Residents of North Yorkshire, from the 1000s to the 1300s, were extremely afraid of the dead rising again to attack the living. So afraid, in fact, that villagers would dismember, decapitate, burn, and otherwise mutilate the corpses of their friends and neighbors before burying them. They generally mutilated the bodies shortly after they died, when the bones were still soft. Imagine doing that to your grandma!
Ukraine's history is intertwined with Russia's history. The first Russian state, the Kievan Rus (800s to 1200s CE), headed by the Rurik dynasty, was centered in Kiev, the capital of modern Ukraine. Through the Russian Revolution in 1917, the tsars of Russia claimed to be descended from Rurik.
Greenland's icy mountains are not an obvious place to search for an archive of economic history, but a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that they provide one. Read the full article at The Economist
Nicholas Flamel's house is probably the oldest in Paris. It was built in 1407.
In the 700s, a Persian scholar named Ibn al-Muqaffa recorded a parable, describing human existence. A man fears an elephant so he dangles himself into a pit to hide. He soon realizes there is a dragon waiting at the bottom of the pit, and rats are gnawing on the branches he is holding onto. The man then notices a beehive and tries its honey. He becomes "diverted, unaware, preoccupied with that sweetness" and while he is distracted, the rats finish gnawing the branches. The man falls into the dragon's mouth with sweetness still on his tongue.
What a happy parable!
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.
"Admiral" comes from Arabic! It probably returned with crusaders to Europe. English gets admiral from the 12th-century French word, amirail, meaning "Saracen military commander."
The original Arabic word, amīr, means "ruler," and when it came to French, it somehow kept the Arabic suffix -al, meaning "of the." So in Arabic, amir-al is the cut-of-sounding "ruler of the."
The Dongoin Shiree steppe in eastern Mongolia contains a unique funerary monument from the 700s CE, that suggests the region was an important power center during the Second Turkic Khaganate. A stone sarcophagus was placed at the center of an earthen mound and surrounded by 14 stone pillars inscribed with Turkic runes. They comprise one of the largest collections of Turkic inscriptions ever found in Mongolia. One passage reveals that the deceased individual was an important and high-ranking official during the reign of Bilge Khagan (who ruled from 716 to 734).
The ruined city of Arg-e-Bam is made entirely of mud bricks, clay, straw and the trunks of palm trees. The Iranian city was originally founded during the Sassanian period (224-637 CE) and while some of the surviving structures date from before the 1100s, most of what remains was built during the Safavid period (1502-1722).
Bam prospered because of pilgrims visiting its Zoroastrian fire temple, which had been built early in the Sassanian period, and because Bam was a trading hub along the Silk Road. It was later the site of Jame Mosque, built during the Saffarian period (866-903 CE). Next to the mosque is the tomb of Mirza Naiim, a mystic and astronomer.
The city was largely abandoned since a series of invasions in the early 1800s. In 1953, work began to intensively restore Arg-e-Bam. Restoration work continued until December 26, 2003, when a massive earthquake hit the area -- an estimated 6.6 on the Richter Scale. Almost everything in Bam was destroyed. After that, restoration was given up, and today Arg-e-Bam is at the mercy of the elements.
click through the image gallery to see photographs of what Arg-e-Bam looks like today
Carnival, the Catholic holiday, probably comes from the word for "meat" in some way, which is "caro" in Classical Latin and “carne” in Medieval Latin. It was the last time that people could eat meat before the start of Lent, when meat was forbidden for 40 days.