10 Hypothetical Planets That Could Exist In Our Solar System

Our solar system is filled with a star, eight planets, some dwarf planets, and lots of comets and asteroids. A few centuries ago, people thought that more than eight planets existed out there. They erroneously labeled asteroids as planets, discovered nonexistent planets, and predicted the existence of some other planets.

Some of these predictions came true—like Neptune, which was discovered after its existence was predicted. However, many more have remained hypothetical. We believe that some of these planets could exist, while we know that others do not. Nevertheless, we should always keep our fingers crossed.

10. Vulcan

Photo credit: Lith. of E. Jones & G.W. Newman

Vulcan is a hypothetical planet believed to lie between Mercury and the Sun. A few centuries ago, the planet was proposed after astronomers observed that Mercury had slightly changed its orbit with every revolution around the Sun.

In 1859, French astronomer Urbain-Jean-Joseph Le Verrier suggested that this was caused by the gravitational pull of an undiscovered planet lying between Mercury and the Sun. He called it Vulcan after the Roman god of blacksmithing. Le Verrier added that the planet could not be spotted because it was too close to the Sun.

A year later, amateur astronomer Edmond Modeste Lescarbault claimed to have spotted a small black dot near the Sun. Le Verrier said the dot was the planet Vulcan. Other astronomers later claimed to have spotted the elusive planet, although some insisted that they couldn’t see it.

Vulcan was soon considered the first planet of the solar system despite the lack of concrete evidence. This was probably because Le Verrier was an authority figure in astronomy. Thirteen years earlier, he had proposed Neptune after observing that an undiscovered planet was altering the orbit of Uranus. Besides, Vulcan’s existence was the only explanation for Mercury’s haphazard orbit.

This changed in 1915 when Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity trashed every claim about the existence of Vulcan. Einstein said that massive objects like the Sun could bend time and space. Mercury’s orbit often changed because it was traveling through a “distorted space-time” caused by its closeness to the Sun.[1]

9. Tyche

Photo credit: solarsystem.fandom.com

Tyche is a hypothetical planet lying somewhere in the Oort cloud at the edge of the solar system. The planet was proposed in 1999 by three astrophysicists from the University of Louisiana. The trio suggested that Tyche is the size of Jupiter, has three times the mass of Jupiter, and orbits the Sun once in 1.8 million years.

The astrophysicists proposed Tyche to explain the existence of long-period comets. These comets take over 200 years to complete an orbit round the Sun. Astronomers used to believe that long-period comets appeared from random locations in the solar system.

However, the astrophysicists say that the comets actually come from the Oort cloud and are flung toward the Sun by the gravitational force of Tyche. NASA used its Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope to search for Tyche between 2012 and 2014. It found nothing.[2]

8. Planet V

Photo credit: bigthink.com

A barrage of asteroids hit the surfaces of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and the Moon 3.8 billion years ago. Scientists call that barrage the Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB). However, they cannot confirm where those asteroids came from.

Some scientists have suggested that the asteroids came from the remnants of Planet V, which lay between Mars and the asteroid belt that separates Jupiter from Mars today.

Scientists think that Planet V was smaller than Mars, which may explain why its orbit was heavily altered by the gravitational pull of Jupiter and other outer planets. Planet V soon became unstable and strayed into the asteroid belt, flinging asteroids toward Mars and the other inner planets. Planet V itself was later flung into the Sun or far into the solar system.

Alternatively, Planet V could have just steered clear of the asteroid belt and crashed into another planet. Some astronomers think it crashed into Mars and created the Borealis Basin, which covers 40 percent of Mars. If that happened, the asteroids that crashed into the inner planets were probably fragments flung into space during the collision.

Other astronomers say that the hypothetical Planet V never existed. They think that the LHB occurred after Jupiter and Saturn changed their orbits and flung asteroids from the asteroid belt toward the inner planets. Others say that the LHB was caused after the gravitational pull of Mars broke a large asteroid apart.[3]

7. Theia

Photo credit: The Telegraph

Scientists used to believe that the current Earth and Moon were created after a planet they called Theia slammed into an early Earth. The collision caused the smaller Theia to break up, sending fragments into space. One of these fragments became the Moon.

Scientists disproved this theory after tests on Moon rocks revealed that the Earth and Moon were made from the same material. These days, scientists believe that Theia slammed into an older Earth about 4.5 billion years ago. Both planets mixed together to create Earth. A fragment of Earth later broke off to form the Moon.[4]

6. Phaeton

Photo credit: thesolarsystem.fandom.com

Astronomers believed there was an undiscovered planet between Mars and Jupiter until quite recently. The existence of the hypothetical planet seemed truer when Giuseppe Piazzi discovered what was considered to be planet Ceres in 1801. A year later, Heinrich Olbers discovered what was thought to be planet Pallas.

Olbers soon realized that Ceres and Pallas used to be part of the same planet. This belief was reinforced when planets Juno and Vesta were discovered. Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta were later reclassified as asteroids and considered remnants of a hypothetical planet called Phaeton.

Astronomers of the day thought that Phaeton had broken up and created the four large asteroids and every other one in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter today.

Some astronomers thought that Phaeton had broken up after it exploded, was destroyed by Jupiter, or had smashed into another celestial body. Some think that this celestial body is Nemesis, a hypothetical star that was believed to be in our solar system.

However, today’s astronomers have disproved the existence of Phaeton. They say that the asteroids in the asteroid belt have always been asteroids. They were stuck between Mars and Jupiter and would have formed into a planet if it weren’t for Jupiter’s massive gravitational pull that kept them apart.[5]

5. Nibiru

Photo credit: space.com

Nibiru is a hypothetical planet supposedly lurking somewhere in our solar system. While NASA says that it does not exist, conspiracy theorists insisted that it was real and would slam into the Earth in the year 2012.

For the record, Nibiru is also called Planet X and should not be confused with the hypothetical Planet Nine that is also called Planet X. We will get to Planet Nine shortly.

Nibiru was first proposed by Zecharia Sitchin in his 1976 book, The Twelfth Planet, where he claimed that it orbited the Sun every 3,600 years. Many years later, self-proclaimed psychic Nancy Lieder declared that aliens had warned her that Nibiru would slam into the Earth in 2003. Later, she changed the date to 2012.

In 2011, Comet Elenin passed by Earth and broke apart after flying too close to the Sun. Hard-liners insisted that the comet was planet Nibiru on its approach to crash into Earth. The fact that we are reading this article means that planet Nibiru probably doesn’t exist. Or it just missed Earth and will be returning in 3,600 years.[6]

4. Planet Nine

Photo credit: solarsystem.nasa.gov

Planet Nine is another hypothetical planet lurking somewhere in our solar system. Unlike Nibiru, NASA and astronomers from the California Institute of Technology think that Planet Nine could exist, although there is no verifiable evidence that it does. Astronomers speculated the existence of Planet Nine after observing the irregular orbits of five solar objects far beyond Neptune.

Astronomers think that Planet Nine is the same size as Uranus or Neptune, has a mass 10 times that of Earth, and is 20 times farther from the Sun than Neptune. They believe that Planet Nine takes 10,000–20,000 years to complete a revolution around the Sun.[7]

3. Counter-Earth

Photo credit: AnonMoos

In the fourth century BC, Greek philosopher Philolaus proposed the existence of a planet that he called Counter-Earth. He believed that Counter-Earth was always on the opposite side of the solar system from Earth. This meant that the Sun, Earth, and Counter-Earth would always be on the same line.

Philolaus believed that Counter-Earth was invisible from Earth because Counter-Earth was always obscured by the Sun. Today, we know that it could have never existed. If it had, we would have seen it from Earth because every planet in the solar system is affected by the gravitational pull of other planets.

The gravitational pull of Mercury and Venus would have altered the orbit of Counter-Earth and shifted it from its position on the opposite side of the solar system. This would have made it visible from Earth. Counter-Earth would have strayed closer to Earth over time, and both planets would have eventually met.

One of two things would have happened when they met. Earth and Counter-Earth could have collided to form a new Earth. Or they could have missed each other. If they had, their gravitational pulls would have been so great that they would have been thrown into new orbits.[8]

2. An Unnamed Planet

Photo credit: forbes.com

Planets are often unstable after their creation. They will frequently change orbits because their orbits are continuously altered by the gravitational pull of other planets. In 2005, three groups of researchers used this theory to propose the Nice Model of the formation of the solar system.

In the past, the gravitational pull of other planets made Uranus and Neptune swap orbits and sent Jupiter and Saturn farther away from the Sun. Jupiter also supposedly moved closer to the Sun before returning to the outer solar system.

The Nice Model was accepted as true until it was partly disproved in 2011. At that time, some scientists said there had to be a fifth planet between Mars and Jupiter for it to be true. However, they added that the planet was probably flung out of the solar system by the gravitational pull of either Saturn or Jupiter.

In 2015, other scientists disproved the Nice Model because it did not explain the creation of the inner planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars). They said that Jupiter would have cleared the inner planets, particularly Mercury and Mars, if it had ever strayed into the inner solar system.

The four inner planets would have formed long after the four outer planets if the Nice Model were true. Or they could be the survivors of Jupiter’s apocalypse. This means that the other inner planets were flung farther into the solar system along with one or two planets from the outer solar system.[9]

1. Tiamat

Photo credit: alienresearch.fandom.com

The Sumerians believed that a planet called Tiamat lay between Mars and Jupiter. However, there is some debate about where this planet is today. In his book, Dark Matter, Missing Planets and New Comets, Tom van Flandern claimed that the planet was destroyed 65 million years ago and became the asteroid belt.

Zecharia Sitchin disputed this in his books The Twelfth Planet and The Cosmic Code. Instead, he declared that Tiamat had changed orbit and is now Earth. Sitchin said that Tiamat changed orbit after colliding with a hypothetical planet called Marduk and its three moons.

Sitchin claimed that the collision formed a new planet that broke in half. Two chunks of it moved closer to the Sun to become the Earth and the Moon while leftover debris became the asteroid belt. Sitchin added that Tiamat’s former moons were also flung into new orbits. He believes that one of the moons crashed into Mars and created the great rift.

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10 Mysterious Islands From Folklore

Islands seem to sit in a place between two worlds. They’re land, but they’re surrounded by sea. The isolation that they offer has been fruitful in fiction but has also inspired folklore around the world.

How many sailors have spotted an island on the horizon and wondered if it meant salvation or a supernatural threat? Here are ten mysterious islands from folklore that brave readers may want to set sail for.

10. Avalon

Photo credit: James Archer

King Arthur, legendary king of the Britons, was much like the modern crop of British royals—he had marital troubles. When he discovered his queen was having an affair with Sir Lancelot, he pursued the naughty knight to France. While Arthur was out of the kingdom, it was taken over by the nefarious Mordred. On Arthur’s return, a battle was fought to regain Britain. In the fight, Mordred was slain, but Arthur was mortally wounded. He was placed on a barge, which took him from our world and deposited him on the magical isle of Avalon.[1]

Avalon, the Isle of Apples, was the enchanted island where the sword Excalibur was forged. It was also home to the witch Morgen. It was apparently hoped that her powers would be able to heal the dying king. Legends differ on what happened to Arthur. Perhaps he was healed, or perhaps he was placed in a sorcerous sleep. All agree that Arthur is not gone forever. When Britain needs his help, he will return from Avalon.

Many have attempted to find Avalon. Some believe that it is an island in the Atlantic, just off the coast of Britain. Others have seen the island of Avalon as a poetic description of Glastonbury Tor, a hill which is often surrounded by mists and looks like an island floating above the land.

9. Hy-Brasil

Photo credit: Big Think

Before Brazil was known to Europeans, there was Hy-Brasil, an island to the west of Ireland. Hy-Brasil was shown on nautical maps for centuries before finally being removed from charts in the 1860s.[2] Irish legend had long talked about lands to the west which intrepid voyagers had found, but Hy-Brasil was their most enduring myth.

When John Cabot, the first European to land on the North American mainland since the Vikings, returned from his expedition, it was reported that he had been led to lands “discovered in the past by the men from Bristol who found Brasil.” As exploration became more intense and there were fewer places for Hy-Brasil to hide on the map, legends rose to explain its absence. It was supposedly always surrounded by thick fogs except for one day every seven years, for instance. Maps began to show the island as an ever smaller feature, until it was labelled merely as Brasil Rock, a lonely mountain in the sea.

One expedition which did claim to have landed on Hy-Brasil reported that it was inhabited by huge black rabbits and a single magician. From his lonely stone castle, the magician distributed gold and silver to the visitors.

8. Floating Island Of Redesmere

Photo credit: AtticTapestry

Redesmere is a 0.8-kilometer-long (0.5 mi) lake in England that once apparently contained a floating island. How it came to float about is part of local legend. A young knight whose family owned the land the lake sits in suspected his fair lady of cheating on him. He swore that he would not talk to her again until the island in the middle of the lake floated away.[3]

Soon afterward, the knight fell seriously ill, and his former lover nursed him back to health. When he was no longer dangerously ill, a huge storm swept the land and broke the island free from its place, sending it moving around the lake. Taking this as a sign of his lover’s fidelity, the knight married her.

Interestingly, old survey maps have recorded an island in the lake, but they have shown it in different places. Those hoping to find the island now will be disappointed, as the lake no longer has an island in it. It seems that the island collided with the bank and is now settled in place. It’s likely that the mobile island was a huge raft of peat and plant matter that particularly rough weather was able to move about.

7. Buyan

Photo credit: Ivan Bilibin

In Slavic folklore, the island of Buyan is a sort of paradise. It is home to the Sun and the winds and is the island from which all weather comes. Seeds from every plant in the world can be found there.[4] Unfortunately for those searching for this heaven on Earth, the island of Buyan has a habit of disappearing and reappearing at random.

To make the island even more tempting to explorers, it contains at its center a magical white stone called Alatyr. It is said to mark the center of the universe, and from it flow rivers with the ability to heal all injuries and sicknesses. Anyone who finds Alatyr will be granted happiness forever.

Before you pack your boat to go in search of Buyan, you should know that it is guarded both by a bird called Gagana with metal claws and a beak of iron and by a magical snake.

6. Isle Of Demons

Photo credit: taringa.net

The Isle of Demons should perhaps consider changing its name if it wants to encourage tourism. Though given what is said to lurk there, perhaps they don’t. It also makes a terrible honeymoon destination, as a young bride named Marguerite was to find out.

Married to a French noble, it seems the young Marguerite was traveling to meet him in the New World. She was also attracted to a handsome ship designer who was on the mission, it seems. The commander was upset with the scandalous behavior of the young bride and did what any psychopath would do: He abandoned her on an island known as the Isle of Demons.[5] No one lived on the island because it was said that the demons that inhabited it would tear any visitors apart. With only three months’ worth of provisions, Marguerite was left to fend for off the demons with her lover and nurse.

Marguerite was the sole survivor of the three left on the island when rescued by another ship two years later. Little is known of her later life, or the location of the Island of Demons.


5. Tir Na Nog

Photo credit: Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

The west coast of Ireland boasts an unusual number of mythological islands. One that many people would love to visit is Tir na Nog—the isle of eternal youth. There is no sickness, no pain, and no hunger on the island. Mead and beer flow, and everyone is happy. Hangovers also apparently do not occur.

One story of Tir na Nog involves the Irish hero Oisin. Niamh, a beautiful young maiden from Tir na Nog, was riding by when Oisin saw her. Immediately, he fell in love with her. Riding on a magical horse, he was able to visit the island with Niamh. He spent a full year on Tir na Nog but still longed to see his home. Niamh provided another magical steed, which would take him to his homeland and also return him to her. The only conditions to his visit were that he could not get off his horse or allow the ground to touch his feet.[6]

Once back in the realm of mortal men, he saw a group of peasants laboring to move a stone. Being chivalrous (and forgetful), he hopped off his horse to help. Instantly, he aged into a very old man. One year on Tir na Nog is hundreds of years in the mortal world.

4. The Symplegades

Photo credit: James Gurney

The ancient Greeks were keen sailors, and it is unsurprising that many of their myths feature islands with incredible features. To a boat moving with the tides and winds, it must sometimes have seemed as if the rocks were out to get you. In the case of the Symplegades, they actually were.

According to the myth of Jason and the Argonauts, the Symplegades were a pair of massive rocks in the ocean. The only navigable path was to pass between them. Any ship that tried was doomed, as the rocks would come crashing together to wreck the ship. Jason had to use cunning to escape destruction.

He set loose a bird to fly between the Symplegades. Sensing something trying to pass, the cliffs moved inward. The bird escaped, losing only a few tail feathers. As the cliffs began to retract, Jason had his crew row to speed into the gap. The cliffs reached their starting point before beginning to close again. It was too late. By the time they smashed together, they caught only the decoration on the rear of Jason’s ship.[7] Defeated, the Symplegades never moved again.

3. Antillia

Photo credit: Mapping the Fantastic

Antillia, to be found somewhere in the far west of the Atlantic, was known as the Isle of Seven Cities. When Spain fell to Muslim invaders from North Africa in 714, the legend of Antillia tells how seven bishops fled with their followers to this island beyond the sea.[8] Their ship eventually made it to the island, and the seven bishops all split up to create their own cities. Hence, the Isle of Seven Cities.

For hundreds of years, Antillia continued to be shown on maps. Its location changed as expeditions failed to make contact with it, but the legend only seemed to grow. A Portuguese ship driven out into the ocean by bad weather is said to have landed on Antillia around 1430. The crew went to church with the inhabitants but fled, afraid of being trapped there. The sailors had found that the sand of the island was composed largely of gold. Despite the stir that this discovery caused, Antillia was never located.

2. Saint Brendan’s Travels

Photo credit: Bernardo Buil

Saint Brendan was a sixth-century Irish monk and is known to history as “the Navigator” for his habit of traveling. It is known that he voyaged to many of the smaller islands to be found around Britain, where monastic communities were gathering. A later story has Brendan visiting islands of an entirely different type.

Two centuries after the saint’s death, a book titled The Voyage of Saint Brendan the Abbot was written that charted his travels in search of the Island of Paradise. On a seven-year voyage in the Atlantic, Brendan and his crew made many strange discoveries. On one island, they found a dog and food left out for a feast but no people. On another, they discovered the paradise of birds, where all the birds sing hymns to God. On yet another island, the crew lit a fire, only to find the island bucking around and swimming away—they were actually on the back of a whale. Another whale proved more biddable when it allowed Brendan to celebrate an Easter mass on its back.[9]

Brendan did eventually find his Island of Paradise and found it just a lovely as the name suggested. Renamed St. Brendan’s Island, it appeared on many maps. Sporadic sightings of the island occurred into the 18th century.

1. Atlantis

Photo credit: NASA

While most of the islands on this list have been dismissed as mere fictions, there are still those today who will proclaim a belief in Atlantis. Atlantis, Plato the philosopher tells us, was a mighty island and civilization in the Atlantic ocean. The Atlanteans were half-divine people living on a rich island. They were incredibly powerful—but not powerful enough to save themselves. He describes how the island was sunk by an earthquake and fire sent by the gods to punish their misdeeds.

Though Plato places his account of Atlantis in his own distant past (9,000 years before him), it has not stopped people from looking for a real Atlantis. Plato was a philosopher, not a geographer or historian. Most academics believe that he was telling a story with a message. Those who believe that Atlantis is a real place, however, have located it in spots all across the globe. Believers will tell you that Atlantis was in the Caribbean, the Atlantic, off the Indian coast, in the North Sea, and even in the Andes.

One intriguing theory joins the historical fate of the island of Santorini with that of Atlantis. In around 1450 BC, the volcano on Santorini exploded, tearing the island apart. Anyone on the island would have perished, and we do have archaeological remains of a relatively advanced culture on Santorini. Their end would have certainly been at the hands of fire and earthquakes.

10 Fascinating Facts And Finds Involving Temples

Human history is dotted with temples. Today, their ancient walls often hold strange relics, some of which are the only evidence that missing temples once existed.

Not all places of worship are dusty ruins-and-pottery affairs, though. Many are still in service or the products of new religions. While the classic oldies tell tales of biblical wars and gory gods, modern sites are marked by unusual environmental success, digitally replaced parts, and spaceship temples for reincarnated extraterrestrials.

10. The Criosphinx

Photo credit: Live Science

Along the banks of the Nile is a site called Gebel el-Silsila. During ancient times, it was home to workers and their families. Their business was to quarry limestone and carve statues.

In 2019, excavations found several new artifacts. The most impressive was a criosphinx, a creature with the body of a lion and a ram’s head. The sandstone carving had an impressive height of 3.5 meters (11.5 ft). It was also over 3,000 years old, which placed it near the end of pharaoh Amenhotep III’s reign. The statue was discovered inside a carving workshop but under a lot of quarry debris from a later age.[1]

Why the criosphinx was abandoned remains unclear as it was in good condition. One clue was a piece that broke off its head—a coiled cobra. This royal symbol suggested that the art was commissioned as a temple piece by Amenhotep III but canceled upon his death.

Indeed, it looked like an unfinished version of the statues at the Khonsu Temple in Karnak. Archaeologists also uncovered another temple-related find near the sphinx—hundreds of pieces of a shrine that was once dedicated to the same pharaoh.

9. The Unknown God

Photo credit: Live Science

In 2019, scholars discovered a missing god. When a Colorado company auctioned off a tablet, it garnered the interest of scientists. The bronze artifact originated from Yemen and was 2,000 years old. Apart from its amazing age, the tablet had curious inscriptions from the Sabaic language.

After a translator pried a god’s name from the text, scholars realized that nobody had ever heard of this “Athtar Harman.” He might have fallen into obscurity. But according to the tablet, the deity was important and had his own temple.

Unfortunately, Athar Harman’s place of worship was as missing as a baby bird’s egg tooth. Ironically, the plate came from there. The text described its donation to the temple and hinted that it was near Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. How the artifact reached the United States remains unknown, although Yemen’s artifacts, including many inscribed bronze tablets, are often looted.[2]

8. Mermaid Bones

Photo credit: Smithsonian Magazine

There is an unusual treasure at the Ryuguji temple in Japan. Visitors can view six bones, allegedly the last mortal remains of a mermaid. In 1222, the creature was found on the shore of Hakata Bay on the island of Kyushu.

After a shaman deemed the arrival as lucky, the skeleton was interred at the Ukimido temple. After receiving the body parts, the temple changed its name to Ryugu-jo, meaning “undersea palace of the dragon god.”

Sometime between 1772 and 1781, the relics were removed. However, visitors could still bathe in water that once soaked the bones. Several claimed that this kept them safe during epidemics.

The “mermaid” remains ended up in the Ryuguji temple in Fukuoka where they remain today. Japanese mermaids are called ningyo. These fishlike beings have different looks, and some descriptions give them horns and pointy teeth. Far from admitting an actual ningyo washed ashore, researchers believe that the 13th-century bones belong to a porpoise or dugong.[3]

7. Rare Desert Temple

Photo credit: sciencealert.com

The Siwa Oasis supported an Egyptian community for thousands of years and under different foreign rulers. In 2018, the ruins delivered another great find. An unknown temple sounds mundane, but this one was also exceptionally scarce.

For starters, new temples are not a common find in Egypt. It was also a rare Greco-Roman building. Among the usual coins and broken pottery, archaeologists found a partial foundation, the front courtyard, the main entrance, and pillars with motifs.

Two lion statues turned up, including one without a head. There was also a sculpture of a human head without a body. Although many artifacts could still turn up, one of the most important contributions could be that of time.

Few buildings from this era exist (200 BC–AD 300), when Egypt was first under Hellenistic and then Roman control. The new temple might reveal more about these rulers and their influence on local culture as such sites also hosted religious, social, and trading events.[4]

6. Temple Tigers

Photo credit: Smithsonian Magazine

Thailand’s Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Temple was also called the “Tiger Temple.” The monks lived with tigers that allowed visitors to feed and stroke them. In 2016, the heartwarming picture started to crack. Officials received complaints from tourists about getting attacked by the tigers while walking them.

Sharper tourists suspected that some of the cats were drugged. (The tigers could be bathed without a problem.) Foreign volunteers found 40 dead cubs in freezers. Admission was not free, either. To view the tigers, tourists had to cough up $273.

The temple was not an official wildlife sanctuary and was dogged for years by allegations of animal abuse and the trafficking of tiger body parts. A raid found 137 tigers—and the 40 dead cubs.

The police, veterinarians, soldiers, and civil servants worked together to remove the tigers, many of which were found to be inbred, blind, or chronically ill. All the predators were relocated to official sanctuaries.[5]

5. Temple Desecrated By Philistines

Photo credit: Live Science

During the 11th century BC, the Canaanites, Philistines, and Israelites fought over Beth-Shemesh. The village was at the center of the three territories and near Jerusalem.

In 2012, archaeologists found a temple built at Beth-Shemesh while under Israelite control. Inside, ornate chalices and goblets proved that it was a place of worship.

However, the cups were shattered on the floor. When the ground was analyzed, it contained feces of livestock and plants eaten by them. To turn a temple into an animal pen would have been greatly disrespectful and never allowed. The only explanation was that the Philistines had taken over the village. Knowing it was a holy site to the enemy (and probably needing a pen), they chose the temple to hold their animals.

The temple also had ovens known as tabuns. The clay features suggested that the Israelites had reclaimed the site. Added long after the animal pen episode, tabuns were normal for the home but not a temple. Some researchers believe that they were installed to cook a feast to celebrate reclaiming Beth-Shemesh.[6]

4. Vale do Amanhecer

Photo credit: National Geographic

The Sunrise Valley movement has 800,000 members and 600 affiliated temples worldwide. Their spiritual center lies in Brazil, where one can find Vale do Amanhecer. The place resembles a theme park with replicas of the world’s wonders.

There is a temple complex with a pyramid, elliptical statues, prayer center, and temple that looks like a spaceship. The alien theme is not accidental. Sunrise Valley members believe that they are aliens called Jaguars.

Around 32,000 years ago, extraterrestrials arrived on Earth and kept returning, but they were in different incarnations (currently the Jaguars). The temple complex is used for personal reflection and rituals involving mediums and spirits.

Today the fastest-growing religious movement in Brazil, it had humble beginnings. The founder was a truck driver called Neiva Chaves Zelaya. After experiencing psychic visions in 1959, she started the movement.

It drew on Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, ancient Egypt, and the Inca to shape a complex religion with a lot of sequined outfits. Seriously. Once you see Sunrise Valley followers, you cannot unsee them. They dress with a flair that equals Disney World workers.[7]

3. Flayed Lord’s First Temple

Photo credit: Live Science

In Aztec culture, the god Xipe Totec was important. He lorded over the realms of new crops, war, and fertility—all the things Aztecs liked and needed. The deity might be less suitable for a modern audience. He was also known as the “Flayed Lord.” When priests and other participants performed rituals in Xipe Totec’s honor, they wore the skins of sacrificed humans.

In 2019, archaeologists found the first cult center devoted to the gory god. The complex was built in Mexico in the modern-day state of Puebla but not by the Aztecs. It dated between AD 1000–1260 and was probably constructed by the indigenous Popoloca people before the Aztecs conquered the region.

Inside the temple, three statues—skinned skulls and a torso wearing somebody else’s skin—were likely depictions of Xipe Totec himself. The temple’s features matched known descriptions of the horrific rituals. The most noteworthy resembled “garbage” holes where victims’ skins were discarded after being worn for days.[8]

2. The Aravalli Leopards

Photo credit: National Geographic

The world’s highest concentration of leopards exists in the Aravalli hills in India. The country’s track record with this predator is a painful one. Leopards are routinely slaughtered by hunters and fearful villagers.

The Aravalli animals thrive due to an amazing twist—a nearby village adores them. The people of Bera are members of a seminomadic tribe called the Rabari. They are devout followers of the god Shiva, the protector of wild things who wears a leopard skin.

Most of the Rabari believe that caring for wildlife is their duty and feed wild monkeys and peacocks at temples. Near the village, another temple is frequented by both leopards and the villagers.

A visiting National Geographic journalist witnessed the mutual tolerance firsthand. Villagers arrived with temple offerings and showed no fear when two adult leopards stalked past the shrine’s opening. The spotty pair ignored the humans and played with each other near the temple.

In fact, except for a nonfatal incident about 20 years ago, no human in Bera had been mauled for over 100 years. The leopards do kill livestock. But when that happens, the villagers accept it as a sacrifice to Shiva.[9]

1. Digital Dendur

Photo credit: Smithsonian Magazine

The Temple of Dendur once stood near the Nile. Today, its walls grace the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Most visitors love the antiquity of the panels, estimated to be around 2,000 years old. The artful carvings also elicit some response.

However, the color surprised nobody. The monuments of ancient Egypt are mostly a sandy beige, and Dendur was no different. Experts have long been aware that bright colors once decorated Egyptian buildings.

In 2016, the museum wanted visitors to see how Dendur looked before the Nile’s repeated flooding stripped the temple’s paint. There was no way to replicate the original colors. Try as they might, researchers could not find pigments anywhere.

However, intensive research gave good alternatives and the result was magical. Thanks to light projection technology, vivid colors lit up a scene showing the gods Hathor and Horus receiving offerings from the Roman emperor Augustus. Tour guides could also highlight a single area or switch between the different color schemes that might have graced the original.

Top 10 Underwater Or Subglacial Water Bodies And Waterfalls

Imagine you are diving underwater, and you suddenly come across a river below the surface. That’s weird, right? However, such phenomena can and do occur in nature.

Underwater rivers aren’t the only bizarre things you can find beneath the waves. There are also lakes under glaciers, waterfalls below the surface of the ocean, and an ocean deep inside the Earth’s mantle. Here are ten pools, rivers, lakes, and waterfalls that are right under another river, ocean, or glacier.

10. Cenote Angelita

Photo credit: DiveXperience/Divebuddy.com

Cenote Angelita (Angelita meaning “Little Angel”) is one of the cenotes in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. A cenote is almost like a sinkhole except that it is filled with water. It is formed when a weak limestone collapses and exposes groundwater below.

Cenote Angelita actually contains a saltwater river at the bottom. It is separated from the fresh water above by a halocline, a deadly cloud of hydrogen sulfide that contains a mixture of both waters.

The halocline is so misty that it is impossible to see through it without a torch. It is also poisonous. Besides acting as a natural barrier between the fresh and salt water, the halocline also acts as the de facto seabed of the freshwater portion and stops lighter objects that fall into the cenote from reaching the salt water below.[1]

9. Lake Whillans

Photo credit: Deep-SCINI UNL-Andrill SMO

Lake Whillans is located under the Ross Ice Shelf in Western Antarctica. Scientists believe it is between 10 and 25 meters (33–82 ft) deep, although they found it to be only 2 meters (6.6 ft) deep when they drilled into it for the first time in January 2013. This doesn’t mean it isn’t deeper at other areas, though.

Water samples retrieved from the lake revealed the presence of microbesthat have evolved to survive without the need for sunlight.[2] These microbes feed on fossilized pollen that has been buried under the ice for over 34 million years.

Drilling 730 meters (2,400 ft) to reach a 10-meter-deep (33 ft) body of water at a nearby location, scientists found more microbes, crustaceans, and some small, strange-looking fish with large eyes. Scientists could not say for sure why these fish have exceptionally big eyes, but it might be connected with their dark habitat.

The largest of the fishes were also translucent, and their internal organs could be seen from the outside. This colorlessness is believed to be the result of the unavailability of hemogoblin, the protein that makes blood red. However, scientists could not confirm whether this translucent fish was a new species.

8. Hamza River


There is a river 4,000 meters (13,000 ft) below the Amazon River in Brazil. This river is 5,950 kilometers (3,700 mi) long, which is long but still shorter than the Amazon. It is unofficially called the Hamza River in honor of geophysicist Valiya Hamza.

The Amazon may beat the Hamza in length, but the latter trounces the former in width. It is 200 kilometers (125 mi) wide at its narrowest and 400 kilometers (250 mi) wide at its broadest, dwarfing even the mighty Amazon. The Amazon wins in every other category, though. Water flows through the Hamza at a rate of one million gallons per second, which is way too small when compared with the Amazon’s flow rate of 35 million gallons per second.[3]

Water doesn’t even travel more than 100 meters (330 ft) a year in the Hamza, which has caused some scientists, including Professor Hamza, to argue that it doesn’t technically qualify as a river. A mere 100 meters a year is an abysmally slow speed for a river. Even glaciers cover more than that distance in a year. The Hamza’s extremely slow rate of flow could be the result of it flowing through porous rocks and not open space like the Amazon.

7. Denmark Strait Cataract


Type “the highest waterfall in the world” into your search engine, and it will most likely return with Angel Falls in Canaima National Park, Venezuela. At 979 meters (3,212 ft), Angel Falls is incredibly high—so high that some of its water evaporates before it reaches the bottom. However, it is no match for the 3,500-meter-tall (11,500 ft) Denmark Strait Cataract under the Atlantic Ocean between Greenland and Iceland.

The Denmark Strait Cataract is the result of the cooler waters of the Greenland Sea meeting the warmer water of the Irminger Sea. As the waters meet, the cooler and denser waters of the Greenland Sea sharply slide down to the ocean floor, creating the waterfall. The water doesn’t remain where it is after hitting the seabed. It travels south and rises to the surface to replace the warmer waters traveling north, and the process continues.[4]

6. Unnamed River Under The Black Sea

Photo credit: University of Leeds

There is a river flowing under the Black Sea. The unnamed river is not your average underwater river. It features waterfalls and rapids along its length. Had it been overground, it would have been the sixth-largest river in the world in terms of how much water flows through it. It has ten times more water than the Rhine, which is the biggest river in Europe.

The river is up to 35 meters (115 ft) deep and 1 kilometer (0.6 mi) wide and flows right on the floor of the Black sea. This is possible thanks to its high salinity, which prevents its water from mixing with that of the Black sea. It was observed by scientists from the University of Leeds, who tracked it with a robot submarine for 60 kilometers (37 mi) until it dissipated into the deep sea.[5]


5. Nigardsbreen Ice Cave Pond

Photo credit: Guttorm Flatabø

Ice caves are caves found within glaciers. They are formed when water melts an entry point to pass through the glaciers. The water could be melting off the glacier itself or come from a river or ocean where the glacier ends. Ice caves are found in several countries close to the Arctic and Antarctica, but tourists prefer those found in Norway and Iceland.

One of these ice caves was found in 2007 in the Nigardsbreen glacier range in Norway. It features a chamber 8 meters (26 ft) high and 20 by 30 meters (66 x 98 ft) in area. This cave even contains a pond. The pond was formed after water from the melting glacier melted an entry point and started accumulating under it because it couldn’t flow anywhere else. The pond warms the air inside the cave, causing the glacier to further melt from within and increasing the volume of water in the pond.[6]

4. Hot Tub Of Despair

Photo credit: OET/NautilusLive

The Hot Tub of Despair is a brine pool 1,000 meters (3,300 ft) below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists believe it was formed millions of years ago when the Gulf of Mexico evaporated, leaving behind heaps of salt. The salt soon submerged and ultimately became an underwater pool when water returned.

Having an unusually high salt density is the defining characteristic of brine pools. Some are so dense that submersibles can “land” on them. The Hot Tub of Despair is four times saltier than the surrounding ocean. It lacks oxygen but is rich in hydrogen sulfide and methane, which are almost always disastrous to marine life.

Unfortunate fish and crabs that dare to swim into the pool almost never leave alive. The high salt content of the pool also leaves their bodies preserved for years. However, other organisms like bacteria, mussels, and tube worms have adapted to live by the side of the pool.[7]

3. Lake Vostok

Photo credit: National Science Foundation/Josh Landis

In 1990, Russian researchers at the Vostok Station in Antarctica were drilling for ice cores when they discovered the presence of a lake right under their station. The lake was named Lake Vostok, after the research station, although some prefer calling it Lake East. It is 240 kilometers (150 mi) long and 50 kilometers (31 mi) wide and contains over 5,400 cubic kilometers (1,300 mi3) of water.

How Lake Vostok was formed remains a source of speculation, although most scientists agree it came to be after volcanic activity melted glaciers into water. Its time of formation is another mystery. Some scientists believe it was formed 30 million years ago, while others believe it was formed as “recently” as 400,000 years ago. One thing scientists agree on is the fact that the lake probably contains unique organisms that have evolved separately from those found elsewhere on Earth.

Russian scientists extracted water from the lake in February 2012 after drilling through 3,769 meters (12,366 ft) of ice. A year later, they announced the discovery of an unknown bacteria from water extracted from the lake. However, there are concerns that the bacteria might not be from the lake and might have even been introduced into it by contaminated drills and freeze-resistant fluids used during drilling.[8]

2. Unnamed Lake Under Antarctica


Lake Vostok is the largest subglacial lake in Antarctica. This unnamed lake is the second-largest. Scientists have not actually seen this lake or drilled water from it, but they established its size and existence by analyzing satellite pictures of the ice covering Antarctica.

They noticed that the top of the ice in some areas had depressions that were consistent with those seen above other known subglacial lakes. Scientists believe this unnamed lake has the shape of a ribbon. It is a 100 kilometers (60 mi) long and 10 kilometers (6 mi) wide.

The lake itself has several feeders that travel for over a 1,000 kilometers (600 mi). Two of these feeders might even be channeling water from the lake into the ocean. Scientists hope to drill into the lake in the coming years and find out whether it contains unique life-forms not seen anywhere else on Earth.[9]

1. An Ocean Inside The Earth’s Mantle


How did water reach planet Earth? No one can say for sure, but most scientists say that some icy comets crashed into our planet.

According to Steve Jacobsen and other scientists from Northwestern University, however, the water on Earth might be from Earth itself. The scientists have evidence that there is an ocean 660 kilometers (410 mi) below the Earth’s crust, in an area of the mantle called the transition zone. This ocean contains three times the amount of water found in all oceans of the world combined.

The water is inside a mineral called ringwoodite and is slowly brought aboveground by geological activities like earthquakes and erupting volcanoes. Besides providing the oceans of the Earth with water, scientists also believe that this ocean also regulates the water aboveground. If it weren’t so, the world would have been covered with water.[


10 Famous People Who Are Devoted Scientologists

The Church of Scientology has become one of the most ridiculed religions since its launch in 1952. The religion was founded by American author L. Ron Hubbard. Scientologists are known to believe that the Earth is inhabited by alien “thetans,” which walk our world disguised as humans, and that the “auditing” process will clear the body of these thetans and the “mental implants” they impose on us all. It is also stated that humans evolved from clams.[1]

That all sounds pretty nuts, right? Despite the ongoing criticism of Scientology, these following celebrities are all dedicated followers and have spoken out about their true devotion for the church.

10. John Travolta

Photo credit: Georges Biard

Hollywood star John Travolta has been a follower of the Church of Scientology since 1975 and is one of their most high-profile members. Alongside his wife, Kelly Preston, he credits the church for standing beside them when they lost their son after he suffered a seizure at age 16.

Travolta said, “The church never left our sides for two years. I don’t know if I would have made it through without their support.” He added, “The truth is, I didn’t know if I was going to make it. Life was no longer interesting to me, so it took a lot to get me better.”

Former Scientology spokesperson Mike Rinder has alleged in an interview that the church has a lot more control over the lives of Travolta and his family than the public knows about. He revealed, “Kelly is a much more dedicated Scientologist than John. Scientology dictates every choice in life and informs every decision a Scientologist makes.”[2]

9. Kirstie Alley

Photo credit: AP

Kirstie Alley has been a devoted follower of Scientology since 1979. She was previously raised as a Methodist. Alley personally admitted to joining the church when she was struggling with cocaine addiction. She went through the Scientology-affiliated drug treatment program known as Narconon and has since ended her dependency.

Following the Las Vegas Strip shooting in 2017, she wrote a series of tweets blaming the actions of the shooter, Stephen Paddock, on psychiatric medications—an assumption, as her statements came before the coroner’s report. The Church of Scientology claims drugs damage a person’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Instead, they recommend one of their international Narconon drug rehabilitation centers.

Alley has defended the church against those who condemn its practices, claiming that most of the criticisms are not true. In an interview, she stated, “I think all religions sound bizarre to people who are not the practitioners of them. [ . . . ] To me [Scientology] is so normal, and probably 90 percent of the crazy stuff I hear isn’t true.”[3]

8. Beck

Photo credit: Raph_PH

Grammy award-winning singer Beck was born into the Church of Scientology. He first acknowledged his affiliation with Scientology in 2005, when he stated, “It’s just something that I’ve been around. People in my family do it. I’ve read books, and I’ve learned about it.” His estranged wife is also a second-generation Scientologist.

Speaking in an interview about Scientology, Beck explained, “It’s definitely something that’s helped me. [ . . . ] I think the good done speaks for itself.” When asked about criticisms toward the church, he replied, “There’s that kind of intolerance which to me is kind of insidious, you know; you can make a judgment about something you don’t about. [ . . . ] They have one of the highest [drug treatment] success rates [ . . . ] and programs for criminals in prisons—it’s pretty staggering actually.”[4]

Beck is known as a still-active member of the church. However, recent interviewers have since been forbidden to ask him questions regarding his religion.

7. Issac Hayes

Photo credit: William Henderson

Singer Issac Hayes won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the “Theme from Shaft,” but most of his fans know him as the voice of Chef in the popular comedy South Park. After nine years in the role, Hayes quit the show when an episode mocked the Church of Scientology, of which he was a member.

Hayes said in a statement, “There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends, and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins. As a civil rights activist, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices.”

South Park co-creator Matt Stone fired back, “This has nothing to do with intolerance and bigotry and everything to do with the fact that Isaac Hayes is a Scientologist and that we recently featured Scientology in an episode of South Park. In 10 years and more than 150 episodes, Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews. He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show.”[5]

6. Nancy Cartwright

Photo credit: The Conmunity – Pop Culture Geek

Voice actress Nancy Cartwright—best known for bringing to life Bart Simpson on The Simpsons—is a devoted Scientologist and has been since 1991. In 2007, she was awarded Scientology’s Patron Laureate Award for donating $10 million to the church—twice her annual salary. Following the release of the scathing documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief in 2015, Cartwright went public with her support for the church.

She said, “It was such a lie. That book and that movie, I don’t even know what to tell you. It’s called prejudice. It’s like, very irresponsible reporting. You know, anybody wants to find out about it you should find out about it for yourself. It’s called integrity. And, look at me. Look at who I am, seriously. Look what it is that I am doing. You can’t knock me for what it is that I’m doing. I am helping.” She added, “Shame on them, anyway. And the truth is, find out for yourself.”[6]


5. Elisabeth Moss

Photo credit: Biography.com

The Handmaid’s Tale actress Elisabeth Moss grew up in the Church of Scientology and has been very guarded about her religion. One fan managed to tempt Moss into a rare debate after commenting on her social media post, “Both Gilead [fictional location in The Handmaid’s Tale] and Scientology both believe that all outside sources (aka news) are wrong or evil. Does it make you think twice about Scientology?” Moss wrote back, “That’s actually not true at all about Scientology. Religious freedom and tolerance and understanding the truth and equal rights for every race, religion and creed are extremely important to me.”

In 2017, when Moss received her Emmy for Best Actress, she startled members of the audience when she dropped a lot of F-bombs throughout her acceptance speech. According to former Scientologist, Tiziano Lugli, this is a technique used by Scientologists to appeal to others. He explained, “Scientologists are urged to communicate with ‘average people,’ and to do so effectively you have to ‘go down the tone scale.’ So they all use ‘f—, f—, f—‘ every time they talk. It’s fascinating.”[7]

4. Juliette Lewis

Photo credit: David Shankbone

Oscar-nominated actress turned rock star Juliette Lewis has been a devoted Scientologist for many years, having grown up in a family steeped in the organization. Her father, actor Geoffrey Lewis, was also a Scientologist. Due to her rebellious nature, it was believed that the actress would leave the church once she reached adulthood. However, she has remained a dedicated member.

In 2017, she tweeted her support for fellow Scientologist and actor Danny Masterson when he was accused of rape. She wrote, “Love you and your beautiful family. It will get better. We know this.”

Defending against criticism of the church, Lewis explained that there can be “trouble” in any religion. She said, “Any religion, you can find trouble in. At the end of the day, I’m into protecting my freedom of choice, freedom of voice, freedom of religion, freedom of expression. And so as long as nothing is inhibiting that . . . But there are misconceptions that are annoying.”[8]

3. Michael Pena

Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Michael Pena is best known for his roles in Ant-Man and the Wasp and Narcos: Mexico. He believes his success as an actor is thanks to programs he became involved in as a Scientologist. Pena joined the church in 2000, when he entered the detox program “Purification Rundown” for his alcoholism. He revealed, “For me, it isn’t a religion like a belief; it’s practical things you do.”

Pena then joined another program called “Study Tech,” which encouraged him to become a better reader. He said, “[Study Tech] made me a better actor because I felt like it helped my understanding of scripts.” Developed by founder Ron L. Hubbard, Study Tech is aimed at raising literacy among the church.

Speaking about criticism of the church, he explained, “I don’t read that stuff. OK, imagine we’re friends, you and me. Buddies. And there’s a tabloid story about you. There’s no way I’m going to read some tabloid story about you. Especially when I know it’s misinformed.”[9]

2. Laura Prepon

Photo credit: AOL

Orange Is The New Black star Lauren Prepon strongly believes that Scientology has rid her of life stresses and relaxes her. She previously revealed that she has worked through many of its programs, including “Personal Values and Integrity” and “Purification Rundown.”

Prepon has also been through the process of auditing within the church, which has been heavily criticized by former members, who believe their traumatic pasts were used against them for reasons of control. The process allows the individual to evaluate tough times that have happened in their life and get rid of any negativity from the past that might be holding them back. Prepon said, “The auditing has stripped away all of this charge, false ideas, decisions and mis-emotions that were affecting me.”

She added, “I spotted this decision I made a long time ago that was affecting me to this day. [ . . . ] At the time of the incident, you make a postulate as a ‘pro-survival’ decision, you know? Then to spot it years and years later, after peeling away these layers and then—boom, there it is—it’s mind-blowing! To think of it just hiding there in my bank, affecting me.”[10]

1. Tom Cruise

Photo credit: Dick Thomas Johnson

Tom Cruise is known as one of the most recognizable members of the Church of Scientology and also the most highly criticized. Cruise himself claims that the “Study Tech” program helped him overcome dyslexia, and he campaigned for Scientology to be recognized as a religion in Europe. In 2004, he famously made a controversial statement, “I think psychiatry should be outlawed.” He also criticized actress Brooke Shields for using antidepressants when she was struggling with postpartum depression.

Former church member Leah Remini said, “He is second to David Miscavige—the saviour of the free world.” Another former member, Bree Mood, said, “[Cruise] was a god in the lower ranks. [ . . . ] Every time a Tom Cruise movie came out they’d buy all his tickets. It could be 500, 1,000, up to 2,500 people. I’m not kidding.”[11]

His ex-wife, actress Nicole Kidman, is believed to have left the church following the end of their marriage. However, their adopted daughter Isabella has since become a member and has been through the auditing process during an internship at Scientology London. It is also strongly believed that Cruise’s religion caused the breakdown of his most recent marriage to actress Katie Holmes.

Top 10 Vicious 19th-Century Australian Slaughters

Australia is generally known for the Great Barrier Reef, the Sydney Opera House, and the diverse species of the outback. However, the continent’s encapsulating history is as dark as it is captivating. Australia’s story is one of blood and violence.

With its famous past as a penal colony, the Australia of old was not for the faint of heart. Bushrangers and con men alike ravaged the continent, committing unspeakable acts. The following list examines ten seemingly forgotten 19th-century massacres and mass murders that riveted both the headlines of Australia as well as the world stage.

10. The Baby-Farming Murderer

Photo credit: Herald Sun

While tending to a communal garden in Moreland Rd, Coburg, a man unearthed the lifeless remains of a baby girl. Following a police investigation, a second child’s body was discovered, with tape tightly wound around the boy’s neck. The atrocity of the sickening crime ultimately led police to Frances Lydia Alice Knorr, a 23-year-old English migrant working as a domestic servant. Baby farming, as it was known, was a common occupation where working-class women were hired to care for so-called “illegitimate children.”

Much public opposition arose subsequent to Knorr’s trial and death sentence, particularly from women and church groups. The escalating, emotion-charged outpouring of sympathy became an immense burden for the executioner, Thomas Jones, who felt pressure and disdain from both the public and his wife. Two days before Jones was to meet Knorr at the gallows, the hangman slit his own throat. Nevertheless, Jones was replaced by a man named Roberts, who saw to it that Knorr would hang in the early hours of January 15, 1894.

In spite of Knorr’s incessant claims of innocence, authorities discovered a penned confession in her cell following her execution that read, “I express a strong desire that this statement be made public, with the hope that my fate will not only be a warning to others but also act as a deterrent to those who are perhaps carrying on the same practice.” Further inquiries later revealed that Knorr was responsible for more than a dozen other infants’ deaths.[1]

9. Stringybark Creek Massacre

Photo credit: Samuel Calvert

In October 1878, the Kelly Gang was on the run, hiding out in the wild bushlands of Northeast Victoria. With their whereabouts narrowed down, four officers were dispatched to apprehend the murderous outlaws, eventually setting up camp at Stringybark Creek. Unbeknownst to them, the Kelly Gang was well aware of their location, patiently waiting in the brush for an opportune moment to execute their ambush. In a profound lapse of judgment, Sergeant Kennedy and Constable Scanlan left the camp at dawn to search for the gang, leaving their partners, Lonigan and McIntyre, behind, vulnerable and outnumbered.

The Kelly Gang ambushed the camp in the late afternoon, whereupon they immediately executed Lonigan. Over the next several hours, McIntyre was held at gunpoint, knowing full well the fate that awaited his unsuspecting comrades. Upon their return, a barrage of gunfire erupted. While Constable Scanlan’s mortally wounded body fell to the ground, a weaponless McIntyre leaped onto a horse that had bolted in the onslaught, leaving a doomed Kennedy in the dust.

Public outrage to the triple murder was swift and tremendous, with the State of Victoria officially declaring the Kelly Gang as outlaws; thus, it was legal to shoot and kill Ned Kelly, Dan Kelly, Joe Byrne, and Steve Hart on sight without an attempted arrest.[2]

Surprisingly, the gang would go on to live another two years despite overwhelming odds mobilized against them. In the years that followed, locals began flocking to Stringybark Creek to observe a morbid piece of Australian history.

8. Joseph Thyer


It was a Monday afternoon, October 12, 1896, when 17-year-old George Albert Thyer returned to the family farm after spending the weekend away. Immediately upon his arrival, George noticed something hanging in the stockyard a mere 91 meters (300 ft) from the entrance of his home. It was the body of his father, 44-year-old Joseph Thyer.

Frantic and distraught, George ran inside the house, only to find the bloody and disfigured bodies of his mother and younger siblings—36-year-old Elizabeth, Florence (12), Edward (9), Alexander (7), Charlie (6), and Roy (4 months)—their skulls split open with an unknown blunt weapon. Three of the victims were struck multiple times with such a force that the top parts of their skulls were entirely removed. Joseph Thyer had killed them all before hanging himself.

It would be another two days until their corpses were removed from the gruesome scene. In the three blistering days that elapsed, the “strongest disinfectants” were required by the undertaker in an attempt to lessen the haunting and repulsive stench of death and decay.

Settlers in neighboring localities were beside themselves after hearing the news of such butchery at the hands of Mr. Thyer, a well-known, reserved, and highly respected man in Cavanagh, SA. In spite of his perceived character, Joseph Thyer had a violent temper and had been complaining of “pains in his head” in the weeks leading up to the murders. On October 14, Elizabeth and Florence were placed in a casket, while the four boys were put into two separate caskets, two boys per coffin. The four caskets were then lowered into the ground, together in one grave.[3]

Fittingly, the body of the craven savage who snuffed out their lives was buried alone in a separate plot.

7. Glover Family Tragedy


With the nation still reeling from the Thyer family murder, a similar act of unspeakable violence would shock the quiet little community of Triabunna in 1898. On the first day of March, watchhouse-keeper George Glover was notified by his eldest daughter that his wife, Mary Catherine, and their six younger children were missing. Over the next several hours, local businesses suspended operations, with every man in town volunteering to form a search party. Before dusk that evening, the town’s worst nightmare had come to fruition. Combing through the brush with his trusted spaniel, storekeeper Edward Ford found the bodies of the six youths—ages ranging from four months to 11 years—lying together, covered in bloodied blankets and shawls.[4]

Their throats had been slit from ear to ear, and based on appearances, it was theorized that the children had been sleeping or were drugged at the time of their murder. Upon news of the slayings, great anxiety overtook the town, not due to Mrs. Glover’s well-being but to her unknown whereabouts. She had been described as a peculiar woman with a history of depression, and locals worried that Mary was eluding capture with the intention of murdering her two eldest daughters.

Such speculations, however, would be rendered forever moot upon the discovery of her body more than 1.6 kilometers (1 mi) outside of town. Lying facedown in shallow water not more than 0.6 meters (2 ft) deep, it appeared that Mary had attempted, but failed, to cut her own throat prior to drowning. All that remained for detectives, in the end, was rolled up cash in Mary’s pockets, the murder weapon stained in children’s blood, and an eternity of unanswered questions.

6. Thomas Jeffries

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

On December 31, 1825, Thomas Jeffries broke out of the Launceston Watch House in Van Diemen’s Land (present-day Tasmania). He was accompanied by fellow jailbirds John Perry, James Hopkins, and a man identified only as “Russel.” That evening, the four men broke into the residence of a respected settler named Tibbs, who, along with his wife and male servant, soon found themselves being tied up by the infernal intruders. In that moment, a struggle ensued, and shots were fired.

As the two innocent men’s bullet-riddled bodies lay lifeless on the ground, Mrs. Tibbs and her infant son were led to the forest in the dark of night. In the seclusion of the woodlands, Jeffries forcefully snatched the five-month-old from his mother’s shielding arms and bashed the baby to death against a tree.

The dreadful degree of the true horrors of that evening became apparent among the locals a week later, when the infant’s battered and decayed remains were discovered. What was left of the baby was nothing more than mangled flesh and bone, torn apart by the carnivorous animals of the terrain. During this time, Jeffries and his partners remained at large, with the exception of Russel, who was shot and partly eaten by the others.

Jeffries and Perry would be captured a few days later after the murder of Magnus Bakie, for which they stood trial. During court testimony, Mrs. Tibbs—who was raped and left to die in the woods—collapsed upon seeing her child’s killers. On May 4, 1826, Jeffries and Perry were led to the gallows and hanged.[5]


5. Frederick Bailey Deeming

Photo credit: State Records Office of Western Australia

Conman and murderer Frederick Bailey Deeming had already spent the majority of his life in and out of prison by the time he married Marie James in England in 1881. Having four children with Marie did not stop Deeming’s bigamist heart from marrying Helen Matheson in 1890. As if juggling two families wasn’t enough, Mr. Lady-Killer (no pun intended) added another notch to his blissful union belt in September 1891 to Emily Lydia Mather.

Three months later, the newlyweds moved to Windsor, Australia, where they rented a brick cottage which still stands at 57 Andrew Street. A little over a week later, on Christmas Day, the ever-so-charming philanderer bludgeoned Emily, slit her throat, and then buried her naked body beneath the hearthstone of their bedroom. The following month, the cold-blooded killer sailed to Sydney, where he immediately became engaged to Kate Rounsefell. Fortunately for his newfound love interest, their whirlwind romance would be short-lived. Due to a putrid smell emitting from the floorboards of the Windsor cottage, Emily’s decomposing remains were discovered, leading to Deeming’s arrest in Western Australia.

When the news made its way to England, Emily’s grieving mother recalled floor work her murderous son-in-law had done at his former home in Rainhill. Due to this, local authorities excavated the floors of the couple’s previous residence, only to discover Deeming’s first wife Marie and their four young children entombed in concrete.[6]

The savagery of the crimes became a media spectacle, with the press accusing Deeming of being Jack the Ripper. Overnight, newspapers nationwide labeled him “The Jack the Ripper of the Southern Seas.” In all the time during his trial, he never once confessed to or denied being the Ripper, possibly due to the fact that he undoubtedly relished the fame. On May 23, 1892, Deeming enjoyed one last cigar as he walked to the gallows in front of a crowd of 12,000 enthusiastic spectators.

4. The Gatton Murders

Photo credit: Queensland Police Museum

On the night of December 26, 1898, Michael Murphy, 29, and his sisters Norah, 27, and Theresa “Ellen,” 19, made their way to a dance in the small town of Gatton. The following morning, the three had yet to return to the Murphy farm, prompting a search that would lead to their grisly discovery in a secluded pasture. Lying neatly beside one another with their feet pointing to the west, it appeared that the siblings’ blood-soaked corpses were posed by their killer. While ants crawled across their lifeless bodies, investigators noted that the girls’ hands had been bound and that they had possibly been raped with the brass-mounted handle of a riding whip. Furthermore, all three were bludgeoned to such an extent that Norah’s brains masked her face. The callous killer didn’t even bother to spare the Murphys’ horse, which was found shot in the head a few yards away.

The subsequent investigation by authorities was the epitome of incompetence, given the myriad of illogical mistakes. Case in point, it took two days for investigators from Brisbane to arrive at the scene of the crime, and by that time, curious locals had unreservedly contaminated the crime scene. Throughout years of speculation, one man has been singled out as the likely culprit: Thomas Day, a local butcher who was seen lurking near the crime scene on the night of the murders. Weeks prior to the Murphy slayings, Day was suspected in the killing of 15-year-old Alfred Stephen Hill, whose pony was also found with a single bullet to the head. In 1900, Day shot himself in the head and died in the Sydney Hospital. More than a century later, the Gatton murders remain unsolved.[7]

3. Cape Grim Massacre

Photo credit: NITV

In the early 1800s, the majority of the Aboriginal people of Northwestern Tasmania were hunted down and slaughtered in an attempted genocide led by VDL Company hunting expeditions. According to the company’s chief agent, Robert Curr, “We have to lament that our own countrymen consider the massacre of these people an honour.” By December 1827, complacency among the Aboriginal people had ceased, and reprisal attacks, something seldom seen before, were escalating.

Following the murder of numerous Aboriginal men who died protecting their women from rape, the natives exacted their revenge by driving over 100 sheep belonging to the company off a cliff. This led to a “company punitive expedition” in 1828, resulting in the butchery of 12 Aboriginals following a sneak attack. The bloodshed only worsened in the days that followed, when the same party of murderous shepherds encountered another group of Aboriginal people.

On that day, February 10, around 30 terrified natives were systematically massacred before their bodies were thrown off the 60-meter (200 ft) cliff in what is now remembered as the Cape Grim Massacre. Such appalling brutality continued in the years to come, with the lieutenant governor declaring martial law, which permitted the capture or murder of Aboriginal people. By 1830, an estimated 60 Aboriginals of the northwest tribe remained.[8]

2. The Maria Shipwreck Massacre


One of the most controversial events in Australian maritime history began on June 26, 1840, when 26 souls left Port Adelaide on the brigantine Maria. The vessel was bound for Hobart under Captain William Smith. However, it foundered for unknown reasons off the coast of Kingston.

With fading hope for Maria’s anticipated arrival, reports began circulating that all aboard were murdered by natives after “a massacre site” was discovered along the coastline. This spawned a party of men to investigate, all of whom described finding “legs, arms and parts of bodies partially covered with sand and strewn in all directions.” Wedding rings found on the slain bodies of two female passengers were recovered in addition to the men describing how they had witnessed a native wearing a sailor’s jacket.

As the public’s ire progressively escalated, Governor George Gawler instructed Major Thomas O’Halloran to lead a team on horseback and perpetrate retribution upon those responsible. Specifically, once identifying those he believed to be the culprits, Major O’Halloran was ordered to serenely “explain to the blacks the nature of your conduct . . . and you will deliberately and formally cause sentence of death to be executed by shooting or hanging.” The major did just that, and on August 25 of that year, two natives were hanged beside the graves of their alleged victims.[9]

1. Cullin-La-Ringo Massacre

Photo credit: Cairn History

As we have already seen, the colonial government was committed to ridding the land of the Aboriginal people through callous and unwarranted bloodshed. Such was the case in October 1861, when members of the local Gayiri where shot by Jesse Gregson, along with Second Lieutenant Patrick and his Native Police Troopers. Gregson, who managed the Rainworth station, had accused the tribesmen of stealing a flock of sheep.

On October 17, in a retaliatory response, local tribesmen slaughtered 19 white settlers, including women and children, in what is now known as the Cullin-la-ringo massacre, the largest mass murder of whites by Aboriginals in Australian history. It became apparent only after the senseless carnage that Gregson’s sheep were not stolen, as they were later found having wandered from their pasture. Nonetheless, another retaliatory attack was inevitable. Soon after the massacre at Cullin-la-ringo, seven Native Police detachments were deployed by the colonial Queensland government, resulting in the slaughter of 300 to 370 Aborigines.[10]

Champion sportsman Thomas Wentworth Wills was Australia’s first cricketer of significance. Being one of the few survivors who narrowly escaped death at Cullin-la-ringo, Wills witnessed the murder of his father on that fateful October day. The frame of mind of the once nationally acclaimed athlete was forever detrimentally changed, and he resorted to alcohol to escape his torments. By 1869, his career was in ruins, and his temperament was degrading. Wills was eventually confined at the Kew Lunatic Asylum, and on May 2, 1880, he took his own life at the age of 43.

10 Rude-Sounding British Places With Unbelievable Backstories

The British Isles are home to some of the most lavish and historic landmarks, many of which are famous all over the world. Think Big Ben or the Houses of Parliament. But perhaps not as famous are the unbelievably named towns and villages found strewn throughout the land.

When we say “unbelievably named,” we actually mean humorous, rude, or downright bizarre names for places which are actually inhabited or visited by human beings. However, some of these places actually have amazing and rich histories, which are worth reading in their own right. Read on to discover ten of the rudest-sounding places in the British Isles . . . with unbelievable stories.

10. Brown Willy

Photo credit: Dorian Claeys

Brown Willy is a hill that can be found in the county of Cornwall, the southernmost county of England. The hill supposedly gets its name from the Cornish Bronn Ewhella, which translates as “highest hill.” This is likely due to the fact that Brown Willy stands 420 meters (1,378 ft) above sea level and is the highest point in Cornwall. The hill is also known for the “Brown Willy effect,” a local phenomenon in which heavy rain that has developed on Brown Willy travels downwind causing showers in lower areas. The effects of this phenomenon can be serious flash flooding and dangerous amounts of rainfall, causing widespread damage.

In 2012, local visitors to the hill campaigned to have the name changed due to the “giggle factor”—but the name remains unchanged today.[1]Interestingly, Brown Willy is widely regarded as sacred by UFO followers, who visit the hill annually. These followers believe Brown Willy was supercharged with what they call “holy energy.” We can only hope that this is a myth, and Brown Willy does not explode.

9. Cockermouth

Photo credit: Humphrey Bolton/Cockermouth Main Street/CC BY-SA 2.0

Cockermouth is without a doubt the most stunning location of this list. Situated on the edge of the beautiful Lake District in the county of Cumbria, Cockermouth is known as only one of 51 “Gem” towns in the UK.[2] The name is derived from the town’s location, as it is quite literally at the mouth of the River Cocker. Due to its proximity to the River Cocker, it has also, unfortunately, been home to terrible flooding. In 2009, it was so heavily flooded that the British Army had to take control of the town in an aid effort, airlifting people out from their homes.

Cockermouth traces its history back to the Romans, who built a fort, which was later destroyed, in the vicinity of the current town center. Cockermouth Castle was rebuilt near it. The town is also notable for being the birthplace of the famous Lake Poet William Wordsworth, and the town contains tributes to him. The most famous of these is Wordsworth House, his birthplace, which has been restored and is now a museum.

8. Bell End

Photo credit: Matthew Cooper/PA

Found in the county of Worcestershire, Bell End is a village with proximity to the notable towns of Kidderminster and Stourbridge. The village is home to a stunning Gothic revival mansion known as Bell Hall. The mansion is built on property dating back to Norman times and has a Norman chapel to go with it. According to some reports, Guy Fawkes hid on the property when he was on the run, after the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.[3] Another notable resident, Lady Godiva, was said to have resided on the original grounds. Lady Godiva is most known for being said to have ridden naked through the streets of Coventry to protest against taxation laws. If the reports are true, then the estate has a fantastic link to some of the most infamous figures in Britain’s history.

So, why is Bell End on this list? For those not aware, Bell End shares its name with a British slang phrase for the glans penis and is frequently listed as one of the most unusual or shocking place names. Unfortunately for residents who have campaigned to have the name changed, it still remains Bell End today.

7. Sandy Balls

Photo credit: Caravan Holidays UK

Set deep within the New Forest near Fordingbridge, Sandy Balls is a large area of parkland and forests with a long history of being a popular holiday spot. Sandy Balls is in the county of Hampshire, near the south coast of England. The name of the area goes back to medieval times in England, during which the circular, sandy domes gave the place the name “Sandyballas.” After the end of World War I, the area was developed as a school camp for a youth movement, but it has now been established as a popular holiday center.[4]

The New Forest has been touted as possibly the most haunted part of Britain due to a number of sightings, the most famous being Rufus the Red, who was suspiciously killed by an arrow while hunting in the forest. Local stories say that Rufus’s ghost can still be seen today in the forest, and the blood of the man who was responsible for firing the arrow—Sir Walter Tirel—turns the Ocknell Pond red every year. Other apparition sightings include the Stratford Lyon, a large, antlered, red lion that carries a man on its back. The Lyon was said to have come from the ground after the man pulled at a set of antlers. Another is the Witchy White—a witch who casts love spells and who is said to wander the forest to this day.

6. Shitlington Crags

Photo credit: Les Hull

Shitlington Crags is an area in Northumberland which is a popular visitor spot. A crag, in England, is typically a group of cliffs which are known for climbing. Shitlington Crags is known as part of a larger walking area in the Hexham area of Northumberland. The crags get their name from an abandoned medieval village known as Shitlington. It was first recorded in 1279 but seems to have been gone by the 17th century.[5]

Shitlington Crags is near the village of Wark, Northumberland, which is noted for having the Goatstones. The Goatstones are thought to be religious stones left by the Anglo-Saxons, and they get their name from Anglo-Saxon gyet stanes, which means “wayside stones.” Wark is also the home of a listed Milky Way Class Dark Sky Discovery Site, meaning the area is so secluded that the stars and Moon are illuminated brilliantly in the night sky.


5. Great Cockup

Photo credit: Mick Knapton at the English language Wikipedia

The amusing-sounding Great Cockup is a fell which is located in the stunning Lake District, in the county of Cumbria. A fell is a high, barren landform, like a cluster of mountains or large hills that can often be traversed by walkers. Great Cockup is partnered by its equally amusing-sounding neighbor Little Cockup.[6] For those unaware, “cockup” is a slang term for badly messing up, particularly in an embarrassing way.

Great Cockup is part of a number of mountains in the area known as the Northern Fells. The Northern Fells include Souther Fell, which is most famous for a ghostly sighting that occurred in 1745. According to witnesses, on the evening of Midsummer’s Day in 1745, a line of troops marching were noticed walking along the ridge of the fell. The line included horses and carriages, and witnesses were said to be “sober and respected,” therefore verifying as credible. The following day, Souther Fell was scaled, and not a single footprint or carriage mark could be found along the edge where the army had traveled.

4. Tongue Of Gangsta

Photo credit: Ian Balcombe

Yes, you read that right. Residing in the Orkney Islands, Tongue of Gangsta is a place that can be found on the Orkney mainland. Tongue of Gangsta is directly south of the capital of Orkney, Kirkwall.[7] Kirkwall gets its name from the Norse name Kirkjuvagr (Church Bay), so we can only assume that Tongue of Gangsta has some Norse origins, too.

There is extremely limited information about the toponymy of Tongue of Gangsta. Kirkwall was historically an outpost or meeting place for Scandinavian travelers. It has been described as being the center of their world and as more Scandinavian than Scottish. The area was acquired by King James III in 1468 and has been under Scottish rule ever since. During World War II, in the nearby Scapa Flow, the Royal Navy used the port at Scapa as a main base. In 1939, the HMS Royal Oak was sunk by a German U-Boat and is now designated as a protected war grave.

3. Titty-Ho

Photo credit: Brett Jordan

Within the small market town of Raunds, Northamptonshire, is an area known as Titty-Ho. Titty-Ho is cited as being one of the most amusing names in Britain, and unfortunately for residents, the name has been highlighted on TV.[8] Residents have noted that other people cannot contain their laughter when they disclose where they live.

Despite the immature-sounding name of one part of it, the town of Raunds has an interesting history. During the 1980s, excavations in the nearby Nene Valley revealed some remains of a Roman villa. This was in addition to finding medieval buildings such as a church and manor house the previous decade. Raunds has also been the site of prehistoric findings unearthed by English Heritage. Perhaps one day, a discovery may help archaeologists to determine exactly where the name Titty Ho comes from, but this may just be wishful thinking.

2. Wetwang

Photo credit: Dave Axe

Wetwang is a village located in the historic county of Yorkshire. The village name is proposed as being a Viking name meaning “meeting place”—as the village is located on a crossroads of two main roads.[9] The name can obviously be misconstrued as meaning something else entirely.

Wetwang is very old and is even recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086! The village is known to have existed long before 1086, however, and in 2001, a very exciting discovery was made under Wetwang. A chariot, belonging to British armies who fought against Julius Caesar, was uncovered alongside the remains of a female warrior. A street in Wetwang was renamed “Chariot Way” after this event.

Wetwang is also notable for its black swans and has a local public house named the Black Swan in honor of the local birds. The village often appears in lists of unusual or rude place names. During a Woman’s Institute centennial fair in 2015, the name of the village had to be censored on merchandise, as it was deemed as too rude!

1. Twatt

Photo credit: CaptzimmoStorky

In what is probably the bluntest and most uncouth village name on this list, the village of Twatt can be found on the Orkney Islands. In a twist, there are actually two villages in the UK which share the name of Twatt. Interestingly, both villages are found right at the top of Scotland, with the second Twatt being located in the Shetland Islands.

The village in Orkney is situated on the Mainland island.[10] The Orkney Twatt was the home of a Royal Navy airfield during World War II. The airfield was decommissioned in 1949, but an abandoned control tower still remains today and can be visited.

The village of Twatt in the Shetlands is a little less known but is definitely inhabited by people and known throughout the islands. The name of both Twatts derives from the Norse word thveit—meaning “small parcel of land.” As you would expect, both places frequently top the lists of the most rude-sounding village names in the UK.

10 Facts About The Japanese Invasion Of Alaska

Many people believe that World War II was fought in the cities of Europe and the islands of the South Pacific. It was, but what those people forget is that for about a year from 1942 to 1943, the Imperial Japanese Army occupied the Alaskan islands of Attu and Kiska.

This occupation shocked and terrified North America, and the subsequent events in the aftermath of the occupation set the stage for many military and ceremonial actions over the course of the war. These are ten interesting facts about the Japanese invasion of Alaska.

10. It Was The Only North American Land Lost By The US In World War II

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

On June 6, 1942, the Japanese Northern Army took control of the island of Kiska, which is a remote volcanic island in the Aleutian chain off the coast of Alaska. The next day on June 7, exactly six months after the Pearl Harbor attacks, the Japanese seized control of the island of Attu, also in the Aleutians.[1]

This attack was the first and only land invasion of North American territory during the entire war, and it was considered extremely significant at that time, despite the fact that today, the occupation has been largely forgotten by history.

9. Canadian Troops Were Sent In, Too

Photo credit: US Navy

The Canadian government dispatched conscripted soldiers to liberate Attu and Kiska. Although there were several cases of desertion prior to the journey to Alaska, many Canadians proudly went to the Aleutian Islands to fight alongside their American allies.[2] Fortunately, however, many of the Canadians dispatched to the Aleutians did not see combat, as the Japanese forces had retreated prior to their arrival.

8. One Of The Largest Banzai Charges Of The War Took Place During The Battle Of Attu

Photo credit: US Army

The banzai counterattack was used by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II in the event of an impending defeat in order to save face. The Japanese, as opposed to surrendering, would rush their enemies using their bayonets as weapons in an attempt to cause as much damage as they possibly could. This strategy, while ineffective against large numbers of Allied soldiers, struck fear into the hearts of many, as it showed how dedicated the Japanese were to their cause and that they would sacrifice themselves in order to hurt their enemies rather than be captured.

On May 29, 1943, facing certain defeat in the Battle of Attu, Japanese commander Yasuyo Yamasaki ordered one of the largest banzai charges of the Pacific War, sending nearly all of his remaining men on a full-scale charge against the invading Americans. The Americans, having not seen this kind of charge before, were overwhelmed, and the Japanese quickly broke through the American lines. This victory was short-lived, however, as the Americans quickly rallied and were able to repel the Japanese forces.[3] Of the roughly 2,300 Japanese soldiers who occupied Attu, fewer than 30 survived to be taken prisoner.

7. The Harsh Climate Claimed The Lives Of Many Soldiers

Photo credit: US military

Kiska and Attu’s location in the far north of the Pacific Ocean results in brutal weather conditions. These conditions were felt by both the occupying Japanese and the liberating Americans. The Battle of Attu was originally expected to last a few days, so the Americans only brought gear with them to last that long.

As a result, the gear wore out quickly. Because of this, many soldiers developed frostbite, gangrene, and trench foot.[4] In addition, there were food shortages, which added to the difficulties of the liberating soldiers.

6. It Saw The First Official Case Of Gyokusai

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Gyokusai was a form of ritual mass suicide done by Japanese soldiers in the name of Emperor Hirohito. This was done to prevent capture by the enemy, which was seen as the ultimate loss of honor in Japanese society at that time. During the Battle of Attu, when it became clear the Allied forces would overtake the island, approximately 500 Japanese soldiers placed hand grenades near their stomachs and detonated them.

This was a shocking turn of events, touted by some sources as the first official case of gyokusai.[5] This type of mass suicide, and others like it, would become common in the later years of the war as Japan lost more territory and defeat became more and more common.


5. No One Is Sure Why Kiska And Attu Were Invaded


You’d think that the only North American land battle of World War II would have a well-documented chain of events from background to battle to aftermath. While the latter two have been extensively documented, the former has little information. The most popular theory as to why the Japanese invaded Kiska and Attu was to divert American naval attention away from Japanese interests in other parts of the Pacific. But with the US Pacific Fleet in shambles and American generals focusing more on war in Europe, drawing US attention was likely something the Japanese hoped to avoid.

Another common theory is that the occupation was to prevent American forces from invading Japan by way of the Aleutian Islands.[6] However, with the exception of a few bombing raids from Attu later in the war, the islands did not serve any strategic purpose in the American war strategy. Yet others, specifically at the time of the invasion, believed it was done to gain land to serve as a base of operations for a full-scale invasion of Alaska or even the Pacific Northwest. Nonetheless, the exact reason as to why the Japanese invaded Kiska and Attu remains a mystery to this day.

4. Only Attu Needed To Be Liberated


During World War II, there are countless instances of Japanese soldiers fighting to the end and then committing suicide when they realized that defeat and capture were imminent. It was considered to be the ultimate shame to one’s family to surrender in combat. As a result of this, the Japanese would do everything possible to win and seldom surrendered, with some soldiers continuing to fight on decades after the war was over.

In the case of Kiska, however, the Japanese surrendered without a fight. After seeing the carnage and loss of life on Attu, the Japanese commanders on Kiska saw no probability of maintaining control of the island, so when weather permitted, the Japanese fled the island under the cover of fog, allowing Allied forces to swiftly recapture Kiska.[7] This is one of the few examples of Japanese surrender during World War II.

3. Attu Lost Its Entire Population

Photo credit: O.J. Murie, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Prior to the Japanese invasion, Attu had a population of 44, nearly all of them Alaskan natives. During the Japanese occupation, the entire population was taken prisoner and sent to Japanese prison camps. In these camps, about half of the original 44 died due to the harsh conditions. The remainder were returned to the United States after the war.

However, they were not returned to Attu due to the expensive costs of rebuilding. Most of the survivors settled in other Alaskan native communities, with the descendants of the original Attu residents returning to the island 75 years later in 2017 as part of a reconciliation effort.[8]

2. The Battle Was Fought At Sea, Too

Photo credit: US Navy

Few history books and records mention the Attu and Kiska campaigns, and those that do rarely mention the naval operations that preceded the American liberation.

In March 1943, after months of neglect from the US, a naval force led by Rear Admiral Thomas C. Kincaid blockaded Attu and Kiska in an attempt to stop the flow of supplies to Japanese forces. On March 26, 1943, the American fleet engaged the Japanese Navy, who were attempting to bring supplies to occupying Japanese soldiers.[9]

In what became known as Battle of the Komandorski Islands, Japanese forces were able to inflict serious damage to the American fleet, but they ultimately retreated due to fear of American bombers and diminishing resources. The Japanese did not attempt to send supplies by ship again, only resorting to the occasional submarine run. This weakened Japanese control of Attu and Kiska and allowed the Allies to take control more effectively.

1. It Is The Last Battle Fought On American Soil

Photo credit: US Navy

Many Americans believe that the US Civil War in the mid-19th century marked the end of conflict in the United States. However, this list and the facts presented show that that is not the case. As of this writing, there has been no further occupation of American soil by an invading force. Furthermore, there has been no conflict or attack warranting the description of “battle.”[10]

The Aleutian Islands Campaign remains the last battle fought in US territory. Although it is not as well-remembered as other American battles such as Gettysburg or Valley Forge, the Aleutian Islands Campaign claimed thousands of lives and brought World War II to the shores of the United States.

10 Ancient Civilizations You’ve Never Heard Of

The word “civilization” is open to interpretation, but archaeologists usually refer to ancient civilizations as human societies “with a high level of cultural and technological development.”[1] Although the Aboriginal people of Australia, for example, are commonly believed to be the oldest continuous culture to inhabit the earth, their nomadic habits and lack of infrastructure usually means that they are not counted as a civilization. This is open to much debate.

Most people have heard about the ancient Egyptians, the Aztecs, and the Incas. But there are many more ancient civilizations that are not so well-known but which have left behind tantalizing glimpses into an older and very different way of life. Here are just a few of them.

10. Indus Valley Civilization
3300–1300 BC

The Indus Valley Civilization was located in an area that spans parts of modern-day Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India, on the plains near the Indus River. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of farming communities as well as entire cities.

Two prominent cities that have been excavated are Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. They found that many of the houses had their own wells and bathrooms, along with a sophisticated underground drainage system. Documents found in Sumeria recorded commercial, religious, and artistic events happening in these areas and described their “exotic wares.”

The Indus Valley people had a writing system, but to date, attempts to decipher examples of their writing, found on pottery and copper tablets, have failed.

It is not yet clear whether the Indus Valley was a civilization in itself or whether it formed part of a larger kingdom. It would be likely that if it was part of a larger kingdom, artifacts would have been found showing this—statues of known kings, for example, or depictions of wars, but to date, no such articles have been found.[2]

It is entirely possible that the Indus River people were an isolated civilization with their own language and lifestyle, which is only now being uncovered. One of the many structures uncovered is the Great Bath at Mohenjo Daro, measuring 83 square meters (897 ft2), which is believed to have been used for ritual bathing.

The reason for the decline of the civilization is unclear. Historians have developed a number of possible theories, including the drying up of the river or, alternatively, flooding, trade difficulties with Mesopotamia, or invasion by an unknown enemy.

9. The Kingdom Of Aksum
AD 100–940

Aksum was a kingdom in what is now Northern Ethiopia. It was a society of power and influence, and at its height, it extended from the edge of the Sahara in the west to the Arabian desert in the east.[3]

Aksumites developed their own written script, Ge’ez, and traded with other nations across the Eastern Mediterranean. It was described by a Persianwriter as one of the four greatest powers in the world. Despite this, comparatively little is known of Aksum today, and it is generally held to be a “lost” civilization. It is believed that the society was an ordered one, based on a hierarchy of kings and noblemen.

In the fourth century AD, Aksum embraced Orthodox Christianity. The king had been converted by a former Syrian prisoner, who was later made bishop of Aksum

Aksum has been claimed as the birthplace of the Queen of Sheba and the home of the Ark of the Covenant. The ark was said to have been taken by Menelik I, son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, and brought home, where it resides in a local church. (No one is allowed to see it, so who knows?)

8. Konar Sandal
4500–3000 BC

Konar Sandal is located in Jiroft, a city in the southern part of Iran. In 2002, a ziggurat (a terraced temple complex) was discovered, one of the largest and oldest of its kind in the world. To date, two mounds have been excavated at Konar Sandal, and finds have included a large two-story building with very thick walls, suggesting that they formed some type of fortification.

The discovery of the ziggurat strongly suggests a structured civilizationbased on ritual and belief. It is believed to date to around 2200 BC and was possibly built by the Aratta, a Bronze Age kingdom which had been described in Sumerian texts but whose whereabouts have not been discovered. The head of the archaeological excavation described the site as an “independent, autochthonous Bronze Age civilization with its own architecture and language.”[4]

The site has been subject to looting and unauthorized excavations, and it is not known how many treasures have been lost. Despite this, it is thought that the civilization may provide evidence of the oldest written language in the world.

Work is ongoing, and as the site contains evidence of religious, domestic, agricultural, and industrial dwellings, it is hoped that there is much more still to find.

7. Sanliurfa, Turkey

Sanliurfa, in modern-day Turkey, originally named Urfa, has a long and checkered history, with many religions claiming an affinity with the area. It boasts a number of interesting archaeological features, such as a cave said to be the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham. It was considered to be a major center of Syrian culture.

Situated very near Sanliura is Gobekli Tepe, where megalithic carved stones were cut and arranged before the known invention of metal tools—and 6,000 years before Stonehenge came into existence. Gobekli Tepe may be the site of the world’s oldest temple.[5]

The stones, up to 5 meters (16 ft) tall, are arranged in circles, and each weigh between 7 and 10 tons. The largest circle measures 20 meters (65 ft) in diameter, and some of the stones are carved with carved with images of creatures such as foxes, lions, scorpions, and vultures.

It is thought that people would have traveled from Urfa to the temple of Gobekli Tepe for religious ceremonies, though to date, no evidence has been found to show what this involved. Surveys of the area suggest that there may be as many as 16 similar circles. Unfortunately, in 2018, inexpert conservation work damaged parts of the site when concrete was poured over it.

6. Vinca Civilization
5000–3500 BC

The Vinca Civilization (aka the Danube Valley Civilization) boasts what some believe to be one of the earliest writing systems in the world, with around 700 characters, most of which have been found carved in pottery. Although the language has not been translated, it is believed by those who think it is a language to contain a form of numbers as well as letters. Their advanced farming system made it one of the most sophisticated Neolithic cultures we know of.[6]

Evidence of the Vinca Civilization has been found along the banks of the Danube River and is thought to have existed long before the great civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt.

The first archaeological evidence was discovered in 1908 at Belo Brdo Hill near Belgrade. The settlements are thought to have lasted more than 1,000 years before being abandoned. Each settlement housed a few thousand people, in homes made of wattle and daub clay. They kept animals and grew crops and even had a type of plow for sewing cereals. Evidence has also been found of copper utensils, around 1,000 years before their general use in Europe.

At a necropolis near Varna, the “Varna Gold Treasure” was discovered. Dating between to around 6,500 years old, it is possibly the oldest gold smithy in the world. It is not known why the Vinca Civilization vanished, but when they did, they seem to have taken their knowledge and their innovations with them.

5. Aryan Kingdom
1500 BC

Around 1500 BC, a large group of nomads, possibly including the remnants of the Indus Valley Civilization, moved into India. It is unclear whether this mass migration was a result of fleeing from a natural disaster or whether it was, in fact, an invasion.

Whatever the cause, a new civilization was born on the Indian subcontinent. The Aryan language developed, and the new settlers developed agriculture. The Aryan civilization was widely established by around 1000 BC.[7] (Note that the name “Aryan” comes from the Sanskrit word arya, which is what these migrants to India referred to themselves as.)

Today, there is little historical record of this civilization, though it is mentioned in the Vedas—a collection of religious texts—with tales of war and other conflicts. However, there is no way of knowing how accurate these texts are. There are few remaining artifacts of the period, though archaeological research is ongoing.

4. Mehrgarh
7000 BC

In 1974, excavations began at Mehrgarh in Pakistan, but a lack of government interest, erosion of the land, and chronic looting of the site has kept Mehrgarh a relatively hidden civilization. Additionally, archaeological digs have been made more difficult by ongoing tribal feuds and lax security for the diggers.

That’s a shame, because Mehrgarh is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Those artifacts that weren’t pinched show a highly developed society with established trade links with different regions. It is believed to have been in existence around 7000 BC, thousands of years before the Indus Valley Civilization in the same region.[8]

Mehrgarh is thought to have had a population of around 25,000, and evidence of daily life there is still being discovered, including indications of dental surgery. Many of the remains are buried deep in the ground, and uncovering them poses as challenge. Remains excavated so far include a complex of well-preserved buildings made from mud bricks and even a formal cemetery.

3. Nineveh
6000—612 BC

Nineveh (modern-day Mosul in Iraq), was the site of one of the oldest and greatest civilizations. The early city was damaged in a series earthquakes, including the destruction of the first temple of Ishtar, but the city continued to grow. King Sennacherib (704–681 BC) made Nineveh the capital of the Assyrian Empire, building a 15-gate great wall around the city as well as parks, aqueducts, canals, and an 80-room palace, which, being a modest man, he proclaimed a “palace without rival.” Some scholars believe that the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon were actually located in Nineveh and commissioned by the king.[9]

A library was constructed, containing over 30,000 inscribed clay tablets, an enormous number of works for the time. Scholars and scribes flocked to the city, and it became a center for the development of the arts, sciences, and architecture. One of the most unusual tablets found at the site told the story of a great flood which drowned the whole world and a man who survived by building a boat and who released a dove in search of dry land. This version of the Noah’s Ark story was part of an epic poem written in 1800 BC, 1,000 years before it was included in the Hebrew Bible. Much of the contents of Nineveh’s library now lie in the vaults of the British Library.

A royal feud in 627 BC led to the breakup of the Assyrian Empire, and in 612 BC, Nineveh was burned to the ground by a combined force of Persians, Babylonians, and others, who divided the region between them, allowing the grand buildings to fall into ruin. The ruins began to be excavated in 1846, and work has continued to the present day, though it has suffered during recent unrest and been damaged by vandalism.

2. Nubia


Nubia, which lay to the south of Egypt in Sudan, was a civilization that once ruled Egypt. Nubia had its own pyramids; the remains of 223 can still be seen today. Ancient Egypt’s 25th Dynasty, also known as the Black Dynasty because of the dark skin of the Nubian pharaohs, was a period of stability and prosperity, with much emphasis on culture and the arts.[10]

The kingdom had its own written language and culture, and the region was rich in gold. Nubia had their own symbols of kingship, but their influence was over when Pharaoh Sneferu raided Nubia and established it as an outpost for mineral extraction. Far from being a land of status, it became a region of Egypt under the pharaoh’s control.

The Nubian people largely assimilated into the Egyptian population, though archaeological evidence of their civilization remains. Like the Egyptians, they favored carved images of themselves, though they did, at times, like to portray themselves as overweight.

To each his own.

1. Norte Chico Civilization
3500–1800 BC

The Norte Chico Civilization is one of mystery. To date, very little is known about this pre-Columbian society in Peru, which is possibly the oldest known civilization in the Americas.

Evidence of huge constructions, including pyramids, and the remains of complex irrigation systems have been found, but there is little to show how people lived their daily lives. To date, six pyramids have been discovered, the largest of which is known as Piramide Mayor. Though not as elaborate as the later Inca architecture, the pyramids were still complex structures.

Norte Chico settlements were situated north of modern-day Lima. It is interesting that Norte Chico is one of the few civilizations at that time which did not appear to know how to make pottery, as there have been no such artifacts discovered at the sites. It is believed that they used gourds instead, which would have been of limited use in cooking food.[11]

To date, few examples of art or decoration have been found on their artifacts, though there does seem to have been some belief in a deity, though it is not possible as yet to say what form their beliefs took.

The settlements were abandoned sometime around 1800 BC, but it is not yet clear why. There is no evidence that they were ever involved in war or conflict, nor that they were hit by a natural disaster. The settlements were centered around three main rivers, so it it possible that a prolonged drought caused the population to migrate elsewhere, but this cannot be proved.



TOP service awarded on TripAdvisor!

We are pleased to announce that many of our Parks have been recognised for their exceptional service in the last year. TripAdvisor has awarded 32 of our Parks with Excellence Awards for 2016! In addition to this, a lot of the Parks have also been ranked as the #1 accommodation choice in their respective locations.

These internationally recognised awards are only given to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor. In order to get this award they must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, with a high volume of reviews over the past 12 months. Winners of the Certificate of Excellence are located all over the world and represent the upper echelon of businesses listed on the website, with only the top 10 percent receiving the prestigious award. We are proud to have 32 of our Parks presented with these awards. We are delighted with the results that our Parks have accomplished in 2016. Remember, your feedback is the feedback that matters the most. To all our TOP 10 guests, we greatly appreciate your feedback, it is invaluable and we can only improve from your opinions! The Parks awarded with Certificate of Excellence are: