A huge cache of stone inscriptions from one of Africa's oldest written languages have been unearthed in a vast "city of the dead" in Sudan. The inscriptions are written in the obscure 'Meroitic' language, the oldest known written language south of the Sahara, which remains only partially deciphered. The city of the dead is Sedeinga, located on the western shore of the Nile River in Sudan, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of the river's third cataract. It was once part of Nubia, a gold-rich region south of Egypt, which was home to multiple great ancient kingdoms. Sedeinga itself holds the vestiges of at least 80 brick pyramids and more than 100 tombs from the kingdoms of Napata and Meroe, which lasted from the 600s BCE to the 300s CE. They were cosmopolitan kingdoms, mixing Egyptian culture and sub-Saharan culture. One of the finds in Sedeinga, for instance, is a temple to the Egyptian goddess Ma'at, but depicted with Sub-Saharan African features for the first known time.

Map of Cities the Romans Founded, Outside of Italy

It says a lot about the state of western and northern Europe, that those are where the Romans founded new cities. In Asia and eastern Europe, they conquered cities, they didn't need to build them.

Where Is Humanity Most Diverse?

Africa - it is home to more genetic diversity than all the other continents combined.

That’s because modern humans originated in Africa, and we have lived there the longest. Africa has had time to evolve enormous genetic diversity. As a result, there is no such thing as an “African” race or “African” ethnicity.

How Old Is This Vase?


You may be surprised to learn that this terracotta vase is from the Umayyad or Abbasid Caliphates, between 700 and 900 CE!

Its style is distinctly Islamic in nature, with incised lines and an elegant shape. What I noticed first, though, was the odd glazing which leaves the bottom looking unfinished and looks very modern. Known as “two-thirds” glaze, this is actually typical of early Islamic art.

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.

The History and Geography of Cape Verde

To my knowledge, historical-nonfiction has not previously done a post on Cape Verde. Or Cabo Verde. So here you go! An introduction to this island African country.

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.

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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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