A ball court and its associated temple, dating to the 1400s, was recently discovered under Mexico City. The Aztec temple was devoted to a wind god named Ehecatl, and it included a ceremonial Mesoamerican ball court. The sport predates the Aztecs. It has been played in Mesoamerica since at least 1600 BCE, but the newcomer Aztecs clearly adopted it as their own. And not just as a fun pastime, but as a religious ritual. Researchers also recovered 32 neck vertebrae at the site, indicating that losing players lost their heads, a present for the gods.
When You Visit the Great Wall of China, You're Really Visiting the Great Ming Wall
The best-preserved sections of the Great Wall of China existing today were built during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). That's very new: the oldest sections date to the 600s BCE. The Ming version stretched from northern Korea to Tibet, with the middle section near Beijing splitting into an inner- and outer-wall. Double the wall, double the protection.
Cameroon is the only country in the world named after a crustacean. In 1472, Portuguese explorer Fernando Po named the country “Rio dos Camaroes,” which means “River of Prawns” after he saw the immense number of shrimp in the country's Wouri River. The official language of Cameroon is French, and in French, it is spelled "Cameroun." The English spelling is just a corruption.
Twenty-five years after she was burned at the stake for heresy against the Roman Catholic Church, Joan of Arc was re-tried. It was 1456, the Hundred Years' War was over, and the side Joan supported had won. It was time to declare that the woman who had led Charles VII to his coronation was not, in fact, a heretic. On July 7th the various judges, clerks, and priests filled the Great Hall of the Archbishop's Palace in Rouen. Joan's aged mother and brothers were in attendance as well. They had waited twenty-five years to hear what was about to be said.
The verdict: the original trial and sentence "being filled with fraud, false charges, injustice, contradiction, and manifest errors concerning both fact and law" should be considered "null, without effect, void, and of no consequence." Joan was washed clean of the "taint of infamy." After the archbishop read the new verdict, a copy of the original charges and proceedings from her first 1431 trial were ritually torn up.
There were seven known metals until the 1200s CE: gold, silver, copper, tin, lead, iron, and mercury. These were the metals that built humanity's first civilizations. (For those who point out the Bronze Age from about 3300 BCE to 1200 BCE, bronze is a mix of copper and tin.) Arsenic was discovered in the 1200s, antimony in the 1400s, and things just took off from there. Today there are 86 known metals.
From the Ica-Chincha people of the central coast of Peru, this grave marker would have been placed next to or inside a tomb. It may even have helped support the tomb's roof. Crowned with a two-pronged headdress the post was treated just like real human remains. Ica-Chincha painted their dead with a red cinnabar pigment, and you can just see traces of red on this grave marker's face too. Circa 1000 to 1470 CE, during the Ica-Chincha's Late Intermediate period.
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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!