The Temple at Epheseus: Wonder of the World

Epheseus was the most important Greek city of those founded along western Turkey. The city was first founded by Ionian Greek settlers along the marshy delta of the Cayster River. There was already a sanctuary, dedicated by the local people to a goddess of vegetation and fertility. The new Greek settlers associated that with Artemis, goddess of the hunt, wild animals, chastity, and childbirth. Several structures were built in Artemis' honor by the early settlers.

Epheseus eventually built a magnificent temple to her, which was continued under the famous King Croesus of Lydia. He is known today for his huge wealth, but at the time he was a newly-arrived king who had conquered Ephesus in 560 BCE and was looking to make his mark as a man of piety and sophistication in the Greek world. So he paid for work on the temple to continue, and hired an architect from Crete, Chersiphron of Knossos. It says how important the temple was that even its architect's name is remembered in history. Croesus' wealth certainly did the trick: with the first temple ever constructed entirely of marble, and located along a great trade route running from Greece into Asia Minor, Epheseus flourished.

Unfortunately, King Croesus' temple burned down in 356 BCE. Supposedly it was destroyed the same day as Alexander the Great was born, and it was not saved because Artemis was busy helping his mother through her labor -- a key role as she was the goddess of childbirth. But Epheseus wasn't ready to give up and become a backwater. After all, their temple was on the list of wonders of the world that the famous historian Herodotus They rebuilt the temple, a bigger and better one with an additional stepped platform, and rededicated it to the goddess Artemis. It even kept its old name, the Artemision.

Earliest Cancer in Central America Identified

Archaeologists, studying the skeletal remains of a teenager in western Panama, have discovered the earliest evidence of cancer in Central America. The adolescent was between 14 and 16 years old when she died, in about 1300 CE. Although her skeleton was first found in the 1970s, it was not until recent re-analyses were done that signs of a tumor were identified on their upper right arm. Unfortunately, it was not a painless cancer. She would have experienced intermittant pain, as the sarcoma grew and expanded through her bone, until she died. Interestingly, a pediatric oncologist who examined the remains thought that the cancer was unlikely the ultimate cause of her death -- though there is no way to know for certain now.

Saint's Stolen Brain Secured

Fragments of the stolen brain of St John Bosco, a Catholic priest and founder of the Salesian religious order in the 1800s, have been found. His brain had been stored in a reliquary at the basilica of Castelnuova, near Turin in Italy. But both were stolen in early June of 2017. Fingerprints left nearby eventually led police to discover the brain's location, in August of 2017. The culprit had hoped to sell the reliquary, which he thought was made of gold. According to Italian police the brain, and the reliquary, had been hidden inside a copper kettle at the man's home, until they could be sold. The brain is now safely back at the basilica.

Though arranged marriages were banned in 1950, factory bosses and Communist cadres still did much of the matchmaking, and when a young intellectual named Yan Yunxiang was sent down from Beijing to the village of Xiajia, in China’s northeast, in 1970, he found an abundance of miserable love. Local women had so little say in whom they married that there was a village tradition of sobbing when you left home on your wedding day. It wasn’t until the eighties that the village elders began to relinquish control over local marriages. Yan Yunxiang eventually became an anthropologist and continued to visit the village over the years. He attended a wedding where the bride was marrying for love and she confided to Yan that she was too happy to sob. She rubbed hot pepper on her handkerchief in order to summon the tears that her parents’ generation expected.


quoted from Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China (2014) by Evan Osnos


"If you bet on a horse, that’s gambling. If you bet you can make three spades, that’s entertainment. If you bet cotton will go up three points, that’s business. See the difference?"

Blackie Sherrod (1919 - 2016), an American journalist and sportswriter

The full inventory of Shakespeare's possessions, which would have listed his books and other important information that modern historians would kill for, was probably sent to London. Important records were kept at the time in the capital. Unfortunately, that means the inventory was most likely destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666.

The largest seated Buddha in the world was carved out of the rock face of Lingyun Hill in Leshan, China. Dating to around 800 CE, the statue stands about 230 feet (70 m) tall and the shoulders measure 90 ft (30 m) across.

A Bank? A Pub? The Irish Don't See The Difference

In 1970, the entire banking system in Ireland went on strike. But the country was not crippled. Pubs stepped up -- after all, pub owners were very familiar with whether a patron could pay up or not. The strike ended six months later, and everything went on, the Irish economy basically unhurt.

Underwater Route Between Prehistoric Cenotes Found In Mexico

Researchers from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History have discovered a route through underwater limestone caves connecting the Sac Actun cenote and the Dos Ojos cenote. Maya pottery, human bones, and the bones of elephant-like creatures, giant sloths, bears, tigers, and extinct species of horses, all likely from around the end of the last Ice Age, have been found in the tunnel-like caves. Exploring them and finding artifacts can be difficult, though: the underwater caves range in width from 400 feet to just three feet.

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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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