Cleopatra Was Not The Last Woman To Reign Over Egypt

That distinction goes to Shajar al-Durr (? – 1257 CE). Described as a beautiful, pious and intelligent woman, she was Sultan of Egypt for three months. Which sounds really bad, but thankfully, she was not assassinated. Shajar al-Durr was the widow of the previous Ayubbid sultan. When he was assassinated (sorry, someone had to be assassinated, I guess) the sultan's personal troops, the Mamluks, decided to place Shajar al-Durr on the throne. That makes Sultan Shajar the official end of the Ayubbid sultanate, as well as the last woman to rule Egypt.

But things went wrong quickly, as the caliph of the Abbaside Caliphate refused to recognize her dominion over the country which was technically a fiefdom within the caliphate. So the Mamluks married Shajar to their next choice of ruler, Izz al-Din Aybak, and Shajar abdicated to pass the throne to him. Which marked the official beginning of the Mamluk Sultanate! Shajar therefore oversaw the end of one political power, and lived to see the beginning of the next. More than Cleopatra can say.

Where Does "Vegan" Come From?

It was made up by Donald Watson, who founded the first organization for those seeking a lifestyle free from animal products in 1944 in London. Watson and his friends -- correctly -- thought that 'non-dairy vegetarians' was a bit too long a term. So they agreed to create a new word, something shorter and easier to say.

Many options were considered, including vitans, dairybans, benevores, and allvegans. They eventually decided on "vegan" as it took the beginning and the end of the word "vegetarian." It may also have been influenced by the fact that a popular London vegetarian restaurant was named "Vega."

A Curious Facial Fad

A historian has recently found evidence that some women in the 1800s in Britain tried to grow, or just mimic, facial hair! Sideburns were all the rage for men. Those who could not grow them sometimes even wore fake sideburns! Advertisements for personal products, like "Tricosian Fluid" were marked to women who wanted to change the color of their facial whiskers or eyebrows

A Brief History of Han Purple

Han purple was an ancient Chinese pigment which is thought to have been created as early as 800 BCE, but the most famous examples of its use date back to around 220 BCE when it was used to paint the Terracotta Army and murals in the tomb of the first emperor Qin Shi Huang at Xi’an. It peaked in usage during the Han Dynasty, then declined, and then vanished from the historical record entirely -- along with knowledge of how to make the color.

It was not until the 1990s that scientists were able to replicate it. The process to make the copper barium silicate pigment was extremely intricate. For one thing, it involved the grinding of precise quantities of various materials. And for another, it required heating to between 900 and 1,100 degrees Celsius. Amazing that the process was discovered so long ago!

Weird Thing To Put In Your Constitution

Greece has a ban on privately-owned universities in its constitution. It is the only country in the world (aside from Cuba) with no privately-owned universities. The constitution was adopted in 1974, for those interested, after the fall of the Greek military junta and the start of the current Third Hellenic Republic.

Easter Island, called Rapa Nui by its inhabitants, is famous for its megalithic statues. A recent analysis in PLOS One of the statues’ distribution across the island suggests they were placed away from living areas and near freshwater sources. Water is a very limited resource on Rapa Nui. The analysis only tells of the connection between the statues and freswater sources. The reason why, the deeper meaning behind why the statues were placed near freshwater, can only be hypothetical now because it has been so long since the culture that created them vanished.

Beautiful Viking Game Pieces

Aren't they beautiful? Made from glass, they were uncovered at a burial site in Burka, Sweden. Circa 700s to 1000s CE.

Operation Match: The Earliest OkCupid

In 1965, Harvard students used a dating questionnaire and an IBM 1401—an early version of the computer—to match co-eds seeking love. Students would fill out a questionnaire. It would be copied onto punch cards, and fed into the computer, and within seconds 5 potential partners would be spit out. Workers would then mail the results back to the student. The service was called “Operation Match,” and it cost about $3 per person (or about $22 today).

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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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