Gate to Hell Discovered

And it’s in New Jersey! (Audio link.) Nah, just kidding. It’s actually in Turkey.  The Plutonium was believed to be the portal to the underworld in the ancient world, and it was known for its lethal properties, provided courtesy of carbon dioxide. It was long believed to be at the Phrygian city of Hierapolis (modern Pamukkale). Strabo wrote [Read More...]

Some Thoughts on Richard III, History, and Catholicism

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Everyone by now has heard the big news: the bones of King Richard III–last king of the House of York, villain of one of Shakespeare’s most masterful historical plays, and a man long long regarded as a psychopath twisted in both body and mind–have been found under a parking lot in Leicester, England. DNA testing has confirmed [Read More...]

The World’s First Radiologic Technologist Was …

Sr. Beatrice Merrigan

… Sister M. Beatrice Merrigan, of the Sisters of St. Anthony. She took and passed the first exam to earn the first certificate from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). A radiologic tech deals with the patients and actually take the images, which at the time would have been early X-rays. Sr. Merrigan and her [Read More...]

The Perils of Texting, Circa 1906

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Buzzfeed dug up this Punch cartoon from 1906, on the perils of telegraphy and tickers. “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” [Read more...]

Ancient Temple Shows Signs of Conflict, Desecration

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Excavations at an 11th century temple complex outside of Jerusalem show evidence of the tensions among the Israelites, Canaanites and Philistines. On the floor of the temple… … excavators found shards of painted chalices and goblets — not the type of containers that would have been used for daily household activities. They also found animal [Read More...]

Truesound: Trying to Recreate the Original Baroque Organ Sound

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Europe has some 10,000 medieval and baroque organs. These monuments to the organ-makers’ art reflect the liturgical needs that gave rise to the organ. In order to be worthy for use in the liturgy, an instrument needed to be created which would use pipes and reeds to accompany and mimic the human voice. They’re also [Read More...]

The Oxyrhynchus Project: Desktop Papyrology

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el-Bahnasa is a sand-blasted village about 100 miles south of Cairo. Once known as Oxyrhynchus (“City of the Sharp-Nose Fish”), it prospered under the Greeks, and became largely Christian under the Romans and Byzantines. It had a gradual decline until about the 7th century, when Arab invasions finished it off. Its structures–including a number of churches and monasteries–were [Read More...]

Seal Depicting Samson Discovered (Or Maybe Not)

It’s hard to know what to make of this story at this point, so I’m just going to put it out there as reported. Excavations at Tel Beit Shmesh have turned up an interesting stone seal at a level dating to about the 11th century BC. This is the seal:   It’s about 1.5 cm [Read More...]


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