Times Were Different Then

Archers at the original Olympic Games in ancient Greece used tethered doves as their targets. Yes, live doves.

The Classic Maya political landscape was divided into more than two dozen polities, similar to city-states, with a major city and nearby allied villages and towns. Feasts sponsored by the ruling elite was a crucial avenue for securing relations among allies and negotiating new alliances. Feasts marked major state occasions, from rulers' accession rites to royal weddings to war victory celebrations to special religious observances. Eating large amounts of high-status foods, including drinks made from highly valued cacao (chocolate), was the main point of the feasts. The richness of the food, the quantity of the food -- and the beautiful vessels the food was served with -- showed off how wealthy the host was.     The banquets caused the production of elaborate, finely-made vessels. Sometimes the vessels' shapes were the attraction, sometimes the decorative images etched onto it. This vase is decorated with cacao pods, and the lid's knob is a cacao tree with a bird (sadly now broken). There are also pictorial panels with images of, among other things, the maize god as an embodied cacao tree. Is anyone else sensing a theme here? The vase's hieroglyphic text confirms that it was intended as a drinking cup for chocolate: -kakaw yuk'ib, or "the cacao drinking cup of . . . " The text goes on to name the cup's patron/owner, and his father Chakjal Mukuuy, "Reddening Dove." The artistic quality of the vessel and its detailed naming of its owner indicate the two men were members of the nobility if not a royal dynasty of the 300s to 400s CE.     courtesy of the Walters Art Museum

In Latin, what we call “doggy style” was called "coitus more ferarum," which roughly translates to “sexual intercourse in the manner of wild beasts.” In the Kama Sutra, it is known as the “cow position.”

Two skeletons dating to the 400s CE have been found beneath Wolseong Palace in South Korea. When they were placed there, the palace was the seat of the Silla monarchy, at their capital Seorabeol. Archaeologists speculate that the two may have been buried alive!     Ancient Koreans practiced shamanism, which believed in rituals, possessions, and animal and perhaps human sacrifices. There are folklore accounts of human sacrifices to please the gods and ensure structures like bridges and buildings last a long time. But if these two were sacrificed, this will be the first physical evidence of such a ritual in South Korea.

Birds of a Feather

A new study, looking at macaw skeletons found at three prehistoric pueblo sites in New Mexico, USA, suggests that Native Americans in this arid area imported the birds from less-arid places. The bird remains which were examined date from between 300 CE and 1450 CE. The majority were tropical macaws -- definitely not native to New Mexico! There is also no evidence of macaw breeding save at one site. Put together, the evidence points to importing the birds.

In addition, there was widespread scarring along the surface of their bones, showing that humans removed their feathers. And many of the macaws' skeletons showed malnourishment, likely from being kept inside and fed a largely corn diet. Which, counter-intuitively, suggests the Pueblans were caring for them extremely well, for their society. Basically? The macaws were being imported, kept in captivity, and systematically harvested for their bright and colorful feathers.

Athenian Agora Excavations: an Interactive Guide

The city of Athens flourished in the 400s and 300s BCE, setting the course for modern European civilization and eventually for democracy's re-emergence. Even when her power waned, Athens remained the cultural and educational center of the Mediterranean until the 500s CE. And the agora, or marketplace, was the center of city life throughout this time. In it was built beautiful and functional public buildings, first by proud city citizens, then as gifts from Greek kings and eventually Roman emperors.
Since the 1930s, modern excavations have been underway to study where the agora once stood. And they have an excellent website, with an interactive map of what has been recovered and discovered, so far, of the ancient Athenian agora. 

An Animated History of Ukraine

Really, really good history! Since I know next to nothing about Ukraine's national history, I particularly appreciated the accessibility -- the vlogger assumed we had been born yesterday, and it worked.

Ancient Moche Ruler Is Given A Face

We do not know what she called herself, but today she is known as the Lady of Cao. She lived and died in northern Peru 1,700 years ago. We know she was a high-status woman of the Moche culture, because she was buried in a tomb in a pyramid, with a crown and surrounded by gold and copper artifacts. The tomb also suggests that Lady of Cao may have been a warrior: she was buried a number of weapons, including two massive war clubs, and twenty-three spear-throwers!     Modern science has revealed that the Lady of Cao was in her twenties when she died, likely of childbirth or complications following childbirth. Her feet, legs and face were tattooed with magic symbols of serpents and spiders. And now, science has revealed to us her face.

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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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