A head in the Ecuadorian Chorrera art style. Circa 300 BCE to 600 CE. This was a time of social, political, economic, and artistic innovations in the region, prompted by agricultural improvements and a growing population. New settlements and towns, with ever-larger numbers of inhabitants, triggered the need for methods to manage village life and ensure the well-being of the community, which, in turn, led to greater social hierarchy. Hand-in-hand with the growing social complexity was the appearance of more complex religious practices. Both developments encouraged the desire for novel artworks to express the new sociopolitical and spiritual ideologies that characterize this dynamic time throughout ancient Ecuador.

The earlier Valdivia figurine tradition developed into an elaborate figural art form with such novel artistic expressions as the elegant, mold-made sculptures of the Jama Coaque and La Tolita styles of Ecuador's northwestern coastal region. This particular figure likely is an example of La Tolita style, which is differentiated by its heightened naturalism.

New Evidence of a Lost Kingdom

Radiocarbon dating of peach pits from the site of Makimuku, in Nara Prefecture, Japan, have added to the speculation that Makimuku was the site of legendary lost kingdom Yamataikoku. The peaches were ritually buried near a large ancient building sometime between 135 and 220 CE. Other artifacts were buried with the peaches, as well. Tamataikoku fourished under Queen Himiko in the 100s and 200s CE. Exactly when the peach pits were dated to. But all we know about Tamataikoku comes from ancient Chinese records. With little hard evidence, scholars have had plenty of room to debate its whereabouts. The new evidence is suggestive, but not conclusive, and the debate is sure to continue.

Cemetery, In Use For Thousands of Years, Excavated in Albania

An ancient cemetery containing layers of about 1,000 burials dating back to the Iron Age has been found in southeastern Albania. The cemetery was actually three cemeteries: one from the Iron Age, one late Roman, and one from the Middle Ages. And under the bottom layer of the cemetery were what appears to be a Neolithic settlement. Archaeologists found holes in the ground, which supported the now-rotted wooden skeletons of small huts.

The Cruel Chinese Emperor Who Became A Cannibal When Drunk

Sun Hao ruled as emperor of Eastern Wu from 264-280 CE as “the number one tyrant of that era.” The last Eastern Wu emperor during the Three Kingdoms period, his reign ended the kingdom. Sun Hao was poor at administration, cruel, and generally unfit to rule a village. Among other vices he was often drunk and, like many heavy drinkers, liked others to get drunk with him too.

At one banquet, Sun Hao became angry because one of his counselors pretended to be drunker than he was. Sun Hao became so angry that had the poor man beheaded on the spot. Sun Hao then ordered his guards to toss the head from one man to the next, each taking a bite until the flesh was stripped down to the skull.

Let's Learn About Mexico!

The birthplace of plant domestication in the Americas. The first New World country to gain independence from the Spanish Empire. The eleventh-largest country in the world, by population. Like the United States, Russia, and China, this is a country that any informed citizen should have at least a basic knowledge about.

Don't Mess With This Man

Two trophy heads are strung on the cords that criss-cross this Mexican man’s chest. His horned headdress suggests that he is a shaman or ruler, as both wore similar headdresses in his culture. Shamans were respected not just for their abilities to communicate with the spiritual world but also for their prowess as great warriors. And this man is showing, with his two trophy heads, that he was to be feared. Of course, rulers wanted to show their military prowess as well. So the trophy heads do not settle the question of shaman vs ruler.

During shamanistic rituals, religious men would drink hallucinogenic beverages. Perhaps to help them communicate with the world beyond? The cup this figure is drinking from really makes the argument that this was a shaman, not a ruler.

Circa 100 BCE - 300 CE.

War and Sacrifice by the Moche

Based on ceramics they left behind, here's a modern (somewhat fanciful) animated movie about the Moche. Also called the Mochica culture, the Moche flourished in northern Peru between 100 and 700 CE. They are known today for their sophisticated irrigation systems and beautiful painted ceramics.

The Creation of Rotterdam

What would become the important port city of Rotterdam has been inhabited since at least the Roman period. It was part of the frontier province Germania Inferior, and there is evidence of wooden locks, trenches, and ditches built by the Romans to control water levels. After the Romans withdrew in the second half of the 200s CE, the population steeply declined. Partially because sea levels rose, making much of the region uninhabitable.

It was not until 900 CE that pioneering farmers returned to the riverbanks of the Rotte River, or "Muddy Water" River. Archaeologists have found the remains of six farmsteads, dating from 950 to 1050 CE. Life in Rotta Village was difficult: flooding was always a threat, and attempts to drain the peat they farmed on just caused the ground level to sink when drained, making flooding even worse. Unable to make a living, Rotta Village was abandoned around 1050.

It was thanks to a local noble looking to protect his nearby lands that Rotterdam ever came to be. In the year 1270, the Count of Holland, Floris V, ordered the construction of a single sea wall to protect the region from floods. The resulting dike was 1,300 feet long, 23 feet wide, and nearly five feet high. It was constructed across the Rotte River, not far from the now-abandoned Rotta Village.

A town sprang up after the dike was built. Because it was close to the North Sea and the River Rotte, the area was between two trade systems: the Baltic Region which included Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, and the north Atlantic coastal area, which included France, England, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Because the new dike blocked direct passage to the Rotte River, traders had to unload their goods and reload them on the other side, or temporarily store them in Rotterdam. This made Rotterdam an important port and market for staple goods, such as beer and textiles, which people had to buy no matter the difficulty in getting it across the dike. It also developed a fishing industry, selling its herring along the trade systems it linked. And the rest, as they say, is history!

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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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