When women got the vote, around the world. New Zealand was first, and Saudi Arabia was most recent -- although women still do not have full voting rights there, as they may only vote or run for office in municipal elections not national elections.

The First Indian Civilization Was Extremely Old

Today, over 1,000 small agricultural settlements have been found in the region of what was once the Harappan civilization. Many date as early as 9,000 years ago, or 7,000 BCE. These small farming communities relied on the Indus River to water their crops and feed their animals. Today the region is relatively arid plateau but in ancient times the region was more temperate, and more suitable for large-scale agriculture. Archaeology tells us they grew rice, wheat, barley, and peas as early as 5,000 BCE. Cotton seeds found at multiple sites tentatively suggest they may have been the first to domesticate cotton as well.

Those small, mudbrick farming villages eventually evolved into sophisticated communities that historians collectively label a founding civilization. They had writing, sophisticated irrigation, and planned sewer systems. Although no one can decide on a name! Is it the Harappan civilization, or Mohenjo-Daro, or the Indus Valley civilization? Whatever name you give it, more than seventy cities have been unearthed since the area was discovered in the 1850s, but the main sites remain the two cities of Harappa, to the north, and Mohenjo-Daro, 400 miles to the south, near the river's mouth.

The civilization began to weaken in the second millennium BCE. And Mohenjo-Daro was abandoned around 1900 BCE. The first Indian civilization lasted, by a conservative estimate, about 5,000 years -- very impressive whatever you call it.

Korea had two kingdoms from the 700s through the early 900s CE. So it is imaginatively named the "North South States Period." To the north, much larger than North Korea today, is Balhae and to the south is the surviving state from the earlier Three Kingdoms Period, Silla.

"Legend: a lie that has attained the dignity of age."

H.L. Mencken, an American journalist, cultural critic, and satirist (1880 - 1956)

Did You Know Jews Thrived In Ming China?

During the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) a population of Jews immigrated into the heart of China and lived as just another obscure, minor religion. There is poor documentation, but there what records exist show Jews worked as army officers, mandarin bureaucrats, tax inspectors, and school inspectors.

That is rare considering during this same period Jews were often persecuted as an unwanted group elsewhere: to name a few examples, Jews were expelled from France twice (1306 and 1394), forced to convert to Catholicism or leave Spain (1492), and heavily taxed and punished for inciting unrest in Egypt (1324).

A Puzzling Cold Case

In Ramsgate, a town on the coast of southeastern England, on September 20th, 1930, a mysterious murder occurred. At 6p.m., a 12-year-old girl was sent across the street to buy a blancmange powder (used to make jellies) from the neighborhood sweetshop. When the owner, 82-year-old Margery Wren, came to the door, the girl was shocked to see blood streaming down her face.

Wren was taken to the hospital and she suffered for five days before dying of her wounds. She had eight wounds and bruises on her face, and the top of her head had seven more. Wren gave multiple, conflicting statements including that she had fallen over the fire tongs, that a man had attacked her with the tongs, that he had a white bag, that it was another man with a red face, that it had been two men, and that it had been an accident. Note these were all made to people other than the police -- Wren refused to make a statement to the police. When the Ramsgate vicar visited, she promised him she would make a statement after he left, but she never did. At one point Wren said she knew her attacker but that “I don’t wish him to suffer. He must bear his sins.” Just before she died she said, “He tried to borrow 10 pounds.”

Wren had been seen alive and well at about 5:15pm by another schoolgirl. That meant she was attacked between about 5:30pm and 6pm. However no one reported seeing a man entering the premises. In the end, the police had three main suspects who stood to benefit from Wren's death, but no hard evidence to tie any specific one man to the crime. The case was never solved.

The Peanut Butter Court Cases

With peanut butter's growing popularity in the 1950s, poor-quality products flooded the markets, hoping to cash in on the new food trend. Companies used cheaper hydrogenated oils instead of the more expensive peanut oil, and used glycerin as a sweetener.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that some products labeled as “peanut butter” only contained 75% peanuts. The FDA proposed a standard of 95% peanuts in peanut butter in 1959. Manufacturers did not like this -- arguing that customers preferred a more spreadable, and sweeter, product. The spreadable-ness of peanut butter became the focal point of a 12-year "Peanut Butter Case" which wound its way through the American legal system.

To compromise with the manufacturers the FDA initially agreed to lower its peanut butter standard to 90% peanuts. The manufacturers wanted 87% and when the FDA did not budge they took it to court. After too many years and a US Appeals Court appeal, the 90% peanut standard was upheld.

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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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