Ancient Romans Visited South America

The Roman Empire had a sizable naval fleet and regularly spent time exploring the surrounding oceans, not to mention that they were always on the lookout for finding new land. But could anyone have thought that an ancient Roman vessel could have made it to South America? Probably not. Some will tell you that such a vessel does exist and may actually be sitting at the bottom of Guanabara Bay of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

This would mean that the ship and its crew would have been well over five thousand miles away from their homeland, most likely, they would have been completely blown off course. With the ship being damaged maybe they were not able to sail back to Rome, and if they hit a rock then they may have sunk in the bay. In the middle of Guanabara Bay, there is a massive rock, that depending on the tide can be pretty much entirely submerged. If you didn’t know it was there, well you would be in for a nasty surprise. It is called the Xareu Rock, named by local fishermen who have called it after the fish that swim there.

There has been an ancient ship that sank due to this rock, it appears to have hit the rock and split in two, sinking 75 feet down to the ocean floor. Found during the 1970s, fishermen snagged a couple of ancient large ceramic jars in their nets. The fishermen believed they were macumba jars, jars that are used for local voodoo magic, so they would immediately smash them to pieces. Later a diver found some jars and took them home, he tried to sell 8 of them and was arrested for selling ancient artifacts.

After testing it was confirmed the large ceramic jars were an Amphora, which is the type of jars the ancient people of the Mediterranean would use to store and transport food or wine. A deep-sea diver named Roberto Teixeira signed a partnership with the Brazilian government to search the site after finding evidence of an ancient shipwreck, however, it was extremely difficult due to the amount of pollution in the bay.

In 1982, he left Brazil to acquire the necessary equipment to search the site, only to find when he came back the government had changed their mind and would not allow him to search the site. They had dumped sand on the shipwreck, they saw the discovery as a threat to the entirety of Brazilian history. Italians in Brazil tried to speak up, advising they should get free citizenship as they had discovered Brazil. This was quickly shut down by the government and they covered up anything to do with the jars or the shipwreck.

It seems we will never know the truth as the Brazilian government has not yet decided they want to face the facts.

The Terrible History Of Disappointment Island

Deep in the subantarctic Auckland Islands of New Zealand, you will find an island that is seldom visited and has a tragic past. It is aptly named Disappointment Island, and apart from being visited by research teams for bird watching missions it is seldom ever visited. There are many hidden bird species on the island that have remained very secretive which is why it is a hotspot for research, mostly because it has over 65,000 pairs of white-capped albatross, but for others, it is part of the dark tourism routes.

Few places on earth have such inappropriate names, Disappointment Island from a biological point of view is far from being a disappointment. The island is rich in wildlife and was named during an era of time when seafarers were always on the lookout for islands that had fresh water, safe harbors, and seal fur. The island has many biological riches so the name doesn’t make any sense. Just 6 km west of the main Auckland Island, it is rarely visited at all as it is less sheltered than other islands in the region. They even found the Auckland railbird there which was once a bird thought to be extinct.

However it does have a bit of a dark past, and that was due to the famous wreck of the Dundonald. In 1907 the vessel went down killing nearly all of its crew, but a couple of survivors made it out onto the island. And here starts an epic tale of survival, the island never sees over ships go past it, so the survivors had to live off the land. They camped out on the island and survived in some of the wildest conditions known to humans. Eventually, they made a tiny boat out of seal skins that they twisted around the few shrubs they found on the island. On this makeshift boat, they were able to paddle to the main island where they found a supplies depot. Here they lived for 7 months before being rescued, only 10 members survived the ordeal out of a crew of 28.

But that is not the only tragedy that happened on Disappointment Island, in 1868 a steel tanker crashed directly into the island due to poor vision. This immediately killed over 68 people and left only 15 survivors, they were stranded on the island for over 18 months before finally being rescued. So as you can see this island has caused its fair share of problems during the annals of seafaring history of the Auckland Islands.

The Time When The CIA Dropped Hundreds Of People Into North Korea

During the 1950s, there were several initiatives by the CIA to infiltrate communist regimes such as North Korea or China. One of the popular tactics was to simply parachute hundreds of people across the country. The belief was they would start a resistance force and eventually topple the regime from within – of course, as we now know, this never happened and many of these spies ended up facing terrible deaths.

The operation was usually led out of Japan, the office’s cover name was JACK which stood for Joint Advisory Commission, Korea. At the time this was the early days of the CIA, and its role was already confusing for American Military. As they like to say, nobody knew what the spooks were up to. The reports were that the initiatives were quite abysmal at the start, guerrilla forces dropped behind enemy lines were usually located and destroyed fairly quickly.

Despite this the CIA continued to drop people into North Korea, advising that any disruption of North Korean’s military lines of communication was a positive result. We now know they were also trying to set up bases of resistance in North Korea. However, even Korean nationals were usually outed fairly quickly. The thing was the Americans just did not know enough about North Korea in general. For example, reports have come out that many spies were caught and killed just because they had sandals whereas most poor villagers lived barefoot at the time.

Later missions proved more successful, this was achieved by converting shipping vessels into makeshift raiding crafts. It allowed them to insert CIA raiding forces deeper into North Korea and they were able to capture more enemy soldiers or disrupt their military operations greatly. One of the famous boats that embarked on these missions was the Japanese made K-333 trawler. One of their strategies for getting information was to capture railway workers, as they would see where the North Korean army was sending its infantry or tanks.

Much of the success came from building a base of operations on Yo-do island which was very close to the North Korean mainland. Today questions are raised about all the people the CIA simply dropped across the country without any means of a follow-up, the truth is, nobody knows what happened to this would-be spies.

The World’s Largest War Memorial

We can find the largest war memorial in the world located in Australia, the Great Ocean Road. It stretches over 243 kilometers through the west coasts of Victoria and even between Torquay and Allansford. Construction started on the road after World War I, built by soldiers returning home, the official work started on 19 September 1919.

Victoria’s southwest coast was extremely isolated, just little settlements that were connected via little rugged roads. The Chairman of the region, William Calder, decided it was time the towns had a real road. He submitted a plan to the Victorian government at the time to provide the infrastructure to build a proper road. Calder presented the project by advising it would provide hundreds of employment for soldiers returning home from war.

Though the project was approved by the government, the finances were provided by a private company, the Great Ocean Road Trust. This was a philanthropist company and not really for profit, it was simply thought they would charge a toll on the road to recoup their cost, then remove the toll completely.

Over 3000 soldiers took part in the road’s construction, they lived rough in the bushes, sleeping out in tent cities that moved along as the road progressed. It was nearly all done manually, blasting was used only to remove extremely rugged rocks from certain parts of the terrain – otherwise, it was just good old fashion digging. The job was popular because it paid ten shillings and sixpence per day, which was higher than the six shillings they received as soldiers in the Army.

The road was built in sections and the whole project was finally finished in 1932, and it was declared to be an official War Memorial dedicated to all the Australian soldiers who died between 1914 and 1918. In 2011 the road was even moved into Australia’s National Heritage List. The project was an amazing success employing so many people and also opening up access to Victoria’s west coast, which gave the region significant improvements overall.

The Worst Year Ever To Be Alive Was 536

Ask any medieval historian and they will be quick to tell you that the year 536 was the worst to be alive in. You may have thought it would have been the Black Death of 1349 wiping out half of Europe or 1918 when the Spanish Flu killed nearly 100 million people but 536 was the start of one of the worst periods of human history. Which is why many historians dub it the worst year to be alive.

The terrible year of 536 was first published and written about by historian and archaeologist Michael McCormick who is part of the Harvard University Initiative for the Science of the Human Past. After his research became public, most, if not everyone, agreed with his arguments that it was a truly terrible time to be alive. First, up a mysterious fog sent Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia into near-complete darkness. This was no ordinary fog, it blocked sunlight during day and night, lasting over 18 months.

This meant that during 536 the temperatures stayed at 1.5 to 2.5 celsius all year. As you can imagine this did not do wonders for growing food and many people started to starve. It was the start of the coldest decade since 2300 years, the snow caused crops to fail and a massive world famine followed. Irish chronicles and Chinese history all talk about a failure to produce enough bread during the years of 536 to 539.

Then if that was not enough the bubonic plague descended upon the Roman port of Pelusium in Egypt during the year of 541. This quickly grew into the Plague of Justinian which spread we now know was responsible for wiping out two-thirds of the eastern Roman Empire’s population – which many believe sped up the collapse of the Roman Empire.

Of course, we have long known that the Dark Ages were very dark, but it has always been a puzzle of why and how that could be. After analyzing glaciers it has been confirmed that in 536 there was a massive volcanic eruption, and this was followed by more eruptions in 540 and 547. The extreme eruptions and follow up of plague led Europe into enormous economic failure. It is thought it took as long as until 640 for Europe to recover, which is when analysis shows civilizations started to mine silver again.

How The USSR Helped Fund A Small Bridge In South West Virginia

Near the border of Kentucky in South West Virginia there is a very small community called Vulcan. It is actually an unincorporated community that was built up as a coal mining town. However in the early 1960s all the mines dried up and the community fell into economic problems. Many simply left to find jobs elsewhere, but some of the community stayed in their homes. With no money the town’s infrastructure started to deteriorate rapidly, in fact, the state’s local government forgot they even existed.

This was an immense problem because the little town was built on the edge of the Big Sandy River by the main railway line of Norfolk & Western Railroad. In fact, there was no road connecting Vulcan to Kentucky, there was just a small suspension foot bridge. This swing bridge was pretty much on the edge of collapsing, yet still children would use it every morning and evening to catch the bus to their school in Kentucky. Many of the footboards were missing so the kids were in danger of falling into the river. Sometimes they would crawl under parked train cars to get to the bridge, already a dangerous act in itself.

The only other route was a gravel road maintained by the Railroad company this road went parallel with the tracks up to Delmore in the north, but it was a private road that was barred to the public. In the 1975 the bridge collapsed and the people of Vulcan were forced to trespass on the railway company road. They asked government officials to build a new bridge but officials were not looking forward to paying money for something that would not really benefit anyone. The community of Vulcan was now just about 50 families.

So a 42 year old bartender by the name of John Robinette decided he would write a letter to the USSR and East Germany. He thought that the Soviets may jump on the chance to embarras America by offering the community foreign aid. Now the Kremlin never did reply to the letter, but media latched onto the story and even a New York based Russian journalist turned up to investigate.

The US government was indeed embarrased by all the media attention, so quickly pledged $1.3 million dollars to build a new bridge. In fact they said it had been planned a long time in advance but that these types of projects take time to happen. Of course they timed the announcement with the arrival of the Russian journalist in Vulcan. And two years later the communitty had a brand new one land bridge connecting them to the ourside world.

The Greek Drachma Currency Was Used For Over 3,000 Years

The drachma, as was called the Greek currency before implementing the Euro was one of the most widely circulated coins in the world. This is because the Greek currency has existed long before the formation of Greece as we know today. The drachma was used in the world during the time of Alexander the Great. He was the Macedonian who conquered Greece and went on to conquer most of the ancient world. Famously Alexander was highly educated having been tutored by the philosopher Aristotle from an early age. His conquests entirely changed the political geography of the Balkans and the Mediterranean.

His conquests into the middle east also ensured the drachma was used in what is now modern-day Iran. It influenced the Arabic unit of currency also, what we call the Dirham today was inspired by the drachma. And the dirham is still used in several modern-day Arabic countries such as Morocco or the United Arab Emirates.

All modern drachmas since it was reintroduced into Greece in 1832, have, unfortunately, ended quite terribly. You could argue the period before the Euro was implemented in 2001 was relatively okay, but Greece and its currency was already dangerously in debt by that period. The worst ever period for the drachma was during World War II, here Greece found themselves being ruled by a Nazi-Fascist occupied government who mismanaged their monetary policies completely. At one point they were issuing 100,000,000,000 drachma notes.

However the currency the drachma has a much richer history than just several modern-day failures. When it was first created, it was used in Ancient Greece by several city-states. And they enjoyed the currency stability it provided them for over ten centuries. Historians believe the drachma was used and circulated as a currency from the Archaic period up until the Roman period.

Drachma is believed to mean grasp, and researchers think that it was called drachma to mean a handful. And it was the standard unit of silver coinage at most of the ancient Greek mints, they also used the term obol which was a term to describe one-sixth of a drachma. Each city would generally stamp their badge onto the coins produced in their mints, and there were exact exchange values between each city’s coins also. This was determined by the reputation of each mint, by the quantity and quality of the metal used.

The Astronomer Who Had A Pet Drunken Moose

Tycho Brahe was an eccentric astronomer who lived from 1546 to 1601, he holds many scientific accomplishments such as the discovery of the supernova in 1572. He also published a series of essays on the movement of comets and let’s not forget his heated feuds with Galileo himself. You see Brahe had one advantage over other astronomers, he was extremely wealthy from birth. It is estimated that at the peak of his wealth he owed one percent of all the money in Denmark.

This meant that he had his funding for any scientific project, which he often used to pursue some rather unusual projects. For example, after losing a duel in 1566 due to being extremely intoxicated in which he lost his nose, he decided to replace his nose with a one made from gold-silver instead of the traditional wax version. This meant he always had a small vial of paste with him, to glue his golden nose back on should it fall off. There is also a story that says he hired a dwarf named Jepp who he believed to be clairvoyant.

But the oddest part of Brahe’s life was his taste in strange pets. These historians have confirmed by uncovering letters sent between Brahe and Lantgrave Wilhelm in 1591. Wilhelm asked him about a mysterious animal he had been told about, which was called a “rix”. According to the folklore legend, the creature could run faster than a deer but had shorter antlers.

To this letter, Brahe responded by asking Wilhelm if he had ever seen a live moose as Brahe had, in fact, a tame moose as a pet. His moose lived inside the castle with him and would trot alongside Brahe’s carriage as if the moose was a loyal dog. The problem was the moose found particular enjoyment in guzzling down large quantities of Danish beer. Brahe has always been the eccentric astronomer that he was could never resist the enjoyment of showing off his moose to fellow noblemen or associates.

The moose became so famous that people would ask for the creature to be sent to parties and castles to entertain guests. Until one fatal party where the moose became roaring drunk and then attempted to walk down some castle stairs, at which point it tripped up and died during the fall. So as they say don’t drink and drive, as you may hit a moose.

The Flying Car Has Existed Since 1954

One may have thought flying cars were coming in the year 2020 and that they would be a thing of the future. However, a quick look in the history books shows that flying cars have been around as early as 1954. Sure, they may not look extremely stylish, but well they do work. The yellow famous 1954 Taylor Aerocar is one of the only hybrid flying machines that was ever produced.

And it is one of the highly sought out flying cars because it has actually passed all the safety tests and requirements that make it a legal vehicle. It is the only car that exists in the United States of America that has been entirely certified by the FAA to be flown. The car is an extraordinary feat of engineering and seats up to two people. The crazy part is that it has not really been used that much so it is in great condition, officially, it has under 1000 hours of flying on its records and under 20,000 miles driven.

When in the driving mode you can expect the car to be powered by its rear-mounted 150 horsepower engine, allowing a three-speed manual transmission. What happens is the wings fold backward, which are then towed along with the propeller and fuselage. The actually folding process to put the wings back or get them out for flying is apparently no harder than changing a tire on a traditional car.

Once set up to fly, the flying car uses its two-blade propeller to fly through the air for up to 300 miles. Documentation shows that it can reach speeds of 100 miles per hour when in flight mode, allowing drivers to make a swift getaway if needed.

It’s been over 20 years since the Aerocar N101D was last seen at an auction and sold. And though five models of the Aerocar were originally built, the other models are long lost. No other cars like this were ever made, it is the model that is most talked about built-in 1954, is the only flying car that was built to pass all aviation certifications.

Due to the rarity, along with being road and air legal, collectors would consider this an extremely rare part of history. Making it a highly sought after vehicle, who will be seen flying this car next? Time will tell.

The Amazing Production Rate Of The Willow Run Bomber Plant

During World War II many factories were reconditioned to support the war effort, especially companies such as Ford that were already producing vehicles and heavy machinery. Every American automaker turned their workforce and facilities towards military production during World War II. It was Willow Run that caught the public’s attention and fascination.

This was because Ford Motor Company was building one B-23 Liberator airplane every 63 minutes. This was a revolution and an embodiment of how America’s democracy and capitalism would win the war. The president at the time Roosevelt and his advisors were completely convinced that long-range and high altitude planes were the future, they thought that these would become the decisive weapons of the war. World War II would be decided by industrial muscle.

President Roosevelt, therefore, challenged the country’s aviation industry to rise to the challenge, because, at the start of the war there were only 3,000 warplanes in operation. Still, many aviation leaders laughed when the government chose Ford Motor Co. to mass-produce Liberators. Surely an automobile company would not know how to build planes?

Automobiles at the time had only 15,000 parts compared to a B-24 plane that had over 450,000 parts. Cars weighed a measly 3,000 pounds compared to the plane’s 18 tons. Skeptics said the mass production of a plane this size would not be possible. Henry Ford proved them all wrong and made them eat their words, though it was no easy task. The Willow Run plant churned out 8,645 Liberators over a 2.5-year production run. When you think that the other four factories being operated by Consolidated, Douglas Aircraft and North American Aviation built over 9,808 – you could say that Ford was operating on a whole new level.

Together the five factories built more B-24 planes than any other American warplane ever. The B-24 would serve every type of air battle, destroying U-bouts in the Atlantic shipping lanes or flying in supplies over the Himalayas to the besieged armies of China. They even dropped in spies into Europe, and there was a specially outfitted B-24 plane for Whinston Churchill which was codenamed Commando.