Sunday, November 30, 2008

Slave Ship Wreck Found-

The only known slaving vessel shipwreck was found near Turks and Caicos, in only 9 feet of water.

The Trouvadore sank in 1841--long after transporting slaves had been outlawed. The story of how the discoverers (Ships of Discovery out of Corpus Christi, Texas) followed a few sparse clues in an 1878 letter about "African dolls" (which turned out to be not African) to eventually locate the slave ship on the coast of East Caicos, is absolutely fascinating.

192 slaves were rescued; one female slave was shot dead by the crew. Those saved worked in salt ponds to pay for their rescue; their descendants may "make up a significant proportion of the 30,000 residents of the island country," according the Los Angeles Times story of Nov. 29, 2008.

This picture, btw, is from the NOAA Ocean Explorer website (NOAA--National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and shows the keel from the starboard side, with a studded sheet of copper in the foreground.

But wait! There's More!

The same team from Ships of Discovery also located US ship Chippewa, a War of 1812 veteran that was then used to find and stop slavers. The Chippewa sank in 1816 in the same area.

Here's the Los Angeles Times story. Times of the Islands, a Turks and Caicos magazine, published an in-depth piece in 2007. Better still, here is a website devoted to the shipwreck, which was originally found in 2004. There's also a pdf available, put together with several articles from the African Diaspora Archaeology Network. Lastly, here's another site that focuses on the PBS documentary that was done a couple of years ago about finding the Trouvadore.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ancient Chariot of Thrace

Bulgarian (did you know that ancient Thrace was in Bulgaria?) archaeologist Veselin Ignatov found a 4-wheeled chariot last week, in an 1800-year-old grave. That's recent, as chariots go. Here's a link to the story on (where this picture originally appears).

Ignatov has found chariots before; here's a link to a 2007 story in Archaeology Magazine.

On last week's find, the bronze plating (over wood) shows mythological creatures. Horse skeletons were found nearby; which has become usual in Thracian chariot burials. Another chariot was found in August, and apparently there are around ten thousand burial mounds across Bulgaria that could have held such treasures, once . Looters have struck at many of them, though--maybe up to 90%.

I like reading about this because I've written about chariots for the upcoming Encyclopedia of the History of Invention and Technology, coming out from Facts on File Books. One of those lovely multi-volume sets that won't be published until I'm old and gray. . . which could be next year, to be honest.

But I learned from researching that article that the oldest chariots have been found east of the Ural Mountains at Sintashta-Petrovka, and date to 2000 B.C. Also, didja know that each pair of spokes, forming a V in the wheel, are made from one piece of wood?

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Myth of the Turkey Pardon

The inner fussbudget in me is steaming.

Our president announced that in pardoning a turkey, he was continuing a tradition that started with Truman. NO! IX-Nay, BS! The only tradition that started with Truman is that a certain national poultry organization began delivering birds to the White House. Truman jokingly pardoned one bird, one year. Maybe. But he didn't pardon one the next, or the next, or the next. Ergo, no tradition.

And neither did Ike.

Nor did JFK, LBJ, or Nixon ever pardon a turkey. Ford pardoned Nixon, but that--thankfully--did not start a tradition. Carter and Reagan didn't pardon turkeys. None of our other presidents pardoned a turkey . . . until. . . drumroll. . .

George H. W. Bush. Yup, that is the truth. What short memories we have. The first Bush established the tradition.

BTW, I've made it past 35,000 words but the odds of me writing an additional 15,000 in the next 56 and a half hours are slim. However, the majority of the 35,000 words I have written of my new novel (for NaNoWriMo) are fabulous. "Nugget" makes a few appearances. So does "shot" and "stomped." "Ague" is in there at least once. Lots of "the's" . Huzzah.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Can't Write a Novel and Chew Gum at the Same Time...

What, blog? I'm writing a novel, dang it! I can't blog!

My apologies for letting this slide. I really did sign up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I take my commitment to produce a 50,000 word first draft most seriously. In spite of pre-election day gadabouting, poll-working, and decompression, I have 12,605 words written. Yay, me!

But it leaves no time for blogging, sadly. So sorry.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Real Friends Click Your Google Ads!

Here's a funny from the Sunday (November 2) paper--the strip is called Between Friends, by Sandra Bell Lundy. You can access it online too--just go to the right date:

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Ice Man will Not be Listed on

How disappointing. DNA tests for Oetzi the Ice Man indicate that he has no living descendants. In fact, he was probably infertile. Scratch him off your list of Potential Illustrious Ancestors.

Oetzi was found in a glacier in the Italian Alps in 1991, after spending 5300 years there. With an arrowhead in his back, the speculation is that he died in a fight--or maybe he just looked like dinner to some other 5300 year old predator.

How on earth could scientists guess that Oetzi was infertile? According to this story on BBC, they've studied his mitochondrial DNA, and a couple of areas on the ol' helix could maybe sorta mean poor Oetzi shot blanks. Actually, that part was reported a couple of years ago--here's a link to News in Science. where this picture was featured.

Let that be a lesson to anyone who'd like to preserve their dignity after death. Rot. Don't die on a glacier. Just rot.