In 1836 a missionary in New Zealand learned of a strange artefact that had been in Māori possession for several generations: a bronze bell with an unfamiliar script. The script was Tamil, the bell came from Sri Lanka, and it was hundreds of years old.
Proto-Indo-European is thought to be the ancestor language of English, Latin, Greek, French, Russian, Urdu, Sanskrit, Farsi, and dozens of others. But what did it sound like?
The Hindu hymn Vishnu Sahasranāma lists one thousand different names for the god Vishnu. A surprising amount are about his bellybutton.
Through sophisticated mnemonics and error-checking mechanisms the Vedas, the canonical religious texts of Hinduism, have been transmitted orally for three and a half thousand years with shocking precision in both word and sound.
The Indian mathematician Mādhava was the first to use infinite series to calculate pi, some time around 1400 CE.
India prevented people patenting their foods, traditional medicines, and yoga poses by recording them all in an online database: 34 million pages’ worth.
The Kāma Sūtra suggests that lovers learn cryptography.
Some breeds of chicken – like the Kadaknath of India and the Ayam Cemani of Indonesia – are extremely black. Their feathers, beaks, skin, meat, internal organs, and even bones are black.
The use of the anti-inflammatory drug Diclofenac on cattle led – very indirectly – to the rise of rabies and leopards in India. And it’s all because of vultures.
Oh great, it’s raining blood again! I hope it’s just rain dust from the desert and not intercontinental cloud algae.
In southern and south-eastern Asia and the Pacific, teeth were blackened or lacquered to keep them intact and healthy.
The Poison Damsels of ancient Indian mythology were assassins who could kill someone with a look or a touch.
In 2005 a French helicopter pilot landed on top of Mount Everest. In 1972 another French pilot flew more than 12,000 metres up… and then his engine stopped.
Jagannath, the deity from whom we get the word juggernaut, receives offerings of food from the world’s largest kitchen.
Up until the 15th century, you could apparently walk from India to Sri Lanka. Rama’s Bridge is a short chain of limestone islands and shoals with a very fraught religious and political history.
Okay okay, I know I said that chess boxing was my favourite hybrid sport, but now there’s a new contender. I have one word for you, just one word: parahawking.