This Is The World's Largest Sarcophagus

The Sidamara Sarcophagus, made in the 200s CE, is the heaviest sarcophagus in the world at 32 tons. The name is not from its occupant, but the town in Turkey where it was found.

Church Is Being Reclaimed by Nature - In The Middle of a City

The City Methodist Church in Gary, Indiana, is a massive church. It included a gymnasium for activities and a cafeteria. Built in 1926 in the Gothic Revival style, it was unfortunately closed due to high cost of maintenance and low numbers of visitors in 1975. In 1997, a large fire that devastated most of downtown Gary destroyed the roof of the church, leaving it open to the elements. The result is what you see today: a beautiful facade being slowly consumed by plants. Although it is technically closed to the public, enthusiastic photographers have found their way in.

Its A Man! Its A Web! Its...An Ethiopia Hand Cross!

Ethiopian sculptures rarely have human figures in them. Figures only appear in wooden artwork, sometimes identified as Adam or Christ. Here, the human is the handle for the cross.   The delicate web? That’s the cross, elaborately carved from wood into a delicate pattern. And the box below the human’s feet appear to be a reference to the tabot, or carved altar box, venerated by Ethiopian Christians. Often hand crosses were carved by the priests that used them; this complex and delicate cross was made by one talented priest!

180-Million-Year-Old Fossil Is Missing Link In Crocodile Family Tree

A recent study published in the PeerJ journal has a new take on a specimen discovered in 1996 in north-west Hungary.   “Dolphin-like” marine crocodiles who lived in the open oceans, called metriorhynchids, have been known about for over 200 years. They were identified before even dinosaurs! And we knew that those dolphin-like creatures were probably the evolutionary ancestor of the first ancient crocodiles. But how one became the other was unknown. The new study argues that the fossilized specimen, named Magyarosuchus fitosi, is the missing link in crocodile's evolution. Its body appears to be between metriorhynchids and crocodiles.

This Ancient Serpent Is A Little Too Lifelike

Amazingly, this was made between the late 2000s and early 1000s BCE! That’s ancient Bronze Age.     It appears to have been a lid for a larger vessel, lost with time. If so, that’s an impressive vessel, because its lid is all silver. Found in eastern Iran, the culture that produced it is unknown.

The Grisly Chitenjo of Kyoto Immortalize Famous Warriors from Japan's Warring States Period


One of the last battles of Japan's "age of warring states" happened at Fushimi Castle, in Kyoto. What was the “age of warring states”? It is a period in Japanese history, stretching from the mid-1400s to the early 1600s, that was marked by near-constant military conflict. The period ended when Tokugawa Ieyasu came into power and established the Tokugawa shogunate, unifying Japan under a feudal system with himself at the top.

In his climb to power, Tokugawa had to subdue everyone else. And that was bloody. At one point, a vassal of Tokugawa's named Mototada were left defending Fushimi Castle with 2,000 men. Tokugawa's enemy, Ishida Mitsunari, had 40,000 men. The ending was decided before the fighting started. But Mototada did not give up, and did not surrender. A betrayal from within after 12 days of siege ended things quickly, however, and Mototada knew he was doomed. With fires raging everywhere, Mototada and his remaining three hundred and seventy warriors did what was considered honorable and noble for a defeated samurai — they committed seppuku, or ritualistic suicide./p>

Although Fushimi Castle was basically a small skirmish in a large war, its reverberations went far beyond the immediate loss of the castle. In the weeks that followed, Tokugawa Ieyasu raised an army of 90,000 and challenged Ishida Mitsunari's forces for a decisive battle at Sekigahara, which would mark the final victory of Tokugawa over, well, everyone in Japan. The Tokugawa family would rule Japan, with the emperor as a figurehead, for the next 268 years./p>

As part of the mopping-up after the warring states period, and to show everyone that Tokugawa remembered those loyal to him, Tokugawa immortalized Mototada. In 1623, the shogun had the fire-damaged Fushimi Castle dismantled. Sections of the castle that had not been burned or destroyed were salvaged. Some of the salvaged materials happened to be the floor boards upon which Mototada and his men committed suicide to avoid capture. Their blood had soaked so deep into the wood that the boards were permanently stained. Tokugawa had those boards incorporated, mainly as ceilings, into a number of castles and temples across Kyoto. They are known as chitenjo or “blood ceilings.”

In the Last 5 Years, 20 Countries Had Overall Population Decline

Some, like Japan, are unsurprising. but others, like Portugal and Latvia, you do not hear about as much.

Portrait of Abbot Nicholas à Spira

In 1543, Nicholas à Spira (1510-1568) was elected abbot at Grimbergen in the southern Netherlands (in what is today Belgium). The vain Nicholas commissioned an altarpiece with his oil portrait on one wing and that of his patron saint, St. Nicholas, on the other. Because monks are all about modesty, right?

March: Viewing Cherry Blossoms

Part of the woodblock series "Twelve Months” by two artists, Toyokuni and Toyohiro. 1801.

Edo-Period Scientists Studied Mythological Creatures

These are three pictures of "real-life" kappas! You may know them as child-sized imps which lure people, particularly children, into watery areas to drown. They are perhaps the most famous legendary creatures from Japan (or Harry Potter). In the 1700s and 1800s, kappas were treated as scientific discoveries in Japan. Multiple were captured. When one turned up, they were brought to local scientists for identification and recording.   The kappa on the left, sketched by Ito Chobei, was captured during the Meiwa period (1764 to 1772) in Edo, somewhere in present-day Tokyo's Edogawa ward. When the creature was shown to Ota Chogen, a noted herbalist of the time, he identified it as a kappa, based on a sketch of another captured kappa he had handy. According to the text in the book, the Meiwa period kappa measured 60 cm (2 ft) tall and had slippery skin like that of a catfish. The middle picture above shows a type of kappa with no shell. It doesn't appear to be based on a captured kappa. The picture on the right shows a kappa that was caught in a net in Mito, Japan in 1801. This kappa had a prominent chest, a crooked back and three anuses.

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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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