The Self-Immolation of Thích Quảng Đức

On June 11th 1963, Thích Quảng Đức, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, sat down in the middle of a busy intersection in Saigon, covered himself in gasoline, ignited a match, and set himself on fire. Đức burned to death in a matter of minutes. He was immortalized in a photograph taken by a reporter who was in Vietnam to cover the war. All those who saw this spectacle were taken by the fact that Duc did not make a sound while burning to death. Đức was protesting President Ngô Đình Diệm’s administration for oppressing the Buddhist religion.

Via: ThatWasNotInOurHistoryBooks

The Dashka Stone: Map of the Creator

In 1999, a professor at Bashkir State University in Russia named Alexander Chuvyrov made a remarkable archeological discovery. He was called to the house of Vladimir Krainov, who reported a strange slab buried in his backyard. Chuvyrov was instantly intrigued, as he had been searching for similar slabs that have been cited in various historical manuscripts. The slab was so heavy that it took over a week to unearth. The discovery was named the Dashka stone and later titled the Map of the Creator. The artifact is approximately 5 feet high, 3.5 feet wide, .5 feet thick, and weighs at least one ton. The stone was investigated and determined to be some sort of three-dimensional relief map of the Ural Region. Today the military uses similar maps to measure elevation and terrain. The Dashka stone reportedly contains representations of civil engineering work, weirs, an irrigation system, and powerful dams. To date, the ancient technology used to make the map is unknown and extremely advanced.

The map also contains numerous inscriptions. At first, the scientists thought that it was an Old Chinese language, although it was later reported that the inscriptions were done in a hieroglyphic-syllabic language of unknown origin. A group of Russian and Chinese specialists in the fields of cartography, physics, mathematics, geology, chemistry, and Old Chinese language researched the artifact and were the ones that identified it as a map of Ural region, with rivers Belya, Ufimka, and Sutolka listed.

Dating of the slab was reported to be over 100 million years old, but no reliable resources citing evidence of what type of test were used or the exact results could be found. If the Map of the Creator is genuine then it would suggest the existence of an ancient highly developed civilization. Researchers have claimed that a three-dimensional map of this order could have only been used for navigational purposes. Many websites claim that the slab is proof of ancient flight. Recent discoveries indicate that the slab is a piece of a larger artifact.

The Dashka stone continues to undergo scientific testing and is not available for public viewing. … veries.php … _0237.html

The Most Kissed Face of All Time

In the late 1880s, the body of a 16-year-old girl was pulled from the Seine. She was apparently a suicide, as her body showed no marks of violence, but her beauty and her enigmatic smile led a Paris pathologist to order a plaster death mask of her face.

In the romantic atmosphere of fin de siècle Europe, the girl’s face became an ideal of feminine beauty. The protagonist of Rainer Maria Rilke’s 1910 novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge writes, “The mouleur, whose shop I pass every day, has hung two plaster masks beside his door. [One is] the face of the young drowned woman, which they took a cast of in the morgue, because it was beautiful, because it smiled, because it smiled so deceptively, as if it knew.”

Ironically, in 1958 the anonymous girl’s features were used to model the first-aid mannequin Rescue Annie, on which thousands of students have practiced CPR. Though the girl’s identity remains a mystery, her face, it’s said, has become “the most kissed face of all time.”

Via: TheOddmentEmporium

The Intriguing Story of the Andover Skull

The information is sketchy but the basis of the story is that at sometime during the 1950’s a newly married couple, Mr F and Mrs B Morris, moved to Andover, Massachusetts USA.

They were disappointed to discover the house they had purchased had not been fully emptied and that the attic remained stacked with books, broken furniture and other such possessions. A year or so after moving in Mrs Morris finally decided to empty the attic and, in the process, found a heavy wooden box which had been nailed shut. That evening her husband opened the box and together they discovered a large and disturbing skull.

It had unusually big eye sockets and several pieces of the bone cranium were broken.  There were strange carvings on the front left of the skull but the most interesting part of the discovery were its canine teeth which were strangely elongated. Overall the skull was larger than an average human’s and had a distinctive domed forehead. Mr Morris glued the skull fragments together and apparently kept it in his study where he would show it to curious friends and visitors. After some months Mrs Morris became distressed by its presence and insisted that it be reburied as she had convinced herself that it was demonic or at least the skull of a powerful Indian medicine man. Instead, Mr Morris allegedly took the skull to a nearby Museum of Archaeology which specialised in Native American history.

Via: TheOddmentEmporium

The Decipherment of Hieroglyphs and The Rosetta Stone

Hieroglyphs dominated the landscape of the Egyptian civilization.

These elaborate symbols were ideal for inscriptions on the walls of majestic temples and monuments, and indeed the Greek word hieroglyphica means ‘sacred carvings’, but they were too fussy for day-to-day scribbling, so other scripts were evolved in Egypt in parallel. These were the ‘hieratic’ and ‘demotic’ scripts, which can crudely be thought of as merely different fonts of the hieroglyphic alphabet.

Then, towards the end of the fourth century AD, within a generation, the Egyptian scripts vanished. The last datable examples of ancient Egyptian writing are found on the island of Philae, where a hieroglyphic temple inscription was carved in AD 394 and where a piece of demotic graffiti has been dated to 450 AD. The rise of Christianity was responsible for the extinction of Egyptian scripts, outlawing their use in order to eradicate any link with Egypt’s pagan past.

The ancient scripts were replaced with ‘Coptic’, a script consisting of 24 letters from the Greek alphabet supplemented by six demotic characters used for Egyptian sounds not expressed in Greek. The ancient Egyptian language continued to be spoken, and evolved into what became known as the Coptic language, but in due course both the Coptic language and script were displaced by the spread of Arabic in the 11th century. The final linguistic link to Egypt’s ancient kingdoms was then broken, and the knowledge needed to read the history of the pharaohs was lost.

In later centuries, scholars who saw the hieroglyphs tried to interpret them, but they were hindered by a false hypothesis. They assumed that hieroglyphs were nothing more than primitive picture writing, and that their decipherment relied on a literal translation of the images they saw. In fact, the hieroglyphic script and its relatives are phonetic, which is to say that the characters largely represent distinct sounds, just like the letters in the English alphabet. It would take a remarkable discovery before this would be appreciated.

The Discovery of the Rosetta Stone

In the summer of 1798, the antiquities of ancient Egypt came under particular scrutiny when Napoleon Bonaparte despatched a team of historians, scientists and draughtsmen to follow in the wake of his invading army. In 1799, these French scholars encountered the single most famous slab of stone in the history of archaeology, found by a troop of French soldiers stationed at Fort Julien in the town of Rosetta in the Nile Delta.

The soldiers were demolishing an ancient wall to clear the way for an extension to the fort, but built into the wall was a stone bearing a remarkable set of inscriptions. The same piece of text had been inscribed on the stone three times, in Greek, demotic and hieroglyphics. The Rosetta Stone, as it became known, appeared to be the equivalent of a dictionary.

However, before the French could embark on any serious research, they were forced to hand the Rosetta Stone to the British, having signed a Treaty of Capitulation. In 1802, the priceless slab of rock – 46 ½” high, 30″ wide and 12″ deep, and weighing three quarters of a ton – took up residence at the British Museum, where it has remained ever since.

The Translation of the Rosetta Stone

The translation of the Greek soon revealed that the Rosetta Stone contained a decree from the general council of Egyptian priests issued in 196 BC. Assuming that the other two scripts contained the identical text, then it might appear that the Stone could be used to crack hieroglyphs.

However, a significant hurdle remained. The Greek revealed what the hieroglyphs meant, but nobody had spoken the ancient Egyptian language for at least eight centuries, so it was impossible to establish the sound of the Egyptian words. Unless scholars knew how the Egyptian words were spoken, they could not deduce the phonetics of the hieroglyphs.

When the English polymath Thomas Young heard about the Rosetta Stone, he considered it an irresistible challenge. In 1814 he went on his annual holiday to Worthing and took with him a copy of the Rosetta Stone inscriptions. Young’s breakthrough came when he focussed on a set of hieroglyphs surrounded by a loop, called a cartouche. He suspected that these highlighted hieroglyphs represented something of significance, possibly the name of the Pharaoh Ptolemy, who was mentioned in the Greek text.

If this were the case, it would enable Young to latch on to the phonetics of the corresponding hieroglyphs, because a pharaoh’s name would be pronounced roughly the same regardless of the language.

Young matched up the letters of Ptolemy with the hieroglyphs, and he managed to correlate most of the hieroglyphs with their correct phonetic values. The decipherment of the Egyptian script was underway. He repeated his strategy on another cartouche, which he suspected contained the name of the Ptolemaic queen Berenika, and identified the sound of further hieroglyphs. Young was on the right track, but his work suddenly ground to a halt. It seems that he had been brainwashed by the established view that the script was picture writing, and he was not prepared to shatter that paradigm. He excused his own phonetic discoveries by noting that the Ptolemaic dynasty was not of Egyptian descent, and hypothesised that their foreign names would have to be spelt out phonetically because there would not be a symbol within the standard list of hieroglyphs.

Young called his achievements ‘the amusement of a few leisure hours.’ He lost interest in hieroglyphics, and brought his work to a conclusion by summarising it in an article for the 1819 supplement to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Jean-François Champollion’s obsession with hieroglyphs began around 1801 when, as a ten-year-old, he saw a collection of Egyptian antiquities, decorated with bizarre inscriptions. He was told that nobody could interpret this cryptic writing, whereupon the boy promised that he would one day solve the mystery.

Champollion applied Young’s technique to other cartouches, but the names, such as Alexander and Cleopatra, were still foreign, supporting the theory that phonetics was only invoked for words outside the traditional Egyptian lexicon. Then, in 1822, Champollion received some cartouches that were old enough to contain traditional Egyptian names, and yet they were still spelt out, clear evidence against the theory that spelling was only used for foreign names.

Champollion focussed on a cartouche containing just four hieroglyphs: the first two symbols were unknown, but the repeated pair at the end signified ‘s-s’. This meant that the cartouche represented (‘?-?-s-s’).

At this point, Champollion brought to bear his vast linguistic knowledge. Although Coptic, the descendant of the ancient Egyptian language, had ceased to be a living language, it still existed in a fossilised form in the liturgy of the Christian Coptic Church. Champollion had learnt Coptic as a teenager, and was so fluent that he used it to record entries in his journal. However, he had not previously considered that Coptic might also be the language of hieroglyphs.

Champollion wondered if the first hieroglyph in the cartouche, the disc, might represent the sun, and then he assumed its sound value to be that of the Coptic word for sun, ‘ra’. This gave him the sequence (‘ra-?-s-s’). Only one pharaonic name seemed to fit. Allowing for the omission of vowels and the unknown letter, surely this was Rameses. The spell was broken. Hieroglyphs were phonetic and the underlying language was Egyptian. Champollion dashed into his brother’s office where he proclaimed ‘Je tiens l’affaire!’ (‘I’ve got it!’) and promptly collapsed. He was bedridden for the next five days.

Cracking the code

Although this was just one more cartouche, it clearly demonstrated the fundamental principles of hieroglyphics. It showed that the scribes sometimes exploited the rebus principle, which involves breaking long words into phonetic components, and then using pictures to represent these components. For example, the word belief can be broken down into two syllables, ‘bee-leaf’. Hence, instead of writing the word alphabetically, it could be represented by the image of a bee and a leaf. In the Rameses example, only the first syllable (‘ra’) is represented by a rebus image, a picture of the sun, while the remainder of the word is spelt more conventionally.

The significance of the sun in the Rameses cartouche is enormous, because it indicates the language of the scribes. They could not have spoken English, because this would mean that the cartouche would be pronounced ‘Sun-meses’. Similarly, they could not have spoken French, because then the cartouche would be pronounced ‘Soleil-meses’. The cartouche only makes sense if the scribes spoke Coptic, because it would then be pronounced ‘Ra-meses’.

Champollion went on to show that for most of their writing, the scribes relied on using a relatively conventional phonetic alphabet. Indeed, Champollion called phonetics the ‘soul’ of hieroglyphics.

Using his deep knowledge of Coptic, Champollion began a prolific decipherment of hieroglyphs. He identified phonetic values for the majority of hieroglyphs, and discovered that some of them represented combinations of two or even three consonants. This sometimes gave scribes the option of spelling a word using several simple hieroglyphs or with just one multi-consonantal hieroglyph.

In July 1828, Champollion embarked on his first expedition to Egypt. Thirty years earlier, Napoleon’s expedition had made wild guesses as to the meaning of the hieroglyphs that adorned the temples, but now Champollion could reinterpret them correctly. His visit came just in time. Three years later, having written up the notes, drawings and translations from his Egyptian expedition, he suffered a severe stroke. He died on 4th March 1832, aged 41, having achieved his childhood dream.

Live Animals Entombed in Wood and Stone

It is one of the strangest phenomena reported. Something that can’t happen, but stories saying it does turn up again and again anyway. Stories of animals found alive locked deep within stone or wood, with no observable way they could have entered. This is the mystery of entombed animals:

Reports of entombed animals found inside stones (reputedly sometimes still alive) date back to the 15th century and have occurred as recently as the 1980s. For example, in a letter to Julian Huxley, an Eric G. Mackley claimed to have freed twenty three frogs from concrete in Devonshire and in 1876 sixty-three small toads were reportedly found in the middle of a five meter wide tree trunk in South Africa.

Scientists have paid little serious attention to the phenomenon since the nineteenth century and most specimens were destroyed after the Victorian era, the world’s only remaining entombed toad resides at the Booth Museum of Natural History in Brighton, was found by two workmen in Lewes in 1898 and donated by Charles Dawson in 1901. It consists of an oval, hollow flint nodule millions of years old containing a mummified toad. The toad apparently was quite famous in it’s hey-day, featured on cigarette cards and in paranormal magazines`and it still tours the globe. Dawson’s explanation is that the toad crawled through a small hole in the rock when it was very small, managed to find enough food to grow but then became too large to escape it’s little prison and eventually died of either old age or starvation. He speculated that if the workmen had split the stone before the animal had died, it would have joined the ranks of the living toads-in-the-hole and suggested that this theory could be provide a tentative answer to the hundreds of findings.

However, Dawson cannot be viewed as an entirely reliable source being blamed now for various ‘imaginative frauds’, most infamously for his involvement in the Piltdown scandal, where a faked anthropoid skull was claimed to be Darwin’s ‘missing link’ between human and ape. Sadly, taking this into consideration along with the fact that the toad has visibly shrunk since it’s original discovery (indicating it was not very old to begin with) it is likely that it could be another faked natural spectacle.

Being at my seat near the village of Meudon, and overlooking a quarryman whom I had set to break some very large and hard stones, in the middle of one we found a huge toad, full of life and without any visible aperture by which it could get there…The laborer told me it was not the first time he had met with a toad and the like creatures within huge blocks of stone…

This account, which appeared in the 1761 edition of Annual Register, was attributed to Ambroise Pare, the chief surgeon of Henry III of France in the 16th century. It is an early example of phenomenon. Logically this report is impossible. The stone had to be thousands, if not millions of years old. The toad shouldn’t have a lifetime of more than a few years. If it was really sealed in the stone, how did it get there? Or if it was entombed when the stone was made, how did it survive?

Perhaps one such story over a period of hundreds of years can just be dismissed as a folktale or a hoax, but there are others. Workers doing an excavation in Hartlepool, England, on April 7, 1865, split open a block of magnesium limestone to discover a living toad. The Hartlepool Free Press reported, “The cavity was no larger than its body, and presented the appearance of being cast for it. The toad’s eyes shone with unusual brilliancy, and it was full of vivacity on its liberation.” The animal was very pale when first discovered with a color similar to that of the rock that had encased it, but later the toad turned to an olive-brown. “It appeared,” the Free Press continued, “when first discovered, desirous to perform the process of respiration, but evidently experienced some difficulty, and the only sign of success consisted of a ‘barking’ noise, which it continues to make invariably at present on being touched. The toad is in the possession of Mr. S. Horner, the president of the Natural Historical Society, and continues in as lively a state as when found. On a minute examination of its mouth it is found to be completely closed, and the barking noise it makes proceeds from its nostrils. The claws of its fore feet are turned inwards, and its hind ones are of extraordinary length and unlike the present English toad.”

We can also see an example of a wood entombment by looking at a story from South Africa. In 1876 the Uitenhage Times printed an article reporting that a timberman who was cutting a tree into planks came across a cache of 69 tiny toads, each the size of a grape. The toads were confined to a hole in the tree. “They were of a light brown, almost yellow color, and perfectly happy, hopping about and away as if nothing had happened. All about them was solid yellow wood, with nothing to indicate how they could have got there, how long they had been there, or how they could have lived without food, drink or air.”

According to the Michigan Argus of December 1st, 1871, one man was so curious about these stories he tried his own experiment to see if such things were possible.. M. Herissan, a French savant enclosed three live toads in separate cases of plaster in February of 1771. In April of 1784 Herissan opened the cases, which were still whole, and found two of the toads still alive, though the third was “a martyr to science.” The article continued saying that the animals were handed over to the Academy of Science and a careful examination showed that “the animals had no communication with the external air, and must have existed without the least nourishment.”

Toads aren’t the only subject of these stories. An 1821 edition of Tilloch’s Philosophical Magazine reported a stone mason named David Virture discovered a “lizard imbedded in the stone. It was about an inch and a quarter long, of a brownish-yellow color, and had a round head, with bright sparkling projecting eyes. It was apparently dead, but after being about five minutes exposed to the air it showed signs of life.” The rock the lizard had been found within had been some 22 feet underground. “It was coiled up in a round cavity of its own form, being an exact impression of the animal,” the article continues, “This stone is naturally a little damp; and about half an inch around the lizard was soft sand, the same color as the animal…The stone had no fissure, was quite hard, and one of the best to be got from the quarry of Cullaloe…”

Turtles have also gotten this treatment. In August 1975 construction workers in Fort Worth, Texas, were breaking up concrete that had been laid down more than a year before when they came across a living green turtle. The animal must have been caught in the concrete as it had been poured because the body-shaped hole in which it had stayed during that time was clearly visible.

Sometimes two different types of animals have been found together as the account from a World War II British soldier reported in Jerome Clark’s book Unexplained shows:

In Algeria in the early part of 1943, I was working with a team whose job it was to quarry stone that was then used for making roads and filling bomb craters…One morning, we had set off the charges as usual and I started to prise away the rock from the quarry face when I saw in a pocket in the rock a large toad, and beside it a lizard at least nine inches long. Both these animals were alive, and the amazing thing was that the cavity they were in was at least 20 feet from the top of the quarry face. Try as we might, we couldn’t find how it was possible for the two creatures to be where they were – there were no inlets, cracks or fissures leading to the cavity…

Parts of the scientific establishment have taken both an interest in the phenomena, while other members scoff at it. In an article in an 1890 Scientific American a writer declared “Many well authenticated stories of the finding of live toads and frogs in solid rock are on record.” While a few years later the editor for the magazine Nature argued, “It matters little to tell the reporters of such occurrences that the thing is absolutely impossible, and that our believing it would involve the conclusion that the whole science of geology (not to speak of biology also) is a mass of nonsense.”

Most explanations for these events depend on the reporters being hoaxers or bad observers. “The true interpretation of these alleged occurrences appears to be simply this – a frog or toad is hopping about while a stone is being broken, and the nonscientific observer immediately rushes to the conclusion that he has seen the creature dropping out of the stone itself,” says a writer in Nature. This explanation runs in the face of many of the reports where the animal was found in a cavity shaped like the animal itself.

Cases of entombed animals remain a mystery. Clearly the Scientific American writer is correct in saying that there seems to be no answer to this puzzle unless we are willing to rewrite the science of geology or biology. Still, it seems the phenomena exists. Undoubtedly some of the reports are hoaxes, others are errors, but many remain a true mystery for a future scientist to resolve.

Via: UnMuseum and TheOddmentEmporium

The Sealand Skull and the Order of Pegasus’ Light

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An alien survivor from a prehistoric saucer crash? An unfortunate time traveler from the future? A tradesman from a parallel universe? A hitherto undiscovered species? Or a mere freak deformity of a human being? Nobody knows for sure, but no matter the explanation, the Sealand Skull has potential to change the view of the world we live in.

The July 2007 discovery of the skull in Olstykke on the Danish island Sealand did however not make headlines and remained largely ignored by science until 2010. The researchers who in 2008 examined the skull at the Veterinarian High School in Copenhagen merely concluded that “Although resembling a mammal, certain features make it impossible to fit the animal into Linnaean taxonomy”.

Dug up during the replacement of old sewer pipes, the finder at first believed that it was some horse bone, as the house formerly belonged to a horse butcher, and the garden is full of remains. It was not until refilling the trench that he noticed its humanoid shape. Later excavations at the site have not uncovered further remains with connection to the creature, only identifiable animal bones, stone axes and other Neolithic tools which are common to the area. The fact that the skull was found among Neolithic remains does however, not reveal its age. Carbon 14 dating at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen has shown that the creature lived between 1200 and 1280 AD. Furthermore, the skull was found above the old pipes, whose age suggests that it wasn’t buried until after 1900. Also the absence of other skeleton parts of the creature, together with the skull’s state of preservation, has led the scientists to suspect that it has not been buried for long, probably only a couple of decades. 

Perhaps to conceal the secret behind its existence someone stored it for ages and later deliberately buried it. It is interesting to note that residents in Olstykke and nearby villages have from former times told about a local member of l’Ordre Lux Pégasos (the Order of Pegasus’ Light), whom accordingly on behalf of the order protected various items – among them a mysterious cranium and several devices made of extraordinary light, albeit unbreakable metal or ceramics. The skull is said to have originated from the Balkans, but it has also been stored in Paris, France, and in Munich, Germany, before arriving in Denmark.

If the story holds true, it is possible that further research may lead to the whereabouts of alien artefacts. It is plausible that l’Ordre Lux Pégasos still keeps objects as well as insights into their origin and purpose. Little is known about the order however, except that it was established around 1350 and throughout its existence has counted influential poets and authors among its members. Among the prominent initiated were Giovanni Boccaccio, William Shakespeare, Réne Descartes, Thomas Jefferson, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Ambrose Bierce, Karin Boye, H.G. Wells, Julio Cortázar, Joseph Heller, Octavia Butler, Aleksandr Solsjenitsyn and Ahmed al-Baghdadi. One can wonder why the task of preserving alien artefacts and knowledge fell upon an order solely consisting of writers, but the very name of the order does hint at one or more guests from the Pegasus constellation, who for some time lived among us and brought us vast knowledges and inspiration. The secrecy of the order however suggests that humanity is not yet ready to share the Pegasian knowledge.

The Sealand Skull is about one and a half times larger than a male Homo sapiens cranium. Especially the eye sockets contribute to its size. Its smooth surface reveals that the creature was adapted to cold climate, and its relative eye size that it was either a night creature, lived underground or on a planet orbiting a remote or dim star, probably an orange or red dwarf. It is noted that the star 51 Pegasi in the Pegasus constellation was the first Sun-like star known to have a planet. Planets orbiting the Pegasus star HR 8799 were the first to be directly imaged, and spectroscopic analysis of HD 209458 b, another planet in the constellation, has provided the first evidence of atmospheric water vapor beyond our solar system.

Via: TheOddmentEmporium