A Bronze Age Metropolis

Two years of excavations of an early Bronze Age city uncovered in northern Israel have led to some interesting conclusions. En Esur, as it has been named, was a highly organized community. There were grain silos, burial caves, public buildings, and densely packed housing around a network of streets. Just to give an idea of how well-managed En Esur was: all the streets were maintained with a cover of plaster and stones, to help prevent flooding. In total, the city of En Esur covered about 160 acres. And it appears to have been home to about 6,000 people. While its population and size were comparable to other Levantine cities at the time, likely making it a regional power city, it was smaller than those in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

A Scary Fact

Humans have produced more plastic over the last decade (2010s) than was created in the entire 20th century.

The Oldest Known Egyptian Sentence

from the tomb of Pharaoh Seth-Peribsen, who ruled during the Second Dynasty from 2890 – 2686 BCE.

A Faux Medieval Manuscript

Clothilde Coulaux, a young French woman living in German-occupied Alsace, created the "Clothilde Missal" manuscript in 1906, as described in a colophon accompanying her charming self-portrait on p. 173. All 174 pages are illuminated with a rich variety of imagery, including scenes of everyday life, music, feasting, courtship and child rearing, warfare, and regional architecture, combined with more traditional religious imagery. Her religious imagery often drew upon prints by Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein, and other early masters, as well as stained glass, sculpture, and liturgical instruments. Much of the other imagery, however, is uniquely her own. Paintings of her cat looking out a window, or of couples drinking together, add touches of whimsy and humor. And her choice to write in French, while living in what was ostensibly Germany after the 1871 Franco-Prussian War, was an inherently political statement. Clothilde was declaring her nationality as a French woman, even when drawing paintings of her cat.

Redefining Maya Warfare

It was previously thought that before 800 CE, conflict between Maya population centers was low-risk and ritualized. Sacred sites would be vandalized and high-status hostages taken. But the people and their cities would largely be left alone. It was only later, due to growing socioeconomic tensions, that warfare became more dangerous and inflicted greater human loss.

But recent analyses of lake sediment cores near the ancient city of Witzna, in northern Guatemala, is challenging this view of Maya conflict. The core analyses showed a massive fire took place around 700 CE. All the major structures of the city were destroyed by the fire, even the royal palace.

A hieroglyphic war stela at nearby population center Naranjo states that on May 21st, 697 CE, Naranjo subjected Witzna to “puluuy.” It was previously thought that the word puluuy meant a local fire ritual. Just a little ritualized conflict that hurt no one. The evidence from the lake sediments redefines the word. Witzna was inflicted with a puluuy which hurt its citizens and destroyed its buildings. The Naranjo stela describes four other cities as having been subjected to puluuy. This suggests that Mayans practiced total warfare, with great human cost, earlier and more frequently than previously thought.

In countries with presidents, about 94% of them have some mechanism for removing them from office. And while such mechanisms are set in motion often, they usually fail. Since 1990, at least 132 different heads of state have faced some 272 impeachment proposals in 63 countries. Almost all presidents remained in office, though.

Secret Whisky Distillery Found In Scottish Ruins

In examining the remains of two abandoned farmsteads from the 1700s, in the forest near Scotland’s Loch Ard, archaeologists found a surprising secret industry. The farmsteads apparently housed an illicit whisky distillery! Multiple buildings involved in making whisky survive including the remnants of a kiln for drying corn.

The farmsteads were well-placed for such illegal activity. They had easy access to Loch Ard’s water. And though secluded in the forest, the farmsteads were still just 25 miles north of Glasgow, where the whisky could be sold.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, illegal distilling became common in the Scottish Highlands because stills making less than 100 gallons of whisky were banned and high taxes were placed on the grains used to make the spirit. In other words? All the incentives were there for non-taxed whiskys to make a handsome profit.

"The only way to keep ahead of the procession is to experiment. If you don’t, the other fellow will. When there’s no experimenting there’s no progress. Stop experimenting and you go backward. If anything goes wrong, experiment until you get to the very bottom of the trouble."

Thomas Edison, famous American experimenter who created, among other things, the lightbulb and the first motion picture.

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    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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