Sultanahmet Jail was an Ottoman-era jail in Istanbul built between 1918 and 1919. It was the first jailhouse in the capital city, and was intended for those who were awaiting trial or serving brief sentences, but evolved into a prison for writers, journalists, and artists as intellectual dissidents. Today, it is a luxury Four Seasons Hotel.

Bronze Age Palace Uncovered By Iraqi Drought

Drought has revealed the remains of a 3,400-year-old palace in the Mosul Dam reservoir, in Iraq's Kurdistan region. The palace, at a site known as Kemune, once stood on an elevated terrace on the eastern banks of the Tigris River. It appears to be from the Mittanni Empire. For those (like me) whose history classes did not mention the Mittanni, it was a Bronze Age, Hurrian-speaking empire, which ruled parts of northern Mesopotamia and Syria in the 1400s and 1300s BCE.

There are a number of notable finds from archaeological examinations of Kemune. Ten cuneiform tablets were uncovered, which have been sent for translation. The palace's mudbrick walls are 6 feet thick and 6 feet high in some places. Suggesting when they were originally built, the walls were even taller and more impressive. There are also traces of rare red and blue wall-paint still detectable. That makes Kemune only the second site in the region where Mittanni wall paintings have been found. Unfortunately, the palace has been overtaken by the dam's water since the archaeological investigation took place. And no emergency archaeological efforts are planned -- just a wait until the next drought.

The first known Treatise of Hippology, or study of horses, was written in the Hittite language by a man named Kikkuli around 1300 BCE.

Communist China Almost Had A Mao Dynasty

Did you know that Mao Zedong had a son? (Mao actually had 10 children, and 4 wives, but that's another post.) The important son was Mao Anying. He had the vital qualities of being a man, surviving to adulthood, and not having mental health problems. Mao Anying was quietly being groomed, having been sent to the Soviet Union in 1936 for university. But then World War II broke out, and what does every good dictator's heir need? Military experience!

Mao Anying joined the Soviet Red Army during World War II, serving as an artillery officer in Poland. As an added bonus, he got communist credentials, because China's communist party was still friendly with the USSR at the time. When World War II ended he joined the Chinese People's Volunteer Army, as a Russian translator and secretary, and was promptly sent to the new war in Korea. And in 1950 he was killed by an American napalm bomb. With Mao Anying's death, any chance of a Mao dynasty also died. China was forced to have a non-hereditary leadership, with the top job being given to who could politic the best.

Mao Anying's chance death prevented China from becoming like North Korea, which does have a hereditary dynasty.Unfortunately for North Korea, the Kim family's children were too young to fight in World War II or the Korean War, and all survived to inherit the dynasty.

Romans Pronounced "C" Only One Way

And that was hard -- like "k" in English today. So Caesar? Should be pronounced "kaeser." Hence the modern descendents "tzar" and "kaiser." Interestingly, the Roman pronunciation was maintained in English in the name "Octavian" and "Cleopatra." Try saying them out loud!

Can You Name A Flying Dinosaur?

That's a trick question -- because in the scientific classification system "dinosaurs" only live on land, and do not fly or live in the water.

Unusual Chinese Artifact Found in Japanese Riverbed

A bronze ring artifact from Japan has been identified as a weight for measuring commodities. The ring was found a while ago, in 1999, at the bottom of a dry riverbed which flowed during the late Yayoi Pottery Culture period (300 BCE - 300 CE). The artifact is estimated to date to the second half of the 100s CE. The ring measures 12.7 centimeters (5 inches) across, is 0.7 cm (0.27 in) thick and weighs 89.30 grams (3.14 oz).

What makes the find special is that weight rings have previously been found only in China and Korea, as burial accessories. It has been known that Japan during this period had connections with China, as other Chinese-made artifacts from the the Early Han Dynasty (202 BCE - 8 CE) have been found in Japanese tombs. This ring weight suggests that Chinese trading practices, such as a semi-standardized weight system, were also making their way to Japan.


"I once spent all day thinking without taking food and all night thinking without going to bed, but I found that I gained nothing from it. It would have been better for me to have spent the time in learning."

Confucius

Did You Know Azerbaijan Used To Have Burning Mountains?

The country has plentiful natural gas reserves, which sometimes leak to the surface, and spontaneously create fires. Venetian traveler Marco Polo mentioned seeing some of these natural fires when he passed through the area in the 1200s. Unfortunately just a handful still burn. Because they led to a reduction of gas pressure underground, interfering with commercial gas extraction, most have been snuffed out. But a few remain. Including one named "Yanar Dag," which literally translates to "Burning Mountain."

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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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