Eltz Castle: A Majestic Medieval Pile Owned by the Same Family for 800 Years

 Eltz Castle is a majestic castle situated on the top of a rock within a small wooded valley in Germany. Be it through luck or strategy, the castle has been mostly spared from the ravages of war. Apart from the stunning appearance, another interesting fact about this castle is that it has been owned by the same family for more than 800 years. Eltz Castle (known in German as Burg Eltz) is a medieval castle located in the western German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Besides its picturesque location, Eltz Castle is also notable for being one of the few German castles on the left side of the Rhine to have been left unscathed over the centuries. Moreover, Eltz Castle has been in the hands of the same family, the Eltz family, for over eight and a half centuries. ABOVE: Burg Eltz Castle. (Isaac Wedin/CC BY 2.0) The Elzbach River, a […] Read More

Mysterious Neolithic Carvings Only Appear in Moonlight

Every good horror novelist and filmmaker knows that things look differently in the moonlight. A recent discovery in England suggests this technique is far from new. An archeologist studying the Hendraburnick Quoit monolith in Cornwall found that the markings on the stone increased tenfold when observed in the moonlight. Why didn’t they think of this sooner? “We were aware there were some cup and ring marks on the rocks but we were there on a sunny afternoon and noticed it was casting shadows on others which nobody had seen before. When we went out to some imaging at night, when the camera flashed we suddenly saw more and more art, which suggested that it was meant to be seen at night and in the moonlight.” The Hendraburnick Quoit in daylight Dr. Andy Jones is the Principal Archaeologist with the Cornwall Archaeological Unit who made the moonlight discovery and wrote […] Read More

Scientists Claim Europe Was the Birthplace of Mankind, Not Africa

Scientists claim Europe was the birthplace of mankind, not Africa. Scientists now have new claims about the true origin of our species and evolutionary history. Most experts have believed for quite some time that our human lineage deviated from apes around seven million years ago in Africa. Two fossils of an “ape-like creature which had human-like teeth” were found in Bulgaria and Greece. They are dated at being 7.2 million years old. The creature – “Graeco Pithecus freybergi”, or “El Graeco” – proves that our hominid ancestors were starting to evolve in Europe a whole 200,000 years before the earliest hominids in Africa. Telegraph UK reports: An international team of researchers say the findings entirely change the beginning of human history and place the last common ancestor of both chimpanzees and humans – the so-called Missing Link – in the Mediterranean region. At that time climate change had turned Eastern Europe […] Read More

Mystery of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mother Has Been Solved

(She) was a peasant fallen on bad times, and you cannot be much lower in the social pile than that. To be a 16-year-old with an illegitimate son and no house was about as bad as it gets. “She” did at least one thing to be proud of … that illegitimate son grew up to be one of the greatest geniuses in history – Leonardo da Vinci. According to a new book, the identity of the woman who didn’t get to know her artistic progeny until the end of her life has finally been determined using information in previously disregarded property tax records from Florence and Vinci. The book also sheds light on Leonardo’s father and the other woman in his life: Mona Lisa. Martin Kemp, emeritus professor of art history at the University of Oxford, is the co-author, with economist and art researcher with Dr Giuseppe Pallanti, of […] Read More

Did This Ancient Explorer Make It to The Arctic In 325 BC?

An explorer in the Arctic by Andreas Kornerup ( CC by SA 2.0 ) The first arctic explorer isn’t who you think. More than 2,300 years ago, Pytheas of Massalia traveled to the Arctic Circle and back – and, when he came home, nobody believed him. In a time when most people believed that the sun was dragged across the sky by a god, Pytheas made it to a place where the sun doesn’t rise all winter long. He found a place covered in permafrost, a frozen ocean, and drifting icebergs, and he had to come home and try to explain what he’d seen. He made discoveries so incredible that they were literally unbelievable – and it took more than a thousand years before we found out he was telling the truth. Who Was Pytheas? Not much is known about Pytheas’s life. He was, we are told, “ a […] Read More

Celestial Maps of Gegham Mountain: The Unique Rock Art of Armenia

In the volcanic Gegham and Vardenis Mountains of Armenia, architect Suren Petrosyan discovered unique and mysterious astrological rock art paintings. Experts have different opinions on the creation chronology of the rock art paintings found in the basin of Lake Sevan and along the slopes of Mount Aragats. Some think these rock art paintings were created in the third to second millennium BC, others claim about the fifth to fourth millennium BC, and there are researchers who date them to 10th millennium BC. It is not surprising, since the study and chronology of rock art paintings is very difficult. The dramatic volcanic landscape of the Gegham Mountains, Armenia (MEDIACRAT, CC BY-SA 3.0) However, there is no doubt that these rock art paintings illustrating stellar maps have thousands of years’ history. When you visit the mountains where these astrological paintings—some made with a natural paint made of red volcanic mineral, others […] Read More

Man Claims Bosnian Boulder is World’s Oldest Man-Made Sphere

A man who some people call the ‘Bosnian Indiana Jones’ claims he found the world’s oldest man-made sphere, which looks suspiciously like the boulder that rolled behind Doctor Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. This is the same ‘Bosnian Indiana Jones’ who claims to have discovered the world’s largest pyramids, also in Bosnia. Is he for real or a member of the Bosnian Tourism Bureau? Archaeologist Semir Osmanagić (also known as Sam Osmanagich) was born in Bosnia, left during the Bosnian war (he lives in Austin, Texas), and returns to his homeland regularly for unusual archaeology projects. One such project occurred in 2005 when Osmanagić claimed that what most experts thought were natural hills in central Bosnia and Herzegovina are actually man-made pyramids. Their size would make them the largest pyramids on Earth. While Osmanagić claims to have excavated tunnels, stone blocks and ancient mortar, other scientists and […] Read More

Scientists resolve myth about the identity of the Dark Countess

Marie-Thérèse in Vienna in 1796 soon after her exile from France. Image from Wikipedia. The Countess and the Princess In 1807 an enigmatic couple arrived in the village of Hildburghausen in Central Germany and lived in the castle of Eishausen for the next 30 years. The villagers referred to the solitary duo as the Dunkelgrafen or the “Dark Counts” because when the couple was seen outside of the castle they were either in a carriage or the woman hid behind a veil. The woman known as the Dark Countess died in 1837 and was buried under the name of Sophia Botta in a cemetery in Hildburghausen, and her partner, who went by Vavel de Versay, died in 1845. Versay was later identified as Leonardus Cornelius van der Valck, secretary of the Dutch embassy in Paris. Drawing of the tomb of the Dark Countess, or Dunkelgräfin from ca. 1863. Image […] Read More

The Fantastic Adventures of Vainamoinen: Finnish Hero, Wizard, Shaman, and God

Väinämöinen is an important figure in Finnish folklore, and has been variously referred to as a hero, a wizard, a shaman, and a god. More importantly, this benevolent character is the primary protagonist in the Kalevala. This is a 19th century work of epic poetry that has since been regarded as the national epic of Finland. The Kalevala is made up of oral folk poetry and mythology collected and compiled by Elias Lönnrot and his colleagues in Finland and Karelia. The Kalevala may be regarded as the main reference for Väinämöinen, and thanks to this piece of work, the character and the stories of his exploits are available to readers all over the world. Kalevala: The Finnish national epic by Elias Lönnrot. First edition, 1835. (Public Domain) How Väinämöinen Helped Create the World According to the Kalevala, Väinämöinen is the son of Ilmatar, a demigoddess who was the “Beauteous […] Read More

Years Before Columbus: Leif Erikson, His Life and His Voyage of Adventure to the New World

Many people still believe that the person who “discovered” America was Christopher Columbus, forgetting the fact that there were already indigenous people living there. An additional fact that is often overlooked is that the new world was visited, and temporarily colonized, about 492 years before Columbus by another European – a man known as Leif Erikson. A Family History of Banishment and Adventure-Seeking Leif Erikson was born circa 970 AD in Iceland. He was a son of Erik the Red and his wife Thjodhild. Leif had a sister Freydis and two brothers: Thorsteinn and Thorvald. Together, they were the children of the man who colonized Greenland. According to the Sagas of Icelanders, Leif was the first European who landed in the territory of modern-day Canada. But before that, Leif grew up in Greenland, where the family of Erik the Red moved after they colonized the land. Leif’s wife was […] Read More

The human bone chandelier and other creepy decorations of the Cabaret of Death

The human bone chandelier at the Cabaret du Néant. Image credit: billyjane via Flickr. Patrons from far and wide came to sip drinks with names like Cholera and Arsenic while sitting at a coffin under a real human bone chandelier in the Cabaret of Death, a peculiar Parisian watering hole that opened in the early 1890’s. The Cabaret of Death was in the eccentric Montmartre neighborhood near the divine Cabaret of the Sky (Cabaret du Ciel), the wicked Cabaret of the Inferno (Cabaret de l’Enfer), and the infamous Moulin Rouge!. The owner eventually changed the name of the tavern to the Cabaret of Nothingness (Cabaret du Néant) to make it palatable for the locals. The Cabaret du Néant was famous for its macabre decorations and optical illusions. In 1899, Ellsworth Douglass visited the Cabaret du Néant and wrote about the morbid décor and special effects in a review for […] Read More

The Black Death: the Plague that Sowed Terror and Death in Medieval Europe – Part 1

In recent months, health authorities in California, USA, have been obliged to report two cases of the plague that appeared in West Coast state. In the state of Colorado two other people also contracted and died of the disease. As if that were not enough, in recent weeks the Yosemite National Park located in California, has had to close their camp Tuolumne Meadows after the authorities determined that two squirrels apparently also died from the plague. The plague is the most famous and feared disease of human history. An evil that killed millions of people in Europe for centuries and that, despite common belief and in spite of the great scientific advances, remains a problem for modern humanity. Poster used during the plague epidemics, showing Death as triumphant. These posters were placed outside the houses where there were plague victims. (Wikimedia Commons) Origins of the Plague in Medieval Europe Between 1346 and 1347, one of the largest epidemics of the plague […] Read More

Hy-Brasil: The Legendary Phantom Island of Ireland

Hy-Brasil was an island which appeared on ancient maps as early as 1325 and into the 1800s.  On most maps, it was located roughly 321km (200 miles) off the west coast of Ireland in the North Atlantic Ocean. One of the most distinctive geographical features of Hy-Brasil on those maps is that it often appears as a circle with a channel (or river) running east to west across the diameter. Stories about the island have circulated throughout Europe for centuries with tales that it was the promised land of saints or a paradise where an advanced civilization lived. In Irish myth, it was said to be clouded in mist except for one day every seven years when it became visible but still could not be reached. The Many Names of the Mysterious Island Hy-Brasil (also called Hy-Breasal, Hy-Brazil, Hy-Breasil, Brazir) is derived from the name Breasal meaning the High […] Read More