Slightly Gruesome But Well-Preserved Mummy Found In China

She's about 700 years old. Still, she looks pretty good. Found preserved in a brown liquid, her silk and cotton dress indicates she was likely at some high-ranking level in the Ming Dynasty, which ruled China from 1368 to 1644. Click through the images to see her like some lucky researchers can!

Caligula, the Roman emperor who was ... mentally challenged ... tried to emulate Alexander the Great by riding horseback across a bridge of boats over the Naples Bay. And he did it dressed in a breastplate Caligula had stolen from Alexander's tomb.

Ali Ibn Yusuf’s Ring

This ring, made of silver and gold, is a beautiful example of Seljuk artistry and craftsmanship. It is topped with a purple stone seal. And around the seal is a wish for "Perpetual Glory and Prosperity [and] Long-life.” The ring comes from Persia in the 1100s CE, and a second inscription tells us that it was once owned, or perhaps made, by an “Ali Ibn Yusuf.”

In British English, raisins are also called "sultanas." That's because they were originally a foreign import, from the Ottoman Empire. In the UK and Australia, "Raisin Bran" cereal is "Sultana Bran."

Aizen Myoo, a Shingon Buddhist protective deity and god of love. The protective deity makes sense. But he is not looking particularly loving. Maybe his tough exterior hides a soft heart? This particular seated wooden statue of Aizen Myoo is Japanese, from the Kamakura Period, circa 1200s to 1300s CE.

No one actually knows where the Koh-i-Noor diamond came from. Who first discovered it, how big it was before being cut -- all unknown. The famous diamond can concretely be placed only starting in 1739, as one of many jewels seized and shipped from Delhi to Iran by an upstart invader named Nader Shah. He was one of many local rulers who were taking advantage of the collapsing Mughal Empire. With a couple tons of loot being sent back to Nader Shah's capital in Iran, historians are lucky anyone thought to note the Koh-i-Noor!

Remember the Alamo!

The real name of the mission where the famous battle happened during the Mexican-American War is San Antonio de Valero. But it has always been known by its nickname, Alamo. Where did that come from? Well, there are two competing theories.

Did you know that “alamo” is the Spanish word for “cottonwood”? One theory says that when the Spanish missionaries came to the spot in central Texas where they would locate the mission, they were struck by the lushness of the land and a grove of cottonwood trees growing nearby along the San Antonio River.

The second, competing theory, says the name came not from trees, but from a Spanish battalion of soldiers who were stationed at the mission after it was abandoned by missionaries. The battalion was named the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras. No “alamo” in there. But the soldiers were originally from a small town called San Jose y Santiago del Alamo, in Coahuila, Mexico. Eventually that very long name got shortened, to La Compañía del Alamo, or just El Alamo.

Neither theory has been proven absolutely. Which do you prefer?

The First Fashionable Knockoff

About 5,000 years ago, the Chinese discovered how to make silk from the cocoon of silkworms. Silk quickly became highly prized -- and very expensive -- so to keep their monopoly, the Chinese kept the secret of how to make the valuable fabric. It was illegal to take silkworms outside of China. Anyone caught trying to export the secret of silk could face the death penalty. With such stringent measures, the Chinese managed to keep the secret for almost 3,000 years! Which opened the door for knock-offs.

The most common knock-off was cotton, beaten with sticks to soften it, then rubbed against a stone to give it a shine like silk. The resulting fabric was called "chintz" because it was "cheap." Even today, with silk much cheaper and more available, the word chintz means something less valuable and of less good quality.

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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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