Mark Twain once entered a contest that offered $10 for the best original poem on the topic of spring, “no poem to be considered unless it should possess positive value.” He submitted this and took the prize.

Jerusalem circa 1000 BCE, in the united Kingdom of Israel

This reconstruction based on the archaeological record highlights how difficult, and important, getting water was at the top of a hill in of a dry subtropical climate.

The Mysterious Religion of Carthage

Carthage's beliefs originated from its founding civilization, Phoenicia, but Carthage developed its own version of the Phoenician pagan polytheistic religion. This video has a nice overview of the city's religious origins, their pantheon, and their religious practices.

The Odd Relationship between Malaysia and South Africa

Malaysia invested heavily in South Africa's economy post-Apartheid. Between 1995 and 1997, the principal sources of direct foreign investment in South Africa were first the United States and then, surprisingly, Malaysia, followed by Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Apartheid had been a major foreign policy priority for Malaysia in the 1980s and early 1990s. The Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad had pushed for international cooperation in sanctioning South Africa, while providing support to the African National Congress, the opposition party in South Africa. Nelson Mandela even visited Malaysia for four days within a year of his release from prison. With such a background, it was natural for Malaysia to transition to supporting South Africa after the end of Apartheid.

However, that does not explain why Malaysia cared about South Africa's Apartheid in the first place. This was part of Malaysia's larger policy (since the 1960s) in "south-south cooperation." They thought it important for post-colonial countries to help each other and reduce their dependency on industrialized nations. South-south cooperation also was tied to Malaysia's active involvement in the Non-Aligned Movement. If post-colonial countries worked together, it would strengthen countries' ability to stay out of Cold War entanglements with the US or the USSR.

Extreme sports went from the fringes to more widely known (and popular) in 1995 thanks to ESPN hosting the first X Games.

An Anecdote on Shakespeare, the Mexican-American War, and the Male Psyche

In 1845 the US President James Polk ordered about half of the United States army to enter Texas, then an independent country the US had just annexed, and set up camp north of the new Mexican border. Polk wanted to provoke Mexico into attacking and starting a war. The army was basically told to mass just close enough to Mexican border to be worrisome, then stay put and do nothing. As you can imagine the men started drinking, fighting, and generally behaving like bored young men. Their officers decided to curb the rowdy behavior by...building a theater and staging Shakespeare plays! Only logical solution, really.

The first play planned was Othello. They found an officer, Porter, to play the lead role, but then there was a problem: who could play Desdemona? The officers eventually discovered a slim, girlish officer who everyone acknowledged looked great in a dress. His name was Ulysses S Grant. So this is the story of how the man who would become the general that led the Union Army in the American Civil War, then led the country as president through the start of Reconstruction after slavery was abolished, spent time rehearsing what it would be like to be a white woman in love with a black man.

In the end Porter could not handle playing Othello opposite Grant as Desdemona, and they brought in an actress from New Orleans. Makes you think about American society's willingness to accommodate male fragility around their sexuality.

Saying Goodbye to a Friend, 1918

Notice the noses! Despite the attempt at preventing the spread of the flu, their masks do not cover their noses and they are standing quite near each other. Unfortunately, they do not seem to be aware that despite their precautions, their noses meant the flu could still be exchanged.

New Discovery in the Heart of the Roman Forum

An intriguing stone sarcophagus has been found in an underground chamber lying below what was once the steps into the Curia Julia, or the Roman senate house, in the Roman Forum. The Curia Julia was built by Julius Caesar in 44 BCE as a new and modern senate house. But the sarcophagus and stone cylinder in front of it have been dated to as early as the late 500s BCE, based on studying the layers of the forum.

The combination of the sarcophagus and the cylinder suggest the cylinder could be an alter. Potentially even a symbolic tomb or shrine to the legendary founder of Rome, Romulus, at the center of the city that he founded. Similar monuments to mythic founders or ancient heros are known to have existed in other cities in the Graeco-Roman world. Excavations were due to continue in April 2020, which might have revealed more about the rediscovered chamber...but, well...

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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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