Riverside Cliff Tombs Found In Southwest China

More than 200 cliff cave burial sites have been identified in Zhengxing Township in Chengdu, in southwest China's Sichuan Province.  The 200 burial sites number is deceptive; they are not just holes in the ground, but a cluster of hewn rooms, carved out of the cliffs overlooking the Jinjiang River. Some of the tombs have up to seven chambers with tunnels as long as 20 meters (65 feet).

Unfortunately, the tombs appear to have been previously looted. Bummer. But in what should be considered a small miracle, a large number of artifacts were recovered despite the looting; initial estimates are that around 1,000 gold, silver and bronze artifacts are still there. The tombs date between 206 BCE and 420 CE -- the Han Dynasty through the Wei-Jin period.

The Moche Knew How To Make A Stirrup Bottle

Owl stirrup spout bottle by a Moche artist. Based on the heart-shaped facial disk and the absence of ear tufts, it is likely a Tyto Alba, a species of owl which lived in the desert of Peru's northern coast. Circa 100s to 200s CE.

The Temple at Epheseus: Wonder of the World

Epheseus was the most important Greek city of those founded along western Turkey. The city was first founded by Ionian Greek settlers along the marshy delta of the Cayster River. There was already a sanctuary, dedicated by the local people to a goddess of vegetation and fertility. The new Greek settlers associated that with Artemis, goddess of the hunt, wild animals, chastity, and childbirth. Several structures were built in Artemis' honor by the early settlers.

Epheseus eventually built a magnificent temple to her, which was continued under the famous King Croesus of Lydia. He is known today for his huge wealth, but at the time he was a newly-arrived king who had conquered Ephesus in 560 BCE and was looking to make his mark as a man of piety and sophistication in the Greek world. So he paid for work on the temple to continue, and hired an architect from Crete, Chersiphron of Knossos. It says how important the temple was that even its architect's name is remembered in history. Croesus' wealth certainly did the trick: with the first temple ever constructed entirely of marble, and located along a great trade route running from Greece into Asia Minor, Epheseus flourished.

Unfortunately, King Croesus' temple burned down in 356 BCE. Supposedly it was destroyed the same day as Alexander the Great was born, and it was not saved because Artemis was busy helping his mother through her labor -- a key role as she was the goddess of childbirth. But Epheseus wasn't ready to give up and become a backwater. After all, their temple was on the list of wonders of the world that the famous historian Herodotus They rebuilt the temple, a bigger and better one with an additional stepped platform, and rededicated it to the goddess Artemis. It even kept its old name, the Artemision.

Underwater Route Between Prehistoric Cenotes Found In Mexico

Researchers from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History have discovered a route through underwater limestone caves connecting the Sac Actun cenote and the Dos Ojos cenote. Maya pottery, human bones, and the bones of elephant-like creatures, giant sloths, bears, tigers, and extinct species of horses, all likely from around the end of the last Ice Age, have been found in the tunnel-like caves. Exploring them and finding artifacts can be difficult, though: the underwater caves range in width from 400 feet to just three feet.

Romans Had Odd Naming Conventions

In ancient Rome, it was standard practice to name daughters with the female form of the family name. Julius Caesar's daughter, for instance, was Julia. And Marcus Antonius' (Mark Antony's) daughters were both Antonia! Although to avoid confusion, they were known as Antonia Maior and Antonia Minor.


"Do nothing in your life that will cause you to fear if it is discovered by your neighbor."

Epicurus, an ancient Greek philosopher, circa 300 BCE.

This Jewish Sect Had Weird Beliefs About The Sabbath

You've probably heard of the Essenes, an apocalyptic cult of Jewish separatists who created or collected what is today known as the Dead Sea Scrolls in the first century CE. Did you know that they were early hippies, too? They believed a new age was coming. It would be ushered in by two messiahs, so they kept themselves in a constant state of readiness: no sex, lots and lots of bathing, and absolutely no "relieving" on the Sabbath. Twenty-six hours a week where you cannot pee? Sounds painful. Perhaps due to their hygiene habits, the Essenes had relatively short life expectancies.

This Is One Messed Up Mythological Couple

Pasiphaë, the wife of King Minos, did not trust her husband. So she laid a spell on him. It kept him from ... having relations ... with anyone else. But in a very unusual way: if King Minos slept with a concubine not approved by Pasiphaë, he would ejaculate serpents, scorpions, and centipedes, killing the unlucky woman.

All rather ironic, since Pasiphaë herself was unfaithful. To be fair, she only cheated because of Poseidon, who was angry at King Minos; to punish the husband, Poseidon enchanted poor Pasiphaë to fall in love with a bull. The result of their "love" was the Minotaur, half-man and half-bull.

New Technology to Open Unopenable Ancient Texts is Being Tested on A Burned Book for the First Time

This is a book, written sometime between 400 and 600 CE, in the Egyptian language Coptic. Unfortunately no one has been brave enough to open it. The charred book, named M.910 after its library accession number, was fused together by a cinder, which sank through many of its pages, binding the parchment leafs together and making opening the book dangerous. Thanks to modern technology, however, we do not need to open the codex to read its contents. A fine-detail CT scan of the codex was completed in December 2017. Previous fine-detail CT scans have worked, famously with a charred lump from En-Gedi in Israel, but that was a scroll. All the writing was on one side of the scroll. This codex has pages, with writing on both sides. Although tests of mock books worked, we will not know for a while if the real test -- scanning M.910 -- worked as well.

The Sassanian Empire's Claim To Fame

Who were the successors to the Roman's archrivals, the Parthians? You probably guessed from the title -- the Sassanians. It is widely considered the last "true" Persian Empire. Why? Answer

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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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