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.

The chrysanthemum was brought to Japan around the beginning of the Heian period (794−1185). By the Edo period (1600 - 1868) hundreds of types of chrysanthemums were being cultivated. These pages come from Gakiku, the first picture book of chrysanthemums published in Japan, in 1691. Its beautiful illustrations and Chinese-style poems introduced readers to 100 different varieties of the flower.

Shield of the Sun God Radiant

Mayan panel, showing in stunning relief Upakal K'inich Janaab Pakal of the city of Palenque. His name means "shield of the sun god radiant," and honors an earlier king of Palenque, K'inich Janaab Pakal.   The panel was crafted around 700 - 800 CE.

An Emir Once Controlled Part of France

Yes, what you’re thinking is true, an Islamic ruler once ruled France?!?!

At the greatest extent of Al-Andalus, a province of the Umayyad Caliphate, it controlled a piece of southern France. As well as most of modern Spain and all of modern Portugal. From 719 to 759 -- that’s a full forty years -- Muslim rulers controlled the port city of Narbonne. Depending on the year, they also controlled various nearby cities including  Nîmes, Béziers, and Avignon. The Islamic rulers weren't entirely unpopular, either. Narbonne was satisfied enough with Umayyad rule that it successfully defended itself, twice, from Frankish attempts to retake the city.

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.

Arctic ice brings an understanding of ancient Europe’s economy

Greenland's icy mountains are not an obvious place to search for an archive of economic history, but a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that they provide one. Read the full article at The Economist

A Medieval Muslim Perspective on Human Existence

In the 700s, a Persian scholar named Ibn al-Muqaffa recorded a parable, describing human existence. A man fears an elephant so he dangles himself into a pit to hide. He soon realizes there is a dragon waiting at the bottom of the pit, and rats are gnawing on the branches he is holding onto. The man then notices a beehive and tries its honey. He becomes "diverted, unaware, preoccupied with that sweetness" and while he is distracted, the rats finish gnawing the branches. The man falls into the dragon's mouth with sweetness still on his tongue.

What a happy parable!

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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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