A marble altar encircled with a coiled snake carved in relief has been unearthed at the ancient city of Patara in southern Turkey. It is estimated to be more than 2,000 years old placing it around the time that the city was fought over by Macedonia, then Rhodes, then the kingdom of Pontus before finally being permanently annexed to the Roman Empire. The altar was found near Roman baths and Roman walls.
Did you know that Connecticut had witch trials thirty years before the more-famous Salem Witch Trials? From 1647 to 1663, Hartford Connecticut accused 37 people of being witches. Leading to 11 executions. An influenza epidemic in New England in 1647 likely helped get things started.
Things began to slow down in the early 1660s. Ironically, this is partly attributed to the return of the governor of the Connecticut colony, John Winthrop Jr., who was seen as an expert in witchcraft! He had seen major alchemists in England stand against false accusations of witchcraft, and was well-versed in "natural magical practices" as well as alchemy. Winthrop therefore was skeptical of the accusations being made in Connecticut. He wanted to catch true witches not just squabbling neighbors. For instance, Winthrop's court established that multiple witnesses needed to bear witness to the same act of witchcraft simultaneously. This understandably results in fewer witchcraft accusations and no witches were executed in Connecticut after 1670.
It is 4,500 years old! This ring was crafted in ancient Ur of gold and lapis lazuli, sometime between 2600 and 2450 BCE.
Carel Pietersz Fabritius, the most promising student of Rembrandt, famous for his painting "The Goldfinch," died young at just 32 in 1654. He was killed in an explosion. (Not what you were expecting, right?) The city of Delft's gunpowder magazine unexpectedly exploded, destroying about one-fourth of the city and killing Fabritius. Dying young does not mean the end of a painter's career -- just look at Van Gogh. But unfortunately for Fabritius, most of his paintings were also destroyed in the explosion. Only about a dozen of his paintings survive today.
Spain had a guardianship system for females until 1985. Girls and women -- all females -- had to have a "guardian." Guardians' permission was required for opening a bank account, making a contract, working, and driving. Unsurprisingly guardians' permission was also needed for changing residency or citizenship so females could not move to get away. Pretty terrible. But wait, it gets worse! Legally, a man could kill their ward if the lady had pre-marital sex.
Some 150 decorative bronze pieces of a 2,500-year-old horse’s bridle were discovered in north-central Poland. The pieces form a nearly-complete bridle with only the bit missing. Reconstructed it is reminiscent those made by the Scythians living to the north at the time suggesting cultural exchange and influence. The bronze pieces had been wrapped in leaves and placed in a leather bag alongside a locally-made axe. The bag was then buried on a sandy hillside by Poland's largest river. It was probably intended to be re-collected then melted down to form something new; luckily for archaeologists the would-be smith never came back for his hoard.
The Supremes were the first musical group made up entirely of women to achieve a number 1 best-selling album on Billboard. It was in 1966 with The Supremes A' Go-Go.
The only place in the world where member of the skunk family (mephitidae) are found other than the Americas is Indonesia and the Philippines. Just two species remain in a genus: the Palawan stink badger or pantot (M. marchei), and the Sunda stink badger or teledu (M. javanensis).
Let's talk about where those names come from! The Indonesian genus are called "stink badgers" in English because they were previously thought to be in the badger family. More recent genetic analyses have led to their reclassification with skunks. And the skunk family as a whole is called mephitidae after the Latin word Mefitis, a Samnite goddess who personified the poisonous gases emitted from swamps and volcanoes.
In 1915 a non-pornographic film showed a fully-nude woman for the first time in the US. Called "Inspiration" it is about a sculptor trying to find the "perfect model" for his statues. The nudity was confined to showing the model posing for statues -- something the lady playing the model did in real life, to widespread acclaim. The nude scenes passed the National Board of Censorship without a single suggested change. The censors worried that if the scenes did not pass, censors might also have to ban Renaissance paintings.