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.
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.
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.
In 1962 the United States detonated a nuclear bomb in outer space over Hawai’i. It caused an artificial aurora in the sky over Honolulu – and another one over Samoa, more than four thousand kilometres away.
In 1859 a dispute over a single pig led to a military standoff between the United States and the United Kingdom. The conflict would eventually draw in George Pickett (of Pickett’s Charge), Henry Robert (of Robert’s Rules of Order) and Kaiser Wilhelm I.
When British suffragettes were released from prison, they got medals.
When a samurai received a new katana, the sharpness of the sword could be tested by attacking a random civilian or (after that was banned) by slicing a criminal or corpse.
Winston Churchill invented an adult romper suit and then wore it everywhere during World War II.
Three American and three German warships spent months in a standoff in Apia Harbour in Samoa. And then a cyclone hit.
To detect and map enemy planes during World War II, the British Royal Air Force employed a sophisticated network of radar stations, spotters with binoculars, stock market brokers, and a women’s auxiliary with croupier sticks.
The Austrian dreadnought SMS Viribus Unitis was gifted to Yugoslavia in 1918, and then blown up by an Italian manned torpedo less than a day later.
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 Pentagon is the largest office building in the world, but what lies at its centre? Until 2006, it was a hot dog stand.