In A.H. 77–79/697–99 CE, the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan reformed Islamic coinage. He stopped using the styles of coins, with heads on one side and an image on the other, inherited from Byzantium and Sasanian Iran. Instead coins were decorated only with Arabic writing. Typically, the Muslim profession of the faith would appear in the field on the obverse, with the name of the mint in the margin. On the reverse of copper coins, the field would contain the name of the Prophet Muhammad, while the caliph’s name or that of a local ruler and the date would appear in the margin. The result was that coinage from the Islamic world took on a distinctive look and set of standard practices.

The average human temperature has decreased by about 1.5 degrees F. The standard of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit was made famous by German physician Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich, who published the figure in a book in 1868. However, it is now too high. A recent study, for example, found the average temperature of 25,000 British patients to be 97.9 F. The decrease in average body temperature is believed to be related to increased average healthiness.

Russia’s Historical Gender Disparity

You probably know that the Soviet Union was particularly badly hit -- numerically -- by World War II. It lost about 24 million people, compared to the next-highest Germany's 6.6 to 8.8 million dead. This being wartime, many more Soviet men died compared to Soviet women. And did you know that the gender disparity has never corrected? For the past seventy-five years, the Soviet Union and now Russia has always had more women than men. And by a large margin. Today, there are 1,159 women for every 1,000 men in Russia.

This jug's decoration of water birds and bending plants is an example of a particularly rare type of ceramic decoration. The jug is decorated in the "barbotine" technique, a style of decoration that is applied freehand using clay to create a raised design. Think icing applied to decorate a cake. Barbotine is very difficult to do well, and even when it is, requires much time. Thus there are few examples of barbotine techniques. Late 1st century BCE to early 1st century CE, Roman Empire.

The earliest recorded use of "motherfucker" is from an 1889 Texas court case. The defendant was accused of murdering a man who witnesses described as cursing out the defendant "promiscuosly" for days before he turned up dead. In fact, just an hour before the murder, three witnesses testified that they heard the victim call the defendant a “God damned mother-f—cking, bastardly son-of-a-bitch.” Of the four curses in that statement, only motherfucking was censored. So that tells you how bad of a curse it was already considered to be.

Where Is Eden?

In the 1600s, European scholars had a thing about discovering the geographic location of Eden. In 1694 the French bishop Pierre-Daniel Huet explained it was necessary because “Atheists and scoffers...demand, What’s become of paradise? Shew us the place in the Maps?” Huet wrote a book about it, A Treatise of the Situation of the Terrestrial Paradise, and concluded that Eden was near the Persian Gulf.

The modern Republic of Korea (aka South Korea) has never postponed an election. This includes during the Korean War, and now, covid-19!

Coal miners in eastern Serbia discovered three boats in what may have been a branch of the Danube River some 1,300 years ago. The site where the vessels were uncovered is near the ancient Roman city of Viminacium, which fell to invaders around 600 CE.

The largest of the three boats had a flat bottom, a single deck, at least six pairs of oars, fittings for a triangular sail, and measured about 49 feet long. It would have carried a crew of 30 to 35 sailors. The ship apparently had a lengthy career: traces of repairs to the hull suggest a well-used ship, which incurred wear and tear over its journeys. The two smaller boats were carved from single tree trunks, and are thought to have been made by Slavic peoples for crossing the river.

No signs of battle damage have been found on the boats, and no artifacts were left behind by the crews. Since the largest ship was built with Roman techniques, it is possible the boat dates to the Roman period, but those methods of construction may have continued to be used during the Byzantine and medieval periods as well, making dating tricky. Wood samples from preserved nearby oak trees have been sent for radiocarbon dating -- but covid-19 has prevented analyses from moving forward.

Street Traffic in London in the 1860s

This photograph is notable for showing a "live action" view of London streets during this period. It was taken at the clock tower at London Bridge.

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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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