During Apartheid in South Africa, a bus driver was fired for refusing to pick up a Japanese man -- who was legally considered a "white" person at the time. The bus driver was reinstated after he stated he could not tell the difference between a Japanese person -- legally "white" -- and a Chinese person -- legally "not white."
Although the Phoenicians were among the most influential people in the Mediterranean in the first millennium BCE, very little is understood about them. For instance, there was never a kingdom called "Phoenicia." There was a bunch of cities, sharing a strip of land on the coast of modern-day Lebanon, Syria, and northern Israel. These cities were never united. Each was fiercely independent, though they shared a language, an alphabet, and several cultural characteristics. Many of these cities survive today. For instance, Berot became modern Beirut, and Sidon became modern Saida.
A surprisingly large number of countries have changed their names! A few more than once. (Note, this map does not include name changes due to independence or mergers -- so, South Sudan does not appear.)
The term "golem" appears in the Hebrew Bible with the meaning "formlessness." The Talmud, Jewish commentaries on the Bible and Jewish law, uses "golem" to mean an "uneducated person." From this combination comes the modern sense of the word: a clumsy, ugly, human-made monster who has no life until it is given to him by his creators.
Beer was a staple in ancient Egypt. Called hqt (heqet), it was drunk by all ages, and all classes. It was so important that wages were sometimes paid in beer. Workmen at the pyramids of the Giza Plateau were given beer, three times daily - five kinds of beer and four kinds of wine have been found by archaeologists at the site.
The beer drunk by these ancient people was probably very similar to the way beer is still produced in Sudan today. The beer seems to have been not very intoxicating. It was nutritious, and rather sweet, without bubbles, and thick -- so thick that the beer had to be strained by drinking it with wooden straws.
That's not to say ancient Egyptian beer was non-alcoholic. There are plenty of records of ancient Egyptians drinking beer at festivals, getting drunk, and having what sounds like great parties.
A 77,000-year-old mattress was discovered in the Sibudu rock shelter in South Africa, a few miles from the Indian Ocean. The three-foot-by-six-foot mattress, what they call bedding, consisted of compacted layers, less than an inch thick, and was probably used as both a sleeping and a work surface. The mattress also came with built-in pest controls: In addition to grasses and sedges, it was made from the stems and leaves of a type of laurel tree known as Cryptocarya woodii, whose aromatic leaves contain insecticides that kill mosquitoes. Pretty neat!
This little round granite bowl has a secret. Just 9 inches wide, it balances perfectly on 0.15 square inches! The top rests horizontally when the bowl is placed on a glass shelf. That’s only possible because the entire bowl has a symmetrical wall thickness, no part thicker or thinner than the rest. Any asymmetry would cause a lean. This amount of precision is difficult in today’s machine age -- how were they able to do it in ancient Egypt? Click through the image gallery to see more pictures of this little wonder.
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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