Not-So-Dark Ages Revealed at King Arthur Site

King Arthur, Tintagel Excavation, Smithsonian

A view of the ruins of Tintagel castle, built in the 13th century by English royals eager to strengthen their ties to legendary King Arthur, who was said to be conceived at the site. Luxury goods unearthed at royal stronghold show that Celtic rulers thrived at the legendary site of Tintagel.

A recent discovery in southwest England is making headlines for its association with King Arthur, but archaeologists are hailing it as an incredibly important find regardless of any connection with Britain’s greatest legendary ruler.

Excavations at Tintagel, a rocky promontory on the coast of Cornwall, have revealed evidence of massive stone fortifications and luxury goods imported from as far away as modern-day Turkey, all dating to a poorly understood period in British history that began with the collapse of Roman rule on the island around 400 A.D.

The earliest mentions of a leader named Arthur in the historical record are tied to events that occurred between roughly 400 and 600 A.D., the period in which archaeologists believe the fortifications at Tintagel were built. According to an account written centuries later, the legendary king was conceived at Tintagel.

Luxury Trade During the So-called “Dark Ages”

Over the summer, archaeologists at Tintagel have found evidence for more than a hundred buildings that most likely date from the fifth to seventh centuries A.D., a period when the site is believed to have been an important royal stronghold of the Celtic kingdom of Dumnonia.

Initial evidence for the Celtic stronghold was first revealed during excavations in the 1930s. Unfortunately, the home of C.A. Raleigh Radford, lead archaeologist on the project, was bombed during World War II and the scientific results were never properly published. In the 1990s, archaeologists reopened Radford’s trenches at Tintagel and discovered fine ceramics and glassware from all over the Mediterranean world.

More than two decades later, researchers have returned to Tintagel for the beginning of a five-year project funded by the charity English Heritage to better understand what was happening at the site during a time erroneously referred to by some historians as the “Dark Ages,” and by others as “Sub-Roman” or “Post-Roman.”

Why were coastal trading posts like Tintagel mysteriously abandoned in the seventh century?  read more –>  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/08/…

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Dr. Seuss’s Original Lorax Tree in San Diego

Dr Seuss, Lorax Tree, La Jolla, Smithsonian

The lone Lorax tree in Scripps Park, La Jolla. (Courtesy of San Diego Tourism)

In 1937, a long line of publishers rejected a children’s book that would later become a classic. Penned by Theodore Geisel, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street immortalized a street in the author’s hometown, Springfield, Massachusetts. The book was eventually picked up by a publisher, the first in a long line of classics penned by Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss.

His first book may have Massachusetts roots, but after World War II Geisel made his way to San Diego, California and moved into an observation tower in ritzy La Jolla. His newly adopted hometown became part of literary history, too. In this home and his studio on Mt. Soledad, Seuss wrote more than 40 children’s books—including the immortal The Cat in the Hat. And though he died in 1991, his legacy still looms large in both San Diego and the history of literature for kids.

“Seuss is the best selling and most influential children’s author in the United States,” Dr. Philip Nel, director of the children’s literature program at Kansas State University, tells Smithsonian.com. “He teaches children not only how to read but why and how to think. He wants children to take an interest in their world and make a better world.” … read more –>  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/…

First Athlete to Wear Hijab, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Wins Fencing Bronze Medal

Olympic, Bronze, Fencing, Hijab, Ibtihaj Muhammad, USMag_comIbtihaj Muhammad of the United States celebrates her bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Saturday, August 13

A moment she’ll never forget. Ibtihaj Muhammad won her first Olympic medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday, August 13 — but that wasn’t her only first!

The 30-year-old athlete became the first U.S. athlete to compete at the Olympic Games wearing a hijab, a veil commonly worn by Muslim women.

Muhammad took home the bronze medal with Team USA during the women’s team saber fencing event on Saturday. She competed with fellow fencers Dagmara Wozniak, Mariel Zagunis and Monica Aksamit to defeat the Italian team 45-30. (The last time the U.S. women’s fencing team won a medal was at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.)

Prior to joining the national fencing team in 2010, Muhammad was a three-time All-American and 2005 Junior Olympic Champion at Duke University. She graduated from the school in 2007 with a double major in international relations and African American studies.

Earlier this week, the New Jersey native spoke to USA Today about becoming the first American to compete at the Olympics in a hijab.

“A lot of people don’t believe that Muslim women have voices or that we participate in sport,” she said on Monday, August 8. “And it’s not just to challenge misconceptions outside the Muslim community, but within the Muslim community. I want to break cultural norms.”

Muhammad added, “It’s a blessing to represent so many people who don’t have voices, who don’t speak up, and it’s been a really remarkable experience for me.”

courtesy of:  http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/… 

California’s Bold Stand Against Islamophobia

Muslims pray while celebrating Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of fasting during the month-long Ramadan, at the Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino, California on July 6, 2016. The Pew Research center estimated earlier this year there were about 3.3 million Muslims of all ages living in the United States in 2015. / AFP / Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

California’s State Assembly has taken a strong stand against a rising climate of Islamophobia in America.

On Monday, the Assembly passed a resolution that declared August 2016 as Muslim Appreciation and Awareness Month, as part of an effort to acknowledge the “myriad invaluable contributions of Muslim Americans in California and across the country.”

The resolution (HR-59) was introduced by Assemblymember Bill Quirk and passed with bipartisan support, according to NBC.

The writers of the resolution pointed out that California is home to over 240 mosques, more than any other state in the country. The resolution also decried the discrimination that Muslim Americans have had to endure in the years following the September 11 attacks.

“Muslim Americans have made contributions to education, science, entertainment and medicine both nationally and globally,” Quirk told NBC News. “Unfortunately, the Muslim community has been, and continues to be, the target of harassment, discrimination and assaults.” read more –>  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/…

Meteor Shower of the Decade Tonight! Thur, 8/11 + Fri, 8/12/16

Meteor Shower, Perseid, PopularMechanics

Astronomers predict next week’s meteor shower will have twice as many meteors as normal.  If you find yourself outside during the night next Thursday, don’t forget to look up.

On August 11 and 12, the biggest meteor shower of the year, the Perseids, will be lighting up the night sky, and this year the Perseids promise to be the best shower of the decade.

The Perseids typically peak in mid-August every year, when the Earth intersects with the trail of Comet Swift-Tuttle. Debris from the comet impacts the Earth’s atmosphere and streaks across the sky, creating shooting stars.

Typically, the Perseids’ peak features about 100 meteors per hour. But this year, we may see twice that many thanks to an “outburst,” which occurs when the Earth runs into leftover debris from past orbits of the comet as well as debris from the current year. The extra material combines to create a truly spectacular meteor shower.

This year, the Perseids are expected to contain meteors from comet trails laid down in 1862, 1479, and 1079. This means that some of the meteors that will impact Earth’s atmosphere next week broke off from the Comet Swift-Tuttle nearly a thousand years ago.

If you’re planning to watch the Perseids, it’s best to be prepared. The optimal time to see the meteor shower is from late at night on Thursday August 11 to early Friday morning on the 12th, before sunrise. Be sure to get plenty of rest if you’re going to stay up late to watch the show.

Pick a spot that’s far away from city lights that brighten the sky. The darker the sky, the better the viewing, so you may have to drive into the countryside. This tool can help you find a dark sky location nearby. Remember to give your eyes at least 20 minutes to adjust to the dark.

Most importantly, enjoy yourself and have fun! Meteor showers are always better with people, so bring some friends or loved ones along, and keep your eyes on the sky.

courtesy of:  http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/

Why Are Jim Thorpe’s Olympic Records Still Not Recognized?

Jim Thorpe, SmithsonianJim Thorpe’s epic performance in the 15 events that made up the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Summer Games remains the most solid reflection we have of him. (Bettmann / Corbis)

100 years ago, Jim Thorpe became the greatest American Olympian of all time, but not if you ask the IOC

It’s been 100 years since Jim Thorpe dashed through the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, and we’re still chasing him.  Greatest-evers are always hard to quantify, but Thorpe is especially so, a laconic, evasive passerby who defies Olympic idealizing. A breakfast of champions for Thorpe was no bowl of cereal. It was fried squirrel with creamed gravy after running all night in the woods at the heels of his dogs. Try catching up with that.

He was a reticent Sac and Fox Indian from the Oklahoma frontier, orphaned as a teenager and raised as a ward of government schools, uncomfortable in the public eye.

When King Gustaf V of Sweden placed two gold medals around Thorpe’s neck for winning the Olympic pentathlon and decathlon and pronounced him the greatest athlete in the world, he famously muttered, “Thanks,” and ducked more illustrious social invitations to celebrate at a succession of hotel bars. “I didn’t wish to be gazed upon as a curiosity,” he said.

Thorpe’s epic performance in the 15 events that made up the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Summer Games remains the most solid reflection we have of him. Yet even that has a somewhat shadowy aspect. The International Olympic Committee stripped his medals and struck his marks from the official record after learning that he had violated the rules of amateurism by playing minor-league baseball in 1909-10.

“Those Olympic records are the best proof that he was superb, and they aren’t official,” says Kate Buford, author of a new biography of Thorpe, Native American Son. “He’s like the phantom contender.”

Phantomness has left him open to stigma and errors. For instance, it was popularly believed that Thorpe was careless of his feats, a “lazy Indian” whose gifts were entirely bestowed by nature. But he was nonchalant only about celebrity, which he distrusted. “He was offhand, modest, casual about everything in the way of fame or eminence achieved,” recalled one of his teachers, the poet Marianne Moore.

In fact, Thorpe was a dedicated and highly trained athlete. “I may have had an aversion for work,” he said, “but I also had an aversion for getting beat.” He went to Stockholm with a motive: He wanted to marry his sweetheart, Iva Miller. Her family disapproved of the match, and Thorpe was out to prove that a man could make a good enough living at games to support a wife. Point proved: They would be married in 1913. Photographs of him at the time verify his seriousness of purpose, showing a physique he could only have earned with intense training. He was a ripped 185 pounds with a 42-inch chest, 32-inch waist and 24-inch thighs.

“Nobody was in his class,” says Olympic historian Bill Mallon. “If you look at old pictures of him he looks almost modern. He’s cut. He doesn’t look soft like the other guys did back then. He looks great.”

The physique was partly the product of hard labor in the wilderness of the Oklahoma Territory. By age 6, Thorpe could already shoot, ride, trap and accompany his father, Hiram, a horse breeder and bootlegger who would die of blood poisoning, on 30-mile treks stalking prey. Jim Thorpe was an expert wrangler and breaker of wild horses, which he studied for their beautiful economy of motion and tried to emulate. Clearly the outdoors taught him the famous looseness of movement so often mistaken for lassitude. “He moved like a breeze,” sportswriter Grantland Rice observed …

… On this 100-year anniversary of the Stockholm Games, there are several good reasons for the IOC to relent and fully recognize Thorpe as the sole champion that he was. Countless white athletes abused the amateurism rules and played minor-league ball with impunity. What’s more, the IOC did not follow its own rules for disqualification: Any objection to Thorpe’s status should have been raised within 30 days of the Games, and it was not. It was nice of the IOC to award replica medals to Thorpe’s family, but those are just souvenirs.  After 100 years … Thorpe should enter the recordread more –> http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/…

Meet the World’s Refugee Olympic Team

10 athletes were chosen to represent refugees from war-torn nations at the Olympics for the first time. These are their stories.

The Summer Olympics will feature 206 teams of athletes from specific countries. And for the first time ever, this month’s Games in Rio will feature another team of athletes that comes from no nation in particular and with no historical precedent.

For the first time, a Refugee Olympic Team will participate in the Olympics. The R.O.T., as the International Olympic Committee abbreviates it, includes 10 athletes, across four sports, from four countries in the Middle East and Africa.

The R.O.T. arrives at the Olympics at a particularly troubling time. The civil war in Syria has been driving an outright refugee crisis in Europe. The United Nations Refugee Agency says there are 4.8 million Syrian refugees, plus an estimated 8.7 million people displaced inside Syria this year. Its count of refugees and asylum-seekers from South Sudan is 850,000. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it is more than 384,000 refugees and more than a million internally displaced persons. There are more than 700,000 Ethiopian refugees. This is just a sampling.

If there is light at the end of that darkness, the 10 athletes competing for the R.O.T. this month are a beacon. Each has escaped one of the war-torn countries mentioned above, and each now gets a turn on sport’s biggest stage …

From South Sudan

Rose Nathike Lokonyen, a runner supported by Kenya
James Nyang Chiengjiek, a runner supported by Kenya
Angelina Nada Lohalith, a runner supported by Kenya
Paulo Amotun Lokoro, a runner supported by Kenya
Yiech Pur Biel, a runner supported by Kenya

From Syria

Rami Anis, a swimmer supported by Belgium
Yusra Mardini, a swimmer supported by Germany

From the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Popole Misenga, a judoka supported by Brazil
Yolande Bukasa Mabika, a judoka supported by Brazil

From Ethiopia

Yonas Kinde, a marathoner supported by Luxembourg

see videos, read more about each athlete –>  http://www.sbnation.com/2016/8/5/