Europe's Strangest Theme Park

When confronted with the issue of what to do with an ex-Soviet bunker in the countryside, an enterprising Lithuanian decided that some things should be left the way they are…

Welcome to 1984: Išgyvenimo Drama, otherwise known as Survival Drama in a Soviet Bunker.

Built near Vilnius in 1980, when Lithuania was still a part of the USSR, the bunker’s past life includes protecting a television transmitter and acting as a secure outpost for Soviet troops. Encompassing 4,000 cubic meters and buried 5 meters deep, the bunker is a remnant of Soviet occupation, which the Lithuanians have found more difficult to get rid of than the army.

Instead of letting the building fall into complete disrepair, some lucrative Lithuanians decided to put the bunker to some use, so, concerned about young Lithuanians lack of understanding about their country’s past, producer Ruta Vanagaite was prompted to create a re-enactment project, demonstrating the experiences of the previous generation.

Išgyvenimo drama opened in early 2008 to some controversy. Tourists pay 120 LTL ($US 220) each to step back into 1984 as a temporary USSR citizen for 2.5 hours. On entry, all belongings, including money, cameras and phones, are handed over and under the watchful eye of guards and alsatians, tourists change into threadbare Soviet coats and are herded through the bunker.

Experiences include watching TV programs from 1984, wearing gas masks, learning the Soviet anthem under duress, eating typical Soviet food (with genuine Soviet tableware) and even undergoing a concentration-camp-style interrogation and medical check.

The Soviet Bunker is not a theme park for the faint-hearted; all of the actors involved in the project were originally in the Soviet army and some were authentic interrogators, however there are performances tailored specifically for school groups so they know when to cool it, too.

Before heading back into the real world, participants are treated to a shot of vodka. They leave with a better understanding of life under Soviet occupation and, no doubt, a new respect for their elders past.

Source:  Environmental Graffiti

Biggest haul of Roman gold in Britain could have been found.

The treasure, found at Bredon Hill, the site of an Iron Age fort in Worcestershire, is already being compared with the Staffordshire Hoard, the country's biggest ever find of Anglo Saxon gold.
It netted lucky Terry and local farmer Fred Johnson a whopping £1.6 million each after being unearthed in a muddy field at Hammerwich, near Brownhills, West Midlands.

The treasure, which included hundreds of bejeweled battlefield items, added up to 5kg of the purest gold and 2.5kg of silver. 

Source: The Telegraph

Google Earth Reveals Fish Trap made from rocks 1,000 years ago off British Coast

The giant fish trap, built during the Norman Conquest and designed to trap fish behind rock walls,
was spotted on Google Earth

For a millennium it has lain undisturbed beneath the waves a stone's throw from one of Britain's best-loved beaches. 
But now modern technology has revealed this ancient fish trap, used at the time of the Norman Conquest. 

Stretching more than 280 yards along the sea bed, the V-shaped structure was used to catch fish without the need for a boat or rod. Scientists believe it is one of the biggest of its kind.

The trap close to Poppit Sands on the Teifi Estuary in Dyfed was discovered by archaeologists studying aerial photographs of the West Wales coast.  It was designed to act like a rock pool, trapping fish behind its stone walls as the tide flowed out.  At its point is a gap where fisherman would have placed nets to catch fish. They could also have blocked up the gap, and then scooped up fish trapped in the shallows.  Now, however, it is submerged even at low tide and fish are no longer trapped as the water recedes. Researchers believe it has sunk into the sand over the centuries. 
Dr Ziggy Otto, a diver and lecturer in the coastal environment at Pembrokeshire College, believes the trap is around 1,000 years old.  'It is an amazing structure,' he said. 'It looks well defined on the photographs, but when you are in the water it looks just like a natural reef.' 

This image shows the coastline curving round with the trap visible out at sea.
It is in water just 12ft deep, and the wall is around three feet wide.

Although it was only recently spotted on aerial photographs, an armchair archaeologist could have discovered the trap on Google Earth. 
Google said the V-shaped structure has been visible on its collection of satellite and aerial photos since at least December 2006. 

Fish traps, or fish weirs, were common and controversial in Britain 1,000 years ago. 
They were so effective at removing fish from rivers that they were banned in the Magna Carta, and were allowed only on the coast.

Source: DailyMail

Stonehenge Beneath the Waters of Lake Michigan ?

In a surprisingly under-reported story from 2007, Mark Holley, a professor of underwater archaeology at Northwestern Michigan University College, discovered a series of stones – some of them arranged in a circle and one of which seemed to show carvings of a mastodon – 40-feet beneath the surface waters of Lake Michigan. 

If verified, the carvings could be as much as 10,000 years old – coincident with the post-Ice Age presence of both humans and mastodons in the upper midwest. 
In a PDF assembled by Holley and Brian Abbott to document the expedition, we learn that the archaeologists had been hired to survey a series of old boatwrecks using a slightly repurposed "sector scan sonar" device. You can read about the actual equipment – a Kongsberg-Mesotech MS 1000 – here.

The circular images this thing produces are unreal; like some strange new art-historical branch of landscape representation, they form cryptic dioramas of long-lost wreckage on the lakebed. Shipwrecks (like the Tramp, which went down in 1974); a "junk pile" of old boats and cars; a Civil War-era pier; and even an old buggy are just some of the topographic features the divers discovered. 
These are anthropological remains that will soon be part of the lake's geology; they are our future trace fossils.

But down amongst those otherwise mundane human remains were the stones.
While there is obviously some doubt as to whether or not that really is a mastodon carved on a rock – let alone if it really was human activity that arranged some of the rocks into a Stonehenge-like circle – it's worth pointing out that Michigan does already have petroglyph sites and even standing stones.

A representative of the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology has even commented that, although he's skeptical, he's interested in learning more, hoping to see better photographs of the so-called "glyph stone."


Gemina - The Crooked-Neck Giraffe, dies at 21

The 12-foot-tall leaf- eater was the Santa Barbara Zoo's most famous inhabitant. Her bones were a mystery.

January 12, 2008|Steve Chawkins, Times Staff Writer

Gemina, a much-visited Baringo giraffe who held her head high on a mysteriously crooked neck, has died at the Santa Barbara Zoo. She was 21.

"She was the most famous individual we had," said Alan Varsik, the zoo's director of animal programs and conservation. "She's been a part of Santa Barbara for a long time."

Gemina's most recent brush with fame was a 2006 appearance on "The Miracle Workers," an ABC reality show that devoted an episode to obtaining medical help for a 3-year-old with severe scoliosis. Watching Gemina at the zoo, the toddler remarked that the giraffe "has a bump like me."
Born without any apparent deformity at San Diego Wild Animal Park, Gemina moved to Santa Barbara when she was a year old.

When she was 3, her neck bones started to jut out in a way that had been last documented in a giraffe in 1902.

Zoo visitors asked about her neck all the time, but providing answers was a tall order. X-rays showed vertebrae that appeared fused, but the zoo's scientific staff could find no reason for it. When Gemina was 2, a worker saw her tumble end over end, but no injury was detected at the time.
The 12-foot-tall leaf-eater lived a normal life, Varsik said. In 1991, she gave birth, but her calf died of pneumonia.
Last July, she was serenaded by children on her 21st birthday, and a video of the occasion was posted on the zoo's website. She had outlived most giraffes by six years.

Over the last two weeks, Gemina stopped eating and her health deteriorated. Old age -- not her zigzag neck -- was taking its toll, Varsik said. Results of a necropsy are pending.

She was euthanized Wednesday.

"We did everything we could, but the time came when we had to make the humane decision," Varsik said. "She was off-exhibit in the giraffe barn when she died."

Source: latimes.com

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