What’s inside the Lost Mayan Tomb?

Three weeks ago, a team of archaeologists peeked inside a small hole hidden deep within the ruins of Palenque and in the process, became the first people in 1,500 years to see the inside of a lost Mayan tomb.  So, what did they find?

The Classic Maya City of Palenque

Palenque is a set of spectacular Mayan ruins located in southern Mexico.  They date from as far back as 100 BC.  After the decline of the Mayan civilization, they were swallowed up by the jungle and lost for centuries.

Many years ago, a royal necropolis, or cemetery, sat within the city limits of Palenque.  At some point, a step pyramid structure now known as Temple XX was built on top of the necropolis.  In the process, the builders covered up a vaulted tomb.  It is believed by some that this tomb belongs to Yohl Ik’nal, who ruled Palenque from 583-604 AD.  However, others believe that it comes from a slightly earlier time period.

Recently, a team of archaeologists from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History used a tiny video camera to peer into the tomb.  They discovered that the room contains a sarcophagus, pottery dishes, and pieces of a funerary shroud made from jade and mother of pearl.  They also discovered that the red-painted room contained remnants of an intriguing mural, depicting at least nine figures, painted in black.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

As many of you know, I will be releasing my first novel in the upcoming weeks.  Afterwards, I’ll be conducting a multi-week expedition to Palenque and other Mayan ruins scattered throughout southern Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala.  The chance to study these wonderful monuments from up-close is a very exciting opportunity for me.  I’m looking forward to visiting Temple XX and taking a closer look at this ancient tomb.  Hopefully, it will yield a wealth of new information.  And with any luck, it will allow us to shed light on many of the mysteries that continue to surround the ancient Mayan civilization.

Where is Cleopatra’s Tomb?

Cleopatra VII is of the most significant women in history.  She ruled or co-ruled Egypt for over twenty years.  Her great beauty, enrapturing personality, and affairs with the likes of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony have become the stuff of legend.  On August 12, 30 BC, she supposedly committed suicide by inducing the bite of an asp (although one modern theory holds that she was deliberately poisoned).  For centuries, explorers have searched for Cleopatra’s tomb.  So, where is it?

Cleopatra’s Tomb?

Amazingly, after more than two millennia, Cleopatra’s tomb (which is believed to also hold Mark Antony) might be on the verge of being unearthed.  The expedition to find Cleopatra’s tomb is led by Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, and Dr. Kathleen Martinez who hails from the Dominican Republic.  They began initial work several years ago, focusing primarily on the temple of Taposiris Magna, which lies west of Alexandria.

Several circumstantial details point to the temple as a possible burial location.  It’s surrounded by a cemetery, which appears to hold people of some means.  This indicates the presence of an important nearby tomb, possibly one belonging to royalty.  Also, the expedition unearthed a separate temple dedicated to Isis, the deity from which Cleopatra claimed to be reincarnated.  Other clues, such as coins depicting Alexander the Great, provide evidence that the tombs in the area are of the right time period.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Last month, the expedition completed a radar survey of the temple, which pinpointed three deep shafts.  They believe that one of these shafts might serve as the final resting place for Cleopatra and Mark Antony.  While the existence of Cleopatra’s tomb has yet to be confirmed, these three shafts represent the most promising lead in centuries.  If by some chance, the burial is discovered intact, it could prove to be one of the greatest treasure troves of all time…not just in terms of gold and artifacts but in terms of knowledge as well.

Did Russia build a Doomsday Machine?

During the 1950s, Herman Kahn and Harold Brown proposed the concept of a weapon that could destroy all life on earth.  In the event of a nuclear attack from another nation, a computer would detonate multiple salted hydrogen bombs, covering the globe with lethal radioactive material.  They called it a Doomsday Machine.  Fortunately, such a device was never built…or was it? What was Dead Hand?

The Mysterious Dead Hand?

In 1985, the USSR completed the construction of a top-secret military installation known as Perimeter, or Dead Hand.  Its purpose remained closely guarded for years but in the early 1990s the truth came out.  Dead Hand was a semi-automated doomsday machine.

At the time, a doomsday machine was viewed as the perfect deterrent.  No sane leader would dare launch a nuclear attack if they knew it would bring mutually assured destruction.  A pure doomsday machine requires the complete removal of human decision-making.  So, Dead Hand didn’t quite fit into that category.  It required human activity…but not all that much of it.  Just four steps (two involving people) separated mankind from extinction.

  1. Activation: In the event of a crisis, a high official activated the system.
  2. Scan: Using seismic, radiation, and air pressure sensors, Dead Hand scanned Soviet-controlled territory for evidence of a nuclear attack.
  3. Communication: Upon finding evidence, Dead Hand checked whether it could still communicate with the Soviet General Staff’s war room.
  4. Switch of Launch Authority: If communications had ceased, launch authority transferred to three rotating duty officers who manned Dead Hand.  Ultimately, they would make the choice of whether or not to launch nuclear winter.

Why was Dead Hand Created?

Doomsday machines gained fame in fiction.  So, how did such a device ever become a reality?  In the 1980s, President Reagan and his staff initiated an aggressive campaign to convince Soviet leaders that they weren’t adverse to waging nuclear war.  The strategy worked well.  Maybe too well.

Over time, the Soviets began to believe that Reagan might actually initiate a nuclear war.  It seems clear that Dead Hand was originally intended as a deterrent in order to ensure that a nuclear attack would not go unpunished.  But a deterrent only works if others know about it.  And in shades of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, it appears that the Soviet Union never told anyone about Dead Hand.

Some claim that Dead Hand’s true purpose was to be a self-deterrent.  In other words, it allowed Soviet leaders to avoid making hasty decisions since, in the event of an actual attack, reprisal was a near certainty.  Regardless of Dead Hand’s true purpose, its easy to imagine plenty of scenarios that could’ve led to the accidental launch of a literal doomsday.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

These days, the idea of nuclear war seems almost far-fetched.  And indeed, Dead Hand’s current location and situation remain closely guarded.  However, according to at least one source it still exists, remains fully operational, and continues to receive upgrades.  If that’s the case, nuclear doomsday may not be that far-fetched after all.

Did a Comet cause the Black Death?

From 1347 to 1350, the Black Death ravaged Europe, reducing its population by somewhere between 30-60%.  It was one of the most lethal pandemics in history and as everyone knows, was caused by the bubonic plague.  Or was it?

Mysteries of the Black Death

Conventional wisdom holds that the Black Death was the third great outbreak of bubonic plague, following the Plague of Athens and the Justinian Plague.  Supposedly, infected rodent populations in Central Asia, or perhaps Africa, brought the disease to the Black Sea region and the Central Mediterranean, via trade routes.  However, the conventional theory is not without problems.  Here are just a few to consider:

  1. Extraordinary Kill Rate: The Black Death killed people at an extraordinary rate, far higher than that of a typical bubonic plague outbreak.  There is a pneumonic form of the disease which could explain the kill rate but its symptoms don’t match the descriptions of Black Death victims.
  2. Lack of Dead Rats: No written documents from that time describe the vast legions of dead rats required to carry the plague.
  3. The Iceland Problem: The Black Death killed over half of Iceland’s population but rats didn’t actually reach Iceland until the 19th century.
  4. Geographic Gaps: The Black Death moved in strange ways, including a leap over Constantinople on its way across the Mediterranean.
  5. Cold Temperatures: It continued to kill people during the winter months in northern Europe despite the fact that the plague requires relatively warm temperatures to survive.

Was the Black Death caused by a Comet?

So, what was the Black Death?  One intriguing possibility, according to Professor Mike Baillie’s book, New Light on the Black Death: The Cosmic Connection, is a comet shower.  Multiple sources tell us that there was a significant earthquake on January 25, 1348.  Other earthquakes soon followed.  Baillie believes that these were caused by fragments from Comet Negra, which passed by earth in 1347.  As the material descended from space, it fell on the northern Mediterranean Sea first, before branching outwards.

Through ground and sea-based collisions, these fragments injected dust as well as large amounts of carbon- and nitrogen-based chemicals into the stratosphere.  This poisoned the breathing air and the drinking water, causing most of the casualties associated with the Black Death.  Other deaths can be attributed to weakened immune systems, caused by the infected air and water, which made people easy prey for bubonic plague, anthrax, and other ailments.

Evidence for a Comet Shower?

But is there evidence to support this theory?  More than you might think.

“There have been masses of dead fish, animals, and other things along the sea shore and in many places covered in dust.  And all these things seem to have come from the great corruption of the air and earth.”

The above quote comes from a contemporary of the Black Death.  Documents of the time speak of earthquakes, tidal waves, rains of fire, foul odors, strange colors in the sky, mists, even dragons.  Historians generally dismiss these descriptions as colorful imagery or the ravings of religious fanatics.  However, Baillie suggests that they might be written accounts of what was happening at the time, as people tried to describe the startling things that they saw all around them.

Also, tree-ring data from Europe and the Americas indicates that there was a global environmental downturn during the years of the Black Death.  Ice core data suggests that there were increased amounts of carbon dioxide and ammonia in the air, suggesting ocean turnover.  All of this points to a corruption in the atmosphere.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Can we say for certain that a comet shower caused the Black Death?  No.  However, Professor Baillie has accumulated an impressive body of evidence that deserves greater recognition.  In my opinion, his theory is the most compelling one yet to explain the true cause of the most nefarious pandemic in history.

Geoengineering during World War II?

On May 11, 1944, 363 U.S. Army Air Force B-24 Liberators and 536 other military planes launched into the air over southeast England.  After joining into a massive formation, they flew to Nazi-controlled France to bomb marshalling yards.  Their efforts impacted the outcome of the war.  But they may have impacted something else as well…the local weather via geoengineering.

Geoengineering during World War II?

Two days ago, Fox News reported that the May 11 Allied bombing raid may have inadvertently altered that day’s weather.  It is an early unintended example of something that scientists now call geoengineering, or climate engineering.

Essentially, the aircraft filled the sky with contrails, or condensation trails.  These trails “are produced when hot moist air from engine exhausts hits colder air in the atmosphere.”  They take the form of long thin clouds that trail after the plane.

After analyzing historical weather data from various stations, researchers from Lancaster University and the Environmental Agency in the United Kingdom discovered that areas under the contrails experienced slower temperature growth on May 11, 1944, to the tune of two degrees Fahrenheit.  They believe that this can be explained by the contrails creating an enormous cloud cover that reflected sunlight away from the ground.

Geoengineering & Global Warming?

Geoengineering advocates wish to do something similar in order to deal with the perceived threat from global warming.  Some scientists propose that a fleet of planes deposit sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere.  These particles would reflect sunlight and perhaps, lower global temperatures.  This most recent study indicates that small-scale geoengineering might have the desired effect on regional temperatures.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

However, geoengineering remains highly controversial and, in my opinion, with good reason.  It is an attempt to duplicate the effects of an enormous volcanic eruption.  The ultimate impact on the stratosphere, weather patterns, and ecosystems would be unpredictable…maybe even catastrophic.

The Great Flood: Fact or Fiction?

It’s one of the Bible’s most iconic stories.  Infuriated at the wickedness of mankind, God sent a giant flood to wipe out the earth’s population, saving only Noah, his family, and two of every animal.  Many people consider the story just that…a story.  But in fact, there is evidence to suggest that the Great Flood has a historical basis.

The Mysterious Black Sea?

On July 7, a Bulgarian expedition, led by underwater archaeologist Professor Petko Dimitrov, announced the discovery of the original shoreline of the Black Sea, buried deep beneath the water’s surface (the Black Sea is the smaller body of water in the above picture).  If correct, this evidence could help to support a longstanding theory that at some point in the past, the Black Sea experienced a sudden and tremendous influx of water which would later be recorded in history as the Great Flood.

The Black Sea is a peculiar body of water.  It is a saltwater lake.  Also, its deeper waters don’t mix with its surface waters, leading to a situation in which 90% of it contains very low levels of oxygen (bad for life, but terrific for underwater preservation).  Generally speaking, most scientists agree that it started as a smaller freshwater lake.  Thanks to a breach in the Bosporus Strait, the Mediterranean Sea flowed into the Black Sea, raising its water level and changing its salt content.

Did the Great Flood take place in the Black Sea?

However, the manner in which this happened is one of intense debate.  Did it take place gradually?  Or in one sudden moment of time?  The latter theory is known as the Ryan-Pitman Theory.  In essence, it postulates that the Black Sea experienced a massive deluge around 5600 BC due to glacier melting after the last Ice Age.  The latest findings from Dimitrov’s expedition appears to support this theory.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Direct evidence linking the Black Sea to the Genesis story of the Great Flood remains skimpy.  However, the gigantic deluge theorized by the Dimitrov expedition would’ve had enormous ramifications for the area and the people who once called it home.  Over time, those ramifications could have changed into the story that we now know from Genesis.  Regardless, this latest discovery seems to indicate that a large, sudden flood did indeed take place in the Black Sea area many centuries ago.  If nothing else, we are one step closer to finally learning the truth about the Great Flood.

Is Fort Knox Empty?

A few weeks ago, CNBC announced that Ron Paul, the esteemed congressman from Texas, hoped to audit the supply and purity of the thousands of tons of gold stored in Fort Knox.  Of course, Paul’s wish makes one minor assumption…that there’s actually still gold in Fort Knox.

The Origin of Fort Knox?

The strange tale of Fort Knox, also known as the United States Bullion Depository, begins in 1933.  On April 5 of that year, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6102 which, in effect, forced American citizens to turn in “all gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates” to the Federal Reserve.  The federal government built Fort Knox in 1936 in order to store its newfound treasure.

Citizens received $20.67 for each troy ounce of gold they turned over to the government.  Subsequently, President Roosevelt offered other nations the opportunity to buy or sell gold at $35.00 per ounce, an inflationary measure designed to end the rising Great Depression.  It didn’t work.  However, with most other assets undergoing deflation, the higher gold price attracted massive amounts of sellers from around the world.  As such, by 1949 Fort Knox held nearly 70% of the entire world’s known gold supply.

The End of the Gold Standard?

During the 1950’s, the tide began to swing the other way.  The U.S. continued to transact gold at $35 per ounce.  However, due to the declining value of the U.S. dollar, other nations were now buyers rather than sellers.  The sell-off lasted until August 15, 1971 when President Richard Nixon “closed the gold window.”  By ending the last remaining links between the U.S. dollar and gold, he also ended the need for a bullion depository.  Thus, Fort Knox became little more than a glorified, high-security warehouse.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, that brings us to the main question.  What, if anything, is still in the facility?  According to official records, Fort Knox holds 4,578 metric tons of gold bullion, or roughly 2.5% of the entire world’s known gold supply.  At the present spot price, that works out to $225 billion dollars.

However, that amount comes with an asterisk.  You see, no visitors have actually been inside the facility since September 1974.  And an official audit has not been performed since January 1953.  Even worse, that audit was flawed in numerous ways.  It lasted only seven days and tested just a small fraction of the gold.  With so much wealth and secrecy rolled into one location, it’s not surprising that Fort Knox has given rise to a flood of conspiracy theories.  The most popular theory is that the vault is empty or perhaps, filled with fake gold bars.

Personally, I doubt that Paul’s efforts will prove successful, at least in the near-term.  But one can always hope.  If he does manage to crack the facility’s cloak of secrecy, we will finally know the answer to one of the greatest mysteries of American history.  Does Fort Knox truly hold 4,578 metric tons of gold?  More?  Less?  Or is it just an empty warehouse?  And if it’s empty, more questions arise.  Questions that could prove just as difficult to answer.  Questions such as…

Who took the gold?  And what did they do with it?

Lost Tribe Discovered in Brazil…Now What?

Two weeks ago, FUNAI, Brazil’s Indian Affairs agency announced the confirmed existence of a lost tribe living deep in the Amazon basin.  It is one of at least two dozen lost tribes located within Brazil’s borders and like the others, has very little, if any contact with modern civilization.

The Lost Tribe?

This particular lost tribe was discovered near Peru’s border in the Vale do Javari, a rain forest reservation of sorts for Brazil’s indigenous peoples.  The population is estimated at about two hundred.  They live in four large communal malocas and appear to be planting corn and bananas, amongst other things.

The story reminds me of 2008, when a photographer associated with FUNAI claimed to have discovered a lost tribe in the same general area.  A short while later, it turned out that the whole affair was a hoax and that the tribe had been discovered much earlier, in 1910 to be exact.  The purpose of the stunt was to shed light on the danger that the logging industry posed to Brazil’s tribes.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, that brings me to the question at hand.  Namely, how should society as a whole treat these people?  Popular opinion holds that we should “protect” the tribe.  Proponents point to the terrible treatment natives have traditionally received at the hands of outsiders.  They also believe that the lifestyle and traditions of these tribes are precious things that deserve to be protected from outside influence.  FUNAI is at the forefront of this argument, having actively sought to isolate Brazil’s tribes from the outside world.

Personally, I love the idea of lost tribes.  In a world that often seems devoid of mystery and romance, the very thought of an undiscovered, self-sustaining society gets my blood flowing.  However, I can’t help but disagree with popular opinion.  It strikes me that FUNAI is treating these tribes as a strange sort of sociological experiment where the people are, in essence, forcefully isolated on reservations while the rest of us watch via cameras high in the sky.  Its also quite possible that the tribes could benefit from food, medicine, and other things obtainable via peaceful trade (of course, this could make them vulnerable to communicable diseases as well).

Regardless, I don’t think that contact should be mandatory.  If Brazil’s tribes want to be left alone, then we should respect their wishes.  No one should be forced to accept change.  But at the same time, no one should be denied the opportunity to pursue change either.

The Lost Treasure of the Atocha

A few days ago, Mel Fisher’s Treasure announced the discovery of a $500,000 emerald ring, two silver spoons, and other artifacts.  It is the latest haul from the 1622 shipwreck of the Spanish Galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha.  And it could lead to one of the greatest lost treasures of all time.

The Lost Atocha?

The Atocha is one of a fleet of Spanish Galleons that sank off the Florida Keys during a hurricane in 1622.  It lay untouched for over three centuries.  Then, on July 20, 1985, Mel Fisher discovered the wreck and in the process, uncovered one of the largest treasures of all time.  All told, the “Atocha Motherlode” was estimated at $450 million (in 1985!).  And amazingly, that’s only half of it.

A whole other treasure still lies out there, waiting to be discovered.  You see, the Atocha broke apart during the hurricane, causing the stern castle to separate from the rest of the ship.  Centuries of currents and storms drove them even further apart.  According to Sean Fisher, the ship’s manifest indicates that the stern castle could contain at least “100,000 coins, 400 silver bars, and personal jewelry.”  And that doesn’t include any treasures that were deliberately left off the manifest by clergy and nobility who wanted to avoid taxes.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Mel Fisher, who searched for the Atocha for sixteen years, was well-known for his motto, “Today’s the Day.”  If Sean Fisher and his fellow divers have anything to say about it, “Today” could soon turn out to be a lifetime instead.

HT: Thanks to the Guerrilla Dad for providing the idea behind this article!

Secret Shafts within the Great Pyramid

The Great Pyramid of Giza is, in my opinion, the single most spectacular structure on earth. Constructed around 2560 BC, it has weathered over 4,500 years of natural disasters, wars, and modernization.

Secret Hieroglyphics inside the Great Pyramid?

Even today, with all of our modern tools and equipment, the Great Pyramid remains shrouded in mystery.  New discoveries and theories as to its purpose are common.

The latest chapter in its long saga took place just a few weeks ago.  The Djedi Project announced that it discovered ancient red hieroglyphs inside a secret air shaft that leads out of the Queen’s Chamber.  The shaft is one of two accessible from the room.  Mysteriously, neither one was originally connected to the Chamber and neither one exits the Great Pyramid.

The discovery was made using a micro snake camera engineered to fit through a small hole in a stone door at the end of the shaft.  In addition to the hieroglyphs, the camera also enabled the examination of two copper pins which have been used to support Christopher Dunn’s “power plant” theory.  According to the Project, the latest images indicate that the pins “were more likely ornamental rather than electrical connections or structural features.”  (You can read Dunn’s rebuttal here.)

The images also showed that the other side of the stone door was “finished and polished,” suggesting that it might have served a purpose beyond just blocking the shaft.  Next, the Project plans to examine the far wall to see if it is another door or a solid block.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

The Great Pyramid remains one of the greatest mysteries of history.  While commonly thought to be a giant tomb, not a single burial has ever been discovered inside of it (although that could be due to grave robbers).  In fact, out of more than eighty pyramids along the Nile Valley, (including the sealed Step Pyramid of Sekhemkhet) not a single body has ever been found.

In the absence of bodies, other theories have sprung up to explain the pyramids.  Some of these include: granaries, calendars, observatories, and public works to unite Egypt’s tribes.  Perhaps the most likely alternative theory is that the pyramids were cenotaphs, or monuments to the Pharaohs but not their actual tombs.

Regardless, one thing seems certain…the Great Pyramid has yet to give up all of its secrets.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the best ones are still to come.