History

Ancient 3,000-year-old tablet suggests Biblical king may have existed

The study of an ancient tablet that dates back nearly 3,000 years suggests that the biblical King Balak may have been an actual historical figure. Published in Tel Aviv: The Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, the study looks at the Mesha Stele and makes the determination that after looking at new photos of the cracked tablet, Balak existed, though the researchers are not 100 percent certain of it. “After studying new photographs of the Mesha Stele and the squeeze of the stele prepared before the stone was broken, we dismiss Lemaire’s proposal to read (‘House of David’) on Line 31,” the researchers wrote in the study’s abstract. “It is now clear that there are three consonants in the name of the monarch mentioned there, and that the first is a beth. We cautiously propose that the name on Line 31 be read as Balak, the king of Moab referred to in the Balaam story in Numbers 22–24.” It’s Line 31 that is tempering the researchers’ enthusiasm. There are “[a]bout seven letters are missing from the beginning of the line [31], followed by the words (“sheep/small cattle of the land”),” the study’s abstract adds. The abstract continues: “Next there is a vertical stroke that marks the transition to a new sentence, which opens with the words (“And Hawronēn dwelt therein”). Evidently a name is expected to follow. Then there is a legible beth, followed by a partially eroded, partially broken section with space for two letters, followed by a waw and an unclear letter. The rest of the line, with space for three letters, is missing.” The Mesha Stele, which is also known as the Moabite Stone, is an inscribed tablet that dates back to 840 B.C. and was discovered in 1868 by researcher Frederick Augustus Klein. It had previously been theorized that Line 31 was a reference to the House of David. However, the researchers, led by the study’s lead author, Israel Finkelstein, believe the letter “B” is there and it is not a reference to “beth,” the Hebrew word for “house,” but rather Balak. Although the study’s authors, Finkelstein, Nadav Na’aman and Thomas Römer, have theorized that Balak may have been an actual person, their “proposal is very tentative,” Ronald Hendel, a professor of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, told Live Science. Hendel was not involved in the study. Hendel also told Live Science that according to the Bible, King Balak existed 200 years prior to the tablet’s creation, so a reference to him is unlikely. The researchers have acknowledged this discrepancy, with Finkelstein telling Live Science: “[T]he study shows how a story in the Bible may include layers (memories) from different periods which were woven together by later authors into a story aimed to advance their ideology and theology. It also shows that the question of historicity in the Bible cannot be answered in a simplistic ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.” Researchers have attempted to reconstruct the tablet, which was smashed after a dispute between its previous owners, Bedouins, and a group that was attempting to purchase the stone, Live Science adds, but time and destruction have made it hard to read. It’s now housed in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Fascinating!!     🙂

What lies beneath the Transylvanian castle that imprisoned ‘Dracula’?

A historic Transylvanian castle that may have once imprisoned Vlad the Impaler — likely inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula — still stands today. But what lies beneath it? Because of centuries of rebuilding and additions, archaeologists weren’t sure where the castle’s original foundation lay. However, new research using radar scans of the ground beneath the structure is revealing what’s going on below the building’s imposing facade. The findings were presented on Wednesday (Dec. 12) here at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Castelul Corvinilor — also known as Corvin Castle, Hunedoara Castle or Hunyadi Castle — began as a fortress built in central Transylvania (now Romania). The structure’s oldest stone fortifications date to the 14th century, and its transformation from fortress into a castle was well underway by the 15th century, according to lead researcher Isabel Morris, a doctoral candidate with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton University in New Jersey. In the 15th century, the bloodthirsty despot Vlad III, prince of Wallachia, aka Vlad the Impaler, was purportedly imprisoned in Castle Corvin by Hungarian Gov. John Hunyadi (Ioan de Hunedoara), who oversaw the castle’s first expansion, according to the Romanian tourism website Rolandia. Two more expansions to the castle, in the 17th and 19th centuries, followed Hunyadi’s efforts. Consequently, the building is a hodgepodge of construction from different periods, Morris said. It has also been the subject of numerous excavations; however, maps of the site are inconsistent, and much of the archaeological record is missing, presenting challenges to scientists exploring the castle today, Morris explained. For this reason, she and her colleagues chose ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to conduct their surveys. “In order to do a good job with our reconstruction, we need to know where all these pieces are,” she told Live Science. The scans helped the researchers identify an administrative complex built during the 17th century, Morris said. The radar also revealed places where parts of the castle were held up by bedrock and supported by built-up, human-made structures. “That’s important moving forward for conserving this exciting historic site,” Morris said. Already-reconstructed rooms in the castle’s depths include a torture chamber — with a model of an unfortunate victim bound and hung from the ceiling — but it is unknown if the grim chamber ever housed the infamous Vlad the Impaler.

Fascinating!!    🙂

Confederate monuments: This 124-year-old women’s group is fighting to keep them around

On the first anniversary of the Charlottesville protests, which turned deadly in clashes between white nationalists and anti-fascists on opposing sides of whether to keep a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in the Virginia city, a group of persistent activists is fighting to protect the controversial statues. The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), a 124-year-old organization, issued a rare public statement after the Charlottesville riots last summer: “We are grieved that certain hate groups have taken the Confederate flag and other symbols as their own,” the UDC’s president general, Patricia M. Bryson, wrote following the August clashes that resulted in the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer and the brutal beating of DeAndre Harris. However, while Bryson insisted that the UDC condemned anyone who “promotes racial divisiveness or white supremacy,” she argued that the Confederate ancestors honored by these memorials “were and are Americans.” In the year since the riots, more than 30 cities across the United States have removed or relocated Confederate statues and monuments amid an intense, ongoing debate about race and history. Bryson issued a call of her own a year ago: “Join us in denouncing hate groups and affirming that Confederate memorial statues and monuments are part of our shared American history and should remain in place.”

Agreed!!  To read the rest of this article, click on the text above.

King David’s city discovered? Ancient site linked to biblical kingdom, archaeologists say

Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered an ancient site that may offer fresh insight into the ancient biblical kingdom of David and Solomon. Researchers from Bar-Ilan University have been excavating the remains of a large house dubbed the “Governor’s Residence” that was destroyed by a fire in an 8th century B.C. Assyrian military campaign. The impressive four-room home, located at Tel ‘Eton in the Judean foothills, had at least two stories and its ground floor extended over 2,420 square feet. Occupying high ground at the top of a mound, the house was carefully built with deep foundations. Large masonry stones were placed in the corners and entrances of the building and high-quality building materials were used, according to experts. The discovery could shed new light on the joint kingdom ruled by David and his son Solomon, which is described in the Hebrew Bible, but has long divided historians. Also known as the united monarchy, the territory is said to have included the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. While some experts believe that the kingdom existed in the 10th-century B.C., others have questioned its existence, citing a lack of evidence of royal construction at the center of the region where the kingdom is said to have existed. However, part of the building at Tel ‘Eton has been dated to a period in history that coincided with the supposed joint kingdom, according to Prof. Avraham Faust and Dr. Yair Sapir. The archaeologists recently published their findings in the journal Radiocarbon. “Surprisingly, radiocarbon dates from within the floor make-up and from within a foundation deposit that was placed below the floor indicate that the building had already been erected in the 10th century BCE, between the late 11th century and the third quarter of the 10th century BCE. This date is in line with other finds related to the construction, like the foundation deposit itself,” said Prof. Faust, in a statement. The construction of such a major residence at the top of a mound, with commanding views over the local area, marks an important event in the site’s history, according to Faust and Sapir, particularly when viewed in the context of the ancient city’s growth. However, the archaeologists note that “the association with David is not based on direct archaeological evidence, but solely on circumstantial grounds.” Nonetheless, the erection of the residence and the growing size of Tel ‘Eton could make a link to the David plausible, the researchers say, noting that the King is said to have existed in the nearby Judean highlands. Another site at Khirbet Qeiyafa in the Judean highlands, about 12.5 miles north of Tel ‘Eton, has also been linked to David, Haaretz reports. Jerusalem and other biblical cities such as Hebron, are also located in the Judean hills. There have been a number of fascinating finds in the region in recent years. A trove of bronze coins, the last remnants of an ancient Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire, were recently discovered near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. In February, archaeologists announced the discovery of a clay seal mark that may bear the signature of the biblical Prophet Isaiah. Last November, new evidence dated Christ’s tomb in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the Roman era, matching historical records. Other finds include the skeleton of a pregnant woman, dating back 3,200 years, in Israel’s Timna Valley, at a place once called King Solomon’s Mines. At the site of an ancient city on the West Bank, archaeologists are also hunting for evidence of the tabernacle that once housed the Ark of the Covenant. Some experts also believe they have found the lost Roman city of Julias, formerly the village of Bethsaida, which was the home of Jesus’ apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip.

Fascinating!!  To see some photos, click on the text above.    🙂

Inside JFK’s door-to-door search for a French call girl — and why she had to look like Jackie

In May 1961, an elderly woman in Paris heard a knock at the door of her six-story walk-up apartment. It was only the most powerful man in the world. The president of the United States was going door-to-door hoping to find the call girl he had discreetly arranged to meet. John F. Kennedy, it turned out, used a fake excuse about a doctor’s visit to attend a long-arranged dalliance while in Paris for a crucial summit, only to wind up in the wrong building, knocking on the doors of random Parisians who were left with the surprise of their lives. The tale of this ill-advised but ultimately, er, successful liaison is recounted in “Madame Claude: Her Secret World of Pleasure, Privilege, & Power,” by William Stadiem (St. Martin’s Press). Madame Claude, born Fernande Grudet on July 6, 1923, in Angers, France, was one of the world’s most successful madams. Starting in 1957, she ran an exclusive, high-class prostitution ring that offered a very specific type of woman — tall, supermodel-gorgeous, classy and upscale (or at least trained to appear so) — to the world’s richest and most powerful men. The young women who worked for her were known as Claude girls, which became a well-known and powerful brand. She scouted them carefully, paid for plastic surgery if needed, and ultimately hoped to marry them off to aristocracy. “A date with a ‘Claude girl’ was one of those pinnacle Paris experiences,” writes Stadiem, “like staying at the Ritz or dinner at Maxim’s or wearing a Lanvin suit . . . an apotheosis of luxury that the French do better than any other nationality.” According to Stadiem, Madame Claude’s client list included the world’s most successful men of the time: Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Sammy Davis Jr., former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, three generations of Gettys, the Shah of Iran, Marlon Brando, Darryl Zanuck, Groucho Marx. If you were rich, famous and male in the 20th century, chances are Madame Claude knew what you liked in bed, and provided exactly that. For Kennedy, his desired liaison required almost as much detailed preparation as an actual political summit. After the Bay of Pigs fiasco in April 1961, Kennedy thought a meeting in Europe with French and Soviet leaders Charles de Gaulle and Nikita Khrushchev, respectively, could serve as a reset for his presidency. He decided that he and first lady Jackie Kennedy would embark on their first official European tour. This would be the trip where Jackie so entranced the French that Kennedy famously introduced himself as “the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris.” But while Jackie was thrilled at the prospect of meeting novelist and newly appointed French Culture Minister Andre Malraux, one of her literary idols, her husband looked to fulfill a different sort of fantasy. “If JFK had a type, it was the wholesome, snooty, proper, preppy girl whose flaunted untouchability he could violate . . . girls like Jacqueline Bouvier,” writes Stadiem, who notes that Kennedy learned about Madame Claude from Sinatra. “Here was a madam who specialized in exactly what JFK was after.” The liaison, Stadiem writes, was arranged directly between Madame Claude and Pierre Salinger, Kennedy’s press secretary. When Salinger first proposed the arrangement, Claude turned him down, fearing the many things that could go wrong if the president’s visit to a prostitute went haywire. But Salinger, the brains behind many of Kennedy’s most impactful speeches, convinced Claude that any problems could work in her favor — that a scandal would make her a legend to the sex-comfortable French, and that a successful dalliance would bring her to the attention of the world’s most powerful men. “‘Rise to the occasion,’ Salinger exhorted Claude. ‘Do it for your career. Do it for your country,’ he riffed, paraphrasing JFK’s inaugural address. ‘Think big!’ ” Stadiem writes. “Weighing risks and rewards like the shrewd banker she might have otherwise been, Claude decided to go for it.” On the trip, Kennedy hoped to hook up with French actress and Jackie Kennedy-lookalike Anouk Aimée, who had just appeared in the Federico Fellini hit “La Dolce Vita.” The president, Stadiem writes, had been “obsessed about her.” “What does he want her for? He’s already got her,” Claude, referring to Aimée’s resemblance to the president’s wife, asked Salinger. “The explanation was that JFK liked the package more than the contents,” Stadiem writes. “He was drawn to Jackie’s looks but wanted a more seductive, sexual version.” Aimée, however, was horrified at the suggestion, rejecting it outright — not for any reticence about a paid encounter, but because she considered Kennedy a “puerile warmonger.” Claude told Salinger only that she was away on business and, therefore, unavailable. While Claude searched for a suitable replacement, Kennedy and Salinger spent much of their time in the month before the summit determining how they would fit this diversion, for which they had a maximum of one hour, into the two-day trip without anyone finding out. They even had a code, speaking about “buying Jackie a gift saddle at Hermès” whenever they needed to discuss the side excursion. “If the world had any idea how much of his time was focused not on NATO or Algeria or Vietnam, but on a hot date from Madame Claude, the perception of history would have been dubious, to say the least,” Stadiem writes. Claude found Kennedy’s dream date in a 23-year-old Sorbonne graduate who worked as a fitting model for Givenchy. That last detail added an intriguing element to the liaison. Kennedy and the first lady fought incessantly about the trip, as the president wanted the former Ms. Bouvier to dial down her natural “Frenchness” and reflect a more American image. On this front, Jackie thought her husband should stuff it. Salinger and Claude, aware of this, both thought that a Jackie lookalike adorned in a dress from the most French of designers would be like “waving a red cape at a bull; the bull was sure to charge, as was the president.” For secrecy’s sake, it was determined that the dalliance would take place at the young woman’s apartment.

JFK was a well-known womanizer and cheat.  And yet, the liberal media just gave him a pass and fawned over him….referring to his presidency as “Camelot.”   Why?  Because he was a liberal Democrat and a Kennedy.  He could do no wrong.  The liberal media still fawns over him.  Ridiculous..   Anyway, to read more of this story, click on the text above…

Newt Gingrich: ‘What If?’ History that could’ve been

What if Hillary Clinton had defeated Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election? What if Steve Jobs had given up and the iPhone had never been marketed? What if President John F. Kennedy had decided racing Russia to the moon was too risky or too expensive? In each case, the world today would be dramatically different. In my Facebook series, “What If? History That Could’ve Been,” which is currently in its second season, I explore ideas like these. While it is creative and fun to describe alternative histories, it also serves a useful purpose. It moves us from simply memorizing facts to really thinking about them. It is a way to study history dynamically, rather than statically. Many people grow to dislike studying history because they are taught a dry, boring, fact memorization system that feels dead and sterile – and provides no meaning or context for our lives. Yet, when history is studied actively, it is dynamic, alive, and teaches a lot about our decisions, our own lives, and today’s challenges. For instance, Arthur Wellesley, better known as the Duke of Wellington, said the Battle of Waterloo was “the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.… By God! I don’t think it would have done if I had not been there!” If Wellington’s defeat of Napoleon (a decisive moment for modern Europe) was that close of a battle, it could have gone the other way. Therefore, it is totally appropriate to ask what would have happened if Napoleon had been triumphant and the British and Prussian armies had been defeated? What would Europe look like today? Similarly, the Battle of New Orleans made Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson a hero and set the stage for his ultimate election to the presidency. Yet, this decisive battle was fought on January 8, 1815 – two weeks after the War of 1812 officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve in 1814. However, because intercontinental communication required sailing ships, word had not yet reached New Orleans when the British attacked and Jackson’s American soldiers defeated them. What might have happened to Jackson’s national fame if word of the peace treaty had reached the British by Jan. 7? This pattern of actively exploring alternative outcomes leads to a much deeper understanding of the moving parts in history. It leads to a better sense of what we should be thinking about when we make decisions. It teaches us to look for the linkage points between different patterns. For some reason, I have always thought dynamically about historic experiences. It may have come from growing up as an Army brat and living in then-war-torn places like Orléans, France and Stuttgart, Germany. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, in both cities, you could still see the bombing damage caused during World War II, which served as a vivid reminder of the consequences of history. Orléans also has a huge statue of Joan of Arc. It is easy, almost inevitable, to marvel at this young woman who emerged at age 17 to save the French monarchy, only to be burned at the stake at 19 by her English enemies. For over a year, I went to school near this remarkable statue and was reminded again and again how improbable events and extraordinary people can change the direction of history. Another event that got me thinking about how history can shift suddenly was the fall of the Fourth Republic in France and the return of Gen. Charles de Gaulle from retirement. De Gaulle was a great example of how a unique personality can shape history. He had played a role in developing armored warfare in the 1930s, then had led the Free French movement from London after the fall of France to the Nazis in 1940. De Gaulle then organized the postwar government and served briefly as provisional president before resigning in disgust at the politicians he despised. For years, before he (briefly) retired to his home at Colombey-les-deux-Églises to write his memoirs, he worked on sustaining a nationalist movement. The nationalist movement seemed doomed to irrelevancy as the traditional politicians ignored de Gaulle and played musical chairs with various government positions. But all of this changed very quickly. When I was a teenager, we were living in France as the Fourth Republic was toppled, Then de Gaulle was brought out of retirement and back to power, and the Fifth Republic was invented. Watching de Gaulle maneuver, educate the public, undertake bold reforms, and take on bitter opponents was an amazing experience. Today, due to de Gaulle’s work, President Emmanuel Macron is leading one of the longest surviving non-monarchy governments in French history. My years in Europe, where my father was serving in the Army, convinced me that history has an impact on all of us. It also convinced me that strong, determined people can have a remarkable impact on history. I started my Facebook series because I believe in the power of asking “What If?” If you start exploring what could have been, you will find yourself much more deeply engaged in studying and learning from history. Your own imagination will be enriched and your ability to solve problems will be expanded. For more, click here.

Budweiser releases new beer based on George Washington’s handwritten recipe

A beer once called “America,” just got a lot more patriotic. Budweiser has revealed its newest addition to the Reserve Collection – a Freedom Reserve Red Lager inspired by a recipe handwritten by first president George Washington. According to the press release, George Washington hand-penned the recipe “To Make Small Beer” in his personal military journal, dating back to 1757. “Take a large Sifter full of Bran Hops to your Taste — Boil these 3 hours,” Washington wrote in his journal. “Then strain out 30 Gall. into a Cooler put in 3 Gallons Molasses while the Beer is scalding hot or rather drain the molasses into the Cooler. Strain the Beer on it while boiling hot let this stand til it is little more than Blood warm. Then put in a quart of Yeast if the weather is very cold cover it over with a Blanket. Let it work in the Cooler 24 hours then put it into the Cask. leave the Bung open til it is almost done working — Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed,” the recipe reads, according to the New York Public Library where George Washington’s papers are archived. The limited-edition beer will be brewed by Budweiser’s own veterans, whose signatures will be displayed prominently on each of the vintage stubby bottles and one-pint cans. A portion of the proceeds will go toward Folds of Honor, a nonprofit providing educational scholarships to military families. “We are incredibly proud of our Freedom Reserve Red Lager because it was passionately brewed by our veteran brewers who have bravely served our country,” said Ricardo Marques, vice president, Budweiser. “With Freedom Reserve we remain dedicated to our mission to support our veterans and their families through our longstanding partnership with Folds of Honor.” The full-bodied lager is brewed with toasted barley gains and finishes with a hint of molasses. The Freedom Reserve Red Lager will be available beginning in May through September 30, or while limited supplies last.

Very cool!!!     🙂