First Nations Peoples Cultivated Shellfish, New Archaeological Evidence Finds

Several unassuming rock walls along the shore of Quadra Island, in Canada’s British Columbia, are actually the ruins of ancient clam gardens constructed by First Nations peoples thousands of years ago. The walls were erected within intertidal zones to create sandy terraces. These are ideal habitats for shellfish such as littleneck and butter clams. In some cases, the rock walls improved the productivity of natural clam beaches, and in others, the rocks walls created shellfish habitats from scratch. Radiocarbon dating of organic material sampled from one wall indicates it was built nearly 3,500 years ago, making it the oldest known aquaculture system of its kind.

The First Ready-to-Mix Food Was Also Racist

The first ready-mix food ever sold was Aunt Jemima's pancake flour, in 1889. The pancake flour was produced by Chris L. Rutt and his friend Charles G. Underwood, both white. This is relevant because "Old Aunt Jemima" was a minstrel song, and a rather popular one too, usually sung by a white man in blackface and dressed as a woman. She would wear a kerchief on her head, and a polka dot dress with a white collar, typical for "mammy" archetypes in American minstrel shows.

While it's unclear if either man ever saw "Old Aunt Jemima" performed, the name of their pancake flour was definitely inspired by the "mammy" archetype. The original advertisements and boxes make that quite clear. You can google it -- I'm not interested in featuring the pictures on h-nf.

Ancient Egyptian Festival So Important It Got Its Own Month

In ancient Egypt, the coming of the annual Nile flood was eagerly anticipated. The floods made Egypt fertile, replenishing the fields with beautiful, dark silt. This joyous season was also when Egypt held one of its most spectacular festivals: the Feast of Opet.

Held annually in the city of Thebes, the main attraction was a huge procession from the temple complex at Karnak to the temple of Luxor, with statues of the cities' most sacred gods at the heart of the parade. Opet's formal name is "heb nefer en Ipet" or "beautiful feast of Opet." It is believed that "opet" or "ipet" is the holiest inner sanctuary of the temple of Luxor.

The beautiful feast of Opet was so important to the ancient Egyptians that the second month of the Nile flood, when the festival usually occurred, was named after the festival: "pa-en-ipet" or "the [month] of Opet." Fitting, because the festival slowly grew from 11 days in the mid-1400s BCE to 27 days in the mid-1100s BCE. The festival really was its own month! And the ancient Egyptians probably did not mind having so much time to party.

It is estimated that over the past 200 years, the use of toilets -- and the cleaner environments and water supply that indoor plumbing entails -- have add about twenty years to the average human life.

Ayurveda's Three Classics

Ayurveda, a ancient medical tradition from India, has three great ancient authors. Each is known for one significant text. Today they are understood to be compilation texts, summaries of schools of medicine at the time of their writing, but the authors are believed to have been real people who wrote each individual book. Like an encyclopedia.

Sushruta, writing sometime in the 600s BCE (probably) wrote the "Sushruta Samhita," a treatise on medicine and surgery with a large section dedicated to medical instruments as well. Charaka, alive sometime in the 200s BCE, wrote a treatise focusing solely on medicine, the "Charaka Samhita." The third great author, Vagbhata, came much later in the 600s CE. His two major ayurvedic treatises similarly covered a broad swathe of medicine, but they also explicitly referenced the Sushruta Samhita and the Charaka Samhita, covering where they disagreed and the various solutions that had arose to those disagreements over the centuries.

The Great Hare: An Algonquin Trickster Who Helped Create The World

Nanabozho is a prominant trickster figure, found in most Algonquin tribes' belief system. Stories about him vary considerably from tribe to tribe. His parents change, he is sometimes given siblings, and stories about his deeds would fill a book. Nicknamed "the Great Hare" although he is rarely shown as a rabbit, Nanabozho is a transformer figure, a creator and provider of food and representative of the various life force(s). Although a bit of a trickster figure, Nanabozho is not truly immoral or even seriously inappropriate. He is viewed as a virtuous hero and friend of humankind who happens to have a mischievous side.

There's so much contradictory information about Nanabozho so that is where I will stop. If you want to read some of the many tales about Nanabozho, here is a list to get you started.

Beware The Jellyfish

The box jellyfish's sting causes severe headaches, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, pulmonary edema, and severe anxiety -- its apparently so bad that some victims beg doctors to kill them. It is estimated that since 1954 box jellyfish have caused more the 5,500 deaths.

The Precursor to Modern Sign Language

The first modern sign language for the hearing impaired is credited to Pedro Ponce de Leon, a Spanish Benedictine monk who lived in the 1500s. Native Americans had long used hand gestures to communicate with other tribes and to facilitate trade with Europeans. Inspired, de Leon adapted the gestures used at his monastery to create a method to teach the deaf to communicate.

de Leon's first success was with Gaspard Burgos, a deaf man who, because of his difficulty with oral communication, had been denied membership in the Benedictine order. Under de Leon's tutelage, Burgos learned to speak so that he could make his confession. Burgos later wrote a number of books. de Leon went on to teach a number of other individuals how to speak and write, using his sign language, but his exact methods of teaching have been lost to history.

It took another Spanish cleric building on his work, one Juan Pablo Bonet, to write the first surviving work on educating individuals with hearing disabilities. Titled "Summary of the letters and the art of teaching speech to the mute" it was published in Madrid in 1620. However, both de Leon and Bonet focused on teaching the deaf to speak and write, and their sign languages were systems used to facilitate that. Their manual systems were not true "languages" with grammar and syntax.

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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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