A long time ago, somewhere across the shores of Sicily, was an island that was called many names – the island of Ferdinandea. This island was located somewhere in the narrowing channels between Sicily and Tunisia. Ferdinandea’s location was foreseen by many countries as one of the most strategic locations at its time of discovery.
Over four countries fought for the sovereignty of Ferdinandea but upon its sudden emergence from the ocean, Ferdinandea also retreated quickly. After six months of the island being above water, it sunk down.
This red x marks the location of the long lost island of Ferdinandea.
The island of Ferdinandea has one of the most amazing stories. The emergence of the island was far from normal. It started in July 1831 when people around Sicily were complaining about numerous tremors and an unusual pungent smell of sulfur being noticeable. Although, Sicily is used to volcano eruptions since it is a volcanic island, there were no signs of any movement from volcanoes. So everyone was puzzled as to where the tremors and smell came from.
Shortly thereafter, large clouds of smoke were billowing from the ocean water near the coast of Sicily. It was thought to be a ship burning at first but soon after a brig checked the damage, they only saw bubbling waters and dead fish on the surface. The captain of the brig was sure that this phenomenon was caused by an old sea monster. It took two weeks before the first sign of sulfur announced the birth of a new island.
A painting depicting a Royal Navy ship, HMS Melville, off the coast of Ferdinandea or Graham Island in 1831.
The island started growing over the coast, spewing lava and ash from its volcanic crater. Soon, its outline could be seen from Sicily. It reached to a staggering 63 meters high and had a circumference of 4.8 km. On the northeastern side of the island lay 2 ponds, with the bigger one spanning 20 meters.
Its location was found to be a strategic naval location and so four trading countries sought to own the small island off the coast of Sicily. The first nation to lay claim on the island was the British. By putting a flag on the island they proclaimed the island’s name to be Graham Island, after the First Lord of Admirality.
The country of Italy thought that this was prudent and the King of Italy, King Ferdinand II sent a corvette to the island to claim it as truly theirs. The King named the island after himself, thus it became known to be Ferdinandea. There were also the Spaniards who likewise took interest on the island. The last to ever come to the island were the French, who described Ferdinandea to be just like a bottle of champagne that was uncorked. The French later named the island Ila Julia for its sudden rise from the ocean on the month of July.
An illustration of the eruption of Ferdinandea or Graham Island from the ocean.
Ferdinandea, however, was not a steady island. It was not strong enough to withstand the ever-changing currents and waves of the ocean. Having soft and fragmented foundations, the island soon succumbed to the ocean on Dec 17, 1831. It reemerged once again during the First Punic War and was reported to have broken surface four or five times more since then. Because the surface of the island wasn’t deep enough, many ships avoided passing through the island in fear of sinking.
Last 2000, volcanologists said that the island will reemerge again and so Italy, thinking that there might be another dispute, dispatched scuba divers to the sunken island to perch the Italian flag and to put a plaque that says “his piece of land, once Ferdinandea, belonged and shall always belong to the Sicilian people.”
Should the island rise up again, however, it may no longer be disputed because the location is not considered to be strategic in today’s standard.
Another illustration of Ferdinandea or Graham Island's appearance
Two Babies Were Exiled on this Abandoned Island as Part of a Bizarre Experiment
In 1443, King James IV approved a language deprivation experiment involving two babies who were exiled to Scotland’s Inchkeith Island.
The abandoned Inchkeith Island is located in the Firth of Forth, which is the estuary of the River Forth in Scotland. According to historical accounts, people lived on the island intermittently many centuries ago. It also happens to be the location of a strange language deprivation experiment.
In her article on Urban Ghosts, Alice McGurran wrote, "It was an important island, strategically and militarily, and therefore suffered many attacks from the 14th century onward, first during the Scottish Wars of Independence, right through until World War Two."
Inchkeith Island might as well be called "Exile Island."
Mao Zedong’s Sparrow Campaign Caused One of the Worst Environmental Disasters in History
Mao made waves across the world when he established the People’s Republic of China, but did you know that he also caused a huge environmental disaster?
Under Mao Zedong's leadership, China underwent a series of changes to improve and modernize life for its citizens. One of these campaigns had to do with eradicating sparrows because they were eating too much grain. This was called the Four Pests Campaign (or Kill a Sparrow Campaign), which was part of the Great Leap Forward, undertaken between 1958 and 1962. The four pests in the campaign were rats, flies, mosquitoes, and sparrows.
Citizens were given the order to do whatever they could to eradicate the birds. This included beating drums to scare them off from landing, which forced them to fly until they died of exhaustion. People also shot down sparrows and tore down their nests. It also gave people something to do with all their free time. Their goal was to push the birds close to extinction in China.
Sparrows were said to eat too much grain, so the Chinese government wanted them eliminated.
6 Strange Historical Objects that Remain Unsolved up to Now
History and strange artifacts never really did mix well. Mysteries are often left unsolved for several millennia.
The thing with history is that it spans thousands of years and people from our time will never really know the exact things that have happened in the past. Historians can only piece together a story based on the data and facts gathered. Artifacts excavated by archaeologists can only confuse us all the more because of questions brought up.
In fact, there have been so many diggings which have made these researches much more interesting and fun. Several historical objects have been unearthed that historians have yet to explain what these were even made for: