Athletes in ancient Greece smeared olive oil on their bodies before a competition. The oil made their skin more supple and made them appear, as classical writers described, "like gleaming statues of the gods."

The first blue-feathered prehistoric bird has been detected by science. It’s feathers are long gone, but remains of their pigment were analyzed, and fall on the spectrum of what human eyes call “blue.” The bird lived about 48 million years ago.

The archangel Michael, whose cult first emerged in Ethiopia under the patronage of Emperor Zär'a Ya'eqob (ruled 1434–1468), remains the most venerated archangel in Ethiopia. This is largely due to his role as an intercessor on behalf of the faithful. In this folio dating to the late 1600s, Saint Michael rescues the faithful from the flames of hell. And on the facing page, those Michael has already saved are depicted as living safely in paradise.

Unusual Chinese Artifact Found in Japanese Riverbed

A bronze ring artifact from Japan has been identified as a weight for measuring commodities. The ring was found a while ago, in 1999, at the bottom of a dry riverbed which flowed during the late Yayoi Pottery Culture period (300 BCE - 300 CE). The artifact is estimated to date to the second half of the 100s CE. The ring measures 12.7 centimeters (5 inches) across, is 0.7 cm (0.27 in) thick and weighs 89.30 grams (3.14 oz).

What makes the find special is that weight rings have previously been found only in China and Korea, as burial accessories. It has been known that Japan during this period had connections with China, as other Chinese-made artifacts from the the Early Han Dynasty (202 BCE - 8 CE) have been found in Japanese tombs. This ring weight suggests that Chinese trading practices, such as a semi-standardized weight system, were also making their way to Japan.

Office Whiskey Dispenser, circa 1950s

Note that this is a demonstration! The photograph is from The Second Automatic Vending Exhibit and Convention in 1960. Caption: "Monica Bays pours herself a whisky and soda from an automatic vending slot machine at a trade fair. The machine, produced by Rollason Aerocessaries of Croydon, mixes whisky, water and soda when you insert 2 shillings and sixpence. Time switches ensure it locks automatically to conform with licensing hours."

How Were Ancient Greek Women Educated?

Historians generally believe that ancient Greek girls did not have as much access to education as ancient Greek boys. But they must have had some, sometimes. Recorded history remembers a number of educated women such as Sappho of Lesbos, a famous poet, and Diotima, a philosopher and contemporary of Socrates. The lack of documentation on women's lives in classical Greece makes it difficult to determine exactly how much education girls received, however. Were these educated women rare? Or relatively common?

In addition to famous educated women, evidence also comes from art historians. A handful of artworks depict females studying! A kylix from the 400s BCE depict a female student carrying a tablet and stylus, used to write notes during a teacher's lectures. A vase from the same century shows a woman reading from a papyrus (above), meaning she had been taught how to read. A water vessel from the 500s BCE show two young girls being taught to dance by a female teacher. Such limited and fragmentary evidence is all historians have to attempt to understand how girls and women were educated in ancient Greece.

Thanks to a small stick with two cactus needles on its end, we know that Native Americans in the southwest USA were tattooing each other as early as 2,000 years ago. Which is much, much earlier than previously believed. The artifact in question is made of a sumac twig handle, two small prickly pear cactus spines, and yucca-leaf trips to hold the spines on the handle.

If you look closely you can see that the tips of the needles are stained with a black pigment. Analyses show the pigment matches the proper depth to pierce and stain the epidermis. This was not a first, fumbling attempt but a workable tool, one that was used before it was eventually thrown away.

The artifact comes from a midden heap at the Turkey Pen site near Bear Ears National Monument, which was occupied by the Ancestral Puebloan civilization from roughly 50 BCE to 200 CE. It is the first evidence that the Ancestral Puebloan peoples practiced tattooing. Elsewhere in the world, the rise of tattooing is associated with agriculture and increases in population. Ancestral Puebloans were undergoing just such a population increase when the tool was made. Archaeologists on the project speculated, therefore, that community members' tattoos may have strengthened a sense of social identity, as the world quickly changed around them.

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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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