Two centuries after the French people beheaded King Louis XVI and dipped their handkerchiefs in his blood, DNA analysis has thrown new doubt on the authenticity of one such rag kept as a morbid souvenir.
The contents of an ornately-decorated gourd alleged to hold traces of the king’s dried blood has long been the subject of scientific disagreement, with tests throwing up contradictory results.
On Thursday, a team from Europe and the United States said they had sequenced the full genome of the DNA in the squash, and found it was unlikely to be from someone tall or blue-eyed—both features ascribed to the 18th century monarch. Read more.
Archeologists from the Missouri Department of Transportation are ecstatic over a discovery beneath the Poplar Street Bridge in St. Louis. They’ve uncovered the first physical evidence dating to when the French founded St. Louis in 1764.
The findings help confirm written documentation of St. Louis’ earliest European settlers and shed new light on the people who live here.
Michael Meyer is an archeologist with MoDOT and the principal investigator of the department’s work in St. Louis.
“I’ve been working in archeology for approximately 22 years and in that time I’ve done a great number of different archeological sites from Civil War battlefields to colonial plantations, and I feel that this excavation is probably the most significant thing that I have ever personally worked on or seen done,” Meyer said. Read more.
Three years ago, French researchers declared that a centuries-old mummified head was that of the beloved King Henri IV. But now a new study says, “Non!”
The original conclusion was based largely on facial reconstruction techniques and signs the skull had injuries similar to those suffered by the monarch. The new study looked at DNA instead.
It found a genetic mismatch between the head and three living male relatives of the 17th-century French king. The researchers concluded the head didn’t come from anybody in the royal lineage. Read more.
An ancient limestone platform dating back to 425 B.C is the oldest wine press ever discovered on French soil.
The press is the first evidence of winemaking in what is now modern-day France, according to new research published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The evidence suggests inhabitants of the region of Etruria got the ancient residents of France hooked. (Etruria covered parts of modern-day Tuscany, Latium and Umbria in Italy.)
"Now we know that the ancient Etruscans lured the Gauls into the Mediterranean wine culture by importing wine into southern France," study researcher Patrick McGovern, who directs the Bimolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, said in a statement. "This built up a demand that could only be met by establishing a native industry." Read more.
Islamist insurgents retreating from Timbuktu set fire to a library containing thousands of priceless historic manuscripts, according to the Saharan town’s mayor, in an incident he described as a “devastating blow” to world heritage.
Hallé Ousmani Cissé told the Guardian that al-Qaida-allied fighters on Saturday torched two buildings that held the manuscripts, some of which dated back to the 13th century. They also burned down the town hall, the governor’s office and an MP’s residence, and shot dead a man who was celebrating the arrival of the French military.
French troops and the Malian army reached the gates of Timbuktu on Saturday and secured the town’s airport. But they appear to have got there too late to rescue the leather-bound manuscripts that were a unique record of sub-Saharan Africa’s rich medieval history. The rebels attacked the airport on Sunday, the mayor said. Read more.
ARCHAEOLOGISTS have made a landmark discovery that could help answer the question that has puzzled Irish historians for over 200 years.
Could an invasion of Ireland by Napoleon’s French forces have succeeded and triggered Irish independence more than century earlier than it was actually won?
A team of experts — led by Rubicon Archaeology — has discovered a near pristine gun emplacement on Bere Island in west Cork.
They have also revealed tantalising hints that Britain’s coastal defensive network was much more formidable than first thought — and would have left the French facing their own 19th Century version of D-Day and Germany’s Atlantic Wall.
Until now, it had been presumed that only bad weather, poor planning and luck had kept crack French troops away from the Irish coast. Read more.
A French couple have found a hoard of gold coins worth at least 100,000 euros (£89,000; $140,000) in the cellar of their home in the town of Millau.
They were working on their drains when they dug up the 34 coins in a little clay pot, French media said.
The coins date from 1595 to the French Revolution, which began in 1789, said a local coin expert who evaluated them.
The most valuable is a double louis from 1640, during the reign of Louis XIII, worth 6,500 euros. Read more.
PARIS (AFP) – French Egyptologist Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, known for her books on art and history and for saving the Nubian temples from flooding caused by the Aswan Dam, has died at the age of 97, her editor Telemaque said Friday.
In a career spanning more than half-a-century, Desroches-Noblecourt also helped preserve the mummy of King Ramses II, which was threatened by fungus, and became the first French woman to lead an archaeological dig in 1938.
Born on November 17, 1913 in Paris, she was captivated by Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamon, and joined the Egyptian Antiquities department at the Louvre.
During World War II she joined the Resistance, and hid the Louvre’s Egyptian treasures in free areas of France.
Desroches-Noblecourt’s greatest accomplishment came in 1954 when the government of Gamal Abdel Nasser decided to build a new dam with a capacity of 157 billion cubic metres, which would extend into Sudan.
The monuments of ancient Nubia would have been flooded if the new Aswan Dam project was implemented in its original form. Read more.