There is something about history that triggers extreme reactions in a man. Some loathe it and some love everything about it. Be that as it may, one simply cannot ignore history. We have been taught history in school, we have observed history-in-the-making, we have read tomes on history, however, these 10 facts about the history is not taught in schools nor are they readily available in your pocket guides. These intriguing facts about the history will keep you riveted to your seat.
1. Ludi Meridiani or Midday spectacles (dramas) used condemned prisoners or prisoners of war for real executions within the play. These executions/ maiming and bestiality were generally appreciated by the audience.
The Romans were notorious for their midday spectacles known as Ludi Meridiani. These performances enacted popular mythologies such as Hercules, Pasiphae, and Orpheus. These shows were not just an enactment of the myth but also served as a platform for public execution of the condemned prisoners and prisoners of war.
For instance, in the enactment of Pasiphae, a woman prisoner would liberally be smeared with the scent of the cow in season. A bull would be let loose which would try to mount the weakened prisoner. If the woman survived the brutal ordeal, then a swipe of the sword would end her life. Emperor Nero would clothe the Christians in animal skins before throwing them to vicious dogs as a means of degrading and humiliating them. The spectators who came from wealthy class appreciated these forms of execution as it enabled their sense of moral superiority over the convicted criminals.
2. In 1880, Sunandha Kumariratana, the Queen of Thailand, drowned while her subjects watched because they were forbidden to touch her.
19-year-old Sunanadha Kumariratana (10 November 1860 – 31 May 1880) was the daughter of King Mongkut and Princess Consort Piam. She was married to King Chulalongkorn (King Rama V). Queen Sunandha was the consort to the chief queen of King Rama V. She was one of the four queens of King Rama V (of Siam, present-day Thailand), the other two being her younger sisters Queen Savang Vadhana and Queen Saovabha Bhongsi.
The queen and her daughter met a tragic end when the boat ferrying them to the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace (Summer palace) capsized drowning them both. The incident was watched by a large number of people (common subjects). Unfortunately, a law forbade them from touching royal person’s at any time- not even when it was a matter of life or death. Any subjects breaking this law were given the death sentence. The grief-stricken King erected a memorial in memory of the queen and their unborn child Bang Pa-In Palace.
3. Albert Einstein married his first cousin, in fact, 80% of marriages in history were between second cousins or closer.
A union between two people with a common relative (grandparent or another recent ancestor) is known as cousin marriage. In fact, the Rothschilds, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, all married their first cousins. Charles Darwin was a grandchild of first cousins. Robin Fox of Rutgers University thinks that more than 80% of marriages in history may have been between second cousins or closer. The ancient times had less number of people dispersed over wide areas, inbreeding was the inevitable result of this situation. In the olden days, Cousin marriage was considered ideal, however, the recent medical discoveries unearthing links between inbreeding and neurological diseases has led to the decrease in cousin marriage. Cousin marriage has come down in Brazil, America, Europe, and other western countries. Though, cousin marriage flourishes in the Middle East and few other Asian countries.
In the olden days, Cousin marriage was considered ideal, however, the recent medical discoveries unearthing links between inbreeding and neurological diseases has led to the decrease in cousin marriage. Cousin marriage has come down in Brazil, America, Europe, and other western countries. Though, cousin marriage flourishes in the Middle East and few other Asian countries.
4. Three Skull-Cups made out of the skulls of 2 adults and a 3-year-old child belonging to Cro-Magnon period was found in Britain.
3 skull cups were unearthed from Gough’s cave in Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, UK. The 3 skull cups are of 2 adults and a child. The 3 skull cups were made from 14,700-year-old skulls. The usage of skull-cups may sound macabre, but the practice of using skull-cups were well-known worldwide. From Vikings to Scythians, all created and used skull-cups. Dr. Silvia Bello, Museum fossil human expert (palaeoanthropologist) believes that the early humans were skilled anatomists who carefully cleaned the skull of the soft tissues before making the cuts and dents. As a final step, the cranial vaults are shaped into cups by retouching the broken or chipped bones. Dr. Silivio Bell suspects that the early human may have been a cannibal who may have consumed the soft flesh of the skull before turning it into a cup. However, he believes that the purpose of consumption may have been ritualistic rather than pure cannibalism.
The Skull cup found in Gough’s cave comes from 2 adults and a 3-year-old child from Cro-Magnon period. Two of the skull-cups were found in 1920 and another was found in 1987.
5. The average life expectancy at birth in ancient Rome was only 20 to 30 years.
The modern day demographers have conceded the fact that the average life expectancy at birth of ancient Roman hovered around the age of 25. This shocking figure is due to the high mortality rate of infants and children. As many as 50% of the children succumbed to death by the age of ten. Those who managed to survive plagues, dysentery and wars had life expectancy that ranged from 45-50 years.
6. Proportionally speaking, the most destructive war in modern history was the War of the Triple Alliance, which took the lives of over 60% of Paraguay’s population, leaving a woman/man ratio of 4 to 1.
Known as the war of the Triple alliance or Paraguayan war. The war commenced when Brazil helped the Colorado occupied Uruguay against its opposition bloc. Alarmed by what he considered to be an expansion agenda that threatened the local power balance, Francisco Solano Lopez, the dictator of Paraguay went to war against the bigger country Brazil. Bartolome Mitre quickly seized the opportunity and cobbled an alliance with Brazil and Colorado controlled Uruguay (triple alliance). They declared war on Paraguay on May 1, 1865.
The Paraguayan 50,000 man army was considered to be the strongest in Latin America and the action by their leader Francisco was seen as an aggressive aggrandizement of self and nation. The war began with Paraguayan army making steady inroads into enemy territories. But logistical problems and the build-up of the triple alliance army soon halted the march of the Paraguayan army. The tide turned against Paraguay in January 1868, when Brazilian armoured vessels broke through Paraguayan defences. The campaign of Lomas Valentinas in December saw the virtual annihilation of the Paraguayan army. The dictator of Paraguay Francisco was killed in 1870. The population of Paraguay which was around 525,000 reduced to about 221,000 in 1871, of which only about 28,000 were men.
7. Cannibalism revived during the 16th & 17th century. Various parts of a human bodysuch as bones, fat, blood were ingested as part of medication to cure gout, headaches by the royalty, priests, and scientist.
The Renaissance period is known for the revival of art and culture, it was also known for reviving ‘cannibalism’ for medicinal purposes. Mummies, preserved remains of the humans and fresh flesh of humans were all treasured in the medicines. Consumption of these grisly potion’s was not limited to few select groups. Scientists, royalties, priests and common folks ingested the body parts whenever they could get their hands on it. The cannibalistic medicine followed the principle of “like cures the like” hence crushed and powdered skull was supposed to treat headaches, ingesting of fresh blood was thought to take care of blood ailments, fat from the dead body were said to cure gout or other external ailments. Mummies were routinely stolen from Egyptian museums, skulls were procured from Irish graves and grave diggers robbed and sold body parts.
The craze for “human medicine” spawned several recipes involving human blood (marmalade) or the skull (The king’s drops). The toupee of moss covering the skull of the dead known as Usnea became a valuable additive. Its powder was said to cure nosebleeds and even epilepsy. Blood was the sought after “medicine” – the fresher the better as it was thought to contain the vitality of the deceased. The poor who could not buy fresh blood would attend the execution’s paying the executioner for a small amount of the blood taken from the body of freshly dead prisoner.
8. Romans considered the urine as a liquid gold and would wash their mouths with it to remove bad breath and to whiten their teeth.
Urophagia or consuming urine was a normal routine in ancient Rome. The urine was considered a liquid gold by the Romans. The ancient Romans collected all the urine from public urinals and would sell them in markets or to merchants. Such was the profit margin, a law was passed to collect ‘urine tax’ from the urine traders. Urine had numerous uses in the ancient days. They were used as softeners of leathers, to remove stains from the cloth, as a leavening. Urine had another very important use- It was used as a mouth wash by ancient Romans. They believed the ammonia present in the urine would wash away the stain and bad breath and it did!
9. Genghis Khan, who was campaigning against Jin empire ordered his army TO EAT EVERY TENTH MAN to overcome the shortage of food.
Genghis Khan was the founder of the Mongol empire. The Mongol empire controlled large parts of Central Asia and China. The successful invasions of other Kingdoms were due to his disciplined army. Genghis Khan after waging a successful war against the Jin empire (North China) with the help of the Ongguts (Jin’s neighbors on the northern borders) had to retreat after getting wounded. The Jin empire grabbed the opportunity to recapture their lost lands and fortify their defences.
After 2 years, in 1213, the Mongols came back to recapture Jin. Genghis split the army into three parts. He and his two sons lead the army into the attack that saw the defeat of the Jin empire. BY 1214, most of the area north of Huang He (yellow river) was under the control of Genghis Khan except the city of Chungdu, the capital of Jin empire. The fortified city withstood the siege of the Mongols. The siege went on for a long time leading to a shortage of supplies in the Mongol camp. They were also ravaged by the Plague. Genghis Khan, who was determined on continuing the siege ordered that every tenth man would be sacrificed to be fed to others. The prolonged Siege caused Genghis Khan to personally abandon the campaign, he installed his general Mukalji in his stead. Chungdu city finally succumbed in 1215.
10. During WWI, a Hungarian soldier named Paul Kern was shot in the frontal lobe, making him unable to fall asleep. He lived for years afterwards, and no one knows how.
Paul Kern, a Hungarian soldier who fought in World War I was shot in the head by a Russian soldier in 1915. The bullet removed his frontal lobe. Paul Kern woke up in Lemberg Hospital and after that, he never slept again. Apart from having occasional headaches, Kern has not suffered due to lack of sleep. His work in the Pensions department, Budapest shows no signs of deterioration. Paul tried to sleep like the others but the hours of wakefulness spent lying on the bed exhausted him more than working.
The astonishing case of Paul Kern has got the specialists of Central Europe puzzled. The best brain and nerve specialists have not uncovered any abnormalities. Dr. Frey, a noted university professor who treated the case for years admits that he is baffled by Paul’s condition.