Owls Are Old!

Owl-like birds, like Berruornis and Ogygoptynx, lived 60 million years ago. Owls are one of the most ancient types of bird, along with chickens, turkeys, and pheasants.

“Made In China” Label Helps Date An Indonesian Shipwreck

  A "Made in China" label stamped onto two ceramic boxes hauled up from a shipwreck at the bottom of the Java Sea is proof the ship went down a century earlier than previously believed. Yeah, I was confused too. The shipwreck was previously thought to have happened in the mid- to late-1200s. Now, new radiocarbon dating combined with the exact wording of the bureaucratic jargon on the "Made in China" label puts the real timing of the wreck during the second half of the 1100s.     Here's the evidence: The inscription, in Chinese characters, read, "Jianning Fu Datongfeng Wang Chengwu zhai yin." That describes where the ceramic boxes were made, the prefecture of Jianning Fu in Fujian Province.     "Fu" was an administrative word indicating a certain bureaucratic level of prefecture, and that little word turned out to be the key to the puzzle. Jianning Fu got its name in 1162, during the Southern Song dynasty. In 1278, the Yuan dynasty took over and renamed the prefecture Jianning Lu, indicating another bureaucratic level. The ceramic boxes therefore must have been manufactured between 1162 and 1278. They could only have been shipped when Jianning Fu had that precise government name.     And a re-do of earlier radiocarbon dating, with more samples, narrows the wreck down further to the late 1100s.

Did A Stolen Convict Ship Visit Japan During Its Closed-Country Period?

In 1829, a group of convicts seized the English brig Cyprus off of Tasmania, and sailed her to the Chinese city of Canton. After his capture, the convicts' leader William Swallow claimed the ship visited Japan on their way to China. No one believed him because Japan was famously isolationist at the time.     But last year an amateur historian discovered Japanese records of a visiting “barbarian” ship in 1830 that flew a British flag. Curious local samurai visited the barbarian ship. Luckily for history, they wrote about what they saw, and even made some watercolors. According to one of the samurai, the barbarians had “long pointed noses” and asked in sign language for water and firewood. One young barbarian put tobacco in “a suspicious looking object, sucked and then breathed out smoke.” These men “exchanged words amongst themselves like birds twittering,” and the ship’s dog “did not look like food. It looked like a pet.” Another samurai listed the gifts the crew offered, including an object that sounds like a boomerang -- strengthening the idea that the ship with the British flag had been at Tasmania or Australia.     The Japanese refused to allow the mutineers to stay. They eventually scuttled the Cyprus near Canton, and worked their way back to England. Unfortunately for the adventurous convicts, they were arrested in England for piracy. They had stolen a ship, and they were convicts before that -- and British law at the time was notoriously harsh. Swallow died in prison, and the rest became the last men hanged for piracy in Britain.

A Who's Who of Maori Mythology

Quick guide: goddesses/female deities are italicized, gods/male deities are not italicized. And a lot of these gods' wives are left off.   Thanks, wikipedia, for this family tree of Maori deities!

Brewers Use Yeast From Shipwrecked Beer To Make "World's Oldest Beer"

Twenty years ago, a team of divers found the wreck of the Sydney Cove. In 1796, the ship set sail from Calcutta, India, for Sydney, Australia. It sank along the way, taking 31,500 liters of tightly-sealed alcohol to the ocean floor. They were so well-sealed, in fact, that modern divers were surprised to discover that some bottles were still good!
Analyses revealed that the Sydney Cove was carrying port, grapes, and beer. The beer was an especially exciting find, because beer is a living thing, filled with yeasts for fermentation.  Brewers with Australia's oldest brewery are hoping to use that yeast to create 18th-century-style beer.
First, they isolated the yeast from one of the beer bottles. They were excited to discovered that not only was the yeast 220 years old, but it was a rare hybrid strain, totally different from those used in modern beer. They had to experiment a lot to find a drink that was drinkable to modern tongues. One brewer described it as "taming" the yeast! The result, The Wreck Preservation Ale, goes on sale this month.

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!

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