The First Artificial Sweetener Was Ancient

The Romans discovered that if they boiled grape juice in lead pots, it produced an even-sweeter drink. They did not know why it worked. But they knew they liked the result. Of course, today, we know that it was the lead in the pots that was getting into the juice and making that sweet taste. Delicious, but dangerous.

Did You Know Jews Thrived In Ming China?

During the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) a population of Jews immigrated into the heart of China and lived as just another obscure, minor religion. There is poor documentation, but there what records exist show Jews worked as army officers, mandarin bureaucrats, tax inspectors, and school inspectors.

That is rare considering during this same period Jews were often persecuted as an unwanted group elsewhere: to name a few examples, Jews were expelled from France twice (1306 and 1394), forced to convert to Catholicism or leave Spain (1492), and heavily taxed and punished for inciting unrest in Egypt (1324).

Eat Like An Egyptian

This fun video discusses ancient Egyptian cuisine, dining etiquette, and basically anything related to food and eating!

The earliest known alternative history was written by the Roman historian Livy. In his grand history of the world, Livy makes a digression in book 9, and imagines that if Alexander the Great had lived longer, he may have turned west and attacked Italy. Livy wrote that the Romans would have defeated him. Of course.

Yams Were Independently Domesticated In Three Places

Here is a map of average region yam production today. Can you guess the three places where yams were first domesticated?

Answer: South America, West Africa, and Papua New Guinea!

The Great Diamond Decoy

The Cullinan Diamond is the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found, weighing 3,106.75 carats. Found in South Africa in 1905, it was put on sale in London, and bought as a present for King Edward VII of England's 66th birthday. It was cut into various smaller stones on the king's orders.

The problem was this: the best jewel cutters were in the Netherlands, and everyone knew that. So everyone knew the largest diamond yet found was going to be transported from London to Amsterdam. It was the perfect time for a thief to strike. So to much fanfare, a Royal Navy ship carried an empty box across the North Sea. It was such a secret that even the ship's captain did not know he was protecting a decoy. Meanwhile the gem's cutter, Abraham Asscher, collected the Cullinan in London and took a train and a ship back to Amsterdam with the stone tucked in his coat pocket.

The earliest depiction of quilting was discovered in Egypt! It was an ivory figurine of a First Dynasty pharaoh wearing quilted clothing, from about 3400 BCE.

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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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