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.
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.
We know how Chinese was pronounced 1400 years ago thanks to the world’s oldest surviving rhyming dictionary.
Buddhism was made the state religion of Silla (a kingdom in early Korea) because a court official planned his own martyrdom.
Between 1200 and 1500 CE, the city of Nan Madol was built on a series of artificial islands and a coral reef in what is now eastern Micronesia.
In 1324, Pope John XXII issued a papal bull condemning the excesses of modern popular music.
In the 9th century CE, a town in what is now Nigeria produced the most masterful bronze artefacts in the world.
For more than 1700 years, mithridate and theriac were Europe’s ultimate medicines. A concoction of up to sixty-four ingredients – including cinnamon, turpentine, and poppy – they were supposed to neutralise any poison or plague.
The ruler of Medieval Venice was chosen by an exceptionally complex ten-step process of alternating random lots and elections.
The Indian mathematician Mādhava was the first to use infinite series to calculate pi, some time around 1400 CE.
In 2006 scientists in Iceland caught a clam that was born eight years after Christopher Columbus sailed to America.
Sigurd the Mighty, Earl of Orkney, died in 892 CE when he was bitten by the severed head of his foe, Máelbrigte the Bucktoothed.
The Epic of Sundiata, describing the rise of the first ruler of the Mali Empire, was passed down by griots – West African bards – for over six hundred years before it was written down.
Sudden bouts of contagious dancing plagued pre-modern Europe – afflicting up to a thousand people at a time.
King Charles II of Navarre died when, wrapped in alcohol-soaked linen, he caught on fire.