The grave of Kilij Arslan I, a Seljuk sultan of Rum who reigned from 1092 to 1107 CE, was discovered during investigations ahead of construction work in eastern Turkey by a team of researchers from Dicle University. The team members also found the grave of the sultan’s daughter, Saide Hatun.

Kilij Arslan I was the re-founder of the Anatolian state the Sultanate of Rum (the Turkish pronunciation of Rome) after a period of disorder in the Seljuk Empire. Technically his grandfather had founded the Sultanate of Rum but it was Kilij Arslan I that re-established its independence after his father lost the sultanate. Although Kilij Arslan I always swore loyalty to the Seljuks he was effectively an independent ruler of an independent state on the border between the Seljuk Empire and the (deeply declining) Byzantine Empire. Kilij Arslan I also has the distinction of being the first Muslim ruler to fight the crusaders. He harrassed, then ambushed and crushed the undisciplined People's Crusade in 1096, as it attempted to make its way from Europe to Jerusalem.

Expect more information to come out about these tombs as further excavations and analyses are carried out. It is not every day that a new and historically active monarch's tomb is found!

Famous Crusade Battlesite Pinpointed

Researchers have at long last pinpointed the location of the Battle of Arsuf. What is that, you ask? Arsuf was a key battle in the famous Third Crusade (1189–1192). Researchers utilized historical documents, environmental analysis, and material evidence to determine the spot on the Sharon Plain, north of modern-day Tel Aviv, where Christian troops led by Richard the Lionheart defeated the Muslim army of the sultan Saladin. This was the first battle that demonstrated Saladin could be defeated. It also gave the Crusaders control of the central Palestinian coast and the major port of Jaffa.

But the Third Crusade is most famous for what it could not do: retake Jerusalem. After fortifying Jaffa and getting a three-year truce from Saladin, the Third Crusade returned home in 1192.

Ancient China’s Deadly Sport

Ancient China had its own form of mixed martial arts. Called lei tai, it was a no-holds-barred mixed combat sport that combined Chinese martial arts, boxing and wrestling. Killing your opponent was allowed. The sport was played by having a man on a rail-less platform who would invite anyone who wished to challenge them. If a challenger won, they became the man on the platform. But if a man beat enough opponents they would win acclaim as a “champion.” One famous champion, Lama Pai Grandmaster Wong Yan-Lam, fought over 150 people over 18 days to become a champion.

The modern form of lei tai appeared during the Song Dynasty. It is still practiced, though in a modified form that makes deaths less likely.

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.

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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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