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Homing Pigeons

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I invested a pleasant hour today learning about Homing Pigeons from Wikipedia. Herein I share the fruits of my clicking:

Cher Ami was a French homing pigeon and a war hero. From Wikipedia: "[Cher Ami] helped save the Lost Battalion of the 77th Division in the battle of the Argonne, October 1918. In his last mission, he delivered a message despite having been shot through the breast. The bird was awarded the Croix de Guerre, for heroic service delivering 12 important messages in Verdun." You can see Cher Ami at the Smithsonian, where he's displayed with Sergeant Stubby, the "most decorated war dog of World War I." (See also: the Dickin Medal, a war honor for animals.)

More after the jump...

G.I. Joe is almost as famous as Cher Ami -- he was from the U.S. and is credited with saving over 1,000 British troops during World War II. (More about G.I. Joe.)

Homing pigeons have been used for millennia - as far back as the ancient Greeks, who conveyed the names of winning Olympians via pigeon.

Pigeon Post was a Nineteenth-century version of Air Mail developed in Auckland, New Zealand. (Check out a Pigeon-Gram stamp from 1899.)

IP over Avian Carriers is an actual RFC (number 1149) that describes a method for transmitting Internet Protocol traffic via bird. Although it was originally an April Fool's joke in 1990, Wikipedia reports: "IP over Avian Carriers was actually implemented by the Bergen Linux User Group. They sent 9 packets over a distance of approximately 5km (3 miles), each carried by an individual pigeon and containing one ping (ICMP Echo Request), and they received 4 responses. With a packet loss ratio of 55%, and a response time ranging from 3000 seconds to over 6000 seconds, IP over Avian Carriers seems unlikely to be adopted more widely as a data-link method for IP networks."

Thanks, Wikipedia.

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Courtesy of the Tunisian National Heritage Institute and the University of Sassari
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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
Archaeologists Discover Ancient Sunken City in the Mediterranean
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Courtesy of the Tunisian National Heritage Institute and the University of Sassari

Early on July 21, 365 CE, an 8.5 magnitude earthquake shook the eastern Mediterranean, triggering a powerful tsunami. The Egyptian city of Alexandria was damaged, towns crumbled on the island of Crete, and the Roman port city of Neapolis, located on the coast of North Africa, was largely swallowed by the wave, according to historical records. Now, after being hidden under water for more than 16 centuries, the remains of Neapolis have been discovered by archaeologists off the coast of northeast Tunisia. This, according to the AFP, confirms accounts that the city was a casualty of the ancient natural disaster.

Following several years of exploration, researchers from the Tunisian National Heritage Institute and the University of Sassari in Italy have discovered nearly 50 acres of watery ruins near the modern-day city of Nabeul. They include streets, monuments, homes, mosaics, and around 100 tanks used to make garum, a fish-based sauce that was so popular in ancient Rome and Greece that it's been likened to ketchup. 

These containers suggest that Neapolis was likely a major producer of garum, making the salty condiment an integral part of the city's economy. "Probably the notables of Neapolis owed their fortune to garum," expedition head Mounir Fantar told the AFP.

Neapolis ("new city" in Greek) was originally founded in the 5th century BCE. While it was an important Mediterranean hub, its name doesn't appear too often in ancient writings. According to The Independent, it may because the city sided with the ancient city-state of Carthage—founded in the 9th century BCE by a seafaring people known as the Phoenicians—in the last of a series of three wars, called the Punic Wars, against Rome.

The Third Punic War stretched from 149 to 146 BCE, and led to the burning of Carthage. (It was later rebuilt as a Roman city by Julius Caesar.) Neapolis may have been punished for its wayward allegiance, which may explain why it's rarely mentioned in historical accounts.

You can view a video of the city's ruins below.

[h/t AFP]

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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
Archaeologists Find Italy's Earliest Wine—And It's Thousands of Years Older Than We Thought
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Uncork a Barolo in honor of ancient traditions: Italians have been making wine for far longer than we thought. A new analysis of storage jars found in a cave in Sicily's Monte Kronio pushes back Italy’s wine-making history by thousands of years, as CNET alerts us.

Archaeologists from the University of South Florida and several Italian institutions report in Microchemical Journal that wine making in the region could date back as far as 3000 BCE. Previously, researchers studying ancient seeds hypothesized that Italy's wine production developed sometime between 1300 BCE and 1100 BCE.

Making grapes into wine has been a part of human history going back to the Stone Age. Georgians have been drinking wine for 8000 years. Grapevines spread through the Caucasus and the Middle East before making their way to Europe.

This new discovery was possible thanks to chemical analysis of unglazed clay pots found in a Monte Kronio cave. The Copper Age pottery still bore residue from the wine. The researchers were able to identify traces of tartaric acid and sodium salt left from the wine-making process. They're still working on figuring out whether it was red or white, though, as University of South Florida researchers explained in a press statement.

In 2013, archaeologists planted a vineyard and began making wine using ancient Roman techniques to see what wine actually tasted like in the Roman Empire. Foul as that wine may have been, it seems that Roman wine was the result of an even longer wine-making tradition than we knew.

[h/t CNET]

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