Giant Mosaic from the 500s in Hatay, Turkey

At 1,200 square meters, it is believed to be the largest single-piece ground mosaic today. Archaeologists uncovered it after the mosaic was discovered where a hotel was to be constructed. Based on its size and location, it is theorized that the mosaic once covered a public space, such as a town square.

The White Australia Policy

Prior to 1901 the Australian colonies had seen a growth in non-White migration, especially during the gold rushes as many migrants arrived to seek their fortune. Reactions of White Australians to this trend were overwhelmingly negative. Immigrants were seen as responsible for lowering wages, as immigrants began leaving the gold rush towns for the cities -- although none of the Australian businesspeople lowering those wages seemed to get in trouble.

So in 1901, Australia's parliamen passed a national Immigration Restriction Act. It strongly limited non-British immigrants through a dictation test and giving immigration officers broad powers to declare a person was "undesirable" for their country of origin, possible criminal record, medical record, or simple "moral unfitness." The attorney-general stated that the act "… means the prohibition of all alien coloured immigration, and more, it means at the earliest time, by reasonable and just means, the deportation or reduction of the number of aliens now in our midst. The two things go hand in hand, and are the necessary complement of a single policy — the policy of securing a ‘white Australia’."

The immigration restriction act did what it was supposed to do, with Asian populations dipping from 1.25% in 1901 (yes, it was that low when the law was passed) to 0.21% in the late 1940s. Labor shortages during World War II led to slightly easing of restrictions. Initially, the government began allowing more non-British Europeans to immigrate, because these "Beautiful Balts" still looked like the Australian fantasy of Whiteness. But Australia's demographic problems continued, and further restrictions were lifted, until in 1975 the full Immigration Restriction Act was eliminated.

The Odd Story of a Pope Chosen by a Dove

Pope Fabian was elected bishop of Rome in 236 under...unusual circumstances. Here is how it went down, according to Eusebius of Caesarea, writing in the 300s:

After the short reign of Pope Anterus, Fabian had come to Rome from the countryside when the new papal election began. "Although present," says Eusebius, Fabian "was in the mind of none." While the names of several illustrious and noble churchmen were being considered over the course of thirteen days, a dove suddenly descended upon the head of Fabian. To the assembled electors, this strange sight recalled the gospel scene of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at the time of his baptism by John the Baptist. The congregation took this as a sign that he was marked out for this dignity, and Fabian was at once proclaimed bishop by acclamation.

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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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