There were seven known metals until the 1200s CE: gold, silver, copper, tin, lead, iron, and mercury. These were the metals that built humanity's first civilizations. (For those who point out the Bronze Age from about 3300 BCE to 1200 BCE, bronze is a mix of copper and tin.) Arsenic was discovered in the 1200s, antimony in the 1400s, and things just took off from there. Today there are 86 known metals.
2,000-Year-Old Horse Head Is Much Cooler Than It Sounds
An early first-century CE horse head, once part of a Roman statue of Emperor Augustus, was discovered near Frankfurt, Germany in 2009. The 28-pound gilded bronze horse head, plus artifacts found near it, provide more information about the relationship between the Roman Empire and its northern "barbarian" Germanic neighbors.
They indicate there was a Roman civilian village or town nearby. Before the finds, historians thought Rome intended to subdue the area with military force. The horsehead and related finds suggest, instead, that the Romans set up non-military settlements nearby, and were actively trading with the Germanic tribes for a number of years.
Zoroastrianism, arguably the world's first religion to worship just one god, still exists today -- mainly in India. But it barely survived an ancient blow. Specifically, the conquests of Alexander the Great.
When Alexander took Persia in the 320s BCE, large portions of the compiled works of Zarathustra were lost, in the destruction of cities and holy places. Some say it had once been over 12,000 pages. What remained was re-collected after Alexander's death, named the Avesta, and standardized into a five-part text which is still used by believers today.
The main section, named the Gathas, is the oldest: it contains 17 hymns believed to have been written by Zarathustra during his lifetime. Other sections contain prayers, rituals, accounts of how the world was created, and Zoroastrian law.
A head in the Ecuadorian Chorrera art style. Circa 300 BCE to 600 CE. This was a time of social, political, economic, and artistic innovations in the region, prompted by agricultural improvements and a growing population. New settlements and towns, with ever-larger numbers of inhabitants, triggered the need for methods to manage village life and ensure the well-being of the community, which, in turn, led to greater social hierarchy. Hand-in-hand with the growing social complexity was the appearance of more complex religious practices. Both developments encouraged the desire for novel artworks to express the new sociopolitical and spiritual ideologies that characterize this dynamic time throughout ancient Ecuador.
The earlier Valdivia figurine tradition developed into an elaborate figural art form with such novel artistic expressions as the elegant, mold-made sculptures of the Jama Coaque and La Tolita styles of Ecuador's northwestern coastal region. This particular figure likely is an example of La Tolita style, which is differentiated by its heightened naturalism.
Who Are The Basques, and What Makes Their Language Special?
I was recently surprised to realize how many people are unaware of this group, a significant minority in Europe for many reasons. Here's a brief introduction to who the Basques are, and why you should know about them.
Radiocarbon dating of peach pits from the site of Makimuku, in Nara Prefecture, Japan, have added to the speculation that Makimuku was the site of legendary lost kingdom Yamataikoku. The peaches were ritually buried near a large ancient building sometime between 135 and 220 CE. Other artifacts were buried with the peaches, as well. Tamataikoku fourished under Queen Himiko in the 100s and 200s CE. Exactly when the peach pits were dated to. But all we know about Tamataikoku comes from ancient Chinese records. With little hard evidence, scholars have had plenty of room to debate its whereabouts. The new evidence is suggestive, but not conclusive, and the debate is sure to continue.
Eleutherna, a fortified city-state in Crete that reached its height around 800 BCE, was home to the only known female master ceramicist in the ancient Greek world. The remains of a woman who was discovered at Eleutherna in 2009 have recently been analyzed, and the results were surprising.
In comparison to the other females at the site, the muscles on the right side of her body were notably developed, while the cartilage on her knee and hip joints was worn away, leaving the bones smooth and ivory-like. This pattern suggests she spent her lifetime working clay on a kick-wheel-operated turntable. Eleutherna has been associated with women in powerful positions, in general. Four women related to each other, and thought to have been priestesses, were found in an ornate burial near the master artiste.
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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!