This figurine dates to the mid-3000s BCE in ancient Egypt, sometime before dynasties and centralized governments arose. But you can already see the distinct Egyptian style beginning to emerge. You might be familiar with the stylized lotus blossom, sitting on her head.
"Female Dwarf," courtesy of the Walters Art Museum.
This small stone is about 100,000 years old. Found in a cave in South Africa, it has been touted as the earliest evidence that humanity could make symbols. And symbols are evidence of a sophisticated mind, rather like when a two-year-old first realizes the picture book Spot is a representation of the family dog. But a new study by a cognitive scientist finds that these markings and others like them lack key characteristics of symbols.
Dr. Kristian Tylén's team examined the stones found in the cave as well as broken ostrich shells all dating to between about 52,000 to 109,000 years ago. That is after the emergence of Homo Sapiens, but before widespread artistic expression, such as cave art. If the markings were truly symbolic -- if a horizontal line represented the horizon, or a wavy line represented the ocean -- then the symbols would have to be different enough from each other. Sort of like how :/ and :) and :( mean different things, and are easily distinguishable. And at each locality, the symbols would evolve and become distinct over time from symbols in other localities. Sort of like how Americans' :) became Russians' ) and Koreans' ^^.
Dr. Tylén's team did an experiment. Could modern humans could sort the markings into groups, putting the same "symbols" together? And they found that no, the "symbols" were not distinct enough. That's the equivalent of :) and :/ and :( ending up in the same group. It is a minimal test of being a symbol — being distinct from another marking — and the engravings failed.
The Words of the Last Slave-Ship Survivor Rediscovered
In 1931, Zora Neale Hurston sought to publish the story of Cudjo Lewis, the final slave-ship survivor in the United States. His original name was Kossula.
Kossula had been captured at age 19 in an area now known as the country Benin, by warriors from the neighboring Dahomian tribe, and marched to a stockade, or barracoon, on the West African coast. There, he and some 120 others were purchased and herded onto the Clotilda, captained by William Foster and commissioned by three Alabama brothers to make the 1860 voyage. Kossula survived the Middle Passage, and was smuggled into Mobile, Alabama in the night. The international slave trade had been illegal in the United States for over fifty years. Kossula worked as a slave at docks on the Alabama River until 1865, and the end of the American Civil War.
After he was freed, Kossula lived for seventy years. He was interviewed by Hurston (a trained anthropologist) in 1930, who recorded his words in his dialect. But no one would publish the book she wrote with his story. One publisher was interested, but only if Hurston edited his dialect. She refused. His story was left in Howard University's vault, forgotten. Now Kossula's words are being published for the first time.
1950s "Bullet Bras" Were Why Women Had Pointy Busts
You are familiar with Marilyn Monroe's iconic looks, and part of it was, not to be indelicate, having pointy boobs. How did she do it? A special type of bra called the "bullet bra." More properly known as the Chansonette bra, the bullet bra appeared in Frederick’s of Hollywood and soon became a fashion icon. Part of the bra’s popularity was due to World War II and the nylon fabric restrictions it created; spiral stitching and different fabrics made bras stiffer and pointier. The bullet bra faded into obscurity in the late 1950s with the rise of the softer, more gender-neutral fashions of the 1960s
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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!