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.”

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.

Massacred And Forgotten: Sweden’s Sandby Borg Site

Archaeologists were excavating what they thought was a ring fort, dating to the 400s, that had once housed some 200 people on the island of Öland. It was one of at least 15 ringforts on the island. Nothing particularly special stood out about this one, named Sandby Borg, except that it might have been recently looted. That is actually what prompted the archaeological excavation in 2010.

So archaeologists were surprised when the normal, boring ringfort had a skeleton just lying on the floor of the first house they excavated. No attempts at burial, just left where it was. And it had been murdered. Then they found another skeleton, also showing signs of having been violently killed, lying right next to the first. As the study continued, and human bones were found in nearby houses and on the street, all violently killed, it slowly became clear. This had been a massacre.

So far, twenty-six individuals have been found. Ages range from an infant, just a couple of months old, to a decapitated teenager to elderly adults. They were usually attacked from behind or the side. The massacre happened suddenly as shown by the half-eaten herring that was discovered in one house, and because there is no evidence of defensive wounds. Archaeologists describe it as more of an execution than an attack. The victims were apparently left where they had fallen, until their houses caved in on them and the ringfort was forgotten. The result is a perfectly-preserved snapshot of life in Iron Age Sweden in the 400s to early 500s CE.

Ohaguro: An Interesting Japanese Beauty Standard

Women in ancient Japan blackened their teeth with dye. White teeth were considered ugly. Evidence for this practice, called ohaguro, exists from as far back as the Kofun Period and (250 to 538 CE) in bone remains and on clay human figurines.

Ohaguro continued until the late 1800s and the Meiji Restoration.

It's All Germanic To Me

Both Old English and Old Norse were part of a Northwest Germanic language group. The languages were similar until the 400s CE, when the Anglo-Saxon invasion of England made English part of the West Germanic language group -- like German instead of like Norwegian. But Old English and Old Norse followed the same phonological rules. Which meant they changed in predictable, and similar, ways.

Which means that during the Viking Age in England, Old English and Old Norse approached being mutually intelligible. Not only were the English being raided, invaded, and occupied, but the warriors who were doing so could be almost understood, speaking a strange version of their own tongue. Probably just made the Great Dane Army’s job easier. Isn’t it nice for threats to make people quake in fear, instead of just making them confused.

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.

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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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