It can be traced back to Middle English, around the year 1000 CE, along with turd and arse. Making it one of the true Anglo-Saxon words left in English.
The word probably originated much earlier than it can be traced. Because, well, swear words tend not to get written down. They are spoken, slang words. Another piece of evidence that sh*t is older than 1000 CE is that similar words exist in other languages in the Germanic family including Dutch, Icelandic, and of course German. Which suggests that sh*t was born not in Middle English, but descended from a common ancestor in the original proto-Germanic language.
Sh*t was not always a taboo word. It initially meant, very specifically, diarrhea in cattle.
Cemetery, In Use For Thousands of Years, Excavated in Albania
An ancient cemetery containing layers of about 1,000 burials dating back to the Iron Age has been found in southeastern Albania. The cemetery was actually three cemeteries: one from the Iron Age, one late Roman, and one from the Middle Ages. And under the bottom layer of the cemetery were what appears to be a Neolithic settlement. Archaeologists found holes in the ground, which supported the now-rotted wooden skeletons of small huts.
The Cruel Chinese Emperor Who Became A Cannibal When Drunk
Sun Hao ruled as emperor of Eastern Wu from 264-280 CE as “the number one tyrant of that era.” The last Eastern Wu emperor during the Three Kingdoms period, his reign ended the kingdom. Sun Hao was poor at administration, cruel, and generally unfit to rule a village. Among other vices he was often drunk and, like many heavy drinkers, liked others to get drunk with him too.
At one banquet, Sun Hao became angry because one of his counselors pretended to be drunker than he was. Sun Hao became so angry that had the poor man beheaded on the spot. Sun Hao then ordered his guards to toss the head from one man to the next, each taking a bite until the flesh was stripped down to the skull.
This beautiful Corinthian helmet was found in the burial of several Greek warriors on the Taman Peninsula. Dating to the 400s BCE, it completely covers the head and neck. It is extremely rare to find one in modern excavations. This style of helmet is mostly known from ancient statues, like those of Athena or the statesman Pericles.
The warriors likely fought for the Bosporan Kingdom, a Greek state founded around 480 BCE, that included the Taman Peninsula and parts of Crimea. An archaeologist working on the site speculated that the warriors died together in the same battle. Perhaps fighting nearby nomadic tribes? But they were remembered not just as warriors -- one of the men was buried with his harp.
A shopping list dating back to the 1600s has been found in a West Yorkshire archive. It was made to be given to an apothecary, who would collect the requested items and deliver them to Temple Newsam house near Leeds. Written December 8th, 1644, the list includes a request for 13 bottles of "china drink." Before this discovery the earliest reference to drinking tea in England was an entry in Samuel Pepys' diary from 1660.
Mt. Pinatubo on the Philippine island of Luzon erupted on June 15, 1991, and created the largest mushroom cloud in history. That we humans know about. Mt. Pinatubo's eruption ejected 10 billion metric tons of magma and 20 million tons of sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere.
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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!