Bild: Keystone
Bild: Keystone
  • hc / dl / dt / barfi
  • Aktualisiert am

Local News Summary of January, 30th

  • Countrywide siren test on Wednesday, 7 February
  • Police of Basel-Stadt reminds car owners to buy new vignette
  • Forget Boris Johnson: Mummy "Theo the Pipe-Smoker" might have descendants in the United States

Countrywide siren test on Wednesday, 7 February

This year’s siren test across Switzerland is set to take place at 1.30pm on Wednesday, 7 February. The test is being carried out to make sure the sirens for “general alarm” and “water alarm” are in working order.

During the test, all sirens across Switzerland will emit a continuously rising and falling wailing tone for the duration of one minute to test the signal for a “general alarm”. After a pause of three to five minutes, the test alarm will then be repeated. At the same time, people in Baselland with hearing impairments are to receive a text message by the canton that informs them about the test alarm. Anyone who wants to receive this message has to first register their mobile phone number with the office for military and civil protection.

Manual alarm in case of emergency

If the siren remote control does not work, local fire fighters will take over and activate the sirens by hand. The canton decrees that this manual control must also be tested every second year. Town councils can, but do not have to, test the manual controls during the interim years as well. It means that this year, in some villages, the signal for “general alarm” may be repeated at 1.45pm, including another repetition after three to five minutes.

No water alarm test in Baselland

In regions near water – for example those located beneath dams – there will also be a “water alarm” test between 2.15pm and 3pm. Sirens will emit twelve low continuous tones lasting 20 seconds each, with breaks of ten seconds between each tone. The canton of Baselland does not have any dams and therefore there will beno sirens with water alarms.

All in all, more than 8,500 sirens will be tested in Switzerland on 7 February. The canton of Baselland has 151 sirens.

If the signal for a “general alarm” can be heard at any other time other than during the official siren tests, this could mean that the public is in danger. In this case, residents are advised to turn on their radios, follow the instructions given by the authorities, and inform their neighbours.

Police of Basel-Stadt reminds car owners to buy new vignette

Any car which travels on the Swiss national road network needs to have a motorway toll sticker or so-called “vignette”. After 1 February which marks the end of the one-month grace period, only the vignette for this year will be valid on Swiss motorways.

The vignette needs to be stuck to the car windscreen – it does not count if the driver has it in their pocket. As usual, vignettes can be bought at petrol stations, garages, postal offices, at traffic offices, or at customs offices. Old vignettes should be removed from car windscreens to avoid visual obstructions.

Forget Boris Johnson: Mummy “Theo the Pipe-Smoker” might have descendants in the United States

Basel has entered a mummy craze. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, Basel scientists have been able to find the descendants of another local mummy: “Theo the Pipe-Smoker”. The trail leads to the United States. However, without the help of volunteers, this discovery would never have been made.

Last week, the Basel mummy from Barfüsserplatz and her relation to British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, was all over the news. Now, another project has discovered descendants of mummy “Theo” in the United States. It still remains unclear whether they too – like the offspring of the Barfüsserplatz mummy – are leading politicians. It would certainly be interesting.

No results from mother’s DNA

Citizens of Basel learned about “Theo” eight years ago, a mummified skeleton found at Theodorskirche. Thanks to “Theo”, scientists could learn much about life in Basel between 1760 and 1830. Yet one thing remained a secret: the mummy’s identity. Back then, the scientists could only analyse female DNA that was passed on. Since a woman naturally assumed the husband’s name upon marrying back then, nothing could be deduced from this research.

But in the past few years, innovative scientific possibilities have emerged. Due to such new research methods, “Theo” project leader and anthropologist, Gerhard Hotz, says it is now possible to identify Theo. The anthropologist can even provide what is assumed to be the mummy’s correct name: “We currently think that ‘Theo” was really called ‘Achilles Itin’.” This is remarkably precise for a skeleton found eight years ago that has remained largely unidentified so far.

Hopefully no milkman’s child

Of course, there is no name written on the DNA itself, but thanks to a new technology which allows an analysis of male DNA, the descendants of “Theo” could be determined – 134 candidates in total. With procedure of exclusion and further analysis, this list could be reduced to ten likely descendants. “The main contender is living in the United States,” Gerhard Hotz explained. This possible descendant has now received a letter from the Basel team telling him about the project and asking him whether he would agree to have his DNA analysed. However, one problem still remains: “If there was a milkman’s child in the family history of Achilles Itin, the search will remain unsuccessful. Let’s hope that this was not the case,” Mr Hotz said, laughing. It also still remains open whether the lead – as in the case of the Barfüsserplatz mummy – will end in the highest political positions of the States.

Unique project

Finding the direct descendant of Achilles Itin would be a major breakthrough. But regardless of this, “Experiment Theo” – as Gerhard Hotz calls the project – has achieved a lot. Up to 30 volunteers have supported the project over the last ten years: they digitise sources or transcribe medical records, for example. “Extended research was created thanks to this project with the help of public participation,” Gerhard Hotz says. The city of Basel now has an entire archive at its disposal. Even if no official descendants of “Theo” are found in the end, the team’s research has still been still very useful. The discovery of an old skeleton has turned into a project that allows insights into the deep past of Basel.