Rare Ottoman Ivory Dagger Handle, circa 1500s

It is delicately carved in relief with arabesque designs of interlacing foliage.

Very Early Mosque Found In Israel

The remains of a possible mosque dating to the 600s or 700s CE were discovered in the Negev Desert during construction work. The rectangular structure features a “mihrab,” or prayer niche, facing south toward Mecca. Local farmers are thought to have built the structure shortly after the Arab conquest of the region in 636 CE. That makes this potential mosque one of the earliest mosques in the world, maybe even built within twenty years of Muhammad's death!

The Most Deadly War (Until World War II)

Did you make a guess? Okay, here's the answer: maybe the War of the Three Kingdoms, or the Mongol Conquests. Let's explain each of those in turn. First, what was the War of the Three Kingdoms? When the Han Dynasty lost its grip on power in about 184 CE, China was split into three kingdoms: Wei, Shu, and Wu. The three fought continuously from 184 until 280 CE, when the Jin Dynasty conquered Wu. Historians estimate that between 36 and 40 million people died in all the fighting which occurred during that 96-year period.

The Mongol Conquests are probably better-known to those reading this blog post in English. The long version of the Mongol Conquests dates from 1206 when Genghis Khan burst out of Mongolia's steppe heartland to 1368, when the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty of China fell. Historians estimate between 30 million and 40 million people were killed.

But what about the An Lushan Rebellion, some of you are saying? That rebellion against the Tang Dynasty, which dragged on for 7 years and three Tang emperors before it was finally over, cost somewhere between 13 and 36 million. That's a very wide range. On the upper end, that could top the War of the Three Kingdoms and the Mongol Conquests. But that's only if they are in the low end of their possible death tolls, and the An Lushan Rebellion is at the very highest end of its possible death toll. Of course, historical death counts are always guesswork, so it may be that an entirely different war actually takes the top prize!

For those who are curious, World War II killed at minimum 56,125,162 people.

Black Death May Have Crossed The Sahara

Some researchers are claiming that they have evidence that the Black Death reached sub-Saharan Africa. Traditionally, it has been believed that the plague didn't make it across the Sahara Desert, as the desert is inhospitable to the fleas on rodents which carry the bacteria. Further, the written records in the region do not mention plague and there are no plague pits, so characteristic of the Black Death in Europe. But archaeological evidence shows there was a huge shift in populations in Ghana and Burkina Faso at the right time in the 1200s. And plague is now endemic in many parts of Africa, yet no one has really studied how it got there. You can read about their evidence, and come to your own conclusions.

Big Boat Find in Sweden

Two ship burials have been discovered on a construction site near Sweden’s eastern coast, and one appears to be intact! In the intact tomb have been discovered the remains of a man, a horse, and a dog, who had all been placed in the vessel’s stern. Artifacts found included horse equipment, an ornate comb, a sword, a spear, and a shield. The boat in the second tomb is thought to have measured about 23 feet long, and been slightly larger than the boat in the other burial, but it was damaged by previous construction at the site. Such high-status burials are thought to date to the Vendel Period (550–800 CE) or the Viking Age (800–1050 CE).

The archangel Michael, whose cult first emerged in Ethiopia under the patronage of Emperor Zär'a Ya'eqob (ruled 1434–1468), remains the most venerated archangel in Ethiopia. This is largely due to his role as an intercessor on behalf of the faithful. In this folio dating to the late 1600s, Saint Michael rescues the faithful from the flames of hell. And on the facing page, those Michael has already saved are depicted as living safely in paradise.

Have Capuchin Monkeys Entered Their Own Stone Age?

A new study found that Brazilian bearded capuchins at the Serra da Capivara National Park have been using stone tools to break open cashew nuts. But that's not what's amazing. It turns out their ancestors have been doing the same thing -- for about 3,000 years! The tools appear to have evolved over time. The newest archaeological dig has turned up 122 capuchin stone artefacts of varying sizes, and each is thought to cater to a different hardness or type of food. In other words? This group of capuchin monkeys have their own archaeological record, just like a human society! This is the first known example of long-term tool variation ever discovered outside of humans.

Did You Know Azerbaijan Used To Have Burning Mountains?

The country has plentiful natural gas reserves, which sometimes leak to the surface, and spontaneously create fires. Venetian traveler Marco Polo mentioned seeing some of these natural fires when he passed through the area in the 1200s. Unfortunately just a handful still burn. Because they led to a reduction of gas pressure underground, interfering with commercial gas extraction, most have been snuffed out. But a few remain. Including one named "Yanar Dag," which literally translates to "Burning Mountain."

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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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