marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

tidbits cross time

Ancient and medieval maps were not prone to have "HIC SVNT DRACONES" (there's one instance, which probably refers to Komodo dragons) and certainly not "Here there be dragons." What they would write instead was "HIC SVNT LEONES" -- here there be LIONS.

The fabric taffeta was valued for the loud rustling noises it would produce, a simple way of conspicuous consumption, but in the movies, an actress could not faint in taffeta but had to wear crepe de Chine, to avoid the microphone. Beaded dresses were also a problem.

Rust was a problem with working iron because while you could have a bloomery furnace that is oxygen deprived, the blacksmiths need oxygen.

Coinage was invented in Lydia. This is something Herodotus and modern archeology agree on.

Venus Verticordia, changer of hearts, was invoked in ancient Rome to change the hearts of women from licentiousness to chastity.

Classical anvils were simply blocks of metal. The shaped anvil developed in the middle ages to give blacksmiths more aid in shaping their iron.

Early American universities were often in the country, to avoid the corrupting taint of the city, and so required housing for the students.

In the Black Tom explosion, German agents sabotaged munitions sold to the Allies in WWI. It was among the largest ever non-nuclear explosions and damaged the Statue of Liberty.

Silk is sold by weight, and merchants would add weight to it by adding mineral salts of tin or lead. Their defense was that up to a fifth of the original weight had been lost in the "de-gumming" process that start silk weaving. It did increase drapeability but it was hard on the cloth.

Guns have barrels because in their first form, as artillery pieces, they literally were barrels, made with the old hoop and stave method just like wooden ones, albeit of iron.

Greek and Roman writers habitually referred only to iron, not to steel, but then, they didn't want to show technical knowledge. Definitely by Roman times, steel working was known, because blades have distinctive streaks that show pattern welding was used to vary the carbon content -- more toward the edge. These streaks can be faked, but even so, prove the practice because you wouldn't bother to fake them unless they were evidence of a better blade.

During the Song Dynasty, China was so deforested that peasants were taking to chopping down mulberries for their wood, with bad effects on the silk industry. Officials proposed the use of "stone charcoals" -- coal -- instead.

Harvard was originally a single building, where the scholars both studied and slept.

In the 16th and 17th century, Welsh and English soldiers would desert when they would be sent to Ireland. They even had a saying that it would be better to hang at home than die like a dog in Ireland.
Tags: historical tidbits

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