It takes about 5,000 years (give or take) for photons to escape the sun’s core. Once they are out, though, it takes just 8.3 minutes for them to reach Earth. The sunlight we see is thousands of years old!

In their September edition in 1896, National Geographic magazine published this photograph with the caption "The Recent Earthquake Wave on the Coast of Japan." A tsunami had hit on the evening of June 15, 1896. Unfortunately, it was both dark and raining that evening, so few people were outside to see the water recede and warn the villages. National Geographic reported that "A few survivors, who saw it advancing in the darkness, report its height as 80 to 100 feet."

When oxygen was first discovered by British clergyman Joseph Priestley, in 1774, he called it “dephlogisticated air.” Imagine trying to spell that on a science test!

Airbags only became mandatory, in all vehicles sold in the United States, in 1998.

A curious creature from Bulgarian folklore is the Torbalan. Its name means "man with a sack." The creature carries away misbehaving children, dismembers them, and bakes them into bread. The Torbalan appears to come from prehistoric (ie pre-writing) folklore, and is unsurprisingly a favorite with parents.

Cleopatra remains fascinating, 2,047 years after her death. To date, she has been the subject of five ballets, seven films, forty-five operas, seventy-seven plays, and innumerable paintings.


"Men would never be superstitious if they could govern all their circumstances by set rule, or if they were always favored by fortune. But being frequently driven into straits where rules are useless, and being often kept in fluctuating pitiably between hope and fear by the uncertainty of fortune's greedily coveted favors, they are consequently, for the most part, very prone to credulity."

Baruch Spinoza, from the Theologico-Political Treatise. His parents were Jewish, and for that were tortured and condemned by the Inquisition in Portugal; they escaped to Amsterdam where Baruch was born. He received Jewish schooling, but became interested in the historical inaccuracies of the Bible, and was excommunicated from the Jewish community in Amsterdam for heresy in 1656. In 1661, Spinoza moved to a small town on the Dutch coast where he wrote the above treatise.

This was just one of many works Spinoza wrote, although it was the most controversial; other notable writings include a demonstration of Descartes’ thinking and a master work on Ethics. He is known today as one of the most influential philosophers of the Enlightenment.

A Shipwreck Off Florida From the 1500s Is Causing a Modern International Dispute

Okay, here's how the story begins. Global Marine Exploration (GME), a private marine salvage company, was granted permits by the state of Florida to explore seven areas off the coast of Cape Canaveral. They found artifacts indicating a wrecked ship, buried in the sandy seafloor, in May and June 2016. Among other finds, there were three ornate brass cannons and a distinctive marble monument marked with the coat of arms of the King of France. The cannons and the monument seem to come from the 1562 French expedition to Florida commanded by the navigator Jean Ribault (1520-1565), according to historical French records that include the cargo manifests of the fleet -- and the cargo manifests list those cannons and that monument. GME has made a big find. And they want the right to salvage it, and make a profit.

But then France, yes, the nation, interferes. You see the United States passed a federal law, the Sunken Military Craft Act of 2004, giving "sovereign rights" over sunken naval vessels to their country of origin. France is arguing in the admiralty court, which oversees maritime matters, that US federal law gives their country the right to salvage their sunken naval ship. To be clear: France is pursuing a claim to a sunken ship, likely dating to the mid-1500s, based on a law passed in 2004 in a country which wouldn't exist until 200 years after the ship was sunk. This world is weird.

Unfortunately for France, GME argues that historical documents show that the cannons and monument may have been seized as plunder by the Spanish in 1565, during a raid on the French colony of Fort Caroline. If this true, the cannons were probably being carried to Cuba on Spanish ships when they were lost, GME says. In which case, France has no claim on the artifacts, and GME can recover the shipwreck that they admittedly spent the money to find. Who wins and gets the cannons? We will have to wait for the admiralty court to decide.

Humans Have Been Arguing About What Color to Paint the Walls Since 3,000 BCE

Humanity's ancestors 5,000 years ago brightened up their Stone Age homes by painting the insides, according to new archaeological evidence from the Orkney Islands in Britain. They used red, yellow and orange pigments from ground-up minerals and bound it with animal fat and eggs to make their paint. Because who wants to live in a plain stone hut, even in 3,000 BCE? The new Orkney finds are the earliest ever example of man using paint to decorate their properties in Britain, if not in Europe.

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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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