Ötzi the Iceman gives 5,300-year-old blood sample
Scientists using advanced nanotechnology have successfully located traces of blood from Ötzi the Iceman, whose frozen body was found in Italy in 1991, 5,300 years after he was killed by an arrow. Scientists have already mapped Ötzi’s DNA and discovered that he suffered from Lyme disease and a weak heart, and ate venison and ibex as his last meal, but have only now found tiny traces of blood on the body. It is hoped that this discovery, the oldest blood sample ever retrieved, will change the way police study blood found at modern crime scenes, and shed new light on Ötzi’s death.
An Australian billionaire has commissioned a 21st-century version of the Titanic, which sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage, killing more than 1,500 people. Clive Palmer, a mining magnate from Queensland, has claimed that the new ship will be “every bit as luxurious as the original Titanic but … will have state-of-the-art 21st-century technology, and the latest navigation and safety systems”. Construction is due to start at the end of next year and the ship will be ready to sail in 2016.
A rare Buddhist manuscript, discovered in 1931, is to be released as a book in India. The AD 5th-century document, known as the Lotus Sutra, documents the discourse delivered by Buddha towards the end of his life and is one of the most sacred scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism, one of the two main branches of the religion. The manuscript, which is currently held in the National Archives of India in New Delhi, was originally found in a wooden box in a circular chamber inside a Buddhist stupa (a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics) by cattle grazers.
A letter written by 19th-century heroine Grace Darling, who helped save 13 people from the foundered SS Forfarshire in 1838, has sold for £460 at auction in Edinburgh. The letter, written in January 1840, discusses the trust that was set up with money raised on her behalf after the rescue, and is signed by Grace herself. Grace, who lived in Longstone Lighthouse with her father, assisted the latter in the daring rescue by holding the rowing boat steady in the raging storm while survivors were helped into it. The letter was bought by the RNLI Heritage Trust and will be displayed at the Grace Darling Museum in Bamburgh.
Multimedia website ww2history.com, created by historian and filmmaker Lawrence Rees, is now free to access without subscription. The site, which provides a multimedia history of the Second World War, features articles, videos and audio testimonies, covering key moments of the conflict, many recorded by those who experienced the events firsthand. Among those who have contributed to the site are Professor Sir Ian Kershaw, Professor Richard Overy and author Antony Beevor.
Red-nosed puppet Mr Punch is to celebrate his 350th birthday on 9 May. Mr Punch, whose first recorded appearance in Britain appears in the diary of Samuel Pepys in 1662, was originally a stringed marionette called Pulcinella, but has since evolved into the stick-wielding puppet favoured at seaside resorts today. Mr Punch will celebrate his landmark birthday, with Judy, at a party in London’s Covent Garden Piazza on 12–13 May. Now that’s the way to do it.