Honey takes on the chemical properties of nectar gathered by bees. This fact turns out to be quite useful if you’re fighting the ancient Romans.
In ancient art from Europe to India a particular artistic motif frequently appears: a male or female figure grabbing two wild creatures, one in each hand. These are the Master and Mistress of Animals.
While Roman emperors were empowered to choose their own successor, the first emperor to actually be succeeded by his own natural-born son was Vespasian.
The Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses III was murdered in a conspiracy formed by one of his harem wives that included magicians, physicians, and butlers.
The eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, also killed the famous author of one of the earliest encyclopedias.
Around 1200 BCE, almost every civilisation in the Eastern Mediterranean collapsed, or just barely survived. One possible culprit were invaders from across the sea: the Sea Peoples. No-one knows precisely who they were.
Europe has a long tradition of puzzle and prank cups and jugs: to drink out of these vessels you must first solve a mechanical challenge.
Ramesses II was the most famous and powerful pharaoh of Egypt’s New Kingdom. And we’re pretty sure that he was a redhead.
The Royal Game of Ur is the oldest board game for which we have a near-complete set of rules. People were playing it five thousand years ago, and it is still played today.
Knitting is hundreds of years old, but similar techniques are even older: sprang dates back to 1400 BCE at least, and nålebinding as far as 6500 BCE.
It’s my 100th post! Read on for a grab-bag of 100-related topics, including the death of the last apostle, the 100th asteroid, 100-handed gods, and the Germanic “long” hundred.
Most people know that smallpox was the first disease that we have completely eradicated in the wild. But what was the second, and what does it have to do with Egyptian plagues, measles, and cattle?
In most editions of the Christian Bible, Genesis comes first. But it was almost certainly not the first book of the Bible to be completed.
For most Westerners, stone circles begin and end with Stonehenge. But there are examples around the world, in Australia, Asia, and Africa too. In Senegal and The Gambia, there are around two thousand of these megalithic monuments.
One of the Dead Sea Scrolls was written on copper rather than papyrus or parchment – and it’s a treasure map. None of the treasure has been found, but given that the scroll probably dates back a couple of thousand years it is unlikely to ever be found.