North American Plains Sign Language, older than European and Ottoman Sign Languages

We often see in Westerns how Indians manage to communicate with each other or with the white man through a series of hand gestures, sometimes accompanied by a phonetic transcription with the infinitive cliché introduced by Fenimore Cooper in his novel The Last of the Mohicans. Such a transcription should be unnecessary, although it is…Continue readingNorth American Plains Sign Language, older than European and Ottoman Sign Languages

Gonzalo Guerrero, the Spanish castaway who became a Mayan and fought against the conquistadors

When we talk about miscegenation in reference to the ethnic and cultural fusion that the conquest of America by the Spanish meant, there is a character that embodies it almost emblematically. He is Gonzalo Guerrero, a shipwrecked man who, after years of living with a Mayan tribe, became naturalized, formed a family and even fought…Continue readingGonzalo Guerrero, the Spanish castaway who became a Mayan and fought against the conquistadors

Gutisko Razda, the language spoken by the Visigoths

Visigoths were a branch of the Goths, who in turn belonged to the East Germanic tribes that between 600 and 300 BC migrated from Scandinavia to the region between the Oder and Vistula rivers. Some researchers believe that the Visigoths are the same people as the Thervingi, as the sixth century AD historian Jordanes says…Continue readingGutisko Razda, the language spoken by the Visigoths

The scientist who captured the Russian Empire in colour photographs before they were invented

Photography has improved so much, technologically speaking, that today we see images from only twenty years ago and they almost seem prehistoric to us; in fact, many people probably don’t even know what rolls were or how the processing was done. It would be even worse if we go back a little further, to black…Continue readingThe scientist who captured the Russian Empire in colour photographs before they were invented

John Taylor, the oculist who blinded Bach and Händel

If I asked you what Bach and Händel had in common, there would be more than one answer. They were both famous composers, born in the same year and originally from what is now Germany. However, there is another thing that links them: they both died practically blind because of eye operations performed on them…Continue readingJohn Taylor, the oculist who blinded Bach and Händel

Lapis Niger, the shrine where the first known Latin inscription was found, was already a mystery to the Romans themselves

In 1898 the Venetian archaeologist Giacomo Boni was appointed director of the excavations of the Roman Forum at the Italian capital, a position he held until his death in 1925. Among the discoveries he made during that period are an Iron Age necropolis, the Regia (first a barracks and then the seat of Rome’s highest…Continue readingLapis Niger, the shrine where the first known Latin inscription was found, was already a mystery to the Romans themselves

A 4,500-year-old Mesopotamian pillar contains the first deciphered inscription about border disputes

A marble pillar or stele that has been preserved in the British Museum for 150 years bears a cuneiform inscription, deciphered in late 2018, and which has turned out to be the first known record of a border dispute. It also mentions, for the first time, the term no-man’s-land. The pillar is Mesopotamian and about…Continue readingA 4,500-year-old Mesopotamian pillar contains the first deciphered inscription about border disputes

The wrought iron bar chain that saved the Amiens Cathedral from collapsing

The Amiens Cathedral, listed as a Historical Monument in 1882 and included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981, is a reference in its style and also has a series of curious elements that make it particularly interesting. One of them is the famous labyrinth that paves the floor of the nave; another, the…Continue readingThe wrought iron bar chain that saved the Amiens Cathedral from collapsing

The Dur-Kurigalzu ziggurat that medieval travelers mistook for the Tower of Babel

In the Iraqi desert, some 30 kilometres west of Baghdad, stands an impressive mound that, at first sight, looks like a simple rock eroded by the wind over the centuries. But nothing could be further from truth, for it is made of bricks and what is left of it was once the core of a…Continue readingThe Dur-Kurigalzu ziggurat that medieval travelers mistook for the Tower of Babel

More than 200 people live in Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, the remotest town in the world, where outsiders are forbidden to settle

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to live in a place so isolated that there is no other inhabited place within 1350 miles, the answer can easily be obtained. Just travel to the town of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas and ask one of its 246 neighbors (population on April 4,…Continue readingMore than 200 people live in Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, the remotest town in the world, where outsiders are forbidden to settle

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