God Created the World, But the Dutch Created the Netherlands

The famous Dutch saying is not very wrong. Since the 1200s, the Dutch have been slowly creating land from the sea. A large part of the Netherlands is below sea level. Without the existing dikes, about 65% of the country would be underwater. There's a reason the Netherlands are famous for their windmills: this revolutionary medieval technology was instrumental in allowing them to drain land. The windmills at the lower level will pump out the water to higher level, which is be pumped out again to a higher level. The windmill chain continues until the water is drained to a nearby river, where it can flow to the sea.

Beautiful Axe From A Danish Vikings' Tomb

In the winter of 970 to 971 CE, a Viking magnate was buried in a chamber grave in Mammen, Denmark. He lay on two down cushions inside a wooden coffin. It's important to be comfortable in your eternal resting place. With him were symbols of his power: an expensive outfit of red and purple silk with blue and red embroidery, a large wax candle, a bronze bucket and two wooden buckets, and a ceremonial axe inlaid with silver decorations.

What does his tomb tell us about this man? It is unclear if he was Christian or pagan. The decorations on the ceremonial axe could be interpreted either way, but the wax candle was likely a Christian symbol, so its more likely than not that he was Christian. The fine quality of his grave goods, and the timing of the burial, suggest the Viking belonged to the circle around King Harald Bluetooth.

Angola's flag features a machete and a star and...half-circle of a gear? The gear represents industrial workers, and the machete represents agricultural workers. The star represents socialism. Adopted in 1975, it was apparently a deliberate reference to the hammer and sickle on the Soviet Union's flag.

The Hitachi Tree

This is a beautiful, large monkeypod, with a distinctive umbrella-shaped canopy, growing in the middle of a grassy area in the middle of the Moanalua Gardens on Hawaii's Oahu island. The Moanalua Gardens are the childhood home of King Kamehameha V (ruled 1863 - 1872). Today, the gardens are home to a number of historic structures, such as the King’s cottage, a temple, a koi pond and many rare plants and trees. The Moanalua Gardens charge visitors a modest entrance fee which goes towards maintenance. But most of the garden's costs are paid for by the Japanese Hitachi corporation. Because of that beautiful monkeypod tree.

Since 1973, Hitachi Corporation has been using images and footage of this tree—now known as “Hitachi Tree”—as their corporate symbol. According to their website, the tree symbolizes the “comprehensive drive” and the “wide business range” of the Hitachi Group.

Did You Know Tibet Has A Sacred Skeleton Dance?

It a sacred Tibetan dance ritual, coming from Himalayan Buddhist traditions. It reflects how everything is transitory including one’s body. The monk pictured in the above photo seems to be performing the dance known as Durdak Garcham, or “Dance of the Lords of the Cemetery.” Durdak Garcham celebrates the liberation that comes from acceptance of our impermanence. Traditionally danced by a couple, the Lord and Lady of the Charnel Ground, they dance the eternal dance of death. And, it is hoped, their dance ends with the attainment of perfect consciousness which frees one from the dance forever.

Taken in 1925, these two photographs were published in National Geographic in its November 1928 issue.

Oldest Smiley Face Found On Bronze Age Hittite Jug

The Hittite Empire held sway over much of Anatolia and modern Syria between ~1600 BCE and 1100 BCE. They are credited with starting the Iron Age in the Mediterranean region, and being the first in the region to use chariots for warfare. And now, they may be credited with inventing the smiley face!

A ceramic jug, dating to about 1,700 BCE, was found during excavations at the Hittite city of Karkemish along the border of Turkey and Syria. When it was pieced back together, archaeologists were surprised to see a smiley face smiling back at them. It was used for drinking sherbet, a sweet drink commonly enjoyed in the Middle East as a dessert. Which supports the marks being a smile. With no other examples of such marks from that period, however, interpretations must be made cautiously.

Goldworking Is Ancient Technology In The Americas

Gold was probably the first metal to be exploited in the Andes, by the end of the 2nd millennium BCE. From there, the archaeological record suggests goldworking then traveled north, reaching Central America in the first centuries CE, and Mexico by about 1000 CE.

This particular necklace is from the Chavin Civilization, which developed in the northern Andean highlands of Peru from about 900 BCE to about 200 BCE. That sounds old, but relatively speaking, that is not old at all. Gold had already been mined and worked in the Andes for a thousand years when the Chavin arrived on the scene.

A Linguistic Mix-Up

This newspaper report is false. In 1844, British general Sir Charles Napier was criticized in Parliament for his ruthless campaign to take the Indian province of Sind. On hearing this, 16-year-old schoolgirl Catherine Winkworth “remarked to her teacher that Napier’s despatch to the Governor General of India, after capturing Sind, should have been Peccavi (Latin for ‘I have sinned’).” She sent this immortal pun to Punch, which unfortunately printed it as a factual report.

The Ottoman Australia

From an Ottoman Empire atlas published in 1803. Notice how the island of Tasmania is part of the mainland -- Australia had been added to western maps for only a few decades at this point.

Two Gentlemen in a Biplane over the Los Angeles Beach, May 1911

Or...are they? This is actually a faked picture! Notice how no one on the beach are looking at the plane flying just above them. The gentlemen are also slightly too large compared to the people on the beach, and they do not have a motorway to take off from.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • >
  • Leave us a message


    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!

    Website design and coding by the Amalgama

    About us X