DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI via Getty Images
DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI via Getty Images

This Royal Murder Mystery May Soon Be Solved

DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI via Getty Images
DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI via Getty Images

A murder case that’s gone unsolved for more than 500 years has just been opened back up. Historian and screenwriter Philippa Langley is launching a fresh investigation into the deaths of the “princes in the tower,” one of the most infamous crime mysteries in British history. 

After the death of their father, Edward IV, in 1483, the two young brothers Edward V and Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York were lodged in the Tower of London under the care of their uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. This was prior to what was meant to be 12-year-old Edward’s coronation, but his uncle ended up taking the crown instead after Edward and his 9-year-old brother Richard mysteriously vanished.

It is widely believed by historians that King Richard III murdered his nephews to secure the throne for himself, but Philippa Langley isn’t so confident. To crack the case she’s teaming up with cold case investigators, some of whom have experience working on unsolved murders. One thing she’s discovered is that the perspectives of these professionals don't always match up with the historical narrative. “They all say the same thing,” she told the Independent, "that’s it’s very questionable whether there was a murder at all, considering what happened with all the pretenders that arrived under Henry Tudor’s reign; and second, that Richard III is not their prime suspect—because they go on motive, opportunity and proclivity.”

This isn’t the first historical mystery Langley has set out to untangle. In 2009, she founded the Looking for Richard project that led to the discovery of Richard III’s grave beneath a Leicester parking lot. For this new case, she’s not only enlisting the help of private investigators but also British families with private archives dating back to the Plantagenet and Tudor periods. The Church of England has proven to be less helpful, repeatedly refusing requests from researchers over the years to exhume what are likely the remains of the two boys buried in Westminster Abbey.

The team has narrowed the investigation down to four prime suspects: Richard III, Richard’s rival Henry VII, his loyal servant Sir James Tyrell, and Henry Stafford, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham who supported Richard’s rise to the throne. Langley hopes to collaborate with the Richard III Society once again after successfully working with them to dispel another Richard III myth—the one surrounding his death and resting place. Same as with the Princes in the Tower story, old theories surrounding Richard's death supported the idea of him as an archetypal villain. But the true story, as Langley hopes to uncover through her investigation, is often much less glamorous. 

[h/t: The Independent]

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Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Utility Workers May Have Found One of Rome’s First Churches
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

The remains of what may have been one of Rome’s earliest Christian churches were accidentally discovered along the Tiber River during construction, The Local reports. The four-room structure, which could have been built as early as the 1st century CE, was unearthed by electrical technicians who were laying cables along the Ponte Milvio.

The newly discovered structure next to the river
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

No one is sure what to make of this “archaeological enigma shrouded in mystery,” in the words of Rome’s Archaeological Superintendency. Although there’s no definitive theory as of yet, experts have a few ideas.

The use of colorful African marble for the floors and walls has led archaeologists to believe that the building probably served a prestigious—or perhaps holy—function as the villa of a noble family or as a Christian place of worship. Its proximity to an early cemetery spawned the latter theory, since it's common for churches to have mausoleums attached to them. Several tombs were found in that cemetery, including one containing the intact skeleton of a Roman man.

Marble flooring
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

A tomb
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma1

The walls are made of brick, and the red, green, and beige marble had been imported from Sparta (Greece), Egypt, and present-day Tunisia, The Telegraph reports.

As The Local points out, it’s not all that unusual in Rome for archaeological discoveries to be made by unsuspecting people going about their day. Rome’s oldest aqueduct was found by Metro workers, and an ancient bath house and tombs were found during construction on a new church.

[h/t The Local]

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Alexis Pantos, University of Copenhagen
Scientists Just Found the Oldest Known Piece of Bread
Alexis Pantos, University of Copenhagen
Alexis Pantos, University of Copenhagen

An old, charred piece of long-forgotten flatbread has captured the interest of archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians around the world. Found in a stone fireplace in Jordan’s Black Desert, this proto-pita dates back 14,400 years, making it the oldest known example of bread, Reuters reports.

To put the significance of this discovery in context: the flatbread predates the advent of agriculture by 4000 years, leading researchers to theorize that the laborious process of making the bread from wild cereals may have inspired early hunter-gatherers to cultivate grain and save themselves a whole lot of trouble.

“We now have to assess whether there was a relationship between bread production and the origins of agriculture,” Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, a researcher with the University of Copenhagen, told Reuters. “It is possible that bread may have provided an incentive for people to take up plant cultivation and farming, if it became a desirable or much-sought-after food.”

A report on these findings—written by researchers from the University of Copenhagen, University College London, and University of Cambridge—was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It was once thought that bread was an invention of early farming civilizations. A 9100-year-old piece of bread from Turkey was previously regarded as the oldest of its kind. However, the Jordanian flatbread was made by a group of hunter-gatherers called the Natufians, who lived during a transitional period from nomadic to sedentary ways of life, at which time diets also started to change.

Similar to a pita, this unleavened bread was made from wild cereals akin to barley, einkorn, and oats. These were “ground, sieved, and kneaded prior to cooking,” according to a statement from the University of Copenhagen. The ancient recipe also called for tubers from an aquatic plant, which Arranz-Otaegui described as tasting “gritty and salty."

[h/t Reuters]

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