Milan Cathedral Took 700 Years to Build

Construction began in 1386. And finally stopped in 1965. That means this cathedral was getting built through the Renaissance, through the Enlightenment, and through the unification of Italy! Milan Cathedral is the largest church in Italy, which partially explains it (St Peters Basilica is larger but it isn't in Italy).

Page taken from a copy of the Suwaru-l-kawakib (Description of the Fixed Stars) by 'Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi (903 - 986). Al-Sufi is one of the famous nine Arab astronomers. He identified the Andromeda Galaxy for the first time, as well as the Large Magellanic Cloud. These were the first galaxies other than the Milky Way to be observed from Earth. Al-Sufi published many of his findings in his famous "Description of the Fixed Stars" which compared Greek and Arabic constellations, and showed two illustrations for every constellation. This particular copy of the book was probably created in Iran during the Safavid Era, sometime in the 1500s.

Mummified Incan Llama Sacrifices Rediscovered

A team has found the naturally mummified remains of five young llamas thought to have been sacrificed by the Inca some 500 years ago at Tambo Viejo, an archaeological site on the coast of Peru. The animals had been prepared for the afterlife. They wore colorful string necklaces and earrings, and had been decorated using red paint and the feathers of tropical birds attached to wooden sticks. The five llamas were found under two buildings. One brown llama and three white ones were found beneath the clay floors of one building, in an area disturbed by looters. A single brown llama was found under the floor of a second building. “The adornments suggest that the offerings were very special,” said Lidio Valdez of the University of Calgary. “Indeed, historical records indicate that brown llamas were sacrificed to the creator Viracocha, while white llamas to the sun, the Inca main deity.”

Ancient DNA Suggests Little Ancient Andean Migration

A recent study of ancient human DNA in the Andes of South America looked at DNA samples from 22 sites, dating between 7,000 BCE to 1500 CE. They found an unusual trend: except in the large urban centers, the genetic profile of Andean people remained the same over 2,000 years.

Somewhat surprising given the various cultures and empires that rose and fell over the time period studies. This is the region that saw the Chavin (900 - 200 BCE), then Moche (00s - 600s CE), Nazca (100 BCE - 800 CE) Tiwanaku and Wari (till 1000s CE), Chimu (900 - 1470 CE), and finally the most famous Inca (1400s - 1500s CE). The changing political and cultural forces did not seem to impact people's DNA, however.

Iroquois Woodland Village Excavated in Canada

Excavation of an Iroquoian village site in southeastern Canada ahead of a road construction project has uncovered over 35,000 artifacts. Representatives of the Six Nations of the Grand Reserve, the Haudenosaunee Development Institute, and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation have been working with archaeologists throughout the process. The village has been dated to between 1300 and 1600 CE. There were five important villages known to have been in this area around this time -- perhaps archaeologists are working on one of them? The remains of several longhouses have been found suggesting it was a permanent settlement. There have also been ceramics for food preparation and cooking, stone tools, and a broad range of items for daily living. The site also produced one artifact dating back 4,000 years ago.

There are at least 235 known copies of Shakespeare's First Folio original printings. More keep getting discovered. Most recently, two in 2016!

Ancient Peruvians invented surfing for fishing, one must assume independently from other cultures. There is archaeological evidence for reed surfing boards used by the Moche by 200 CE. An early description of the Inca surfing in Callao was documented by Jesuit missionary José de Acosta in 1590:

It is true to see them go fishing in Callao de Lima, was for me a thing of great recreation, because there were many and each one in a balsilla caballero [man's raft], or sitting stubbornly cutting the waves of the sea, which is rough where they fish, they looked like the Tritons, or Neptunes, who paint upon the water.

An Old Play, A New Find

John Fletcher, a house playwright for the theater group the King’s Men, wrote a play with Williams Shakespeare entitled The Two Noble Kinsmen. The play is based on Geoffrey Chaucer’s fourteenth-century poem The Knight’s Tale, and is believed to have been written around 1613 or 1614. That would make it one of Shakespeare’s last works before he died in 1616, if not his last.

A 1634 printing of The Two Noble Kinsmen, still in its original leather binding, has recently been found in a Spanish university, the Royal Scots College. The Two Noble Kinsmen was included in a volume made up of several English plays printed from 1630 to 1635. In the 1600s and 1700s, collections of books in English were rare in Spain, because of censorship by the church. But the Scots college had special authorization to import whatever they wanted. And what they wanted, apparently, were plays!

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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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