marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

tidbits cross time

Pliny maintained that of all twins, those with one male and one female were most likely to die. (All twins were, of course, even more likely to die than singleton births at the time.)

In Siwa, a widow is a ghulah, a she-ghoul, dangerous because of the Evil Eye. As soon as her husband is buried, she must go to a certain spring, take off her clothes, bathe, and dress herself in a white garment. Then she must live in seclusion for a prolonged period, on a vegetarian diet brought to her by an elderly woman who is the only one allowed to see her, and she can speak through the door to female relatives and close male ones. After the period -- which could be as long as four months and ten days -- she leaves seclusion but until the year from the death is up, she must go out only if blindfolded and having someone announce her movements.

As the first Vice-President of the United States to actually become president, John Tyler was known as "His Accidency."

Rice has less protein than wheat, but rice paddies can have fish and frogs to supplement the diet.

Under the Mungal Empire, to receive the death penalty for murder required shedding the victim's blood. This encouraged strangulation.

In most lore, jinn fear wolves and do not turn into them.

In the sailing navy, "sun downers" were a hard-working crew. That is, they didn't knock it off when the sun passed the yardarm, and indeed, did not splice the main-brace until just about sundown.

The Apollo 17 astronauts suffered what they dubbed "lunar hay fever" after they brought lunar soil back into the capsule and particles got into the air.

It is unlucky to eat blackberries after Michaelmas because Satan fell in a blackberry bush after being thrown from Heaven and every year comes back to curse them.

You can't smelt iron using wood. First you have to turn the wood into charcoal -- preferably near where you cut the greenwood, because it's a lot heavier than the final charcoal. Then you bring the iron ore to it, because the charcoal is so fragile that transportation will ruin its usefulness.

In Egypt, jinn were believed to leave changelings. One way to force them to give the child back was to put the changeling in an abandoned tomb, where no one had been buried for a century, overnight. The child often suffocated as a consequence.

Under medieval Icelandic law, injuring someone in a game was as serious as in any other context.

Printers called mathematical text "penalty copy" and charged extra for it owing to the mathematical symbols involved.

Miklós Horthy served as Regent of Hungary for many years. Not of any particular monarch, since they were not allowed to install one.

In 1515 Sultan Selim I of the Ottoman Empire banned the printing press as haram. Only Jews and Christians were allowed to own them, owing to concerns about how they would make people disrespect knowledge.

The first law in the UK against drunk driving was in the 19th century and covered steam engines, horses, and carriages.

The oldest known description of double-entry bookkeeping comes from the 16th century, but there are existing account books from the 13th that clearly show it in use.

Medieval miners were often technically exempt from taxes but given they worked mines that belonged the lord, that just meant his cut as the owner was enough.

The French private Olivier Levasseur legendarily threw a treasure map into the crowd at his hanging saying that whoever could understand it could find his treasure -- though the legend appears to be later than the time, and anyway, pirates were sensible enough to spend all treasure not needed to keep the ship going on high-living precisely to avoid having some unspent before being hanged.

Ptolemy is not only the main source of information about ancient astronomy but the first reference to trigonometry.

Ships should not be built out of black walnut, because that's the wood for coffins.

Pencils never contained lead. People didn't realize that galena(a lead ore), graphite, and molybdena were not the same thing.

Following the introduction of rice into Europe, it was used as "pioneer" species to ready land for other crops such as grapevines or other grains.
Tags: historical tidbits

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