Humans Used To Eat Off What?

Before cookware emerged around 24,000 BCE, humans relied on foraged shells or animal parts (like stomachs or hides) to store and carry food.

Re-Analyses Suggest Final Days of PreColumbian Castle Were Violent Ones

One of Arizona’s most famous landmarks is a pair of 900-year-old limestone cliff dwellings, whose sudden abandonment centuries ago has proven to be an enduring mystery. Incorrectly called "Montezuma's Castle" and "Castle A," they were abandoned about 600 years ago, after 300 years of occupation. It was long thought that the castles were burned as part of some sort of closing ritual, then voluntarily abandoned. Recent research disagrees. Instead, new analyses suggest the castles' last days were violent ones.

The buildings were charred, and carbon dating of both the char and design analysis of pottery remains, reveal the buildings were occupied right up until they burned between the years 1375 and 1395. Perhaps more persuasively, the remains of four people had been excavated from Castle A in the 1930s. Previously, it was thought they had been dead and buried long before the buildings burned. But a closer examination of previous research done on those remains revealed that the dead had sustained trauma before their deaths, as evidenced by cut marks on their bones, burn marks, and fractures in three of the four skulls. And one of the skulls showed evidence of having been burned at the same time, or shortly after, it was violently attacked. All in all, the new analyses suggest the castles were attacked and burned, and subsequently abandoned. This new viewpoint is corroborated by Native American oral histories of the site’s collapse, which were incorporated into the new research.

The English word "alarm" means a state of sudden fear, or an alert that something is dangerous. It comes from the Middle French "à l'arme," or "alarme," which in English means "to arms!" It was the sound heard right before an attack. The word is first attested in English in 1378.

Basketball Used To Be Keep-Away

Today, basketball teams can only hold onto the ball for so long before they have to shoot. In the NBA and WNBA the shot clock is 24 seconds. Effectively, this means teams have to give up control of the basketball every 24 seconds or so.

This restriction was not always there. Before 1954, it was legal for a team to build up a comfortable lead, then simply hold onto the ball for the rest of the game!

What is the Meghalayan Age?

The International Commission on Stratigraphy recently announced the creation of a new unit in the scale of geological time, the Meghalayan Age, from 4200 years before present, or 2200 BCE, to the present. That means we are currently living in the Meghalayan Age! Our age began with a megadrought. A "megadrought" means at least twenty years of drought, but this one was two centuries of low water, which research has linked to the collapsing of civilizations in Egypt, Syria, Greece, Palestine, Mesopotamia, the Indus River Valley, and the Yangtze River Valley. Geologic time scales are reflected in layers of rock or geologic strata. The best evidence of this sudden, global megadrought can be found in chemical signatures in a stalagmite in a cave in the Indian state of Meghalaya; hence the name.

But this new geologic age, less than a year old, is now the subject of controversy. There are three main arguments (so far) against the new Meghalaya Age. First, that all these civilizations did not collapse at once. Local city-states in Mesopotamia flourished, for instance, even as the Akkadian Empire shrunk. Second, that the archaeological and historical record suggests the civilizations destabilized due to specific, local problems -- not a worldwide megadrought. For instance, Egyptian civilization had slowly decentralizing for about a hundred and fifty years before 2200 BCE, but there was no disruption to Egyptian civilization, no dark age, and no mass starvation and death. Third, that the environmental determinism suggested by naming a new age after the Meghalayan megadrought takes away the importance of human agency, of cultural and sociopolitical factors, to drive change. By saying a drought caused all these civilizations' problems, we deny that humans are capable of causing such large-scale changes.

The debate has just begun. Initial arguments have been made for both sides. There are many more archaeological and historical discoveries to be made, scientific checking to do, and debates to be had. I personally am very excited to see what happens to the Meghalayan megadrought!

A Brief History of Cairo

Egypt’s largest city has quite a colorful history. From the Arabic Conquest to the Crusades, Cairo saw it all. Read about the history of this interesting city on my patreon

Remains of Two Neanderthals Found In Kurdistan

Shanidar Cave, where the fossils of 10 Neanderthal individuals have been unearthed since the 1950s, has recently revealed two more Neanderthals' remains. One individual was buried on top of the other, and a rock appeared to have been placed over both.

Ben & Jerry's Invented Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

It was suggested by a customer in 1984, and Ben & Jerry's liked it. But the flavor was only offered in one store in Burlington, Vermont. Meanwhile, they experimented with the flavor, trying to get the familiar cookie dough taste and texture, even when frozen. Once they were satisfied, chocolate chip cookie dough pints started appearing in grocery stores across America. And the rest is history!

The word “coward” comes from the Anglo-French word “cuard” -- which might itself come from “cue/coe,” meaning tail. Which makes sense. That is the part of a coward that you see!

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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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