An Unusual Moroccan Pirate Raid

In late June of 1627, two Icelandic towns were raided by Moroccan corsairs! Except...the head of the corsairs was one Murat Reis, who was born by another name: Jan Janszoon (Jensen). He was a Dutchman, captured by Moroccan corsairs in 1618, who converted to Islam and quickly became a successful corsair captain. His ship was based in Sale, Morocco. So the corsair crew, one would assume, was mainly Moroccan. Unless they were also captives who turned pirate, like Reis. And when Murat Reis needed extra hands for the raid, he put into port in England! Nine Englishmen joined the raid in return for a boat with "stockfish." So in the end, Iceland was raided and plundered by a Dutchmen, nine Englishmen, and a crew of (probable) Moroccans.

Denisovans Found In Tibet

Forty years ago, a Buddhist monk found a human mandible bone at Baishiya Karst Cave, perched 10,000 feet above sea level on the Tibetan Plateau. The bone they found has now been dated to 160,000 years ago. And analysis of the proteins caught in its teeth demonstrate that the mandible belonged to the Denisovan branch of the hominin family.

This is the first evidence for Denisovans found outside of southern Siberia’s Denisova Cave. That cave is just 2,300 feet above sea level. It is also about 1,750 miles northwest of Baishiya Karst Cave. The mandible therefore revealed the Denisovans were widely distributed, and able to adapt to extremely high altitudes.

This is likely related to the mutation, found in previous Denisovan genetic studies, that assists survival in low-oxygen environments such as the high-altitude Tibetan Plateau. The same mutation has been found in present-day Tibetans. And given that the Denisovans once lived in the area, perhaps a long-ago intermarriage introduced the gene to the Tibetans? It seems more likely than the exact same gene randomly mutating twice.

The epic poet Ennius lived from 239 BCE to 169 BCE in the Roman Republic. He basically created Latin poetry in the Latin literary tradition, and was quoted extensively throughout the Roman period, because everyone had read Ennius. Sort of like how modern authors can casually throw in "but soft, what light through yonder window breaks" and expect everyone to understand. But no works of Ennius' survive, merely those random quotations.

A Lost Cemetery for Enslaved Persons Rediscovered In Florida

At a Tallahassee golf course, near the 7th hole, has been found a cemetery dating to the days of the American Civil War. With a naked eye can be seen barely-there depressions in the grass. But thanks to continued local remembrance of a graveyard for enslaved persons in the area, and a report based on historical records made to the country club, an archaeological team from the National Park Service brought ground-penetration radar (GPR) to the site in 2019 to investigate. The GPR detected roughly 40 graves. They were the right shape, and the right depth, to be graves. The finding was then confirmed by human remains detection dogs.

Based on historical records, the graveyard has been connected with a plantation owned by the family of Edward Houston. The Houstons were a prominent slave-owning family in Savannah, Georgia. When Tallahassee was being settled by white colonists, two Houston family members purchased a half square mile in 1826. The records demonstrate that this would not have been a graveyard for white residents of the plantation, for the family. It would have been a final resting place for the enslaved persons who worked the plantation.

At this time, there are no plans to excavate in the cemetery, and disturb the dead. Efforts are focused on finding descendants of those who might be buried there.

Despite being  native to the Mediterranean area, and being eaten by humans since ancient times, celery began to be cultivated only in the 1600s.

Scientists May Have Solved Mystery Around Da Vinci Painting

Art historians have long been puzzled as to why the glass ball in Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World) does not distort the objects behind it the way a solid glass ball would. In other words, there is not the expected refraction and reflection of light. According to new computer models the answer is that the glass was hollow, was held about 10 inches in front of Jesus, and was very thin. If all these things came together, then Da Vinci would have been accurately painting a glass ball. The new analysis strengthens the argument that Da Vinci was responsible for most of the painting, since he was known to have been studying optics when Salvator Mundi was created, and the odd lack of distortion was used as evidence that the master himself did not paint the whole painting.

Old Mountains vs Young Mountains

The 145 million years is a little arbitrary, but it makes for a fun and unusual way to look at the world. Are your mountains young or old?

Can You Guess Where In The World This Is?

It is Sundaland -- today's southeast Asia, as it appeared during the most recent Ice Age. To the right is today's Philippines, and to the bottom is today's Indonesia and Malaysia.

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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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