How gems from the British Museum ended up on eBay

From the BBC: “In 2020, Danish antiquities dealer Dr Ittai Gradel began to suspect an eBay seller he had been buying from was a thief who was stealing from the British Museum. More than two years later, the museum would announce that thousands of objects were missing, stolen or damaged from its collection. Why had it taken so long for it to do so? Dr Gradel collects ancient gemstones carved with intricate figures or motifs – the circle of dealers is small, so the internet has become a vital trading tool. On 7 August 2016, a grey and white piece of a cameo gemstone featuring Priapus – the Greek god of fertility – was posted for just £40. Dr Gradel knew he had seen the Priapus cameo before. He was sure it featured in an old gems catalogue he owned from one of the world’s most famous institutions, the British Museum.”

Remote tribe gets the Internet and now they are hooked on porn and social media

Four girls looking at the screen of a phone with a pink exterior.

From the New York Times: “As the speeches dragged on, eyes drifted to screens. Teenagers scrolled Instagram. One man texted his girlfriend. And men crowded around a phone streaming a soccer match while the group’s first female leader spoke. Just about anywhere, a scene like this would be mundane. But this was happening in a remote Indigenous village in one of the most isolated stretches of the planet. The Marubo people have long lived in communal huts scattered hundreds of miles along the Ituí River deep in the Amazon rainforest. They speak their own language, take ayahuasca to connect with forest spirits and trap spider monkeys to make soup or keep as pets. But since September, the Marubo have had high-speed internet thanks to Elon Musk.”

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A dry run for the D-Day invasion turned into complete chaos and hundreds died

From Now I Know: “The plan was to make the dry run invasion as realistic as possible, so gunships were to shell the test beach starting at 6:30 a.m. on the 27th for thirty minutes. At 7:30 a.m., landing ships would drop off the soldiers and tanks. At that point, the artillery would fire live ammunition well over the heads of the troops landing, much like they would be during an actual invasion. However, some of the landing ships were delayed, which in turn delayed the artillery fire. The battle cruiser received the orders to wait until 7:30, but some of the landing parties were not instructed to wait until 8:30 to disembark. Some Marines lost their lives as they raided the beach at 7:30, just as the cruiser opened fire. And then it got worse.”

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Why are there so many bands with female bass players?

From JSTOR Daily: “When Clawson looked at a sampling of bands performing in a regional band competition, it supported the perception that women instrumentalists were disproportionately represented as bass players. And in her interviews with band members, she also found that the bass was identified as the women’s instrument within alternative rock bands. She found that many saw the bass as requiring less skill than other instruments. Another explanation connects to supply and demand: it would seem that there would be more bass players available because it’s an easy instrument to play. But Clawson found that bass players were in high demand but short supply. One player confirmed this, telling her that “the day I got my bass, I was in two bands.”

Post-war Warsaw was rebuilt by using 18th century paintings for reference

From The Guardian: “The Nazis razed the Polish capital of Warsaw to the ground. More than 85% of the city’s historic centre was reduced to ruins. Unlike in other European cities, where damage largely occurs during the fighting, Warsaw was systematically destroyed once the two months of conflict have ended, as an act of revenge. But residents reconstructed their city – in part from the cityscapes of the Venetian painter Bernardo Bellotto. He was made court painter to the King of Poland in 1768, and created beautiful and accurate paintings of Warsaw’s buildings and squares. It is testimony to the veracity of his work that almost 200 years later, those paintings were used to help transform the historic city centre from wreckage and rubble into a Unesco World Heritage Site.”

Scientists on a deep-sea expedition found a creature that could be 15,000 years old

From “In March, a 45-day research expedition to the Clarion Clipperton Zone between Mexico and Hawaii in the eastern Pacific Ocean came to a close. These areas are the Earth’s least explored — it’s estimated that only one out of 10 animal species living there has been described by science. The area studied is a part of the Abyssal Plains, which are deep-sea areas at depths of 3,500 to 5,500 meters. Although they make up more than half of the Earth’s surface, there’s very little known about their fascinating animal life. Using a remotely operated vehicle, the research team photographed the deep-sea life and took samples for future studies. One of the species captured on camera was a cup-shaped glass sponge, an animal believed to have the longest lifespan of any creature on Earth. They can live up to 15,000 years.”

This baby goat just can’t help himself

Acknowledgements: I find a lot of these links myself, but I also get some from other newsletters that I rely on as “serendipity engines,” such as The Morning News from Rosecrans Baldwin and Andrew Womack, Jodi Ettenberg’s Curious About Everything, Dan Lewis’s Now I Know, Robert Cottrell and Caroline Crampton’s The Browser, Clive Thompson’s Linkfest, Noah Brier and Colin Nagy’s Why Is This Interesting, Maria Popova’s The Marginalian, Sheehan Quirke AKA The Cultural Tutor, the Smithsonian magazine, and JSTOR Daily. If you come across something interesting that you think should be included here, please feel free to email me at mathew @ mathewingram dot com

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