The group of tiny figures was discovered during the restoration of a magnificent fresco, owned by the Vatican, which depicts Christ’s Resurrection.
The painting, by the Renaissance master Pinturicchio, was finished in 1494, just two years after Christopher Columbus first set foot in the New World.
It has adorned the walls of the Borgia Apartments in the Vatican for 500 years but was only recently subjected to restoration work.
The naked men, who appear to be dancing, were spotted by a restorer, Maria Pustka, as she removed centuries of grime.
The figures, which appear just above the image of an open marble casket from which Christ has risen, had previously gone unnoticed.
PORT CHARLOTTE —After Ponce de Leon landed near St. Augustine 500 years ago, then sailed beneath “La Florida” and north up the Gulf Coast, he found the land of flowers was populated and defended by a tribe of Native Americans whose name, translated into English, was “Fierce People.”
Members of that thriving Calusa civilization fished, hunted, traded and even had a natural remedy to keep mosquitoes from biting. They ran an empire stretching to the East Coast and south into the Keys. Charlotte Harbor was their Rome.
Today in Port Charlotte, history came to life with more than a dozen Calusa-crazy volunteers intent on showing how the lost tribe of Florida lived before Europeans consigned the indigenous people to the dust of history. Read more.
When I read in June that a University of Kentucky archaeologist was doing the first major exploration of Fort Boonesborough in 25 years, I had to know what she found.
Nancy O’Malley wasn’t just looking for 18th century artifacts, although she found some: a hoe, a skillet, buttons, buckles, bullets, hand-wrought nails, forks, bits of English ceramic and a blue glass trade bead.
O’Malley, an expert on Kentucky pioneer settlements who first confirmed Fort Boonesborough’s location in 1987, was trying to figure out exactly how much of the fort still exists. She was specifically searching for evidence of the most famous event that occurred there: a nine-day siege 234 years ago this week in which Daniel Boone and a small group of pioneers repelled an attack by several hundred Native Americans. Read more.
OCOTILLO — As the rising sun bathed the desert where a controversial 112-wind-turbine project is being built, dog handler John Grebenkemper walked his forensic dog Tuesday morning hoping it would detect the scent of cremated ancient Native Americans.
“They only (find) human remains’ scent,” Grebenkemper said referring to forensic dogs like his, Keyle, which was trained with old bones and dried teeth to identify human remains at archaeological sites such as the ones thought to be abundant in the Ocotillo area.
Grebenkemper was just one of a team of dog handlers commissioned to find potential cremation sites in what is the latest effort to preserve sensitive areas throughout the construction of the Ocotillo Wind Express facility. Read more.
MYSTIC, Conn. — Most local residents are familiar with the massacre and burning of the Pequot Indian fort in 1637 by English forces and their Native American allies.
What is lesser known is that as the surviving 75 British soldiers and 200 allies retreated toward ships on the Thames River, they had to fight off fierce attacks from 300 Pequots and at one point may have burned a smaller Indian village they came across.
Now Kevin McBride, the director of research at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, with help from 20 college students from across the country, is spending the summer in Pequot Woods retracing the steps that Capt. John Mason and his men took during that retreat.
“This is a real window into that time period,” McBride said recently as his search team worked deep in the woods off a trail that leads to Mystic Meadow Lane. Read more.
FORT BOONESBOROUGH STATE PARK — Archaeologists here are sweating out the early summer heat this week, digging down through layers of soil and back through 234 years of time to learn more about one of Kentucky’s most historic sites.
University of Kentucky archaeologist Nancy O’Malley, who is heading the project, says the main goal is to uncover previously unknown details about the Revolutionary War siege in September 1778, when Native Americans and French-Canadian militiamen tried to overrun Fort Boonesborough.
In the process of that search, scientists also hope to turn up long-forgotten facts about the historic fort itself.
For example, are there still traces of the tunnel the invaders tried to dig under the fort during the siege? Just how big was the fort? How big were the cabins in the stockade, and where were its walls actually located? Read more.
A federal court judge in San Francisco granted a temporary restraining order Friday to prevent the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), from handing over 9000-year-old human bones to Native Americans, in the latest twist in an unusual custody battle for two human skeletons that are among the earliest found in the Americas. Three University of California professors filed a lawsuit last week to prevent UCSD from transferring the bones, which have been described as better preserved than those of the Kennewick Man, another ancient skeleton that has been the center of debate and lawsuits.
The restraining order will be in effect until Friday, 11 May, when Judge Richard Seeborg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California will decide whether to extend it until the case is settled, according to Jim McManis, an attorney in San Jose, California, who represents the professors pro bono. Read more.
Ancestors of the earliest Native Americans may indeed be traced to Asia, according to a recent genetic study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, Russia. The researchers, led by Theodore Schurr, an associate professor in Penn’s Department of Anthropology, in collaboration with Ludmila Osipova of the Institute, suggest that an ancient people living in a mountainous region in southern Siberia may have been the genetic source for those who migrated westward, possibly crossing the Bering Land Bridge to become the earliest Native Americans.
Known as the Altai region, it is located at the four corners of what is today China, Russia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. Says Schurr, it “is a key area because it’s a place that people have been coming and going for thousands and thousands of years. Our goal in working in this area was to better define what those founding lineages or sister lineages are to Native American populations.” Read more.