The Beer-Making Queen

The Sumerian king list contains a single woman as ruler, called Kubaba (or Kugbau). She is sometimes listed as her own dynasty and sometimes combined with the 4th Sumerian dynasty of Kish (a Sumerian city). Early on she was also worshipped as a goddess. Perhaps frustratingly, perhaps suggesting that her position as queen was relatively unremarkable to the ancient Sumericans and their descendants, there is little evidence for how Kubaba the ruler was viewed at the time. Nor why she continued to be put down on Sumerian king lists kept by various cities.

To make it worse, there are two very different tones and texts that comment upon Kubaba's rule. In the first cuneiform record, which was a late text that gave the Sumerian king list then commented on the entries, it is mentioned how Kubaba became queen after being an alewife (or tavern keeper/beer brewer), and then it describes her efforts to properly reinstate the fish sacrifice in the sanctuary of Marduk (the city god of Babylon), for which she was appointed ruler. Basically very similar to the comments on other kings on the Sumerican king list. Kubaba is being presented as unexceptional. In the second cuneiform text that mentions Kubaba, a small omen text, it extremely specifically talks about intersex miscarriages, and that the omen (named for "Kubaba, who once ruled") is taken to mean "the ruin of the kingdom; a eunuch will rebel against the king." Not so positive. All this helps explain why what we know about Kubaba is contadictory, uncertain, and very intriguing!

The Depth of Nature

Nile Crocodiles dig the deepest (known) burrows, going up to 39 feet (12 meters) below the earth. The deepest plant roots belong to the Shepherd's tree in Africa's Kalahari Desert, which can reach 223 feet (68 meters) deep.

The fossa is the largest carnivorous mammal on Madagascar. These animals look like a mix between a cat, dog, and a mongoose, and they can reach 6 feet in length. Fossa are an excellent example of the unique animal life that has developed on Madagascar due to its long isolation from other continents and its range of biomes.

New Study of Neanderthal Hearing

A new study of Neanderthal ear bones suggests that the hominins were capable of hearing sounds similar to modern human speech. CT scans were used to produce 3-D models of fossilized ear bones of Neanderthals, modern humans, and early hominins thought to be Neanderthal ancestors. The researchers then measured how sound traveled through the ear canal, to the ear drum, through the middle ear bones, and into the inner ear. They determined that Neanderthals could hear a wider range of sounds than their ancestors, and had the capability to distinguish between consonant sounds. And like modern humans, Neanderthals could produce all the sounds in the frequency range they could hear.

Religious Pluralism Has Ancient Roots

The Persian emperors, starting with the first emperor (ever) Cyrus, were willing and able to show reverence to local gods and participate in the religious rites necessary to solidify and maintain their rule in conquered territory. Cyrus showed deference and continued the royal rituals of Babylon's supreme god Marduk after he conquered the city in 539 BCE. Cyrus wanted his continuance of Babylonian religious rituals to be widely known and published his deference to Marduk on the famous Cyrus Cylinder. His son Cambyses publicly worshiped the Egyptian gods Apis and Re. Even the emperor who attacked Greece multiple times, Xerxes, ordered sacrifices and deference to the Greek gods after conquering various Greek cities.

None of this should be interpreted to mean that the emperors personally believed in and revered these gods. Rather, religious pluralism was good government policy!

Math and Turtles

[embed][/embed] This shape was originally theorized by mathematicians in the 1990s but was not proven until 2006. Some turtles have evolved shapes similar to gömböcs! This allows them to flip over no matter how they land, and using little energy -- just gravity.

9/11 Changed Interpretations of the First Civilizations

Historically, the Middle East was interpreted and categorized by traditional historians as part of "Western" civilization until about 9/11. That means that ancient Mesopotamia -- with its famous early cities of Ur, Sumer, and Babylon, and later empires such as the Babylonian and Assyrian -- was seen as part of the arc of history which would eventually produce ancient Athens, then the Roman Empire, and eventually today's European countries. And history books on religion written before 2000 by Western writers will refer to Islam, Christianity and Judaism as Western religions and Western societies. This is in contrast to Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism which are Eastern religions, emerging from Eastern societies.

After 9/11 a big movement emerged in much of Europe and the United States among conservatives to interpret Islam as Eastern and all Islamic countries as Eastern. Ancient Mesopotamia got re-classified as part of the arc of Eastern history along the way. Among non-conservatives, the Middle East is also categorized differently but for different reasons. Rather than recategorizing what is Western or Eastern, "western" is more critically examined as a term. Instead of ancient civilizations being lumped into "western" and "eastern" you are more likely to see (non-conservative) historians questioning "who is 'western'" "what is 'western'" and "who is defining those terms and why do they care."

Dog Bone Fragments Trace History of New World Settlement

A 10,200-year-old fragment of dog bone has been identified, from among thousands of ancient bone pieces discovered in a cave on the west coast of Alaska in 1998. Modern DNA analyses have found that the dog the fragment belonged to was closely related to dogs domesticated in Siberia about 23,000 years ago. And the dog was descended from a population that split from its Siberian ancestors about 16,700 years ago.

By tracing this dog's heritage and movement, we can get hints at the history of the humans dogs (presumably) traveled with. Our current understanding of human history fits well with the new study. Previous studies looking at human DNA suggest that modern Native American populations split from Siberian ancestors around the same time. Chemical analysis of the dog bone indicates that the creature ate a diet based on marine animals. Potentially the dog lived off scraps of fish, seal, and whale, provided by its human companions traveling by boat around Ice Age glaciers.

The Sauropods, a dinosaur clade, were the tallest animals that ever lived. Some were more than twice the height of a giraffe. (They also include some of the largest animals to have ever lived on land.)

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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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