The Tabnit sarcophagus is the sarcophagus of the Phoenician king Tabnit (Tennes) of Sidon (circa 490 BCE). It has an inscription in hieroglyphics on the main body and in Phoenician below that. The hieroglypics tell us the sarcophagus was originally intended for the Egyptian general Pen-Ptah. This sarcophagus, as well as the sarcophagus used by Tabnit's son Eshmunazar II, were possibly acquired by the Sidonians following their participation in the Battle of Pelusium in 525 BCE, when the Persian Empire conquered Egypt.

Aegina: A Forgotten Ancient Power

Aegina was a very important Greek city-state that is almost totally forgotten today. Partially because they were a big player in Greece before Athens, and most of what we know about Aegina is from Athenian records and archaeological studies.

As an island, Aegina was situated between Attica and the Peloponnese, making it a useful island for traders since prehistoric times. There is archaeological evidence of Minoan and Mycenaeans trading with or living on the island. It was really during Archaic Greek period (900s BCE - 480 BCE) that the city-state became a naval powerhouse. It was the first mainland European power to mint its own coins, within 30 or 40 years of the invention of coinage in Asia Minor. It was one of just three city-states, and the only mainland Greek one, trading at and owning a share of the mighty emporium of Naucratis in Egypt. It was a hub for grain from the Pontus region -- food is power, and Pontic grains was so important that Athens would later enforce a monopoly on it.

But to really understand how much of a big-time Aegina was, look at its weights system. The Aeginetic standard of weights and measures (developed during the mid-600s) was one of the two standards in general use in the Greek world. It is like the British Empire making other countries measure in pounds and miles.

This 18th-century Qing Dynasty vase is in the form of a bronze gu (an ancient Chinese ritual bronze vessel from the Shang and Zhou Dynasties used to drink). Circa 1736 - 1795 CE.

Only one British Prime Minister has ever been assassinated. Spencer Percival was shot on May 11th, 1812 by John Bellingham, a Liverpool merchant. Bellingham who had been imprisoned in Russia and believed he was due compensation from the British government, but whose petitions had been denied for 2 years.

Kʼinich Janaabʼ Pakal, or "Pakal the Great" reigned over the Maya city-state of Palenque in the Late Classic period, from July of 615 to August of 683 CE. His 68-year-reign is the fourth-longest verifiable reign in history. It is also the longest in the history of the Americas.

Black Plague's "Family Tree" Reconstructed

In the 1300s, the Black Plague swept through Europe. To create a "family tree" of the plague, scientists conducted a genetic analysis of Yersinia pestis strains taken from 34 individuals who died in 10 different countries between 1300 and 1700. The results suggest that over time, the bacteria Yersinia pestis mutated and diversified into multiple clades. All the clades found in the study were related to back to one ancestral strain. That suggests that the Black Plague entered Europe just once. And the oldest strain, the one that appeared to have been the others’ ancestor, was from remains found in a little Russian town named Laishevo.

Here’s where a caution must be added. Such analyses are always limited by the available bacteria strains -- the family tree will be added to over time as more bodies are recovered and more bacteria strains isolated.

Why Were The Terms "Axis" and "Allied" Used For World War II?

The terms "Axis" and "Allies" were in use by each side even before World War II. Mussolini began using the term "axis" in 1923 when he was trying to secure political support from the Weimar Republic against Yugoslavia and Belgrade's French ally during the Italo-Yugoslav Fiume Crisis. To roughly translate his Italian, Mussolini declared that "there is no doubt that the axis of European history passes through Berlin" (non v'ha dubbio che in questo momento l'asse della storia europea passa per Berlino). When Japan was added to the international alliance Tokyo was added to the "axis." (Picture a line going north from Rome through Germany, over the North Pole, and landing in Tokyo.) In Italian literature, you will sometimes find it referred to as The RoBerTo Axis, Rome-Berlin-Tokyo.

Allies has a less interesting history. It was simply reused from the last war.

Victorians Also Loved Sensationalized Murders

During the Victorian Era, not-unusual collectibles were figurines of serial killers. Examples include the Red Barn Murder, the Murders at Stanfield Hall, the Bermondsey Horror, and William Palmer, who was nicknamed “The Prince of Poisoners.”


"How could there be unbroken eggs under a toppled nest?"

This supposed quote is a Chinese idiom. It means that when a group suffers, all individuals belonging to that group will also suffer.

The idiom has a rather sad origin story. When the scholar-official Kong Rong spoke ill of the warlord Cao Cao in 208 CE, he was arrested and later executed on such charges as, among others, "plotting a rebellion", "slandering the imperial court" and "disrespecting court protocol." Kong Rong had two children. When they heard their father had been arrested, others urged them to escape, but they answered "How could there be unbroken eggs under a toppled nest?" They were not wrong; Kong Rong's entire family was executed on Cao Cao's orders.

Japanese Tobacco Box, circa 18th Century

What makes this box particularly ironic is that at the time, no one knew tobacco’s connection with cancer and ill-health. It was just an interesting box that happened to be for holding tobacco!

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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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