The Americas' Linguistic Diversity

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!

Italian Man Loses His Arm, Replaces It With A Knife!

About 1,500 years ago, a man in his late forties lost his arm. It was often a death sentence at the time. People died from amputations quickly, from bloodloss, or slowly, from infection. We do not know how or why, but this lucky man survived the injury and lived one-armed for years and perhaps decades. Well, not completely one-armed. He replaced his lost right forearm with a knife, buckled to his arm with leather straps. When he died the knife was buried with him. Leaving a very interesting find for modern archaeologists! He was found at a necropolis near Verona in northern Italy. The necropolis was in use between the 500s and 700s CE, and has so far yielded 164 tombs holding 222 individuals (plus a burial pit containing two greyhound dogs and a horse).  

Tang Dynasty Scroll Describes How Not To Destroy A Kingdom

This one page from a manuscript dating to the Tang dynasty and found complete in a cave in Dunhuang, China. It is a Tang dynasty copy of "On the Fall of States," by Lu Ji (261-303), a writer of the Western Jin dynasty. "On The Fall of States" describes the rise and fall of the Eastern Wu in the Three Kingdoms period, as well as the meritorious contributions of the Lu family. Famous among ancient works on administration, "On the Fall of States" argues that the key to a country's fortunes is to assess and employ people wisely.

This Is A Whistle?!

To answer my own question, yes! It's a whistle! Not sure if it still works though.... According to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), this is a Mayan whistle in the form of a sitting woman. Discovered on Jaina Island, off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, it is believed have been crafted between 600 and 900 CE. Pretty neat!

Hawaii Has A Protected Valley, Where Its Ancient Plants Are Preserved

For the past 1,500 years, Limahuli Valley on Kauai has been a green haven, a wilderness preserved to exist just as the native Hawaiians experienced it. It is home to plant life unlike anything found in the rest of the world, with many endangered plants thriving in the valley.

How Old Is This Vase?

 

You may be surprised to learn that this terracotta vase is from the Umayyad or Abbasid Caliphates, between 700 and 900 CE!

Its style is distinctly Islamic in nature, with incised lines and an elegant shape. What I noticed first, though, was the odd glazing which leaves the bottom looking unfinished and looks very modern. Known as “two-thirds” glaze, this is actually typical of early Islamic art.

What's In A Pot?

When archaeologists excavated the trove of Viking silver discovered by metal detector enthusiasts in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, in 2014, they unearthed more than 100 precious objects—silver ingots, solid gold and silver jewelry, glass beads—from multiple countries and cultures. Buried deep in a second excavated layer was a silver alloy pot with its lid still in place and sealed shut. The form and decoration of the vessel identified it as a piece of Carolingian manufacture made in western Europe between 780 and 900 CE.

Unfortunately, the silver alloy had some copper in it. As the copper eroded it weakened the pot. Opening the lid might destroy the entire thing, so archaeologists decided to have a CT scan done first, and check what was inside. The scans revealed an Anglo-Saxon openwork brooch, four more silver brooches, gold ingots, and ivory beads coated in gold, each piece individually wrapped in an organic material, perhaps a textile to protect it. Anglo-Saxon jewelry inside a Carolingian pot, inside a Viking hoard, in Scotland. It's a Russian nesting doll of an archaeological find!

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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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