A Samurai's Retirement Plan Found In Japan

  One of the biggest hoards of medieval coins in Japan has recently been found, in Saitama, just north of Tokyo. A ceramic jar filled with thousands of bronze coins was found at the site of a samurai's home. The jar appears to have been buried during the first half of 1400s.     It appears to contain at least 100,000 coins and maybe up to 260,000 -- depending on the interpretation of the wooden tablet which was found on the edge of the jar's lid. “Nihyaku rokuju” (260) had been written with an ink brush. The writer left off the what they were counting, though. 260 coins is laughably low, considering how many coins are in the jar. The archaeologist who announced the find thought the tablet likely left off "kan," or 1,000 coins; that means the jar was supposed to have held 260,000 coins. Quite a big nest egg!

Sumerians At Sea

The ancient Sumerians are known for having created one of the earliest agricultural civilizations in the world. A new discovery in southern Iraq suggests they also conducted some of the earliest maritime trade.Remains of brick ramparts, docks, and an artificial basin created to be the town's port have been found at the site of Abu Tbeirah since 2016. That suggests they knew how to build boats and fish, at least. But what about maritime trade?

At the same site, researchers found some unusual artifacts that show the ancient Sumerians almost certainly had long-distance contacts, likely by sea. Vases made of alabaster, a stone not found in Mesopotamia. Carnelian beads from India. A necklace in the style of the Indus River Valley; the Indus River Valley civilization flourished at the same time as Sumer.

Ancient Sumerian texts mainly talk about agriculture, and little about maritime trade. The is understandable. Agriculture required the most organization, and effort by the state. Archaeology is uncovering a relatively hidden aspect of  ancient Sumerian life. They had farmers, yes, but also sailors.

"I feel wonderful drinking beer, in a blissful mood, with joy in my heart and a happy liver."

ancient Sumerian poet, circa 3000 BCE

Human-Sloth Conflict Documented In Footprints

Fossilized footprints from a dry lake bed in White Sands National Monument, in New Mexico, divulge an extraordinary interaction between humans and a ground sloth 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. Human tracks superimposed on the prints of the giant sloth show how people carefully stalked the beast. The sloth’s trail suggests it then employed a series of evasive maneuvers and even reared up on its hind legs, likely to defend itself.

It is not known exactly why giant sloths went extinct near the end of the last Ice Age, but human hunting may have contributed to their demise.

Leonardo Da Vinci May Have Drawn The First Landscape In European Art

On August 5th, 1473, in his notebook with pen and ink, Leonardo da Vinci tried to depict a panorama of the rocky hills and lush, green valley surrounding the Arno River near Vinci. The aerial view was nothing he could have seen naturally. It was rather a fantasy of what birds might see, flying overhead -- but with some imaginative additions courtesy of Leonardo.     Other artists had drawn and painted landscapes as backdrops, but with the Arno River drawing, Leonardo was doing something different. He was drawing a landscape by itself, for its own beauty. This makes it a contender to be the first landscape in European art.

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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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