Where Was Phoenicia?

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.

Amazingly Ancient Carving From Ural Mountains Gets A New Look

Gold miners discovered pieces of the elongated structure, dubbed the Shigir Idol, in 1894 in a Russian peat bog. But it wasn't until about 100 years later, in the late 1990s, that researchers did radiocarbon dating and found that the structure was about 9,900 years old, making it the oldest wooden monumental sculpture in the world, the researchers said. That dating only used two pieces of the Shigir Idol.     So a second, more exhaustive, analysis was recently ordered. And wow was it worth it! The Shigir Idol, according to the new tests, is in fact, 11,500 years old! In addition to updating the sculpture's birthday, the researchers found a previously unknown face carved into the wood. Who knows what we will find in another 20 years.

When Defending Rats Makes You A Great Lawyer

There was a famous trial in Autun, in west-central France, in 1522. Some rats were charged in court with feloniously eating and wantonly destroying the province’s barley crop. The rats were ordered to appear in court and answer the charges.

When they failed to show up, the rats’ attorney argued that the summons were too specific. It was not fair to summon only a handful of specific rats. He insisted that all the rats in the diocese should be summoned and that the summons should be read from the pulpits of all the parishes in the area. Just to make sure. The court agreed and another hearing was scheduled.

When all the rats in the diocese failed to appear on the specified court date, the defense attorney again had a perfectly reasonable explanation: the rats really did want to come to court, but were afraid to leave their holes and make the long journey because of the vigilance of the plaintiff’s cats. He added that the rats would appear if the plaintiffs posted bonds under heavy penalties that the cats would not molest his clients. The judges thought this was a fair request, but the plaintiffs refused to be responsible for the behavior of their cats. And so the case was adjourned without setting a date for another hearing -- in effect ending the case in the rats’ favor.

The attorney, named Bartholomew Chassenée, went on to become a famous French lawyer.

The world’s first telegraph line was set up between Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD. It worked by transmitting electrical signals over a wire laid between the stations. The first message was sent by inventor Samuel F.B. Morse on May 24, 1844, from DC to Baltimore. It said: "What hath God wrought?" in -- what else -- morse code. Since the line could only transmit electrical signals, manipulating that signal was the only way to communicate.

Morse code became a standard method of communication for the next hundred years. It was still in use by all sides during World War II!

Naming Nations

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.)

What's In A Word

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.

Bronze Age Burial Is Rich In More Ways Than One

The Amesbury Archer (nicknamed the King of Stonehenge) was an early Bronze Age man. He lived and died around 2300 BCE. When his burial was discovered in 2002 at Amesbury, England -- near Stonehenge -- it caused quite a stir. Because he was buried with the earliest gold artifacts ever found in Britain! Two little golden hair ornaments caused a large fuss.

The other objects he was found with weren't headline-worthy, but they were notable nonetheless for their sheer amount and richness. His burial is the earliest evidence of a copper and gold trade with mainland Europe:

  • 3 tiny copper knives
  • 16 barbed flint arrowheads, likely from arrows placed on his body
  • a flint-knapping kit
  • metalworking tools, including a portable anvil
  • two wrist-guards
  • a shale belt ring
  • a longbow
  • five beaker pots, in amazing condition

Eskimo Girl Wearing Clothes of All Fur

Taken in 1915, this photograph and its title comes from an American cultural anthropologist's collection of photographs and negatives. Eskimos today are known by their own word for themselves, Inuit, which means 'people.' The Inuit are the main indigenous people of the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Siberia.

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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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