Humans Have Been Arguing About What Color to Paint the Walls Since 3,000 BCE

Humanity's ancestors 5,000 years ago brightened up their Stone Age homes by painting the insides, according to new archaeological evidence from the Orkney Islands in Britain. They used red, yellow and orange pigments from ground-up minerals and bound it with animal fat and eggs to make their paint. Because who wants to live in a plain stone hut, even in 3,000 BCE? The new Orkney finds are the earliest ever example of man using paint to decorate their properties in Britain, if not in Europe.

This is what bananas used to look like! When it was first domesticated, between 10,000 and 7,000 years ago, Papua New Guineas were eating a very different thing than we eat today. Today’s sweet, seedless bananas are the result of thousands of years of cross-pollinating and selective breeding.

A magnificent tomb has been found at Hala Sultan Tekke/Dromolaxia Vizatzia, on Cyprus. It was just outside a newly discovered city quarter, dating to around 1,250 BCE, during the late Bronze Age. Inside were buried eight children ages 5 to 10 years old, and nine adults, the oldest adult being about 40 years old. Which tells you what life expectancy was like on Cyprus at the time.

The tomb is unusual for being outside the city, when most burials were in the city itself, and for the richness of its contents. The family was buried in style. They were laid to rest with over 100 ceramic vessels, several gold objects, and a number of imported goods including scarabs from Egypt, pottery from Turkey and Greece and Crete, and gemstones and cylinder seals from Syria and Mesopotamia. Of particular interest are the intact ceramics. They hold a lot of archaeological information, from what high-class pottery looked like in Mycenae at this time, to what wealthy women were wearing. Click through the image gallery to see some of the finds!

Walking in an Iron Age Swedish Hillfort

Ever wondered what Uppsala looked like back in the Iron Age? Now you can see for yourself -- a game designer and artist has re-created what the hillfort looked like, based on current archaeological research. Even the plants are based on species native to the area!

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

An extremely traditional Mesoamerican foodstuff, tamales have been cooked since at least 1500 BCE. Some evidence actually points to as long ago as 8000 BCE! The word itself is derived from the Nahuatl word for “wrapped food” (tamalii), and the correct singular form is tamal. But tamales are much, much older than the Aztec name we call them.

The forest in Korup National Park, in Cameroon, is Africa's oldest remaining forest at over 60 million years old! It is home to over 1,000 known species of plants. And if you're not into nature, there are over 90 plants with known medicinal value in Korup, and more that scientists are currently exploring -- including one, Ancistrocladus korupensis, which may be able to fight HIV!

Archaeologists have known that cats and humans have had a relationship that goes back a long ways -- eight to ten thousand years, to give numbers. That's about when agriculture first appeared in the Fertile Crescent. However, actually domestication of cats took longer. And that's just what the cats wanted.

A new study by the University of Leuven and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences used DNA to look closely at cat domestication. They found that full domestication was slow. DNA samples from 200 cats dating across the past 9,000 years revealed modern domestic cats come from two lineages of Felis silvestris lybica, a subspecies of wildcat. The first lineage was an Asian population, which likely were mousers for Fertile Crescent granaries. These cats traveled with humans into Europe as early as 4,400 BCE.

The second feline lineage was traced back to ancient Egypt. The cat-worshippers. This lineage came to Europe around 1,500 BCE. When the Asian and the African lineages met, they began to mix, and develop into the domestic cat we would recognize today.

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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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