The underground coal fire that creates what is called “Burning Mountain” (Mount Wingen) near Wingen, New South Wales, Australia was probably started by lightning or spontaneous combustion. At least, that’s the assumption—no one knows for sure because it has been going strong for at least 6,000 years. Acientists believe it may be the oldest known continuously burning coal fire.
The blaze moves at a rate of about 1 meter (3.3 ft) each year due south. That may not sound like much, but given its age, simple math tells us that the coal fire has moved at least 6 kilometers (3.7 mi) since it started. At this rate, the fire should reach the outskirts of Sydney Australia, a distance of about 280 kilometers (173 mi), in another 255,000 years or so.
At the height of their civilization, the Greeks were spread out across most of the Mediterranean Sea. But what many people don’t know is that they extended into modern-day Russia. The Greek empire spread its fingers along the northern rim of the Black Sea and founded over a dozen port cities on the borders of Romania, Bulgaria, and the Ukraine. One of these was Phanagoria, located on the Taman Peninsula.
The history (and legend) of Phanagoria is actually what allowed archaeologists to figure out which Greek city they were dealing with after its discovery. According to history, Panagoria was invaded by Mithridates VI, king of the rival Pontus Empire, in the first century B.C. The Panagorians, unhappy about this turn of events, sided with the Roman Empire to kick out the invading king and sparked the 25-year-long Mithridatic Wars.
When an underwater excavation team explored the ruined city in 2011, they discovered a massive marble tombstone, which had the following inscription: “Hypsikrates, Wife of King Mithridates Eupator Dionysos, Farewell.” In the part of the city that’s on land, there’s a vast necropolis, or city of tombs. It’s estimated that there are thousands of sarcophagi in the Phanagoria city of the dead.
Plenty of us have seen the Lord of the Rings movies and are familiar with the One Ring, the cursed ring that grants invisibility but eventually corrupts the souls of those who wear it. Luckily, mythology has a ring that grants invisibility without the nasty side effects. The Ring of Gyges was a ring from a story told by the famous philosopher Plato. In the story, Gyges is a shepherd who finds the ring after an earthquake reveals a cave near where he herds his flock.
Upon entering the cave, Gyges finds the ring on the finger of a corpse that doesn’t seem human. When he places it upon his finger, he discovers he can become invisible by adjusting it. Gyges then goes to the palace of his local kingdom, woos the wife of the king, then kills him and becomes King of Lydia. So . . . maybe we were wrong about the soul-blackening part.
My Comment: If this ring really does exist, I bet that the ring and the corpse are both invisible. (I don’t know)
The Spear of Destiny is a sacred relic in the Christian faith. It is said that the spear that pierced Christ’s side was imbued with unique powers. Supposedly, only the owner of the Spear of Destiny could control the world. Many a conspiracy nut will tell you that Hitler, while dabbling in the occult, took the spear for himself and went on to conquer most of Europe. Later, when General Patton arrived in Nuremburg, he took the spear from the city, and Hitler’s reign of terror soon ended.
When Holman died in 1857, he was perhaps the most well-traveled man the world had ever seen, having logged some 400,000 kilometers (250,000 mi) in his lifetime. Holman hadn’t planned on being a professional globetrotter and author; he originally aspired to be a British naval captain, but a sudden illness at age 25 robbed him of his sight.
Undaunted, Holman spent the entirety of his life seeking out new experiences in exotic lands. “The Blind Traveler,” as he became known, bucked cultural conventions, rejected travel companions, and refused to be treated as an invalid. Holman first crisscrossed Europe then attempted a mostly overland circumnavigation of the world—an attempt cut short when Russian authorities suspected him of actually being sighted and spying for Great Britain.
Unfortunately, little documentation exists of Holman’s actual routes over the next two decades, when he did the bulk of his traveling across Eurasia and Africa. Even so, plenty of evidence remains of the man’s adventures, like his ascent of Mount Vesuvius while it was erupting or his hunt of a mad elephant in Ceylon. Sadly, Holman’s writing and travel were victims of the era’s prejudice. The 19th-century public refused to believe a blind man could observe the world around him with such insight and depth. And with the exception of leading minds like Charles Darwin and (later) Sir Richard Burton, Holman’s accomplishments were roundly ignored.