Ohaguro: An Interesting Japanese Beauty Standard

Women in ancient Japan blackened their teeth with dye. White teeth were considered ugly. Evidence for this practice, called ohaguro, exists from as far back as the Kofun Period and (250 to 538 CE) in bone remains and on clay human figurines.

Ohaguro continued until the late 1800s and the Meiji Restoration.

The First "True" Plastic

In 1907, the Belgian-born American inventor Leo Baekeland invented Bakelite. Made from fossil fuels, not plants or animals or minerals, it has been described as the first synthetic plastic. Bakelite could stand up under high temperatures and it didn't conduct electricity. It was used widely for functional items like radios, telephones, and kitchenware, and for leisure like jewelry and toys.

Ancient Hominins Lived In China Much Earlier Than Previously Thought

Recently, stone tools from 2.1 million years ago in northwestern China were discovered. These tools are the oldest hominin tools found outside of Africa. And they suggest that hominins migrated out of Africa much earlier, and spread much farther east, than once thought.

The earliest hominin remains outside of Africa right now is a Homo erectus fossil found in a cave in Georgia, dating to about 1.85 million years ago. The new finds in China mean hominins were outside Africa about 250,000 years earlier, and 3,500 miles to the east. Interestingly, no hominin remains have been found in the area. Based on the tools’ age it is believed that they belonged to Homo habilis or Homo erectus.

Of course all this hinges on the tools being hominin tools. And the dating being correct. Still, if everything holds up, what a find!

Unusually Positioned Skull Found In Burial Cave In Sicily

[gallery columns="1" size="large" ids="13067"] Around 2,500 years ago, the skull of a woman who died of cancer was buried facing into an artificial cave dug out of the rock. Perhaps she was watching over the 50 people buried inside? She was discovered near the town of Baucina, in Sicily, Italy. The woman was between 35 and 50 years old, and likely died of a cancer that spread to her skull, leaving 14 holes in it. Archaeologists are unsure exactly why she was placed there, and where the rest of her body is.

A Very Good Sheep

The Mughal tradition of making portraits of strange or favorite animals was initiated by the fourth Mughal emperor, Jahangir (ruled 1605-1627) and was continued by both later Mughals and Rajput patrons. This study of a ram is from the reign of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (ruled 1628-1658), who you may know for building the Taj Mahal.

These Engagement Rings Know How To Bring The Drama

Although it can make two separate rings, they can also be conjoined, and worn as one ring. When separated, one can see the secret message on the inside of each ring. On the diamond ring is “QUOD DEUS CONIUNXIT.” On the ruby ring is “HOMO NON SEPARET.” Translated from Latin, it means "Whom God has joined together, let no man tear asunder."

Such conjoined rings, called gimmel rings, were popular in the 1600s in Europe. This particular example is from 1631 in Germany. Traditionally, the members of a newly betrothed couple would receive one hoop each. At the wedding ceremony, the two rings would be joined.

Heatwave in Ireland Reveals Prehistoric Stone Monument

Thanks to the low rainfall, the outline of this prehistoric stone circle, or henge, was shown in how the crops grew.

Here’s how it works. Moisture lodges in archaeological features a little more than in plain soil. So when a drought hits, the plants directly above the archaeological features get a little more water than the plants not over an archaeological feature.

A drone flying over privately-owned fields is credited with the discovery.

The World's Oldest Library Finds Hidden Treasures

The library at Saint Catherine’s Monastery is the oldest continually operating library in the world. In the earlier days of books, the parchment they were written on was extremely valuable -- sometimes more valuable than the words written on them. So when someone wanted to copy down a new book, rather than purchase or make a new parchment, they scrapped the words off an older book and wrote the new book instead. Such texts are called "palimpsests." Saint Catherine's has at least 160 plaimpsests. The manuscripts bear faint scratches and flecks of ink beneath more recent writing, the only hint of the treasures they hid.

In an unlikely collaboration between an Orthodox wing of the Christian faith and cutting-edge science, a small group of international researchers are using specialized imaging techniques that photograph the parchments with different colors of light from multiple angles. This technology allows the researchers to read the original texts for the first time since they were wiped away.

And what they found are truly treasures. They found new poems -- or rather, very old poems -- and early religious texts and some rare-language texts doubling the known vocabulary of languages that have not been used for more than 1,000 years. Perhaps most valuable, though, are the entirely new words, in long-forgotten languages. It will take religious, medieval, and linguistic scholars years to sift through all the finds!

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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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