The Longest War In World History... Sort Of

The Peloponnesian War ended in 1996. The bloody conflict between Athens and Sparta had stopped in 404 B.C. without an official peace pact, so after 2,500 years the cities decided to sign a symbolic agreement. It read, “Today we express our grief for the devastating war between the two key cities of ancient Greece and declare its end.”

You Probably Didn't Know About The First European Settlement In The Americas

It was founded by Columbus, in what is today Haiti. Those first colonists had a hard time of it, though. They did not last even a year.

Some Mayan Cities Were Still Occupied When The Spanish Showed Up

The Maya city of Tulum, once a major trading port on the Yucatan Pensinsula, was still occupied in the 1500s. While the Maya civilization precipitously declined in the 800s CE, a handful of cities survived and even grew when their neighbors shrank and vanished. Tulum was one such city. A Spanish expedition in 1518 sailed past and the crew was said to be astonished by the city's grandeur, apparently describing it as "a village so large that Seville would not have appeared larger or better."

Unfortunately, Tulum could survive 600 years after their wider civilization collapsed, but Tulum could not survive 100 years of European contact. It was abandoned by the end of the century after diseases carried from Europe decimated the population.

Rongo Rongo: The Mystery Script of Easter Island

Easter Island was first visited by Spanish explorers in the 1770s. There they encountered the indigenous Easter Islanders, or the Rapa Nui. They had been living on Easter Island since at least the 1200s CE, and possibly since the 300s CE.

Sometime between 1650 CE and 1860 CE, the Rapa Nui developed a type of picture writing called “rongo rongo” or “to recite.” There is great debate about whether they independently invented writing. Or whether the Spanish gave them the idea of symbols to represent sounds. Unfortunately, by the 1860s the Rapa Nui had forgotten how to read the script. Today it remains undeciphered.

If Looks Could Kill: A New Analysis Of Incan Burial Reveals Toxic Mineral

A new analysis of an Incan mummy burial from the 1400s, found in Northern Chile in the 1970s, revealed the presence of cinnabar. Which is bad news for the Inca. Cinnabar is a highly toxic, fine-grained red pigment that can be derived from mercury ore. Fabric in the grave was colored with bright-red pigment, which the Inca usually produced using the mineral hematite. Occasionally, if the wearer was particularly high-status, cinnabar could also be used as a red dye too. But although cinnabar's signature color had been previously associated with Inca culture elsewhere, it had never been seen in a cultural context in the region where the mummies were found.

This particular grave contains the remains of an eighteen-year-old girl and a younger girl of about nine. Richly dressed, two were buried with over 100 artifacts. They were likely a human sacrifice. And an important one, given the quality of the goods they were buried with, the fineness of their clothing, and the use of cinnabar.

Where Do "Wardrobes" Come From?

The Old French word "warderobe" or "garderobe" meant a room where the clothing (robes) of the rich or powerful were locked for safety. Also stored in the "warderobe" were things a modern reader might expect to have locked up, like silverware or artwork. Over time, the wardrobe became a piece of furniture instead of a separate room. But the name stuck around.

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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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