World War I-Era German Submarine Resurfaces From the Sand Near French Coast

UC-61’s remains, seen here in December 2018.
Photo: Geert Van Pamel (Wikimedia Commons)

The remains of SM UC-61, a World War I German minelaying submarine (also known as a U-boat) is resurfacing on the coast of Wissant near Calais over a century after it was abandoned and scuttled by its 26-sailor crew before they surrendered to the French, the BBC reported on Saturday.

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According to the BBC, the ship was largely buried in sand by the 1930s, though it tends to make an appearance every few years for a brief period of time:

Since December, two sections of the submarine have been visible at low tide about 330ft (100m) from the dunes.

“The wreck is visible briefly every two to three years, depending on the tides and the wind that leads to sand movements, but a good gust of wind and the wreck will disappear again,” said Mayor of Wissant Bernard Bracq.

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A local tour guide, Vincent Schmitt, told the BBC that the wreck is usually “mostly silted and therefore invisible,” but this is the first time he could recall that so much of it has come to the top.

The submarine had departed from the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium and met its end while attempting to lay mines near Boulogne-sur-Mer and Le Havre, per the BBC. According to uboat.net, UC-61 made five patrols, sinking 12 ships (one of them a warship) and damaging three others (one of which was also a warship): 

Ran aground in heavy fog near Wissant (between Calais and Griz Nez) at 50°54’N, 1°40’E. Blown in two by the crew to prevent use by the Allies. 26 survivors (No casualties).

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In April 2018, search teams discovered a World War II-era German submarine rumored to have taken top-ranking Nazi Party officials to South America after the destruction of the Third Reich, the advanced Type XXI model U-3523, under 403 feet (123 meters) of water along the Danish coast. Though (quite unsubstantiated) rumors persisted that the ship carried a hoard of gold or the bodies of missing Nazis, the ship is a protected war grave and would be hard to study even with remotely operated vehicles, meaning any secrets it carried have likely gone to its watery grave. In 2017, search teams found both a sunken World War I-era Australian submarine whose sinking remains a mystery as well as another Nazi U-boat that sunk in 1942.

[BBC]

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A skeleton's blue teeth represent a 'bombshell' discovery for women's history

Feeling blue? Just read about this ancient medieval woman!
Feeling blue? Just read about this ancient medieval woman!

It’s not surprising to learn that women who lived during the Middle Ages didn’t always get the credit they deserved, but tangible proof that further erodes our male-centric view of history is always welcome.

A new study asserts that lapis lazuli found in the teeth from the remains of a Medieval woman indicates that she was an artist. Researchers are calling the discovery a “bombshell” because it provides extremely uncommon proof of the role that women played as skilled artists at the time.

“It’s kind of a bombshell for my field,” Alison Beach, a medieval history professor at Ohio State University and co-author of the study, told the Associated Press. “It’s so rare to find material evidence of women’s artistic and literary work in the Middle Ages.”

“B78,” as the anonymous skeleton is identified, was 45 to 60 years old when she died. She was then buried at a monastery in Germany sometime between 1000 and 1200 AD. Researchers first began to examine the mouth of the anonymous skeleton to better understand Medieval diet.

But the discovery they made was much more substantial. The resulting study, published in Science Advances by the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of York, found remnants of the stone lapis lazuli. 

At the time, lapis was used to create blue pigment, and it was as valuable as gold. Specifically, artists used it to create illuminated manuscripts, which are intricately painted, often with precious materials. Researchers said that only skilled painters were entrusted with this duty, and as such, were some of the few people with access to the stone.

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Lapis lazuli in the teeth of a medieval woman.

So how did ancient residue of a blue stone get into the skeleton’s mouth? 

Researchers think that licking the tip of a paintbrush was a common method to get a fine tip at the time. There are other explanations for how the lapis might have entered her mouth; perhaps she helped produce the stone, or it could have been used as a medical treatment. But a frequently licked paintbrush is the most likely explanation for the amount of lapis found in B78’s mouth so many centuries later.

It’s pretty cool to learn that a random skeleton was an elite artist in the Middle Ages. But the discovery has bigger implications. Scribes of the time penned every book produced by hand, and while few were credited it is believed that women both contributed more and were recognized less than is known. This discovery supports that belief.

“Because things are much better documented for men, it’s encouraged people to imagine a male world,” Beach told the AP. “This helps us correct that bias. This tooth opens a window on what activities women also were engaged in.”

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Egyptian Officials Are Pissed About an Alleged Nude Photoshoot on the Great Pyramid

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Egyptian authorities are not very happy with a video taken by Danish photographer Andreas Hvid, who climbed what appeared to be the Great Pyramid of Giza, took a video of himself and a female friend what was euphemistically termed a “naked embrace,” and then uploaded it to YouTube in the past week, CNN reported on…

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The Biggest Science Stories of 2018

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This year taught us more about distant planets and our own world, about the ways we’re influencing our environment and the ways we’re changing ourselves. A whole lot of stuff happened, and last January seems like it was, well, a year ago.

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Gaze Upon the Reconstructed Face of an Infamous 19th Century British Assassin

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One of the most intriguing items on display at the Queen Mary Pathology Museum—the skull belonging to British assassin John Bellingham—has been used to create a digital reconstruction of the killer’s face.

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