Women Scribes: The Technologists of the Middle Ages

Today, most popular representations of manuscript production and scriptoria depict exclusively male spaces. The image that “scriptorium” conjures up is that of robed men laboring over texts. Yet, women had a very real place in developing, maintaining, and innovating this arduously crafted technology, using it to share visions, communicate with each other, and create works of staggering beauty and insight. Read the full article on medieval women's importance as scribes and writers  

Carved jade deer. The artistry is amazing, isn't it? Somehow they are soft and delicate, even though the pair are, of course, made of jade. Liao Dynasty (907 - 1125 CE).

From Arabic to Iranian: How A Medieval Physician Changed How Medicine Was Taught

Ismā‘īl ibn Ḥasan Jurjānī (1042–1136 CE), known popularly as Hakim Jurjānī, was one of the most famous Iranian physicians in the 1100s. Since the time of the Arabic conquests, Iranians wrote scientific books in Arabic. It was the lingua franca of the educated and the elite. Jurjānī's medical encyclopedia, Zakhīrah-i Khvārazm’Shāhī ("The Treasure of Khvarazm’Shah") was the first major medical book in post-Islamic Iran written in Persian. Although the alphabet was Arabic.

Jurjānī's textbook soon became a primary resource for Iranian physicians, used for many centuries. It had ten parts, similar to Ibn Sina's earlier "The Canon of Medicine," and was often written with illustrations. The above illustration shows a skeleton as a medieval Iranian physician would have learned it.

The chrysanthemum was brought to Japan around the beginning of the Heian period (794−1185). By the Edo period (1600 - 1868) hundreds of types of chrysanthemums were being cultivated. These pages come from Gakiku, the first picture book of chrysanthemums published in Japan, in 1691. Its beautiful illustrations and Chinese-style poems introduced readers to 100 different varieties of the flower.

Have you heard of the “Blythe Intaglios”?

In 1932, pilot George Palmer was flying from Las Vegas to Blythe, Calif., when he saw drawings sketched on the desert. Someone had scraped away the dark surface soil to draw three human figures, two four-legged animals, and a spiral.

Like the more famous Nazca Lines in Peru, the Blythe Intaglios had gone unnoticed for so long because they were too big! The largest is over 170 feet long. Much too big to be seen from the ground. No local Native American group claims to have made them; radiocarbon dating places their creation between 900 BCE and 1200 CE.

This Remote Part of England Was Uniquely Terrified of Zombies

Residents of North Yorkshire, from the 1000s to the 1300s, were extremely afraid of the dead rising again to attack the living. So afraid, in fact, that villagers would dismember, decapitate, burn, and otherwise mutilate the corpses of their friends and neighbors before burying them. They generally mutilated the bodies shortly after they died, when the bones were still soft. Imagine doing that to your grandma!

The First Russian State Was...Ukrainian?

Ukraine's history is intertwined with Russia's history. The first Russian state, the Kievan Rus (800s to 1200s CE), headed by the Rurik dynasty, was centered in Kiev, the capital of modern Ukraine. Through the Russian Revolution in 1917, the tsars of Russia claimed to be descended from Rurik.

Carnival, the Catholic holiday, probably comes from the word for "meat" in some way, which is "caro" in Classical Latin and “carne” in Medieval Latin. It was the last time that people could eat meat before the start of Lent, when meat was forbidden for 40 days.

  • <
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • >
  • Leave us a message

    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!

    Website design and coding by the Amalgama

    About us X