There is no evidence that Vikings wore helmets with horns or wings on them. But ancient Akkadian warriors wore helmets with bull horns on them 1600 years before the Vikings made their first longship raid. The Akkadians, in fact, were the first recorded soldiers to adopt that style. The bull horns were not meant as a symbol of intimidation but a symbol of divinity. The first king in all of Mesopotamia to declare himself a god, Naram-Sin, had himself depicted as wearing a helmet topped with bull horns so that all who saw him would know his divine power.
Blue, green, and hazel eyes all exist thanks to a genetic mutation; brown was the only eye color present in humans until about 6,000 years ago.
Diglossia is when a single community uses two languages or dialects. It is only diglossia if this is a stable situation -- not a transition from one language to another. In diglossia, one language is for everyday use (the low language), and one language is for specific situations (the high language) such as literature, formal education, or religious activities. The high language usually has no native speakers. Examples are Latin, used by scholars in the European Middle Ages, Mandarin for official communications and local dialects for everyday use in China, and literary Tamil versus spoken Tamil.
The earliest known diglossia is Middle Egyptian, the language in everyday use in Ancient Egypt during the Middle Kingdom (2000 - 1650 BCE). By the New Kingdom (1550 -1050 BCE) the language had evolved into Late Egyptian. And by the Persians, then Ptolemies, then Roman Empire, the language had evolved into Demotic (700 BCE - 400 CE). But Middle Egyptian remained the standard written, prestigious form, the high language, and was still in use until the 300s CE. That means it was used, unchanged, for over 1,900 years after people had stopped speaking it!
A child-sized cup with a nipple-like spout was included in the burial of a small child, about 2,500 years ago in southern Germany. It is one of many miniature cups, many with nipple-like spouts, that have been found interred with young children's remains across Europe. The oldest are almost 5,500 years old! They look like sippy cups, but what were these Bronze and Iron age babies drinking? Analysis of the residue inside the containers strongly suggest that they were used to feed the babies animal's milk. Perhaps it was part of weaning from their mothers, and transitioning to solid food. There was also evidence that the milk was fresh when it was put in sippy cup to be buried.
A fossil of an unusual piranha-like fish from the Late Jurassic period has been unearthed by scientists in southern Germany. It belonged to an extinct order of bony fish, and had serrated sharp teeth, perfect for tearing bites off its prey. That's very unusual since most species in its order were shellfish eaters with flat, crushing teeth. Even more amazing -- some of the fossil's victims were in the limestone with it! Fish with chunks missing from their fins were found nearby, confirming that the new find was indeed a flesh-eating bony fish, the first one on record.
The fossil has been named Piranhamesodon pinnatomus. The genus name is "Piranha" (you can guess why) plus "mesodon,"a common suffix for bony fish of this order, and the species name is Latin for "fin-cutter."
Crete started to become a trading power around 3000 BCE. By the middle of the 2000s BCE, it was the heart of a large trading network, with connections to Syria, Egypt, the many Aegean islands, and mainland Greece.
The Minoan people followed their ships, and established settlements throughout the Mediterranean world. When the Greeks did the same in the 700s and 500s BCE, their settlements were called “colonies.” And just like the later Greek colonies, these Minoan settlements spread Minoan language, arts, and textiles. Even urban planning: far-flung Minoan settlements were laid out just like Minoan towns back home.
This is just such a cool image. An Olmec priest is sitting in the lap of a snake larger than he is. Monument 19, from La Venta, Mexico (1200–400 BCE).
A tophet means a sacred precinct outside a city used for burials of sacrifices. In English it also means hell. Which is fitting, because recent evidence from Carthage's tophets contained tiny cremated human bones packed into urns and buried underneath tombstones with inscriptions that gave thanks to the gods. A recent study found that these burials were evidence that Carthage practiced infant sacrifice. As evidence, the researchers cited the inscriptions on the tombstones, which recorded that the gods had “heard my voice and blessed me." Some urns contained animal remains which have definitely been sacrificed and were buried in the exact same way as the children. Finally, the discovered skeletons were far too few to represent all the stillbirths and infant deaths that would occur in a city the size of Carthage 2,000 years ago. The evidence points towards elite Carthaginians engaging in child sacrifice to give thanks for blessings they have received from the gods.
Roman historian Diodorus claimed that in the city of Carthage there was a bronze statue of Cronus with his hands extended, palm up. All babies placed within would roll down into a pit of fire. The historian even made mention of rich families who bought poor children and raised them specifically for sacrifice. Romans and Greeks dismissed Diodorus' claims as anti-Carthaginian propaganda. But modern archaeology may have vindicated him -- though frankly this is something that he probably would have been happy to be wrong about.
Quetzalcoatlus, the largest known flying animal ever, was as tall as a giraffe. It flew over North America during the Late Cretaceous, about 100.5–66 million years ago. The name comes from the Mesoamerican feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl.
The Book of Joshua offers what many historians believe to be one of the first recorded instances of a solar eclipse, which occurred on October 30, 1207 BCE.