Where Was Phoenicia?

Although the Phoenicians were among the most influential people in the Mediterranean in the first millennium BCE, very little is understood about them. For instance, there was never a kingdom called "Phoenicia." There was a bunch of cities, sharing a strip of land on the coast of modern-day Lebanon, Syria, and northern Israel. These cities were never united. Each was fiercely independent, though they shared a language, an alphabet, and several cultural characteristics.     Many of these cities survive today. For instance, Berot became modern Beirut, and Sidon became modern Saida.

The Americas' Linguistic Diversity

There were dozens of language families, each the equivalent of the Indo-European family, before 1492. This map is a "simplified" one. In today's California, for instance, languages that are spoken by neighboring tribes are as different as French and Chinese.     Why did the Americas develop such linguistic diversity? Many linguists suspect that at least some of these separate families date back to separate migrations of different tribes from Asia who originally spoke unrelated languages. Linguistic and archaeological data hint at more than one migration from Asia into the Americas, all of them through Alaska.     Extra Fun Fact: see “Eskimo-Aleut” in northern North America? It is not colored because there is no evidence those languages are related to any other indigenous American languages!

Amazingly Ancient Carving From Ural Mountains Gets A New Look

Gold miners discovered pieces of the elongated structure, dubbed the Shigir Idol, in 1894 in a Russian peat bog. But it wasn't until about 100 years later, in the late 1990s, that researchers did radiocarbon dating and found that the structure was about 9,900 years old, making it the oldest wooden monumental sculpture in the world, the researchers said. That dating only used two pieces of the Shigir Idol.     So a second, more exhaustive, analysis was recently ordered. And wow was it worth it! The Shigir Idol, according to the new tests, is in fact, 11,500 years old! In addition to updating the sculpture's birthday, the researchers found a previously unknown face carved into the wood. Who knows what we will find in another 20 years.

The Mysterious Ancient Nomads of Mongolia

When you read "megaliths" most people think Stonehenge, not Genghis Khan. But the vast central Asian steppe is home to a proud megalith tradition.
Ancient nomads erected hundreds of megaliths in northern Mongolia and southern Siberia, many featuring a mysterious motif that seems to depict flying deer transforming into birds. It seems likely they were erected around 1,000 BCE by Bronze Age nomads, although some scholars think it more likely that they were crafted around 700 BCE by Iron Age peoples.

Archaeologists' Tire Goes Flat, Helping Them Discover 3,000-Year-Old Society

A flat tire in 2016 led to the chance find of some pottery by the side of the road on Quan Lan Island, in the Ha Long Bay region in Vietnam. When the archaeologist investigated, they were surprised to discover that the pottery was over 3,000 years old! The team returned to the area in 2018 after securing permission to do excavations from the local Vietnamese government. They found evidence that indeed, Quan Lan Island was once home to a Neolithic society which left behind ceramics, tools, and various other detritus for modern archaeologists to find.

This as-yet-unnamed society came to a mysterious end. About 3,000 years ago, the artifacts just stop. Something happened. The next big question, now that this island society has been discovered, is what led to its end?

What's In A Word

The term "golem" appears in the Hebrew Bible with the meaning "formlessness." The Talmud, Jewish commentaries on the Bible and Jewish law, uses "golem" to mean an "uneducated person." From this combination comes the modern sense of the word: a clumsy, ugly, human-made monster who has no life until it is given to him by his creators.

Bronze Age Burial Is Rich In More Ways Than One

The Amesbury Archer (nicknamed the King of Stonehenge) was an early Bronze Age man. He lived and died around 2300 BCE. When his burial was discovered in 2002 at Amesbury, England -- near Stonehenge -- it caused quite a stir. Because he was buried with the earliest gold artifacts ever found in Britain! Two little golden hair ornaments caused a large fuss.

The other objects he was found with weren't headline-worthy, but they were notable nonetheless for their sheer amount and richness. His burial is the earliest evidence of a copper and gold trade with mainland Europe:

  • 3 tiny copper knives
  • 16 barbed flint arrowheads, likely from arrows placed on his body
  • a flint-knapping kit
  • metalworking tools, including a portable anvil
  • two wrist-guards
  • a shale belt ring
  • a longbow
  • five beaker pots, in amazing condition

Beer In Ancient Egypt

Beer was a staple in ancient Egypt. Called hqt (heqet), it was drunk by all ages, and all classes. It was so important that wages were sometimes paid in beer. Workmen at the pyramids of the Giza Plateau were given beer, three times daily - five kinds of beer and four kinds of wine have been found by archaeologists at the site.

The beer drunk by these ancient people was probably very similar to the way beer is still produced in Sudan today. The beer seems to have been not very intoxicating. It was nutritious, and rather sweet, without bubbles, and thick -- so thick that the beer had to be strained by drinking it with wooden straws.

That's not to say ancient Egyptian beer was non-alcoholic. There are plenty of records of ancient Egyptians drinking beer at festivals, getting drunk, and having what sounds like great parties.

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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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