An interesting summary of the linguistic history of the Iberian Peninsula! Although this is not entirely accurate -- Mozarabic speakers would say they spoke “Ladino,” for instance, and there were no linguistic census in 1000 CE to check exactly where the borders between languages and dialects were.

Black Death May Have Crossed The Sahara

Some researchers are claiming that they have evidence that the Black Death reached sub-Saharan Africa. Traditionally, it has been believed that the plague didn't make it across the Sahara Desert, as the desert is inhospitable to the fleas on rodents which carry the bacteria. Further, the written records in the region do not mention plague and there are no plague pits, so characteristic of the Black Death in Europe. But archaeological evidence shows there was a huge shift in populations in Ghana and Burkina Faso at the right time in the 1200s. And plague is now endemic in many parts of Africa, yet no one has really studied how it got there. You can read about their evidence, and come to your own conclusions.

Did You Know Azerbaijan Used To Have Burning Mountains?

The country has plentiful natural gas reserves, which sometimes leak to the surface, and spontaneously create fires. Venetian traveler Marco Polo mentioned seeing some of these natural fires when he passed through the area in the 1200s. Unfortunately just a handful still burn. Because they led to a reduction of gas pressure underground, interfering with commercial gas extraction, most have been snuffed out. But a few remain. Including one named "Yanar Dag," which literally translates to "Burning Mountain."

How long is this necklace?

Answer: just under 15 feet long (4.9 meters)! This Philippines “kamagi” necklace actually 12 necklaces strung together. The places where each necklace comes together is marked by small, colored stones. The individual necklaces are pretty impressive on their own. Because they are made of smooth, interlocking beads the necklaces are flexible, almost snakelike (as you can see in the second photo).

Cleopatra Was Not The Last Woman To Reign Over Egypt

That distinction goes to Shajar al-Durr (? – 1257 CE). Described as a beautiful, pious and intelligent woman, she was Sultan of Egypt for three months. Which sounds really bad, but thankfully, she was not assassinated. Shajar al-Durr was the widow of the previous Ayubbid sultan. When he was assassinated (sorry, someone had to be assassinated, I guess) the sultan's personal troops, the Mamluks, decided to place Shajar al-Durr on the throne. That makes Sultan Shajar the official end of the Ayubbid sultanate, as well as the last woman to rule Egypt.

But things went wrong quickly, as the caliph of the Abbaside Caliphate refused to recognize her dominion over the country which was technically a fiefdom within the caliphate. So the Mamluks married Shajar to their next choice of ruler, Izz al-Din Aybak, and Shajar abdicated to pass the throne to him. Which marked the official beginning of the Mamluk Sultanate! Shajar therefore oversaw the end of one political power, and lived to see the beginning of the next. More than Cleopatra can say.

How Big Was That Empire?

Now you can compare all the largest empires that have ever existed, by geographic area. Thank you modern geography!

Potatoes Aren't Just For Eating

The Incas used potatoes for several things other than food, including healing broken bones, preventing indigestion, and measuring time based on how long a potato took to cook!

Koreans invented moveable type made of durable metal in the 1200s CE. The oldest existing book made from moveable metal type is the Jikji a collection of Buddhist teachings, hymns, eulogies, and poetry. It was compiled by a Korean Buddhist monk named Baegun, and printed in 1377.

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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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