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Queen Puabi, who lived during the First Dynasty of the ancient Sumerian city of Ur, was a highly respected woman. Her exact status is a bit unclear. She was referred to as "nin" a term which could mean queen but could also mean priestess. Her cylinders' seal does not place her in relation to any king or husband, as was typical for other consorts, which supports the theory that Puabi ruled on her own.
Whatever her exact status, when she died around 2600 BCE she was buried in a lavish tomb in the royal cemetery. She was laid to rest with elaborate head pieces and jewelry, a magnificent lyre decorated with a blue-bearded bull, a chariot adorned with lionesses' heads in silver, and many more grave goods made of precious metals and stones.
A number of “death pits” were also found outside of the chambers as well as above Puabi’s chamber. While it is not 100% clear that the death pits were created at the time of Puabi's burial, it seems likely given their positioning. The largest and most well-known death pit held 74 attendants, 6 men and 68 women, all adorned with various gold, silver, and lapis decoration, and one female figure that appeared to be more elaborately adorned than the others. Perhaps the "death pit" was for this lady, not Puabi?
It is certain that some human sacrifices were conducted to accompany Puabi, though. In Puabi’s burial chamber, the remains of three other people were found. And the pit found directly above Puabi’s chamber contained 21 attendants, and no high-status person they might have been sacrificed for. Which leaves Puabi.
The skulls of two juvenile duck-billed dinosaurs (Hypacrosaurus stebingeri), shelved after their discovery in the 1980s, have something that looks a lot like DNA. There are many tiny circular structures at the back - some linked together, others standing apart, frozen as they were when the animals fossilized. Several of these circles contained a dark material reminiscent of a nucleus, and others held tangled coils resembling chromosomes. "I'm not even willing to call it DNA because I'm cautious, and I don't want to overstate the results," said the team's molecular paleontologist Mary Schweitzer. "There is something in these cells that is chemically consistent with and responds like DNA."
In a fun bit of history news, a secret passageway into the British House of Commons has been found! The passageway dates to 1660 and the coronation of King Charles II. Sadly, it leads nowhere interesting. The passageway is simply an extra way from a corridor to the House of Commons. It was in use for almost 300 years, until it was enclosed and forgotten during World War II.
On January 26th, 1700, a major earthquake occurred off today's western coast of Canada and the US, with an estimated moment magnitude of 8.7–9.2. It entered Native American oral history, of course, as a major event. But they did not use written records, nor the (European) Gregorian Calendar. How do modern historians then know the precise date of the earthquake? Well, it comes from a combination of records. The earthquake caused a tsunami which struck the coast of Japan, who recorded the day it hit and the magnitude of the waves. The earthquake also impacted tree rings in the Pacific Northwest, which modern scientists can use to estimate year and time of year. Between the Native American oral histories, the Japanese records, and the tree rings, historians are pretty sure they have the date right!
First opened in 1805, the Maine Avenue Fish Market in Washington, DC, is the oldest fish market in the United States.
The 1950s hit song “Splish Splash” (I Was Takin’ A Bath) was written because Murray Kaufman bet Bobby Darin that he could not write a song beginning with the words, "Splish Splash, I was takin' a bath." So Darin wrote the song.
In North Korea, the supermarket escalator where Kim Jong Il was last seen in public has been turned into a shrine to his memory.
Remember something about how at one points, humans were almost wiped out, with just 10,000 survivors of some great cataclysm? Maybe you even remember that the culprit has been named as the Toba Supervolcano's eruption about 74,000 years ago. But archaeological evidence is suggesting the cataclysm was not as bad as it was previously believed -- because human's material culture in Africa and Asia in the form of stone tools -- show continuity not disruption. And a recent excavation and analysis of an ancient and "unchanging" stone tool industry, uncovered at Dhaba in northern India, suggests instead that humans have been present in the Middle Son Valley for roughly 80,000 years, both before and after the Toba eruption. This just adds more support to the idea that the Toba Supervolcano was still a major event, but perhaps not the world-ender people had thought.
Sonny Bono is the only person in American history to have been a US Senator -- and have a had a number-one pop single on the US Billboard Hot 100.
A new study suggests that Sardinians experienced less genetic turnover than populations living in mainland Europe. When large-scale migration is thought to have occurred during the Bronze Age in Europe, Sardinia's population remained in place. An international team of scientists analyzed the genomes of 70 Sardinians whose remains were recovered from more than 20 archaeological sites spanning a period of about 6,000 years. The scientists then compared the Sardinian DNA to DNA collected from other ancient and modern peoples. The researchers determined that Neolithic Sardinians were closely related to their contemporaries in mainland Europe. Sardinian genetic ancestry remained stable through 900 BCE, although a new style of stone towers did appear on the island in this century. The 900s BCE are important because that is when major population movements occurred in Europe. But they apparently did not impact Sardinia as much.
The DNA supported later population movement on the island, such as the arrival of the Phoenicians from what is now Lebanon, and the Punics, from what is now Tunisia, as early as 500 BCE During the Roman and medieval periods, the scientists also found evidence of migration to the island from Italy and Spain.