A Re-Imagining of Prehistoric Imagination

From 14,000 to 10,000 years ago, as the last Ice Age ended and the glaciers retreated, the natural world changed very rapidly around our human ancestors. Tundras were becoming grasslands and forests. Cold-climate animals, like the reindeer herds humans had come to rely upon for food, were retreating north with the ice. Our human ancestors had to adapt. This transitional period in northwest Europe is called the Azilian, and archaeologists distinguish it by rapid changes in tool types and art. The preceding Magdalenian was renowned for its murals. This is when Lascaux and Altamira were painted. The Azilians who followed are known mainly for the small pebbles they painted with red spots and abstract geometric designs. The Azilian, traditionally, was seen as a major rupture from the artistic tradition of the Magdalenian that came before.

But a recent find it challenging this archaeological tradition. Recent re-discovery and re-analyses of old archaeological finds in Brittany and elsewhere suggest the Azilians also engraved tablets, in a manner very similar to the Magdalenians. The stone slabs depict horses and other animals, attempting realism with fine details like nostrils and coat textures. The artistry of these new finds suggest greater continuity of artistic traditions from the Ice Age than had previously been theorized, at least in some corners of western Europe.

The End of the Paris Occupation

On the 19th of August, 1944, German tanks roared down the Champs-Elysees and the first clashes began between the occupying German forces and French Resistance fighters. In the two months since D-Day, the combined British and American forces had slowly but steadily advanced. Everything had fallen before them, and now, it was time to take Paris. Hitler's orders were clear: if the enemy attacked Paris, it "must not fall into the enemy's hand except lying in complete debris." In other words, the Germans were ordered to hold Paris or destroy it.

We all know Paris was not destroyed. At 3:30 pm on August 25th, the German governor Dietrich von Choltitz surrendered. von Choltitz later wrote that he thought Hitler was insane and so he deliberately disobeyed Hitler's orders. It now appears more likely that he was persuaded by the municipal council chairman Pierre Taittinger, but whatever the reason, Paris was liberated with no further bloodshed or destruction.

The father of cheerleading is usually considered to be Joseph Campbell. He organized the first true university "yell team" for the University Minnesota's football team for a November 2, 1898 football game. It was all-male. Women only started joining cheerleading teams in the 1920s. Today, over 90% of American cheerleaders are female.

The imperial summer palace, or Yuanming Yuan, evolved over time into the main residence of the Qing emperors. Eight miles north of the Forbidden City, it was constructed throughout the 1700s and early 1800s, as emperors successively added gardens, water features, follies, and eventually European-style palaces.

Yuanming Yuan was burned from October 18th to October 21s of 1860, during the Opium Wars, by the Anglo-British Expeditionary Force. These photographs were taken on October 18th before the palace was burned.

The Mysterious Death of a King

In 1946, the King of Thailand was Rama VIII. He came to the throne in 1935, when the cabinet offered it to him, but at the time Rama VIII was just 9 years old and living in Switzerland. This was fine with the cabinet. They just appointed a regent and kept right on running the country. Rama had visited the country as its monarch just once, in 1938, before Thailand was invaded and conquered by the Japanese Empire in 1941.

He returned in December 1945 with a degree in law. Rama VIII was ready to take the throne, and he proved to be popular there, particularly impressing the public with a visit to Bangkok's Chinatown Sampheng Lane to help defuse the post-war tensions that lingered between Bangkok's ethnic Chinese and Thai people. Meanwhile, some foreign observers thought he did not really want to be king, and commented on his extreme nervousness during public functions.

In June 1946, Rama VIII was found dead in bed. He had a gunshot wound to his head. To this day, it is unclear if he died by suicide or by homicide -- it is considered an unsolved mystery. It is not openly discussed in Thailand, though multiple books in Thai have been written.

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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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