History Records Beauty Standards Were Once Much More Diverse

While people talk about modern beauty standards being artificial and western, it can be easy to not understand the true diversity of beauty standards across time and across history.

For instance, the ancient Maya thought being cross-eyed was highly desirable. Parents would hang an object between their infant's eyes hoping to induce permanent cross-eyes. In Iran until modern times, women were more desirable if they had unibrows and mustaches and many used darkening products to achieve them.

No matter what you look like, there was probably a time and a place when you were the height of attractiveness. Think about that the next time you look in a mirror!

Recent work on the mummies of working people at Deir El-Medina in Egypt suggest that tattoos were much more common than previously thought 3,000 years ago. In the local cemetery, seven mummified women have been identified with tattoos. One had over 30! The subject of the tattoos included sacred motifs such as Wadjet eyes, baboons, cobras, cows, scarab beetles, and lotus flowers. Some tattoos appear to have religious meaning, while others appear to offer healing or protection. Just like today, ancient Egyptians got tattoos for many reasons.

The capital city of Kazakhstan has been called five different names since 1960: Akmolinsk, Tselinograd, Akmola, Astana and today's name, Nur-Sultan.

Did You Know There Are Multiple Proposed "Flag for Earth" Designs?

Here are some suggestions for a flag to represent all of Earth and everyone on it. Click through the image gallery to see them all

The first automatic fire extinguisher was created in 1723! It was patented in England by Ambrose Godfrey, a celebrated chemist, and it used a small gunpowder explosion to scatter fire-extinguishing liquid.

Some Perspective on Bad King John

King John of England is most famous today as the bad prince in Robin Hood, or the king whose barons rebelled and made him sign the Magna Carta. But did you know that within his first three years as king, he lost almost all of the crown’s holdings in France?

He lost to the French king the duchy of Normandy, whose duke William had conquered England, along with Anjou, Maine, and Touraine. King John was nominally still the head of Aquitaine, but only because his famous mother Eleanor still lived. Most of Aquitaine’s nobles made quiet peace with the French king. And as soon as Eleanor died, John lost Aquitaine as well.

Just to be clear how great a disaster this was: John lost about half of his country. He went from being king of a vast domain connected by the sea, to being confined to England with a domain that ended at the coast. No wonder no English king since has been named John.

A fragment of a cave lion figurine estimated to be 45,000 years old was unearthed in Siberia’s Denisova Cave. The cave is already famous for holding the first and so far only evidence of homo denisova, a homonid species that co-existed with and intermarried with homo sapiens. The newly-found fragment is carved from wooly mammoth ivory andmeasures about 1.6 inches long and less than one-half inch tall. It depicts the animal’s shoulders, belly, and hip, which is extended as if the lion is in motion. The figurine was decorated with notches and painted with red ochre. It is not clear at this time if the object was carved by Denisovans or by modern humans.

Yemen has a famously isolated island, Socotra, whose separation from the mainland and varied climate features resulted in the development of many unique flora and fauna. A 1990 biodiversity study found that there are 700 species on Socotra that live nowhere else on earth. And an estimated one-third of its species are unique to the island. But did you know that Socotra has been occupied by humans for the past 2,000 years? The result is the degradation of its famous biodiversity: the island once featured wetlands and pastures that were home to crocodiles, giant lizards, and water buffaloes. Their homelands have been replaced by sand gullies and the animals who once called the wetlands home have disappeared. The remaining Socotra fauna are those which can survive in the drier climates, and they are greatly threatened by goats and other introduced species. Many native plants only survive where there is greater moisture or protection from livestock, meaning that continuous human effort is needed to preserve them.

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    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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