Ancient Mesopotamian Musical Facts

Sumerians made drums with animal skins and fashioned wind instruments from horns and bones. They also played string instruments, and a Sumerian lyre is the oldest example ever found from this family of instruments. Perhaps even more exciting for the music nerds out there, recent discoveries have revealed they used the oldest known system of musical notation based around a seven-note scale. This came two-thousand years before the Ancient Greeks developed the eight-note musical scale that is the foundation of Western music today.

The Oldest Ruler In The World

This is the cubit rod (aka ruler) of Maya, "treasurer of king Tutankhamun." He also served under Tutankamun's two successors, Ay and Horemheb. The cubit rod was an important part of being a treasurer because the Egyptian government was built on land management, and taxes were mainly agricultural products. To know how much to tax, you had to know how to measure the field, and the unit of measurement was the cubit. This rod measures the royal cubit of seven palm-lengths (52.3 cm) and the common cubit of 6 palm-lengths. There are also a number of gradations shown including "digits," palm-lengths, and fractions of digits from halves to sixteenths. Just in case Maya needed to measure really small distances.

Obscure engravings on animal bones from the site of Lingjing in Henan Province suggest that early hominins who lived there 125,000 years ago may have had more advanced cognitive abilities than once believed. The mysterious markings proved to have been etched into the bone. The bone was then rubbed with red ochre powder to make the markings more visible. It is unknown why they made these marks, or what they represent.

Minoan Purple Dye Workshop Discovered On Greek Island

A large quantity of Hexaplex trunculus shells, which were used in the production of valuable purple dye, have been found at a Minoan settlement dating to between 1800 and 1500 BCE on the now uninhabited Greek island of Chryssi. One large, two-room building in the settlement was equipped with built-in buckets, terraces, work desks, stoves, and a staircase made of stone slabs. Pottery and stone tools were also found in the building, although it lacked the dye-producing shells found in other structures in the settlement. One of the rooms contained treasures including a gold ring, a gold bracelet, gold beads, a silver bead, bronze beads, glass beads in various colors, an amethyst bead, ten lapis beads, an agate seal carved with an image of a ship, and three copper vases. Researchers speculate that the building may have managed the production and trade of valuable purple dye for the entire settlement.

Looking Inside The Great Pyramid of Giza Using New Technologies

The pyramids at Giza is over 4,000 years old. But we are still learning more about them, thanks to new advances in particle physics and thermal imaging.

T. Rex Were Even Scarier Than You Thought

A new study has found that the tyrannosaurus rex had the strongest bite of any known species -- extant or extinct. Its bite was so strong, in fact, that it could bite through its prey's bones without breaking its skull. Modern-day saltwater crocodiles, which hold the chomping record for any living animal, clamp down with a force only about 25 percent as strong as a t. rex's bite.

  There is no evidence that Vikings wore helmets with horns or wings on them. But ancient Akkadian warriors wore helmets with bull horns on them 1600 years before the Vikings made their first longship raid. The Akkadians, in fact, were the first recorded soldiers to adopt that style. The bull horns were not meant as a symbol of intimidation but a symbol of divinity. The first king in all of Mesopotamia to declare himself a god, Naram-Sin, had himself depicted as wearing a helmet topped with bull horns so that all who saw him would know his divine power.

Blue, green, and hazel eyes all exist thanks to a genetic mutation; brown was the only eye color present in humans until about 6,000 years ago.

The Ancient History of Diglossia

Diglossia is when a single community uses two languages or dialects. It is only diglossia if this is a stable situation -- not a transition from one language to another. In diglossia, one language is for everyday use (the low language), and one language is for specific situations (the high language) such as literature, formal education, or religious activities. The high language usually has no native speakers. Examples are Latin, used by scholars in the European Middle Ages, Mandarin for official communications and local dialects for everyday use in China, and literary Tamil versus spoken Tamil.

The earliest known diglossia is Middle Egyptian, the language in everyday use in Ancient Egypt during the Middle Kingdom (2000 - 1650 BCE). By the New Kingdom (1550 -1050 BCE) the language had evolved into Late Egyptian. And by the Persians, then Ptolemies, then Roman Empire, the language had evolved into Demotic (700 BCE - 400 CE). But Middle Egyptian remained the standard written, prestigious form, the high language, and was still in use until the 300s CE. That means it was used, unchanged, for over 1,900 years after people had stopped speaking it!

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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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