Archaeologists in India Discover Ancient Hero Stones that Retell Epic Battles and Honorable Deaths

Archaeologists in India Discover Ancient Hero Stones that Retell Epic Battles and Honorable Deaths

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Intricately carved ancient Hero Stones can be found across India. These decorated stone markers serve as monuments to honorable deaths, commemorating fallen heroes and ferocious warriors who sacrificed themselves in order to protect lives and land. Archaeologists in Andhra Pradesh have found two Hero Stones dating to the ninth and tenth century A.D. which are still used in local worship during festivals.

Analysis of the stones has been reported to Ancient Origins by assistant archaeologist Konudula Ramakrishna Reddy of the Archaeological Survey of India, who spent time in Chagalammari, Kurnool District, while conducting research on the political and cultural practices of ancient societies.

An elaborate, five panel Hero Stone from 12 th century with carvings depicting battle scenes.

K. Reddy and the research team located, examined, and photographed two Hero Stones; one in a field to the east of Gotlur village, the other in the center of Nelampadu village.

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The tradition of commemorating with Hero Stones ( Veera Sila , or Virgal) in India dates between the third century B.C. and the 18 th century A.D. These stone steles are adorned with a variety of carvings, including figures and inscriptions, and often a narrative of epic battle. They were placed in the memory of monarchs, chieftains, soldiers, holy people and respected members of society, especially those who had died in specific events: during cattle raids, while protecting feminine virtue, while saving family members, in following a leader’s orders, or while defending land. The stones also featured ferociously fighting sailors, and widows who committed the immolation of Sati.

The battle of the hero was usually narrated through image and text in a multi-panel format.

The British Library writes, “A hero stone was usually divided into three panels, but sometimes, if the story warranted it, into four or five. The upper panel would depict the subject worshipping a deity, usually a Shiva linga, The middle panel would depict the hero being borne into heaven by apsaras or heavenly nymphs, sometimes seated in a palanquin or a shrine, and the lower panels would show battle scenes or cattle raids (with heads of cattle).”

Stones can be found alone, or in groupings.

The Gotlur Hero Stone was located in a field to the east of the village beside a water reservoir. K. Reddy reports that the Boya community (Boyas being hunters and warriors in antiquity) worshiped the stone each October during the Dussera festival, making offerings of goats, sheep, and chickens.

Hero Stone from Gotlur village. Photo: Konudula Ramakrishna Reddy

The single warrior of the stone is named as Onti Verudu by the locals. The sandstone carving depicts the standing figure of a male warrior adorned with “a headband, earrings, and necklaces,” reports K. Reddy.

The warrior holds a dagger in his left hand; in his right he wields a double-ended weapon with twin curved blades. A small knife is seen tied in his waist band, and the decorative folds of his lower garments are clearly seen. The portion of the stone below this figure’s ankles is hidden below the soil.

The researchers have determined the iconographic features of material and clothing style, and the ornaments and weaponry date it to between the ninth and tenth century A.D. during the Renati Chola Dynasty who ruled this area in that period.

A 12 th century Hero Stone featuring an archer. Wikimedia Commons

Just three kilometers from Gotlur village, another sculpture was found in Nelampadu. On this slate slab, the carvings have been weathered and the details are not as easily discerned.

“The hero is seen riding on a galloping horse; he controls the horse with his right hand and holds a weapon in the left,” says K. Reddy.

Hero Stone from Nelampadu village. Photo: Konudula Ramakrishna Reddy

The horse rears with front legs raised, back legs on the ground. A palm tree can be seen behind the horse and rider, the palm leaves observed above the horse’s head. The rider sits in a saddle and his legs are in stirrups. Reddy suggests the depiction of the saddle and bridle are an interesting addition to the carving. Below the pair is thought to be a dog.

The archaeologists believe that based on the stylistic features, the dress of the rider, and the use of the saddle and bridle on the horse dates the Hero Stone to the same period as the Gotlur stone - circa the ninth and tenth century A.D., and during the Renati Chola feudal kingdom.

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Horses and dogs are not uncommon features on the stones featuring honorable people.

Author Upinder Singh notes in “ A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India ” that animals were given a place of honor on the stones if their lives were lost heroically.

“An inscription from Gollarahatti is in memory of a hunting dog named Punisha who died after killing a wild boar, while another one from Atkur commemorates the death of a dog named Kali who died fighting a wild boar during a hunt. A 12 th century inscription at Tambur mourns the death of the pet parrot of a king of the Kdamba dynasty of Goa. The parrot was eaten by a cat in the palace and the inscription tells us that the king was so filled with grief at this event that he killed himself,” writes Singh.

The famous Atakur Hero Stone inscription (949 C.E.) featuring an exciting retelling of the “the battle between ‘Kali’ the hound and a wild boar, and the victory of Rashtrakuta Emperor Krishna III over the Chola dynasty of Tanjore”. Wikimedia Commons

K. Reddy concludes that the fact that the local people still worship the stones during festivals is noteworthy.

Apart from their beautiful and illustrative carvings, the Hero Stones of India provide an opportunity to learn about the beliefs, traditions, and culture of the ancient societies.

Featured Image: A line of Hero stones from 10th century at Trimurthi Narayana Gudi, Bandalike village, Karnataka state, India. Wikimedia Commons

By Liz Leafloor

A unique project to trace Bengaluru's history before Kempe Gowda

For most people, the history of Bengaluru essentially starts with Kempe Gowda, who founded the modern city in the sixteen century. Although scholars and epigraphists have traced the city’s history to 750 CE, few people would believe that India’s IT capital is older than a millennium.

Hundreds of stone inscriptions and hero stones in the city dating back to 1,000 years contain the richness of its past, but in many cases, they are disappearing in the changing weather conditions and rapid urbanisation. But a project that began earlier this year is promising to digitise at least 1,500 inscriptions and create 3D models to preserve the city’s glory for posterity.

Besides protecting the stone records, the citizen project by Inscription Stones of Bengaluru and Mythic Society also vows to create awareness on the ancient stones and the stories they tell about the city’s heritage. The three-year project that began in January is creating 3D models of the stones in Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural and Ramanagara.

A team of five archaeologists, historians and epigraphists has scanned about 70 inscriptions. P L Udaya Kumar, the honorary director of the project, described the initiative as first of its kind in the country in which 1,500 inscriptions will be digitally preserved with every minute detail.

For Kumar, a techie who had stints at MNCs across the world, the quest to find Bengaluru’s forgotten stone inscriptions provided the trigger for the project.

“This is not just about digital scanning of the inscription, but understanding the city’s evolution, language, culture and its socio-economic background,” he explained. “You won’t find any metropolis (even ruined cities) across the globe with such rich heritage spanning a millennium.”

The idea of digitisation and 3D-modelling is at least a decade old. “Initially, I, my friend Vinay Kumar and other volunteers scanned the inscriptions and preserved them,” Uday said. “Some companies and philanthropists funded the project in a small scale. But that wasn’t enough. That was when the Mythic Society provided Rs 2 crore for the project,” he added.

Uday visits the inscriptions with his team of epigraphists and historians, and scans the stone records with an advanced hand-held scanner that captures even the tiniest detail on the stone. “We use software to process the scanned images into various formats and create 3D models for research and reference purpose,” said an epigraphist.

Uday said several inscriptions had withered away, having been exposed to harsh weather conditions. “In some places, we’ve lost them completely,” he rued.

And in some cases, despite their prominent position, people have failed to recognise their value and the inscriptions have been buried in garbage. “Luckily, we’ve managed to capture most inscriptions that were about to disintegrate,” Uday said.

“While most of the available inscriptions around Bengaluru were documented by scholars like B L Rice, there are about 20-25 unpublished inscriptions that people have reported,” Uday explained.

Preoccupied with the idea of communicating the value of the inscriptions to the locals, Uday and his team began telling the locals about the historic legacy of their locality. “By conserving the history for the future generation and sharing it with others, we’re giving it back to society,” he said.

The digital conversion programme is assisted by volunteers who provide training on software and equipment handling techniques to the epigraphists and historians.

The team is also discussing with ISRO and other premier bodies for the required support in terms of storage space and digital assistance.

Ancient civilizations

1. The Story of Sinuhe by Unknown (c. 1800 BC)

More than three thousand years before the Bard was born, the Egyptian Shakespeare wrote the Hathor worshipper’s answer to Hamlet — and we don’t even know their name. Anonymously authored, the elegant and haunting Story of Sinuhe has been hailed as ancient Egypt’s best. This epic poem follows the titular Sinuhe, an official who goes AWOL when he gets some explosive intel about the assassination of his king. His new life in Canaan brings him glorious victories, a high-society marriage, and honorable sons…. but the guilt of his exit continues to eat away at him, and he never stops longing for his homeland.

2. Epic of Gilgamesh by Sin-liqe-unninni (c. 1700 BC)

This four thousand year-old page-turner flies under the radar compared to high school staples like the Odyssey, but the Epic of Gilgamesh is nothing short of, well, epic . It’s a must-read whether you love the redemptive power of a good bromance or have a taste for quirky math (the titular Gilgamesh is one-third moral and two-thirds divine)! Our genetically improbable protagonist begins the story as a a king who brutalizes his people — in other words, a true antihero. He rules over the city of Uruk with an iron fist until the gods themselves mold the wild man Enkidu out of clay and water to strike the wicked king down. But when Enkidu finally confronts his target, the two destined enemies become fast friends — inspiring Gilgamesh to mend his ways and go on a monster-hunting quest with his new bestie.

3. The Odyssey by Homer (c. 700 BC)

Speaking of the Odyssey , this timeless classic has it all: the heart-racing thrills of an adventure story and the psychological drama of a family saga. The Ithacan king Odysseus has spent the past ten years in Troy, fighting a war he never wanted to fight. Now that the enemy has been duly routed, it’s finally, finally time to go home. Too bad the journey back to Ithaca isn’t going to be smooth sailing because Poseidon is less than pleased with Odysseus after a certain… tragic incident involving the god’s Cyclops son. Meanwhile, Odysseus’ wife Penelope has spent the past decade holding a horde of pushy young suitors at arm’s length. In her husband’s long absence, all 108 of them are eager to insinuate themselves into her bed — and onto Ithaca’s throne. With gods and men standing in their way, will Odysseus and Penelope pull off a reunion?

4. Aesop’s Fables by Aesop (c. 500 BC)

City mouse and country mouse. Sour grapes. Slow and steady wins the race. Brought to life by an enslaved prisoner of war, Aesop’s Fables have shaped our everyday idioms and helped define how we see the world. These deceptively simple tales have clear moral messages that are served with a dash of darkness: in Aesop’s starkly enchanted world, anthropomorphic animals cavort, gambol, and sometimes die ignoble deaths, struck down by their own foolishness and arrogance. Whether you’re in the mood for Tweet-brief bedtime reading or hankering for a blunt reminder of life’s harshness, these timeless tales that have enriched the worlds of toddlers and philosophers alike will have you covered.

5. Oedipus the King by Sophocles (430 BC)

This bleak masterclass in dramatic irony gave its name to the most famous of Freudian complexes, and it’s been reminding readers — and playgoers — for ages that sometimes you just can’t fight fate. The great tragedian Sophocles wrote it more than 2,000 years ago, so forgive us if we don’t issue any spoiler warnings. In any case, we all know how this story ends — with the unlucky Oedipus blinded and weeping blood, after accidentally killing his father and marrying his mother. The bitter fascination of reading Oedipus the King lies in following him to that grisly and inevitable conclusion. Trust us — the dread that grips you because you know exactly what’s coming will make your blood run colder than many a horror movie.

6. The Mahabharata by Vyasa (c. 300 BC)

If your literary tastes run towards lengthiness, this 200,000-verse epic is the perfect read for you — stitch the Odyssey and the Iliad together and you’ll only have one tenth of the Mahabharata . No wonder it’s been called the longest poem ever written. But even those who don’t gravitate towards sprawling stories shouldn’t be put off by this Sanskrit classic’s sheer bulk! It’s a rich narrative storehouse in which love transcends status, dice games cost gamblers their kingdoms, and cousins turn their weapons against each other — and you certainly don’t have to read all 18 books to be fascinated and moved.

If you’re not quite sure where to start, we recommend diving into the Bhagavad Gita . In this philosophically rich, 700-verse passage from the sixth book, the warrior prince Arjuna struggles to master his emotions on the eve of battle. His enemies, after all, are also his own kinsmen. Can his friend and charioteer — who also happens to be a reincarnated god — help him find a way out of his turmoil?

7. Adelphoe by Terence (160 BC)

This quirky Roman classic proves two things: the ancients knew how to get a laugh out of theatergoers, and bumbling fathers and rebellious sons are literally) an age-old recipe for comedy. Adelphoe kicks off with a parenting experiment: rural patriarch Demea has two sons, and he sends one to be raised by his city-dwelling brother Micio while rearing the other himself. Thus the two brothers grow up apart: Ctesipho lives it up in Athens with his indulgent uncle, while Aeschinus stays in the countryside, under his despotic father’s thumb. In short, one brother becomes repressed, and the other has become a louche. But when Ctesipho falls in love with an enslaved musician, he turns to his brother for help. When Demea and Micio find out what their boys are up to, will they finally agree on the right way to raise kids?

8. The Aeneid by Virgil (c. 20 BC)

For Odysseus, the Trojan War led to a ten-year nightmare involving six-headed monsters, vengeful sea-gods, and a scorned witch capable of turning men into pigs — and he was one of the winners! Which makes you wonder what it was like to be on the losing side. Let’s just ask the Trojan hero Aeneas, whose own post-war adventures spawned another epic poem.

The star of the Aeneid , he flees Troy just after the murder of its king. For a while, destiny seems to be on Aeneas’ side: a prophecy dictates he’ll establish a glorious nation in Rome, and his own mother is none other than Venus herself. But even with divine blood flowing through him, he can’t count on support from all the gods: Juno, in particular, seems intent on turning his journey to Italy into a real ordeal. We know that Aeneas will make it to Rome. But what will he suffer in the process — and who will suffer with him?

9. The Satyricon by Petronius (c. 90 AD)

Film buffs likely know the Satyricon through Fellini’s 1969 adaptation, a surreal, peach-tinted fever dream filled with flower crowns and debauchery. The original Roman novel isn’t quite so reminiscent of a Lana del Rey music video, but its sharp, steamy satire still makes for a riveting read. Meet Encolpius, a famous ex-gladiator with strident literary opinions and an… active love life. He’s traveling around Greece with his friend (and ex) Asycltos when the two run into the handsome, sixteen-year-old slave Giton. Cue the love triangle, which ultimately culminates in an orgy. Things only get wilder from there, with sex cults, cannibalism, and magical cures for impotence thrown into mix. If you want some classicist-approved reading material that hits like reality TV, give the Satyricon a try.

10. The Tale of an Anklet by Unknown (c. 450 AD)

This Tamil answer to the Odyssey features one unforgettable heroine. Kannaki starts out as a long-suffering wife, but by the time the story’s done, she’s transformed into a goddess who sets cities on fire with her rage. But let’s rewind quickly to the start of The Tale of an Anklet , where she and the handsome Kovalan are married and living in bliss — as far as she’s concerned. Kovalan seems to feel differently: why else would he leave his wife at home to take up with a beautiful courtesan?

But when Kovalan faces financial ruin, Kannaki swallows her betrayal and prepares to bail him out. She offers him a jeweled anklet to pawn — but he’s falsely accused of stealing it from the queen. Can Kannaki save him from a flawed justice system, or will she be forced to seek revenge for the husband who broke her heart? From the bitterness of love to the brokenness of law, this gorgeous, heartrending drama brings age-old issues to passionate life.

Roman London (43 &ndash 410 AD)

The Roman conquest of Britain, which began in 43 AD, took a while and many battles were fought by the Roman legions against the native Celtic tribes. In 47 AD the small civilian town of Londinium was built by the Romans and was very small, equivalent to the size of Hyde Park today.

Londinium was destroyed in 60 AD following a revolt led by Queen Boudicca and her tribe, the Iceni, but was then rebuilt after her defeat and death. She was said to have poisoned herself before losing the battle to avoid being captured. The town then rapidly grew under Roman administration, there were approximately 60,000 inhabitants and IT became the capital of Britannia replacing Colchester.

The Romans improved infrastructure in the town and built bathhouses and temples, Londinium even had its own amphitheater and basilica, a building where the Romans held court meetings. The garrison of Londinium was stationed in a large fort making it a highly tenable position should the natives try to ransack it again.

The Romans then built the London Wall at sometime around 180 &ndash 225 AD which survived for 1,600 years they clearly didn&rsquot want to repeat the disaster caused by Boudicca. In the 3rd century, Londinium was raided several times by Saxon pirates resulting in the Romans building even more defensive structures including a riverside wall.

The 5th century saw the decline of the Roman Empire as a whole, this led to Britannia being abandoned by the Romans and Londinium became derelict as it was considered as a far-flung place and not worth spending resources and military power on when there were much greater problems closer to Rome itself.


Francis Drake was born in Tavistock, Devon, England. Although his birth date is not formally recorded, it is known that he was born while the Six Articles were in force. His birth date is estimated from contemporary sources such as: "Drake was two and twenty when he obtained the command of the Judith" [11] (1566). This would date his birth to 1544. A date of c. 1540 is suggested from two portraits: one a miniature painted by Nicholas Hilliard in 1581 when he was allegedly 42, so born circa 1539, while the other, painted in 1594 when he was said to be 52, [12] would give a birth year of around 1541. Lady Elliott-Drake, the collateral descendant, and final holder of the Drake Baronetcy, argued in her book on 'The Family and Heirs of Sir Francis Drake' that Drake's birth year was 1541. [13]

He was the oldest of the twelve sons [14] of Edmund Drake (1518–1585), a Protestant farmer, and his wife Mary Mylwaye. The first son was alleged to have been named after his godfather Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford. [15] [16]

Because of religious persecution during the Prayer Book Rebellion in 1549, the Drake family fled from Devon to Kent. There Drake's father obtained an appointment to minister the men in the King's Navy. He was ordained deacon and was made vicar of Upnor Church on the Medway. [17] Drake's father apprenticed him to his neighbour, the master of a barque used for coastal trade transporting merchandise to France. [17] The ship's master was so satisfied with the young Drake's conduct that, being unmarried and childless at his death, he bequeathed the barque to Drake. [ when? ] [17]

Francis Drake married Mary Newman at St. Budeaux church, Plymouth, in July 1569. She died 12 years later, in 1581. In 1585, Drake married Elizabeth Sydenham—born circa 1562, the only child of Sir George Sydenham, of Combe Sydenham, [18] who was the High Sheriff of Somerset. [19] After Drake's death, the widow Elizabeth eventually married Sir William Courtenay of Powderham. [20]

In the 1550s, Drake's father found the young man a position with the owner and master of a small barque. Drake likely engaged in commerce among England, the Low Countries and France. On the death of the barque's owner, Drake was given the barque. [21]

At the age of eighteen he was purser of a ship which sailed to the Bay of Biscay. [22]

At twenty (c. 1563–1564) he made a voyage to the coast of Guinea in a ship owned by William and John Hawkins, some of his relatives from Plymouth. [23] [22] [24]

In 1566–1567, Drake made his first voyage to the Americas, sailing under Captain John Lovell on one of a fleet of ships owned by the Hawkins family. They attacked Portuguese towns and ships on the coast of West Africa and then sailed to the Americas and sold the captured cargoes of slaves to Spanish plantations. [25] The voyage was largely unsuccessful and more than 90 slaves were released without payment. [26] [27]

Drake's second voyage to the Americas and his second slaving voyage ended in the ill-fated 1568 incident at San Juan de Ulúa. [28] [29] [30] Whilst negotiating to resupply and repair at a Spanish port in Mexico, the fleet was attacked by Spanish warships, with all but two of the English ships lost. He escaped along with John Hawkins, surviving the attack by swimming. Drake's hostility towards the Spanish is said to have started with this incident and he vowed revenge. [31]

In 1570, his reputation enabled him to proceed to the West Indies with two vessels under his command. He renewed his visit the next year for the sole purpose of obtaining information. [22]

Drake's first victory

In 1572, Drake embarked on his first major independent enterprise. He planned an attack on the Isthmus of Panama, known to the Spanish as Tierra Firme and the English as the Spanish Main. This was the point at which the silver and gold treasure of Peru had to be landed and sent overland to the Caribbean Sea, where galleons from Spain would pick it up at the town of Nombre de Dios. Drake left Plymouth on 24 May 1572, with a crew of 73 men in two small vessels, the Pascha (70 tons) and the Swan (25 tons), to capture Nombre de Dios. [32]

Drake's first raid was late in July 1572. Drake formed an alliance with the Cimarrons. Drake and his men captured the town and its treasure. When his men noticed that Drake was bleeding profusely from a wound, they insisted on withdrawing to save his life and left the treasure. Drake stayed in the area for almost a year, raiding Spanish shipping and attempting to capture a treasure shipment.

The most celebrated of Drake's adventures along the Spanish Main was his capture of the Spanish Silver Train at Nombre de Dios in March 1573. He raided the waters around Darien (in modern Panama) with a crew including many French privateers including Guillaume Le Testu, a French buccaneer, and African slaves (Maroons) who had escaped the Spanish. One of these men was Diego, who under Drake became a free man was also a capable ship builder. [33] Drake tracked the Silver Train to the nearby port of Nombre de Dios. After their attack on the richly laden mule train, Drake and his party found that they had captured around 20 tons of silver and gold. They buried much of the treasure, as it was too much for their party to carry, and made off with a fortune in gold. [34] [35] (An account of this may have given rise to subsequent stories of pirates and buried treasure). Wounded, Le Testu was captured and later beheaded. The small band of adventurers dragged as much gold and silver as they could carry back across some 18 miles of jungle-covered mountains to where they had left the raiding boats. When they got to the coast, the boats were gone. Drake and his men, downhearted, exhausted and hungry, had nowhere to go and the Spanish were not far behind.

At this point, Drake rallied his men, buried the treasure on the beach, and built a raft to sail with two volunteers ten miles along the surf-lashed coast to where they had left the flagship. When Drake finally reached its deck, his men were alarmed at his bedraggled appearance. Fearing the worst, they asked him how the raid had gone. Drake could not resist a joke and teased them by looking downhearted. Then he laughed, pulled a necklace of Spanish gold from around his neck and said "Our voyage is made, lads!" By 9 August 1573, he had returned to Plymouth.

It was during this expedition that Drake climbed a high tree in the central mountains of the Isthmus of Panama and thus became the first Englishman to see the Pacific Ocean. He remarked as he saw it that he hoped one day an Englishman would be able to sail it – which he would do years later as part of his circumnavigation of the world. [36]

When Drake returned to Plymouth after the raids, the government signed a temporary truce with King Philip II of Spain and so was unable to acknowledge Drake's accomplishment officially. Drake was considered a hero in England and a pirate in Spain for his raids. [37]

Drake was present at the 1575 Rathlin Island massacre in Ireland. Acting on the instructions of Sir Henry Sidney and the Earl of Essex, Sir John Norreys and Drake laid siege to Rathlin Castle. Despite their surrender, Norreys' troops killed all the 200 defenders and more than 400 civilian men, women and children of Clan MacDonnell. [38] Meanwhile, Drake was given the task of preventing any Gaelic Irish or Scottish reinforcements reaching the island. Therefore, the remaining leader of the Gaelic defence against English power, Sorley Boy MacDonnell, was forced to stay on the mainland. Essex wrote in his letter to Queen Elizabeth's secretary, that following the attack Sorley Boy "was likely to have run mad for sorrow, tearing and tormenting himself and saying that he there lost all that he ever had." [39]

With the success of the Panama isthmus raid, in 1577 Elizabeth I of England sent Drake to start an expedition against the Spanish along the Pacific coast of the Americas. Drake acted on the plan authored by Sir Richard Grenville, who had received royal patent for it in 1574. Just a year later the patent was rescinded after protests from Philip of Spain.

Diego was once again employed under Drake his fluency in Spanish and English would make him a useful interpreter when Spaniards or Spanish-speaking Portuguese were captured. He was employed as Drake's servant and was paid wages, just like the rest of the crew. [33] Drake and the fleet set out from Plymouth on 15 November 1577, but bad weather threatened him and his fleet. They were forced to take refuge in Falmouth, Cornwall, from where they returned to Plymouth for repair. [40]

After this major setback, Drake set sail again on 13 December aboard Pelican with four other ships and 164 men. He soon added a sixth ship, Mary (formerly Santa Maria), a Portuguese merchant ship that had been captured off the coast of Africa near the Cape Verde Islands. He also added its captain, Nuno da Silva, a man with considerable experience navigating in South American waters.

Drake's fleet suffered great attrition he scuttled both Christopher and the flyboat Swan due to loss of men on the Atlantic crossing. He made landfall at the gloomy bay of San Julian, in what is now Argentina. Ferdinand Magellan had called here half a century earlier, where he put to death some mutineers. Drake's men saw weathered and bleached skeletons on the grim Spanish gibbets. Following Magellan's example, Drake tried and executed his own "mutineer" Thomas Doughty. The crew discovered that Mary had rotting timbers, so they burned the ship. Drake decided to remain the winter in San Julian before attempting the Strait of Magellan. [41]

Execution of Thomas Doughty

On his voyage to interfere with Spanish treasure fleets, Drake had several quarrels with his co-commander Thomas Doughty and on 3 June 1578, accused him of witchcraft and charged him with mutiny and treason in a shipboard trial. [42] Drake claimed to have a (never presented) commission from the Queen to carry out such acts and denied Doughty a trial in England. The main pieces of evidence against Doughty were the testimony of the ship's carpenter, Edward Bright, who after the trial was promoted to master of the ship Marigold, and Doughty's admission of telling Lord Burghley, a vocal opponent of agitating the Spanish, of the intent of the voyage. Drake consented to his request of Communion and dined with him, of which Francis Fletcher had this strange account:

And after this holy repast, they dined also at the same table together, as cheerfully, in sobriety, as ever in their lives they had done aforetime, each cheering up the other, and taking their leave, by drinking each to other, as if some journey only had been in hand. [43]

Drake had Thomas Doughty beheaded on 2 July 1578. When the ship's chaplain Francis Fletcher in a sermon suggested that the woes of the voyage in January 1580 were connected to the unjust demise of Doughty, Drake chained the clergyman to a hatch cover and pronounced him excommunicated.

Entering the Pacific (1578)

The three remaining ships of his convoy departed for the Magellan Strait at the southern tip of South America. A few weeks later (September 1578) Drake made it to the Pacific, but violent storms destroyed one of the three ships, the Marigold (captained by John Thomas) in the strait and caused another, the Elizabeth captained by John Wynter, to return to England, leaving only the Pelican. After this passage, the Pelican was pushed south and discovered an island that Drake called Elizabeth Island. Drake, like navigators before him, probably reached a latitude of 55°S (according to astronomical data quoted in Hakluyt's The Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation of 1589) along the Chilean coast. [44] In the Magellan Strait Francis and his men engaged in skirmish with local indigenous people, becoming the first Europeans to kill indigenous peoples in southern Patagonia. [45] During the stay in the strait, crew members discovered that an infusion made of the bark of Drimys winteri could be used as remedy against scurvy. Captain Wynter ordered the collection of great amounts of bark – hence the scientific name. [45]

Despite popular lore, it seems unlikely that Drake reached Cape Horn or the eponymous Drake Passage, [44] because his descriptions do not fit the first and his shipmates denied having seen an open sea. [ citation needed ] Historian Mateo Martinic, who examined his travels, credits Drake with the discovery of the "southern end of the Americas and the oceanic space south of it". [46] The first report of his discovery of an open channel south of Tierra del Fuego was written after the 1618 publication of the voyage of Willem Schouten and Jacob le Maire around Cape Horn in 1616. [47]

Drake pushed onwards in his lone flagship, now renamed the Golden Hind in honour of Sir Christopher Hatton (after his coat of arms). The Golden Hind sailed north along the Pacific coast of South America, attacking Spanish ports and pillaging towns. Some Spanish ships were captured, and Drake used their more accurate charts. Before reaching the coast of Peru, Drake visited Mocha Island, where he was seriously injured by hostile Mapuche. Later he sacked the port of Valparaíso further north in Chile, where he also captured a ship full of Chilean wine. [48]

Capture of Spanish treasure ships

Near Lima, Drake captured a Spanish ship with 25,000 pesos of Peruvian gold, amounting in value to 37,000 ducats of Spanish money (about £7m by modern standards). Drake also discovered news of another ship, Nuestra Señora de la Concepción, which was sailing west towards Manila. It would come to be called the Cacafuego. Drake gave chase and eventually captured the treasure ship, which proved his most profitable capture.

Aboard Nuestra Señora de la Concepción, Drake found 36 kilograms (80 lb) of gold, a golden crucifix, jewels, 13 chests full of royals of plate [ clarification needed ] and 26 thousand kilograms (26 long tons) of silver. Drake was naturally pleased at his good luck in capturing the galleon, and he showed it by dining with the captured ship's officers and gentleman passengers. He offloaded his captives a short time later, and gave each one gifts appropriate to their rank, as well as a letter of safe conduct.

Coast of California: Nova Albion (1579)

Prior to Drake's voyage, the western coast of North America had only been partially explored in 1542 by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who sailed for Spain. [49] So, intending to avoid further conflict with Spain, Drake navigated northwest of Spanish presence and sought a discreet site at which the crew could prepare for the journey back to England. [50] [51]

On 5 June 1579, the ship briefly made first landfall at what is now South Cove, Cape Arago, just south of Coos Bay, Oregon, and then sailed south while searching for a suitable harbour to repair his ailing ship. [52] [53] [54] [55] [56] On 17 June, Drake and his crew found a protected cove when they landed on the Pacific coast of what is now Northern California. [57] [58] While ashore, he claimed the area for Queen Elizabeth I as Nova Albion or New Albion. [59] To document and assert his claim, Drake posted an engraved plate of brass to claim sovereignty for Elizabeth and every successive English monarch. [60] After erecting a fort and tents ashore, the crew labored for several weeks as they prepared for the circumnavigating voyage ahead by careening their ship, Golden Hind, so to effectively clean and repair the hull. [61] Drake had friendly interactions with the Coast Miwok and explored the surrounding land by foot. [62] When his ship was ready for the return voyage, Drake and the crew left New Albion on 23 July and paused his journey the next day when anchoring his ship at the Farallon Islands where the crew hunted seal meat. [63] [64] [65]

Across the Pacific and around Africa

Drake left the Pacific coast, heading southwest to catch the winds that would carry his ship across the Pacific, and a few months later reached the Moluccas, a group of islands in the western Pacific, in eastern modern-day Indonesia. At this time Diego died from wounds he had sustained earlier in the voyage, Drake was saddened at his death having become a good friend. [33] Golden Hind later became caught on a reef and was almost lost. After the sailors waited three days for convenient tides and had dumped cargo. Befriending Sultan Babullah of Ternate in the Moluccas, Drake and his men became involved in some intrigues with the Portuguese there. He made multiple stops on his way toward the tip of Africa, eventually rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and reached Sierra Leone by 22 July 1580.

Return to Plymouth (1580)

On 26 September, Golden Hind sailed into Plymouth with Drake and 59 remaining crew aboard, along with a rich cargo of spices and captured Spanish treasures. The Queen's half-share of the cargo surpassed the rest of the crown's income for that entire year. Drake was hailed as the first Englishman to circumnavigate the Earth (and the second such voyage arriving with at least one ship intact, after Elcano's in 1520). [67]

The Queen declared that all written accounts of Drake's voyages were to become the Queen's secrets of the Realm, and Drake and the other participants of his voyages on the pain of death sworn to their secrecy she intended to keep Drake's activities away from the eyes of rival Spain. Drake presented the Queen with a jewel token commemorating the circumnavigation. Taken as a prize off the Pacific coast of Mexico, it was made of enamelled gold and bore an African diamond and a ship with an ebony hull. [67]

For her part, the Queen gave Drake a jewel with her portrait, an unusual gift to bestow upon a commoner, and one that Drake sported proudly in his 1591 portrait by Marcus Gheeraerts now at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. On one side is a state portrait of Elizabeth by the miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard, on the other a sardonyx cameo of double portrait busts, a regal woman and an African male. The "Drake Jewel", as it is known today, is a rare documented survivor among sixteenth-century jewels it is conserved at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. [67]

Knighthood and arms

Queen Elizabeth awarded Drake a knighthood aboard Golden Hind in Deptford on 4 April 1581 the dubbing being performed by a French diplomat, Monsieur de Marchaumont, who was negotiating for Elizabeth to marry the King of France's brother, Francis, Duke of Anjou. [68] [69] By getting the French diplomat involved in the knighting, Elizabeth was gaining the implicit political support of the French for Drake's actions. [70] [71] [72] During the Victorian era, in a spirit of nationalism, the story was promoted that Elizabeth I had done the knighting. [69]

After receiving his knighthood Drake unilaterally adopted the armorials of the ancient Devon family of Drake of Ash, near Musbury, to whom he claimed a distant but unspecified kinship. These arms were: Argent, a wyvern wings displayed and tail nowed gules, [73] and the crest, a dexter arm Proper grasping a battle axe Sable, headed Argent. The head of that family, also a distinguished sailor, Sir Bernard Drake (d.1586), angrily refuted Sir Francis's claimed kinship and his right to bear his family's arms. That dispute led to "a box on the ear" being given to Sir Francis by Sir Bernard at court, as recorded by John Prince (1643–1723) in his "Worthies of Devon", first published in 1701. [74] Queen Elizabeth, to assuage matters, awarded Sir Francis his own coat of arms, blazoned as follows:

Sable a fess wavy between two pole-stars [Arctic and Antarctic] argent and for his crest, a ship on a globe under ruff, held by a cable with a hand out of the clouds over it this motto, Auxilio Divino underneath, Sic Parvis Magna in the rigging whereof is hung up by the heels a wivern, gules, which was the arms of Sir Bernard Drake. [75]

The motto, Sic Parvis Magna, translated literally, is: "Thus great things from small things (come)". The hand out of the clouds, labelled Auxilio Divino, means "With Divine Help". The full achievement is depicted in the form of a large coloured plaster overmantel in the Lifetimes Gallery at Buckland Abbey [76]

Nevertheless, Drake continued to quarter his new arms with the wyvern gules. [77] The arms adopted by his nephew Sir Francis Drake, 1st Baronet (1588–1637) of Buckland were the arms of Drake of Ash, but the wyvern without a "nowed" (knotted) tail. [78]

Arms of Sir Francis Drake: Sable, a fess wavy between two pole-stars Arctic and Antarctic argent

‘400-year-old’ hero stones discovered near Avinashi

A team of archaeologists discovered two hero stones near Avinashi recently, the age of which is speculated to be around 400 years.

The team from Virarajendran Archaeological and Historical Research Centre, led by Team Director S. Ravikumar, discovered these stones in Periyaottarpalayam, according to a press release. The first hero stone measured 100 cm in height and 50 cm in width, while the second one was 90 cm high and 50 cm wide.

The heroes were seen to be wearing ornaments on their neck, shoulder, hands, and legs.

The unique feature of these is that in both the stones the hero is seen in a worshipping posture while a tiger is seen attacking him from the right side, Mr. Ravikumar said in the release. The hero is generally seen to be attacking the tigers in all the previously discovered hero stones in the Kongu Region, according to the release.

A V-shaped spear named kavai is seen on the left side of the hero in both the stones and no inscriptions were found.

According to Sangam literature, the people from the ancient Kongu Region were engaged in rearing of cattle and the kavai is understood to be used to cut leaves to feed the cattle.

Hence, these hero stones may have been erected for the heroes who died during cattle herding, the release said.

Mr. Ravikumar told The Hindu that the stones were discovered in September 2018 and a detailed study was conducted in the first week of June.

Since there were no inscriptions on the stones, the age of the hero stones were deduced as 400 years by comparing other stones from the period.

“If there were inscriptions, we could have exactly concluded the age,” he said. R. Poongundran, retired Assistant Director with the State Archaeological Department, also inspected the hero stones and concluded that these might have been from the early 17th Century, Mr. Ravikumar said.

Trajan’s Grand Strategic Objectives

Parthian Cataphracts (Fully Armoured Parthian Cavalry)

Left: East Parthian Cataphract Middle: Parthian Horse-Archer Right: Parthian Cataphract from Hatra

Osroes I was one of the sons born to Vonones II by a Greek concubine. He invaded Armenia and placed first his nephew Axidares and then his brother Parthamasiris on the Armenian throne. This encroachment on the traditional sphere of influence of the Roman Empire – the two great empires had shared hegemony over Armenia since the time of Nero some 50 years earlier – led to a war with the Roman emperor Trajan.

In 113 Trajan invaded Parthia, marching first on Armenia. In 114 Parthamasiris surrendered and was killed. Trajan annexed Armenia to the Roman Empire. Then he turned south into Parthia itself, taking the cities of Babylon, Seleucia and finally the capital of Ctesiphon in 116. He deposed Osroes I and put his own puppet ruler, the son of Osroes I, Parthamaspates on the throne. In Mesopotamia Osroes I’s brother Mithridates IV and his son Sanatruces II took the diadem and fought against the Romans, but Trajan marched southward to the Persian Gulf, defeated them, and declared Mesopotamia a new province of the empire. Later in 116, he crossed the Khuzestan Mountains into Persia and captured the great city of Susa.

Following the death of Trajan and Roman withdrawal from the area, Osroes I easily defeated Parthamaspates and reclaimed the Persian throne. Hadrian acknowledged this fait accompli, recognized Osroes I, Parthamaspates King of Osroene, and returned Osroes I’s daughter who had been taken prisoner by Trajan.

It is not mere coincidence that the Jewish uprisings occurred during Trajan’s Parthian expedition. The timing was certainly influenced by the fact that military forces had to be stripped from North Africa and Cyprus to flesh out the operations to the east of Judaea.

Trajan spent his first two years after being elevated to the purple settling affairs on the German frontier, delaying his first arrival in Rome after his appointment. Next, from 101 to 106, he fought his first campaign against Dacia (Romania) and returned victorious. Then Trajan conquered the Nabataean sandstone capital of Petra (in South Jordan) and made Nabataea a part of the new Roman province of Arabia the Nabataean kingdom, for all intents and purposes, ceased to exist, although Petra still remained an important trading center, and the Aramaic-speaking Nabataeans later developed the Arabic script. In fact, the Nabataeans did not meekly submit to Roman rule but remained stiff-necked and potentially dangerous. It is conceivable that they allied themselves with the Jewish rebels while Trajan was distracted in the east.

Dating from the eastern conquests of Licinius Lucullus and Pompey Magnus in the 60s B. C. and into the imperial period, Roman expansion made recurrent conflict with Parthia inescapable. Previously, we pointed out that during the reign of Nero (A. D. 50s-60s) a major campaign to ensure Roman hegemony over Armenia was conducted under Cnaeus Domitius Corbulo.

Though the Neronian war between Rome and Parthia largely resulted in a stalemate, the matter was ostensibly settled by allowing Rome the final authority in naming the Armenian King. Despite the arrangement the situation remained problematic for the better part of the next half century, and during Trajan’s reign matters of the Armenian succession flared into war again.

Typically, the succession struggle within Parthia and Armenia was very complicated boiled down to its essence, in A. D. 113 the Parthian King Osroes I was in the midst of an internal battle with a rival, Vologases III, for the kingship. In order to strengthen his position within the borders of Parthia proper, Osroes deposed the Armenian king and replaced him with his nephew. This usurpation of Rome’s previously won power to name the Armenian ruler apparently crossed a red line and provoked Trajan to move east from Rome and amass an invasion force. Some authorities find that this incident was merely a pretext for Trajan to embark on an Alexander the Great style eastern campaign of conquest that had already been decided upon.


Failed attempts to broker a peace by the Parthians before any impending Roman invasion led to reasonable contemporaneous assumption that Trajan’s true motive was an Alexandrian-style campaign of conquest, and the political events simply offered a convenient excuse. Regardless of Trajan’s personal motivation for going to war he marched into Armenia in A. D. 114. Initial resistance was weak and ineffective (perhaps an indication of the debilitating internal struggle in Parthia) Armenia’s royalty was deposed and its independence stripped with its annexation as a Roman province.

Over the following two years, Trajan moved south from Armenia directly into Parthian territory. Militarily, his campaign was met with great success and resistance in the field was ineffective. With the capture of such cities and Babylon and the Parthian capital of Ctesiphon on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, Mesopotamia and Assyria (essentially comprising modern Iraq) were annexed as Roman provinces, and the emperor received the title Parthicus. Trajan continued his march to the southeast, eventually reaching the Persian Gulf in A. D. 116. Though Dio Cassius states that Trajan would have preferred to march in the footsteps of Alexander, his advanced age (approximately 63 years) and slowly failing health forced him to abandon any such thoughts.

Despite the swiftness of the initial victories, the long-term prospects for Roman control were completely in doubt. Returning to the west and crossing the Tigris, Trajan stopped to lay siege to the desert town of Hatra. In A. D. 117, with poor supply and unable to breach the walls, the Romans suffered their first defeat of the campaign with Trajan narrowly avoiding personal injury. To add insult to the defeat, the recently “conquered” population of Jewish inhabitants began to revolt against newly installed Roman rule. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, though religion certainly played a major part, the revolt spread to Jews living in Egypt, Cyrene and Cyprus.

Here is an rough calculation of the five legions that participated in the military operations in Parthia: Legio I Adiutrix (“helper,” later Pia Fidelis “loyal and faithful”) Legio VI Ferrata (Iron) Legio X Fretensis (re-deployed from Jerusalem) Legio III Cyrenaica (borrowed from its Cyrene/Egyptian posting) Legio XV Apollinaris (veteran of combat during the First Jewish Revolt, likely stripped from occupation duties in Syria) and Legio XVI Flavia Firma.

The Parthian operation denuded provinces to the west of any but a token occupation force, since, besides the two legions redeployed from the sectors directly involved in the rebellions, several alae (sub-units) were scrounged up from those left to guard the Jewish populations in order to augment the legions. Thus, the harassed and enraged Jewish communities in North Africa, Egypt and Cyprus saw that they had a relatively free hand to strike a decisive blow against the pagan bullies in their vicinity, particularly as messianic leaders arose to assure them that the fateful hour was nigh.

In actuality, Trajan’s “lightning triumph” was a chimera. The Parthian king Osroes remained undefeated and had escaped to the east before the advancing Romans. Now, everywhere along a front of 600 miles, the Parthians were able to harass the invader from foothills east of the Tigris. Roman supply lines were dangerously exposed, and the fortress of Hatra, bypassed by the legions, became a focus of resistance.

At this troubled moment, news reached Trajan that in regions as far afield as Cyprus, Egypt and Cyrenaica (Libya) the Jews were in revolt, ostensibly encouraged both by Jewish agents sent from Parthia and the reduction of local military strength in order to augment the legions allocated to the eastern operations. In Cyprus, where Herod the Great had owned copper mines, Jewish rebels were agitated by a local messianic pretender “Artemion” and had forced Greek and Roman citizens to fight each other in gladiatorial combat. Cyrenaica was even more badly hit, and the slaughter of Greek settlers had been horrendous. A Jewish messiah, “King Loukuas” had been proclaimed, pagan sanctuaries and the Caesareum had been attacked and Cyrene itself almost destroyed. Fourth century Christian historian Paulus Orosius records that the violence so depopulated the province of Cyrenaica that new colonies had to be established by Hadrian.

“The Jews … waged war on the inhabitants throughout Libya in the most savage fashion, and to such an extent was the country wasted that its cultivators having been slain, its land would have remained utterly depopulated, had not the Emperor Hadrian gathered settlers from other places and sent them thither, for the inhabitants had been wiped out.”-Orosius, Seven Books of History Against the Pagans, 7.12.6.

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Tom Selleck

Another one of Hollywood’s Veterans, Tom Selleck certainly has a weakness and passion for service. Known as an American actor and film producer, he rose to fame as a result of his role as private investigator, Thomas Magnum, in the television series Magnum, P.I. in the late 1980s.

Tom Selleck enlisted in the California National Guard in the 160th infantry regiment during the Vietnam war, and he was always rather proud of his service. He served from 1967 to 1973, and even after being discharged he still agreed to appear on California National Guard recruiting posters. Because he was also very passionate about his service, he was even quoted saying “I am a veteran, I’m proud of it. We’re all brothers and sisters in that sense.”

Ancient Aztec palace unearthed in Mexico City

The ruins later housed famed Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes, archaeologists said.

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of an ancient Aztec palace that later became the site of the home of famed Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes in Mexico City.

The discovery was made underneath the Nacional Monte de Piedad, an iconic building that is now the site of a historic pawnshop dating to 1755 in the city center, during construction work to reinforce the columns supporting the first floor of the building.

A man poses for a photo in the remains of an ancient Aztec palace that later became the site of the home of famed Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes in Mexico City. (Newsflash)

Basalt slabs belonging to a pre-Hispanic palace called the Casas Viejas of Axayacatl were found during the work, according to a statement from the Ministry of Culture. Axayacatl was an Aztec ruler.

The slabs, which were found at a depth of about 10 feet (3 meters), were part of the floor of an open area or patio of his palace, according to the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

The remains of an ancient Aztec palace that later became the site of the home of famed Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes in Mexico City. (Newsflash)

Men dig in the remains of an ancient Aztec palace that later became the site of the home of famed Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes in Mexico City. (Newsflash)

A slab floor from the pre-Hispanic period is observed. (Newsflash)

Men dig in the remains of an ancient Aztec palace that later became the site of the home of famed Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes in Mexico City. (Newsflash)

The remains of a room made of basalt were also found above the Aztec patio.

“Later analysis allowed us to conclude that this was the house of Hernan Cortes after Mexico-Tenochtitlan fell to the Spanish in 1521,” the Secretary of Culture said in its press statement.

The materials of Cortes’ home were likely reused from Axayacatl’s palace.

Cortes arrived in Mexico in 1518 during a mission to explore areas for Spanish colonization before he led the siege of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, located in modern-day Mexico City, in 1521, eventually razing the city after it surrendered.

Embedded in the facade of the colonial room were two pre-Hispanic stones carved into sculptures in high relief, the INAH said in a statement on its website. They depict feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl and a headdress of feathers. The sculptures likely were part of Axayacatl’s palace.

Stone block reused as part of the construction system of the house of Hernan Cortes in the National Mount of Pity (Newsflash)

Representation of the serpent Quetzalcoatl, which is probably part of the Palace of Axayacatl. (Newsflash)

A sculpture with the symbol for the Pleiades star cluster, which the Aztecs used to help them measure time, was also found during the works.

The ruins around the building’s courtyard were first discovered in September 2017. Analysis of the remains continues.

A rare 13th century hero stone found

A rare hero stone found along with a supplementary stone, discovered inside a dolmen near Tirupur.

A rare type of 13th century hero stone, which was found inside a 2,500 year-old dolmen (a megalithic tomb), was discovered from near Palladam.

A team of archaeologists and historians attached to Tirupur-based Virarajendran Archaeological and Historical Research Centre, which discovered the hero stone during an explorative study in villages near Palladam, finds twin uniqueness in it. “Unlike the other hero stones found in the Kongu belt, there is a supplementary stone that been erected on the sides of the main hero stone during a later era.

The main stone here has been erected in 13th century in the memory of a hero who protected the grazing cattle from a tiger. The stone depicting the tiger that was killed by the hero, was installed only later in 17th century after the villagers of that era came to hear the story passed on through the generations,” S. Ravikumar, team leader, told The Hindu .

Second uniqueness cited by the team members has been that the stones were found inside an ancient dolmen. “Inferences to the age of the stones have been made from the ornaments and the attires the hero wears and the style of architecture,” said Mr. Ravikumar.

Watch the video: Death-stones are no use