Australia notes:  Guy Fawkes Day

On Saturday night, here in Australia, fireworks started going off everywhere.  It dawned on my daughter the lines “Remember, remember/the Fifth of November.”  It was Guy Fawkes day!

The old boy is burned in effigy and explosions are set off in commemoration of the Gunpowder Plot, in which a band of Catholic terrorists packed the basement of Parliament with gunpowder with the idea of blowing up the English government and killing King James. [Read more…]

“See the place where they laid Him”

We blogged about the excavation of what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  When the marble cladding was removed over the place where the body would have been laid, there was a layer of debris.  Under that was another marble covering.  The researchers removed that, exposing the original limestone burial slab.

The researchers only had permission to study the slab for a short time, but they collected and recorded all the data they could.  They continue to study the rest of the tomb.  They have determined that the site, which also encloses six other rock tombs, was, in fact, a Jewish cemetery at the time of Jesus.

After the jump, read the latest details.  And click the link for PICTURES.  (They are copyrighted by National Geographic, so I’d better not copy them here.)
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Ivan the Not-So-Terrible

Ivan the Terrible is known for killing his own son and for slaughtering vast numbers of his countrymen, including the Massacre of Novgorod, where up to 60,000 men, women, and children were brutally killed.

But his reputation is being rehabilitated in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  You can tell a lot about Russia based on whose statues are being torn down or erected.  Stalin statues were once torn down, but now they are going up again.  And a big monument to Ivan the Terrible has been put up, with its dedication attended by a who’s who of Russian nationalists, including top representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church. [Read more…]

The medieval Christian–not pagan–origins of Halloween

We have long been told that Halloween goes back to the ancient Celtic pagan holiday Samhain.  But Baylor historian Beth Allison Barr points out that it doesn’t.  For better or worse, Halloween and its customs grew out of Medieval Christianity. [Read more…]

Excavating the empty tomb

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is traditionally considered to be the site of Christ’s tomb from which He rose from the dead.  That claim is actually well-attested by historians.

In the course of a restoration project in the church, workers have removed the marble covering that had been installed in 1555 over the place where Jesus’s body supposedly had been laid.  They found a rock surface that is apparently the “burial shelf” that is a feature of ancient Jewish tombs.  Archaeologists plan to excavate the site.

Some of the evidence that supports the church as the site of Christ’s tomb is that the building, erected over an ancient stone quarry, has been found to enclose other tombs of the period.  This one is empty.

Details after the jump, with pictures at the link. [Read more…]

Don’t know much about history

A study has found that quite a few young Americans are open to Communism.  And one out of three believe that George W. Bush killed more people that Josef Stalin.  See the specifics here.

Read a report on the findings after the jump, whereupon I will try to explain why this is. [Read more…]