Genetic Distances Across Eurasia

This is based on sections of DNA, selected at random from a group of ∼300 markers, all of which have are highly differentiated between populations across the world, and already tested on many populations.

Rare Ottoman Ivory Dagger Handle, circa 1500s

It is delicately carved in relief with arabesque designs of interlacing foliage.

In World War I, the German navy disguised one of their ships as a British ship, the RMS Carmania, and sent it to ambush British vessels. Unfortunately for the Germans, the very first British ship she encountered was the real RMS Carmania. Who promptly sank its doppelganger.

A 45-Day Storm Turned California Into a 300-Mile-Long Sea

For 43 days, from late 1861 to early 1862, it rained almost nonstop in central California. The flooding that the rain cause turned California's Central Valley into a 300-mile-long (480-km-long) sea. The state capital of Sacramento flooded, and on January 22, the California legislature had to be moved to San Francisco, where it stayed for six months as Sacramento dried out.

People's lives were destroyed as one in six Californian houses were gone, and many towns disappeared, swept away. The flood also decimated California's burgeoning economy. An estimated 200,000 cattle drowned, about a quarter of all the cattle in the ranching state -- the disaster shifted the California economy to farming and it never shifted back. It was also estimated that as much as a quarter of California's taxable property was destroyed, which bankrupted the state.

Very Early Mosque Found In Israel

The remains of a possible mosque dating to the 600s or 700s CE were discovered in the Negev Desert during construction work. The rectangular structure features a “mihrab,” or prayer niche, facing south toward Mecca. Local farmers are thought to have built the structure shortly after the Arab conquest of the region in 636 CE. That makes this potential mosque one of the earliest mosques in the world, maybe even built within twenty years of Muhammad's death!

Artistic Snobbery

Serious American artists during the Early American Period (1789 - 1815) thought that genre scenes were too mean and lowly for their talent. So major painters such as John Vanderlyn and Samuel Morse scorned the depicting of ordinary folk - except, said Vanderlyn, Italian peasants. With their lack of "fashion and frivolity," Italian peasants, Vanderlyn declared, were close enough to nature to possess a neoclassical universality that was worth depicting.

The Most Deadly War (Until World War II)

Did you make a guess? Okay, here's the answer: maybe the War of the Three Kingdoms, or the Mongol Conquests. Let's explain each of those in turn. First, what was the War of the Three Kingdoms? When the Han Dynasty lost its grip on power in about 184 CE, China was split into three kingdoms: Wei, Shu, and Wu. The three fought continuously from 184 until 280 CE, when the Jin Dynasty conquered Wu. Historians estimate that between 36 and 40 million people died in all the fighting which occurred during that 96-year period.

The Mongol Conquests are probably better-known to those reading this blog post in English. The long version of the Mongol Conquests dates from 1206 when Genghis Khan burst out of Mongolia's steppe heartland to 1368, when the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty of China fell. Historians estimate between 30 million and 40 million people were killed.

But what about the An Lushan Rebellion, some of you are saying? That rebellion against the Tang Dynasty, which dragged on for 7 years and three Tang emperors before it was finally over, cost somewhere between 13 and 36 million. That's a very wide range. On the upper end, that could top the War of the Three Kingdoms and the Mongol Conquests. But that's only if they are in the low end of their possible death tolls, and the An Lushan Rebellion is at the very highest end of its possible death toll. Of course, historical death counts are always guesswork, so it may be that an entirely different war actually takes the top prize!

For those who are curious, World War II killed at minimum 56,125,162 people.

The Face of a 2,000-Year-Old Woman

This is Meritamun. Her name means "beloved of Amun," the great Egyptian creator/sun god. She lived in ancient Egypt, sometime between 1500 BCE and 331 BCE, and was likely high status judging by the quality of the linens she was mummified with. Meritamun was between 18 and 25 when she died.

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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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