2017-07-26 17:29:23评论 国际 被解开 历史之谜

5. The Shape OfStonehenge


For a long time,historians have been divided on whether the stones at Stonehengehad originally formed a full circle. With no stones found in thesouthwest area, some researchers believed the structure had neverbeen completed.



But a short hosepipeaccidentally solved the mystery without excavation or expensiveequipment. Tens of thousands of people had earlier overlooked theanswer.


When a custodiancouldn't water the grass in the entire Stonehenge area (as wasusually done) due to the short hose, the grass failed to grow inthe unwatered area, revealing depressions in the ground. If some ofthose parched areas had held stones, the circle would have beencomplete. Other brown patches matched areas of known archaeologicalexcavations, confirming that the parched areas represented groundthat had been intentionally disturbed.


"A lot of peopleassume we've excavated the entire site and everything we're evergoing to know about the monument is known,” said historian SusanGreaney of English Heritage. “But actually, there's quite a lot westill don't know and there's quite a lot that can be discoveredjust through non-excavation methods.”


That still leavesthe mystery of what happened to the missing stones. Were they usedto build houses or roads in the area? No one knows, but EnglishHeritage may purposely avoid watering some areas of Stonehengeduring the next dry spell to see if the answers to other puzzlesemerge.


4. The Disappearance Of The NazcaCivilization

4. 消失的纳斯卡文明


For years,historians were baffled by the mysterious disappearance of theNazca people of Peru around A.D. 500. This was the civilizationresponsible for the Nazca lines, huge geoglyphs carved into theground in that region. There have been many theories to explain thelines, but most historians agree that the Nazca probably used themas sacred pathways when practicing their rituals.


In recent years,scientists have determined that the Nazca civilization caused itsown destruction. By clearing so many huarango trees in theirvalleys for farming, they did irreparable damage to theirenvironment. These nitrogen-fixing trees increased moisture andsoil fertility. Without enough of them, the climate became too aridto grow food.


"The huarango . . .was an important source of food, forage, timber, and fuel for thelocal people," said archaeologist David Beresford-Jones. Thespecies was responsible for "enhancing soil fertility and moisture,ameliorating desert extremes in the microclimate beneath its canopyand underpinning the floodplain with one of the deepest rootsystems of any tree known. In time, gradual woodland clearancecrossed an ecological threshold—sharply defined in such desertenvironments—exposing the landscape to the region's extraordinarydesert winds and the effects of El Nino floods."


Scientists believethat a major El Nino event occurred around the same time as thedeforestation, triggering devastating floods due to the lack oftrees. After that, the Nazca would have been unable to grow enoughfood for their people in that area.


3. A War Bracelet ComesHome



While serving in theArmy during World War II, Warren McCauley lost or left his silveridentification bracelet ("dog tag") in Castel D'Aiano, Italy in1945. According to an Army news release that year, war heroMcCauley received the Bronze Star when he "fearlessly advancedunder a hail of small-arms fire to restore communications" afterthe German enemy cut wire lines.


While in CastelD'Aiano, McCauley stopped at the de Maria home, which the Italianfamily had opened to American soldiers for food and medical care.When McCauley left, his bracelet stayed behind, although no oneknows if he lost it, forgot it, or left it on purpose as a kind ofpayment or tribute to the de Maria family. Nevertheless, Bruna deMaria, then eight years old and living there in poverty, found thebracelet and kept it as an unexpected treasure. She always lovinglycared for the bracelet but never tried to find its owner.


Decades later, hergrown son, Stefano Sedda, persuaded his mother to return hertreasure to its original owner. "This bracelet made history," Seddaexplained. "It belonged to an American soldier who came here tofight, to defend our country—that's why I thought of giving itback."


Through a friend,Sedda contacted an American lawyer, who worked with a journalistand the Army to trace the bracelet's ID number to McCauley. ThoughMcCauley had died 30 years earlier, they found his 85-year-oldwidow, Twila McCauley, living in Buena Vista, California. WarrenMcCauley had shared some wartime stories with his family—like thetime he fell into a river and a donkey walked over him—but he'dnever told them about the bracelet.


Along with the restof her family, Mrs. McCauley was touched and grateful to have thisspecial connection to her late husband brought home almost 70 yearsafter it went missing.


2. The Cambyses Cover-Up



As we've discussedearlier, the lost army of Persian king Cambyses II has been a greathistorical mystery. Around 524 B.C., the king ordered 50,000 meninto the Egyptian desert around the ancient city of Thebes (nowLuxor). When the men disappeared, the official story from ancienthistorians said the army had been wiped out by a sandstorm.


However, modernEgyptologist Olaf Kaper was skeptical. "Since the 19th century,people have been looking for this army: amateurs, as well asprofessional archaeologists," Kaper said. "Some expect to findsomewhere under the ground an entire army, fully equipped. However,experience has long shown that you cannot die from a sandstorm, letalone have an entire army disappear."


By piecing togetherinformation from excavations, historical records, and especiallythe writings of an Egyptian rebel leader (which Kaper hadtranslated from ancient temple blocks), Kaper believes the Persianarmy was on its way to Dachla Oasis, where the rebel leaderPetubastis III and his troops had been located. But the Persianarmy was ambushed by the rebel leader and suffered a crushingdefeat. From his victory, Petubastis went on to reconquer much ofEgypt and crown himself Pharaoh in the capital of Memphis.


According to Kaper,the Persian king Darius I put an end to this Egyptian rebellion ina bloody battle two years after Cambyses was defeated. To restorePersia's dignity, Darius covered up his predecessor's embarrassingdownfall with the sandstorm story.


1. What Caused The HindenburgExplosion

1. 兴登堡号爆炸之迷


The promise of theHindenburg, a hydrogen-filled airship that could cross the Atlanticin half the time of a ship at sea, exploded along with the craftitself as it prepared to land in Lakehurst, New Jersey in May 1937.Of the 100 people on board that day, 35 died.


Scientists havedebated the reason for the explosion for decades. They knew that aspark ignited leaking hydrogen, but they differed on the reason forthe spark and the leaking gas. Theories included lightning,explosive properties in paint, and a bomb.


However, in 2013, ateam of experts ruled out the other theories and determined thatthe Hindenburg had become charged with static electricity from athunderstorm. Either a faulty gas valve or broken wire causedhydrogen to leak into the ventilation shafts. A spark of staticelectricity ignited the hydrogen, which started the fire in thetail section and led to the explosion.


"I think the mostlikely mechanism for providing the spark is electrostatic," saidBritish aeronautical engineer Jem Stansfield. "That starts at thetop, then the flames from our experiments [blowing up or settingfire to scale models of the airship] would've probably tracked downto the center. With an explosive mixture of gas, that gave thewhoomph when it got to the bottom."






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