Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mystery of Inca Gold

Throughout history, there are unsolved mysteries that civilizations leaved behind causing to unravel them. One legend is called the gold from Inca civilization is missing after the Spaniard conqueror, Francisco Pizzaro, denied the deal that Atahualpa offered him. The deal was when Pizzaro captured him, Atahualpa would give him a gold filled room. Now, the largest part that was supposed to be delivered never reached Pizarro and its hidden somewhere in a secret mountain cave. However, Valverde went treasure hunting which was led by his bride causing him to be rich. Before he passed away, he left directions on finding the gold called Derrotero de Valverde. Although, the gold treasure hunting began to die off in the 1850’s. A treasure hunter, Barth Blake, went to venture off to find the gold hidden by the Incas. He successfully found the gold and he wrote “There are thousands of gold and silver pieces of Inca and pre-Inca handicraft, the most beautiful
goldsmith works you are not able to imagine” in his letter. Though fate did not take him kindly because on his way back, he disappeared. According to Mark Honigsbaum, the gold will never be found due to it may have been already taken or it is lost in the mountains.
Aspen F., Period 8

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mona Lisa’s Smile Hides Da Vinci’s Technique

Hidden behind the Mona Lisa’s enigmatic Smile are dozens and dozens of layers of ultra-thin glaze, according to French researchers who examined the masterpiece through non-invasive x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. The investigation revealed that up to 40 layers of transparent glaze, possibly smeared on with his fingers, produce the unique effect behind the mysterious smile. He used layers that were 1-2 micrometers thick, about 50 times thinner than a human hair. And since the layers were uneven, it created an illusion of a smoky effect around her mouth. This made it look more realistic and original because it makes it look like light and shade are blended without borders, creating a smoky effect. This effect is called, “Sfumato”, from the Latin base fumato meaning, “Smoke or fume.” The technique involved letting the layers dry for long periods of time, which could last from weeks to months. Attempts to solve the enigma around her smile, as proclaimed by 16th century artists, included theories from she was a noblewoman who was happily pregnant, suffering from asthma, had facial paralysis, or that the smile was a result of compulsive gnashing of teeth.

Weather Wars

A daring new study claims that the unraveling and creation of ancient Chinese dynasties has more to do with climate changes than political or social defects. The theory that weather disasters like floods and drought triggered shifts of power between dynasties are not new, however, until recently, no one had closely examined the intertwined relationship of changes in climate and Chinese society. Scientists led by Zhibin Zhang compared climate patterns of ancient times with the history of Chinese dynasties. They discovered that the collapse of agricultural reliant dynasties such as the Han, the Tang, both the Northern and Southern Song, and the Ming are closely linked to low temperatures. They also found that prosperous and stable periods occurred during warm spells.

Melanie Mabry Period 3

Highest Paid Athlete Hailed From Ancient Rome

Tiger Woods, David Beckham, and Maria Sharapova are athletes recognized for their colossal salaries. Compared to the Ancient Roman period, charioteer salaries made today’s superstar salaries seem puny. Can you ever imagine that by the end of your sports career, you could reel in over 15 billion dollars? Appuleius Diocles was a driver who raced for 24 years and was able to earn 35,863,120 sesterces and win about a fourth of his races. With this kind of money, Diocles could have been able to feed Rome with grain for one year, and pay the Roman Army for over two months; even in the height of Roman Civilization. Diocles "the most eminent of all charioteers" began his career when he was 18 years old in Rome during 122 AD. This sport involves making 7 laps with a chariot pulled by four or more horses, and those who win are those who manage to survive and finish in the top three. The only protection to the drivers would be a leather helmet, shin guards, chest protector, a whip and a sharp knife. With this low amount of protection, Diocles was still able to survive and compete in 4,257 races. It takes a very strong person to compete with these circumstances. Would you take that risk if billions could be won?

New Clues Determined Under Da Vinci Restoration

Some historians believe Da Vinci's work was not done alone. The restoration of this piece of artwork, however, further reveals that this painting was done by himself with no help. Some background information on this art: this piece is called "Madonna of the Rocks", and there are two separate versions of it. One done around 1450 hangs in the Louvre (where the Mona Lisa hangs), the second in London; in London is the newer version made around 1500, near the end on Da Vinci's life. Some of Da Vinci's projects were collaborative efforts with his students or art gallery owners. In "Madonna of the Rocks," it appears that it was completed by only Da Vinci. And that parts of the painting were preformed at different times. Also in 2005 a secret under sketch was preformed on the artwork. Why is this relevant? It gives historians more clues to how and to whom the paintings were done. No announcement has been made if any other of his paintings will be examined for these reasons.

alex crossland period 3

Stolen Art by Nazis Finally Being Returned

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, then the Nazis are guilty of stealing millions of words, represented by the thousands of paintings and other pieces of artwork they stole. It has been called the “greatest mass theft in history,” with countless families having being robbed of precious art and heirlooms. Starting in 2005, an organization called Claims Conference and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum began the project of returning works of art. Around 20,000 art works are now online, which are waiting to be claimed by their rightful owners. The website was made using the archives of the German agency tasked with logging the stolen art, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg. These documents today are housed at the French foreign ministry, the US nation archives, and the German federal archives. Much of the art belongs to French or Belgian families, and was stored in the Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris during the Nazi occupation of France. Currently, there have been 260 collections and 269 owners identified in the database. It is now up to museums, art dealers, and auction houses to check whether they are in possession of any art stolen from Holocaust victims.
Jeremy L. Period 1

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Moses' Red Sea Parting Explained by Computer Model

In this article, Larry O' Hanlon goes deep into the details of the Bible's story of Moses parting the Red Sea. The first thing he discovered was how the wind patterns described in the story could not fit those of the Red Sea. He expects that the story would more likely occur in conditions similar to those of the "Sea of Reeds" in northern Egypt. Also, the wind that was described was so strong, that Israelites would have had trouble even staying upright in the conditions. Due to these impossible conditions, O' Hanlon chose to conduct his study at Lake Manzala, which is set up right to go along with the conditions mentioned in the story. In his model, under perfect conditions, the wind would create an elevated mud bank, that could be used as a land bridge. Even with the geographical inaccuracy, the story of Moses parting the Red Sea could theoretically be done under perfect conditions, however, not in the way most people imagine the story.

by Steven G., Period 8

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ancient Letter to Pharaoh Akenhaten Discovered

Archaeologists in Jerusalem have unearthed the most ancient written document ever found there. It is small piece of a letter thought to be addressed to the pharaoh Akhenaten, who ruled Egypt during the 14th century B.C. The tiny clay fragment, which is about one square inch in size, was discovered outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls, and is covered with cuneiform in ancient Akkadian. Archaeologists believe it is from the royal archives and is about 3,400 years old. The chip includes the words “you,” “you were,” “later,” “to do” and “them,” which is of a very high level, according to Wayne Horowitz, a scholar of Assyriology at the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology. “It was written by a highly skilled scribe that in all likelihood prepared tablets for the royal household of the time,” said Horowitz, who deciphered the script with colleague Takayoshi Oshima of the University of Leipzig, Germany. Akhenaten, who is the son of Amenhotep III and the father of Tutankhamun, was the first pharaoh to introduce monotheistic religion; he overthrew the pantheon of gods to worship the sun god Aton. “The tablet fragment in Jerusalem is most likely part of a message that would have been sent from the king of Jerusalem, possibly Abdi-Heba, back to Egypt. The find testifies the importance of Jerusalem as a major city in the Late Bronze Age, long before its conquest by King David," said Eilat Mazar, the Hebrew University archaeologist who carried the excavation. The oldest known text previously found in Jerusalem was a tablet unearthed in the Shiloah water tunnel in the same area, which celebrated the completion of the tunnel. It dated back to the eight century B.C., so the tiny clay fragment predates it by about 600 years.

by Kendall C. Period 8

World War 1- Gone for Good?

As of October 3, 2010, Germany paid the final debt they owned as a result of World War 1. In November of 1918, the world, by means of the Versailles Treaty, agreed that Germany was at fault for the first World War and thereby should have to pay for the damages that resulted. In this case, in can’t be said that value of human lives cannot be measured in dollars. A grand total of 94 million dollars was owed for 10 million deaths and over 21 million injuries. This money is to be paid to the private parties, pension accounts, and businesses specified in the treaty. While this treaty seems to satisfy the world, Germany was less than pleased about it. The economy was already suffering after the war, and it continued to decline as a result of the payments. Great Stock Market Crash of 1929 pushed many Germans over the edge, and Hitler and the National Socialist Party, also referred to as Nazis, became icons of freedom from this poor state. Ironically, a contribution to the German endorsement of World War II became the stipulations made in the treaty to end World War I. However, Germany can finally financially put this behind them and move past the wars, working to unite and better their country.

Aubrey H. Period 8

Three days after the first nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, young Kazuko Uragashira was on a train to her uncle’s house in the city of Nagasaki. Little did she know, that she would be walking into one of the worlds worst disasters. Kazuko Uragashira is one of the last remaining survivors of both nuclear blasts. There is an estimated 150 people who are thought to have been exposed to both bombings. Many of the single and double bombing survivors are now speaking out to why the Americans decided to bomb not one but two Japanese cities. The survivor’s times are running short and now time is ticking against them to get their voices out.

Marc Holtsman

From Holy to Horrific

People seem to ignore global warming and pollution, but its existence proves to be in affect. The Jordan River which travels in Israel, Jordan and Palestine is another outcome of this epidemic. The river is sacred to Christians, because Jesus was baptized in it. Every year numerous Christians travel to this holy river and submerge their body in this water, despite the health hazards. This once clean river is currently composed of sewage, fish pond water, and agricultural waste. Sewage appears to be the most hazardous since several pipes empty its waste into this water. Also people living along the river mimic the pipes actions, and dump waste into it as well. Each year the river deteriorates, and it may disappear completely within the next year. Animals and wildlife have slowly migrated elsewhere, due to the unavailability of fresh water the Jordan River once provided. The shrinking of this river also threatens the Dead Sea because there is hardly any flow from the river, and the rivers' output is toxic. It is quite a tragedy and disappointment that this universally known river has almost disappeared due to a lack of care.

Amber C. Period 3

Evidence of 2012 Through Other Religions

We all know about the Mayan's prediction of "the end of the world" occurring on December 21, 2012, perhaps caused by large-scale natural disasters such as tsunamis or earthquakes, but were the Mayans the only ones to forsee such an event? Many other people have tried to predict the date when the world ends, but previous attempts have failed before. Histories of other major religions may provide insight on whether or not this really will happen. In Christianity, the Bible's Book of Revelation speaks of Armageddon, which is Hebrew for "mount of Megiddo." The city of Megiddo is located in Israel and many battles occurred here. Some think that Judgement Day will happen here and only "true believers" will survive Armageddon. Hinduism beliefs speak of Vishnu who will return in the "last cycle of time" and rids the world of evil forces. In Buddhism, this doomsday is referred to as Shambhala, during which evil will be suppressed by good. On the other hand, this event will restore the world instead of destroying it. Whether or not 2012 will happen or not, this day will definitely be remembered as a world-changing event.
Taylor M., Period 3

Korean Movable Type and Its Effect on Europe

After the Goryeo king formally surrendered to the Mongols in 1270, the printing

of Buddhist texts was a form of summoning spiritual strength for their harsh times. Korea

had already been distinguished for its woodblock printing tradition, but high demand for the

Tripitaka (the Buddhist canon) called for a more efficient way of producing texts. The Koreans

began to experiment with metal movable type because of the shortage of proper hardwoods and

their past experience with bronze coins. Surprisingly, woodblock texts were still produced after

the innovation of movable type because the advantages of woodblock printing for the Korean

language were not as great as for those of the European languages. European alphabets were

well suited for this technique because of the small number of characters that had to be made.

For example, the English alphabet only has twenty six letters in it. Koreans did not see the

advantage for movable type printing, except for mass publishing, because wood blocks could

be stored for later use and Koreans could produce wood blocks as fast as Europeans could set

up their pages of movable type. Therefore, the Korean’ s innovation of movable type, whether

it inspired Johannes Gutenberg or not, greatly advanced the European nations and elevated their

populace to a more literate state.
by Daniel B., Period 8

Were China’s Wars Driven by Climate?

China is one of the world’s oldest and

longest-lived civilizations, and as such, has a long history of war and fighting within itself. Obviously, each instance of war, usually happening after or during the collapse of a dynasty, has its own unique causes. But, recent research suggests that almost all of those instances can be liked to climate changes. Comparing 2 sets of data, scientists discovered that when a dynasty, such as the Han and Ming collapsed, it often occurred partly due to food shortage. These food shortages were caused by slight drops in the climate ruining the steppe grasses used to feed critical livestock, forcing food prices to sharply rise, ruining the economy, and in turn, the empire. These climate changes occur naturally every few hundred years, but recent studies suggest global warming may speed up the process, which means that more food shortages may be on the way.

China's Wars Driven by Climate : Discovery News

By George B., Period 8

Diplomats: China tries to block UN Sudan report

Last wednesday, October 20th, Chinese diplomats attempted to block a report of the United Nations declaring that Chinese ammuntion was sent to Darfur which directly violated a U.N. embargo. The Chinese unsuccessfully tried to confine the news by claiming that the panel was flawed and was questioningtheir methods in a negative manner.
The Security Council enforced an emargo due to African rebels warring against the government of Sudan. There is evidence supporting that the Chinese have been sending ammunition to the Sudanese government for the past two years. China has been contributing to the economy of Sudan by purchasing their crude oil and has political ties to the government. China sent ammuntion to Sudan becuase the rebels of the Sudanese government were continuing their military operations.
Diplomats of the U.N. agreed that the report of the violation will not be changed and will be formally submitted as planned.
By Sarah D., Period 8

Armies, battles and weaponry of the 100 years wars. (English side)

Forces were raised principally by voluntary recruitment and organised by aristocratic leaders who contracted to serve the crown with a stated number of men-at-arms (knights and esquires) and archers. The terms, recorded in a written indenture, stipulated wages and an agreed length of service, such as six months or a year, with the possibility of extension. These aristocratic leaders contracted in their turn with those that they recruited into their companies. This method of raising an army ensured an effective command structure much superior to that of the hastily assembled French armies. The longbow played an important part in the English victories in the field. Its special qualities were its accuracy and penetrating power over a long range (approximately 200 metres) and the ease of rapid discharge, which was much faster than the rate of fire of French crossbowmen. The fire of well-positioned longbowmen was decisive against charging French cavalry at Crecy, and at Agincourt against both cavalry in the first attacking wave and the dismounted men-at-arms in the second wave. The longbow did not make the English invincible. Archers were always very vulnerable if they could be taken in the flank. Archers also played an important part in naval warfare. The longbow’s range and rapid rate of fire could be of great advantage as ships were closing to grapple. The English armies of the Hundred Years War were small by modern standards.

Written by Nico D. Period 8

High Rolling Chariot Racer

Tiger Woods has reportedly been making about $128 million a year, David Beckham recently signed a $250 million contract, and LeBron James has made about $126 million in his NBA career. However, none of these salaries even comes close to that of the sum collected by the famous, ancient chariot racer of Rome, Gaius Appuleius Diocles. Born in an area which is now known as Portugal and Spain, the young charioteer started his illustrious career at the young age of 18 in the year 122 A.D. The immense earnings of the famous athlete clearly show the value placed on athletes in ancient Roman society. Diocles did not pick an easy career. Charioteers had to race about 2.5 miles in laps around the Circus Maximus, an enormous racing stadium and entertainment venue of ancient Rome. If the racers survived the contest and were one of the first three to finish, they pocketed a prize. Although they faced a dangerous challenge, they were not without the protection of a helmet and padding. There were several factions that the charioteers could be a part of, Whites, Greens, Blues, or Reds. Diocles first rode with the Whites before switching to their rivals, the Greens, but he was most successful with the Reds. His career ended when he was 42 years old and it is speculated that by this time he had won 1,462 of his 4,257 races. While it is true that other charioteers won more than races than Diocles, he made the most money because he won at events that paid the most. By the end of his career he had amassed a wealth that would be worth about $15 billion today. This wealth is unlikely to ever be equaled by a professional athlete, but may remain a goal to strive for.

By Lii K., Period 8

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Russia's Mystery

Russia's most mysterious archaeological site takes up a vast majority of a small island in the center of a remote lake high in the mountains of southern Siberia. Por-Bajin, the fortress, was supposedly built by the Uighurs, and there were excavations conducted on the site during the 1950s and the 1960. But now Irina Arzhantseva of the Russian Academy of Sciences is digging here for the Por-Bajin Cultural Foundation to find out when the complex was truly built and for what purpose. The few artifacts discovered at the site seem to be dated back to the mid-eighth century A.D. That was the time period of the Uighurs, who might have built the site on an island for defense from forces of warriors on horseback. Or, perhaps the island was the site of a palace or a memorial for a ruler. Por-Bajin's unique layout, more complex than that of other Uighur fortresses of the period, has led some scholars to suggest that it might have had a ritual role. The Uighurs eventually adopted Manichaeism so Por-Bajin was probably built by the son of a Uighur and a Chinese princess who married, Bö-gü, who converted to Manichaeism. The truth is that even now, after archaeologists have excavated one-third of the site to exacting standards, Por-Bajin remains a mystery, but with multiple theories.
by Rachel K., Period 8

Tibetans Protest Over Chinese-Language Rules: Report

As always, China is in a fued with one group of people or another. This time it is with students of the Tibetan schools. The reason why this is taking place is because the Rebkong has now instilled a rule that all subjects are to be taught in Mandarin and all textbooks to be printed in Chinese. Tibetans have had a long heated past with the Chinese and Tibetans stated in this article that China is trying to get rid of the Tibetan culture in order to gain control over the Himalayan region. The riots regarding this heated topic have killed over 200 Tibetans and 21 Chinese people.

After reading this article, I questioned the Tibetan’s reasoning for their riots. Although they have a long heated past with the Chinese, China is trying to set a medium of instruction. Just like in the United States, those who come from Mexico and other countries are expected to read the textbooks in English and required to take instruction in English. If parents of the Tibetan students have such a concern than they are more than welcome to teach their kids Tibetan at home.
Olivia S. Period 7;_ylt=AhJMyOUYL_AK1JIgDvx0vrMBxg8F;_ylu=X3oDMTM4ZmE0YmNpBGFzc2V0A2FmcC8yMDEwMTAyMC9jaGluYXJpZ2h0c3RpYmV0ZWR1Y2F0aW9ucHJvdGVzdARwb3MDMTAEc2VjA3luX3BhZ2luYXRlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDYXRpYmV0YW53b21h

Boy With The Amber Beads

Stonehenge has been an attraction for 3,500 years bringing tourists from all over the world. Three miles away, the body of a boy has been discovered in the town of Amesbury, along with a necklace holding 90 amber beads. Archaeologist Andrew Fitzpatrick of Wessex Archaeology believes the necklace came from a high-status family judging by the exotic beads. The boy’s teeth were measured for oxygen and strontium to find out his native region. The oxygen level proved he was from a much warmer place, the Mediterranean region. The boy was fourteen to fifteen years old and most likely on a visit to Stonehenge with his family when he died of infection and buried in the high-status burial grounds.

Jon C. Period 1

Isaac Newton: Closet Alchemist

Isaac Newton, who is often considered the most influential scientist in history, invented calculus, described the law of universal gravitation, built the first reflecting telescope, and was clearly a master of the scientific method. Recently, however, a professor gave a public speech after science historians fully analyzed Newton's extensive writings on the subject of alchemy. Alchemy, which is now considered a pseudo-science, involves changing one element into another in the hope of creating gold, often through spiritual or philosophical means rather than scientific experimentation. Even at its height, alchemy was heavily criticized and often banned. Isaac Newton passionately practiced alchemy, mostly at night, for over thirty years. Despite its questionable status, alchemy was widely believed in by scientists in the 1600’s, was more similar to modern chemistry than magic, and resulted in several important achievements and inventions.

Logan A. Period 1

Did Lead-Based makeup poison Samurai Children and Topple the Last Japanese Shogunate

In the Edo period, shoguns ruled by using the feudal system. This system collapsed in 1868 and Japan returned to imperial rule. There are many reasons as to why this system failed, but recently there has been a new study that proposed makeup has a role in ending feudalism in Japan. Anatomist Tamiji Nakashima led a research which found people in a samurai graveyard. They found that the women had higher lead levels than the men, but the children had 50 time higher levels than that of their parents. Being of a higher class, samurai women would wear heavy lead-based powder on their face to have a white complexion compared to the peasants who has to work out in the sun. The children were most likely exposed to this lead while breastfeeding. Even Edo rulers got strange diseases that came from lead in the body which weakened the rulers and ultimately ended the shogunate system

Taylor S. Period 1

Mona Lisa's Childhood Home Found

Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting of the Mona Lisa has always had many mysteries and questions circulating about it. One of these numerous questions has finally been answered. Was The Mona Lisa a real person? According to new documents found, yes she, in fact, was a real person. Mona Lisa was born in a meager home in a rancid part of Florence Italy on June 15, 1479. Over the course of her life, Mona Lisa lived in as many as three other residences, with one containing a strong connection with Leonardo Da Vinci, whom later captured her face in his famous painting. At the age of 16, she married a wealthy soap merchant and moved in with him in a very large house, ironically, located in a bad neighborhood. When her husband died, he asked one of his children who had become a nun, to take care of Mona Lisa. Mona Lisa then moved into a convent where she died at the age of 63. All in all, one rumor about the Mona Lisa has finally been laid to rest, yes she was a real person, and she lived a fairly normal life for someone of her time.
Nicholas S. Period 1

Ancient Egyptian Priest's Tomb Unearthed in Giza

As of this monday, Egypt has anounced that their archaeologists have discovered a more than 4,000 year old tomb near the Giza pyramids. This tomb was for Rudj-Ka a priest that sometime in the fifth dynasty (2465 - 2323 B.C.) He was part of a Cult under the rule of pharaoh Khafre. According the Zahi Hawass, general secretary of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquites, The pharaoh pyramids remained intact and well functioning due to the help of a cult of priests like Rudj-Ka and they preformed rituals to honor their dead leaders. The tomb is built of limestone blocks, and is positioned in a cliffside and also shows illustrations of daily life in Egpyt. Hawass believes that this discovery may lead to unknown and larger necropolises are near the great pyramids. He also is speculating if there is more tombs dedicated to some of the members of the royal court such as Rudj-Ka a Priest.

Jesse V. Period 1

Odd Medical Treatments of the 18th and 19th Centuries

It’s hard to imagine having your doctor recommend sulfuric acid as mouthwash, but in the 18th and 19th centuries many other unsafe and unsanitary practices including this were considered protocol (the norm). The U.K.’s national archives has released numerous medical diaries that contain detailed explanations of outlandish and sometimes successful treatments that were kept by royal navy officers. One account entails of a man who was revived with tobacco smoke after being overboard for more than 10 minutes. Rum was a much favored treatment for many things including headaches, spider bites, and scorpion stings. Another common practice – bloodletting was used to “cure” pneumonia. The patient was required to bleed 3.5 pints every three hours which inevitably led to death. One entry details a 12 year old girl vomiting an 87 inch long worm which was no doubt due to the effect of ingesting undercooked meat that came from cattle that were infected with tapeworms. This does not go to say that many of these illnesses could not have been prevented. Drunken brawls and gun fights were the cause of many broken bones and concussions. Another entry discusses the spread of venereal diseases on the HMS Gladiator in which one sailor infected with syphilis encounters a young woman with gonorrhea as an “experiment”. All in all, while these diaries may be appalling, they also provide a more accurate view of the high seas when it was run by the Royal Navy.

Brittany S. Period 1

The Secret of the Mona Lisa's Smile

Their is much more behind the Mona Lisa than we see. Using special x-rays we are able to see many thin layers of paint underneath the top layer of paint on the Mona Lisa. About 40 different layers have been discovered. Da Vinci did this on purpose as his intention was to create a sort of smoky or blurring the outlines of the figure. This is known as "sfumato" from the Italian word "fumo" (meaning smoke). He did this by laying down a thin glaze and smearing it with his finger. This gave the painting a more three dimensional effect. Each one of these layers is about 1-2 micro meters, about 50 times thinner than the human hair.

One of the Mona Lisa biggest mysteries is her smile. It seems as though it glows. Using the same x-ray machine they noticed the sfumato effect in the smile. Using contrasting colors gave the smile a certain glowing effect. This effect took many years to complete. The whole painting took around four years to complete. The sfumato effect is seen all through the painting and gives it a very life like feeling. Using the sfumato effect has given the Mona Lisa her very interesting look and smile.

Nathan D. Period 1

Alexander the Great Killed by Toxic Bacteria

There have been many different theories on how the ruler Alexander the Great may have died at the young age of thirty-two. One theory suggests that he may have been poisoned, and the poison may have come from the deadly Styx River. The Styx River according to myth is the portal to the underworld, the waters lethal enough to ruin crystal, pottery and bronze, and even render a god unable to move or breath for a year. Recently, scientists have found that there may actually be a deadly poison in the river. This “poison” would be calicheamicin, a secondary metabolite of Micromonospora echinospora that is extremely cytotoxic. It was first found in deposits of calcium carbonate that form on limestone. The waters of the Styx come from the mountains of Achaia, Greece and run over a limestone crag where the bacteria could be picked up. The bacteria can cause illness that induces high fever, chills, and severe muscle and neurological pains, which are similar to the symptoms that Alexander faced in his last days. Since the water was said to be deadly enough to strike down a god, and Alexander was considered semi-divine it is possible one saw it the best poison to kill him. Scientists have yet to determine if calicheamicin is definitely the toxic bacteria to plague the Styx River, however, and there is no way to know if it is fact the cause of the once great rulers death.
Emily M. Period 1

One 15 Million Dollar Meal? Preposterous!

Can you imagine spending $15,000,000 on a single meal? Today a cheap dinner can cost only a couple bucks at a fast food joint. But Cleopatra, a pharaoh of ancient Egypt, was once involved in a bet against her lover, Marc Antony, in which she had to spend 10 million sesterces on a single meal, which today is equaled by about 15,000,000 U.S. dollars. Cleopatra accomplished this gigantic feat by an ingenious thought; take a small but valuable object, say, a pearl earring, and consume that, in order to fulfill the enormous budget. As ancient sources so claim, Cleopatra plopped the pearl into a glass of vinegar, most likely white vinegar, and then consumed the drink, and in this way, she beat Marc Antony on their bet. Today, that claim to such an outrageous action is supported by the experiments of Prudence Jones, a classicist of the Montclair State University. Jones placed a large pearl in a glass of white vinegar, similar to what was popular around this period of Greco-Roman culture, and discovered that the pearl would dissolve in about 24 to 36 hours. The process could be sped up by boiling the vinegar or crushing the pearl first. Through Jones’ experimentation and obvious evidence, it appears apparent that Cleopatra really did swallow a pearl and spent 10 million sesterces on one meal. Although this event is considered a falsity or legend by some historians, new support, old records, and the baking by several educated people grants support to the accuracy of such a claim. In the words of a Stanford University research scholar, Adrienne Mayor, ""I think this research has convincingly demonstrated the technique that Cleopatra could have used to dissolve a pearl. We already know that this curious, intelligent queen carried out toxicological experiments." True or false? Would you be able to spend 10 million sesterces in a single sitting without so ingenious a plan? Even with the backing and resources of so influential a pharaoh? It takes a special person to achieve that brilliance.
By Samantha H. Period 3

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Is this Nefertiti?

Archaeologist Joan Fletcher has been working with the mummy for twelve years and still she is not certain if the mummy is Nefertiti or if it isn’t. Fletcher has accumulated new first hand evidence suggesting that this mummy is indeed Nefertiti. Because this mummy is bald it raised some doubts but Fletcher has found a wig discovered in the tomb that was most likely used by Nefertiti. The mummy was probably mutilated and destroyed by grace robbers looking for jewels, but one of the injuries was sustained in life resulting in severe blood loss and probably her death. The mutilations may have also been by priests trying to destroy her chances of going into the afterlife.

JJ A. Period 7

2012 Mayan Calendar ‘Doomsday’ Date Might Be Wrong

It is commonly known that the Mayan’s “predicted” the end of the world on December 21, 2012. Predicted by one of their calendars, they suspect the world to end due to many cataclysmic astronomical events, which we know is completely incorrect. But according to a professor at UC Santa Barbara, the “end day” may be inaccurate by a total of 60 days at least. Historians have also said that the Mayan calendar never predicted an apocalypse. When the Mayans created the “Long Count” calendar, a departure from the shorter calendars, it was a numerically predictable calendar, not based on archaic measures of time. The Mayans predicted that the calendar would run out after 5,126 years. This calendar began in the year 3114 making the “end date” 2012. The date is December 21st due to the day the day the Winter Solstice begins in the Northern Hemisphere. The major issue with this date being inaccurate is the fact that archaeologists might of miscalculated the right day due to the fact that the Mayan calendar didn’t perfectly translate into “our” Gregorian calendar of years, months, and days.

By: Taylor W.
Period: 7

Child Abuse in the Americas?

Compared to the cruel working conditions children suffered during the Industrial Revolution, the Incan sacrifices triumphs over other society’s treatment of children. Just a few months ago, archeologists discovered the remains of seven children sacrificed and buried with gold and silver figurines, pottery, and clothing beneath a 500-600 year old building found in the Cuzco Valley in Peru. Unfortunately, Incan and foreign children between the ages of three and twelve were selected for these sacrificial rituals based on their physical attributes and tooth development. After chosen, victims were brought to the Incan capitol, Cuzco, and escorted to distant sacrificial sites, where religious priests administered elaborate ceremonies and violently strangled and fractured children’s hyoid neck bone to honor the Incan deities and promote political unity. Moreover, it seems the Inca viewed these sacrifices seemed seamless and ordinary to normal Incan society. Nonetheless, due to the evolution of laws and religion, such actions would lead to death, persecution, or other unsympathetic penalties today.

Brandon Y. Period 7

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ancient Maya Buried Relatives, Artifacts Under Homes

The Ancient Mayan commoners may have been illiterate, but they discovered ways to record their history without writing it down. They did so by burying their life underneath their homes. In Central Belize, an area where Mayan civilizations once were, two houses uncovered about a dozen human remains, along with artifacts, bones, rocks, and other symbols of their daily life. In the Maya, the burials were an important event. When a death has occurred, the house and everything in it is burned down. This provides a base for building a new house, and this process is repeated after major family member’s deaths. Many bowls and art were found in perfect condition, and they were symbolically arranged for the ceremonies. Although we don’t have written material from the Mayans, they have provided us an artistic way to discover and interpret their lifestyles, which still astound us today.

by Madi C., period 8

A Babylonian Revival

As of the 30th of September, researchers at Cambridge University have discovered how to speak Babylonian. Through an in depth study of forensic evidence, spelling commonalities, and comparisons with other known languages, the scholars have been able to discover how to pronounce the words of the Babylonians, instead of just reading them. The scholars have posted several audio recordings of themselves speaking these languages online. A sample of these recordings can be found here:

The commander-in-chief of this massive undertaking was Martin Worthington, who claimed his work to be that of a detective, deriving clues from the cleverest places. He knows their current pronunciations may not be perfect, but he feels as if they have made a fairly good guess. Because of his work, documents such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Code of Hammurabi that have not been read aloud in over 2000 years can be heard anew in modern times.

Griffin B. Period 8

Ancient Olympics

Today, the Olympics are one of the most popular sporting events in the world with hundreds of millions of viewers. When the Olympics first started back in 776 BCE, many things were different. To start, the games were held every four years only in Olympia, Greece whereas today they are held every four years in cities all around the world. Also, the ancient Olympics didn’t have winter games and there were only ten total events. In today’s games, there are about 380 total events in the summer and winter Olympics. In ancient times, the events were very different. Boxing for example, didn’t have gloves and there weren’t weight classes. Wrestling was also very different. There were two separate types, one played from the ground and one played from standing upright. The objective was to get the opponent to touch the ground. If the opponent’s shoulders or hips touch the ground, they lost. There were also some events played in Olympia that are not played today. These include chariot racing, pankration, and the pentathlon. Another huge difference was the competitors and viewers. Only men were allowed to compete and watch. If a woman was caught watching the Olympics she was killed. One way officials made sure women weren’t getting into the Olympics and viewing the games was by making everyone walk in to the stadium in the nude. Although the first Olympics were a training ground for Greek warriors, modern Olympic Games are a showcase for talented athletes from all around the world.
Hayden C. Period 7

Parting of the Red Sea: Fact of Fiction?

The Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt is recognized internationally by various cultures and peoples. The story focuses around Moses, a Hebrew adopted by an Egyptian royal family (ignorant of his affiliation with the religion) who freed his fellow Hebrews and led them to the Red Sea where God parted the waters, allowing Moses and his gang to cross the sea. The story’s legitimacy has been a subject of question since its distribution in ancient times. But despite the long held arguments over the subject, Carl Drews of the National Center for Atmospheric Research believes he has cracked the nut. The Book of Exodus provides information regarding the meteorological settings of the day, stating, “The Lord drove the sea away all night with a strong east wind and turned the sea-bed into dry land.” Drews used this information to develop a computer simulation, recreating the event. He found that a 63-mile-per-hour wind would be able to push the water to the point where wide, mud flats would be exposed, creating a land bridge in the water that would last for up to four hours. Though the occurrence of these winds would be extremely coincidental, it is plausible.
Max H. Period 7

The Origin of Firearms

Ever wondered who invented the first gun? There has always been much speculation over this, but the exact date and place have never been completely confirmed. It is believed though that the Chinese of the Song dynasty around 500 A.D. were the first to discover this monumental invention. Although these firearms were very primitive and ineffective in their early stages, the Song put them to military use nonetheless. They originally consisted of just a projectile launched by the use of gunpowder. The Fire-lance was one such weapon, being “a combination of two components[:] a spear coated with gunpowder used as a flamethrower and a gun.”

Early cannons became used more broadly in the 12th century, and also began to emerge in Europe. The original cannons were small and fragile, as they were not yet made of metal. These cannons (which rested on stands) were operated by one soldier and were ignited by a torch. These cannons could be very risky to use due to the explosive nature of gunpowder, and the lack of effective range allowed the enemy to get too close. This was largely due to the barrel being made of bamboo and firing ammunition made of shrapnel and pellets. The Chinese put these cannons to use against the Mongol invaders. The primitive bamboo cannons were eventually replaced by metal, and in a few centuries became what is now in use today.

Brandon Y. Period 7

The Origin of Blue Jeans

Blue jeans, everybody has them. They are the staple of every person’s—at least every teenager’s—closet. You can buy flare, boot cut, or skinny jeans. Historians for a long time have traced the timeline of jeans to two probable locations: a tough fabric from the city of Nimes in France—the word “denim” comes from the phrase “de Nimes”—and a cotton material from a city in northern Italy, Genoa—“Genes” in French, which later became “jeans” in the English language. But which place is the origin of this mega-popular clothing item?

The answer to this question may be in the works of an anonymous 17th-century northern Italian artist. In each of this artist’s ten newly found paintings (except one) he portrays a blue indigo fabric that is threaded with white. This blue indigo fabric, for example, appears in the jacket of a beggar boy and in the skirts of a peasant woman. Gerlinde Gruber, curator of for Flemish Baroque paintings at the Picture Gallery of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, has dubbed this unknown artist the “Master of the Blue Jeans.” According to Gruber, it was unusual for a painter to depict the poor with great detail, which may be why jean fabric was not often portrayed in other artwork. The “Master of the Blue Jeans” however, did show the lives of the poor, and his inclusion of blue indigo fabric in his works could reflect the growing use of denim among the poor during his lifetime.

According to curators, the blue hue of the fabric depicted in this artist’s paintings is identical to the indigo that is used today to dye denim; further proof that today’s denim can claim northern Italy as its birthplace. But whether Italian or French, one thing is clear: jeans have gone from being a blue indigo fabric worn by lowly peasants and beggars to a must-have fundamental of a fashion-forward wardrobe, costing up to $600 a pair.

Ana N.
Period 7

Tracing the Black Death

Ever since the sixth grade we have been told and have known that an epidemic wiped out more than a third of the population of medieval Europe. This deadly disease was known as the Black Death or the Black Plague. We have found today that this disease has been closely compared to the bacteria Yersinia Pestis. Yersinia Pestis has been blamed for the massacre of the people in Europe. This bacterium has been blamed because it has been proven that traces of this bacterium have been found on victims’ teeth and bones. We have always been told this plague came from northern France over to England and then spread from there. However, samples of different versions of Yersinia Pestis have not only been found in France, but also in southern Netherlands. This implies that the pandemic not only came from northern France, but was also penetrating Europe from the southern Netherlands. The concentration of these bacteria infiltrating Europe from both borders enhanced the disease, which may have made it stronger and unstoppable. All in all, historians will never know where the Black Plague started, but new evidence and new interpretations may lead us to new understandings and a different perspective.

Alexander the Great killed by toxic bacterium in The Styx

Originally, Alexander the great was said to have died over 2000 years ago of alcohol poisoning. Recent studies have shown that Alexander the Great may have died from an extraordinarily toxic bacterium from the Styx River. Alexander became ill while at an all night drinking party in Babylon, when he suddenly began crying out from a sudden “Sword stabbing pain in his liver,” which what the effect of the bacterium would do to you. In the twelve days following, he worsened and was unable to move anything but his hands and eyes. Later he fell into a coma a died on June 11, 323 B.C. According to studies the bacterium in the Styx River is called calicheamicin, which is a secondary metabolite of Micromonospora echinospora. Calicheamicin was discovered in caliché in the 1980s, it is crusty deposits of calcium carbonate that form on limestone and is common in Greece. According to myth the Styx was a portal to the underworld and it is where the gods swore sacred oaths. If a god lied on the sacred oath Zeus made them drink from the river and they were struck down. Alexander was said to be semi-divine which is why a sacred poison used by the gods was appropriate for him. The Styx has now been renamed to Mavroneri, meaning “Black Water”. It originates in the high mountains of Achaia, Greece, its cold water cascades over a limestone crag to form the second highest waterfall in Greece. Most people believe Alexander still died of natural causes, but a further study could prove otherwise.
By Tyler M.
7th period

Black Death Blamed on Bacteria

On Friday, anthropologists announced and confirmed the germ that many feared called Yersinia pestis which caused the plague that killed third of the Europe’s population in the Middle Ages. They used 76 skeletons’ teeth and bones from the "plague pits" founded in the France, Germany, Italy and the Netherland. They had DNA test run to prove Yersinia pestis was to blame for. This germ had been around for longer than a century as a source of the Black Death which lasted from the 14th century to the 18th century. A study say that the germ was not located in Europe but in fact from Central or Southern Asia through trade. They continued to run testes on Yersinia pestis on 20 samples of DNA marker to indentify the bacterial strain. They are determined to see if our present day Yersinia pestis that has been going around the world is the match of the past Yersinia pestis, but they did not match. They were either Orientalis or Medievalis. The start of spreading started in November 1347, most likely driven by fleas living on rats that crept on the land from ship docked at the French port of Marseille. Over the six years, it reaches through western to northern France then over land to England then to all over Europe. Another guessing how the germ entered to Europe was from Norway or Friesland. After the chaos from 1347, the disease continued to spread around the continent, which causes a big mess in the social and political outcome.

Lynn N. Period 1