lost and found
October 24, 2016

The Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project had intended to find out how quickly water levels rose in the Black Sea after the last Ice Age, but the team ended up discovering a whole lot more than they had bargained for, Quartz reports. While examining the seabeds, the scientists found dozens and dozens of previously undiscovered shipwrecks — 41 in all.

"The wrecks are a complete bonus, but a fascinating discovery, found during the course of our extensive geophysical surveys," the project's principal investigator, Jon Adams, said in a statement.

Many of the shipwrecks were in spectacular condition due to the low oxygen levels that exist nearly 500 feet below the surface. "Certainly no one has achieved models of this completeness on shipwrecks at these depths," Adams said.

Many of the ships date back to the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. The researchers are using photographs to build 3D models of their finds and hope to learn more about "the maritime interconnectivity of Black Sea coastal communities and manifest ways of life and seafaring that stretch back into prehistory." Jeva Lange

September 12, 2016

In 1848, the ill-fated and ominously-named HMS Terror was lost along with the HMS Erebus in the worst polar disaster to ever hit the British Royal Navy: all 129 men in Sir John Franklin's Northwest Passage expedition were killed. For 11 years after the doomed trip, search parties continued to look for the Franklin expedition to no avail; the Inuit people now say bad spirits wander the island near where the ship went under.

But at long last, the arctic strait has given up its secrets, The Guardian reports. The HMS Terror has been discovered practically perfectly intact near King William Island, although it was found much farther south than it was thought to have been abandoned. "This discovery changes history," Canadian philanthropist and Arctic Research Founder Jim Balsillie told The Guardian. "Given the location of the find [in Terror Bay] and the state of the wreck, it's almost certain that HMS Terror was operationally closed down by the remaining crew who then re-boarded HMS Erebus and sailed south where they met their ultimate tragic fate."

The Terror almost wasn't discovered. An Inuk crewman on the team's research ship, Sammy Kogvik, 49, was talking with the Arctic Research Foundation's operations director, Adrian Schimnowski, when he recalled a hunting trip in Terror Bay, where he posed for a picture with a large piece of wood sticking out of the sea ice, which resembled a mast. When Kogvik got home and discovered his camera gone, he decided not to speak of the experience, believing the missing camera was an omen of the bad spirits that wander the island.

But by following Kogvik's tip, the researchers focused on the north end of Victoria Strait, eventually making their fateful discovery.

"This vessel looks like it was buttoned down tight for winter and it sank," said Schimnowski. "Everything was shut. Even the windows are still intact. If you could lift this boat out of the water, and pump the water out, it would probably float." Read more about the strange and incredible discovery of the HMS Terror at The Guardian. Jeva Lange

May 12, 2016

Two years after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 mysteriously disappeared with 239 people on board, experts have confirmed they've found another two pieces of debris from the aircraft. Malaysia's Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said Thursday that they've found an engine cowling piece and an interior panel piece from an aircraft cabin, which marks the first interior piece discovered. The debris was discovered in South Africa and Rodrigues Island off Mauritius.

The new findings bring the total number of pieces discovered up to five. Last year, a wing part from the plane washed up on France's Reunion Island. In March, two pieces of debris were found along Mozambique's coast.

The locations of the washed-up debris provide further evidence for the theory that the jet — which vanished while en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur — crashed somewhere in a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean off Australia's west coast. So far, crews have searched nearly 40,000 square miles, but the search has largely proved fruitless. Becca Stanek

October 12, 2015

A long-lost warship that sank 600 years ago and belonged to Henry V, a 15th century king of England, was discovered in the muddy River Hamble in Hampshire, The Telegraph reports. Used in the English campaign against France between 1416 and 1420, in the midst of the Hundred Years War, the Holigost (or "Holy Ghost") was found using aerial photos of a region where Henry's flagship, the Grace Dieu, was previously uncovered in the 1930s.

"In my opinion, further research leading to the rediscovery of the Holigost would be even more important than the identification of the Grace Dieu in the 1930s," historian Dr. Ian Friel told The Telegraph. "The Holigost fought in two of the most significant naval battles of the Hundred Years War, battles that opened the way for the English conquest of northern France."

The warship, which weighed around 750 tons, was reconstructed from a Spanish vessel, the Santa Clara, captured in 1413 or 1414; it carried a crew of 200 sailors. Archaeologists will use sonar, remote sensing, drone technology, and the study of tree rings to learn more about the warship in the coming years, The Telegraph reports. The Holigost could potentially teach archaeologists more about naval life in the 1400s as well as English and Spanish shipbuilding techniques.

"It holds the possibility of fascinating revelations for months and years to come," Duncan Wilson, the chief executive of Historic England, said. Jeva Lange

August 20, 2015

In the final days of World War II, a Nazi train was rumored to have set off for the mountains near the modern day Polish-Czech border, loaded with gold and gems — only to vanish and never be seen again. While once a thing of folklore and myth, the ghost train could turn out to be more fact than fiction, if the claim of two treasure hunters proves to be true.

According to local media in Walbrzych, Poland, two claimants, a Pole and a German, say they have found a 500-foot-long "armored train," complete with gun platforms and, yes, the mysterious glittering Nazi cargo. The men have since filed a "finder's claim," which would allow them to earn 10 percent of the loot if it proves to be legitimate. An emergency committee is investigating the validity of the case.

"The area has never been excavated before and we don't know what we might find," an official at the Walbrzych district council told Reuters.

While the rumor of the gold train is 70 years old and counting, no evidence of it has ever been uncovered. However, historians agree that the Nazis dug out miles of tunnels in the southwest mountains of Poland in the days of the Third Reich, and their purpose remains a mystery to this day. Jeva Lange

July 2, 2015

The prequel to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is set to be released on July 14. But controversy about its history — and if Lee, 88, really wants it published at all — has grown thicker already. While the official story holds that Tonja B. Carter, Lee's lawyer, was reviewing an old typescript of To Kill a Mockingbird and happened upon the manuscript for its prequel, Go Set a Watchman, The New York Times has dug up a second, conflicting narrative.

According to the new story, Carter might actually have found the book in 2011, when viewing the contents of Lee's safe-deposit box during a Sotheby's auction house rare books appraisal. In the box, Carter — along with Justin Caldwell, a rare books expert, and Alice Lee, Harper's sister — are said to have discovered a typescript story that looked suspiciously like To Kill a Mockingbird, but clearly wasn't the same.

The other was a typescript of a story that, like Mockingbird, was set in the fictional town of Maycomb and inhabited by the same people. But Mr. Caldwell noticed that the characters were older, and the action set many years later, the person said. After reading about 20 pages and comparing passages to a published copy of Mockingbird for nearly an hour, Mr. Caldwell is said to have realized the differences and told the others in the room that it seemed to be an early version of the novel. [The New York Times]

However, Carter said she had to leave the room and denied she had ever heard of a different manuscript being found that day.

The implications of the second narrative could be hefty, though. While Go Set a Watchman has already rocketed to being the bestselling preorder in the publisher's history, some think that Harper Lee, despite assurances otherwise, might not actually want Mockingbird's prequel published. Adding to the suspicion is the fact that Alice Lee might not have approved of Carter or anyone else publishing the novel. The release of Go Set a Watchman was announced three months after Alice's death. Jeva Lange

June 1, 2015

When officials at Tokyo Station found a suitcase abandoned in a locker in April, they naturally decided not to look inside. Big mistake! Turns out there was a woman's corpse folded up inside:

"There was an abnormal odor when we opened the suitcase. Then we saw hair," an unnamed employee told reporters. [BBC]

The woman was reportedly between 70 and 90 years old. Her cause of death is under investigation. Ryu Spaeth

November 5, 2014

Missing since September, a 9-year-old boy was found on a South Pacific island 5,500 miles away from where he was last seen.

When Billy Hanson failed to return to his mother's home following a visit with his father in Seattle, she reported him missing. Billy's father, Jeffrey, is an experienced sailor, and the authorities immediately started an international search. The pair was found in late October on the small island of Niue, 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand and more than 5,000 miles from Seattle.

Jeffrey Hanson was arrested and returned to the United States to face charges of international parental kidnapping. Billy remained on Niue for several days while waiting for his mother to pick him up, and seemed to enjoy his time on the island, which locals call "The Rock." "I saw him at a barbecue on Friday and he did not look stressed," Michael Jackson, the editor of the Niue Star, told Agence France-Press. "He had a Niue T-shirt on and was enjoying himself." Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads