The Americas' Linguistic Diversity

There were dozens of language families, each the equivalent of the Indo-European family, before 1492. This map is a "simplified" one. In today's California, for instance, languages that are spoken by neighboring tribes are as different as French and Chinese.     Why did the Americas develop such linguistic diversity? Many linguists suspect that at least some of these separate families date back to separate migrations of different tribes from Asia who originally spoke unrelated languages. Linguistic and archaeological data hint at more than one migration from Asia into the Americas, all of them through Alaska.     Extra Fun Fact: see “Eskimo-Aleut” in northern North America? It is not colored because there is no evidence those languages are related to any other indigenous American languages!

An Italian Bank Is Older Than Italy

Founded in Italy in 1472 and originally a pawnshop, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena is the world's oldest surviving bank. It existed when Leonardo da Vinci was still alive!

Scotland Banned Its Own National Pastime?

Yes, Scotland once banned golf! In 1457, James II of Scotland banned golf and football (aka soccer). With a weak monarchy, powerful nobles and a constant threat of invasion, military training was compulsory for all males over 12. However, instead of practicing archery, ordinary people preferred to spend their leisure time playing golf and football. Of course, if you simply banned the sports, everyone would immediately comply with the much-more-fun military training!

Rioting Over Sports Is A Proud Tradition!

In 1314, King Edward II of England banned football (soccer) because two rival villages were physically brawling each other over their football games. But football survived. And so did hooliganism. Today, many English clubs have a proud tradition of throwing stones, beer bottles, and whatever else is handy at opposing teams as they visit for games. Some English clubs are even known to be better or worse to visit, because of their fans!

The English are not the only ones, of course. Anyone remember when Vancouver won hockey’s Stanley Cup in 2011 and the whole city rioted? Or this year, when Philadelphia’s football team (the other kind of football) won the 2018 Super Bowl and the whole city took to the streets?

Art History Fun Fact of the Day

Michaelangelo hated his younger rival, Rafael. And everyone knew it. But Rafael gave as good as he got: Rafael painted Michaelangelo as the figure of Heraclitus in his painting "The School of Athens." Heraclitus, a pre-Socratic philosopher, was legendary for his sour temper and bitter scorn for all rivals. Historical burn!

Hawaii Has A Protected Valley, Where Its Ancient Plants Are Preserved

For the past 1,500 years, Limahuli Valley on Kauai has been a green haven, a wilderness preserved to exist just as the native Hawaiians experienced it. It is home to plant life unlike anything found in the rest of the world, with many endangered plants thriving in the valley.

Ancient Log Jams

Before the arrival of Europeans, “log jams” formed by the accumulation of fallen trees and driftwood on rivers and streams were a common phenomenon across North America.

The most famous, and largest, was the Red River. At its peak, this log jam — known as the Great Raft — extended between 130 and 160 miles, clogging the lower part of the river in what is now Northwest Louisiana and Northeast Texas. It formed sometime around 1000 CE. Its great size made it a natural dam, forcing water over the banks of the Red River and into the valley, creating numerous large and deep lakes. A few even remain today, two centuries after European steam boats removed the Great Raft to allow boats to navigate the river.

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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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