Although it originated in the Americas, some (Western) scholars in the 1800s claimed corn is an Old World crop. Some went so far as to falsify documents that claimed to be pre-contact references to corn by Europeans. As you can guess their attempts did not work.

Georgian men wearing traditional horse-riding gear at a community gathering. In the Georgia Governorate, Russian Empire, circa 1890

The Colored Hockey League was the first organized in 1895. Between 1895 and the early 1930s, all-Black ice hockey teams on Canada's eastern seaboard played for mixed audiences as they challenged each other and vied to win the Colored Hockey Championship. The Colored Hockey League pre-dates the National Hockey League by 20 years, and also pre-dates the more famous Negro Baseball League of the United States.

The Swiss Army was the last country to disband its bicycle infantry regiment, making it just into the 21st century to 2003.

The Great Kurultáj

This is a yearly event for descendants of Central Asian nomadic peoples in August. The name itself means "meeting of the tribes." The event began in 2007, after genetic evidence confirmed the shared heritage of Hungarians with a Kazakh tribe; the event was intended to strengthen cultural ties across Eurasian Steppe descendants. The Kurultáj evolved quickly into a yearly event with a yurt village, parade of horsemen, horse races, traditional horsemen wrestling, and various tournaments. Unsurprisingly, it is a popular event for horse enthusiasts and especially professional horseriders.

Math and Turtles

[embed][/embed] This shape was originally theorized by mathematicians in the 1990s but was not proven until 2006. Some turtles have evolved shapes similar to gömböcs! This allows them to flip over no matter how they land, and using little energy -- just gravity.

Inuit languages use a base-20 numeral system. This makes Arabic numbers with their base-10 numeral system difficult to learn and near-impossible to use for Inuit speakers. To address this problem students in Kaktovik, Alaska, invented a base-20 numeral notation in 1994. Twenty is written as a one and a zero (\ɤ), forty as a two and a zero (Vɤ), four hundred as a one and two zeros (\ɤɤ), etc. The Kaktovik numerals have quickly become popular and spread among the Alaskan Iñupiat.

Islamic Sicily Produced Wine

Grape residue has been detected in medieval containers unearthed in Sicily. Analysis of residues in the jars found molecules very similar to those produced by modern winemakers who use ceramic jars to ferment wine. This suggests wine was produced on the island during the Islamic period, from the 800s to 1100s CE.

Based on the new finds, it is thought that Muslims who ruled Sicily in the 800s CE produced and exported wine to boost trade and therefore their incomes. It seems unlikely the wine was produced for local consumption. This is because Muslims are prohibited from getting drunk, and by some interpretations of the Koran are prohibited from drinking any alcohol, meaning that alcohol consumption plays little role in Islamic life.

Especially exciting is how it was determined that the containers had held wine. “We had to develop some new chemical analysis techniques in order to determine that it was grape traces we were seeing and not some other type of fruit,” reported Léa Drieu of the University of York. The new test for grape products in ceramic containers could help researchers investigate wine production throughout the Mediterranean region.

The One Time Shouting In Church Was Good

The Second Vatican Council in 1962 was intended to address relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world. Near the end of the second session in 1964, a cardinal from Belgium asked the other bishops: "Why are we even discussing the reality of the church when half of the church is not even represented here?" He was referring to women -- not one woman was involved in the proceedings.

In response, 15 women were appointed as auditors in September 1964, and eventually 23 women were auditors at the Second Vatican Council, including 10 women in religious orders (i.e. nuns). The auditors had no official role in the deliberations. They did attend subcommittees working to draft documents, and met as a group once a week, to read draft documents and comment together on them.

The First Reindeer (In English)

'He was a very prosperous man in respect of those possessions that their wealth consists of, that is, of wild animals. When he sought the king, he still had six hundred domesticated animals unsold. These animals they called reindeer (hranas); six of them were stæl reindeer. They are very valuable [prized?] among the Finns (Finnas), since they [the Finns] catch the wild reindeer with them [stæl reindeer]'

This is the first written account of reindeer in English. It comes from King Alfred of Wessex's history, recording the visit of a Norwegian chieftain Ohthere (usually rendered Óttar in Old Norse) in the late 900s CE. In this particular passage the Ohthere is telling of his 'wealth' in a farmstead in northern Norway. It seems he has a herd of reindeer which have been domesticated by Finns and by this time brought to Norway. The word "reindeer" itself would not enter English until the 1400s.

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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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