About 2,000 years ago, a Roman politician celebrated his victory by commissioning a sundial and putting it in public so everyone could read his name each time they checked the time. On the base of the sundial is inscribed "M(arcus) NOVIUS M(arci) F(ilius) TUBULA" — or Marcus Novius Tubula, son of Marcus. Another engraving on the rim of the bowl says that Tubula (literally, "small trumpet") held the office of "TR(ibunus) PL(ebis)" — that is, plebeian tribune, and paid for the sundial "D(e) S(ua) PEC(unia)," or "with his own money."

The sundial was found in the town of what was then Lirenas, about 90 miles southeast of Rome. The style of the letters suggests to researchers that the sundial was erected in the mid-first century BCE or onward.

Cleopatra remains fascinating, 2,047 years after her death. To date, she has been the subject of five ballets, seven films, forty-five operas, seventy-seven plays, and innumerable paintings.

A colossal status of the Roman Emperor Hadrian (r. 117 to 138 CE) found in the ruins of a bathhouse at Sagalossos, a Greco-Roman city in south-central Turkey. It is estimated the statue stood between 13 and 16 feet (4 and 5 meters) tall. That’s pretty big! It was an announcement of the power of Rome, personified by Rome’s divine emperor.

What’s A King To A Caesar?

From 27 BCE to 1946 CE, someone, somewhere in Europe has had a title “Caesar.” The czar of Russia, the kaiser of Germany...many, many European titles were just local derivatives of “Caesar.”

The last Caesar was Tsar Simeon II of Bulgaria, who was removed from office in 1946 by the Soviets. He’s still alive, too!

Where Did Numbers Come From?

Our earliest numbers were actually...letters. Confusing, right? Thank goodness for the Indians and their common-sense answer of creating a whole separate set of symbols for numbers.

Geneticists investigating the ancient domestication of cats happened to find that ancient cats had stripes -- but no spots. A specific gene is responsible for spotted fur, and it is absent in ancient cats. How fur patterns relate to when cats began to live with humans, I do not know. Anyways, the researchers' findings were confirmed by Egyptian murals, which only show striped cats. The gene causing blotched or spotted coats only began to appear in Europe during the Middle Ages.

The mosaic above comes from the House of the Faun, in Pompeii, during the early Roman Empire. Roman cats, which were descended from Egyptian cats, were striped too.

Source: National Geographic History, November/December 2017. "Finicky Felines Take Their Time with Domestication." Pp. 4 - 5

Between 1896 and 1907, archaeologists Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt discovered an amazing treasure trove. But their treasure was words, not gold: over 500,000 papyri fragments, dating back around 1,800 years, so well-preserved that they are still readable to the naked eye. The fragments were uncovered in the ruins of Oxyrhynchus, a sizable ancient town in southern Egypt that flourished when the Roman Empire controlled Egypt. The town's arid conditions meant that the ordinary residents' papyri survived nearly 2 millennia. The papyri include Christian gospels, magical spells and even a contract to fix a wrestling match!


"Fear is stronger than arms."

Aeschylus, circa 467 BCE.

He was a playwrite, known as the “Father of Tragedy.” His plays are the earliest tragedies that we have the text for. Though unfortunately only seven of Aeschylus’ plays survived, of an estimated seventy to ninety plays he wrote.

Yokai are shape-shifting creatures native to Japan; they can appear as animals like turtles or deer, or as inanimate objects, or even plants! They live on the edge of towns and between villages. Yokai come in many forms, some bringing good fortune, some bringing calamity and illness.

This Famous Gladiator Was So Good, He Got Compared To Hercules

In ancient Rome, Carpophorus was the most famous of the beast-fighting gladiators, called bestiarii or venatores.  We know he was famous enough to have been part of opening the Flavian Ampitheatre, more famously known as the Colosseum, in 80 CE. He frequently dealt with bears, lions, leopards, and boars. One time he even defeated and killed a rhinoceros with a single spear!

But the most famous story about Carpophorus is that he killed twenty animals, by himself, in a single battle. The poet Martial compared him to the mythical age: "Let the glory of Hercules' achievement be numbered, it is more to have subdued twice ten wild beasts at one time."

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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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