DNA Identifies Modern Czech Men As Descendants of Medieval Noblemen
The large Czech town of Uherské Hradište is believed to have been a center of the Holy Moravian Empire, which was the first major state that was predominantly West Slavic. The empire was notable for ushering in Christianity in the region after the arrival of St. Cyril and St. Methodius in 863; the Holy Moravian Empire's use of the Glagolitic alphabet invented by those saints also birthed the first ever Slavic literary culture.
Uherské Hradište itself boasted a large church and baptistery and was inhabited by dukes, noblemen, craftsmen, tradesmen, farmers, and probably slaves. A team of researchers have recently conducted a study comparing samples of DNA obtained from 75 men buried in high-status graves between the 800s and 1200s CE with 340 living men, whose last names appeared in historic registry records. In other words, the living men's last names suggest their families have been in the area of Uherské Hradište for quite a while.
Y-chromosome markers identified 18 men, out of the 340, who are descended from Great Moravian noblemen. The researchers were surprised by such a large number. It seems small, yes, until you consider that East Moravia used to border Hungary. As a liminal space between Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire it was affected by many wars, from the Thirty Years' War to World War II.
Beowulf talks a lot about gold rings. It was so important that rings inspired a smash hit Wagner opera in the 1800s which in turn inspired JRR Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. Many gold neck and arm rings have been found in Scandanavia dating between 300 and 550 BCE. But after that? No rings. Furthermore, no such rings have been found in Anglo-Saxon England during the right time period: from 550 CE till the late Viking period, the last possible dating for Beowulf.
What does this all mean? It is archaeological evidence that Beowulf, the Old English epic, was first told in Scandinavia and somehow made its way to England.
This beautiful art piece depicts a shaman's raptorial bird spirit, by combining flat painting and clay modeling. Click through the image gallery to see all of its sides. The bird's head, including the raptor's deadly pointed beak, and the tips of its wings and tail protrude from the vessel. Around them, the artist painted the spirit's wings and tail feathers, as well as human forms on either side. Each of the two figures grasps a staff topped by a human skull. Nicaragua, circa 1000 - 1350 CE.
A group of college students in India recently discovered a well dating to the 1000s CE. The well was constructed with two terracotta rings measuring seven feet across and six inches tall that were placed one on top of the other and sealed with clay. The well was connected to a tank, and when the tank filled, the water would flow into the shallow well. It is unclear if the tank was filled with rainwater or from a nearby river and estuary.
The excavation team also recovered pieces of Chinese celadon pottery, a spout, iron ore, terracotta roof tiles, and pieces of conch shells. Some of the pottery dated to earlier than the rest of the Chola-period site, and may have been brought to the surface when the well was dug. When the well became lost in the sand, so did the ancient artifacts, preserving them both.
Here's a fun mnemonic: "No Point Letting Your Trousers Slip Halfway!" Which stands for the main British royal families: Normans, Plantagenets, Lancasters, Yorks, Tudors, Stuarts, Hanovers, and Windsors. And in chronological order, too!
The Persian physician Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna) published his Canon of Medicine around 1025 CE. Although the specifics of bacteria and microorganisms were unknown, he discussed the contagious spreading of sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis, and the usefulness of quarantines to limit the spread of certain diseases. Ibn Sīnā's ideas were known to physicians, but it would take until the 1800s for the invention of the actual field of epidemiology, however.
Anglo-Saxon names tended to be made up of two elements, combined to have a particular meaning. For instance, Æthelstan (considered the first King of England united) is formed from Æthel, meaning "noble" and Stan, meaning "stone."
Within families the first part of a name might be reused many times. It was a sort of marker that people were related -- each would get a unique second half, of course. Sharing a name’s first part appeared especially common in aristocratic families. But it seems to have been widespread among Anglo-Saxons. In the 1000s, when England was conquered by the Danes and then the Normans, new naming practices were introduced and the two-part naming structure fell out of usage.
Gold was probably the first metal to be exploited in the Andes, by the end of the 2nd millennium BCE. From there, the archaeological record suggests goldworking then traveled north, reaching Central America in the first centuries CE, and Mexico by about 1000 CE.
This particular necklace is from the Chavin Civilization, which developed in the northern Andean highlands of Peru from about 900 BCE to about 200 BCE. That sounds old, but relatively speaking, that is not old at all. Gold had already been mined and worked in the Andes for a thousand years when the Chavin arrived on the scene.
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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!