The first Franciscan missionary Francis Xavier in Japan had an unusual problem when he arrived in 1549: the Japanese thought he was from India, and Christianity was a new sect within Buddhism!

A German shield for tournament use, in "Hungarian-style" dress, circa 1500. The owl's ribbon says roughly, "Although I am hated by all birds, I rather enjoy that."

Official Signature of Ottoman Sultan Murad III

AAlthough "signature" is a rough translation of the Ottoman's word "tugra." Murad III did not literally sign all documents like this, rather, it was a symbol of his authority which was placed on all official documents and seals and coins. Each sultan chose his personal tugra immediately after their accession to the throne, and used the same format throughout their life.

The first use of the word “petroleum” was by a German mineralogist in 1556. It comes from two Latin words: petra for "rock” or “stone,” and oleum, for “oil.” However, petroleum had been in use since ancient times. The ancient Sumerians found petroleum on the banks of the Euphrates River used it for various things including roadbuilding and waterproofing.

Large New Study Shows Genetic Legacies of TransAtlantic Slave Trade

The study used DNA samples from 50,000 people in North America, Latin America, and Africa to trace where people were enslaved and what happened to their descendants. The scientists also examined how their results compared to slave ship manifests. Read the full article on the results

Studying Native American Pipes To Understand Their Tobacco Habits

Researchers have detected traces of smooth sumac, or Rhus glabra, in the residues left in 1,400-year-old pipes unearthed in central Washington state, using a new technology that can detect thousands of plant compounds. Traces of a species of tobacco plant not currently grown in the region were also detected in the pipes. The smooth sumac may have been mixed with tobacco and used for its medicinal properties. Or simply to make the tobacco taste better. This study also analyzed a pipe used after contact with Europeans began in the area. It had residue containing a tobacco plant grown by Native Americans living on the East Coast. This is slightly surprising, as it had previously been thought that plants grown by Europeans quickly took over post-contact trade in tobacco. The evidence from the West Coast suggests that Native American growers remained in demand longer than previously thought.

The famous Pietà sculpture was the only work by Michelangelo Buonarroti that he signed. Michelangelo heard someone claiming the sculpture was theirs, and carved his signature so they would stop. He later regretted his outburst of pride and swore never to sign another work.

Indigenous Land Management Still Impacting Amazon, Centuries After It Stopped Being Practiced

Researchers from the University of Exeter and Brazil’s State University of Mato Grosso sampled some 4,000 trees in southern and eastern Amazonia, and found that areas of the Amazon where so-called “dark earth” is found have more diverse ecosystems. Edmar Almeida de Oliveira explained that this vegetation includes more edible fruit trees and different species of colossal trees than are found in the surrounding forest. The study shows that these patches of dark earth, which were created over a period of 5,000 years by early farmers who fertilized the soil with charcoal from fires and food waste, still have more nutrients and are thus more fertile than untreated soils. Early farmers are thought to have grown food in the treated soils and forested trees from untreated areas. Dark earth areas were abandoned, the researchers added, when indigenous communities collapsed after the arrival of Europeans.

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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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