Tag Archives: France

‘Scotland’s dodo’ bone found at Scottish Seabird Centre dig

A bone from an extinct bird known as “Scotland’s dodo” has been uncovered following an archaeological dig in East Lothian.

The bone from the Great Auk, a species last seen in British waters on St Kilda in 1840, was recovered at the Kirk Ness site, now known as North Berwick.

It was unearthed during a dig at the Scottish Seabird Centre.

Archaeologists said the find sheds new lights on human habitation of the area in the Middle Ages.

The archaeological dig, by Edinburgh-based Addyman Archaeology, and supported by Historic Scotland, revealed bones of butchered seals, fish and seabirds, including the bone of the Great Auk.

The upper arm bone of the flightless bird was unearthed at the entrance area of an early building and has been radio carbon dated to the 5th to 7th Centuries.

The seabird was a favoured food source in medieval times as it was easy to catch.

Human predation led to the decline of the species, ensuring that by the middle of the 19th Century it had become persecuted and exploited into extinction.

The penguin-like bird was 1m tall and its range at one time extended from the north-eastern United States across the Atlantic to the British Isles, France and Northern Spain.

Tom Brock, chief executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: “The discovery of the Great Auk bone on site at the Scottish Seabird Centre is fascinating but also very sad.

“We are so fortunate in Scotland to have a rich variety of seabirds and we must use the extinction of the Great Auk as a warning to future generations to look after our wonderful wildlife and the marine environment as an absolute priority.

“There are both behavioural and environmental lessons that must be taken from this internationally-important finding, and as an educational and conservation charity we will remain dedicated to inspiring people to enjoy, protect and learn about wildlife and the natural environment.”

 

Tom Addyman, of Addyman Archaeology, said: “The discovery of the Great Auk bone at Kirk Ness is an illuminating find, as we seek to understand and document the importance of the area in the history of wildlife and human habitation in the Middle Ages.

“We hope that its discovery helps historians and conservation experts, such as the Scottish Seabird Centre, to educate future generations about the precious nature of our natural resources.”

Rod McCullagh, senior archaeology manager at Historic Scotland, said: “In the last two decades, there has been a renaissance in our understanding of the archaeology and history of early Medieval Scotland.

“The discovery of the remains of domestic buildings and the associated detritus of daily life at Kirk Ness gives us a glimpse of what ordinary life was like in East Lothian at this time.

“That ‘daily life’ involved the killing of such valuable birds as the Great Auk is no surprise but the discovery of this single bone perhaps attests to a time when hunting did not overwhelm such a vulnerable species.”

Source – BBC News    12 May 2014

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Almanac – June 15

1381 – Wat Tyler murdered. A leader of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt, he marched a group of protesters from Canterbury to the capital to oppose the institution of a poll tax.

While the brief rebellion enjoyed early success, Tyler was killed by officers of King Richard II during negotiations at Smithfield in London.

 

 

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1785 – Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and  Pierre Romain  became the first-ever known  casualties of an air crash when their hot air balloon exploded during their attempt to cross the English Channel.
After making some progress, a change of wind direction pushed them back to land some 5 km from their starting point.

The balloon suddenly deflated (without the envelope catching fire) and crashed near Wimereux in the Pas-de-Calais, from an estimated height of 1,500 feet.
A commemorative obelisk was later erected at the site of the crash.

 

 

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1878 – Eadweard Muybridge, an English photographer,  took a series of photographs to prove that all four feet of a horse leave the ground when it runs; the study became the basis of motion pictures.

 

 

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Almanac – June 08

632 – Muhammad, Islamic prophet, died,  in Medina, at the age of 63, in the house of his wife Aisha.  With his head resting on Aisha’s lap, he asked her to dispose of his last worldly goods (seven coins), then murmured his final words:

Rather, God on High and paradise.

He was buried where he died, in Aisha’s house.

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793 – Vikings raided the abbey at Lindisfarne in Northumbria, commonly accepted as the beginning of the Scandinavian invasion of England.

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1794 – Robespierre inaugurated the French Revolution’s new state religion, the Cult of the Supreme Being, with large organized festivals all across France.

The primary principles of the Cult of the Supreme Being were a belief in the existence of a god and the immortality of the human soul. Though not inconsistent with Christian doctrine, these beliefs were put to the service of Robespierre’s fuller meaning, which was of a type of civic-minded, public virtue he attributed to the Greeks and Romans.

This type of virtue could only be attained through active fidelity to liberty and democracy. Belief in a living god and a higher moral code, he said, were “constant reminders of justice” and thus essential to a republican society.

To inaugurate the new state religion, Robespierre declared that 20 Prairial Year II (8 June 1794) would be the first day of national celebration of the Supreme Being, and future republican holidays were to be held every tenth day – the days of rest (décadi) in the new French Republican Calendar.

Every locality was mandated to hold a commemorative event, but the event in Paris was designed on a massive scale. The festival was organized by the artist Jacques-Louis David and took place around a man-made mountain on the Champ de Mars. Robespierre assumed full leadership of the event, forcefully – and, to many, ostentatiously – declaring the truth and “social utility” of his new religion.

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1809 – Thomas Paine died.  English  political activist, author, political theorist and revolutionary.

As the author of two highly influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, he inspired the Patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment era rhetoric of transnational human rights. He has been called “a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination.”

Paine died at the age of 72, at 59 Grove Street in Greenwich Village, New York City.  Although the original building is no longer there, the present building has a plaque noting the fact.

After his death, Paine’s body was brought to New Rochelle, but as the Quakers would not allow it to be buried in their graveyard as  per his last will, so his remains were buried under a walnut tree on his farm.

In 1819, the English agrarian radical journalist William Cobbett dug up his bones and transported them back to England with the intention to give Paine a heroic reburial on his native soil, but this never came to pass. The bones were still among Cobbett’s effects when he died over twenty years later, but were later lost.

There is no confirmed story about what happened to them after that, although down the years various people have claimed to own parts of Paine’s remains, such as his skull and right hand.

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Almanac – May 29

1913 – Igor Stravinsky‘s ballet score The Rite of Spring received its premiere performance at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées , Paris.

The avant-garde nature of the music and choreography caused a sensation and a near-riot in the audience. Stravinsky’s score contains many features that were novel for its time, including experiments in tonality, metre, rhythm, stress and dissonance.

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1979 – Mary Pickford died.  Canadian motion picture actress, co-founder of the film studio United Artists and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,  she was one of the Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood and a significant figure in the development of film acting.

Because her international fame was triggered by moving images, she is a watershed figure in the history of modern celebrity and, as one of silent film’s most important performers and producers, her contract demands were central to shaping the Hollywood industry.

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Almanac – May 20

1799 – Honoré de Balzac born. French novelist and playwright.

His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature, and is renowned for his multifaceted, morally ambiguous characters.

His writing influenced many subsequent novelists such as Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gustave Flaubert, Benito Pérez Galdós, Marie Corelli, Henry James, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, and Italo Calvino, and philosophers such as Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx.

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Almanac – April 21

753 BC – Romulus and Remus founded Rome, according to legend.

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571 – Prophet Muhammad  born in Makkah.

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1918 –  German fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, known as “The Red Baron”, was shot down and killed over Vaux-sur-Somme in France.

He was considered the top ace of  WWI, being officially credited with 80 air combat victories.

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1934 – The “Surgeon’s Photograph”, the most famous photo allegedly showing the Loch Ness Monster, was published in the Daily Mail, supposedly taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson, a London gynaecologist.

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1970 – The Hutt River Province Principality seceded from Australia.

The oldest micronation in Australia, the principality claims to be an independent sovereign state having achieved legal status on 21 April 1972, although it remains unrecognised except by other micronations.

The principality is located 517 km (354 mi) north of Perth, near the town of Northampton. If considered independent, it is an enclave of Australia.

The principality was founded Leonard George Casley when he and his associates proclaimed their secession from the state of Western Australia.

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2003 – Nina Simone died. American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music.

Simone aspired to become a classical pianist while working in a broad range of styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.

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Almanac – April 08

1904 – British mystic Aleister Crowley transcribed the first chapter of The Book of the Law.

The full title of the book is Liber AL vel Legis, sub figura CCXX, as delivered by XCIII=418 to DCLXVI.

Through the reception of this book, Crowley proclaimed the arrival of a new stage in the spiritual evolution of humanity, to be known as the “Æon of Horus”. The primary precept of this new aeon is the charge to “Do what thou wilt”.

The book contains three chapters, each of which was written down in one hour, beginning at noon, on 8 April 9 April, and 10 April in Cairo, Egypt. Crowley claimed that the author was an entity named Aiwass, whom he later referred to as his personal Holy Guardian Angel (analogous to but not identical with “Higher Self”).

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1929 – Jacques Brel born.  Belgian singer-songwriter who composed and performed literate, thoughtful, and theatrical songs that generated a large, devoted following in Belgium and France initially, and later throughout the world. He was widely considered a master of the modern chanson.

 Although he recorded most of his songs in French, he became a major influence on English-speaking songwriters and performers such as David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Marc Almond and Rod McKuen.

 In French-speaking countries, Brel was also a successful actor, appearing in ten films. He also directed two films, one of which, Le Far West, was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973.

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1973 – Pablo Picasso died. Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer.

As one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, he is widely known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore.

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Almanac – March 26

1814 – Joseph-Ignace Guillotin died.  French physician who proposed in  1789 the use of a device to carry out death penalties in France.

While he did not invent the guillotine, and in fact opposed the death penalty, his name became an eponym for it. The actual inventor of the prototype guillotine was Antoine Louis.

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1859 – A. E. Housman born.  English classical scholar and poet, best known to the general public for his cycle of poems A Shropshire Lad.

Lyrical and almost epigrammatic in form, the poems’ wistful evocation of doomed youth in the English countryside, in spare language and distinctive imagery, appealed strongly to late Victorian and Edwardian taste, and to many early 20th century English composers (beginning with Arthur Somervell) both before and after the First World War.

Through its song-setting the poetry became closely associated with that era, and with Shropshire itself.

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1923 – Sarah Bernhardt died.  French stage and early film actress, sometimes referred to as “the most famous actress the world has ever known“. She made her name on the stages of France in the 1870s, and was soon in demand in Europe and the Americas, and  developed a reputation as a serious dramatic actress.

In 1905, while performing in  La Tosca in Teatro Lírico do Rio de Janeiro, she injured her right knee when jumping off the parapet in the final scene. The leg never healed properly, and by  1915  gangrene had set in and her entire right leg was amputated; she was required to use a wheelchair for several months.

She reportedly refused a $10,000 offer by a showman to display her amputated leg as a medical curiosity and  continued her career,  often without using a wooden prosthetic limb; she had tried to use one but didn’t like it.

 She died from uremia following kidney failure in 1923;  believed to have been 78 years old.

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1950 – Teddy Pendergrass born. American R&B/soul singer and songwriter.

Pendergrass first rose to fame as lead singer of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes in the 1970s before a successful solo career at the end of the decade. In 1982, he was severely injured in an auto accident in Philadelphia, resulting in his being paralyzed from the waist down.

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1959 – Raymond Chandler died. American novelist and screenwriter.

Chandler had an immense stylistic influence on American popular literature, and is considered by many to be a founder, along with Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and other Black Mask writers, of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction.

His protagonist, Philip Marlowe, along with Hammett’s Sam Spade, is considered by some to be synonymous with “private detective,” both having been played on screen by Humphrey Bogart, whom many considered to be the quintessential Marlowe.

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Almanac – March 16

1244 – Over 200 Cathars were burned after the Fall of Montségur.

All the people in the castle were allowed to leave except those who would not renounce their Cathar faith. A number of defenders decided to join these ranks, bringing the total number of Cathar believers destined to burn to between 210 and 215.

On March 16, led by Bishop Bertrand Marty, the group left the castle and went down to the place where the wood for the pyre had been erected.

 No stakes were needed: they mounted the pyre and perished voluntarily in the flames.

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1898 – Aubrey Beardsley died.  English illustrator and author.

His drawings in black ink, influenced by the style of Japanese woodcuts, emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic.

He was a leading figure in the Aesthetic movement , and his contribution to the development of the Art Nouveau and poster styles was significant, despite the brevity of his career before his  death, aged 25,  from tuberculosis.

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1968 –   My Lai massacre, Vietnam.  Mass murder of between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam by United States Army soldiers of “Charlie” Company of 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade of the Americal Division.

 Most of the victims were women, children, infants, and elderly people. Some of the women were gang-raped and their bodies were later found to be mutilated and many women were allegedly raped prior to the killings.

 While 26 U.S. soldiers were initially charged with criminal offenses for their actions at Mỹ Lai, only Second Lieutenant William Calley, a platoon leader in Charlie Company, was convicted. Found guilty of killing 22 villagers, he was originally given a life sentence, but only served three and a half years under house arrest.

Three U.S. servicemen who had tried to halt the massacre and protect the wounded were initially denounced by several U.S. Congressmen as traitors. They received hate mail and death threats and found mutilated animals on their doorsteps.

The three were later widely praised and decorated by the Army for their heroic actions.

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Almanac – January 21

1789 –  The Power of Sympathy or the Triumph of Nature Founded in Truth published by Isaiah Thomas in Boston. American sentimental novel written in epistolary form by William Hill Brown, and widely considered to be the first American novel.

The novel mirrors a local New England scandal involving Brown’s neighbor Perez Morton’s incestuous seduction of Fanny Apthorp, Morton’s sister-in-law. Apthorp became pregnant and committed suicide, but Morton was not legally punished.

The scandal was widely known, so most readers were able to quickly identify the “real” story behind the fiction: in every essential, Brown’s story is an indictment of Morton and an exoneration of Fanny Apthorp, with “Martin” and “Ophelia” representing Morton and Apthorp, respectively.

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1793 – After being found guilty of treason by the French Convention, Louis XVI of France was executed by guillotine. 

Some accounts of Louis’s beheading indicate that the blade did not sever his neck entirely the first time. There are also accounts of a blood-curdling scream issuing from Louis after the blade fell but this is unlikely, since the blade severed Louis’s spine. It is agreed that while Louis’s blood dripped to the ground many members of the crowd ran forward to dip their handkerchiefs in it.

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1938 – Wolfman Jack born. American disc jockey.

According to author Philip A. Lieberman, the Wolfman persona “derived from his love of horror flicks and his shenanigans as a ‘wolfman’ with his two young nephews. The ‘Jack’ was added as a part of the ‘hipster’ lingo of the 1950s, as in ‘take a page from my book, Jack,’ or the more popular, ‘hit the road, Jack.'”

 In 1973, he appeared in director George Lucas‘ second feature film, American Graffiti, as himself. His broadcasts tie the film together, and Richard Dreyfuss’s character catches a glimpse of the mysterious Wolfman in a pivotal scene.

In gratitude for Wolfman Jack’s participation, Lucas gave him a fraction of a “point” — the division of the profits from a film — and the extreme financial success of American Graffiti provided him with a regular income for life.

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1942 – Edwin Starr born.  American soul music singer,  most famous for his Norman Whitfield produced Motown singles of the 1970s, most notably the number one hit “War”.

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1984 – Jackie Wilson died. American singer and performer. Known as “Mr. Excitement“, Wilson was important in the transition of rhythm and blues into soul. He was considered a master showman, one of the most dynamic and influential singers and performers in R&B and rock history.

Gaining fame in his early years as a member of the R&B vocal group Billy Ward and His Dominoes, he went solo in 1957 and recorded over 50 hit singles that spanned R&B, pop, soul, doo-wop and easy listening.

During a 1975 benefit concert, he collapsed on-stage from a heart attack and subsequently fell into a coma that persisted for nearly nine years until his death in 1984, aged 49.

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 1997 – Colonel Tom Parker died. Entertainment impresario best  known as the manager of Elvis Presley. Parker’s management of Presley defined the role of masterminding talent management, which involved every facet of his life and was seen as central to the astonishing success of Presley’s career.

“The Colonel” displayed a ruthless devotion to his client’s interests and took more than the traditional 10 percent of his earnings (reaching up to 50 percent by the end of Presley’s life).
Presley said of Parker: “I don’t think I’d have ever been very big if it wasn’t for him. He’s a very smart man.”

For many years Parker falsely claimed to have been U.S.-born, but it eventually emerged that he was born in Breda, Netherlands, real name Andreas Cornelis  van Kuijk.

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