This hand-crafted figure portrays a spirit being, or perhaps a shaman in spirit form, ready to battle supernatural forces. Given the shape of the shaman and the long walkway behind the shaman, it is likely a snuff tray! This artifact comes from the Jama-Coaque culture (in what is today Ecuador). The Jama-Coaque's religious figures are believed to have engaged in shamanic transformations. These spiritual events were aided by psychoactive plants that they ground into a fine powder, then ingested as a snuff, from trays like this one. Circa 300 BCE to 600 CE.

North-western Syria has about seven hundred "Dead Cities" or "Forgotten Cities." They include villages, towns, and some cities that were mainly abandoned between the 700s and 900s CE. Because they rest in an elevated area of limestone known as the Limestone Massif, which gets relatively little rain, the settlements are more or less still at surface level and well-preserved. There are three main groups of highlands on the Massif, each with their own Dead Cities. They provide us with insight into what life was like for prosperous agriculturalists in Late Antiquity and the Byzantine period.

The Dead Cities became a massive UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, although they have been largely inaccessible since 2013.

In the 2000 Olympics, the Greek runner Konstantinos Kenteris won gold in the 200 meter dash. This made Kenteris the first Greek athlete to win an Olympic sprinting event since Dionysius of Alexandria in 269 CE.

The invention of tofu is actually a little obscure, but it is generally thought to have been invented during China's Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE).

Around 250 CE, large burial mounds in the shape of keys over top of sunken tombs began appearing in Japan. By the 400s CE these kofun were hundred of meters across. Inside all excavated kofun have been wooden coffins interred with precious grave goods such as bronze mirrors or well-made swords. On the slopes of the mounds are sometimes found terracotta figures used to mark the boundary between the kofun and the outside world. But only the smaller burial mounds have been examined.

Japan does not allow any excavations of kofun over a certain size and which is in the shape of a keyhole. This is because important resting places are believed to have been reserved for divine emperors. Digging into such tombs would be sacrilege. And if archaeologists found something that raised questions about the divine status of the world's oldest monarchy? Well, that would be even worse.

The Odd Story of a Pope Chosen by a Dove

Pope Fabian was elected bishop of Rome in 236 under...unusual circumstances. Here is how it went down, according to Eusebius of Caesarea, writing in the 300s:

After the short reign of Pope Anterus, Fabian had come to Rome from the countryside when the new papal election began. "Although present," says Eusebius, Fabian "was in the mind of none." While the names of several illustrious and noble churchmen were being considered over the course of thirteen days, a dove suddenly descended upon the head of Fabian. To the assembled electors, this strange sight recalled the gospel scene of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at the time of his baptism by John the Baptist. The congregation took this as a sign that he was marked out for this dignity, and Fabian was at once proclaimed bishop by acclamation.

Chinese Medicine Really Likes Licorice

Licorice root is first mentioned in Chinese medicine in Zhang Zhongjing's medicinal masterpiece "Treatise on Cold Pathogenic and Miscellaneous Diseases" around 190 CE. Although licorice was probably in usage as a medicine long before then. It decreases thirst and soothes the throat, and was used to "harmonize" other flavors in Chinese medicines. Thus licorice is found in an astonishing 5,000 Chinese herbal formulas today!

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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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