The British Library “mislays” 9,000 books

Over 9,000 actually, ranging from medieval treatises to first editions of 20th century novels. Library officials think they’re just lost in the stacks, not stolen or removed from the premises.

One item, an essay entitled Of the Lawful and Unlawful Usurie Amongest Christians, by 16th-century German theologian Wolfgang Musculus, is valued by the library at £20,000, and has not been seen for almost two years. Others are precious only to a specialist market, such as a set of tables of 1930s London cab fares, or the 1925 souvenir history of Portsmouth Football Club.

Although the library has not listed any value for thousands of the books, a quick Guardian tot-up of the market price of nine collectible volumes came to well over £3,000 – including £1,300 for a first edition of Oscar Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, published in 1891, missing from the library’s shelves since 1961. […]

Most of the losses are 19th and 20th century texts, including first editions of novels by Charles Dickens and John Updike, although many older books have also vanished, including a 1555 edition of 12th-century Jewish scholar Moses ben Maimon’s Letter on Astrology, missing since 1977, and a 17th-century guide to Rome.

Many of the books turned up missing in and around 1998, the year the library moved from the British Museum to St Pancras, so it’s very possible they were put on the wrong shelves in the confusion of the move.

Still, some of these have been missing for decades. You can declare a missing person dead after 7 years. How long before they admit that the first edition of Dorian Gray is gone for good?

10,000 cave paintings found in Peruvian Amazon

Peruvian archaeologist Quirino Olivera has found thousands of 6,000-year-old cave paintings in the Amazon jungle in the Andes.

They’ve been researching the area for the past two years and had found over 6,000 Stone Age cave painting already. Now they’ve found 10,000 more.

According to Olivera, most of the Tambolic paintings depict hunting scenes and are similar to those found in Toquepala. The artists used mainly red, brown, yellow and black pigments.

The Toquepala caves are located in the western Andes, at an altitude of 2,700 meters above sea level. They are noted for cave paintings depicting scenes of hunters corralling and killing a group of guanacos, a camelid animal native to South America. Known as “chaco” in the Peruvian Andes, this hunting technique consists of forming human circles, to corral the animals and either capture or kill them.

Aerial pictures reveals Norman fish trap

The article’s headline suggests archaeologists spotted this thousand-year-old v-shaped rock wall off the coast of West Wales using Google Earth, but really they were perusing more mundane aerial photographs.

The unique shape of the rock structure helped the Normans trap fish without boats or anything at all. All they had to do was wait for the tide to go out and hundreds of fish would be trapped behind the rocks.

The trap is just 12ft deep close to Poppit Sands on the Teifi Estuary in Dyfed. Dr Otto believes the walls are made of locally quarried rock or boulders brought down to the coast by glaciers during the last ice age.

The trap’s walls are covered in algae, worms and sea anemones. The wall is around three feet wide, and only the top foot is exposed. The researchers are unsure how tall the original trap was – and how much is buried under the shifting sands.

Louise Austin, of the Dyfed Archaeological Trust, said: ‘Fish traps were a widely used means of catching fish in the past which made a significant contribution to the economy of many coastal and estuarine communities. Today only a few are known to survive in Wales.’

These structure were so effective that their use in rivers was actually banned in the Magna Carta. Traps like this were only allowed along the coasts where stock was less likely to be depleted.

Cleopatra’s murdered sister?

An team of Austrian archaeologists think they may have found the remains of Cleopatra’s younger sister Arsinöe in a tomb in Ephesus, Turkey. Anthony and Cleopatra had Arsinöe was assassinated on the steps of the temple of Diana in Ephesus to eliminate a potential threat to their throne.

The tomb in question was discovered in 1926, the skull of its inhabitant removed and measured by the scienticians at the time. It was lost during World War II, though, so all that’s left is the skeleton in the sarcophagus.

In the early 1990s Thür reentered the tomb and found the headless skeleton, which she believed to be of a young woman. Clues, such as the unusual octagonal shape of the tomb, which echoed that of the lighthouse of Alexandria with which Arsinöe was associated, convinced Thür the body was that of Cleopatra’s sister. Her theory was considered credible by many historians, and in an attempt to resolve the issue the Austrian Archeological Institute asked the Medical University of Vienna to appoint a specialist to examine the remains.

Fabian Kanz, an anthropologist, was sceptical when he began this task two years ago. “We tried to exclude her from being Arsinöe,” he said. “We used all the methods we have to find anything that can say, ‘Okay, this can’t be Arsinöe because of this and this’.”

After using carbon dating, which dated the skeleton from 200BC-20BC, Kanz, who had examined more than 500 other skeletons taken from the ruins of Ephesus, found Thür’s theory gained credibility.

Here’s the thing, though. It’s all really, really tenuous. Facial reconstructions based on 80 year old measurements of a skull that no longer exists, a vague 200 year date range and unusual tomb shape that might or might not refer to a lighthouse that also no longer exists are evidence of pretty much nothing in my book.

Add to that the ludicrous “Cleopatra was part African” spin based on the 1920’s measurements that suggest an elongated skull and it really gets goofy.

There’s no evidence that Cleopatra and Arsinöe were full sisters, so even if the ethnicity claims about the skeleton are true and it can somehow be confirmed that the remains are Arsinöe’s — two highly unlikely scenarios — that would say exactly nothing about Cleopatra’s ethnicity.

Superman sells for $317,200

Action Comics #1, the first comic featuring Superman, is the Holy Grail of comic book collectors. There are maybe 100 copies still around, and most of them have been restored or are in less than fine condition.

So it’s no surprise that even in these dire economic times, an original Action Comics #1 in excellent condition has sold for a whopping $317,200.

It’s one of the highest prices ever paid for a comic book, a likely testament to the volume’s rarity and its excellent condition, said Stephen Fishler, co-owner of the auction site and its sister dealership, Metropolis Collectibles.

The winning bid for the 1938 edition, which features Superman lifting a car on its cover, was submitted Friday evening by John Dolmayan, drummer for the rock band System of a Down, according to managers at

Dolmayan is rare comic dealer and bought it for an anonymous client, not for himself.

The seller is also anonymous. He bought it at a second-hand comic store in the 50’s when he was 9 years old, then squirreled it away and forgot about it for 15 years or so.

When he found it again in 1966, he figured he’d hold on to it just in case it increased in value. Well, it did. From 35 cents to 31,720,000 cents.