When the woman was buried about 2,200 years ago, she was dressed a fine woolen dress and shawl, sheepskin coat, and a necklace made of glass and amber beads. Her relatively high status is further evidenced by the bronze bracelets and bronze belt clasp she wore. In two years of studying her remains, archaeologists have concluded that she was about 40 when she died and was born and raised in the Limmat Valley that houses Zurich. She had done little if any manual labor. And she had a huge sweet tooth (based on the state of her teeth).
The woman's remains were found buried about 260 feet (80 meters) from the grave of a Celtic man found in 1903. Even more exciting, the man was buried in the same decade as the lady. They may have known each other when alive!
You've probably heard of the Mauryan Empire, but have you heard of the Magadha Kingdom -- its immediate predecessor? It existed from the 500s to the 300s BCE. Formidable, it controlled the entire eastern part of the country through alliances with smaller vassal states, and at the height of its power claimed suzerainty over the entire eastern part of the country (roughly the size of England).
The kingdom lasted for three dynasties, during which Siddhartha Gautama lived, preached, and died. The kingdom survived, and even encouraged, the spread of this new religion. Two Magadha kings held the first and second councils of Buddhist monks. It is an open question whether, without the support of this major regional power, Buddhism could have survived.
But in the 300s, the power vacuum left by Alexander the Great's conquests in western India opened the door for Chandragupta Maurya to rise and create a new power on the subcontinent. He killed the last Magadha king (who was reportedly extravagant and unpopular) and Magadha was absorbed into Maurya's new empire which would eventually control the whole subcontinent.
Magadha touches upon a major figure in western imagination: Alexander the Great. In 326 BCE, Alexander arrived at the edge of India. He and his army camped on the river Beas, in what is today far western India, but his army mutinied and refused to go any further. The chronicles tell us the men had heard about the great Magadha Kingdom and were afraid of going up against such a mighty foe. They were not wrong to be afraid: they arrived when Magadha , renewed under a forceful new Nanda dynasty, was at the height of its territorial and military power.
You’re probably thinking sometime in the late 1800s. But it was actually 1922! The British Empire got some territorial gains after World War I, including Iraq, Oman, and Yemen.
That sounds like one of my fun titles, but it's the painting's actual name! (Translated from Chinese, of course.) Silk leaf painting by Li Song, during the Song Dynasty in 1210 CE. The meaning of the painting is debated; it may be a Taoist commentary on death.
After Tutankhamen died age 19, his beloved wife (and half-sister) Ankhesenamun was in a perilous position. There was no clear successor, and the country remembered the turmoil of the previous reign under the heretic Akhenaten. Eventually, the throne was taken by the much-older Ay, who had been Tutankhamen's grand vizier and may have been Ankhesenamun's grandfather. Ay ruled for just four years before being replaced by Horemheb. He was commander of the Egyptian army and well-placed to take over should anything occur.
Under Horemheb, Ankhesenamun disappears from history. We do not know when she died. We do not know where she was buried. Wife of two pharaohs, daughter of another, her fate is a 2,300-year-old mystery.
In 1836, a sewer worker in London made an unusual discovery. He found an old drain which ran directly under -- and opened into -- the vault of the Bank of England. The directors, after receiving several anonymous letters, the author of which claimed to have access to their gold, were finally persuaded to gather one night in the vault. When the agreed-upon time came, they heard a noise from beneath the floor. Suddenly, a man popped up through the floor boards!
The directors were completely shocked (and probably rather embarrassed about those letters they had ignored). They quickly confirmed that no gold was missing from the vault. So as a reward for not stealing, when he could have, the man was rewarded with a gift of £800. That is about £80,000 in today’s money!
Mary Beatrice Kenner Davidson invented the sanitary pad. Specifically, a sanitary belt with a moisture-proof napkin pocket, which made it much less likely that menstrual blood could leak. Unfortunately her invention was introduced to market thirty years after she invented it, because the company which first showed interest in the sanitary pad lost interest after realizing the inventor was African-American. In 1957, Davidson was finally able to save up enough money to get her first patent independently. Pads had been sold since the 1920s. But Davidson's version revolutionized the product by making it much, much more absorbent.
In 1908 two burglars stole a set of silverware from the sideboard in Mark Twain’s house. In response, he posted the above message on his front door.
In the 1920s cyclists would smoke cigarettes while riding, especially before steep climbs, to open up their lungs. Hey, the doctors at the time said it might work!
In Argentina at the turn of the 20th century, there was a heavy tax on bachelors. It was intended to promote marriage, and the population growth that usually accompanies marriages. So the law was not unfairly punishing men who, well, were not that desirable and could not find a mate, there was an exemption for bachelors who could prove they had proposed but been rejected.
Clever Argentine women turned that into a lucrative business. "Professional lady rejectors" would sell men a package: the man would propose, then the lady would reject them, then both would swear in a court of law that a proposal had been made and rejected. Thus men could remain unmarried and get out of the tax. A newspaper article added that it is a lucrative business for women, but is confined "by the nature of things, to maidens and widows."