This Warrior Had Magnificent Eyebrows!

Fragment of a bowl depicting a mounted warrior. Fatimid dynasty, dating to the 1000s. Found in Fustat, Egypt

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.

“Made In China” Label Helps Date An Indonesian Shipwreck

  A "Made in China" label stamped onto two ceramic boxes hauled up from a shipwreck at the bottom of the Java Sea is proof the ship went down a century earlier than previously believed. Yeah, I was confused too. The shipwreck was previously thought to have happened in the mid- to late-1200s. Now, new radiocarbon dating combined with the exact wording of the bureaucratic jargon on the "Made in China" label puts the real timing of the wreck during the second half of the 1100s.     Here's the evidence: The inscription, in Chinese characters, read, "Jianning Fu Datongfeng Wang Chengwu zhai yin." That describes where the ceramic boxes were made, the prefecture of Jianning Fu in Fujian Province.     "Fu" was an administrative word indicating a certain bureaucratic level of prefecture, and that little word turned out to be the key to the puzzle. Jianning Fu got its name in 1162, during the Southern Song dynasty. In 1278, the Yuan dynasty took over and renamed the prefecture Jianning Lu, indicating another bureaucratic level. The ceramic boxes therefore must have been manufactured between 1162 and 1278. They could only have been shipped when Jianning Fu had that precise government name.     And a re-do of earlier radiocarbon dating, with more samples, narrows the wreck down further to the late 1100s.

Where Does The World Admiral Come From?

"Admiral" comes from Arabic! It probably returned with crusaders to Europe. English gets admiral from the 12th-century French word, amirail, meaning "Saracen military commander."

The original Arabic word, amīr, means "ruler," and when it came to French, it somehow kept the Arabic suffix -al, meaning "of the." So in Arabic, amir-al is the cut-of-sounding "ruler of the."

The Abandoned City of Mud and Mystics

The ruined city of Arg-e-Bam is made entirely of mud bricks, clay, straw and the trunks of palm trees. The Iranian city was originally founded during the Sassanian period (224-637 CE) and while some of the surviving structures date from before the 1100s, most of what remains was built during the Safavid period (1502-1722).     Bam prospered because of pilgrims visiting its Zoroastrian fire temple, which had been built early in the Sassanian period, and because Bam was a trading hub along the Silk Road. It was later the site of Jame Mosque, built during the Saffarian period (866-903 CE). Next to the mosque is the tomb of Mirza Naiim, a mystic and astronomer.     The city was largely abandoned since a series of invasions in the early 1800s. In 1953, work began to intensively restore Arg-e-Bam. Restoration work continued until December 26, 2003, when a massive earthquake hit the area -- an estimated 6.6 on the Richter Scale. Almost everything in Bam was destroyed. After that, restoration was given up, and today Arg-e-Bam is at the mercy of the elements.     click through the image gallery to see photographs of what Arg-e-Bam looks like today

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.

Where Does Leprosy Come From?

Leprosy may have originated in Europe -- not Asia, as previously thought. An international team of researchers sampled about 90 different skeletons bearing the telltale deformations of leprosy. The skeletons were unearthed in Europe, and have been dated to between 400 and 1400 CE.

From the bones, the scientists reconstructed ten new genomes of medieval Mycobacterium leprae, in addition to the one or two strains already known to have been circulating in medieval Europe. All the strains of the leprosy bacterium were in fact present in medieval Europe, which strongly suggests leprosy originated closer to Europe than previously thought. Higher diversity is present near an area of origin - this is true of languages, humans, and apparently, leprosy. The new results suggest that leprosy came from someplace closer to Europe, like south-eastern Europe or western Asia.

The oldest strain was detected in a skeleton found in Great Chesterford, Essex, in southeast England, which has been dated to between 415 and 545 CE. This is the same strain found in modern-day red squirrels!

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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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