The Territory Ever Controlled By Istanbul, by Length of Control

Note that in this map, the Aceh Sultanate is considered a vassal of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans did send a fleet and other military aid to help the Acehnese in wars with the Malay kingdoms and the Portuguese, and the Acehnese did acknowledge the Ottoman sultan as caliph. It's still a stretch to say that the Ottomans in Istanbul "controlled" the Aceh territory on Sumatra.

This is why Black Sea shipwrecks are such a unique find

Remote-controlled cameras are giving humanity our first glimpse of dozens of wrecks entombed in the icy depths off the coast of Bulgaria. These cameras were originally sent down for an entirely different purpose: studying how changing sea levels affected prehistoric humanity. But once the underwater cameras were sent down, the research team was stunned at the number -- and highly preserved state -- of shipwrecks spanning from the 800s to the 1800.

TLDR: an article on why you keep hearing about Black Sea shipwrecks.

The Ancient History of Diglossia

Diglossia is when a single community uses two languages or dialects. It is only diglossia if this is a stable situation -- not a transition from one language to another. In diglossia, one language is for everyday use (the low language), and one language is for specific situations (the high language) such as literature, formal education, or religious activities. The high language usually has no native speakers. Examples are Latin, used by scholars in the European Middle Ages, Mandarin for official communications and local dialects for everyday use in China, and literary Tamil versus spoken Tamil.

The earliest known diglossia is Middle Egyptian, the language in everyday use in Ancient Egypt during the Middle Kingdom (2000 - 1650 BCE). By the New Kingdom (1550 -1050 BCE) the language had evolved into Late Egyptian. And by the Persians, then Ptolemies, then Roman Empire, the language had evolved into Demotic (700 BCE - 400 CE). But Middle Egyptian remained the standard written, prestigious form, the high language, and was still in use until the 300s CE. That means it was used, unchanged, for over 1,900 years after people had stopped speaking it!

An Unusual Maya Figurine

From Jaina Island's cemetary, where archaeologists have found figurines cradled in the arms of the deceased. This figurine is special because rather than depicting the deceased as a robust young adult, it shows a proud elderly warrior. He is definitely a warrior because he holds a flexible, rectangular shield in his right hand and wears a quilted armor tunic, both being requisite for Maya warriors during this period.

Earthenware figure, crafted sometime between 550 CE and 850 CE.

440 Years Old And Filled With Footprints, These Aren't Your Everyday Maps

In 1577, King Philip II of Spain wanted to know whom he was ruling and where in his vast kingdom they were. So his viceroy asked the indigenous groups in what is now Mexico to draw some maps for him.

In response, they drew maps blending indigenous and Spanish traditions. Sometimes rivers are straight, with tiny arrows in the middle, to indicate which way they flow. Paths have footprints or hoofprints in the middle, to indicate whether the paths can be walked or ridden. These beautiful maps, and their way of recording the landscape, are a silent testimony to the survival of indigenous worldviews into the late 1500s. Read the full National Public Radio article on the maps here.

Who Invented Paint-By-Numbers?

If you guessed "whatever man is in that self-portrait" you would have been half-right. Leonardo da Vinci was the original paint-by-numbers inventor: he used numbered background patterns for his students and apprentices. During the 1940s, Dan Robbins (the guy in the self-portrait) heard about da Vinci’s method. He worked for Detroit's Palmer Paint Company, and Robbins convinced his boss to try it out, coming up with kits featuring landscapes, horses, kittens, and puppies. Things that amateurs would want to paint, in other words. And they were a hit! Sales hit a record $20 million in 1955.

Unfortunately for the Palmer Paint Company, the idea of paint-by-numbers is very simple. Which makes it easy for other companies to copy the idea. As competitors flooded the market, the Palmer Paint Company could not keep up, and was eventually sold. But Robbins -- and Da Vinci -- had made their mark. Paint-by-numbers kits have been continuously sold since they were first invented in the 1940s, and Robbins’s work of making art accessible to all has been celebrated by the Smithsonian Institution.

What Does Giraffe Really Mean?

Sure, we all know "giraffe" means "that really tall mammal with spots and a long neck." But does the word itself mean anything? Linguists aren't sure. The English word "giraffe" may come from the Arabic word zarāfa, which means "to jump" or "to hurry." Other linguists think it may mean "assemblage," since early explorers thought the giraffe looked like a compilation of a horse, an ox, and a camel.

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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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