That’s a naga! Shortly after attaining enlightenment, the Buddha Shakyamuni was sheltered from the rain by a serpent known as a "naga." This multi-headed hooded cobra represented, for the Cambodians, the spirit of the irrigating rivers and canals as well as a rainbow-bridge to heaven. Circa 1150-1190 CE, courtesy of the Walters Art Museum.

Cambodia’s flag is the only national flag to have a real building on it. That’s Angkor Wat, a Hindu then Buddhist temple complex built starting in the early 1100s CE.

Before the Notre Dame fire of 2019, the cathedral's oak frame was made of trees cut down between 1160 and 1170. They were one of the oldest parts of the cathedral, nicknamed "the forest," which contained wood from about 13,000 trees.

The Crusaders Taught Building Techniques

When Saladin took over Egypt in the 1170s, he decided to build a new palace for his new dynasty in the hills of Cairo. A bit surprisingly many of the skilled workers who created his palace were captive crusaders. The Europeans utilized techniques unknown to the Middle East at the time, which is rather helpful in determining who built the palace.

Crusader architecture was stronger and lasted longer. It also enabled building larger buildings. Over time, Muslims in the Middle East learned these new (to them) techniques, often by studying castles built by crusaders across the eastern Mediterranean seaboard.

The Status of Women in the Mongolian Empire

Mongolian women enjoyed relatively high social status during the reigns of Genghis through Kublai Khan, at least compared to other societies at the time. Women had the right to own and inherit property, and organized and ran the nomad camp while men were away -- Mongolian women, in other words, were expected to be capable administrators.

Mapping Part of the Wall of China Gives Insights into Its Purpose

The Northern Line of the Great Wall of China has recently been mapped using drones and high-resolution satellite images. The 460-mile-long Northern Line mostly winds through Mongolia, and was constructed of pounded earth between the 1000s and 1200s CE. The Northern Line was previously thought to have been constructed to prevent incursions by nomadic tribes such as those eventually united under Genghis Khan. But the team found that much of this section of the more than 13,000-mile-long Great Wall is low in height and placed near paths. In other words, it does not match what you would expect for a wall intended to prevent enemy invasion. It looks more like a wall intended to monitor the movement of livestock and people -- and potentially tax it.

The English word “bank” comes from the Italian word “banco.” In late medieval Italy banks were family businesses consisting of a single large room with a counter, or “banco,” in the middle to separate customers from clerks and bookkeepers.

A remarkable Liao Dynasty (907 - 1125 CE) tomb in China was unfortunately looted before its discovery by archaeologists. But the looters could not take the murals. Over 160 square feet of beautifully preserved paintings decorate the tomb's walls, reproducing constellations, wooden architecture, travel, and scenes from daily life.

The Kayi Tribe is considered to be one of the twenty-four Oghuz Turkic Tribes that descend from the legendary and almost mythical figure Oghuz Khan/Oghuz Khagan. It was a leader of this tribe, Osman, who founded the Ottoman Empire. The Seljuk Turks were also an Oghuz Turks, for those who are curious, though not counted as one of the twenty-four main tribes.

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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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