Expert Claims To Have Uncovered Leonardo Da Vinci’s First Work

  "The Archangel Gabriel," a painted glazed tile, was signed and dated by an artist believed to be the 18-year-old Da Vinci. If this new find is authenticated, it would be Da Vinci's first painted work.

A Samurai's Retirement Plan Found In Japan

  One of the biggest hoards of medieval coins in Japan has recently been found, in Saitama, just north of Tokyo. A ceramic jar filled with thousands of bronze coins was found at the site of a samurai's home. The jar appears to have been buried during the first half of 1400s.     It appears to contain at least 100,000 coins and maybe up to 260,000 -- depending on the interpretation of the wooden tablet which was found on the edge of the jar's lid. “Nihyaku rokuju” (260) had been written with an ink brush. The writer left off the what they were counting, though. 260 coins is laughably low, considering how many coins are in the jar. The archaeologist who announced the find thought the tablet likely left off "kan," or 1,000 coins; that means the jar was supposed to have held 260,000 coins. Quite a big nest egg!

Leonardo Da Vinci May Have Drawn The First Landscape In European Art

On August 5th, 1473, in his notebook with pen and ink, Leonardo da Vinci tried to depict a panorama of the rocky hills and lush, green valley surrounding the Arno River near Vinci. The aerial view was nothing he could have seen naturally. It was rather a fantasy of what birds might see, flying overhead -- but with some imaginative additions courtesy of Leonardo.     Other artists had drawn and painted landscapes as backdrops, but with the Arno River drawing, Leonardo was doing something different. He was drawing a landscape by itself, for its own beauty. This makes it a contender to be the first landscape in European art.

The chrysanthemum was brought to Japan around the beginning of the Heian period (794−1185). By the Edo period (1600 - 1868) hundreds of types of chrysanthemums were being cultivated. These pages come from Gakiku, the first picture book of chrysanthemums published in Japan, in 1691. Its beautiful illustrations and Chinese-style poems introduced readers to 100 different varieties of the flower.

Worlds Largest Child Sacrifice Found In Peru

The Chimú Empire site of Las Llamas, a windswept bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, witnessed a horrific mass sacrifice 550 years ago. The skeletons of 140 children between the ages of 5 and 14 have been found so far. Footprints reveal how the children were dragged to the site before being ritually slaughtered with knife blows to the sternum. Based on the marks on their skeletons, the children likely had their hearts cut out. About 200 young llamas were also sacrificed at the site, hence the name.

Las Llamas is the only known example of mass child sacrifice in the Americas -- and perhaps in the entire world. Archaeological evidence of severe weather patterns, and flooding, suggest the Chimú were driven to such a drastic sacrifice by the threat of natural disaster and its natural result, starvation.

Scotland Has Liked Its Whiskey For A Long Time

The first written record of Scotch Whiskey was made of June 1st, 1495. And it comes from an accountant. The Scottish Exchequer was responsible for recording royal income and expenditure in Scotland. The well-preserved calfskin parchment, better known as vellum, bears an entry on 1 June 1495 that records “To Friar John Cor, by order of the King, to make aqua vitae VIII bolls of malt.”

The Latin term aqua vitae means ‘water of life’. In Scottish Gaelic this same phrase translates as uisge-beatha, the first word being pronounced ‘ush-kee’. English language transcriptions subsequently recorded the word as ‘whisky’.

The First English Queen Since The Norman Conquest Caused Quite A Scandal

In 1464 when Elizabeth Woodville, widow of a Baron's heir, married Edward IV, king of England, it was a bit of a crazy match. She was way below his station. Woodville's father was a mere knight. Woodville's mother was the widow of a duke before her remarriage, and related to the royal line of Luxembourg, but in that day and age importance came through the male line, not the female line.
Elizabeth Woodville was also a non-virgin, with two sons from her previous marriage. Royal consort's virginity was greatly prized at a time when there was no real way to check the paternity of a child. Although as Edward IV pointed out, her two sons did show that Woodville was fertile. That's something you can't know for certain with a virgin bride.
Their marriage was secret, and the ceremony announced only after the fact -- after a couple months, too. That's very different from the usual royal marriage ceremonies, involving lots of preparations and lots of tax money. To make it even more scandalous, this was not necessarily Edward IV's first secret marriage. He already had at least one child from a previous relationship, who may have been considered legitimate because the child was raised by Edward IV's mother. Unfortunately, the child's mother is unknown and there is no record of a true marriage. But that previous secret marriage was widely believed to have happened. If it did, and the woman still lived, Edward IV could have been a bigamist. Making his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville invalid.
The icing on the cake, if the cake is anti-Woodville, was that Elizabeth Woodville was five years older than her husband! When they married the young king was 22, and Woodville was 27. Quel scandale!

When It Comes To Coffee Europeans Played Catch-Up to Islamic World

The earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking appears in the middle of the 1400s in the Sufi shrines of Yemen. However, it took a while for the new miracle drink to reach Europe, and longer for Europeans to know what they were drinking. The species Coffea Arabica was first scientifically described and named by Carl Linnaeus, in his book Species Plantarum from 1753. The second most important coffee species today, Coffea canephora, was not recognized to be a coffea species till more than a hundred years later, in 1897!

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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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