In The Beginning...

According to Māori mythology the world began with a void, Te Kore, which contained nothing and yet had the potential for everything. Darkness or Chaos (Pō) followed Te Kore, then the sky (Rangi) and the earth (Papa).

The Tragedy of the Black Rhino

One of five species of rhinoceroses, the black rhino has recently been making a comeback thanks to conservation efforts. From a low of 2,500 black rhinos, due to over-hunting and horn poaching, their population has rebuilt to 5,000.

That sounds good until you realize that as recently as 1960, there were about 60,000 black rhinos. That's a loss of 97.6% of the species since 1960.

Medieval Japan Was A Great Place To Be Gay

By the 1300s, Japanese samurai had started taking their proteges as lovers. Usually, this was an older man with a younger boy. It was so common that one samurai said, “A young man without a pledged, elder he-lover is likened to a young girl without a fiance.” But same-age male love was normal, too. A pair of aging male lovers, they said, were like “two old cherry trees still in bloom.”

A New Old Way To Get High

Did you know cannabis can be drunk? Edible cannabis, called bhang in Hindi, has been eaten and drunk in India since as early as 1,000 BCE.

There May Be A Second Viking Site In Canada

The one you may have heard about, that is pretty widely agreed to be Viking, is L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. But what I didn't know is there is a second potential colony mentioned in the Icelandic saga of Erik the Red.  Intrepid explorer Thorfinn Karlsefn travels to a land called Hóp, where he finds grapes, plentiful supplies of salmon, barrier sandbars and natives who use animal-hide canoes. But not one has ever found Hóp. Unfortunately, the Icelandic sagas were not big on directions.

Now, an archaeologist is speculating that Hóp is in New Brunswick, south of L'Anse aux Meadows. The only area on the Atlantic seaboard that accommodates all the saga criteria is northeastern New Brunswick, the archaeologist argues, and particularly the Miramichi-Chaleur bay area. Northeastern New Brunswick is the northern limit of grapes. It has plentiful salmon, unlike more southern candidates like Maine or Massachusetts. It has barrier sandbars. And hide canoes were used by the Mi’kmaq people in the Miramichi-Chaleur bay area. Some evidence for Hóp's proposed site also comes from L'Anse aux Meadows, where the remains of butternuts and parts of linden trees have been found -- species which are native only to New Brunswick.

South African Sites Offer New Perspective On How Humans Survived Prehistoric SuperEruption

According to a BBC News report, an international team of researchers has found evidence of human activity on the southern coast of South Africa, both before and after the cataclysmic eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Toba some 74,000 years ago. Both sites, one at a rock shelter and one in the open air on a beach, yielded shards of volcanic glass chemically fingerprinted to Mount Toba, which is located nearly 5,600 miles away.

<>Mount Toba's eruption is famous in paleontology and genetic circles because it coincides with a nosedive in the Homo sapiens population. The eruption was huge -- the largest in the last 2.5 million years -- and caused ecological devastation across the planet. Plants died from the ash and lack of sunlight, and animals died for lack of plants to eat. Genetic evidence suggests the Homo sapiens population may have dipped as low as 500 breeding pairs. We almost went extinct. But the new evidence from South Africa shows the eruption could have been less catastrophic for some well-placed pockets of Homo sapiens.

The scientists found deposits of seashells from food preparation and stone flakes from toolmaking at the two sites. Based on an increase in the number of shells and stone flakes after the eruption, scientists say the population of the groups that used these sites may have actually increased after the volcanic event: the sites became home to larger groups, who stayed at the sites for longer. It has been suggested that the eruption would have wiped out much of the global human population, but these coastal populations may have thrived, since they relied upon the sea for food. Marine life was less affected by the Mount Toba eruption, so Homo sapiens that lived by the sea may have weathered the ecological disaster better.

Ancient Romans Didn't Believe Women Could Like Women

A lot of Romans simply didn’t believe lesbians existed. The poet Ovid called lesbianism “a desire known to no one,” musing that, “among all animals, no female is seized by desire for female.”

Irish Workers In The 1500s Drank Ale Like Water

Beer was a staple of the Irish diet, as much as bread, according to new research. Masons hewing stone at a Dublin quarry in 1565 were allotted 12 to 14 pints of ale a day, when doing extreme labor. That's the highest amount. But the lowest daily amount is still pretty high: household staff at Dublin Castle, and Elizabethan soldiers stationed in Ireland, were drinking up to 8 pints of hopped ale a day.

In the 1500s, Irish beers had higher oat contents than English beers. Oat beer was reportedly thicker, and more bitter, than beer made predominantly with barley. They also have 400 to 500 calories a pint. You could drink nothing but beer, and get enough calories for your day!

Ancient Egypt Affected By Climate Change?

Researchers recently claimed that ancient Egypt's highly advanced civilization may have been brought down by unrest, primarily caused by climate change and volcanoes. The study used modern climate science and Ptolemy-Dynasty texts to explore the impact of volcanic eruptions on the flow of the Nile River.

It found that riots were caused by famines, which happened due to natural events that reduced the summer flooding of the Nile River. Without a proper flood season, crop yield was low or the entire harvest was lost. And hungry citizens are not good citizens.

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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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