In A.H. 77–79/697–99 CE, the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan reformed Islamic coinage. He stopped using the styles of coins, with heads on one side and an image on the other, inherited from Byzantium and Sasanian Iran. Instead coins were decorated only with Arabic writing. Typically, the Muslim profession of the faith would appear in the field on the obverse, with the name of the mint in the margin. On the reverse of copper coins, the field would contain the name of the Prophet Muhammad, while the caliph’s name or that of a local ruler and the date would appear in the margin. The result was that coinage from the Islamic world took on a distinctive look and set of standard practices.

This jug's decoration of water birds and bending plants is an example of a particularly rare type of ceramic decoration. The jug is decorated in the "barbotine" technique, a style of decoration that is applied freehand using clay to create a raised design. Think icing applied to decorate a cake. Barbotine is very difficult to do well, and even when it is, requires much time. Thus there are few examples of barbotine techniques. Late 1st century BCE to early 1st century CE, Roman Empire.

Although the Mamluks were famously slave-soldiers who took over Egypt, you might not know they actually remained "slaves" even after seizing power. Slaves were taken, then raised in state barracks and trained according to their aptitude (soldiers, bureaucrats, administrators). Those positions were not available to the general public, as the state-raised slaves were seen as having no loyalty to their families, only the state. They were legally emancipated upon reaching the age of majority.

The smallest known whale to have ever lived, the Dwarf Sperm Whale, is not much larger than a person and is considered a little-understood species. This is despite having a range that includes all of the earth's oceans.

Has Your Country Been Led By A Woman?

Has Your Country Been Led By A Woman? The map is for each country’s most modern incarnation, e.g. it does not count the USSR for Russia. ​

Ancient Hominins Shared Their Homes

The remains of three groups of hominins found at the Drimolen Cave Complex in South Africa have been dated with electron spin resonance, paleomagnetism, and uranium-lead dating, and determined to all date to between 2.04 and 1.95 million years ago. The three groups of hominins belonged to Australopithecus (the group made famous by the "Lucy" fossil from Ethiopia), Paranthropus and Homo erectus (believed to be our direct ancestors before Homo Sapiens).

In other words? Three groups of hominins lived side-by-side. It underscores that the present situation, with just one hominin species dominating across locations and climates, is historically unusual.

The Homo erectus fossil is notable on its own, too. The two-million-year-old remains studied were from a Homo erectus child. The new dating places the remains at 100,000 to 200,000 years older than any other known Homo erectus fossils.

A Scary Fact

Humans have produced more plastic over the last decade (2010s) than was created in the entire 20th century.

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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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