Kazakhstan Is A Very Poetic Name

Stan is an ancient Persian word meaning “land” or “nation,” and Kazakh means “wanderer,” “adventurer,” or “outlaw.” Therefore, the name Kazakhstan translates as “Land of the Wanderers.”

Chinese Laborers In Peru: A Story In Three Burials

Chinese laborers were brought to Peru in the mid-1800s, to harvest cotton and sugar after slavery was ended in 1854. While some laborers traveled back home, many more stayed. Even today Peru has a distinct Chinese cuisine developed by the laborers and their descendants.

Recently, archaeologists in the Peruvian capital of Lima excavated the bodies of three workers, buried with a number of Chinese artifacts. The men were wrapped in blankets and then placed either directly in the earth, or in simple wooden coffins. The bodies were well-preserved. They were either intentionally mummified before burial, or accidentally mummified by the arid climate. Whether on purpose or accidental, their preservation is a boon to archaeologists.

One of the laborers was buried naked, with his clothing folded on his torso, alongside an opium pipe and tarot cards. The two other laborers were buried in typical tunics and sandals. One was sporting a straw hat. The men apparently wished to be buried with the artifacts they had used when alive. And like in life, they were foreigners in a foreign land: Chinese immigrants were excluded from Catholic cemeteries in Peru hence the three men being discovered buried alone, away from a larger burial ground.

How Big Was That Empire?

Now you can compare all the largest empires that have ever existed, by geographic area. Thank you modern geography!

Both British and American sailors have worn bell-bottom trousers. Named for the wide flare at the bottom, they were introduced in Britain in 1857, with the justification that it allowed men in the water to kick them off over their boots. Although its unclear when the US navy introduced them, they were first recorded as being worn by US sailors in 1813. The American justification for the weird pants was that they could be easily rolled up and kept dry when sailors scrubbed the decks. By the way, picture is from the World War II hit song, "Bell Bottom Trousers."

Serial American Imposter Cons An Afghani Princess and The American President

After [a] ruse in Peru was revealed, [Clifford] Weman was sent home and in 1921 adopted the role of an official of the U.S. State Department. It was in this guise that he came to the rescue of Princess Fatima of Afghanistan, whose visit to the United States, he read, had not been given any official recognition. Determined to give the princess her due, he swept into her suite at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and, on behalf of Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, apologized for the poor reception she had received in America. He promised to take Her Royal Highness to Washington to meet the secretary and the president. All he would need from her was $10,000 to pay for the gifts he said foreign dignitaries traditionally gave to officials in the nation’s capital.

Weyman took part of the money and rented a private railroad car to escort Princess Fatima and her party to Washington. When they arrived, he dropped the Afghans off at the Willard Hotel and hurried over to the State Department, dressed as a naval officer. He told an official there that he had been sent by several senators, whom he named, to arrange a visit for the princess with Secretary of State Hughes. Her Highness was accorded all the diplomatic niceties, and during the encounter Weyman took Hughes aside and told him that the princess also wished to meet President Warren Harding. A phone call was made to the White House and a meeting hastily arranged. There Weyman chatted familiarly with the president, something a naval officer would never do, and nudged his way into the photographs Harding took with the princess. This of course raised suspicions, but Weyman had slipped away before his fraud was uncovered.

Officer of the Imperial Palace Guard’s Armor

That much embroidery probably hinders their freedom of movement...but it sure looks snazzy! From the Qing Dynasty, circa 1700s

Scathach: Woman Warrior of Irish Legend

The legendary female warrior of Scathach is pretty cool. First, there's her name, which means "the shadowy one" in Gaelic. Then there's her castle, Dun Scaith (Castle of Shadows), reportedly sat on Isle of Skye northwest of Scotland.

Getting to Dun Scaith, and Scathach, was a complicated business. First, one had to know where Scathach lived. Her location was apparently something of a commonly-known secret. Once someone knew her location, one had to travel across the Irish Sea, known for its storms and choppy seas, and travel to the remote, craggy islands of northwest Scotland. Upon arrival, one then had to get past Scathach's warrior daughter to get an audience with Scathach herself.

Scathach is important in Irish legends for the unique place she holds as a woman warrior who trained other women, as well as men. Her training was notoriously dangerous, teaching things like pole vaulting over castle walls and underwater fighting, but everyone agreed that if you survived Scathach's training you were a great warrior. Scathach is also famous for having trained Cu Chulainn, who went on to become the central figure in the Ulster Cycle, part of the origin stories for Ireland itself.

Medieval Legal Loopholes Allowed Open Sale of Stolen Goods in UK

Until the late 1990s, London’s Bermondsey Market operated under the ancient law of marché ouvert, or “open market,” a medieval French legal concept that allowed for the open sale of stolen goods between the sunset and sunrise in designated markets in a city. The idea was that if you were robbed and you didn’t check to see whether your stolen property was being sold in a local market, then you weren’t taking reasonable steps to recover it.

Somehow, Bermondsey Market was able to operate under this law until 1995. But then a stolen Joshua Reynolds painting was sold there, for 100 pounds, and the purchaser avoided prosecution for handling stolen goods by arguing that the sale was legal under the law of marché ouvert. The loophole has since been abolished.

Potatoes Aren't Just For Eating

The Incas used potatoes for several things other than food, including healing broken bones, preventing indigestion, and measuring time based on how long a potato took to cook!

Bear's Paw Bones Discovered In Neolithic Grave

Approximately 4,500 years ago, the dismembered remains of a Neolithic man and small child were buried together, in southeastern Poland. With them was buried a complete bear's paw. It is quite unusual, as domesticated animals were the usual Neolithic burial companions in this part of Europe.

Traces of fire and a single cattle bone have also been found at the entrance to the burial niche, where the bear's paw was uncovered. The artifacts in combination have led archaeologists to suggest that the bear's paw was used for some sort of ritual at the burial's entrance.

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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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