Weird But Wonderful

This weird, kind of amazing glass fish thingy just has to be shared. According to the Walters Art Museum, it dates to the Baroque period in Italy. At the base, "dolphins with entwined tails support the fish, while the wavy patterns on the base represent flowing water." The Milanese family of Sarachi was particularly famous for vessels in the shape of fishes. So they think the Sarachis made this one, probably around 1590 to 1600.

How Did Elizabeth I of England Use Art As Propoganda?

This video looks not at her more-famous life-size paintings, but her miniatures. How did she convey big political ideas with small portraits? Because no matter how she was being portrayed, Elizabeth I was always a political actor, and conveyed herself as such.

How Did Church Bell Ringing Become An Art?

Bells have been used in Europe since the early middle ages to call people to church services, mark the hours of the day, and sometimes convey signals or warnings. However "musical" bell ringing did not really begin until the 1500s or 1600s.

The first carillon, the array of bells housed in the tower of a church, was created in Flanders, Belgium, in the 1500s. It was slowly refined over decades until it became a huge musical instrument that just happened to be housed in a giant tower. Each bell could be run precisely as the ringer wished, using a system of levers and pedals. The new musical instrument proved popular, and carillons and their beautiful sound slowly spread across Europe.

New Aztec Ballcourt Discovered In Mexico City

A ball court and its associated temple, dating to the 1400s, was recently discovered under Mexico City. The Aztec temple was devoted to a wind god named Ehecatl, and it included a ceremonial Mesoamerican ball court. The sport predates the Aztecs. It has been played in Mesoamerica since at least 1600 BCE, but the newcomer Aztecs clearly adopted it as their own. And not just as a fun pastime, but as a religious ritual. Researchers also recovered 32 neck vertebrae at the site, indicating that losing players lost their heads, a present for the gods.  

Incan Marriage Was Unfair

Lower-class men were allowed to have just one wife. But nobles could, and did, take multiple wives.

When You Visit the Great Wall of China, You're Really Visiting the Great Ming Wall

The best-preserved sections of the Great Wall of China existing today were built during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). That's very new: the oldest sections date to the 600s BCE. The Ming version stretched from northern Korea to Tibet, with the middle section near Beijing splitting into an inner- and outer-wall. Double the wall, double the protection.

Ibn Sina Was Ahead Of His Time

The Persian physician Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna) published his Canon of Medicine around 1025 CE. Although the specifics of bacteria and microorganisms were unknown, he discussed the contagious spreading of sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis, and the usefulness of quarantines to limit the spread of certain diseases. Ibn Sīnā's ideas were known to physicians, but it would take until the 1800s for the invention of the actual field of epidemiology, however.

Where Is The Mind Located?

Now we know the answer: the brain. But ancient humanity did not know. A number of famous thinkers have placed the mind in a number of places around the body

  • Aristotle: the heart. It is the center of the body and the first organ to be discerned in an embryo
  • Thomas Aquinas: the ventricles (empty spaces) of the brain. Being pure spirit, the mind lives in the empty parts of the body and survives beyond death.
  • Rene Descartes: the pineal gland.

Cameroon Means What Now?

Cameroon is the only country in the world named after a crustacean. In 1472, Portuguese explorer Fernando Po named the country “Rio dos Camaroes,” which means “River of Prawns” after he saw the immense number of shrimp in the country's Wouri River. The official language of Cameroon is French, and in French, it is spelled "Cameroun." The English spelling is just a corruption.

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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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