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.

What’s A King To A Caesar?

From 27 BCE to 1946 CE, someone, somewhere in Europe has had a title “Caesar.” The czar of Russia, the kaiser of Germany...many, many European titles were just local derivatives of “Caesar.”

The last Caesar was Tsar Simeon II of Bulgaria, who was removed from office in 1946 by the Soviets. He’s still alive, too!

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

Between 1896 and 1907, archaeologists Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt discovered an amazing treasure trove. But their treasure was words, not gold: over 500,000 papyri fragments, dating back around 1,800 years, so well-preserved that they are still readable to the naked eye. The fragments were uncovered in the ruins of Oxyrhynchus, a sizable ancient town in southern Egypt that flourished when the Roman Empire controlled Egypt. The town's arid conditions meant that the ordinary residents' papyri survived nearly 2 millennia. The papyri include Christian gospels, magical spells and even a contract to fix a wrestling match!

This Famous Gladiator Was So Good, He Got Compared To Hercules

In ancient Rome, Carpophorus was the most famous of the beast-fighting gladiators, called bestiarii or venatores.  We know he was famous enough to have been part of opening the Flavian Ampitheatre, more famously known as the Colosseum, in 80 CE. He frequently dealt with bears, lions, leopards, and boars. One time he even defeated and killed a rhinoceros with a single spear!

But the most famous story about Carpophorus is that he killed twenty animals, by himself, in a single battle. The poet Martial compared him to the mythical age: "Let the glory of Hercules' achievement be numbered, it is more to have subdued twice ten wild beasts at one time."

Why Crossbows Were Used Up Until The 1500s

The horizontally-held crossbow was invented by the Chinese around 2,000 years ago. And it was a huge improvement over the simple bow-and-arrow -- with a crosspiece and stock added, the crossbow does the work of pulling and holding the string, not the person. This meant the string could have more tension, and therefore the arrows could fly farther and with more power.  A well-aimed crossbow arrow could pierce armor.

Attacking from further away also meant the crossbowmen were relatively better-protected -- except against other crossbowmen, of course.

Antikythera shipwreck yields bronze arm – and hints at spectacular haul of statues

It was found using a metal detector, buried under half a meter (1.5 feet) of sediment, on the boulder-strewn slope where the shipwreck lies. Based on the metal detector's readings, and that an arm has already been found, it is predicted that at least seven statues from the 1 BCE Greek shipwreck, already the source of one of the most extensive and exciting ancient cargo ever found

Genetic research shows that the Shar-Pei is the one of the most ancient breeds that exists! The breed was one of the very first breeds to split from dogs’ wolf ancestors. Shar-Peis can trace their ancestry back 2,000 years, to the southern provinces of China where they were used as hunters, herders, and protectors.

Times Were Different Then

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

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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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