The First Fake Eye

The earliest prosthetic eye is nearly 5,000 years old! Found in a six-foot-tall female skeleton, interred in the Burnt City, an ancient city in southeastern Iran. Shaped like a half-sphere, it appears to be made of natural tar mixed with animal fat, covered in a thin layer of gold, and engraved with a circular iris with gold lines like sun rays inside. Not exactly a convincing fake. But it was not meant to deceive, we think, but glitter and catch the light.

Holes on both sides of the eye likely held the eyeball in place. And we know it was used, not just added after death: microscopic studies of the skeleton’s eye socket show the prosthetic eye was worn while the woman was alive.

You can see photos of the artificial eye here.

What Was The Second Agricultural Revolution?

The First Agricultural Revolution occurred around 10,000 years ago when humans first domesticated plants. In the early 1700s the Industrial Revolution led to faster and more efficient farming technology, which helped usher in the Second Agricultural Revolution from 1700 to 1900 in developed countries. Many less developed countries are considered to be still experiencing the Second Agricultural Revolution.

Lost Indian Civilization Potentially Found

Recently documented images carved into rocky hilltops in the Konkan region of western India are suggestive of a previously unknown civilization. And these aren't just a handful of rock carvings. There are at least 200, dating to around 10,000 BCE, and featuring a range of designs. Animals, birds, geometric shapes, and human figures have all been found. Most of the rock carvings were hidden by centuries of soil and water. Others are well-known to locals and even considered holy. It will be exciting to hear what researchers discover about them!

Between 300 BCE and 300 CE, prehistoric Japanese people buried their dead in jars. The pottery jars would vary in size, and the quality of grave goods placed in or around the jars would denote upper- from lower-class citizens. Older burials are deeper (which makes sense) and newer burials are closer to the surface.

Ancient Incantation Describes Ancient Magico-Medical Cure

A 2,800-year-old stone cosmetic container inscribed with an incantation in Aramaic has been discovered at a small building at the archaeological site of Zincirli, in southern Turkey. It describes the capture of a threatening "devourer" who could produce "fire." The devourer's blood is used to treat a man who is suffering from the devourer's fire. It's not clear whether the blood was given to the afflicted person in a potion that could be swallowed or whether it was smeared onto their body. Either way, its an example of early medicine, or perhaps something closer to magic.

The container is decorated with various animals, including centipedes, fish, and scorpions on the front and back. They offer a further clue as to the identity of the "devourer" - possibly a scorpion or centipede. The archaeologists who made the discovery report that scorpions were a danger at the site, some 2,800 years after the incantation was first written there.

One last note: in a stroke of incredible luck, the writer identifies themselves! The incantation was written by a man who practiced magic called "Rahim son of Shadadan."

Where Do Indo-European Languages Come From?

Around the world today, there are about 440 living languages that descend from an original Indo-European mother tongue. Where that mother tongue, Proto-Indo-European, originated is debated. The Kurgan hypothesis says that Indo-Europeans were associated with the Yamna culture on the Pontic-Caspian Steppe, north of the Black and Caspian Seas. From there, the Kurgan hypothesis says, they spread with the domestication of horses beginning around 6,000 years ago. The steppe nomads used the new-fangled horse technology to conquer non-horse people, basically. The Anatolian hypothesis -- also called the Renfrew hypotheis -- thinks that Proto-Indo-European originated in Anatolia. What is today Turkey. The Anatolian hypothesis says the language began spreading out much earlier than the Kurgan hypothesis, roughly 9,500 to 8,000 years ago, and that the migrations were peaceful instead of horse-enabled conquests.

Recent genetic analyses think the hypotheses may not contradict each other after all. People of the Kurgan steppe region, genetically, descended at least in part from migrants from the Middle Eastern Neolithic who immigrated to the steppe from Anatolia. Was there an early migration to the steppe? Did that first migration's descendants eventually fan out across Europe, the Middle East, and India? More research is needed.

One thing archaeology can definitely tell us: Proto-Indo-European is tied with Neolithic migrations and the agricultural revolution. It definitely did not expand before then.

The Hitachi Tree

This is a beautiful, large monkeypod, with a distinctive umbrella-shaped canopy, growing in the middle of a grassy area in the middle of the Moanalua Gardens on Hawaii's Oahu island. The Moanalua Gardens are the childhood home of King Kamehameha V (ruled 1863 - 1872). Today, the gardens are home to a number of historic structures, such as the King’s cottage, a temple, a koi pond and many rare plants and trees. The Moanalua Gardens charge visitors a modest entrance fee which goes towards maintenance. But most of the garden's costs are paid for by the Japanese Hitachi corporation. Because of that beautiful monkeypod tree.

Since 1973, Hitachi Corporation has been using images and footage of this tree—now known as “Hitachi Tree”—as their corporate symbol. According to their website, the tree symbolizes the “comprehensive drive” and the “wide business range” of the Hitachi Group.

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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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