After Gautama Buddha died (around 500 years BCE) he was cremated and his ashes divided up and distributed to stupas across northern India. But some relics purportedly survived, including a surprising number of teeth.
From the beginning of written history until 500 CE
Pangur Bán was an Irish monk’s cat in 9th century Germany; we know this cat’s name because the monk wrote a poem about him. Even though this poem was written more than a thousand years ago, Pangur Bán was not the first named cat in history.
Before we knew about plate tectonics, a zoologist proposed a lost continent connecting Madagascar and India across the Indian Ocean. That hypothesis, now debunked, was nevertheless picked up by Theosophists and Tamil revivalists.
The pig toilet was once a key sanitation building in rural China, Korea, and India. It was ruthlessly efficient, combining a toilet for people with a sty for pigs.
The Ethiopian and Coptic Orthodox Churches hold that Pontius Pilate, the governor who condemned Jesus Christ to death, later converted to Christianity himself, and they revere Pilate as a saint.
How do you solve Zeno’s paradoxes of motion? If you’re Diogenes the Cynic, you walk it off. [1 of 2]
The Vikings may not have worn horned helmets, but the ancient Greeks had helmets covered in boar tusks and the Dayak of Borneo had helmets covered in fish or pangolin scales.
The Imperial Regalia of Japan consists of a legendary sword, mirror, and jewel. They are brought out at every imperial enthronement, but only a few priests and the emperor himself are ever allowed to see them.
Julius Caesar won the Siege of Alesia with a military tactic known as investment: build walls around the besieged settlement’s own walls, and and then build another layer of walls around those ones.
The Cloaca Maxima in Rome is one of the world’s first sewer systems. It still works today, and with good reason: it has its own goddess.
The pyramid of Amanishakheto stood for nearly two thousand years, until an Italian looter blew it up.
Socotra, the alien island wedged between the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, is home to the dragon blood tree: a source of dye, paint, medicine, varnish, and magic.
The Sardinian launeddas, also known as a triplepipe, sounds like someone playing three clarinets at the same time.
Poisoned potions of immortality caused the death of up to seven Chinese emperors – the last less than three centuries ago.
The Doubting Antiquity School were sceptics of ancient Chinese texts’ historical veracity… until the oracle bones were deciphered.
Most accidental mummies are preserved by heat, cold, or peat bogs. But in the Chehrabad mines in Iran, the bodies of ancient miners were buried in salt.