Arctic ice brings an understanding of ancient Europe’s economy

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

Ancient Egyptian Cosmetic Set

As you probably guessed, the tongs in the middle are a pair of tweezers, and the circle on the right is a mirror. There is also a kohl set on the far left, a razor, and a whetstone for sharpening razors.     The set was found in the cemetery in a rush basket. Analyses show it was buried between 1550–1458 BCE. Someone wanted to look their best in the afterlife!     The cemetery has its own story. It was originally a Middle Kingdom tomb, built around 1900 – 1800 BCE, with a huge courtyard. Sometime in antiquity the original tomb was looted. And the tomb plus its courtyard got reused as a cemetery in the New Kingdom, between late 17th Dynasty and the early joint reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III in the 18th Dynasty. The tomb’s original owner probably wasn’t too happy about that.

Two Bog Bodies, Found Within Months of Each Other, May Have Been Kings

Not far from Dublin in the town of Clonycavan, County Meath, and near Croghan Hill, County Offaly, two bog bodies were found within three months of each other in 2003. Clonycavan Man had been severed in half by a peat-cutting machine, but scientists were able to recover his body from the torso up. He had crooked teeth and a small beard. He was also likely murdered. His skull had been split open, likely by a stone ax, and the bridge of his nose was also struck, probably with the same weapon.

Twenty-five miles away, peat workers found Old Croghan Man, who similarly is just a torso with arms. And Old Croghan Man shows evidence of what can only be described as overkill. He had a defensive wound on his upper left arm where he may have tried to protect himself. He was bound by a hazel branches which had been threaded through holes in his upper arms. He was stabbed in the chest, struck in the neck, decapitated, and finally cut in half.

Radiocarbon dating showed that Clonycavan Man lived between 392 and 201 BCE and Old Croghan Man between 362 and 175 BCE, the height of the Celtic Iron Age. Both men were young, showed few signs of physical labor during their lives, and were healthy at the time of their deaths. There is some evidence that they were failed kings. Or perhaps claimants to kingship who failed to win the throne. Both Clonycavan and Old Croghan men's nipples were pinched and cut. Sucking a king's nipples was a gesture of submission in ancient Ireland. Cutting off their nipples would have made them ineligible to be kings, even in the afterlife. Their place of burial, in bogs that formed important tribal boundaries, also suggests the killings were political as well as ritual.

an original piece by historical-nonfiction

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.

The Mysterious City of the Sanxingdui

Archaeological digs at the site showed evidence of a walled city founded around 1,600 BCE. Shaped like a trapezoid, with the Jiān River forming its northern boundary, the city also had a smaller river, the Mamu, running through it and sophisticated man-made canals on all sides. These canals were used for irrigation, inland navigation, defense, and flood control. While it flourished at the same time as the Shang Dynasty, the Sanxingdui had a distinct culture. A strong theocracy, it had trade links across modern China, as well as a local metal industry that produced beautifully cast bronzes. Sanxingdui art is particularly noted for its unique "bulging" eyes (see the image gallery for some examples).     Everything you just read about the Sanxingdui is based on archaeological evidence they left behind. Unfortunately, they were not literate, and left no written records.

The French Have Loved Wine For Millennia, New Finds Show

Everyone knows France is famous for its wine. The country's rise to prominence as a wine-producer in the 1100s has been well-documented, but what is less clear is how wine got to France. Recently, multiple Etruscan amphora and a limestone pressing platform (above) were unearthed in a merchant's quarters at the ancient coastal port site of Lattara in southern France. They are now the earliest archaeological evidence of wine-making in France, dating to between 525 and 475 BCE.     When trace remains from inside three amphorae were tested, all contained tartaric acid / tartrate – the biomarker or fingerprint compound for the Eurasian grape and wine in the Middle East and Mediterranean, as well as compounds deriving from pine tree resin. When the limestone pressing platform was tested it also came back positive for tartaric acid. Nearby were found thousands of domesticated grape seeds, grape flower stalks, and grape skins.     When you add it all up, the new finds are pretty convincing evidence that viniculture was happening in France during pre-Roman times, thanks to southern France’s contact with Etruscans.


Did you know peanuts are a New World plant? They were first domesticated in northwestern Argentina or southeastern Bolivia; the oldest archaeological evidence for peanuts comes from about 7,600 years ago.

The Biggest Man In The World (Sort Of)

  The largest human figure in the world is the Long Man of Wilmington, at 231 feet 6 inches tall (that’s about 70 meters). It stands on the edge of the downs near Eastbourne, in England, and holds a staff in each of his raised hands. No one knows who made the figure, or why. Even the age is debated. It could have been first cut by a prehistoric tribe, or as late as the 1700s.

The Great Bonneville Flood

Utah’s Great Salt Lake is a remnant of a much larger lake that drained in a single, catastrophic event 14,000 years ago. Called the "Bonneville flood" it inundated southern Idaho and eastern Washington along the course of the Snake River. It is believed to be the second largest flood in geologic history.

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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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