During the silent film era in Japan, movie theaters would have narrators called "benshi." They would provide an introductory mini-lecture on the film's setting, read on-screen titles, and voice all the characters while the film was playing on the screen. Some even provided their own commentary on what was happening, for instance reciting a poem during an emotionally moving visual. Benshi cold be women or men, and were very important for the movie-goers' experience. Of course some were better than others. In fact, particularly good benshi became famous in their own right, and would be advertised on movie posters!

Amazons Were Real

Recent archaeological work at Scythian graves in the 400s BCE suggest Scythian women may have been the real-life inspiration for the Greek's myths about Amazons. The Scythians, like the Amazons, enjoyed outdoor life, sexual freedom, hunting, and warfare. And the ancient Greeks knew about the Scythians, with historian Herodotus describing how Scythian women fought alongside men on horseback.

Now, the evidence is mounting from archaeological investigations of the Scythians. Since the 1940s, archaeologists have been excavating Scythian burial mounds, or kurgans. They have found many examples of women buried with the same funerary rites as men. In addition, some women were buried with their legs bent, as if astride a horse. And in their tombs were spears, axes, arrows, and horses. In fact, about one-third of Sccythian women found in burials have been found with weapons.

The remains themselves also point towards their warrior prowess. Slashed ribs, broken arms, and fractured skulls demonstrate that these women fought, and sometimes died from their battle wounds. The archaeology supports ancient Greek written accounts. Amazons were real, and they were Scythian.

A map of the entire internet, as it was in May 1973. Back then, the World Wide Web was known as the ARPANET, and consisted of just 42 computer hosts connected to 36 nodes spread across the US. Lightning bolts indicate satellite connections. How many of the locations can you recognize? Ames, for instance, was the NASA Ames Research Center.

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.

The average human temperature has decreased by about 1.5 degrees F. The standard of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit was made famous by German physician Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich, who published the figure in a book in 1868. However, it is now too high. A recent study, for example, found the average temperature of 25,000 British patients to be 97.9 F. The decrease in average body temperature is believed to be related to increased average healthiness.

Russia’s Historical Gender Disparity

You probably know that the Soviet Union was particularly badly hit -- numerically -- by World War II. It lost about 24 million people, compared to the next-highest Germany's 6.6 to 8.8 million dead. This being wartime, many more Soviet men died compared to Soviet women. And did you know that the gender disparity has never corrected? For the past seventy-five years, the Soviet Union and now Russia has always had more women than men. And by a large margin. Today, there are 1,159 women for every 1,000 men in Russia.

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.

The earliest recorded use of "motherfucker" is from an 1889 Texas court case. The defendant was accused of murdering a man who witnesses described as cursing out the defendant "promiscuosly" for days before he turned up dead. In fact, just an hour before the murder, three witnesses testified that they heard the victim call the defendant a “God damned mother-f—cking, bastardly son-of-a-bitch.” Of the four curses in that statement, only motherfucking was censored. So that tells you how bad of a curse it was already considered to be.

Where Is Eden?

In the 1600s, European scholars had a thing about discovering the geographic location of Eden. In 1694 the French bishop Pierre-Daniel Huet explained it was necessary because “Atheists and scoffers...demand, What’s become of paradise? Shew us the place in the Maps?” Huet wrote a book about it, A Treatise of the Situation of the Terrestrial Paradise, and concluded that Eden was near the Persian Gulf.

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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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