Lion City: The Chinese "Atlantis" Preserved Under Water For More Than 50 Years!

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


One of the five preserved entrance gates to the city. Most ancient cities only have four gates, which means that this was an important and powerful place at its height. (image source)

About 130 feet under Qiandao Lake in China sits a perfectly preserved city that disappeared under the water in 1959 when the valley where it sat was purposely flooded to make way for the Xin'an River Dam. Almost 300,000 people were relocated.

It stood at the foot of Wu Shi Mountain or Five Lion Mountain, which is where the ancient city got it's name: Shi Cheng or Lion City. Originally built at some point between 25-200 AD, the city was once a powerful centre in the eastern province it is located in.

 Hidden from the sun, wind and other forms of corrosion, wooden structures like this staircase are almost perfectly preserved in the underwater city. (  image source  )

Hidden from the sun, wind and other forms of corrosion, wooden structures like this staircase are almost perfectly preserved in the underwater city. (image source)

The city lay covered and forgotten until 200l when the Chinese government sent an expedition to the lake to see if there was any trace of it still remaining. What they found was released to the public in 2011 and shows that the massive city of five gates, 265 archways, stonework, incredible carvings, city walls, and wooden staircases has been almost perfectly preserved! 

The city is still being explored, mapped and researched, but if you are trained in deep water and night dives, there are dive operators that may be willing to take you out there!

Click here to see more images of this incredible discovery.


What is the Ides of March, and Why Should I Beware of It?

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


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Before we get to the "beware" part, lets start with the basics. The Ideas of March, or Idus Martiae in Latin, is the day in the Roman calendar that corresponds with March 15.

According to an article on History.com, the term originally comes from the way that dates were calculated to create the calendar: "At the time, dates were expressed in relations to the lunar phase of the month using three markers: Kalends (Kal), Nones (Non) and Ides (Id). The first phase of the moon, the new moon, was denoted by Kalends and signified the first day of the month; the first quarter moon fell on either the fifth or seventh day of the month and was referred to as Nones; the full moon fell on either the 13th or 15th day of the month and was referred to as Ides. The ides of March—March 15—initially marked the first full moon of a new year."

Because of the significance of the day in the lunar cycle, it was marked by religious ceremonies, that is until it became the notorious day that Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44BC. The day became even more notorious thanks to Shakespeare's 1601 play Julius Caesar which gave birth to the famous warning: "Beware the Ides of March."

Interestingly, Caesar's murder is not the only terrible thing that has happened on this day. Smithsonian.com has compiled a list of ten pretty epic historic events that have occurred, including a cyclone in the Samoan Islands that destroyed six warships in 1889, Czar Nicholas II of Russia abdicating his throne in 1917, CBS cancelling the Ed Sullivan Show in 1971, and a global health alert being issued in 2003 that turned out to be SARS.

Maybe there's something to Shakespeare's warning after all...


The Fascinating History of the British Manor House

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


There has been a renewed interest in the romantic ideal of the English Manor thanks to the popularity of shows like Downton Abbey. These giant estates were built by families with vast wealth and power and became central to communities that they were built in. They provided parks, employment, entertainment, gossip, and nightlife to the people that lived near them. They also received royal guests on many occasions.

Napoleon's dining room at the Louvre in Paris

During WWI and WWII many of these estates housed soldiers, or became hospitals, and, as the old hierarchy and ways of making money to support these properties started to change, they started to fall into disrepair. It takes an unbelievable amount of wealth to maintain these buildings and their grounds. As a result, many families became forced to sell, desert, or rent out portions of these stately homes. Many sales are going to foreign companies or conglomerates that are looking for foreign investments.

Recently, an Asian company looking for foreign investments bought Wentworth Woodhouse —rumored to be Jane Austin’s inspiration for Pemberley in her novel Pride and Prejudice. This estate has a fascinating history — its sprawling, massive main house came to be because of a vicious rival between brothers — and the video below explains the history of the home and gives you a sneak peak into some of the stunning restored rooms as they look today. 

If you want to see some modern-day manor homes, check out some of the bespoke properties for sale with Christie’s International Real Estate. (I'm seriously addicted to this site — some of the homes are breathtaking!)


What Are Ratlines?

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


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Ratlines were secret escape routes that Nazi’s (or Rats in this instance) used to travel to South America at the end of World War II. Thousands of war criminals were spirited away on these covert routes.

There were two main routes — one that went from Germany to Spain to Argentina, and another that went from Germany to Rome to Genoa to South America.

There were many people involved, including (allegedly) leaders of countries, religious leaders, and wealthy fascists living outside of Germany. The physical ratlines included underground tunnels, secret airplane landing strips, and covert submarines.

New evidence has even come to light suggesting that Hitler himself faked his death and escaped Germany using this complex series of ratlines!

It was basically the evil version of the underground railway.


In The News: King Tut's Beard Is Back!

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


 (  source  )

In January of 2015, I wrote a post in response to news stories that were reporting on how the beard on King Tut's burial mask was damaged beyond repair. In an effort to keep the mask on display and tourism numbers up in Egypt, the beard was repaired hastily with a product that was thought to have ruined the ancient artifact. 

Well, (happily) it looks like the experts were wrong!

According to the latest news, a 9-week restoration process of the mask was undertaken on the mask to great success! Working slowly, a team removed the incorrectly applied glue using wooden tools to carefully scrape it off after rising the temperature of the mask. This took four weeks. They then reattached the beard using beeswax as an adhesive.

In addition to reattaching the beard, there was also a comprehensive 3D scan done of the mask, which had never been completed before. It showed that the beard had, in fact, been detached once in 1946! 

The information gathered from the scans, and the details of the restoration will be published in a upcoming book.

The mask is now back on display in Cairo. 


The Watch List: Hunting Hitler

by Lindsay Shapka in ,


I recently started watching the eight-part mini-series Hunting Hitler on the History Channel and I am totally hooked.

The show's premise?

Answering the question: Did Hitler survive WWII?

I know, In know — on the surface this sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory. BUT, in 2014 hundreds of FBI documents were declassified revealing that the United States government has been actively searching for Hitler since the end of the second world war!  

"A memo from J. Edgar Hoover himself states: American Army officials in Germany have not located Hitler's body nor is there any reliable source that will say definitely that Hitler is dead." (source)

According to the documents, Hitler's body has never been identified, and there are no witness accounts of his death, or an identification of his body! 

The show follows a team of highly-trained experts as they examine the clues laid out in the declassified documents. So far, there have been some surprising discoveries, eyewitnesses and very convincing evidence that Hitler may have secretly escaped from Germany at the end of the war! 

Watch full episodes here


Visiting The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


We've all heard of Pearl Harbor.

Usually in the context of WWII history and the bombing that took place there ushering the US into the war and (depending on what textbook you read), giving the Allies the leg up they needed to defeat the Nazis. 

A huge, beautiful natural harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, this was a key position for the Allies in the Pacific arena, and the home of the US Pacific Fleet. On December 7, 1941, more than 350 Japanese planes attacked the harbor, sinking 21 ships, damaging 347 airplanes, and killing 2335 people — 1177 of these people were aboard the U.S.S. Arizona.

It's hard to really understand what a sunken, massive military ship really looks like until you are standing on top of it peering into it's rusty hull — and you can do just that on a visit to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. 

One of Hawaii's most visited tourist attractions, a tour of the memorial begins with a documentary film featuring actual footage of the attack and accounts from witnesses of the bombing. 

After the film, you will be ushered into a boat that steers you past massive aircraft carriers and other US military ships to the white, 184 foot memorial built in 1962 that sits atop, but doesn't touch, the sunken ship.

The memorial contains a wall with the names of the soldiers that died carved into it — the average age of the men aboard was 19 years old. 

There are a few rusty portions of the ship that sit above the water, and the rest is visible just 8 feet below the surface. Because of the chaos of the attack and the rush to prepare for war, the navy decided not to recover the bodies and so they lay forever entombed in the hull of ship, buried at sea. 

Because it is part of the military base, you can only visit the memorial on a tour. Tours run every 15 minutes and operate on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the day.