Background notes

While the stories 'For Love's Sake', 'Beyond Infinity' and 'Code Name: Immortal' are strictly works of fiction, a number of historical facts were researched as inspiration for characters and events mentioned.

Gregor Mendel

Botanist, Scientist (1822–1884)
Gregor Mendel was an Austrian monk who discovered the basic principles of heredity through experiments in his garden. Mendel's observations became the foundation of modern genetics and the study of heredity, and he is widely considered a pioneer in the field of genetics.


Gregor Mendel, known as the "father of modern genetics," was born in Austria in 1822. A monk, Mendel discovered the basic principles of heredity through experiments in his monastery's garden. His experiments showed that the inheritance of certain traits in pea plants follows particular patterns, subsequently becoming the foundation of modern genetics and leading to the study of heredity.

Early Life

Gregor Johann Mendel was born Johann Mendel on July 22, 1822, to Anton and Rosine Mendel, on his family’s farm, in what was then Heinzendorf, Austria. He spent his early youth in that rural setting, until age 11, when a local schoolmaster who was impressed with his aptitude for learning recommended that he be sent to secondary school in Troppau to continue his education. The move was a financial strain on his family, and often a difficult experience for Mendel, but he excelled in his studies, and in 1840, he graduated from the school with honors.

Following his graduation, Mendel enrolled in a two-year program at the Philosophical Institute of the University of Olmütz. There, he again distinguished himself academically, particularly in the subjects of physics and math, and tutored in his spare time to make ends meet. Despite suffering from deep bouts of depression that, more than once, caused him to temporarily abandon his studies, Mendel graduated from the program in 1843.

That same year, against the wishes of his father, who expected him to take over the family farm, Mendel began studying to be a monk: He joined the Augustinian order at the St. Thomas Monastery in Brno, and was given the name Gregor. At that time, the monastery was a cultural center for the region, and Mendel was immediately exposed to the research and teaching of its members, and also gained access to the monastery’s extensive library and experimental facilities.

In 1849, when his work in the community in Brno exhausted him to the point of illness, Mendel was sent to fill a temporary teaching position in Znaim. However, he failed a teaching-certification exam the following year, and in 1851, he was sent to the University of Vienna, at the monastery’s expense, to continue his studies in the sciences. While there, Mendel studied mathematics and physics under Christian Doppler, after whom the Doppler effect of wave frequency is named; he studied botany under Franz Unger, who had begun using a microscope in his studies, and who was a proponent of a pre-Darwinian version of evolutionary theory.

In 1853, upon completing his studies at the University of Vienna, Mendel returned to the monastery in Brno and was given a teaching position at a secondary school, where he would stay for more than a decade. It was during this time that he began the experiments for which he is best known.

Experiments and Theories

Around 1854, Mendel began to research the transmission of hereditary traits in plant hybrids. At the time of Mendel’s studies, it was a generally accepted fact that the hereditary traits of the offspring of any species were merely the diluted blending of whatever traits were present in the “parents.” It was also commonly accepted that, over generations, a hybrid would revert to its original form, the implication of which suggested that a hybrid could not create new forms. However, the results of such studies were often skewed by the relatively short period of time during which the experiments were conducted, whereas Mendel’s research continued over as many as eight years (between 1856 and 1863), and involved tens of thousands of individual plants.

Mendel chose to use peas for his experiments due to their many distinct varieties, and because offspring could be quickly and easily produced. He cross-fertilized pea plants that had clearly opposite characteristics—tall with short, smooth with wrinkled, those containing green seeds with those containing yellow seeds, etc.—and, after analyzing his results, reached two of his most important conclusions: the Law of Segregation, which established that there are dominant and recessive traits passed on randomly from parents to offspring (and provided an alternative to blending inheritance, the dominant theory of the time), and the Law of Independent Assortment, which established that traits were passed on independently of other traits from parent to offspring. He also proposed that this heredity followed basic statistical laws. Though Mendel’s experiments had been conducted with pea plants, he put forth the theory that all living things had such traits.

In 1865, Mendel delivered two lectures on his findings to the Natural Science Society in Brno, who published the results of his studies in their journal the following year, under the title Experiments on Plant Hybrids. Mendel did little to promote his work, however, and the few references to his work from that time period indicated that much of it had been misunderstood. It was generally thought that Mendel had shown only what was already commonly known at the time—that hybrids eventually revert to their original form. The importance of variability and its evolutionary implications were largely overlooked. Furthermore, Mendel's findings were not viewed as being generally applicable, even by Mendel himself, who surmised that they only applied to certain species or types of traits. Of course, his system eventually proved to be of general application and is one of the foundational principles of biology.

Later Life and Legacy

In 1868, Mendel was elected abbot of the school where he had been teaching for the previous 14 years, and both his resulting administrative duties and his gradually failing eyesight kept him from continuing any extensive scientific work. He traveled little during this time, and was further isolated from his contemporaries as the result of his public opposition to an 1874 taxation law that increased the tax on the monasteries to cover Church expenses.

Gregor Mendel died on January 6, 1884, at the age of 61. He was laid to rest in the monastery’s burial plot and his funeral was well attended. His work, however, was still largely unknown.

It was not until decades later, when Mendel’s research informed the work of several noted geneticists, botanists and biologists conducting research on heredity, that its significance was more fully appreciated, and his studies began to be referred to as Mendel’s Laws. Hugo de Vries, Carl Correns and Erich von Tschermak-Seysenegg each independently duplicated Mendel's experiments and results in 1900, finding out after the fact, allegedly, that both the data and the general theory had been published in 1866 by Mendel. Questions arose about the validity of the claims that the trio of botanists were not aware of Mendel's previous results, but they soon did credit Mendel with priority. Even then, however, his work was often marginalized by Darwinians, who claimed that his findings were irrelevant to a theory of evolution. As genetic theory continued to develop, the relevance of Mendel’s work fell in and out of favor, but his research and theories are considered fundamental to any understanding of the field, and he is thus considered the "father of modern genetics."


The website

Access Date: December 17, 2017


Runic alphabet

Little is known about the origins of the Runic alphabet, which is traditionally known as futhark after the first six letters.

The Runic alphabet was probably created independently rather than evolving from another alphabet. It is commonly thought to have been modelled on the Latin or northern Italian alphabets such as Etruscan.

The earliest known Runic inscriptions date from the 1st century AD, but the vast majority of Runic inscriptions date from the 11th century. Runic inscriptions have been found throughout Europe from the Balkans to Germany, Scandinavia and the British Isles.

The word rune comes from the Old Norse word rún (secret, runic letter), from the Proto-Norse ᚱᚢᚾᛟ runo (secret, mystery, rune), from the Proto-Germanic rūnō(secret, mystery, rune), from Proto-Indo-European *rewHn- (to roar; grumble; murmur; mumble; whisper) [source].

Notable features

Types of runic inscriptions include:

There are a number of different Runic alphabets including:

Elder Futhark
Elder Futhark is thought to be the oldest version of the Runic alphabet, and was used in the parts of Europe which were home to Germanic peoples, including Scandinavia. Other versions probably developed from it. The names of the letters are shown in Common Germanic, the reconstructed ancestor of all Germanic languages.
Elder Futhark
The letter k is also called kēnaz (torch) or kanō (skiff). The meaning of the letter name perþ is unknown.

Younger Futhark
Younger Futhark or "Normal Runes" gradually evolved Elder Futhark over a period of many years and stabilized by about 800 A.D., the beginning of the Viking Age. It was the main alphabet in Norway, Sweden and Denmark throughout the Viking Age, but was largely though not completely replaced by the Latin alphabet by about 1200 as a result of the conversion of most of Scandinavia to Christianity.
Three slightly different versions of the alphabet developed in Denmark, Norway and Sweden - the first row of runes are the Danish ones, the second row are the Norwegian ones, and the third row are the Swedish ones, which are also known as Short-twig or Rök Runes.
Younger Futhark
Gothenburg / Bohuslän Runes
These runes were used in Gothenburg in Sweden.
Gothenburg / Bohuslän Runes

Medieval (Latinised) Futhark
After the arrival of Christianity in Scandinavia, the Runic alphabet was Latinised and was used occasionally, mainly for decoration, until 1850.
Medieval (Latinised) Futhark

Thanks to Niklas Dougherty for some of the information on this page.
Sample text - Lord's Prayer in Old Norse (Runic alphabet - Futhark)
Lord's prayer in Old Norse (ᚠᛆᚦᛅᛦ ᚢᚮᛦ ᛋᚮᛘ ᛆᛋᛐ ᛁ ᚼᛁᛘᛚᚤᛘ ᚼᛆᛚᚵᛆᚦ )
Faðer uor som ast i himlüm, halgað warðe þit nama. Tilkomme þit rikie. Skie þin uilie so som i himmalan so oh bo iordanne. Wort dahliha broð gif os i dah. Oh forlat os uora skuldar so som oh ui forlate þem os skuüldihi are. Oh inleð os ikkie i frestalsan utan frels os ifra ondo. Tü rikiað ar þit oh mahtan oh harlihheten i ewihhet. Aman.

Omniglot: the Online Encyclopedia of writing systems and languages
Access Date: January 11, 2018


Christianization of Norway

The Viking chiefs established relations with Christian monarchies and the church, especially in Normandy and England. Thus Olaf I Tryggvason, a descendant of Harald Fairhair, led a Viking expedition to England in 991. He was baptized and returned to Norway in 995, claiming to be king and recognized as such along the coast, where Christianity was already known. These areas were Christianized by Olaf, by peaceful means if possible and by force if necessary; he also sent missionaries to Iceland, where the new religion was adopted by the parliament (Althing) in 999–1000. In the same year, Olaf was killed in the Battle of Svolder. Fifteen years later another descendant of Harald Fairhair, Olaf II Haraldsson—who had returned from England—was acknowledged as king throughout Norway, including the inland areas. Olaf worked to increase royal power and to complete the Christianization of the country. In so doing, he alienated the former chieftains, who called on Canute of Denmark (now ruler of England) for help. Olaf was killed in battle with the Danes and peasant leaders at Stiklestad in 1030.

Canute’s rule in Norway soon proved unpopular with the chieftains, and, with support from the bishops, the deceased king Olaf became St. Olaf, the patron saint of Norway. With the death of Canute in 1035, Olaf’s young son, Magnus, was elected king. He was succeeded in 1047 by his uncle Harald III Sigurdsson (Harald Hardraade), a former commander of the Vikings in the imperial guard in Constantinople. Harald was killed during a vain attempt to conquer England in 1066.

Canute, line engraving by George VertueThe Granger Collection, New York

The Olaf (Fairhair) kings firmly established the Norwegian monarchy with the help of English bishops. In return, sees and abbeys received the larger part of the estates that the Fairhair dynasty had confiscated from the Viking chieftains during the unification of Norway.

The 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries

At the end of the Viking Age all royal sons, legitimate or illegitimate, were considered to have equal claims to the crown if they were accepted by a lagting. During the 11th and early 12th centuries it was not unusual for Norway to have two or more joint kings ruling without conflict. Thus, Harald III’s son Olaf III reigned together with his brother Magnus II until the latter died in 1069. Olaf ruled from 1066 to 1093 without being involved in a war; by giving the dioceses (Nidaros [Trondheim], Bergen, and Oslo) permanent areas, he inspired the first Norwegian towns. Olaf’s son, Magnus III, ruled for 10 years, during which he undertook three expeditions to Scotland to establish Norwegian sovereignty over the Orkneys and the Hebrides. He was succeeded by his three sons, Olaf IV (1103–15), Eystein I (1103–22), and Sigurd I Magnusson (1103–30), who ruled jointly and imposed tithes, founded the first Norwegian monasteries, built cathedrals, established the bishopric at Stavanger, and incorporated the clergy of the Scottish isles into the church of Norway.

Conflict of church and state

Following the rule of Magnus III’s sons, the increasing power of the church and the monarch contributed to a century of civil war. During the early 12th century the kings expanded their direct rule over the various provinces, and the family aristocracy in Norway grew discontented. With the accession of Harald IV (ruled 1130–36), interest groups within Norwegian society began supporting pretenders to the throne, and the church was successful in exploiting civil unrest to win independence.

Even though Norway first was Christianized from England, the Norwegian bishops—together with the other Nordic bishops—fell under the archbishop of Bremen (Germany) in the 11th century. A Nordic archbishopric was established in 1104 in Lund (now in Sweden), probably to remove any influence from the Holy Roman emperor on the Nordic churches. In 1152–53 the English cardinal Nicholas Breakspear (later Pope Adrian IV) visited Norway, resulting in the establishment of an archbishopric in Nidaros. The Holy See decided that the new archbishopric should comprise the five bishoprics in Norway (Nidaros, Bergen, Stavanger, Oslo, and Hamar) and the six bishoprics on the western islands (Skálholt and Hólar in Iceland, Greenland, the Faroes, the Orkneys, and the Hebrides with the Isle of Man). In 1163 the church of Norway supported the claims of a pretender, Magnus V Erlingsson, in return for his obedience to the pope, guarantees for the reforms of 1152, and the issuance of a letter of privileges for the church. Magnus’s coronation was the first at which the archbishop presided. The first written law of succession, dating from this coronation, established primogeniture in principle and the prior right of legitimate royal sons to the crown. Instead of kings being elected by the things, a representation dominated by the church was to serve as the electoral body. The law was never applied, and Magnus was succeeded by Sverrir Sigurdsson, a priest from the Faroe Islands who represented himself as a grandson of Harald IV, the first pretender king. After seven years of fighting, Sverrir was acknowledged in 1184 as king of all Norway and set out to bring the church under royal control. He refused to recognize the reforms and privileges made since 1152, and the archbishop and most of the bishops went into exile; Sverrir was excommunicated. The exiles in Denmark established a rebellious party and allied themselves with the secular enemies of the king, who were opposed to the king’s administrative reforms—including the establishment of the hird as a new aristocracy composed of court officials and the heads of estates. This opposition party won control of the Oslo and inland areas and threatened Sverrir’s rule until his death in 1202.

Civil war continued until 1217, when Sverrir’s grandson Haakon IV became king, beginning the “Golden Age” of Norway. Haakon modernized the administration by creating the chancellor’s office and the royal council. He prohibited blood feuds, and a new law of succession was passed (1260) by a national assembly that established the indivisibility of the kingdom, primogeniture, the prior claim of the legitimate royal sons, and, most importantly, the hereditary right of the king’s eldest legitimate son to the crown. During Haakon’s reign relations in the northern area were first regulated by a treaty with Russia (signed at Novgorod; a similar treaty signed there went into effect in 1326). Greenland and Iceland agreed voluntarily to personal unions with the Norwegian king in 1261 and 1262, marking the greatest extent of Norwegian expansion, which included the Faroes and the Scottish isles. Haakon died during an unsuccessful expedition to the Hebrides in 1263, and in 1266 his son and successor, Magnus VI, ceded the Hebrides and the Isle of Man to Scotland in return for recognition of the Norwegian claim to the Orkney and Shetland islands.

Magnus VI earned the epithet Lawmender for his work on Norway’s legislation. During his reign (1263–80) a common national law code, with special chapters for the towns, replaced the earlier provincial laws in 1274–76. Haakon’s law of succession was confirmed, and a hereditary nobility was established. The king thus took over the legislative functions, and the thing became courts presided over by royal judges (lagmenn). Such a systematic national code, prepared in the king’s chancery, was unique in 13th-century Europe. It remained in force from the 1270s until the Norske Lov of 1687; the version of the code for Iceland (the Jónsbók, 1281) is still partly in force. In a concordat of 1277 the church of Norway had to accept the new lawbooks. Some of the privileges of the church were curtailed, but those that were confirmed left the church essentially independent within its own sphere.
Magnus was succeeded by his young son Erik II (1280–99). Erik’s regency was led by secular magnates who controlled central power throughout his reign. The church tried to win privileges that had been denied by Magnus, but the regency proved stronger. The magnates also tried to limit the rights of the German merchants in Norway but were answered by a blockade from the Hanse cities and forced to agree to the German demands. Erik was succeeded by his brother, Haakon V (1299–1319), who was determined to renew the royal power. He built a series of fortresses, including Akershus in Oslo, marking the shift of political power from the west coast to the Oslo area. Haakon was unable to restore royal power to the extent he wished, however.


Encyclopædia Britannica

 Access Date: January 13, 2018

The Long Count Calendar

The Long Count, for which we do not know the Maya name, is commonly considered the Maya's linear count of days. In truth it is yet another cycle, but its great length of at least 5126 years makes it essentially a linear count through all of Maya history. The earliest known Long Count date, carved in 31 BC, was found at the Olmec site of Tres Zapotes. The earliest known Maya long count was recorded in year 32 AD at the site of Chiapa de Corzo in the Highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. Like the Christian calendar, the long count has a start date: ours is January 1 of 0 AD, and theirs (by our reckoning) is August 11 of 3114 BC. But unlike ours, theirs also has an apparent end date, December 21 of 2012 AD.

The long count is represented as a five place notation system of ascending cycles - kins (days), winals (20-day months), tuns (360 days), k'atuns (20 tuns), and bak'tuns (20 k'atuns). It is important to note that the long count's version of a year, the tun, is only 360 days, not the solar count of 365. This means that the long count diverges from the Haab by five days every year, making it a completely unique and separate cycle.

The Five Long Count Positions

The largest of the long count's five cycles, the bak'tun, is a period equaling 400 tuns. Many people believe that the full cycle of the Long Count is complete when 13 bak'tuns have passed since the beginning of the creation of this current universe, identified as the 4th creation in the Maya "story of creation", the Popol Vuh. That date, currently of such great interest to those anticipating an "end of days", will occur on December 21, 2012 AD

To further illustrate how the Long Count moves forward through time, look at the day sequencing around the beginning and end of the cycle:

3 Kawak 7 Kumku

August 10, 3114 BC

4 Ahau 8 Kumku

August 11, 3114 BC

5 Imix 9 Kumku

August 12, 3114 BC

3 Kawak 2 Kankin

December 20, 2012 AD

4 Ahau 3 Kankin

December 21, 2012 AD

5 Imix 4 Kankin

December 22, 2012 AD

It's important to point out that this is just one possible scenario for how the Long Count functions and flows. There are other scholars who believe that the count would not reset to, but rather continue with 13 as the bak'tuns, being, and then, and so on up until the 14th bak'tuns, being represented as Lloyd Anderson has presented this scenario on his website at . Since we have no texts presenting dates within the first bak'tun's range of 400 tuns, this particular question remains an academic debate. 

Another widely held belief about the Long Count is that the bak'tun in fact does not reset at 13, but is rather another cycle of 20 like all the other place values, with the exception of the months, or winals. The winals are 18, and that is likely because the Maya solar calendar, the Haab, is divided into 18 months of 20 days each. Sir J. Eric Thompson, one of the most influential Mayanists who every studied the calendar, was convinced the baktuns cycle was 20, not 13. He explained his logic in the following passage: 

"I have throughout assumed that the bak'tuns were grouped, not in 13's, but in 20's, for the evidence supporting a vigesimal count of baktuns in the Dresden and at Palenque and Copan is too strong to be overridden. I assume that at an early date, when the LC was first invented, the highest period was the baktun and that baktuns were arranged in re-entering series of 13, but that a subsequent desire to extend the range of time led to the invention of the pictun and still greater periods. With that expansion of time, it was essential to fit the baktuns into a vigesimal count. Consequently, 20 baktuns were made the equivalent of one pictun, but by then 4 Ahau 8 Cumku was so strongly established as the cycle ending of a round of 13 baktuns that it continued to be given that designation, although reckoned as the end of a cycle of 20 baktuns for the purposes of calculation." (Thompson 1960, p 316)

Thompson's passage brings up an important fact about the long count that is not often discussed - the fact that the Maya recorded higher cycles above the bak'tun. Here are the first few of the known long count cycles above bak'tun: 


20 Bak'tuns

8000 tuns

2,880,000 days


20 Piktuns

160,000 tuns

57,600,000 days


20 Kalabtuns

3,200,000 tuns

1,152,000,000 days


20 Kinichiltuns

64,000,000 tuns

23,040,000,000 days

(It should noted that while these are the names for these cycles that have been used in the literature for almost a century, there is no direct evidence that these were their names in ancient times.)

These higher cycles are not uncommon in the inscriptions. They appear multiple times in the Dresden Codex, and in the carved and painted inscriptions of Palenque, Copan, Quirigua, Tikal, Yaxchilan, and Coba. The very existence of these higher cycles calls into question the notion that the Long Count resets at the 13th bak'tun. If it did, why then would there be a need for these higher order cycles? 

The West Panel of the Temple of the Inscriptions (drawing by Linda Schele)

Going back to the question of whether the bak'tun place runs in a cycle of 13 or 20 bak'tuns, an example from Palenque has long been used to support the argument for 20 bak'tuns equaling one piktun.

The text from the Western Tablet of the Temple of the Inscriptions mentions the date of Pakal's birthday and then counts far into the future in order to arrive at 1 piktun.

The drawing to the right shows the segment of the text discussed here (drawing by Linda Schele). The mathematics only works if 20 bak'tuns equal one piktun. Here's the progression:

8 Ahau 13 Pop

March 24, 603 AD

Pakal's Birth


The text indicates to go this many days into the future

To arrive at:


5 Lamat 1 Mol

The text says 1 piktun 8 kins

And then it mentions the calendar round for the date of exactly one piktun:


10 Ahau 13 Yaxk'in

October 13, 4772 AD

One can see how the distance number of was chosen very intentionally to get all zeros in the lower order cycles. If the bak'tun cycle was revolving by 13's, then the long count arrived at would have been, not 

The Cross Tablet west text

drawing by Linda Schele)

As to why these texts discussing Pakal go so far into the future, the facts are few and the theories many. Perhaps it was a statement about the eternal nature of his soul? Or a future reincarnation? One interesting point is that the calendar round 5 Lamat 1 Mol is also the date of Pakal's accession in 612 AD, and the 5 Lamat 1 Mol arrived at in the passage is exactly 80 calendar rounds (52 year cycles) later. Since Pakal was 80 tuns when he died, perhaps this is a poetic statement alluding to his great age. 

So if we have clear evidence that the bak'tun cycle, like all other long count positions save the winals, runs in cycles of 20, then why do so many people believe that it will reset at the arrival of the 13th bak'tun in 2012 AD? The answer lies in the western mathematical assumption that if the long count began at 13 bak'tuns then it must end on 13 bak'tuns. When a person from western culture envisions a cycle, they immediately conjure the image of a clock, with a revolving hand starting and ending at 12. Does it have to be that way? Part of the issue lies in assuming that the modern western and ancient mesoamerican notions of "cycle" are the same.

There are inscriptions at Palenque, Copan, and Quirigua that specifically date events occurring before the current era. All of them state that they occurred within the 12th bak'tun and lead up to 4 Ahau 8 Kumku. At Palenque, the texts of the Cross Group state that on December 9, 3121 BC a woman named Muwan Mat was born. Then 754 years after the era began on August 11, 3114 BC she gave birth to GI of the Palenque Triad on October 23, 2360 BC. These dates span the creation date, beginning in a 12th bak'tun and picking back up in a 1st bak'tun. Here are the long counts in sequential order

8 Ahau 18 Sek

December 9, 3120 BC

Birth of Muwan Mat

4 Ahau 8 Kumku

August 11, 3114 BC

Creation Date

13 Kimi 19 Keh

October 23, 2360 BC

Birth of GI

These dates are given as full long counts, not abbreviated within distance numbers or implied by calendar rounds. While the evidence is compelling, these few texts from Palenque are almost single handedly responsible for convincing western scholars that the long count will once again reset in 2012 AD.

In point of fact, though we have many instances of the Maya recording for August 11, 3114 BC, there is only one text known to record the date for December 21, 2012 AD. It was found on Monument 6 from Tortuguero and the text is broken right after the date is mentioned, occulting the event that was to have been referenced.

For the ancient Maya, the 13th bak'tun ended at the beginning of the world's fourth creation, or era. The Popol Vuh describes the three previous creations and the fates of their inhabitants, but does not provide dates. The Aztecs had a very similar concept and explained it to the Spanish in some detail. To the Aztecs, they were living in the 5th world era, not the 4th. Mark Van Stone (personal communication 2008) hypothesizes that the Aztecs may have counted the collapse of Classic Maya civilization in the 9th century to have been the end of the 4th creation.

The Aztecs provided time lengths for each of the previous eras and, very importantly, they were not the same. Here are the four Aztec eras before the current:

The first era

13 cycles of 52 years for a total of 676 years

The second era

7 cycles of 52 years for a total of 364 years

The third era

6 cycles of 52 years for a total of 312 years

The fourth era

13 cycles of 52 years for a total of 676 years 

The Aztec Calendar Stone (National Antropology Museum, Mexico DF)

If one lumps the 2nd and 3rd era time lengths together, they get another set of 13 x 52 years, just like the 1st and 4th eras. Like the Maya, the Aztec seem to have related the concept of 13 cycles with the completion of an era or world creation. The current era was not given a time length, but was predicted by the Aztecs to be ultimately destroyed by earthquakes. Given the difference in past cycle lengths, one could not safely assume that the current Aztec era will be 13 x 52 years. Does this same caution not apply to the Maya notion of era length?

Part of the solution may be in distinguishing the conceptual difference between a "cycle" and an "era". There are definitely solid cycles throughout the Maya calendar, its interlocking nature depends on them. The kin, the tun, the winal and the k'atun are all static cycles of time. The western calendar has the same kind of cyclical increments - a day, a year, a century, a millennium, etc. However, an "era" in western thinking is rarely an exact increment of a calendrical cycle. The Iron Age, the Renaissance, Industrialism - each of these was a different "era" in history with a unique time length. Was the same conceptual difference being expressed by the Maya when they wrote that 13 bak'tuns was the end of an era?

There is reason to believe that the number 13 was used as a symbolic way to say "completion." There are texts at Yaxchilan, Coba, and the Dresden Codex that present long count dates in which many cycles above the bak'tun repeat the number 13 as their coefficients. The example at Yaxchilan, on a panel in front of Temple 33, places ten 13's above a contemporary date:

Oct 19, 744 AD 

Coba Stela 1

(drawing after Elizabeth Wagner)

The example at Coba, on Stela 1, places at least twenty 13's above the creation date, August 11, 3314 BC. If we attempted to actually count all those 13's as actual coefficients, each going up by a magnitude of 20, the date we would get would go 41,943,040,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years into the past! Dresden Codex page 52 also records a date with 13 consecutive 13's. Since none of these 13's effect the lower cycles, it does not seem they were placed there to actually be calculated. They are likely more of a symbolic statement that many cycles have passed. If these coefficients of 13 for the piktuns, kalabtun, kinichiltuns, etc... symbolize days long ago, could 13 bak'tuns not be symbolizing the same?

So, if the idea that the 13th Bak'tun is the end of the current era is in question, then what should we think of it's arrival in 2012 AD? Though Maya texts say nothing about what might happen at the 13th Bak'tun, we do know that the end of each bak'tun was considered a time of great change. Reviewing ancient Maya history provides a general coroboration of that notion.

The following events around the turn of the last five bak'tuns are not suggested as spot on dates when major changes occurred, but consider the overall pattern.

The beginning of the 8th bak'tun (41 AD)
The last of the Olmec cities, some surviving for almost 1000 years, were abandoned and never reinhabited.

The beginning of the 9th bak'tun (435 AD)
Teotihuacan's influence began in the Maya world, resulting new cities, a flurry of new dynasties, and warfare.

The beginning of the 10th bak'tun (830 AD)
The end of the Classic period and the still unexplained abandonment of 100's of cities.

The beginning of the 11th bak'tun (1224 AD)
The abandonment of Chichen Itza in Yucatan and the rise of Mayapan.

The beginning of the 12th bak'tun (1618 AD)
The last great Maya empire, the Itza of Lake Peten, sent emissaries to the Spanish announcing they are ready to embrace the change the turn of cycles will bring.

It was this last bak'tun, when the Spanish conquered Lake Peten and captured king Kan Ek, that provides special insight into the Maya beliefs about the turn of a bak'tun. In the year 1617, Kan Ek sent emissaries to Merida to inform the Spanish that the 12th bak'tun was near and that they were prepared for the change it would bring. The Spanish interpreted this as a willingness to be converted to Christianity and a race between various missionary groups began for the credit of being to the first to finally convert the mighty Itza. With the priests came the soldiers, and the inevitable end. While they Itza certainly were not planning their own demise, they were right that a time of great change was upon them.

In conclusion, while it is uncertain that 2012 AD will mark the reset of the long count cycle, it is most certainly the beginning of the 13th bak'tun. The ancient Maya would have considered it a time of great change. If every bak'tun was a time of great change, then the 13th turn must have held special significance, perhaps the beginning of a new era in world history. Time will tell.

The Mayan calendar will continue to be a source of much fascination, spurring people to write books and films about the heraldic date in 2012. Although current computers or mobile phones have Christian calendars, the Mayan culture will remain with us even after it may or may not be proven to be obsolete.


Mayan Calendar

Access date: January 13,2018


Mitochondrial Eve

In 1987, A world wide survey of human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was published by Cann, Stoneking, and Wilson in Nature magazine. Its main point was that "all mitochondrial DNAs stem from one woman" and that she probably lived around 200,000 years ago in Africa. When the media picked up from Wilson, one of the authors of the paper, that they had found the "Mitochondrial Eve" or "African Eve", the story became a sensation. Have scientists found "the mother of us all

Most people know about the nuclei of cells and that the genetic inheritance from both parents are found in the nucleus. Humans have 46 chromosomes which they inherit from both their parents. Parts of both the DNA from the mother and father are put together in a recombination process that allows the children to have traits from both their mother and their Father.

However, there is DNA located in other parts of the cell. In the cytoplasm, organelles called mitochondria, which provide energy for the cell in the form of ATP, also have DNA. This DNA, however, does not seem to come from both parents. Instead, it comes only from the mother and not from the Father (There seems to be some rare exceptions to the rule that only the mother contributes the mitochondrial DNA. See the mitochondrial Clock Update: Is maternal mitochondrial inheritance still thought to be true?)

Initially, it was thought that for humans, most of the sperm remained outside of the egg. Only the head with the nuclear DNA and the centrosome, were thought to enter the egg. But that view has changed. Now it has been determined that the whole sperm enters the egg. However, virtually all of the sperm is broken down by enzymes. Only the chromosomes found in the head of the sperm in crystalline form are preserved and used in the recombination process to produce the final version of the new egg cell DNA. The sperm mitochondria and its DNA are broken down by enzymes made for that purpose. See the mitochondrial Clock Update: for details. However, the end result is still the same. The mitochondria and its DNA from the sperm are not used. Only the mitochondria from the egg are used for the newly developing person.

So, our mitochondrial DNA is essentially identical to that of our mother. Mitochondrial DNA is transfered from mother to daughter, generation after generation. The mitochondrial DNA in the son, which he got from his mother, is a dead end street, since his mitochondrial DNA will not be used in his children.

Nuclear DNA changes a lot since it undergoes recombination in every generation. However, the mitochondrial DNA gets transfered from generation to generation without any recombination. Only the normal mutation rate that occurs when DNA is replicated allows the mitochondrial DNA to change. This is why the world wide survey was able to determine that all people are related via some original mother which they called the "mitochondrial Eve". They produced ancestral trees that depended on the slow mutation rate of mitochondrial DNA to estimate how the whole human population came from a single woman.

After the initial discovery of the "mitochondrial Eve", Wilson felt uneasy about using the term "Eve" because it caused many to think that she was the only woman living at that time, much like what is written in Genesis of the Bible concerning Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Also, the usual evolutionary time-scale for man did not allow such a short time as 200,000 years. Rather, it is believed that man has been around for a much longer period of time. Java man is thought to be 800,000 years old. Homo erectus specimens are found all throughout the world. Over forty specimens of Asian Homo erectus which have been found in China, have been dated 220,000 to 500,000 years of age. Lucy, and the earliest remains of specimens that are thought to be of the first to stand upright, are thought to be at least 1 to 4 million years of age.

So, because the presence of man is thought to have been around for a much longer period of time than just 200,000 years, it was concluded that the mitochondrial Eve must not have been the first human female nor would she have been the only female alive at the time. Evolutionists have come to believe that Eve must have been one of many women of her time, in a genetic bottleneck. A time when there were a tiny population of people alive.

It is not known why the human population would became so depleted in a bottleneck. Some suggests that environmental pressures could have brought the human population almost to extinction. It has even been suggested, that the ability to speak languages was a reason why only one group survived over all others. All sorts of reasons have been offered to explain why bottlenecks would exist: a continuous plaque, asteroid impact, or a climate change are just a few of the many ideas.

Many suggest that Eve must have had some vast superiority because her offspring are thought to have conquered the whole world without any evidence of any interbreeding. Others state that selection had nothing to do with the takeover of the human population. They inject that it was a purely statistical process.

Paleoanthropologists Attack the Mitochondrial Eve Story

The story of the mitochondrial Eve is not what paleoanthropologists wanted to hear. They did believe that man came from Africa, but they believed it happened one million years ago. If Eve had lived a million years ago, most of the paleoanthropologists would have accepted the idea with open arms because the mitochondrial Eve data would have fit into the data they had. Now it seemed that there were several waves of humans that left Africa. Each wave seems to have taken over the world. Eve must have lived in Africa, 200,000 years ago, and then her descendants started migrating out of Africa, maybe 100,000 years ago to take over all the earth and all the older man types vanished from the earth without a trace in our genetic record! In addition, there is no evidence from the mitochondrial DNA data that Eve's descendants interbreeded with the older man types at all.

The overtaking of the world's population by Eve's descendants in the last wave, a mere 100,000 years ago, is a point of contention because many of the paleoanthropologists saw a continuity of genetic traits between Homo erectus (the older type of man that Eve's descendants are thought to have killed off) and modern man.

A continuity of genetic traits of the fossil remains suggests that Homo erectus actually had a direct genetic link to the more modern form of man. So, the modern chinese would be the decendants of Chinese erectus.

Paleoanthropologists see this continuity as happening in separate parts of the world at the same time, in a parallel evolutionary process. What they see in the field is: African erectus evolving into modern africans, Chinese erectus evolving into modern chinese, European erectus evolving into Neandertals then modern Europeans, etc.

So, the mitochondrial data seems to be at odds with fossils found in the field. The idea that Eve's children had conquered the whole world without any interbreeding at all, goes against the evidence showing that Homo erectus in various places of the world like China and Africa, look like the modern people of those same regions. Why do the chinese have traits associated with Asian erectus if all the Asian erectus had been wiped out when Eve's descendants arrived in Asia with no interbreeding at all?

One paleoanthropologist, Milford Wolpoff, made the point that the out-of-Africa hypothesis was "Wacko"! When Eve's descendants left Africa, they left as Africans, but when they arrived in Asia, they were Asians!

The Chinese and other Asians of today resemble the old erectus populations with the flat faces of the oriental people. The mitochondrial DNA data says the Asian erectus are extinct but the characteristics of modern man says they are not.

The same phenomenon occurs in other regions of the world such as Europe where modern Europeans are actually closer to classic Neandertal than they are to any living human population with such features as a prominent nose and the shape of the rear end of the cranium.

These kinds of arguments were countered by Chris Stringer who said: "Your fossils are not ancestors of modern men. What you have done for the last ten, twenty years was a complete waste of time". Rebeca Cann, one of the original authors of the study (mentioned above) had also said that paleoanthropologists could never tell for certain if a specific fossil actually left any descendants. On the other hand, there was "100 percent certainty that genes in modern populations have a history that can be examined and will trace back in absolute time to real ancestors".

It is easy to tell that feelings were running high over this fight between the "out-of-Africa" theory and the "multi-regional continuity" theory that modern man arose from various place on the earth at the same time.

The critics of the Eve story, who saw that the mitochondrial data did not fit with the fossils in the field that show a multi-regional continuity, so they started voicing several complaints against the mitochondrial data:

Blair Hedges and his group in Penn State, found that when the data was entered in different orders, that sometimes some other part of the world was indicated as the place where Eve lived, rather than Africa.

Newslines Headings in 1992 and 1993 such as: "Mitochondrial Eve: Wounded, But Not Dead Yet" and "Mitochondrial Eve Refuses to Die" are indications that the Mitochondrial Eve Hypothesis was in real trouble. At the 1993 AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) meeting, Milford Wolpoff anounced: "It's over for Eve". Ever since it was admitted that there were serious problems with the statistics that supports the Eve idea, Wolpoff had wanted to give her last rites.

However, in the very same meeting, Maryellen Ruvolo, from Harvard U. presented new data that used DNA sequencing rather than restriction analysis to study a part of the cytochrome oxidase gene found in the mitochondrial genome. The original work was criticized because it was based on a rapidly evolving part of the mitochondria. Ruvolo's work was based on a slowly evolving portion of the mitochondrial genome and he got the same answer as is found in the original work.

What his work shows is that the short time for Eve is essentially correct. The "multi-regional continuity" people were hoping for an older date, like maybe 1 million years. That would have allowed the mitochondrial Eve data to fit with the "multi-regional continuity" theory. However that did not happen.

Currently the battle is still raging over the history of Modern Human Origins and we still have the same two irreconcilable scientific camps:

So, there seems to be no way for all the data to presently fit together. It is true, as "Kip" Thorne from Australian National University, mentioned: "The fossil evidence is really scrappy. There just isn't enough of it." However, it does not look like the situation will change anytime soon. Wolpoff thinks that the controversy will continue until they are all dead. Then the next generation, he says, will have to decide.

Molecular History Research Center

Access date: January 13,2018


E.A. Thompson

Attila, byname Flagellum Dei (Latin: “Scourge of God”), (died 453), king of the Huns from 434 to 453 (ruling jointly with his elder brother Bleda until 445). He was one of the greatest of the barbarian rulers who assailed the Roman Empire, invading the southern Balkan provinces and Greece and then Gaul and Italy. In legend he appears under the name Etzel in the Nibelungenlied and under the name Atli in Icelandic sagas.

Attacks On The Eastern Empire

The empire that Attila and his elder brother Bleda inherited seems to have stretched from the Alps and the Baltic in the west to somewhere near the Caspian Sea in the east. Their first known action on becoming joint rulers was the negotiation of a peace treaty with the Eastern Roman Empire, which was concluded at the city of Margus (Požarevac). By the terms of the treaty, the Romans undertook to double the subsidies they had been paying to the Huns and in the future to pay 700 pounds (300 kg) of gold each year.

From 435 to 439 the activities of Attila are unknown, but he seems to have been engaged in subduing barbarian peoples to the north or east of his dominions. The Eastern Romans do not appear to have paid the sums stipulated in the treaty of Margus, and so in 441, when their forces were occupied in the west and on the eastern frontier, Attila launched a heavy assault on the Danubian frontier of the Eastern Empire. He captured and razed a number of important cities, including Singidunum (Belgrade). The Eastern Romans managed to arrange a truce for the year 442 and recalled their forces from the West. But in 443 Attila resumed his attack. He began by taking and destroying towns on the Danube and then drove into the interior of the empire toward Naissus (Niš) and Serdica (Sofia), both of which he destroyed. He next turned toward Constantinople, took Philippopolis, defeated the main Eastern Roman forces in a succession of battles, and so reached the sea both north and south of Constantinople. It was hopeless for the Hun archers to attack the great walls of the capital, so Attila turned on the remnants of the empire’s forces, which had withdrawn into the peninsula of Gallipoli, and destroyed them. In the peace treaty that followed, he obliged the Eastern Empire to pay the arrears of tribute, which he calculated at 6,000 pounds (2,700 kg) of gold, and he trebled the annual tribute, thenceforth extorting 2,100 pounds (950 kg) of gold each year.

Attila’s movements after the conclusion of peace in the autumn of 443 are unknown. About 445 he murdered his brother Bleda and thenceforth ruled the Huns as an autocrat. He made his second great attack on the Eastern Roman Empire in 447, but little is known of the details of the campaign. It was planned on an even bigger scale than that of 441–443, and its main weight was directed toward the provinces of Lower Scythia and Moesia in southeastern Europe—i.e., farther to the east than the earlier assault. He engaged the Eastern Empire’s forces on the Utus (Vid) River and defeated them, but he himself suffered serious losses. He then devastated the Balkan provinces and drove southward into Greece, where he was only stopped at Thermopylae. The three years following the invasion were filled with complicated negotiations between Attila and the diplomats of the Eastern Roman emperor Theodosius II. Much information about these diplomatic encounters has been preserved in the fragments of the Historyof Priscus of Panium, who visited Attila’s headquarters in Walachia in company with a Roman embassy in 449. The treaty by which the war was terminated was harsher than that of 443; the Eastern Romans had to evacuate a wide belt of territory south of the Danube, and the tribute payable by them was continued, though the rate is not known.

Invasion Of Gaul

Attila’s next great campaign was the invasion of Gaul in 451. Hitherto, he appears to have been on friendly terms with the Roman general Aetius, the real ruler of the West at this time, and his motives for marching into Gaul have not been recorded. He announced that his objective in the West was the kingdom of the Visigoths (a Germanic people who had conquered parts of the two Roman empires) centred on Tolosa (Toulouse) and that he had no quarrel with the Western emperor, Valentinian III. But in the spring of 450, Honoria, the emperor’s sister, sent her ring to Attila, asking him to rescue her from a marriage that had been arranged for her. Attila thereupon claimed Honoria as his wife and demanded half the Western Empire as her dowry. When Attila had already entered Gaul, Aetius reached an agreement with the Visigothic king, Theodoric I, to combine their forces in resisting the Huns. Many legends surround the campaign that followed. It is certain, however, that Attila almost succeeded in occupying Aurelianum (Orléans) before the allies arrived. Indeed, the Huns had already gained a footing inside the city when Aetius and Theodoric forced them to withdraw. The decisive engagement was the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains, or, according to some authorities, of Maurica (both places are unidentified). After fierce fighting, in which the Visigothic king was killed, Attila withdrew and shortly afterward retired from Gaul. This was his first and only defeat.

In 452 the Huns invaded Italy and sacked several cities, including Aquileia, Patavium (Padua), Verona, Brixia (Brescia), Bergomum (Bergamo), and Mediolanum (Milan); Aetius could do nothing to halt them. But the famine and pestilence raging in Italy in that year compelled the Huns to leave without crossing the Apennines.

In 453 Attila was intending to attack the Eastern Empire, where the new emperor Marcian had refused to pay the subsidies agreed upon by his predecessor, Theodosius II. But during the night following his marriage, Attila died in his sleep. Those who buried him and his treasures were subsequently put to death by the Huns so that his grave might never be discovered. He was succeeded by his sons, who divided his empire among them.

Priscus, who saw Attila when he visited his camp in 448, described him as a short, squat man with a large head, deep-set eyes, flat nose, and a thin beard. According to the historians, Attila was, though of an irritable, blustering, and truculent disposition, a very persistent negotiator and by no means pitiless. When Priscus attended a banquet given by him, he noticed that Attila was served off wooden plates and ate only meat, whereas his chief lieutenants dined off silver platters loaded with dainties. No description of his qualities as a general survives, but his successes before the invasion of Gaul show him to have been an outstanding commander.

E.A. Thompson

Encyclopædia Britannica

Access date: January 13, 2018.


Heinrich Himmler

Heinrich Himmler, (born October 7, 1900, Munich, Germany—died May 23, 1945, Lüneburg, Germany), German National Socialist (Nazi) politician, police administrator, and military commander who became the second most powerful man in the Third Reich.

The son of a Roman Catholic secondary-school master, Himmler studied agriculture after World War I and joined rightist paramilitary organizations. As a member of one of those, Ernst Röhm’s Reichskriegsflagge (“Imperial War Flag”), he participated in November 1923 in Adolf Hitler’s abortive Beer Hall Putsch in Munich. Himmler joined the Nazi Party in 1925, rose steadily in the party hierarchy, and was elected a deputy to the Reichstag (German parliament) in 1930. The foundations of his future importance, however, were laid with his appointment as Reichsführer of the SS (Schutzstaffel; “Protective Echelon”), Hitler’s elite bodyguard, which was nominally under the control of the Sturmabteilung (SA; “Assault Division”). Himmler immediately began expanding the SS, which reached a membership of more than 50,000 by 1933. After Hitler gained power on January 30, 1933, Himmler became head of the Munich police and soon afterward became commander of all German police units outside Prussia. As such, he established the Third Reich’s first concentration camp, at Dachau.

In April 1934 Himmler was appointed assistant chief of the Gestapo (Secret State Police) in Prussia, and from that position he extended his control over the police forces of the whole Reich. He masterminded the June 30, 1934, purge in which the SS eliminated the SA as a power within the Nazi Party. That purge strengthened Hitler’s control over both the party and the German army, which had viewed the SA as a serious rival. Himmler then began to build the SS into the most powerful armed body in Germany next to the armed forces. He assumed full command of the Sicherheitspolizei (Sipo; Security Police) and the Ordnungspolizei (Orpo; Order Police) as Reichsführer SS and Chief of the German Police on June 17, 1936. Under Himmler the SS acquired vast police powers in Germany and the territories it occupied, and it also gained primary responsibilities in the areas of security, intelligence gathering, and espionage.

World War II brought a vast extension of Himmler’s empire and the resources at his command. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Himmler was entrusted with the administration of the conquered territory with the goal of eliminating the Soviet system. In July 1942 Hitler appointed Himmler to head the German antipartisan campaign in the occupied areas behind the front lines; that campaign targeted the racial and political enemies of the Third Reich and was characterized by widespread acts of mass murder and atrocity. He oversaw the deployment of the Einsatzgruppen(“deployment groups”) in the massacre of Jews and other victims at sites such as Babi Yar, in Ukraine, during the early war years. Himmler organized the extermination camps in German-occupied Poland at which millions of Jews were systematically slaughtered. The camps also provided workers for cheap forced labour and subjects for involuntary medical experiments.

By 1943 Himmler had become minister of the interior and plenipotentiary for Reich administration. He expanded the Waffen-SS (“Armed SS”) until, with 35 divisions, it rivaled the army. He also gained control of the intelligence network, military armaments (after the abortive attempt on Hitler’s life of July 20, 1944), the Volkssturm (“People’s Storm Troop”), a mass levy of mostly older men, and later the Werwolf, a guerrilla force intended to continue the struggle after the war. He also unsuccessfully commanded two army groups.

Not content with military power alone, Himmler attempted to set up an autonomous SS industrial empire. When that provoked resistance from Hitler’s minister for armaments and war production, Albert Speer, Himmler apparently orchestrated an attempt on the latter’s life in February 1944.

In the final months of the war, Himmler suffered increasingly from psychosomatic illnesses and was progressively shunted aside by Hitler’s entourage. In April 1945 it became known that Himmler hoped to succeed Hitler and that he had negotiated with both Swedish Greve (Count) Folke Bernadotte (to surrender to the Western allies) and the Western Allies (to form an alliance against the Soviet Union). Hitler promptly stripped Himmler of all offices and ordered his arrest. Disguised as a common soldier, Himmler attempted to escape. Captured by the Western Allies, he committed suicide by taking poison.

Himmler was a highly effective administrator and a ruthless and adroit power seeker who was slavishly devoted to Hitler until the final weeks of the war. He combined a penchant for philosophical mysticism with a cold-blooded, fanatical adherence to Nazi racist ideology in his role as the prime architect of the Holocaust. More than any other individual, Himmler was the man who created the network of state terror by which the Third Reich suppressed its opposition, eliminated its internal enemies, and compelled obedience from the German citizenry.


Encyclopaedia Britannica

Access date: January 13, 2018

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was the leader of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. He initiated fascist policies that led to World War II and the deaths of at least 11 million people, including the mass murder of an estimated 6 million Jews.

Who Was Adolf Hitler?

Adolf Hitler (April 20, 1889 to April 30, 1945) was chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, serving as dictator and leader of the Nazi Party, or National Socialist German Workers Party, for the bulk of his time in power. Hitler’s policies precipitated World War II and led to the genocide known as the Holocaust, which resulted in the deaths of some six million Jews and another five million noncombatants. With defeat on the horizon, Hitler committed suicide with wife Eva Braun on April 30, 1945, in his Berlin bunker.

Looted Art

Altaussee Salt Mines Guide | The Mountain of Treasures
by James Martin

The opening to the underground Altaussee Salt Mines peeks out from the shadow of the mountain called "Loser" in the Salzkammergut. It is the access point of a long tunnel shimmering with glistening mineral crystals that splits and meanders under the earth to form one of Austria's largest active salt mines. If you follow the main tunnel long enough, you'll be able to slide down the miner's slides to the subterranean lake below.

There are almost 67 km of routes through the 18 levels (stories) of mine, of which 24 km are open. The brine production per hour is a stunning 240 cubic meters. This is Austria's largest active salt mine, and it's been around a long, long time.

The mine was first mentioned in documents in 1147 with mining was done by the Rein Monastery near Graz, but there is evidence that salt has been extracted from these mountains since about the  7th century BC. In any case, the next huge event happened during the second world war, when Nazis began stocking their looted art treasures in the caves of the salt mine, over 6500 of them, said to be worth upwards of 3.5 Billion Dollars.

The Hallstatt-Dachstein alpine landscape makes up a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Landscape. And this landscape contains an interesting secret.

The War Years

During the waning days of WWII, diehard Nazis discovered the Salzkammergut region; its Alpine remoteness was the perfect hideout.

They built labor camps in nearby Ebensee to work on their secret missile program. Hope sprung eternal in the Salzkammergut.

The Nazis also funneled stolen art into this salt-heavy, pastoral region, including one of Europe's finest art works, Jan van Eyck’s 15th century Ghent Altarpiece, called The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, which puts focus on the central panel of the 12-panel work.

(You can see the most minute details of this painting in The Ghent Altarpiece in 100 Billion Pixels.) The altarpiece had taken a very long journey; sent to the Pyrenees Chateau de Pau for wartime safekeeping, it was stolen by Dr. Ernst Buchner, director of the Bavarian state museums and transported to Paris, then to Castle Neuschwanstein, where it was treated by a conservator before eventually being sent on to Altaussee. There it was stored underground in the salt mine with other works by the likes of Michelangelo, Dürer, Rubens, and Vermeer.

With the war winding down and Germany on the wrong side of it all, eight airplane bombs were crammed into the mine shaft to destroy the cache of art. Miners and the Austrian resistance, with the help of a commando team lead by Albrecht Gaiswinkler, managed to thwart the destruction of the works until the Allied Third Army arrived at Altaussee to secure the mine. Monuments Men Robert K. Posey and Lincoln Kirstein began the process of excavating the art, including the Ghent Altarpiece, which Posey personally delivered to Ghent.

This is all documented in the book Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World's Most Coveted Masterpiece.

Visiting the Altaussee Salt Mines

With the opening of the movie Monuments Men, the mine had added additional opening hours and tours, including Wednesday evening tours.

See the Salzwelten Altaussee Opening Hours page. A multimedia presentation provides information about the hiding and rescue of the stolen art objects.

The mine is very near the popular tourist destination of Hallstatt, where there is also an interesting salt mine to visit. It's an easy drive between the two places.

For those interested in following along with the last days of the Nazis, when Hitler retreated to the Salzkammergut still clinging to the desperate hope of a Thousand-Year Reich, the nearby lake called Toplitzsee was where the Nazis dumped much of what they'd produced, including the counterfeit  currency and equipment they hoped would destabilize the British economy, a story told, with some liberties, by the film called "The Counterfeiters," which garnered an Oscar for best foreign film in 2007.

Rumors of gold having been dumped in the lake have made it a holy grail for treasure hunters.
The Altaussee Salt Mine is not so far from the Kehlsteinhaus, or as we in America call it, the Eagle's Nest, a gift from the Nazi party for Hitler’s 50th birthday. The nest is perched on a mountain summit close to the Bavarian town of Oberberchtesgarden. It's one of the top things to do in Bavaria.

Getting there

Public Transportation: The closest train station to the salt mine is found at Bad Ausee, a popular winter ski resort town. There are buses from Bad Ausee to Altaussee.

By Car: From Salzburg, take the A10 motorway south to exit 28 and head east towards Hallstatt (tolls), or take the scenic B158 towards Hallstatt.

The closest airport is Salzburg Airport.

To get the lay of the land and see transportation options with estimated prices, see: Altaussee Salt Mines Map and Guide.

The Address of the Altausee mine is Lichtersberg 25, 8992 Altaussee, Austria.

Source: Trip Savvy

Access date: January 14, 2018

Found, Hitler's secret nuke plant: Vast underground complex where the Nazis worked on developing nuclear weapons is discovered in Austria 

By Stephanie Linning for MailOnline

PUBLISHED: 12:20 GMT, 28 December 2014 | UPDATED: 08:24 GMT, 29 December 2014

A labyrinth of secret underground tunnels believed to have been used by the Nazis to develop a nuclear bomb has been uncovered.

The facility, which covers an area of up to 75 acres, was discovered near the town of St Georgen an der Gusen, Austria last week, it has been reported.

Excavations began on the site after researchers detected heightened levels of radiation in the area - supporting claims that the Nazis were developing nuclear weapons.

Documentary maker Andreas Sulzer, who is leading the excavations, told the Sunday Times that the site is 'most likely the biggest secret weapons production facility of the Third Reich'.

It is believed to be connected to the B8 Bergkristall underground factory, where the Messerschmitt Me 262 - the first operational jet fighter - was built. 

There are also suggestions that the complex is connected to the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp. 

Slave labour from the camp was used to build both complexes - with as many as 320,000 inmates in the harsh underground conditions.

But while the Bergkristall site was explored by Allied and Russia after the war, the Nazis appeared to have gone through greater lengths to conceal the newly-discovered tunnels.

Its entrance was only uncovered after the excavation team, which includes historians and scientists, pieced together information in declassified intelligence documents and testimonies from witnesses.

The Soviets were stationed in St Georgen until 1955 and they took all of the files on the site back with them to Moscow.

Experts are trying to discover if there is a link between St Georgen and sites in Germany proper where scientists were assembled during the Third Reich in a bid to match American efforts to build the ultimate weapon.

In June 2011, atomic waste from Hitler's secret nuclear programme was believed to have been found in an old mine near Hanover.

More than 126,000 barrels of nuclear material lie rotting over 2,000 feet below ground in an old salt mine.

Rumour has it that the remains of nuclear scientists who worked on the Nazi programme are also there, their irradiated bodies burned in secret by S.S. men sworn to secrecy.

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