On October 20th, 1968, Jacqueline Kennedy married long-time friend and Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. The world was astonished: though JFK had been dead 5 years, but Onassis was 62 and Jackie was 39. Robert Kennedy had also just been assassinated four months prior. Perhaps the recent bereavement contributed, though. Jackie had been quoted as saying "If they're killing Kennedys, then my children are targets ... I want to get out of this country." Onassis could provide the security and privacy Jackie wanted for her children and herself.
Did you know that handwritten sheets -- called avvisi -- circulated among the cities and courts of Europe in early modern Europe after public mail routes became common? They were bought on the streets or by subscription, and had information and news from cities like Warsaw, Paris, and Madrid. They sometimes even had information from further afield such as Ireland or the American colonies. It is hard to understand now, by the once or twice weekly avvisi were a revolution in news, connecting Europeans more than ever before.
One newsletter, dated March 19th, 1588, describes the famous Spanish Armada which sailed against Queen Elizabeth I of England. It was described as having "140 or more sailing ships and eight months of provisions" plus "17,000 combat soldiers and 8,000 sailors." The same avvisi also discusses the reconstruction of the Rialto Bridge in Venice, and how problems with pilings were fixed on-site rather than being replaced due to the "inconvenience" of closing the Grand Canal.
Northern Sweden, 1950.
It is known that animal herding, which had been in northeastern Africa since about 8,000 years ago, made it to southern Africa by about 2,000 years ago. But it has been an open question whether the pastoral life was brought south by immigrants, or whether it was adopted by hunter-gatherers already in the area. A multinational team of scientists recently examined 41 genomes from individuals who lived in Africa between 4,000 and 300 years ago. The genomes suggested that pastoralists migrated from southwestern Asia into eastern Africa around 5,000 years ago. They interbred with local foragers, mixing genomes. However, about 3,300 years ago, the inbreeding ceased.
Pastoralism had already been established by this point. The immigrants were now locals. So this study creates a new question: why did the genomes separate? What happened that pastoralists and hunter-gatherers suddenly stop intermarrying?
The photograph was taken in Norway, for National Geographic.
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!
Japanese sailors practicing Kendo on the deck of a warship. Circa 1910.
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.
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