There were dozens of language families, each the equivalent of the Indo-European family, before 1492. This map is a "simplified" one. In today's California, for instance, languages that are spoken by neighboring tribes are as different as French and Chinese.
Why did the Americas develop such linguistic diversity? Many linguists suspect that at least some of these separate families date back to separate migrations of different tribes from Asia who originally spoke unrelated languages. Linguistic and archaeological data hint at more than one migration from Asia into the Americas, all of them through Alaska.
Extra Fun Fact: see “Eskimo-Aleut” in northern North America? It is not colored because there is no evidence those languages are related to any other indigenous American languages!
Why did the medieval Europeans switch from tunics, which were favored by the earlier civilizations like Greeks and the Romans, to pants? The answer is simple: horses win wars. All around the world, societies which had mastered the art of horseback combat wiped out those that had not. The theory goes that men in battle need protect their most sensitive organ. So pants it was.
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.
This golden ibex, with turquoise inlaid above each leg and circular gabbro inlaid above its rump. There is a coiled silver necklace around the animal's head and horns, which got attached in the earth when the creature was lost in antiquity. So no, the antlers are not supposed to be twisted. The figurine comes from the Bactrian region in western central Asia, although the specific culture is not known, between 100 BCE and 100 CE.
For millenia, the domed ceiling of the Pantheon in Rome was the largest dome in the world with no visible internal supports. It was made out of that famous Roman concrete and completed in 125 CE by Emperor Hadrian. The Pantheon's record was surpassed only in 1958, by the CNIT building in Paris. For those doing the math the Pantheon held the record for 1,833 years.
Scythians were ancient horse nomads whose tribes controlled the Eurasian steppe from southern Siberia to the Black Sea from about the 800s BCE to 100s CE. Thanks to their high-latitude homeland, some Scythian burials became accidental mummies, preserved in frozen ground until archaeologists uncovered them.
Their well-preserved bodies mean we can tell they had tattoos. Lots of them! They didn’t tattoo their faces. But pretty much anywhere else was up for inking. Click through the image gallery to see photos of a modern man who is re-creating one particular Scythian mummy's tattoos!
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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!