A Brocade Poem

In the 300s CE the poet Su Hui wrote a massive, massive poem to her husband. Called the Star Gauge (璇玑圖) it is made up of a 29 by 29 grid of characters, and when you combine all the different ways the grid of characters can be read, it creates over 3,000 smaller poems (that rhyme!) But that was not impressive enough for Su Hui. Around that grid is a circle of 112 characters which creates yet another poem, thought to be the first and the longest of its kind. Su Hui's poem was described by contemporaries as being not written on paper, but as shuttle-woven on brocade. Making it an impressive piece of art as well as piece of poetry. It was continuously circulated in China after it was written, and the earliest surviving excerpts of the entire grid version date from a 900s CE.

The "cello" is actually a nickname! The full, proper, original name of the instrument is the "violoncello" which is Italian for "little violone." By the start of the 1900s violoncello was shortened to 'cello with the apostrophe to show it was missing its first part. Over time the apostrophe got dropped giving us the instrument we know today!

Page taken from a copy of the Suwaru-l-kawakib (Description of the Fixed Stars) by 'Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi (903 - 986). Al-Sufi is one of the famous nine Arab astronomers. He identified the Andromeda Galaxy for the first time, as well as the Large Magellanic Cloud. These were the first galaxies other than the Milky Way to be observed from Earth. Al-Sufi published many of his findings in his famous "Description of the Fixed Stars" which compared Greek and Arabic constellations, and showed two illustrations for every constellation. This particular copy of the book was probably created in Iran during the Safavid Era, sometime in the 1500s.

Denisovans Conclusively Found Outside Denisova Cave For 1st Time

Denisovan mitochondrial DNA which was found in the layers of sediments in Baishiya Karst Cave on the Tibetan Plateau have been dated. Mitochondrial DNA, typically inherited from the mother, provides a narrower view of a population’s evolutionary past than nuclear DNA, which is inherited from both parents. No nuclear DNA has yet been found in the Baishiya Karst Cave, which is located some 1,700 miles to the northwest of Siberia’s Denisova Cave, where Denisovan remains were first identified. The new dating suggested that Denisovans first settled on the Tibetan Plateau some 100,000 years ago. Then they returned again 60,000 years ago. Because homo sapiens arrived in the region 40,000 years ago, and Denisovan DNA was found in layers dated to between 50,000 and 30,000 years ago, the Denisovans may have encountered our ancestors. The new, more reliable proof that Denisovans were on the Tibetan plateau suggests that they were relatively widespread across Eurasia.

Mummified Incan Llama Sacrifices Rediscovered

A team has found the naturally mummified remains of five young llamas thought to have been sacrificed by the Inca some 500 years ago at Tambo Viejo, an archaeological site on the coast of Peru. The animals had been prepared for the afterlife. They wore colorful string necklaces and earrings, and had been decorated using red paint and the feathers of tropical birds attached to wooden sticks. The five llamas were found under two buildings. One brown llama and three white ones were found beneath the clay floors of one building, in an area disturbed by looters. A single brown llama was found under the floor of a second building. “The adornments suggest that the offerings were very special,” said Lidio Valdez of the University of Calgary. “Indeed, historical records indicate that brown llamas were sacrificed to the creator Viracocha, while white llamas to the sun, the Inca main deity.”

African-Americans Voting After Passage of Voting Rights Act, 1965

Published by LIFE magazine. The 1965 Voting Rights Act was gutted in 2013 by the US Supreme Court, resulting in voter suppression in many American states, especially southern ones.

The oldest flamingo on record was Greater, who lived to the great old age of 83 in Australia. Since flamingos usually live just 20 to 30 years, Greater lived the equivalent of 300 human years!

Mark Twain, the famous American writer, hated the US Postal Service. He called the cost of sending letters to England "highway robbery" and thanks to his many public comments, even scored a meeting with Britain’s Postmaster General in an effort to makes overseas shipments more affordable.

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    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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