Giovanni Belzoni, an early Egyptologist, wrote in 1821 what it was like to enter an Egyptian tomb:



I sought a resting place, found one and contrived to sit; but when my weight bore on the body of a dead Egyptian, it crushed it like a band box. Naturally I had recourse to my hands to sustain my weight, but they found no better support; so that I collapsed together among the broken mummies with such a crash of bones, rags and wooden cases as kept me motionless for a quarter of an hour, waiting until it subsided again. I could not remove from the place, however, without increasing it and every step I took I crushed a mummy in some place or another… Thus I proceeded from one cave to another, all full of mummies piled up in various ways, some standing, some lying and some on their heads.


This buffoon was known as the "Great Belzoni" and is still considered a pioneer archaeologist in the study of ancient Egypt. Seriously, read his wikipedia page, I couldn't believe it either.

Niels Bohr is best remembered as a physicist, who figured out the structure of atoms. But did you know he also played on the Danish National Soccer/Football Team?

Laura Scudder created the first modern bag of potato chips in 1953. Previously, they were sold out of wooden barrels or scooped from behind glass counters.

Boxing great Muhammad Ali suffered from Parkinson's disease later in life. Ali's doctors traced it back to the repeated head injuries he had received in the ring, a condition that came to be called "pugilistic parkinsonism."

A Big Oops

On December 28th, 1612, the Italian astronomer and philosopher Galileo Galilei became the first man to observe the planet Nepture. He thought it was a star.

The Summer That India and Pakistan Terrified The World

India tested its first bomb in 1974. Pakistan tested their first in 1998, trying to catch up to their rival. And it was not long before Pakistan was threatening to use it. In May of 1999, the two nations were in the middle of a border war. The Pakistani army crossed into Indian-controlled Kashmir, and got ready its nuclear weapons, with official pronouncements like "[Pakistan will] not hesitate to use any weapon in its arsenal to protect its territorial integrity." The world was very afraid that India and Pakistan would start a war that, for the first time, would involve nuclear weapons being actively used.

But there was more, and it was even more terrifying. When US President Bill Clinton attempted to mediate the crisis he found out that the Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, did not know that his country's nuclear arsenal had been deployed! Sharif ordered the Pakistani ary to withdraw in July of 1999. The threat of a nuclear war was no longer immediate. After the crisis, it came out that the decision to deploy the nuclear arsenal may have been taken unilaterally by the head of the Army Staff, Pervez Musharraf, without informing his government. And though India and Pakistan's longstanding hatred has not heated up to that level since -- but nuclear weapons are now on the table, and given what has happened in the past, it is enough to make anyone uneasy about what could happen in the future.

Want To Impress A Lover? Pig Testicles Will Do The Trick!

Boiled catnip and dried ground pig testicles mixed with wine were among the recipes recommended to fix male infertility during the Medieval Period, an academic in England has discovered. Based on English and Latin texts from the period, the new research also shows that women were not always blamed for infertility, as has previously been thought.

Derbent, Russia's Oldest City

Located on a narrow strip of land between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains in the far western end of Eurasia, is the city of Derbent. With a history going back by five thousand years, Derbent is said to be Russia’s oldest city. It is also the southernmost city in Russia. Derbent’s position between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus mountains is strategically important in the entire Caucasus region. It is one of only two crossings over the mountain range; the other being over the Darial Gorge. This position has allowed the rulers of Derbent to control land traffic between the Eurasian Steppe and the Middle East and levy taxes on passing merchants. In fact, the city’s present-day name comes from the Persian word Darband which means “barred gate”.

Being at such a strategic location, it has long been a target, or a prize, of states with imperial ambitions. The city was historically an Iranian city, and its first intensive settlement in the 800s BCE was Persian. The city’s modern name came into use during the 500s CE, when the city was re-established by the Sassanid dynasty of Persia. In 654 CE, Derbent came under the hands of the Arabs. They called the city Bab al-Abwab, or “the Gate of Gates”, signifying its strategic importance. The Arabs transformed the city into an important administrative center and introduced Islam to the area. After the Arabs, the region came under the Armenians who established a kingdom there which lasted until the Mongol invasion in the early 1200s. After the Mongols, Derbent changed hands relatively quickly, given its history, coming under the rule of the Shirvanshahs (a dynasty in modern Azerbaijan), the Iranians and the Ottomans before finally being ceded to the Russian Empire as part of the end of the Russo-Persian War.

Steve McQueen turned down leading roles in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Apocalypse Now, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Dirty Harry, The French Connection, and Breakfast at Tiffany's.

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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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