A Very Good Sheep

The Mughal tradition of making portraits of strange or favorite animals was initiated by the fourth Mughal emperor, Jahangir (ruled 1605-1627) and was continued by both later Mughals and Rajput patrons. This study of a ram is from the reign of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (ruled 1628-1658), who you may know for building the Taj Mahal.

A Philosophical Comment on Snakes

According to the poet, traveler, and politician Usama ibn Munqidh, who lived in the 1100s CE, "One of the wonders of the human heart is that a man may face certain death and embark on every danger without his heart quailing from it, and yet he may take fright from something that even boys and women do not fear." ibn Munqidh then told the story of a battle hero his father knew, who "would run out fleeing" if he saw a snake, "saying to his wife, 'The snake's all your's!' And she would have to get up to kill it."

How A Bird Became A Person

Did you know that the word "sniper" comes from World War I? Before then, specialist marksmen were called "sharpshooters." But during World War I, British officers began referring to sharpshooters as ‘snipers’, recalling in late 1700s and 1800s when officers stationed in India would go bird hunting in the hills. The tiny snipe bird being one of the hardest of targets to hit. The slang implied that with their newfangled telescopic-sighted rifles, the specialist marksmen could likely hit snipes with ease.

From 1914 the word was widely adopted by the British press, and it spread from there.

When Does A Goat Ride A Tiger?

When the tiger is a Shang Dynasty drinking vessel, of course! Circa 1600 BCE - 1046 BCE.

A Stone-Age Venice

Natural disasters were a constant threat to the people living in the ancient Neolithic city of Liangzhu in China's Yangtze Delta. Annual monsoons could easily flood the city. So the city constructed an extensive network of dams and reservoirs and an enormous levee, in and around the 740-acre city. There were 51 canals, 11 dams, and 2 reservoirs. The waterworks likely also irrigated rice paddies and helped transport stone and timber from the nearby mountains.

To have built it all, Liangzhu must have used massive amounts of labor and resources. And they did so between 5,000 and 4,800 years ago -- about 1,000 years before state-level societies capable of such large public works were thought to have developed. That makes Liangzhu either an outlier, or proof that complex ancient societies developed earlier than we thought.

Carved jade deer. The artistry is amazing, isn't it? Somehow they are soft and delicate, even though the pair are, of course, made of jade. Liao Dynasty (907 - 1125 CE).

Mongolians practiced horse dentistry as early as 3,200 years ago

Horse dentistry was first practiced -- by anyone -- among Bronze Age Mongolian herders. As early as 800 BCE, they attempted to extract first premolar teeth from young horses, allowing herders to use metal bits, while avoiding behavior and health complications for horses that the bits may have caused if the teeth were left in place. Bits allow riders to more easily control horses. Making horseback warfare easier, too.

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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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