It’s all a bit of a blur, isn’t it? That little-remembered century—1600 to 1700—that began with the founding (and foundering) of the first permanent English settlement in America, the one called Jamestown, whose endemic perils portended failure for the dream of a New World. The century that saw all the disease-ridden, barely civilized successors to Jamestown slaughtering and getting slaughtered by the Original Inhabitants, hanging on by their fingernails to some fetid coastal swampland until Pocahontas saved Thanksgiving. No, that’s not right, is it? I said it was a blur.
Enter Bernard Bailyn, the greatest historian of early America alive today. Now over 90 and ensconced at Harvard for more than six decades, Bailyn has recently published another one of his epoch-making grand narrative syntheses, The Barbarous Years, casting a light on the darkness, filling in the blank canvas with what he’s gleaned from what seems like every last scrap of crumbling diary page, every surviving chattel slave receipt and ship’s passenger manifest of the living and dead, every fearful sermon about the Antichrist that survived in the blackened embers of the burned-out churches. Read more.
The latest project from Dassault Systèmes with the help of historians and archaeologists is the remarkable Paris 3D Saga, an interactive model that guides you through two millennia of Paris’ history.
You are taken through the French capital at various stages of its’ development from 52 BC Gallic Oppida through the Roman city and on to the present day. You can witness the construction of the Bastille and Notre Dame and walk through winding stone streets in the middle ages and then visit the 1889 World’s Fair to see the Eiffel Tower just after completion.
The Paris 3D Saga let’s you experience the city like you have never seen it before. Go on a journey through more than 2000 years of history: Read more.
After Ellis Island was closed in November 1954, no one was quite sure what to do with it. The 27-acre government facility located in New York Harbor had stopped processing immigrants coming into the United States and no government entity was stepping up with a plan for the site. So in 1956 the U.S. government started soliciting bids for any private corporation or person that wanted to buy it.
As Vincent J. Cannato notes in his book American Passage: The History of Ellis Island, there were a number of different proposals:
But perhaps the most lavish idea came from the highest bidder, Sol G. Atlas. Mr. Atlas offered the government $201,000 and wanted to build a $55 million resort. According to the February 17, 1958 issue of the Monessen Valley Independent in Pennsylvania, “The plans call for a 600-room hotel, museum, language school, music center, swimming pool, convention hall, shops and a promenade. Read more.
A warship submerged for two centuries in a river near Washington, D.C., could provide new insight into the relatively obscure War of 1812, say archaeologists who are preparing to excavate the wreck.
The war started because the British, who had been fighting with France since 1803, imposed restrictions on U.S. trade with the French, infuriating Americans. Relations worsened when British ships began intercepting U.S. vessels on the high seas, removing any British-born sailors, and forcing them to serve in the British navy.
The U.S. Congress declared war on the British—including their Canadian colonists—in June 1812.
Scientists have known about the unidentified wartime shipwreck, which lies in the Patuxent River about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northeast of the nation’s capital, since the early 1970s. Read more.
Monticello archaeologists have discovered two previously unknown archaeological sites that contain nineteenth century artifacts, including remains of slave homes—some from Jefferson’s time.
The sites were discovered in April at Tufton, historically significant as one of Thomas Jefferson’s four quarter farms located about a mile and a quarter east of Monticello.
A preliminary assessment of the artifacts indicates the earlier of the two sites was occupied in the first few decades of the nineteenth century, most likely by enslaved field laborers who worked on the Tufton farm.
Archaeologists recovered significant Jefferson-era artifacts including: a padlock, which matches one found on Mulberry Row, a glass bead, a slate pencil, a metal coat button, along with scores of datable ceramic sherds in refined English earthenwares and some Chinese porcelain.
The second site contains artifacts that date from the mid through late-nineteenth century and contains above-ground remains of at least two houses: a stone foundation and a brick chimney stack. Read more.
And Gary Ellis, director of the Gulf Archaeology Research Institute Inc., believes he’s uncovered it.
In 1835, rising tensions between settlers and the Seminole tribe led the military to build Fort Defiance in the area. Evacuated and burned about a year later because of illness and the inability of those stationed there to defend it, it was re-established in 1837 as Fort Micanopy. That fort’s exact location has never been determined, but historical information indicates it was within what is now Micanopy’s town limits.
After working last year in Micanopy and with the help of residents and others who have found artifacts in and around the town, Ellis has submitted information to the National Park Service about his findings. Read more.
Cleopatra’s twin babies now have a face. An Italian Egyptologist has rediscovered a sculpture of Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene, the offspring of Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII, at the Egyptian museum in Cairo.
Discovered in 1918 near the temple of Dendera on the west bank of the Nile, the sandstone statue was acquired by the Egyptian Museum in Cairo but has remained largely overlooked.
The back of the the 33-foot sculpture, catalogued as JE 46278 at the Egyptian museum, features some engraved stars — likely indicating that the stone was originally part of a ceiling. Overall, the rest of the statue appears to be quite unusual.
“It shows two naked children, one male and one female, of identical size standing within the coils of two snakes. Each figure has an arm over the other’s shoulder, while the other hand grasps a serpent,” Giuseppina Capriotti, an Egyptologist at the Italy’s National Research Council, told Discovery News. Read more.
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y.—An archaeological dig conducted last summer near Lake Champlain’s New York shoreline has uncovered evidence that the site was a winter encampment for American soldiers during the War of 1812.
The Press-Republican of Plattsburgh reports that archaeologist Timothy Abel says the excavations on property formerly owned by the Plattsburgh Air Force Base unearthed military artifacts such as uniform buttons bearing the number 15, indicating the U.S. Army’s 15th Regiment.
The regiment spent the winter of 1812-13 encamped at what was known as Pike’s Cantonment, named for the camp’s commander, Zebulon Pike. The encampment’s exact location in Plattsburgh had been debated for decades. More excavations are planned at the site this summer.
In September 1814, American land and naval forces defeated the British at the Battle of Plattsburgh. (source)