'Whistling' Bullets Uncovered From Ancient Roman Battlefield


When archaeologists recently uncovered bullets from a Roman battle site in Scotland, they noticed something unusual about them: They had been pierced with 5-millimeter holes. As Live Science reports, the archaeologists believe the feature was meant to create an intimidating whistling effect as the projectile plummeted towards Roman enemies.

The Burnswark Hill dig, being led by John Reid of the Trimontium Trust, is the first major archaeological project at the site in 50 years. Roman troops staged an attack on indigenous defenders in a hilltop fort there about 1800 years ago. The whistling cast lead bullets, which soldiers would have hurled at their foes with a sling, accounted for about 20 percent of the bullets uncovered there so far.

The fact that Romans had taken the time to drill holes in the weapons initially had the experts confused. Such a procedure would have taken a considerable amount of effort only to end up with projectiles that are less heavy and therefore, less damaging. Reid never considered that the holes were meant to make noise until his brother—inspired by his fishing lures, which have a hole in the side and make a whistling noise when he casts a line—suggested the possibility.

After testing replicas of the bullets, the theory was found to hold some water. The holes did indeed make mechanical whistle noises that Reid, writing in the magazine Current Archaeologydescribed as "eerily reminiscent of an agitated wasp."

Whether or not the sound was used for intimidation is still up for debate, but the Romans wouldn't have been alone in using similar objects to antagonize their targets. In ancient China, Shàojiàn or "shrieking arrows" were used to startle animals between release and impact. And this video shows an example of the "death whistles" that may have been played by Aztec soldiers when marching into battle to psych out the enemy. (Take a listen: The unsettling sound lives up to the instrument's morbid name.) The Burnswark Hill bullets mark the first of their kind ever uncovered from an ancient Roman site.

[h/t Live Science]

All images: John Reid/Trimontium Trust via Twitter

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UK Man Orders Kindle, Receives Tumor Specimen Instead
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Global shipping services, like FedEx, deliver millions of packages each day, so it’s understandable that some things can get mixed up in the process. James Potten of Bristol, England recently received what he thought was a Kindle e-reader. Instead, a “specimen return kit” with a tumor inside was delivered to his door.

Described by the BBC as a “courier mix-up,” the FedEx sleeve that the tumor was delivered in was addressed to Mr. Potten but it was intended for the Royal Free Hospital in London, approximately 2.5 hours away.

“My name was on the outside, but the contents weren't what I expected,” Potten told BBC. “I haven't opened the sealed box, which says exempt patient tissue, as it doesn't belong to me. The tracking code on the item had the same first five and last three numbers as my order but it wasn't my Kindle.”

The confused addressee took to Twitter to share his “#FedExFail” with the rest of the world:

Potten later tweeted that the tumor was recollected by FedEx for delivery to the hospital, and he did eventually receive his Kindle. The delivery company said that it will “consider future changes to our processes” so that instances like this won’t happen again.

[h/t: Mashable]

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There's a New F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Story You Can Read
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Even death cannot stop some prolific writers from publishing. Adding to the list of newly discovered works by famous literary figures this summer (following Harper Lee’s surprise second novel Go Set a Watchman and the posthumous publication of Dr. Seuss’ What Pet Should I Get?), an unpublished short story was recently found in the archives of F. Scott Fitzgerald at Princeton. 

Andrew Gulli, the editor of the monthly literary magazine The Strand, uncovered “Temperature,” a short story Fitzgerald wrote just before his death about a struggling writer dealing with alcoholism and failed ambitions. The author attempted to publish it in his lifetime, but didn’t succeed in convincing anyone to run it. The 8000-word story appears in the current issue of The Strand, and according to Vulture, it’ll be online in three months. Add it to your summer reading list!

[h/t: Vulture]


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