer to Herodotus' view about Scythians' funerals. Scythians used to slit open the dead body of the king. They used to clean the corpse and used to fill it with various aromatic substances, such as crushed galingale, parsley seed and anise. Their body was then sewn up and was coated over with wax. With the king his concubine, butler, cook, groom, steward and chamberlain were also strangled to death and buried with him. Horses and gold cups were also buried with king. After the burial ceremony, the tribesmen used to raise the mound of earth as high as possible.

In 1898, N.I. Veselovsky excavated Kurgans at Ueski Aul in the Krasnodor district, north east of the Black Sea. After digging 49 ft. high grave he discovered 360 skeletons of horses. In 1971, a Russian archaeologist discovered a similar grave near Ordzhonikidze, on the Dnieper. These discoveries once again proved Herodotus to be correct. Herodotus had earlier written that on every death anniversary 50 of the dead king's attendants along with 50 horses were strangled and buried.

The Scythians believed in shaman - a unique mixtiire of partly medicine man, partly magician, soothsayer and an animal. The shaman it is assumed, might have served as a kind of artistic touchstone and the vital source for the animal themes which so dominated Scythian art. Perhaps, Scythians like so many other ancient people viewed their world in animistic terms.

These are not enough factors to explain the myth surrounding Scythians. One cannot comprehend their barbarity and love for gold. Perhaps, there exist some more secret evidence. Or it could be that Scythians purposely exerted in barbarous acts so as to frighten the other enemies. For, they had enemies all round as they occupied the most primary route of invasion between East and West.

The riddle of Scythians remains unsolved. We have no indepth knowledge about their society and origin. However, facts exist about their decline. They were driven out by Souromatae. Some Scythians crossed to Romania, while some remained in Russia and mixed with the invaders. Their final annihilation came in 106 B-C. when they were completely defeated and killed by Mithradates the Great, King of Pontus. But with their destruction, the history of Scythians did not end. Even today, historians are busy solving the riddle of a race which was an odd amalgamation of good and bad qualities.

Source:
World Famous Unsolved Mysteries by Abhay Kumar Dubey;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scythians

Pic Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scythians
21:45 | 0 komentar

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