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100 Years Ago, Amundsen Triumphed in Epic Race to South Pole

One hundred years ago Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen won the race to the South Pole in a dramatic and ultimately fatal duel with British adventurer Robert Scott that captured the world's attention.

On December 14, 1911, not long before the outbreak of World War I as nationalism was on the rise in Europe, Amundsen and the four members of his team were the first to plant the Norwegian flag at the southernmost tip of the globe.

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U.S. Returns Gold Monkey Head to Peru

The United States has returned a gold monkey head to Peru dating back to the Moche civilization that flourished in northern Peru from the second to eighth centuries, officials said Friday.

The gold pendant, which was returned Thursday during a repatriation ceremony at the Peruvian Embassy in Washington, had been exhibited for years at the Museum of New Mexico, Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe. It had been donated by private collector John Bourne.

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Hitler's Desk Set Sells for $423,000 in U.S.

A brass desk set inscribed "AH" and used by Adolf Hitler at the signing of the Munich Pact, which preceded World War II, has sold for $423,000, a U.S. auction house said.

The ceremonial desk set, including ink wells and the Nazi crest of an eagle and swastika, had been expected to fetch at least half a million dollars.

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Mandela Museum 'Boot Camp' Inspires Artists

Artists pore over their computers -- drawing up work experience and not sketches -- in a rigorous "boot camp" inspired by Nelson Mandela that combines practical business sense with talent.

The five students are in a six-week residency in the isolated hills of Qunu at the Nelson Mandela Museum, overlooking the icon's childhood home where he has been living for the last four months.

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Recently Attributed Velazquez Sells for £3 Million in London

A recently attributed painting by 17th century Spanish artist Diego Velazquez sold at auction in London on Wednesday for £3 million ($4.7 million, 3.5 million euros), Bonhams auction house announced.

"Portrait of a Gentleman" -- a painting of a bald, middle-aged man with a moustache wearing a collar similar to those worn by men in the 1600s -- was bought by a US art dealer for a price within the auction house's estimate.

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Mandela Museum 'Boot Camp' Inspires Artists

Artists pore over their computers -- drawing up work experience and not sketches -- in a rigorous "boot camp" inspired by Nelson Mandela that combines practical business sense with talent.

The five students are in a six-week residency in the isolated hills of Qunu at the Nelson Mandela Museum, overlooking the icon's childhood home where he has been living for the last four months.

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Catholic Extremists Target Champs Elysees Theater

One of Paris's top theaters was bracing Thursday for a showdown with Catholic extremists vowing to disrupt the opening of "Golgota Picnic", a virulent on-stage attack on consumerism and religion.

French fundamentalist Catholics have been waging a sometimes violent campaign of protests in recent months against works they perceive as blasphemous, picketing plays and pelting theatre-goers with eggs.

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Vatican University Hosts Unusual Tattoo Conference

Tattooed mummies in ancient Egypt, Crusaders who branded their foreheads with crosses, and New Zealand's inked Maori warriors were fodder for an unusual conference at a Vatican university Tuesday on the role of tattoos in shaping identity.

"Into the Skin: identity, symbols and history of permanent body marks" was the brainchild of a Christian arts association and Israel's ambassador to the Holy See, an unlikely expert in the field given Judaism's prohibition of tattooing and the painful role that tattooed serial numbers played in the Holocaust.

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Experts Stumped by Ancient Jerusalem Markings

Mysterious stone carvings made thousands of years ago and recently uncovered in an excavation underneath Jerusalem have archaeologists stumped.

Israeli diggers who uncovered a complex of rooms carved into the bedrock in the oldest section of the city recently found the markings: Three "V'' shapes cut next to each other into the limestone floor of one of the rooms, about 2 inches (5 centimeters) deep and 20 inches (50 centimeters) long. There were no finds to offer any clues pointing to the identity of who made them or what purpose they served.

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Canada Allocates CAN$7.5 Million for Queen's Diamond Jubilee

Canada announced Tuesday CAN$7.5 million (US$7.36 million) for grassroots celebrations across the country for Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee next year.

"The only other time Canada celebrated the diamond jubilee of a reigning sovereign was for Queen Victoria in 1897," said Heritage Minister James Moore.

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