A Hidden Section of the Berlin Wall Was Just Discovered

iStock
iStock

As Communist-managed barriers go, the Berlin Wall was fairly effective. Erected in 1961 to stop an exodus of citizens in Soviet-controlled East Berlin from defecting to West Berlin, for decades it loomed large over people on both sides as a symbol of the divided political landscape. Roughly 12 feet tall, the concrete slabs were topped with a circular tube that discouraged climbing and was edged on the East Berlin side by a gauntlet of guard dogs, armed patrolmen, and trip-activated machine guns. The Soviets and the West finally eased tensions in 1989, and citizens armed with tiny pickaxes assisted construction workers in tearing it down, allowing East and West Berliners to come and go as they pleased.

Although not every inch of the wall was razed, most people thought all sections had been accounted for: It’s hard to miss a giant monolith of concrete blocking your path, after all. But this past June, a group of locals discovered an abandoned 65.6-foot section.

The slab is situated in a residential neighborhood of northwest Berlin and was determined to be part of the border that helped isolate the “death strip” of the wall from East Berlin. Defectors would scale one wall en route to the other and risked being shot on sight by armed guards. Now covered in graffiti, the chunk was partially obscured by overgrowth and lacked the familiar pipe on top. Over time, it simply began to blend into its surroundings.

This is the second time this year a surviving portion has been unveiled. In January, a 262-foot section was brought to the city’s attention by historian Christian Bormann, who first noticed it in 1999. He kept his finding a secret out of fear it would be torn down.

Ephraim Gothe, a city councilman who was one of the locals out for a stroll when the latest excavated wall was stumbled upon, has filed paperwork in an effort to have it declared a historic monument. If that's successful, it will join other sections that have become tourist destinations, including one 4300-foot long stretch, a wall memorial, and one of the crossing points once open to diplomats. It’s possible other portions survived the teardown and remain obscured somewhere in the city.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

A Ring Containing a Lock of Charlotte Brontë’s Hair Found Its Way to Antiques Roadshow

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A ring that “very likely” contains a lock of Charlotte Brontë’s hair appeared on a recent episode of the Antiques Roadshow that was filmed in northern Wales, according to The Guardian. The jewelry itself isn’t especially valuable; the TV show's appraiser, jewelry specialist Geoffrey Munn, said he would have priced it at £25, or about $32.

However, an inscription of the Jane Eyre author’s name as well as the year she died (1855) raises the value to an estimated £20,000 ($26,000). That isn’t too shabby, considering that the owner found the ring among her late father-in-law’s belongings in the attic.

A section of the ring comes unhinged to reveal a thin strand of hair inside—but did it really belong to one of the famous Brontë sisters? Munn seems to think so, explaining that it was not uncommon for hair to be incorporated into jewelry in the 19th century.

“There was a terror of not being able to remember the face and character of the person who had died,” he said. “Hair wreaths” and other pieces of "hair work" were popular ways of paying tribute to deceased loved ones in England and America from the 17th century to the early 20th century.

In this case, the hair inside the ring was finely braided. Munn went on to add, “It echoes a bracelet Charlotte wore of her two sisters’ hair … So it’s absolutely the focus of the mid- to late 19th century and also the focus of Charlotte Brontë.”

The Brontë Society & Brontë Parsonage Museum, which has locks of Brontë’s hair in its collection, said that it had no reason to doubt the authenticity of the ring.

[h/t The Guardian]

From Cocaine to Chloroform: 28 Old-Timey Medical Cures

YouTube
YouTube

Is your asthma acting up? Try eating only boiled carrots for a fortnight. Or smoke a cigarette. Have you got a toothache? Electrotherapy might help (and could also take care of that pesky impotence problem). When it comes to our understanding of medicine and illnesses, we’ve come a long way in the past few centuries. Still, it’s always fascinating to take a look back into the past and remember a time when cocaine was a common way to treat everything from hay fever to hemorrhoids.

In this week's all-new edition of The List Show, Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy is highlighting all sorts of bizarre, old-timey medical cures. You can watch the full episode below.

For more episodes like this one, be sure to subscribe here.

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