Beautiful Viking Game Pieces

Aren't they beautiful? Made from glass, they were uncovered at a burial site in Burka, Sweden. Circa 700s to 1000s CE.

How Big Was That Empire?

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

DNA Identifies Modern Czech Men As Descendants of Medieval Noblemen

The large Czech town of Uherské Hradište is believed to have been a center of the Holy Moravian Empire, which was the first major state that was predominantly West Slavic. The empire was notable for ushering in Christianity in the region after the arrival of St. Cyril and St. Methodius in 863; the Holy Moravian Empire's use of the Glagolitic alphabet invented by those saints also birthed the first ever Slavic literary culture.

Uherské Hradište itself boasted a large church and baptistery and was inhabited by dukes, noblemen, craftsmen, tradesmen, farmers, and probably slaves. A team of researchers have recently conducted a study comparing samples of DNA obtained from 75 men buried in high-status graves between the 800s and 1200s CE with 340 living men, whose last names appeared in historic registry records. In other words, the living men's last names suggest their families have been in the area of Uherské Hradište for quite a while.

Y-chromosome markers identified 18 men, out of the 340, who are descended from Great Moravian noblemen. The researchers were surprised by such a large number. It seems small, yes, until you consider that East Moravia used to border Hungary. As a liminal space between Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire it was affected by many wars, from the Thirty Years' War to World War II.

The Epic of Beowulf: A Secret Scandanavian?

Beowulf talks a lot about gold rings. It was so important that rings inspired a smash hit Wagner opera in the 1800s which in turn inspired JRR Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. Many gold neck and arm rings have been found in Scandanavia dating between 300 and 550 BCE. But after that? No rings. Furthermore, no such rings have been found in Anglo-Saxon England during the right time period: from 550 CE till the late Viking period, the last possible dating for Beowulf. What does this all mean? It is archaeological evidence that Beowulf, the Old English epic, was first told in Scandinavia and somehow made its way to England.

Korea had two kingdoms from the 700s through the early 900s CE. So it is imaginatively named the "North South States Period." To the north, much larger than North Korea today, is Balhae and to the south is the surviving state from the earlier Three Kingdoms Period, Silla.

The City of Perpetual Peace

Chang’an, capital of the Tang Dynasty of China (618-904 CE), was a true metropolitan city. It not only accommodated all sorts of religions, ethnicities, languages, sexualities, and arts but also exported its own language, art and religion. Archaeological and written evidence points to Chang'an housing communities and places of worship for Daoism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam.

Chang'an was considered such a center of culture that Japan's emperor sent delegations to Chang'an to learn Chinese knowledge, religion, and arts. For example, Japanese doctors studied Chinese medicine, and priests studied Chinese Buddhist practices. Chang'an not only took in many cultures, it contributed back its own amalgamated culture to the world.

Chang'an, by the way, means "perpetual peace." It was renamed by the time of the Ming Dynasty (1368 CE) to Xi'an, or "western peace."

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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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