Using Dental Tartar to Reconstruct Diets from Japan's Edo Period

Samples of tartar from the teeth of 13 people who were buried in what is now eastern Tokyo in the latter half of the Edo Period, from 1603 to 1867 CE, were analyzed in a recent study. DNA from rice was identified in the tartar of eight of the individuals. The DNA of other foods, including daikon radish, the minty herb “shiso” perilla, green onion, Japanese chestnut, carrot, and pumpkin was also identified. The researchers noted that the DNA results match records describing these foods from the period.

Non-food items were also found. DNA from tobacco plants, which may have been smoked, was also found in the tartar. Slightly more obscure was resin from tropical lowland rainforest trees -- potentially a tooth powder? “The technique will make it possible to survey what each individual ate,” Rikai Sawafuji of the University of the Ryukyus said of the project. Such analysis could allow researchers to determine which foods were used as staples, and even which were an individual’s favorite foods, he added.

Beadnet dress from Egypt’s 4th Dynasty, during the reign of Pharaoh Khufu 2551–2528 BCE. It is the oldest surviving example of a dress in this style. And yes, it would have put the wearer’s body on display in a way that is barely acceptable at a burlesque by today’s standards.

The dress has been reassembled from approximately seven thousand beads (no record mentioned how long the reassembling took) found in an undisturbed burial of a female contemporary of Pharaoh Khufu. Although their string had disintegrated, a few beads still lay in their original pattern on and around the mummy, allowing modern archaeologists to accurately reconstruct what it had once looked like. The color of the beads has faded as well. But when it was first made, the beadnet was blue and blue green, to imitate the precious stones lapis lazuli and turquoise.

Mark Twain once entered a contest that offered $10 for the best original poem on the topic of spring, “no poem to be considered unless it should possess positive value.” He submitted this and took the prize.

Jerusalem circa 1000 BCE, in the united Kingdom of Israel

This reconstruction based on the archaeological record highlights how difficult, and important, getting water was at the top of a hill in of a dry subtropical climate.

The Mysterious Religion of Carthage

Carthage's beliefs originated from its founding civilization, Phoenicia, but Carthage developed its own version of the Phoenician pagan polytheistic religion. This video has a nice overview of the city's religious origins, their pantheon, and their religious practices.

The Odd Relationship between Malaysia and South Africa

Malaysia invested heavily in South Africa's economy post-Apartheid. Between 1995 and 1997, the principal sources of direct foreign investment in South Africa were first the United States and then, surprisingly, Malaysia, followed by Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Apartheid had been a major foreign policy priority for Malaysia in the 1980s and early 1990s. The Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad had pushed for international cooperation in sanctioning South Africa, while providing support to the African National Congress, the opposition party in South Africa. Nelson Mandela even visited Malaysia for four days within a year of his release from prison. With such a background, it was natural for Malaysia to transition to supporting South Africa after the end of Apartheid.

However, that does not explain why Malaysia cared about South Africa's Apartheid in the first place. This was part of Malaysia's larger policy (since the 1960s) in "south-south cooperation." They thought it important for post-colonial countries to help each other and reduce their dependency on industrialized nations. South-south cooperation also was tied to Malaysia's active involvement in the Non-Aligned Movement. If post-colonial countries worked together, it would strengthen countries' ability to stay out of Cold War entanglements with the US or the USSR.

Extreme sports went from the fringes to more widely known (and popular) in 1995 thanks to ESPN hosting the first X Games.

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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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