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.)

The Curious Case of the Cascadia Earthquake

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!

Fishy Business

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.

In North Korea, the supermarket escalator where Kim Jong Il was last seen in public has been turned into a shrine to his memory.

All Hail The Butterfly God

A Zapotec figural ceramic of the Butterfly God found at Monte Alban in Oaxaca, Mexico. 200 - 600 CE.

The Effort to Save Colombia's Underground Mountaintop Tombs

Scientists and conservators are finally able to return to what was once an Andean war zone. Tierradentro is a cluster of 162 burial chambers hewn from the peaks of four parallel mountains near the Andean town of Inza. They span a few miles of mountainous terrain, with the tomb entrances at the peaks.

These burials were created between 600 and 900 CE, before Spanish colonization, as “homes for the dead” of the ancient society’s elite class. Some are the size of a closet. Others are large, with multiple rooms. And every single burial chamber has beautiful, unique paintings. Read all about archaeologist's recent return to Tierradentro in an Atlas Obscura article

Stone Tools Show How Humans Survived The Supervolcano

Remember something about how at one points, humans were almost wiped out, with just 10,000 survivors of some great cataclysm? Maybe you even remember that the culprit has been named as the Toba Supervolcano's eruption about 74,000 years ago. But archaeological evidence is suggesting the cataclysm was not as bad as it was previously believed -- because human's material culture in Africa and Asia in the form of stone tools -- show continuity not disruption. And a recent excavation and analysis of an ancient and "unchanging" stone tool industry, uncovered at Dhaba in northern India, suggests instead that humans have been present in the Middle Son Valley for roughly 80,000 years, both before and after the Toba eruption. This just adds more support to the idea that the Toba Supervolcano was still a major event, but perhaps not the world-ender people had thought.

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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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