People Have Been Eating Popcorn For A Long Time

A 1,000-year-old popped kernel of popcorn was found in a dry cave in the southwestern part of Utah.

Peaceful Women Making History

In 1931, Jane Addams became the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She was a prominent activist who was a leader for women's rights and is considered the mother of social work. The was also just the second woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The first woman was Austrian Baroness Bertha von Suttner, in 1905 -- making her the fifth recipient of the prize. bhe Baronness wrote one of the most influential books of the 1800s, the anti-war novel "Lay Down Your Arms" (1889).

The Great Diamond Decoy

The Cullinan Diamond is the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found, weighing 3,106.75 carats. Found in South Africa in 1905, it was put on sale in London, and bought as a present for King Edward VII of England's 66th birthday. It was cut into various smaller stones on the king's orders.

The problem was this: the best jewel cutters were in the Netherlands, and everyone knew that. So everyone knew the largest diamond yet found was going to be transported from London to Amsterdam. It was the perfect time for a thief to strike. So to much fanfare, a Royal Navy ship carried an empty box across the North Sea. It was such a secret that even the ship's captain did not know he was protecting a decoy. Meanwhile the gem's cutter, Abraham Asscher, collected the Cullinan in London and took a train and a ship back to Amsterdam with the stone tucked in his coat pocket.

A Quickly-Changing Word

The word "nice" originally mention "foolish". In the 1400s, the word came to mean "coy," then in the 1500s, "fastidious." By the 1700s, nice had assumed its modern meaning.

The Blizzard of 1972

The deadliest recorded blizzard in history happened in 1972 in Iran. It lasted from February 3rd to February 8th, dropped 26 feet of snow, and entombed the region in temperatures as low as -13 F/-25 C.

When it was over, 4,000 people were dead, and entire villages were gone. Literally. Twenty villages were destroyed and never rebuilt.

Medieval Chola Well Discovered In India

A group of college students in India recently discovered a well dating to the 1000s CE. The well was constructed with two terracotta rings measuring seven feet across and six inches tall that were placed one on top of the other and sealed with clay. The well was connected to a tank, and when the tank filled, the water would flow into the shallow well. It is unclear if the tank was filled with rainwater or from a nearby river and estuary.

The excavation team also recovered pieces of Chinese celadon pottery, a spout, iron ore, terracotta roof tiles, and pieces of conch shells. Some of the pottery dated to earlier than the rest of the Chola-period site, and may have been brought to the surface when the well was dug. When the well became lost in the sand, so did the ancient artifacts, preserving them both.

The earliest depiction of quilting was discovered in Egypt! It was an ivory figurine of a First Dynasty pharaoh wearing quilted clothing, from about 3400 BCE.

One Is None, Two Is One: The Byzantine Tradition of Co-Emperors

Did you know that the Byzantine Empire sometimes had two emperors? This was an old tradition dating back to Roman Emperor Diocletian in the late 200s CE, who created a system of four emperors, two senior emperors and two junior emperors. Byzantine co-emperors go back to at least the 400s CE with Leo II crowning his father Zeno co-emperor and promptly dying, making Zeno sole ruler. Not exactly off to a good start. But the co-emperor tradition continued. By the 900s it was common enough that there were distinct terms for the junior co-emperor (basileus) and senior co-emperor (autokratōr or occasionally megas basileus).

One of the more interesting co-emperors had not one co-ruler but four! Romanos I Lekapenos, an Armenian who became a major Byzantine naval commander, seized the royal palace and the reins of government in 919. In March he married his daughter to the reigning emperor, fifteen-year-old Constantine VII. In September Romanos decided that was not enough and had himself crowned co-emperor with his own made-up term for equal emperors "Caesar," before finally, in December, naming himself the senior co-emperor or autokratōr.

Romanos eventually crowned his own sons co-emperors: Christopher in 921, Stephen and Constantine in 924. For the time being, Constantine VII was regarded as first in rank after Romanos himself, Baileus to his autokrator. For his kindness to the man he deposed, Romanos I Lekapenos was given the nickname "the gentle usurper."

Winner Of Most Insane Contract Clause Goes To...

Jet Li turned down a role in "The Matrix Reloaded" because Hollywood producers wanted to digitally record all of his martial arts moves, creating a digital library, which the producers would have exclusive rights over. Bonkers.

The Earthquake So Big It Was Mistaken For An Atomic Attack

In the 1970s, after years of tension, formal relations between the communist states of China and the USSR began to break down. Early in the decade China decided to start a "thawing" with the US government because they perceived the Soviets to be that much of a threat to China's security. By 1976, China and the USSR had no diplomatic communications. An armed conflict was feared. And then China was hit with one of the deadliest earthquakes in history.

Called the Tangshan Earthquake, it started at 3:24 am on July 28. Most of the buildings in the city of Tangshan collapsed. At least 240,000 people were killed and many more injured. Many of the survivors from Tangshan and the surrounding towns immediately thought it was the dreaded Soviet attack, and it made sense: Tangshan was an industrial city, an obvious military target. Plus, shortly before the earthquake, survivors reported that they could see big flashes of light in the sky. Although those flashes were an obscure natural phenomenon, "earthquake lights," it was reasonable to think they were caused by a nuclear explosion.

Although the earthquake was not the result of a nuclear bomb, it had the power of one. It is estimated that the event released the same energy as 400 Hiroshima atomic bombs.

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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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