Russia is the biggest country in the world, spanning one-eighth of the earth’s landmass. But where did it all begin? Alex Gendler explores the epic history of the Kievan Rus, where characters ranging from Viking raiders and Western crusaders to Byzantine missionaries and Mongol hordes all played a role to create a unique civilization standing at the crossroads of culture and geography.
HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen was a Jan van Amstel-class minesweeper of the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNN).
Built during the 1930s, she was based in the Netherlands East Indies when Japan attacked at the end of 1941.
To escape detection by Japanese aircraft (which the minesweeper did not have the armament to defend effectively against), the ship was heavily camouflaged with jungle foliage, giving the impression of a small island.
Personnel cut down trees and branches from nearby islands, and arranged the cuttings to form a jungle canopy covering as much of the ship as possible. Any hull still exposed was painted to resemble rocks and cliffs.
To further the illusion, the ship would remain close to shore, anchored and immobile during daylight, and only sail at night.
She headed for Fremantle, Western Australia, where she arrived on 20 March 1942; Abraham Crijnssen was the last vessel to successfully escape Java, and the only ship of her class in the region to survive.
The ship was removed from the Navy List in 1960. After leaving service, Abraham Crijnssen was donated to the Sea Cadet Corps (Zeekadetkorps Nederland) for training purposes. In 1995, Abraham Crijnssen was marked for preservation by the Dutch Navy Museum at Den Helder.
An international team of astronomers have found that there are far more planets of the hot Jupiter type than expected in a cluster of stars called Messier 67.
This surprising result was obtained using a number of telescopes and instruments, among them the HARPS spectrograph at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. The denser environment in a cluster will cause more frequent interactions between planets and nearby stars, which may explain the excess of hot Jupiters.
A Chilean, Brazilian and European team led by Roberto Saglia at the Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, in Garching, Germany, and Luca Pasquini at ESO, has spent several years collecting high-precision measurements of 88 stars in Messier 67 . This open star cluster is about the same age as the Sun and it is thought that the Solar System arose in a similarly dense environment .
The team used HARPS, along with other instruments , to look for the signatures of giant planets on short-period orbits, hoping to see the tell-tale “wobble” of a star caused by the presence of a massive object in a close orbit, a kind of planet known as a hot Jupiters. This hot Jupiter signature has now been found for a total of three stars in the cluster alongside earlier evidence for several other planets.
A hot Jupiter is a giant exoplanet with a mass of more than about a third of Jupiter’s mass. They are “hot” because they are orbiting close to their parent stars, as indicated by an orbital period (their “year”) that is less than ten days in duration. That is very different from the Jupiter we are familiar with in our own Solar System, which has a year lasting around 12 Earth- years and is much colder than the Earth .
“We want to use an open star cluster as laboratory to explore the properties of exoplanets and theories of planet formation”, explains Roberto Saglia. “Here we have not only many stars possibly hosting planets, but also a dense environment, in which they must have formed.”
The study found that hot Jupiters are more common around stars in Messier 67 than is the case for stars outside of clusters. “This is really a striking result,” marvels Anna Brucalassi, who carried out the analysis. “The new results mean that there are hot Jupiters around some 5% of the Messier 67 stars studied — far more than in comparable studies of stars not in clusters, where the rate is more like 1%.”
Astronomers think it highly unlikely that these exotic giants actually formed where we now find them, as conditions so close to the parent star would not initially have been suitable for the formation of Jupiter-like planets. Rather, it is thought that they formed further out, as Jupiter probably did, and then moved closer to the parent star. What were once distant, cold, giant planets are now a good deal hotter. The question then is: what caused them to migrate inwards towards the star?
There are a number of possible answers to that question, but the authors conclude that this is most likely the result of close encounters with neighbouring stars, or even with the planets in neighbouring solar systems, and that the immediate environment around a solar system can have a significant impact on how it evolves.
In a cluster like Messier 67, where stars are much closer together than the average, such encounters would be much more common, which would explain the larger numbers of hot Jupiters found there.
Co-author and co-lead Luca Pasquini from ESO looks back on the remarkable recent history of studying planets in clusters: “No hot Jupiters at all had been detected in open clusters until a few years ago. In three years the paradigm has shifted from a total absence of such planets — to an excess!”
A team from the University of Bristol has shed new light on the creatures that inhabited the tropical seas surrounding Britain at the start of the age of the dinosaurs.
Some 210 million years ago, Britain consisted of many islands, surrounded by warm seas. Europe at the time lay farther south, at latitudes equivalent to North Africa today. Much of Europe was hot desert, and at this point was flooded by a great sea – the Rhaetian Transgression.
Published in Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, the Bristol team’s work is the most extensive study yet, based on more than 26,000 identified fossils, of the Rhaetian shallow sea sharks, bony fishes, marine reptiles, and other creatures. Unusually, five members of the team were undergraduates when they did the work, and this was part of a series of summer internships.
The team was led by Ellen Mears, now a postgraduate at the University of Edinburgh, and Valentina Rossi, now a postgraduate at the University of Cork.
Ellen Mears said: “I studied the shark and fish teeth, and found remains of at least seven species of sharks and four of bony fishes. The sharks were all predators, but some were quite small. The bony fishes were unusual because many of them were shell crushers.”
Valentina Rossi, who worked on the reptile remains, added: “We found teeth and bones of ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, the classic great sea dragons of the Triassic and Jurassic, as well as some other reptiles, including a tooth possibly from a dinosaur – but it was heavily worn.”
Professor Michael Benton, who supervised the students’ work over the summers of 2014 and 2015, explained: “The students came to the project with no prior knowledge, but each one took on the task of identifying and documenting their group of fossils. They had to look at thousands of specimens and assign them to species, and then each contribute their part of the paper to proper professional standards. This is the eighth paper published from this internship scheme.”
The new work has emphasized the complexity of major global changes, like this remarkable rise in sea level ten million years ago. It has been documented from dozens of localities in England, but also from central Europe. Careful measurement of the rock sections, and documentation of the fossils bed-by-bed allow us to reconstruct the to-and-fro of major animal groups over a few million years.
The fossils even include dozens of examples of coprolites, pellets of dung, hat were deposited by the various fishes and reptiles – some of these even contain bones and scales of fishes, and one even shows small bones of a marine reptile – clear evidence of who was eating whom in those ancient seas.
Archaeologists working in Trondheim in Norway have unearthed a human skeleton in the bottom of an abandoned castle well. The skeleton provides evidence that confirms dramatic historical events mentioned in the Viking Sagas.
The location and contents of the well are mentioned in Sverre’s Saga, a chronicle of one of the kings of Norway, and one of very few historical manuscripts describing events in the Norwegian Viking age and medieval period.
Scholars have questioned the chronicle’s trustworthiness as a historical document. But now, at least one part of the saga seems to hold truth – down to the tiniest detail.
– This is truly astonishing. As far as I know there is no known example of the discovery of an individual historically connected with an act of war as far back as the year 1197. And the fact that this actually corroborates an event described in Sverre’s saga is simply amazing, says lead archaeologist at the site, Anna Petersén.
Man left in castle well for 800 years
In 1197 King Sverre Sigurdsson and his Birkebeiner-mercenaries were attacked and defeated in his castle stronghold, Sverresborg, by his rivals, the Baglers. According to the Saga, the Baglers burned down buildings and destroyed the castle’s fresh water supply by throwing one of King Sverre’s dead men into the well, and then filling it with stones.
Now, following a trial excavation in the well, archaeologists can confirm this dramatic story. Archaeologists managed to retrieve part of the skeleton they found in the well in 2014. A fragment of bone produced a radiocarbon date that confirmed that the individual lived and died at the end of the 12th century, the same time as the incident described in the Saga.
Skeleton and well structure
The archaeologists from The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research have returned this year to conduct a full excavation of the well with the goal of removing the layers of dumped stone and ultimately the whole skeleton.
The excavation of the stone debris down to the very first stone that hit the Birkebeiner’s body has given the archaeologists additional insight into the nature of events in 1197. In addition, it exposed the timber posts and lining for the large castle well.
– This is a unique glimpse of an important historical event. You can almost feel it. Its almost as if you were there – enthuses Petersén.
The archaeologists at Sverresborg are being supported by a forensic specialist from the Trondheim police district, which adds to the feeling that we are witnesses to the result of a brutal crime.
The excavation is funded by the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage.
It is lunacy to believe you own the moon, and no amount of tomato juice you spill into the sea will make its water yours. Yet we ask the question “who owns antiquity?” as if it were a sane one.
There is a reason for this. It’s the reason why Dennis Hope, founder of the Lunar Embassy and self-dubbed President of the Galactic Government, is no lunatic but an entrepreneur who has sold over 600m acres of “extraterrestrial real estate” to over 6m people. It’s the reason why Nestlé has rebranded itself as a corporate water steward, while bottling ground water at the expense of local communities.
It’s also the reason why today, on the 200th anniversary of the British parliamentary vote to purchase the sculptures that Lord Elgin sawed off the Parthenon, the British Museum continues to insist that its trustees are legally entitled to the sculptures. And it’s the reason why human rights lawyers, marshalled by Amal Clooney, have once again advised a Greek government unwilling to put forward a legal claim that it should take this museum to court.
‘Stones of no value’
In 1801, Elgin was the British Ambassador to the Ottoman court from which he obtained a limited license to collect “some stones of no value” from the Acropolis, with which to adorn his estate back in Scotland. The excised sculpted blocks were shipped back to the UK and in 1811, on the verge of bankruptcy, Elgin offered to sell them to the nation. Five years later, the state bought 15 metopes, 17 pedimental sculptures, and 80 metres of frieze for £35,000 (equivalent to at least £2.4m today, placed in the trust of the British Museum.
According the Guardian correspondent Helena Smith wrote: “Activists have been counting down to what they call the ‘black anniversary’“ (June 7 2016). Nothing could be further from the truth. Most activists agree that had the parliamentary vote to purchase not been won, the sculptures may well have ended up in the illegal art market and vanished without a trace. The real controversy surrounding the debate concerned the fact that the British government was willing to spend such a huge amount at a time of national famine.
But all that was then and this is now. Among other things, Greece is no longer a subject province of the Ottoman Empire. In 2009 the country opened the New Acropolis Museum, which has been specifically designed to display all of the sculptures, and currently displays plaster casts of the London marbles next to the original Athenian ones.
A recent British Museum press statement claimed that the Parthenon sculptures are “a part of the world’s shared heritage and transcend political boundaries”. Greece’s minster of culture, Aristides Baltas, similarly said that “we do not regard the Parthenon as exclusively Greek but rather as a heritage of humanity”. Yet the British Museum also asserts that the sculptures are “a vital element in this interconnected world collection” and the usually diplomatic Baltas was also quoted as saying:
We are trying to develop alliances which we hope would eventually lead to an international body like the United Nations to come with us against the British Museum.
These curious juxtapositions all echo those of Nestlé’s chairman (and former CEO) Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, who claimed that when he said “access to water is not a public right” what he really meant was that “water is a human right” (albeit only the 1.5% of it that Nestlé is content not to buy and re-sell). The New Acropolis Museum currently charges a €5 general admission fee for the “heritage of humanity”. The entrance to the British Museum is of course, free; but it leads to suggested donation boxes, gift shops where one can purchase “Elgin Marbles” memorabilia, overpriced cafeterias, and ticketed special exhibitions.
The Parthenon marbles form an integral part of a larger whole, a temple dedicated to Athena whose frieze, metopes, and pediments variously depict her birth, the Panathenaic procession, the sack of Troy, and an array of mythological fights and contests.
There is no other example of a piece of art as crudely dismembered as the Parthenon, with even the heads and bodies of individual sculptures located in different countries (a few rogue pieces somehow ended up in the Louvre and other European museums which have yet to make any gestures of return). If the missing sculptures and fragments of this aesthetic travesty were to be reunited with those in the New Acropolis Museum, visitors could study them as one entire whole, with a direct view of the monument to which they belong.
The time is right for all surviving sculptures to be reunited under this single roof. They should be displayed, for free, in a joint Greek and British international museum. This bicentenary provides the perfect opportunity for the two nations to collaborate instead of bicker over ownership. The British Museum would be praised worldwide for all its actions, culminating in a collaborative partnership that genuinely benefits humanity. It is high time that ownership of the past became a thing of the past and we began to think in terms of joint custody instead.
Professor of Philosophy, University of Hertfordshire
An astonishing new cultural institution for the Middle East has now opened to the public. Situated on a hilltop near Ramallah in the West Bank, the $24m Palestinian Museum was opened officially in a gala inauguration ceremony on May 18.
Over 700 guests mingled on a broad pavilion in the afternoon sun, while musicians played a classical Arab repertoire in the terraced gardens below. As night fell, dancers performed in a small amphitheatre, and a lightshow was projected onto the museum’s white limestone façade.
Yet the museum opened without any artefacts in its galleries or artworks on its walls.
The empty halls quickly came to define the Palestinian Museum in the international press. “Palestinian Museum Prepares to Open, Minus Exhibitions,” declared a pre-emptory report in the New York Times (May 16). The absence of artefacts has featured in the headlines or opening sentences of every media report since.
Symbolism in stone
For Omar al-Qattan, the museum’s chairman, the building’s timely completion was cause for celebration enough. Qattan’s message of positivity was clear: “We thought, ‘let’s celebrate the building’ because in the current circumstances … it would be wonderful to have an affirmative, celebratory building,” he told the New York Times. “Symbolically, it’s critical.”
Yet the museum can’t seem to escape the symbolism of its empty halls. “Oh, The Irony! Palestinian Museum Opens With No Exhibits,” exclaimed the conservative tabloid Israel Today, before making the staggering claim that an empty museum symbolises a people without culture.
More nuanced reports in the New York Times and Washington Post adopted a gentler yet still derisive tone, in which the empty galleries symbolised a failure of Palestinian leadership. “It supports the impression that the Palestinians simply cannot get their act together, that they have built an empty monument,” stated The Washington Post. To The New York Times, the empty galleries were apparently yet another example of a cultural initiative that had “failed to gain traction and find consistent leadership” since the Oslo peace accords.
The museum is not financed by the Palestinian Authority. Rather, it is the flagship project of Taawon (formerly the Welfare Association), an independent Palestinian NGO.
Nevertheless, focus on the empty galleries is partly explained by the museum’s earlier promotion of an opening exhibition called “Never Part”, which was to feature artefacts kept by Palestinian refugees since 1948. This concept was developed by former Director Jack Persekian, who resigned last year following differences with the museum’s board.
As Qattan explained to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the board hopes to realise something broader than a remembrance museum to the Nakba (the “catastrophe”), which is commemorated by Palestinians on May 15 each year to mark the displacement of 700,000 people in 1948. “We wanted to celebrate Palestinian culture and the present, young people especially, in a way that would allow us to look forward and not just to look back,” Qattan said.
More than its contents
While unusual, the opening of a museum without exhibits is not without precedent. The Jewish Museum in Berlin, for example, opened in 1999, but did not receive any artefacts until 2001. In this case, the opening celebrated the completion of an iconic piece of contemporary design by architect Daniel Libeskind. The building alone drew more than 350,000people, demonstrating that a museum is more than the artefacts it holds.
The article in Haaretz has been the only report that I have come across that places the Palestinian Museum in this context.
Like Libeskind’s Jewish Museum, the Palestinian Museum is a striking example of contemporary design. Architect Roisin Heneghan, whose Dublin-based firm Heneghan Peng won the project in an international competition in 2011, sought to integrate the building with the stepped hillside on which it stands. The museum is approached through a series of terraced gardens featuring cereals, fruit trees and aromatic herbs that represent a horticultural history of the region. The building rises from the summit of the hill as three elegant limestone triangles with glass panels that mirror the terraces below.
The building is the first structure in the Palestinian territories to meet the green construction standard, and was awarded a rare Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating. It is now one of the largest public spaces in the West Bank.
The timely completion of the building is remarkable given the logistical difficulties presented by the occupation. Imports were reportedly subject to lengthy delays or sudden increases in costs, and materials were refused at the border. The landscape architect, Lara Zureikat, was not granted a visa to visit the site from her home in Jordan.
The museum’s new director, Mahmoud Hawari, hopes to install the first exhibits by the end of the year. And the museum will not be empty in the meantime, as the public can now visit this remarkable structure, and wander through its grounds.
Project Curator for the Ancient Levant, The British Museum
Scientists have long speculated that the ancient Egyptians used metal from meteorites to make iron objects. Now an analysis of a dagger found in Tutankhamun’s tomb has given us strong evidence that this was the case – and that the Egyptians knew the iron had come from the sky.
But why did they use such an unusual source for the metal when there’s plenty of iron here on Earth?
Until recently, we didn’t think that the ancient Egyptians were particularly good at producing iron objects until late in their history, around 500 BC. There’s no archaeological evidence for significant iron working anywhere in the Nile Valley. Even the large amounts of iron-rich smelting waste products found in the Delta region could actually have been produced by attempts to make copper. When Tutankhamun died – 800 years earlier – iron was a rarer material than gold.
The most common natural source of metal iron on Earth is iron ores – rocks that contain iron chemically bonded to other elements. These need to be processed by heating them with other materials (smelting) to extract a low-quality form of iron, which is then beaten with hammers to remove impurities. This requires considerable know-how, effort and tools that we have no evidence for in ancient Egypt.
There were abundant supplies of iron ore in both Egypt and the Sinai peninsula and textual sources indicate that Egyptians were aware of the metal from early in their history. But the ore was mostly used to create pigments for art and make up. One explanation for this may be that the readily accessible iron ores were of poor quality so couldn’t be worked into more useful metal.
But iron doesn’t just come from iron ore. We have evidence that numerous prehistoric societies worldwide which did not have access to ores or knowledge of smelting made use of metallic iron found in occasional meteorites. This precious gift from nature still required shaping into a useful form, often resulting in very basic iron objects, such as small thin metal pieces that could be used as blades or bent into shapes.
If ancient Egyptians knew that iron could be found in meteorites that came from the sky – the place of the gods – it may have been symbolically important to them. As a result, they could have seen all iron as a divine material that wasn’t appropriate to work into a practical, everyday form and that should be reserved only for high-status people.
Meteorites may have even played a more direct role in state religion. For example, the “Benben” stone worshipped in the sun temple of the god Ra at Heliopolis is thought to have possibly been a meteorite. The word “benben” is derived from the verb “weben”, meaning “to shine”.
The ancient language also offers clues as to how how iron was perceived by Egyptians – and that they knew meteorites were a source of the metal. The earliest hieroglyphic word for iron was greatly debated by translators, who frequently confused the words for copper and iron. The word “bi-A” was eventually translated as “iron”, but could easily have referred a range of hard, dense, iron-like materials.
The word was used in many texts including the funerary Pyramid Texts, early religious writings dating from approximately 2375 BC but likely to have been composed far earlier, carved on the internal walls of some pyramids. These textual references to iron connect it with aspects of the sky and with the bones of the dead king who will live for ever as an undying star in the sky.
From the beginning of the 19th Dynasty (approximately 1295 BC) a new hieroglyphic word for iron appeared: “bi-A-n-pt”, which literally translates as “iron from the sky”. Why this new word appears in this exact form at this time is unknown but it was later applied to all metallic iron. An obvious explanation for the sudden emergence of the word would be a major impact event or large shower of meteorites.
This would have been witnessed by much of the ancient Egyptian population, leaving little uncertainty as to where exactly the mysterious iron came from. One possible candidate event is the Gebel Kamil meteorite impact in southern Egypt. Although its exact date remains unknown, based upon nearby archaeology we know it occurred within the past 5000 years.
Iron is also connected to ritual artefacts such as those used in the Opening of the Mouth ceremony, a ritual performed at the entrance of a tomb designed to transform the mummy into a latent being with the potential for life. Later texts, including temple inventories, that reference the equipment used in this ceremony refer to the iron blades used as “the two stars”. It may be that iron was allowed an important role in this ceremony because of the association of iron with meteorites, powerful natural phenomena whose own inherent power might increase the potency of the ritual.
We also know that iron dagger blades were important enough to be mentioned in diplomatic correspondence. The best-known example is a letter from King Tushratta of Mitanni (today in northern Iraq and Syria) detailing a dowry of his daughter who was to be sent as a bride to Tutankhamun’s grandfather, king Amenhotep III. This letter intriguingly refers to a dagger blade of “habalkinu”, a poorly documented word derived from the ancient Hittite language which some linguists have translated as “steel”.
Only further detailed analysis of the chemistry and microstructure of other artefacts will tell us if meteorites were a common source of the iron that the ancient Egyptians produced. We also need to determine when where and how the smelting of terrestrial iron ores started in Egypt to further guide us in our knowledge on the origins, evolution and specific techniques of ancient Egyptian metalworking technology. By combining this with our knowledge of the cultural importance of iron, we can start to develop a realistic understanding of the true value of this metal in ancient Egypt.
Post Doctoral Research Associate, Department of Physical Sciences, The Open University
Kinizsi Castle is a 14th century fortification, located in the village of Nagyvázsony in the Veszprém county.
The castle was named after Pál Kinizsi, a Hungarian general in the service of King Matthias Corvinus. He was the Count of Temes from 1484 and Captain-General of the Lower Parts. He is famous for his victory over the Ottomans in the Battle of Breadfield in October 1479.
In the period of the Turkish conquest from 1541, the castle of Nagyvázsony was held intermittently by Hungarian and Turkish forces, before being recaptured and finally held by the Hungarians in 1598.
In 1663 it was besieged once again by the Turks, where the soldiers of Grand Vizier Ahmed Kürpülü torched the castle to the ground. Today the castle is a stage for Renaissance games and festivals.
Buda Castle is the historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings in Budapest, and was first completed in 1265.
Buda Castle was built on the southern tip of Castle Hill, bounded on the north by what is known as the Castle District (Várnegyed), which is famous for its Medieval, Baroque, and 19th-century houses, churches, and public buildings.
The first royal residence on the Castle Hill was built by King Béla IV of Hungary between 1247 and 1265.
The oldest part of the present-day palace was built in the 14th century by Stephen, Duke of Slavonia, who was the younger brother of King Louis I of Hungary. Only the foundations remain of the castle keep, which was known as Stephen’s Tower.
Sümeg Castle is a castle by the town of Sümeg, Veszprém county that was built in the mid 13th century on a mountain called “Castle Hill”.
The castle was first constructed by Béla IV of Hungary, King of Hungary and Croatia between 1235 and 1270, and Duke of Styria from 1254 to 1258.
Béla IV lived at Sümeg during the Mongolian invasion between 1241-1242. Later, it was presented as a gift to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Veszprém by Stephen V of Hungary.
In 1552, in response to the capture of Veszprém by the Turks, the castle was rebuilt and fortified to serve as a frontier fortress.
Castle of Diósgyőr
The Castle of Diósgyőr is a medieval castle in the historical town of Diósgyőr which is now part of the Northern Hungarian city Miskolc.
The first castle of Diósgyőr was built probably in the 12th century and was destroyed during the Mongol invasion (1241–42). The current, Gothic castle was built after the invasion and reached the peak of its importance during the reign of King Louis the Great (1342-1382). Later it became a wedding gift for the queens of Hungary, which it remained until the Ottoman invasion of Hungary in the 16th century.
The construction of Gyula Castle began in the 14th century but finished only in the mid-16th century. It was the property of the Maróthy family and later John Corvinus, the illegitimate son of Matthias Corvinus.
The Turks conquered Gyula in 1566 and remained the part of the Ottoman Empire until 1694, when Christian troops liberated the area.
Due to the wars, the native Hungarian population fled from Gyula and Békés County which became nearly uninhabited until János Harruckern invited German, Hungarian and Romanian settlers, who re-established the town in the early 18th century.
The Simontornya Castle is a Renaissance castle in Simontornya, built in the 13th century by Simon (Son of Salamon) among the swamps of the Sió river. The name Simontornya means Simon’s Tower.
Mózes Buzlay, marshall of King Ulászló II improved the castle into a renaissance palace with the help of Italian masters and craftsmen from Buda. After Buzlays’ death the castle was taken over by the Turks in 1545.
During the revolution against the Habsburgs, led by Prince Francis II Rákóczi, Simontornya became the stronghold of the Kuruc rebels in southwest Hungary.
Boldogkő castle is a medieval fortified palace built high up on a hill, overlooking the Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén region.
Construction began around the 13th century, having been through various stages of renovation and additions over the centuries.
In the beginning of the 14th century the castle was occupied by Aba Amadé, then it belonged to King Károly (Charles) Anjou. During the middle age among others the nobel families Bebek and Czudar possessed the castle.
The medieval castle of Csesznek was built around 1263 by the Jakab Cseszneky who was the swordbearer of the King Béla IV. He and his descendants have been named after the castle Cseszneky.
Between 1326 and 1392 it was a royal castle, when King Sigismund offered it to the House of Garai in lieu of the Macsó Banate.
During the 16th century the Csábi, Szelestey and Wathay families were in possession of Csesznek. In 1561, Lőrinc Wathay repulsed successfully the siege of the Ottomans. However, in 1594 the castle was occupied by Turkish troops, but in 1598 the Hungarians recaptured it.
Through the Nádasdy family, the castle of Sárvár, now called Nádasdy Castle, played a significant role in the progress of Hungarian culture in the 16th and 17th centuries. The first Hungarian book, The New Testament of 1541, was printed here.
The Nádasdy Castle and estate later became a property of the kings of Bavaria, and the former King Ludwig III died there in 1921, three years after being deposed. During the Second World War, the castle was used as the retreat of Ludwig’s grandson Prince Albert of Bavaria.
Castle of Eger
The Castle of Eger is most famously known for repelling the Turkish attack in 1552 during the Siege of Eger.
During the Mongol invasion in 1241, this castle was ruined, and the bishop of Eger moved it to a rocky hill in the city of Eger. On the hill, a new castle was built, and it developed rapidly.
In 1552, a Turkish army of 35,000-40,000 soldiers attacked the castle which had 2,100-2,300 defenders. The siege failed as the Turks suffered heavy casualties. A total of 1,700 of the defenders survived. After that the Turks besieged the castle again in 1596, resulting in a Turkish victory.
Development and construction firm Skanska USA and the City of Boston announced the conclusion of an archaeological investigation into the remains of a shipwrecked vessel discovered during excavation at the site of Skanska’s 121 Seaport development.
During normal excavation operations at the site, a Skanska employee noticed an unexpected structure believed to be the outline of a boat hull. Recognizing its potential significance, the company halted construction and contacted the City of Boston archaeologist, Joe Bagley, the Massachusetts Historic Commission and The Public Archaeology Laboratory to conduct an investigation of the ship’s potential historic significance.
A team of seven archaeologists including the Public Archaeology Laboratory, City Archaeology Program, nautical archaeologists, and archaeologists with the State of Massachusetts convened at the site to document the shipwreck.
The team found:
- The 121 Seaport ship was wooden, about 50 feet long, and built sometime between the late 18th and mid-19th century. It had at least two masts.
- It held a large cargo of wooden barrels that contained lime, possibly from the Rockland area of Maine. The team found several dozen barrels of lime, suggesting the entire bottom of the ship was covered with lime barrels.
- The ship contained two knives, two forks, and a stack of burned plates in the rear of the ship.
- The ship sunk sometime between 1850 and 1880. The ship itself is likely older than the date it went down. It could have been made in the late 1700s or early 1800s.
- Most of the wood is charred, suggesting that the ship burned because when lime gets wet it reacts to produce heat, which can cause fires. The team was unable to determine if the 121 Seaport ship burned causing it to sink, if it was deliberately scuttled in the low-lying mudflats when the fire started, or if it ran aground and then burned.
- Due to age and severe deterioration of the wood due to the fire, removing the remains of the ship from the site in one piece is highly unlikely.
“We are so thankful to Skanska for voluntarily stopping construction to investigate this amazing find. We truly appreciate the opportunity to study the ship’s historical significance,” said Joe Bagley, the City of Boston archaeologist. “We almost never get this kind of opportunity.”
“We’ve enjoyed working closely with the talented team of archaeologists in their search for more information about the ship. Skanska strives to be open and transparent, and we want to respect the communities where we develop and build. That means respecting their history,” said Shawn Hurley, president and CEO of Skanska USA Commercial Development. “We are highly invested in Boston and believe its history is part of what makes it so special. It is fascinating to unlock some of that history while building the city’s future.”
With the completion of the archaeological investigation and excavation, Skanska will resume construction activities. The company is committed to preserving as much of the deteriorated ship in its ongoing construction excavation process. The company hired an independent consultant, The Public Archaeology Laboratory, which will continue to work with the city to conduct additional research on the ship and compile a report expected later this summer.