Using Dental Tartar to Reconstruct Diets from Japan's Edo Period

Samples of tartar from the teeth of 13 people who were buried in what is now eastern Tokyo in the latter half of the Edo Period, from 1603 to 1867 CE, were analyzed in a recent study. DNA from rice was identified in the tartar of eight of the individuals. The DNA of other foods, including daikon radish, the minty herb “shiso” perilla, green onion, Japanese chestnut, carrot, and pumpkin was also identified. The researchers noted that the DNA results match records describing these foods from the period.

Non-food items were also found. DNA from tobacco plants, which may have been smoked, was also found in the tartar. Slightly more obscure was resin from tropical lowland rainforest trees -- potentially a tooth powder? “The technique will make it possible to survey what each individual ate,” Rikai Sawafuji of the University of the Ryukyus said of the project. Such analysis could allow researchers to determine which foods were used as staples, and even which were an individual’s favorite foods, he added.

France Made Already-Free Slaves Pay For Their Freedom

When Haiti's slaves fought for their independence (and won) against France, France required its former colony to pay "reparations" to the French government and French slaveholders for the "theft" of their slaves. Costing billions of dollars in today's money, it was financed by French banks and the American Citibank. The debt was only paid off in 1947. Having to continually send money out of the country has been a major factor in maintaining Haitian poverty over the past two centuries. France, by the way, continues to refuse considering repaying the reparations back to Haiti.

The first universal draft, a mass conscription of men of every social class, occurred during the French Revolution. The new government, which had just overthrown the French monarchy, drafted all unmarried, able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 25 to defend France against invading European (royal) powers.

The first poem published by an African-American in North America was "An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ, with Penitential Cries." It was written by Jupiter Hammon, a Christian man enslaved by the Lloyd family from Long Island, New York. He ad been allowed a basic education so he could work as a book-keeper in their business. His Christmas poem was published in 1761. Eighteen years later, he published his second poem, "An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley." Hammon was an admirer of her poetry though they had never met. By the time he died, Hammon had published four poems and four prose works, and was still enslaved.

In 1619 the first African Americans were brought to North America as slaves. In the 401 years since, African Americans have been legally equal to Whites for just 16% of the time.

The reverse is also important to remember. Whites have been taught for at least 84% of the time that African Americans were lesser humans.


Three String Vase, or, "The Peach Bloom Vase"

Underneath this vase's glassy surface, you can detect subtle modulations in color from dull pink to red to grayish green. Although seemingly just one color, the vase really suggests an infinite variety of color variations. In Chinese, the color is sometimes called kidney-bean red. The vase's shape is that of a "three-string vase" (after the rings on the neck). This particular example was part of a set of eight vessels intended to adorn a scholar's home. A standard set included flower vases of different shapes, together with vessels used for washing brushes and holding red seal-paste. It is an adaptation and refinement on Song Dynasty ware, probably dating to the early Qing Dynasty (1710 - 1722).

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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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