BBC News – Rosslyn Chapel was haven for bees


The pinnacle concealing a hidden hive being removed

The bees entered the hive through a carved flower

An ancient chapel has revealed a new mystery with the discovery of a 600-year-old hive built into the stones.

Builders renovating Rosslyn Chapel, which was made famous in The Da Vinci Code, found the "unprecedented" hive while dismantling a rooftop pinnacle.

The bees entered the hive through a hole in a carved flower crafted by the chapel’s master stone masons.

The 15th Century Midlothian building is undergoing a £13m conservation and site improvement project.

The discovery was made when two pinnacles, which had been made unstable by nesting jackdaws, had to be taken down stone by stone and rebuilt.

Malcolm Mitchell, of Page Park Architects, said: "It was a big hollow about the size of a gas cylinder and the hive had obviously been abandoned."

‘Teasing’ masons

It is believed that the bees left the hive when a canopy was put over the chapel during renovation works. Another pinnacle had a similar hollow, but no access hole.

"Master masons built these in, whether it was under direction or not. What you find at Rosslyn is there are so many irregularities and nuances in the stone work and it’s as if the stone masons are teasing us from the past," Mr Mitchell said.

"These hives were never intended to be a source of honey. They were there purely to protect the bees from our inclement weather."

Rosslyn hive

It is hoped the bees will return to the hive once renovations are complete

"There doesn’t seem to be any precedent.

"Bee hives in the past were normally portable. Often they were made of wicker baskets or ceramics, but the intention was that you would have access to them.

"At Rosslyn they are there purely for the bees."

He said there appeared to be a coating to protect the sandstone from the insects, which can damage masonry.

The hive has been sent to local beekeepers in an attempt to identify the type of insect that made them.

It is hoped the bees will return once the renovation works are complete.

Several unusual findings have been made during the project, including two skeletons.

BBC News – Rosslyn Chapel was haven for bees

Bahrain plans to make sorcery a criminal offence – Culture & Society –


BLACK MAGIC: Australian witch Caroline Tully practices witchcraft at her home. Bahrain officials plan to make it a criminal offence. (Getty Images)

BLACK MAGIC: Australian witch Caroline Tully practices witchcraft at her home. Bahrain officials plan to make it a criminal offence. (Getty Images)

The practice of sorcery and witchcraft could be soon become a criminal offence in Bahrain, it was reported on Tuesday.
Shura Council officials approved the addition of a new article to the law outlawing sorcery and witchcraft, the Gulf Daily News reports.
This would allow judges to give additional weight to such cases brought to prosecution, councillors have claimed.

People found guilty of sorcery and witchcraft would face unspecified jail terms and undetermined fines or both, the paper reports.
However, some MPs have objected to the new law saying cases should be considered under the charges of embezzlement and cheating.
Sorcery is considered a crime in Saudi Arabia, where earlier this month Ali Hussein Subat, who is also called Shahrzad, 46, lost his appeal over an earlier death sentence after he was accused of practicing black magic.

Bahrain plans to make sorcery a criminal offence – Culture & Society –

An archaeological mystery in a half-ton lead coffin


In the ruins of a city that was once Rome’s neighbor, archaeologists last summer found a 1,000-pound lead coffin.

Who or what is inside is still a mystery, said Nicola Terrenato, the University of Michigan professor of classical studies who leads the project—the largest American dig in Italy in the past 50 years.

The lead coffin archaeologists found in the abandoned ancient city of Gabii, Italy could contain a gladiator or bishop.

The sarcophagus will soon be transported to the American Academy in Rome, where engineers will use heating techniques and tiny cameras in an effort to gain insights about the contents without breaking the coffin itself.

"We’re very excited about this find," Terrenato said. "Romans as a rule were not buried in coffins to begin with and when they did use coffins, they were mostly wooden. There are only a handful of other examples from Italy of lead coffins from this age—the second, third or fourth century A.D. We know of virtually no others in this region."

This one is especially unusual because of its size.

U-M classical studies doctoral student Ivan Cangemi, Daven Reagan, U-M classical studies researcher Matthew Harrington and PhD student (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) Elizabeth C. Robinson. record an architectural feature.

"It’s a sheet of lead folded onto itself an inch thick," he said. "A thousand pounds of metal is an enormous amount of wealth in this era. To waste so much of it in a burial is pretty unusual."

Was the deceased a soldier? A gladiator? A bishop? All are possibilities, some more remote than others, Terrenato said. Researchers will do their best to examine the bones and any "grave goods" or Christian symbols inside the container in an effort to make a determination.

"It’s hard to predict what’s inside, because it’s the only example of its kind in the area," Terrenato said. "I’m trying to keep my hopes within reason."

U-M classical studies doctoral student Evelyn Adkins instructs U-M undergraduate student Jessie Lipkowitz about documentation in the field.
Click images for higher resolution

Human remains encased in lead coffins tend to be well preserved, if difficult to get to. Researchers want to avoid breaking into the coffin. The amount of force necessary to break through the lead would likely damage the contents. Instead, they will first use thermography and endoscopy. Thermography involves heating the coffin by a few degrees and monitoring the thermal response. Bones and any artifacts buried with them would have different thermal responses, Terrenato said. Endoscopy involves inserting a small camera into the coffin. But how well that works depends on how much dirt has found its way into the container over the centuries.
If these approaches fail, the researchers could turn to an MRI scan—an expensive option that would involve hauling the half-ton casket to a hospital.
The dig that unearthed this find started in summer 2009 and continues through 2013. Each year, around 75 researchers from around the nation and world, including a dozen U-M undergraduate students, spend two months on the project at the ancient city of Gabii (pronounced "gabby").
The site of Gabii, situated on undeveloped land 11 miles east of Rome in modern-day Lazio, was a major city that pre-dates Rome but seems to have waned as the Roman Empire grew.
Studying Gabii gives researchers a glimpse into pre-Roman life and offers clues to how early Italian cities formed. It also allows them broader access to more substantial archaeological layers or strata. In Rome, layers of civilization were built on top of each other, and archaeologists are not able or allowed to disturb them.
"In Rome, so often, there’s something in the way, so we have to get lucky," Terrenato said. "In Gabii, they should all be lucky spots because there’s nothing in the way."
Indeed, Terrenato and others were surprised to find something as significant as this coffin so soon.
"The finding of the lead coffin was exhilarating," said Allison Zarbo, a senior art history major who graduates this spring.
Zarbo didn’t mind that after the researchers dug up the coffin once, they had to pile the dirt back on to hide it from looters overnight.
"The fact that we had to fill the hole was not so much of a burden as a relief!" Zarbo said. "For academia to lose priceless artifacts that have been found fully in context would be very damaging to our potential knowledge."
Students spent most of their time pick-axing, shoveling, and manning the wheelbarrows, said Bailey Benson, a junior who is double majoring in classical archaeology and art history.
"By the end of the day, not even a 20-minute shower can remove all the dirt and grime you get covered in," Benson said. "It’s hard but satisfying work. How many people can say they uncovered an ancient burial?"
This research is funded in part by the National Geographic Society. The managing director of the project is Jeffrey Becker, assistant professor of classics at McMaster University. The field director leading the coffin studies is independent researcher Anna Gallone. The Italian State Archaeological Service (Soprintendenza di Roma) is authorizing and facilitating the project.

An archaeological mystery in a half-ton lead coffin

Biblical plagues really happened say scientists – Telegraph


Frogs spend time in garden ponds when hibernating or breeding.

The arrival of toxic algae would have forced frogs to leave the water where they lived Photo: Getty

Researchers believe they have found evidence of real natural disasters on which the ten plagues of Egypt, which led to Moses freeing the Israelites from slavery in the Book of Exodus in the Bible, were based.

But rather than explaining them as the wrathful act of a vengeful God, the scientists claim the plagues can be attributed to a chain of natural phenomena triggered by changes in the climate and environmental disasters that happened hundreds of miles away.


They have compiled compelling evidence that offers new explanations for the Biblical plagues, which will be outlined in a new series to be broadcast on the National Geographical Channel on Easter Sunday.

Archaeologists now widely believe the plagues occurred at an ancient city of Pi-Rameses on the Nile Delta, which was the capital of Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Rameses the Second, who ruled between 1279BC and 1213BC.

The city appears to have been abandoned around 3,000 years ago and scientists claim the plagues could offer an explanation.

Climatologists studying the ancient climate at the time have discovered a dramatic shift in the climate in the area occurred towards the end of Rameses the Second’s reign.

By studying stalagmites in Egyptian caves they have been able to rebuild a record of the weather patterns using traces of radioactive elements contained within the rock.

They found that Rameses reign coincided with a warm, wet climate, but then the climate switched to a dry period.

Professor Augusto Magini, a paleoclimatologist at Heidelberg University’s institute for environmental physics, said: "Pharaoh Rameses II reigned during a very favourable climatic period.

"There was plenty of rain and his country flourished. However, this wet period only lasted a few decades. After Rameses’ reign, the climate curve goes sharply downwards.

"There is a dry period which would certainly have had serious consequences."

The scientists believe this switch in the climate was the trigger for the first of the plagues.

The rising temperatures could have caused the river Nile to dry up, turning the fast flowing river that was Egypt’s lifeline into a slow moving and muddy watercourse.

These conditions would have been perfect for the arrival of the first plague, which in the Bible is described as the Nile turning to blood.

Dr Stephan Pflugmacher, a biologist at the Leibniz Institute for Water Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin, believes this description could have been the result of a toxic fresh water algae.

He said the bacterium, known as Burgundy Blood algae or Oscillatoria rubescens, is known to have existed 3,000 years ago and still causes similar effects today.

He said: "It multiplies massively in slow-moving warm waters with high levels of nutrition. And as it dies, it stains the water red."

The scientists also claim the arrival of this algae set in motion the events that led to the second, third and forth plagues – frogs, lice and flies.

Frogs development from tadpoles into fully formed adults is governed by hormones that can speed up their development in times of stress.

The arrival of the toxic algae would have triggered such a transformation and forced the frogs to leave the water where they lived.

But as the frogs died, it would have meant that mosquitoes, flies and other insects would have flourished without the predators to keep their numbers under control.

This, according to the scientists, could have led in turn to the fifth and sixth plagues – diseased livestock and boils

Professor Werner Kloas, a biologist at the Leibniz Institute, said: "We know insects often carry diseases like malaria, so the next step in the chain reaction is the outbreak of epidemics, causing the human population to fall ill."

Another major natural disaster more than 400 miles away is now also thought to be responsible for triggering the seventh, eighth and ninth plagues that bring hail, locusts and darkness to Egypt.

One of the biggest volcanic eruptions in human history occurred when Thera, a volcano that was part of the Mediterranean islands of Santorini, just north of Crete, exploded around 3,500 year ago, spewing billions of tons of volcanic ash into the atmosphere.

Nadine von Blohm, from the Institute for Atmospheric Physics in Germany, has been conducting experiments on how hailstorms form and believes that the volcanic ash could have clashed with thunderstorms above Egypt to produce dramatic hail storms.

Dr Siro Trevisanato, a Canadian biologist who has written a book about the plagues, said the locusts could also be explained by the volcanic fall out from the ash.

He said: "The ash fall out caused weather anomalies, which translates into higher precipitations, higher humidity. And that’s exactly what fosters the presence of the locusts."

The volcanic ash could also have blocked out the sunlight causing the stories of a plague of darkness.

Scientists have found pumice, stone made from cooled volcanic lava, during excavations of Egyptian ruins despite there not being any volcanoes in Egypt.

Analysis of the rock shows that it came from the Santorini volcano, providing physical evidence that the ash fallout from the eruption at Santorini reached Egyptian shores.

The cause of the final plague, the death of the first borns of Egypt, has been suggested as being caused by a fungus that may have poisoned the grain supplies, of which male first born would have had first pickings and so been first to fall victim.

But Dr Robert Miller, associate professor of the Old Testament, from the Catholic University of America, said: "I’m reluctant to come up with natural causes for all of the plagues.

The problem with the naturalistic explanations, is that they lose the whole point.

"And the whole point was that you didn’t come out of Egypt by natural causes, you came out by the hand of God."

Biblical plagues really happened say scientists – Telegraph

Nox Arcana Transylvania Giveaway | Season of Shadows Blog


Nox Arcana’s fourth venture into dark soundscapes, “Transylvania,” pays homage to creatures that stalk the night. Blood-suckers, lycanthropes and necromancing crones come to life amidst its twenty-one haunting tracks. Perfect for playing during your Halloween party, Halloween haunt, or to set the mood for engaging in some darkly creative artwork, Transylvania is sure to inspire your spooky pursuits. While I enjoy all of Nox’s music, Transylvania contains one of my personal favorite tunes: “Night of the Wolf”—big thanks to autumnforest for turning me on to that one.

This giveaway includes four brand new Transylvania CDs to be presented to four separate winners (see below for full details on entering). Upon entering, all I ask in return is that you take a few moments to recommend this post to others, whether it’s via your own blog, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace account, etc.

If you don’t have a blog or an account with a social networking site, then please consider e-mailing this link to friends and family. I would really appreciate the support.

Portions of Transylvania can be heard by visiting Amazon and for more information on Transylvania, visit Nox Arcana.

Transylvania photo source: Amazon

Guidelines for Entering

Please, only one entry per household. Duplicate entries from the same IP will be deleted. These giveaways are really based on the honor system, but I do my best to make it as fair as possible for everyone. There’s no catch here, everything is free–including payment of shipping and handling for “Transylvania”–I cover all costs. To be entered, leave a comment below showing your interest.

Depending upon the volume of entries, comments may only be displayed under this post for a short time. As entries grow, I may remove comments to make it easier for visitors to scroll to the comment box and enter. However, I guarantee all entries will be saved in the order they are received.

When leaving a comment, be sure to include your correct e-mail address and be certain to keep track of your spam or bulk folder after the drawing closes, just in case. Each winner of Nox Arcana’s Transylvania will be contacted through the e-mail address that’s registered with their comment. I will never share addresses, provided by entrants, with any third parties and you’ll never receive unsolicited mail when entering.

This “Transylvania” contest will end at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time) on May 26th, 2010. All legitimate entries will then be assigned a number in the order they were received. Four numbers will be randomly drawn to determine the winners.

All four winners will then be notified, via the email addresses they provided, no later than May 28th. If one, or all four don’t respond (with their shipping information) within two weeks, then one (two, three, or four) more number(s) will be drawn to determine the new winner(s). Upon receiving their permission, the winners’ names will be featured at the top of this post.

Nox Arcana Transylvania Giveaway | Season of Shadows Blog

Free Fiction: Barnes and Noble ebooks

Pick up these free ebooks from Barnes and Noble.

Skyborn … 

A Jedi ambush leaves the Sith ship Omen marooned on a remote alien world, its survivors at the mercy of their desolate surroundings and facing almost certain death. But Sith will no more bow before the whims of fate than they will yield to the weapons of their enemies. And Omen’s cunning commander, Yaru Korsin, will let nothing keep him and his crew from returning to the stars and rejoining the Sith order’s conquest of the galaxy. Murdering his own brother has proven Korsin’s ruthless resolve-but now an entire race stands in his way.

The primitive, superstitious Keshiri worship unseen gods called the Skyborn, shun science, and punish unbelievers with death. Branded a heretic, the widowed young geologist Adari Vaal is running for her life. Among the mysterious Sith castaways she finds powerful sanctuary-and her saviors find the means of survival. With Adari as their willing pawn, the Skyborn as their Trojan horse, and the awesome power of the dark side of the Force at their command, the lost tribe of the Omen set out to subjugate a planet and its people-and lay the foundation for a merciless new Sith nation.

Hero Wanted

A rollicking fantasy romp across the Eleven Kingdoms with reluctant hero Jason Cosmo and cynical wizard Mercury Boltblaster. Forced to flee his home in Lower Hicksnittle and pursued by bounty hunters, demons, and the sinister Dark Magic Society, Jason goes from the bright realm of The Gods to the depths of the Incredibly Dark Forest to learn the awful truth behind the price on his head.

Dark Arts: Rising

The resurrection of Zachary Ellison has brought on a series of events that are changing the world forever. Maxwell, one of the last surviving members of a secret Order of occultists, has failed to catch him in time and is tasked to begin reviving the Order while attempting to minimize the damage his old foe is set to cause. Terrors unseen for thousands of years threaten to emerge if he fails.

Rogue Hunter: Gaia: Into the Abyss

Intergalactic bounty hunter Zyra Zanr pursues a dangerous fugitive in possession of a mysterious, but deadly weapon. Zyra must recapture this weapon before it is unleashed upon the unsuspecting people of the galaxy. The hunt begins! Book 1 of 3.


Linda’s had a bad day. First her boyfriend killed her. Then she woke up, still on this boring plane of existence, and with an odd obsession about her missing body. Mike won’t tell her what he did with her body, and she can’t find the stupid thing herself. There’s only one thing she can do – torment the bastard until he coughs up the information. | Community | Blog Archive | The Episcopal Church, Wiccans, and the Divine Feminine


Marcia0326I suppose nothing The Episcopal Church does should shock me any more. Nonetheless, it does.

In this holiest of Christian seasons, on the evening before Passion Sunday, the Cathedral of All Souls Episcopal Church in Asheville, N.C., hosted an event in its parish hall for an organization called The Mother Grove Goddess Temple. The purpose of the event? To celebrate the spring equinox of course. Wait, you say, that’s not Christian, that’s pagan. But there’s more. According to Mother Grove’s website, its mission “is to create and maintain a permanent sanctuary where people of all faith traditions may openly and safely celebrate the Divine Feminine.” According to Byron Ballard, a Wiccan priestess and a member of the temple, Mother Grove “isn’t a Wiccan group, though some of us are Wiccans.” Just in case you were wondering, Ballard goes on to explain that “Wiccans may also refer to themselves as witches.”

Here’s Mother Grove’s description of the event: “The celebration will consist of raising a circle, singing, ‘whistling in the wind’ and flying prayers written on paper airplanes. Ballard will lead the ritual, explaining that it is a joyful expression of the beginning of spring and coming together as a community.”

Many churches rent their parish halls to community organizations like the Boy Scouts and Alcoholics Anonymous. But to organizations whose teachings are entirely incompatible with traditional Christian beliefs? Oh, wait. The Episcopal Church (TEC) doesn’t care about traditional Christian beliefs. Probably more important to them was the fact that the Saturday event was “open to all faith traditions.” I’d be curious to know if they’d play host to traditional Anglicans (like myself) who oppose the direction TEC has taken. Somehow I think not.

As one person speculated on the StandFirm website, devoted to traditional Anglicanism, I wonder if it would be reasonable to say that All Souls Episcopal Church isn’t a Christian group, though some of them might be Christians. | Community | Blog Archive | The Episcopal Church, Wiccans, and the Divine Feminine

X-woman provides yet more contradictions for evolutionists


Neanderthal man, reconstructed (Neanderthal
museum, Germany)

Reports of an alleged "third species" of human-like creatures (besides human beings and the so-called Neanderthal Man) apparently living in central Asia broke out all over the world today. Yet a close read of the original report of the find raises more questions than it answers for evolutionists.

The initial report, appearing in the journal Nature, described a little finger taken from a fossil layer supposedly 30,000 to 48,000 years old, according to conventional geological dating. Chromosomal studies identified it as female. Mitochondrial DNA studies seemed to show that the owner of the finger last shared an ancestor with modern humans and Neanderthal Man about a million years ago. Neanderthal Man is supposed to have diverged from modern man 500,000 years ago.

Whoever carried this mitochondrial genome out of Africa about a million years ago is some new creature that has not been on our radar screens so far.

This finding alone raises questions concerning conventional theories about the origin of man and his alleged ancestors and distant cousins. Conventional anthropology assumes that man had his origins in Africa, and that three great migrations occurred from that land: first of Homo erectus, then of Neanderthal Man, and finally of modern man. The owner of the little finger would now have to be a member of a fourth wave of migration that left after the Erecti but before the Neanderthals.

But at the same site and layer where the bone lay, archaeologists found a bracelet and other ornaments of a type never before associated with Neanderthal Man and certainly not with anything supposed to be more "primitive." This has given rise to speculation that the owner of the finger, called "X-woman" in scientific circles, might have interacted with Neanderthals and/or modern humans in her lifetime, at a site quite far removed from Africa.

This is not the first time that anthropology has had to deal with such contradictions. Only last fall came suggestive evidence that members of Neanderthal Man once interbred with members of modern man. This would violate the traditional definition of a species as "a group of breeders that cannot interbreed with anyone outside the group to produce fertile offspring."

Furthermore, the scenario that anthropologists now suggest, to explain the presence of X-woman in a sophisticated society of modern humans, contradicts the usual experience of contact between humans of other races, especially if one race is supposed to be much more "primitive" than the other. The bracelets and other ornaments suggest trade, when the interaction between races of such technological disparity, at the alleged time of their meeting, is far more likely to have been war. Such, sadly, is human nature.

The actual explanation is likely far simpler: X-woman is either a casualty of the Global Flood, or a modern human representing another geographically (and hence genetically) isolated group of human beings, just as most creationists accept Neanderthal Man to be. The finding of the bracelet and other ornaments indicate that X-woman was far from primitive, if indeed any "primitive" men existed within the definition given by conventional anthropologists.

X-woman provides yet more contradictions for evolutionists