5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week
Including an intriguing mummy mask and an ancient Japanese moat
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2015 5:27 AM CST
Stock image. A newly discovered mummy mask was made from papyrus that included an ancient excerpt of the Gospel of Mark.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The hidden location of a whole lot of long-lost Civil War weapons and artifacts is among the week's notable discoveries:

  • SC River May Yield Civil War Munitions: South Carolina needs to remove about 40,000 tons of tar left over from a 1950s gas-producing plant from the Congaree River. But historians are hoping to find something even better: Confederate munitions dumped in the river by Gen. William T. Sherman's Union troops 150 years ago. Sonar and metal detectors have suggested more than 200 sites to check.
  • Meet the Woman Who Never Feels Fear: A woman who has fascinated scientists for years has Urbach-Wiethe disease, a brain condition that doesn't allow her to register traumatic situations as being traumatic. Researchers have exposed her to snakes, a haunted house, and horror films, and she's even been held at knifepoint and at gunpoint. Reaction level: zero. There's only one time scientists were able to freak her out.
  • 7th-Century Emperor's Grave Was Apparently Well Protected: Archaeologists in Japan have found the remains of an ancient moat in Asuka, a 55-yard-long section lined with various-sized rocks that may have had a quite prestigious purpose: guarding the tomb of Emperor Jomei, who died in the year 641. It sounds like a pretty impressive barricade, though he's apparently not buried there anymore.

  • Luck o' the Irish Unearths Incredibly Old Settlement: The ancient Dunlace settlement in Northern Ireland, also known as "Little Pompeii," was abandoned after a fire destroyed much of it in 1642. Now researchers who were poking around the Dunlace Castle have turned up something else—a stone structure that dates back to the late 1400s. The pottery found there also offers an important clue about life back in late medieval times.
  • 'Oldest Known Gospel' Used to Make Mummy Mask: Scientists who disassembled the glued layers of an ancient mummy mask uncovered what they say is a piece of the Gospel of Mark made out of papyrus. If true, it could lend insight into how the Gospel changed over time. Of course, there's an Indiana Jones-level scandal swirling around the team that reportedly peeled the mask apart.
Click to read about more discoveries.