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Queen Puabi, who lived during the First Dynasty of the ancient Sumerian city of Ur, was a highly respected woman. Her exact status is a bit unclear. She was referred to as "nin" a term which could mean queen but could also mean priestess. Her cylinders' seal does not place her in relation to any king or husband, as was typical for other consorts, which supports the theory that Puabi ruled on her own.
Whatever her exact status, when she died around 2600 BCE she was buried in a lavish tomb in the royal cemetery. She was laid to rest with elaborate head pieces and jewelry, a magnificent lyre decorated with a blue-bearded bull, a chariot adorned with lionesses' heads in silver, and many more grave goods made of precious metals and stones.
A number of “death pits” were also found outside of the chambers as well as above Puabi’s chamber. While it is not 100% clear that the death pits were created at the time of Puabi's burial, it seems likely given their positioning. The largest and most well-known death pit held 74 attendants, 6 men and 68 women, all adorned with various gold, silver, and lapis decoration, and one female figure that appeared to be more elaborately adorned than the others. Perhaps the "death pit" was for this lady, not Puabi?
It is certain that some human sacrifices were conducted to accompany Puabi, though. In Puabi’s burial chamber, the remains of three other people were found. And the pit found directly above Puabi’s chamber contained 21 attendants, and no high-status person they might have been sacrificed for. Which leaves Puabi.
You have almost certainly seen the artwork of Keith Haring. But you might not have realized it was made by him. Here's a great little article to introduce you to this pop style artist who was everywhere in the 1980s.
The skulls of two juvenile duck-billed dinosaurs (Hypacrosaurus stebingeri), shelved after their discovery in the 1980s, have something that looks a lot like DNA. There are many tiny circular structures at the back - some linked together, others standing apart, frozen as they were when the animals fossilized. Several of these circles contained a dark material reminiscent of a nucleus, and others held tangled coils resembling chromosomes. "I'm not even willing to call it DNA because I'm cautious, and I don't want to overstate the results," said the team's molecular paleontologist Mary Schweitzer. "There is something in these cells that is chemically consistent with and responds like DNA."
In a fun bit of history news, a secret passageway into the British House of Commons has been found! The passageway dates to 1660 and the coronation of King Charles II. Sadly, it leads nowhere interesting. The passageway is simply an extra way from a corridor to the House of Commons. It was in use for almost 300 years, until it was enclosed and forgotten during World War II.
During the renovation of Jambukeswarar Temple, a temple to Shiva in southern India, workers uncovered a sealed brass pot. The workers alerted local authorities after they opened the pot and discovered 505 gold coins. The temple is believed to have been built during the Chola Period around 200 CE. The coins are currently being examined to determine how old they are, and when in the temple’s history they were hidden.
The Canada's southern Yukon is an unlikely square mile of sand dunes called the Carcross Desert. It was once the bottom of a large glacial lake, which made the sand. When the glaciers retreated, the lake lost much of its water, and the sandy lake bottom was left behind. Strong winds from nearby Lake Bennett have constantly buffeted the sands making it difficult for plants to become established. So the mini-desert remains un-reclaimed by the northern wilderness. (And if you want to be technical, the "Carcross Desert" is not a desert, because the local climate is too humid to qualify.)
On January 26th, 1700, a major earthquake occurred off today's western coast of Canada and the US, with an estimated moment magnitude of 8.7–9.2. It entered Native American oral history, of course, as a major event. But they did not use written records, nor the (European) Gregorian Calendar. How do modern historians then know the precise date of the earthquake? Well, it comes from a combination of records. The earthquake caused a tsunami which struck the coast of Japan, who recorded the day it hit and the magnitude of the waves. The earthquake also impacted tree rings in the Pacific Northwest, which modern scientists can use to estimate year and time of year. Between the Native American oral histories, the Japanese records, and the tree rings, historians are pretty sure they have the date right!
First opened in 1805, the Maine Avenue Fish Market in Washington, DC, is the oldest fish market in the United States.
The 1950s hit song “Splish Splash” (I Was Takin’ A Bath) was written because Murray Kaufman bet Bobby Darin that he could not write a song beginning with the words, "Splish Splash, I was takin' a bath." So Darin wrote the song.