Birds of a Feather

A new study, looking at macaw skeletons found at three prehistoric pueblo sites in New Mexico, USA, suggests that Native Americans in this arid area imported the birds from less-arid places. The bird remains which were examined date from between 300 CE and 1450 CE. The majority were tropical macaws -- definitely not native to New Mexico! There is also no evidence of macaw breeding save at one site. Put together, the evidence points to importing the birds.

In addition, there was widespread scarring along the surface of their bones, showing that humans removed their feathers. And many of the macaws' skeletons showed malnourishment, likely from being kept inside and fed a largely corn diet. Which, counter-intuitively, suggests the Pueblans were caring for them extremely well, for their society. Basically? The macaws were being imported, kept in captivity, and systematically harvested for their bright and colorful feathers.

An Animated History of Ukraine

Really, really good history! Since I know next to nothing about Ukraine's national history, I particularly appreciated the accessibility -- the vlogger assumed we had been born yesterday, and it worked.

A Complete Viking Boat Burial Discovered!

The completely intact boat burial of a high-status Viking has been found in Scotland. It's exciting because not only is the site undisturbed by looting or the elements, but the site is the first undisturbed Viking boat burial to be found in mainland Britain! Besides with his longboat, the deceased was buried with an axe, spear, and sword. But the burial was not all about fighting. They were discovered with a whetstone from Norway, a ring pin from Ireland and pottery from the Hebrides -- suggesting a widely-traveled Viking. Sadly little human remains remained, just a few fragments of bone and two teeth.
So far we know very little. The burial appears to date to the late 800s or early 900s CE. The person was high-status. Beyond that, we will have to wait for scientific testing to fill in the story, such as their gender, where they grew up, and what they ate.

  A tomb in northern Iraq, first exposed by construction workers in 2013, concealed the remains of at least six individuals. Along with dozens of ceramic vessels, a bracelet decorated with snake heads was found among the burials and helps date the tomb to the end of the Achaemenid Empire, or just after it. So somewhere between 400 and 550 BCE. Sometime later, between 700 and 1600 CE, the tomb was reused and five more people were buried on top of the ancient skeletons.   Yes, you read that right -- people reused a 1,100 to 2,000 year-old tomb!

Who Counts As Family?

Under the traditional Irish laws, the Brehon Laws, there were three family groups. The largest unit was the iarfine, or ‘after-kin’, comprised of all descendants sharing a common great-great-grandfather. The next was the derbfine, or ‘true-kin’, which was considered to be the most important. These were all descendents sharing a common great-grandfather.

Under the Brehon Laws parties to legal proceedings were not treated as individuals but rather as members of their wider kin-group. For the purposes of law, therefore, the whole derbfine was treated as a single legal entity. All kinsmen of this group were duty bound to remedy all wrongdoings, whether committed by or against their members. Finally, the gelfine, or ‘bright-kin’, was the close family made up of all descendants sharing a common grandfather.

Who was Alhazen?

Born around a thousand years ago in present day Iraq, Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham (known in the West by the Latinized form of his first name “Alhazen”) was a pioneering scientific thinker who made important contributions to the understanding of astronomy and mathematics as well as vision, optics and light. al-Haytham was born in 965 CE in Basra. However, he spent most of his life around the Fatimid Caliphate in Cairo, and died there in 1040 CE. His first project? He proposed to the Caliph a hydraulic project to improve regulation of the flooding of the Nile, and his method included an early attempt at building a dam at the present site of the Aswan Dam!     To have food and shelter, al-Haytham tutored various nobility while writing treatises on subjects that interested him. Among other things, he was the first to explain that vision occurs when light bounces on an object and then is directed to one's eyes, he is considered the first theoretical physicist, and he began the mathematics to connect algebra and geometry.

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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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