About 2,000 years ago, a Roman politician celebrated his victory by commissioning a sundial and putting it in public so everyone could read his name each time they checked the time. On the base of the sundial is inscribed "M(arcus) NOVIUS M(arci) F(ilius) TUBULA" — or Marcus Novius Tubula, son of Marcus. Another engraving on the rim of the bowl says that Tubula (literally, "small trumpet") held the office of "TR(ibunus) PL(ebis)" — that is, plebeian tribune, and paid for the sundial "D(e) S(ua) PEC(unia)," or "with his own money."

The sundial was found in the town of what was then Lirenas, about 90 miles southeast of Rome. The style of the letters suggests to researchers that the sundial was erected in the mid-first century BCE or onward.

Cleopatra remains fascinating, 2,047 years after her death. To date, she has been the subject of five ballets, seven films, forty-five operas, seventy-seven plays, and innumerable paintings.

Geneticists investigating the ancient domestication of cats happened to find that ancient cats had stripes -- but no spots. A specific gene is responsible for spotted fur, and it is absent in ancient cats. How fur patterns relate to when cats began to live with humans, I do not know. Anyways, the researchers' findings were confirmed by Egyptian murals, which only show striped cats. The gene causing blotched or spotted coats only began to appear in Europe during the Middle Ages.

The mosaic above comes from the House of the Faun, in Pompeii, during the early Roman Empire. Roman cats, which were descended from Egyptian cats, were striped too.

Source: National Geographic History, November/December 2017. "Finicky Felines Take Their Time with Domestication." Pp. 4 - 5

Times Were Different Then

Archers at the original Olympic Games in ancient Greece used tethered doves as their targets. Yes, live doves.

In Latin, what we call “doggy style” was called "coitus more ferarum," which roughly translates to “sexual intercourse in the manner of wild beasts.” In the Kama Sutra, it is known as the “cow position.”

More Comments on Caesar's Death

Thanks to Christian, for asking!

My source on the post, saying that Caesar was possibly already dying before he was assassinated, was a National Geographic: History magazine. Unfortunately, I recently moved and my magazines were left behind. So I cannot give you the exact issue.

But there was a recent article published about Caesar's health which has generated a lot of publicity. Historians have long thought that Caesar suffered from epilepsy. This new article argues that Caesar's reported symptoms better fit a series of mini-strokes. This would have been a slowly debilitating problem. Depending on where the strokes were, Caesar could have suffered from increased dementia, lost use of parts of his body, dampened or lost any of his physical senses, or idiosyncratic combinations of all three.

Athenian Agora Excavations: an Interactive Guide

The city of Athens flourished in the 400s and 300s BCE, setting the course for modern European civilization and eventually for democracy's re-emergence. Even when her power waned, Athens remained the cultural and educational center of the Mediterranean until the 500s CE. And the agora, or marketplace, was the center of city life throughout this time. In it was built beautiful and functional public buildings, first by proud city citizens, then as gifts from Greek kings and eventually Roman emperors.
Since the 1930s, modern excavations have been underway to study where the agora once stood. And they have an excellent website, with an interactive map of what has been recovered and discovered, so far, of the ancient Athenian agora. 

An Animated History of Ukraine

Really, really good history! Since I know next to nothing about Ukraine's national history, I particularly appreciated the accessibility -- the vlogger assumed we had been born yesterday, and it worked.

The "nine familial exterminations" or "nine kinship exterminations" was the most extreme punishment someone could receive in ancient China. Our first record of this punishment comes from a history of the Shang Dynasty and Zhou Dynasty. Apparently it was common for military officers to threaten before battle that if a subordinate disobeyed orders, all their family would be killed.

This eventually evolved into an elaborate, and legal, method of punishment. The nine familial exterminations varied by dynasty, and how often it was used varied as well. Generally, those to be executed included:

  • the criminal's living parents
  • their living grandparents
  • all children over a certain age (which varied) and all their children's spouses
  • all grandchildren over a certain age, and all their grandchildren's spouses
  • siblings and their sibling's spouses
  • the criminal's uncles and aunts, as well as their spouses
  • cousins (in Korea, this could go to second and third cousins)
  • nieces and nephews, and their spouses
  • the criminal's spouse
  • the criminal's spouse's living parents
  • the criminal

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    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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