The Aztecs and Mayans feared and hated the owl and believed they were symbols of death and destruction. Interestingly, the Romans agreed, believing that the owls were bad omens -- but the ancient Greeks did not. In ancient Greece, owls represented Athena, the goddess of wisdom.
Arctic ice brings an understanding of ancient Europe’s economy
Greenland's icy mountains are not an obvious place to search for an archive of economic history, but a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that they provide one. Read the full article at The Economist
The French Have Loved Wine For Millennia, New Finds Show
Everyone knows France is famous for its wine. The country's rise to prominence as a wine-producer in the 1100s has been well-documented, but what is less clear is how wine got to France. Recently, multiple Etruscan amphora and a limestone pressing platform (above) were unearthed in a merchant's quarters at the ancient coastal port site of Lattara in southern France. They are now the earliest archaeological evidence of wine-making in France, dating to between 525 and 475 BCE.
When trace remains from inside three amphorae were tested, all contained tartaric acid / tartrate – the biomarker or fingerprint compound for the Eurasian grape and wine in the Middle East and Mediterranean, as well as compounds deriving from pine tree resin. When the limestone pressing platform was tested it also came back positive for tartaric acid. Nearby were found thousands of domesticated grape seeds, grape flower stalks, and grape skins.
When you add it all up, the new finds are pretty convincing evidence that viniculture was happening in France during pre-Roman times, thanks to southern France’s contact with Etruscans.
Although the Phoenicians were among the most influential people in the Mediterranean in the first millennium BCE, very little is understood about them. For instance, there was never a kingdom called "Phoenicia." There was a bunch of cities, sharing a strip of land on the coast of modern-day Lebanon, Syria, and northern Israel. These cities were never united. Each was fiercely independent, though they shared a language, an alphabet, and several cultural characteristics.
Many of these cities survive today. For instance, Berot became modern Beirut, and Sidon became modern Saida.
There were dozens of language families, each the equivalent of the Indo-European family, before 1492. This map is a "simplified" one. In today's California, for instance, languages that are spoken by neighboring tribes are as different as French and Chinese.
Why did the Americas develop such linguistic diversity? Many linguists suspect that at least some of these separate families date back to separate migrations of different tribes from Asia who originally spoke unrelated languages. Linguistic and archaeological data hint at more than one migration from Asia into the Americas, all of them through Alaska.
Extra Fun Fact: see “Eskimo-Aleut” in northern North America? It is not colored because there is no evidence those languages are related to any other indigenous American languages!
Beer was a staple in ancient Egypt. Called hqt (heqet), it was drunk by all ages, and all classes. It was so important that wages were sometimes paid in beer. Workmen at the pyramids of the Giza Plateau were given beer, three times daily - five kinds of beer and four kinds of wine have been found by archaeologists at the site.
The beer drunk by these ancient people was probably very similar to the way beer is still produced in Sudan today. The beer seems to have been not very intoxicating. It was nutritious, and rather sweet, without bubbles, and thick -- so thick that the beer had to be strained by drinking it with wooden straws.
That's not to say ancient Egyptian beer was non-alcoholic. There are plenty of records of ancient Egyptians drinking beer at festivals, getting drunk, and having what sounds like great parties.
Why did the medieval Europeans switch from tunics, which were favored by the earlier civilizations like Greeks and the Romans, to pants? The answer is simple: horses win wars. All around the world, societies which had mastered the art of horseback combat wiped out those that had not. The theory goes that men in battle need protect their most sensitive organ. So pants it was.
A huge cache of stone inscriptions from one of Africa's oldest written languages have been unearthed in a vast "city of the dead" in Sudan. The inscriptions are written in the obscure 'Meroitic' language, the oldest known written language south of the Sahara, which remains only partially deciphered. The city of the dead is Sedeinga, located on the western shore of the Nile River in Sudan, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of the river's third cataract. It was once part of Nubia, a gold-rich region south of Egypt, which was home to multiple great ancient kingdoms. Sedeinga itself holds the vestiges of at least 80 brick pyramids and more than 100 tombs from the kingdoms of Napata and Meroe, which lasted from the 600s BCE to the 300s CE. They were cosmopolitan kingdoms, mixing Egyptian culture and sub-Saharan culture. One of the finds in Sedeinga, for instance, is a temple to the Egyptian goddess Ma'at, but depicted with Sub-Saharan African features for the first known time.
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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!