Russia Leads The World With Their National Parks

In the final months of Nicholas II's reign as czar, he created the country's first zapovednik, or "strict nature reserve," near Lake Baikal in Siberia. He never knew that the reserve succeeded in saving the Barguzin sable, a species long prized by the Russian imperial family for its fur, which was nicknamed "soft gold." The czars were overthrown but their approach to nature conservancy stayed. Throughout the 1900s, Russia's approach to protected lands was to keep humans out of them, not save them as pleasure parks. Nature reserve were intended to preserve primordial nature.     Today, Russia has 174 million acres of federally protected lands. Of those, 85 million are zapovedniks, where human visitors are extremely limited. No other country has as much highly protected land.

DNA Ends A Century-Long Debate

DNA testing on the mummies of two elite men, Khnum-nakht and Nakht-ankh, finally clears up what their relationship was. The mummies died around 1800 BCE, and were buried in a joint tomb at Deir Rifeh, which was discovered in 1907.     Since their discovery, there has been a debate about how the mummies were related. Though they share a tomb, there are many suggestions that the two were not normal brothers. Their inscriptions state they had the same mother but one has listed both a father and grandfather, the other just a father. The two bodies were mummified using different methods. Facial reconstructions from their skulls in the 1970s revealed they looked extremely different, with "almost a total anatomical difference between the features of the two." Because of these differences, some thought one of the brothers was adopted, and they were not biologically related. Others thought the mother could have remarried, hence the different fathers and anatomies.     Now those debates can be ended. The two were half-brothers, sharing the same mother. Their mitochondrial DNA (from their mothers) were similar, suggesting one mother, but their y-chromosome DNA (from their fathers) showed variations suggesting two different fathers. Presumably, the mother remarried at some point, but the brothers were raised together and eventually buried together.

How Much Is This Teapot Worth?

A cracked teapot missing its lid recently sold to the Metropolitan Museum in New York City for £460,000. It was bought recently at a British auction for just £15. What??? Turns out, this teapot was made in South Carolina in the late 1700s by John Bartlam, the first American porcelain manufacturer. This piece is only the seventh example of Bartlam porcelain to have been rediscovered. And it is the only known surviving Bartlam teapot. Making it worth a pretty penny!

A Samurai's Retirement Plan Found In Japan

  One of the biggest hoards of medieval coins in Japan has recently been found, in Saitama, just north of Tokyo. A ceramic jar filled with thousands of bronze coins was found at the site of a samurai's home. The jar appears to have been buried during the first half of 1400s.     It appears to contain at least 100,000 coins and maybe up to 260,000 -- depending on the interpretation of the wooden tablet which was found on the edge of the jar's lid. “Nihyaku rokuju” (260) had been written with an ink brush. The writer left off the what they were counting, though. 260 coins is laughably low, considering how many coins are in the jar. The archaeologist who announced the find thought the tablet likely left off "kan," or 1,000 coins; that means the jar was supposed to have held 260,000 coins. Quite a big nest egg!

Leonardo Da Vinci May Have Drawn The First Landscape In European Art

On August 5th, 1473, in his notebook with pen and ink, Leonardo da Vinci tried to depict a panorama of the rocky hills and lush, green valley surrounding the Arno River near Vinci. The aerial view was nothing he could have seen naturally. It was rather a fantasy of what birds might see, flying overhead -- but with some imaginative additions courtesy of Leonardo.     Other artists had drawn and painted landscapes as backdrops, but with the Arno River drawing, Leonardo was doing something different. He was drawing a landscape by itself, for its own beauty. This makes it a contender to be the first landscape in European art.

A Nomadic Kyrgyz Family, Resting On The Steppe Grasslands

The Kyrgyz are a Turkic ethnic group widely spread over the area of eastern Turkestan. The man, with weathered face, is dressed in a skullcap and a frayed traditional striped coat. He is burdened with padded blankets and probably a small tent. The woman, with brilliant white turban, wears a tattered cloak and carries smaller bundles of blankets and clothes. Their small boy wears a colorful skullcap and a sparkling green silk jacket in the Chinese style.     The photograph was taken by the Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) sometime between 1905 and 1911. He was attempting to document the expanse of what was then the Russian Empire. This photograph comes from his trips to Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states).

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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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