In 1687 Ottoman-controlled Athens, the Venetians blew up the Parthenon. The Ottomans built a mosque from its ruins.
In World War I, phenol was a key ingredient in aspirin, explosives, and phonograph records. German agents secretly redirected Thomas Edison’s excess phenol supply to prevent it being used for British bombs.
Gaelic football and Australian Rules football teams don’t have much international competition. So they decided to play each other instead.
El Hombre Caimán is a popular Colombian myth about a man who is half man, half alligator – the result of an accident while peeping on bathing women.
In 1943 a new volcano arose in Hokkaido. The Japanese government managed to keep it a secret for several years.
The oldest known postcard was sent by a practical joker to himself to embarrass the postal service.
In 1968 a North Korean black ops assassination team got within 100 metres of the South Korean president’s house. South Korea formed a team of petty criminals and teenagers to return the favour, but after three years of training they mutinied.
Sputnik 1 orbited the Earth for three months; Sputnik 2 for nearly six months. Explorer 1 stayed in orbit for twelve years, but the fourth artificial satellite, Vanguard 1, is still flying today.
On June 25, 1900, tens of thousands of important historical manuscripts were found in a secret room within the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas in Dunhuang, China, where they had been hidden for nearly a millennium.
In a few places around the world sand dunes make a sound like a sad tuba when you walk on them.
At the start of this year the largest free trade agreement in the world came into effect, with the goal of connecting the entire African continent.
The 2001 novel Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn depicts a town in which a totalitarian government begins banning letters – from the town and from the novel itself.
Masaccio’s Holy Trinity is possibly the earliest surviving work of art to use a single vanishing point. His work and that of Brunelleschi triggered a Renaissance explosion of mathematical perspective in art.
Underneath Beijing is a vast network of tunnels built during the Cold War to shelter three million people during a nuclear attack.
In 1987 the army of Chad won a war against a more powerful Libyan force. The Libyans had tanks and aircraft; Chad had a fleet of Toyota pickup trucks.