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Historical Facts: Other Ancient Cultures

The first firecrackers are attributed to a Chinese monk named Li Tian, who in the 10th century put gunpowder into a hollowed piece of bamboo to drive away evil spirits from the city of Liu Yang.  This city became one of the world’s biggest producers of fireworks. Posted 7/01/2010

1,000,000 Chinese peasants died to build the Great Wall of China. Posted 1/01/2011

The ancient Celts used the bagpipes as an instrument of war.  It was very effective in scaring their enemies off the battlefield. Posted 10/01/2011

In Persia, high-heeled shoes were worn as a form of riding footwear, especially among the cavalry.  When the soldier stood up in his stirrups, the heel helped him to secure his stance so that he could shoot his bow and arrow more effectively. Posted 8/01/2014

Viking women could inherit property, request a divorce, and reclaim their dowries if their marriages ended. Posted 3/01/2015

The ancient Chinese were the first to color their fingernails. 4/15/2016

The Pharisees, of the Holy Lands, paid their tithes in mint, dill, and cumin seeds. Posted 14/15/2018

Traditionally, Viking weddings were held on Friday, which in Norse religion is a sacred day for Frigga, the goddess of marriage. Posted 4/01/2019

The Etruscans were the first to make workable dentures as early as 700 BC.  The teeth were made out of bone held in place with gold wires and were considered a status symbol. Posted 1/15/2022

The crossbow was invented in ancient China by Ch'in Shih of the Chu State sometime in the 6th century BCE. Posted 10/01/2022

The ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain was held at the end of October and known as All Hallow’s E’en, hence we get the word Halloween.  The Celts believed that the veil between the worlds was very thin on that day.  To honor the dead they would leave offerings of food to nourish the spirits on their journey between worlds, so that they wouldn’t be stuck in this one.  This is why we offer candy to trick or treaters, so they won’t do property damage. Posted 10/15/2010

One of the gods in the Viking pantheon was Ullr—the god of skiing. Posed 2/01/2014

The Chinese were the first to import cloves, and no one could approach the Chinese emperor without first chewing cloves to clear his breath. Posted 1/01/2015

The Aztecs had something like chili powder, but the modern mixture was invented in the U.S., in the 1860s by an immigrant Englishman trying to create a substitute for curry powder. Posted 2/15/2015

Brewing was the only profession in Mesopotamia that was protected by a female deity. Posted 10/01/2015

Vikings bathed at least once a week, which is much more frequently than other Europeans of their day. Posted 4/15/2017

The Aztecs and the Incas raised the ancestors of modern bronze turkeys as well as Muscovy ducks, the only native waterfowl that was domestically raised. Posted 11/15/2018

The library concept dates back millennia. The first systematically organized library in the ancient Middle East was established in the 7th century BCE by Assyrian ruler Ashurbanipal in Nineveh, in contemporary Iraq. It contained approximately 30,000 cuneiform tablets assembled by topic. Many of the works were archival documents and scholarly texts, but there were also works of literature, including the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh. Like many bibliophiles, Ashurbanipal was very protective of his library. An inscription in one of the texts warns that potential thieves would face the wrath of the gods. Posted 9/15/2022

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