Mongolians practiced horse dentistry as early as 3,200 years ago

Horse dentistry was first practiced -- by anyone -- among Bronze Age Mongolian herders. As early as 800 BCE, they attempted to extract first premolar teeth from young horses, allowing herders to use metal bits, while avoiding behavior and health complications for horses that the bits may have caused if the teeth were left in place. Bits allow riders to more easily control horses. Making horseback warfare easier, too.

Divers have discovered ‘the world’s largest underwater cave’ in Mexico

Archaeologists recently began exploring the Sac Actun cave system on the Yucatan Peninsula. In the course of mapping the 164-mile-long Sac Actun system, they realized it connects to the 51.5-mile-long Dos Ojos system -- which was previously thought to be independent -- making the combined system the largest underwater cave in the world!

This underwater warren, thought by the Maya people to be the entrance to the underworld, is both a natural wonder and an archaeological wonderland. Mayan artifacts are scattered throughout the cave system. Bones and pottery have been found dating back thousands of years.

The Crystal Skulls of Belize

First, what are crystal skulls? Everyone will agree that they are large carvings of skulls that are made from a clear (or slightly milky) quartz. Any definitions beyond that is up for debate. So let’s stick with that definition for this post.

The first crystal skulls appeared in public in the late 1800s. It supposedly came from an ancient civilization in mesoamerica. The public interest was very intrigued, and more crystal skulls started appearing. They were treated with a degree of credibility and museums around Europe, including the British Museum in London, bought them for their collections. Although their origin could not be proved, they were interesting enough items to be displayed.

Modern scientists began investigating them in the late 1900s. And the results were disappointing. The first thing the research found was that jeweller’s equipment (that wasn’t invented until the 1800s) was used to make parts of the skulls. Second, the quartz was found only in Madagascar and Brazil. Not a material the ancient Mayans or Aztec would have had access to. Finally -- and the nail in the coffin -- is that no crystal skulls have ever been found at a reputable archaeological dig. They just seemed to appear from thin air. So it appears that the famous crystal skulls were just fancy hoaxes.

Movie-Style Caper Saves Simon Bolivar's Life

Simon Bolivar survived an attempt on his life because he decided to sleep in a different room at the last minute. Specifically, in his mistress's room. So the would-be assassin entered where Bolivar was supposed to be sleeping, and stabbed the hammock where Bolivar was supposed to be lying. And he successfully assassinated one of Bolivar's captains! But he missed the big man.

”Quarantine” comes from the forty-day period, or "quarantina giorni" in Italian, that ships were required to wait outside of Venice during the height of the Black Death. The forty-day waiting period was first enforced in Venice in 1377, and the modern "quarantine" first appeared in English in the 1520s.

The Mystery of the Toxic Woman

Gloria Ramirez smelled. TheCalifornian woman was was dying from cervical cancer, and to make matters worse she had bad body odor -- so bad that twenty-three hospital workers reported fainting, shortness of breath, and muscle spasms after exposure. Five workers required hospitalization, and one had to stay in an intensive care unit for two weeks to recover. Ramirez died less than an hour after entering the hospital. And with her death, hospital workers stopped getting sick.

This incident happened in 1994. It has been the inspiration for multiple TV episodes, including X-Files and NCIS. But to this day it is unknown exactly how Ramirez was harming the people around her. One theory is that she was self-medicating with dimethyl sulfoxide for her pain, which can convert into the toxic gas dimethyl sulfate. Another, less-interesting theory, is that it was mass hysteria.

Dating Dust

You may know about the massive volcanic eruption that happened 74,000 years ago, at Sumatra’s Mount Toba. It caused a volcanic winter and may have nearly annihilated the earth’s human population. The search for evidence of that eruption has contributed potentially groundbreaking advances to archaeological dating. Working at two sites on the coast of South Africa, researchers have discovered a layer containing glass shards from the blast that fell over a two-week period and are invisible to the naked eye. The precise time frame provided by the shards can serve as a control to test whenever new methods are developed for dating rock shelters and other sites occupied millennia ago.

“We’ve now sampled several other cave sites in South Africa looking for evidence of the Toba eruption,” explains archaeologist and paleoanthropologist Curtis Marean. “If we can find it, we can align those chronologies to a two-week precision—which is unprecedented."

Have Humans Bred Themselves To Be Travelers?

The desire to travel may be genetic, and it can possibly be traced to what has been dubbed "the wanderlust gene." Associated with increased levels of curiosity and restlessness, the gene is associated with dopamine levels in the brain

The More You Know

Words have a lifespan of anywhere between 1,000 and 20,000 years. More commonly used words tend to last longer. The oldest word in the English language -- and the most frequently used word -- is "I."

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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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