News Briefs 06-09-2016

In case you missed it: Darklore 9 is now available (featuring articles from Alan Moore, Robert Schoch, Mike Jay and others!). You can grab the paperback or limited edition hardcover from

Thanks @ForteanUK and @UnlikelyWorlds.

Quote of the Day:

Evolution isn't about truth, it's about making kids. Every bit of information that you process costs calories, meaning that's more food you need to kill and eat. So an organism that sees all of reality would never be more fit than one tuned only to see what it needs to survive.

Donald Hoffman

The Crystal Weapons of Prehistoric Spain

Crystal dagger from prehistoric Spain - photo by Miguel Angel Blanco de la Rubia

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Even in modern times we are fascinated by crystals - from the diamonds we use as a sacred symbol of partnership, to the plethora of 'healing' gems that can be found in a New Age gift shop. So we can only imagine how ancient people viewed these transparent rocks with hidden structure.

Evidence of the esteem in which crystals were held can be found in a "remarkable set" of 'crystal weapons' found in the megalithic tombs of southwestern Spain. At the site of Valencina de la Concepcion, archaeologists have uncovered crystal arrowheads, an exquisite dagger blade, and cores used for creating the artifacts, that date to the 3rd millennium BCE.

The Montelirio tholos, excavated between 2007 and 2010, is "a great megalithic construction...which extends over 43.75 m in total", constructed out of large slabs of slate. At least 25 individuals were interred within the structure , along with "an extraordinary set of sumptuous grave goods...the most notable of which is an unspecified number of shrouds or clothes made of tens of thousands of perforated beads and decorated with amber beads". Additionally however, a large number of crystal arrowheads were found together, which be suggestive of a ritual offering at an altar. The arrowheads have the characteristic long lateral appendices of flint arrowheads from the area - but investigators remarked that "even greater skill must have been required to produce these unique features when using rock crystal."

Crystal arrowheads from prehistoric Spain

Structure 10.042-10.049 is another large two-chambered megalithic construction made from slate slabs. In the second chamber archaeologists found the body of a young male aged between 17 and 25 lying in the foetal position along with a large set of grave goods. These included an undecorated elephant tusk laid above the young man's head, a set of 23 flint blades, and numerous ivory objects. Additionally, red pigment made from cinnabar had been sprayed over the body and the objects surrounding it. The "remarkable crystal dagger blade", however, was not found with these grave goods, but instead in the upper level of this chamber.

The rock crystal dagger blade appeared in the upper level of Structure 10.049 of the PP4-Montelirio sector, in association with an ivory hilt and sheath, which renders it an exceptional object in Late Prehistoric Europe... The blade is 214 mm in length, a maximum of 59 mm in width and 13 mm thick. Its morphology is not unheard of in the Iberian Peninsula, although all the samples recorded thus far were made from flint and not rock crystal...

The manufacture of the rock crystal dagger blade must have been based on an accumulation of transmitted empirical knowledge and skill taken from the production of flint dagger blades as well from know-how of rock-crystal smaller foliaceous bifacial objects, such as Ontiveros and Montelirio arrowheads... It was obtained from a large monocrystal at least 220 mm in length and 60 mm in width. Given that these single crystals are hexagonal, they would have a similar width along all their different axes.

The rock crystal source used in creating the crystal weaponry has not been pinpointed exactly at this stage, though analysis suggests two potential sources, "both located several hundred km away from Valencina".

Given the technical skill and difficulties involved in creating the objects from crystal, rather than flint, researchers believe the motives behind their construction must have been very specific. They note that while crystal objects were found throughout the site...

The more technically sophisticated items, however, were deposited in the larger megalithic structures...As such, it is reasonable to assume that although the raw material was relatively available throughout the community...only the kin groups, factions or individuals who were buried in megaliths were able to afford the added value that allowed the production of sophisticated objects such as arrow heads or dagger blades.

In this respect, however, it is important to note that, paradoxically, none of the most sophisticated artefacts studied in this paper can be ascribed to any particular individual: the rock crystal dagger from Structure 10.042-10.049 was found in the upper level of the main chamber (10.049) in which no human bones were identified; in Montelirio, neither the core nor the arrowheads can be ascribed to any on 20 individuals found in the main chamber; lastly, in the case of Ontiveros, the only available publication offers no evidence that
the 16 arrow heads were associated to any particular individual.

It seems therefore reasonable to suggest that rock crystal may have had a dual significance for the Chalcolithic society of Valencina. On the one hand, it had a social significance due to the exoticism of the material and the fact that its transformation required very specific skills and probably some degree of technical specialisation. These objects would have had a “surplus value” based on the exoticism and rarity of the raw material, the techno-economic investment of their manufacture (a know-how limited to very few people) and their use linked to the world of beliefs and funerary practices. They probably represent funerary paraphernalia only accessible to the elite of this time-period.

On the other hand, rock crystal must have had a symbolic significance as a raw material invested with special meanings and connotations. The literature provides examples of societies in which rock crystal and quartz as raw materials symbolise vitality, magical powers and a connection with ancestors In her analysis of European Neolithic religion, Marija Gimbutas linked the ritual and votive use of white quartz nodules to a symbol of death and regeneration often associated with funerary spaces. Quartz and rock crystal were even portrayed as rocks with great supernatural powers in European Christian tradition. In his Lapidarium, King Alfonso X the Wise of Castile (1276-1279 CE) emphasised its power to connect human beings with the spiritual world, as well as its ability to protect them from danger.

Interestingly though, despite being found relatively frequently in burials of the 4th and 3rd millennia BCE, crystal implements disappear from later funerary monuments in the Early Bronze Age (beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE) - a "truly striking" development, researchers say, as it would seem "the use of this raw material as grave goods was almost entirely abandoned", although the reason remains a mystery.

Paper: The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia

(via Irish Archaeology)

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News Briefs 05-09-2016

Darklore 9 is now available, featuring articles from Alan Moore, Robert Schoch, Mike Jay and others! You can grab the paperback or limited edition hardcover from

Thanks Cat.

Quote of the Day:

I always had a repulsive sort of need to be something more than human.

David Bowie

Drone's-Eye View of the Pyramids of Nubia

Around 3000 years ago, a number of pyramids were built in northern Africa - not in Egypt though, where the New Kingdom era had recently come to an end, but in neighbouring Sudan. The pyramids of the 'Kingdom of Kush' are generally smaller, and are characterised by much steeper sides than their Egyptian counterparts. The video above gives a different perspective on these unique structures.

In a melding of modern-day technology and 3,000-year-old artifacts, a team supported by National Geographic is getting some of the first glimpses into ancient pyramids, temples, and burial sites sprawled across the Sudanese desert.

The part of the site that draws the most attention is the underground burial chamber of a Nubian king who conquered Egypt in 715 B.C., but today the action is far above ground as National Geographic engineer, Alan Turchik, flies a remote-controlled quadcopter camera over the site to gain a broader perspective of the area.

“The best part with the helicopter is I can fly over and gain this connection between all the other burial sites, between the pyramid and the temple, and get an understanding of what that is from the air,” says Turchik.

Link: Amazing Drone Footage of Nubian Pyramids

Darklore Volume 9: Now Available!

After a year's hiatus, we're back! I'm happy to announce that the ninth instalment of our Darklore anthology series covering hidden history, fringe science, the occult and general Forteana is now available for sale! You can pick up your copy from any number of online retailers through a simple search. But for simplicity's sake, here are the links to Amazon for both the paperback, and the limited edition hardcover:


Limited Edition Hardcover

Darklore Volume 9 Cover

The latest release has themes of magic and mysticism running through it, with essays from regulars including Mike Jay and Robert Schoch, as well as a conspicuous newcomer to our pages: the great Alan Moore!

Here's the summary of the essays in Darklore 9, taken from the introduction of the book:

Within the pages of Volume 9 we have Blair MacKenzie Blake surveying and reinterpreting the infamous grimoires of centuries past; Alan Moore asking if magic is in any way relevant to the modern world, advocating a scorched earth approach and new beginnings; John Reppion using a fictional work to illustrate the origins and practice of various magical traditions; and Cat Vincent looking at the origins and practice of various magical traditions and showing how many of them come from fictional works.

No Darklore release focuses on just one topic though. And so, along with the magical core of Volume 9, we have a number of fascinating articles on other topics of interest: Mike Jay reviews the 'hidden
history' of the 19th century Club des Hachischins; Adam Gorightly looks at the amazing, controversial life of Kerry Thornley, co-creator of Discordianism and one-time JFK assassination suspect; Robert Schoch takes us beyond the Hollywood version of the werewolf to better understand the origins of this archetypal monster; Paul Devereux introduces us to the shamanic plants of the Americas; and Greg Taylor finds that the history of research into meteorites offers a valuable lesson to science on the value of listening to eye-witness reports.

Thanks for all your support of the Darklore series - it helps to fund this website, and also provides financial support for contributors so that they can continue researching and writing about the stranger side of life.

I'm sure all readers will enjoy this latest instalment in the series. For those of you who remain unconvinced, I'll publish some sample articles at the Darklore website (and here at TDG as well) in the coming week.


(Note: Leaving this up on the front page for a few days, regular daily updates can still be accessed via the 'river of news' page view.)

News Briefs 02-09-2016

“There's no earthly way of knowing, Which direction we are going…”

Quote of the Day:

“There's no knowing where we're rowing… Or which way the river's flowing.”

Willy Wonka

That Time Canada Almost Botched the End of World War II By Signing on the Wrong Line...

Error on Japanese Instrument of Surrender

We've all been there. You've got to fill out a long form, and halfway through you realise that you put your first name in the surname space, or put today's date instead of your birthdate, or signed your name on the wrong line.

Most times it's a simple matter of asking for another form, or correcting your mistake and handing it over with a sheepish apology. But what if you screwed up one of the most important documents of the 20th century? That's exactly what Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave did when signing the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on September 2nd, 1945 - the document that marked the official end of World War II.

After Japanese officials had signed the document, and General Douglas MacArthur had countersigned it in his role as 'Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers', the individual representatives of the Allies then added their own signatures: first the U.S. representative, followed by China, the U.K, the U.S.S.R. and Australia. But when Colonel Cosgrave scribbled his moniker, he made the mistake of putting it below the line, instead of above.

The error has been attributed to Cosgrave being blind in one eye, as a result of a World War I injury. It has to be said though, that looking at the form it seems an easy mistake to make, if you were feeling a bit nervous and rushed: in looking for the appropriate spot to sign, one would look for and find 'Dominion of Canada Representative', before the eyes naturally dropped down to the next line. Which, unfortunately for Col. Cosgrave, was the line reserved for the French representative, not him.

Each subsequent representative then continued signing their name one line below where they should have been, until it came time for the New Zealand delegate to add the final signature...but there was no line. Undaunted, he simply added his signature in the white space beneath.

The unfortunate result, however, was that names were being signed to spaces that were titled for other representatives - and any legal document generally has to be done exactly by the books, lest it be considered invalid. And when we're talking about ending the worst conflict in human history, that's not something you want to happen.

Happily, it didn't take long to resolve:

When the Japanese delegation protested – could they accept a botched surrender document? – Douglas MacArthur’s famously brusque chief of staff General Richard Sutherland scratched out the now-incorrect list of Allied delegates and handwrote the correct titles under each signature, adding his initials to each correction to forestall further protest. The Japanese were then dismissed from the USS Missouri with a short “Now it’s all fine” from Gen. Sutherland.

Regardless, we can only assume Colonel Cosgrave was left rather red-faced by his faux pas...being Canadian, he was probably quick to say sorry. Sadly for him though, his mistake has been preserved for future generations to see, as the historic document is on display at Japan’s Edo-Tokyo Museum (the Allied copy has no such error).

Link: High-res of the Instrument of Japanese Surrender

News Briefs 01-09-2016


Thanks Kat, Alistair, @AnomalistNews and @CatVincent.

Quote of the Day:

The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.

Douglas Adams

Only a Month Until Westworld Premieres on HBO - Here's the Latest Trailer

HBO doing an artificial intelligence Western produced by Jonathan Nolan, with Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris starring? I'm totally in for the upcoming Westworld, which premieres on October 2nd.

Westworld is based on the 1973 movie of the same name, written and directed by Michael Crichton, which tells the tale of an adult amusement park where visitors can engage in various elements of the 'Wild West' theme enacted by humanoid robots - and by engage, I mean do everything from fighting to screwing the androids. Which sounds pretty much right up HBO's alley...

The series is being brought to television by Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar) and J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot production company - the same pairing which produced Person of Interest.

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