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Mar 9, 2018 68 tweets 15 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
I have not done History stuff for the timeline in a while and have no unifying theme for a thread so 1 like = 1 neat history fact
they'll be in thread form and mostly from antiquity bc I study that the most in college
1. Bronze Age diplomacy was pretty wild. Two rulers who were on the same footing called one another "brother" and you were supposed to refer to a superior ruler (like of Egypt) as "father" and we have records of kings getting really pissed off about this
2. Archaeologists looking at the early material culture of the Philistines realized that they were exiled/refugee Mycenaeans (Greeks) during the migrations which brought about the collapse of the Bronze Age
3. The traditional "heart shape" doesn't look like a heart b/c it's (probably!) the seed of the silphium plant. It was "worth its weight in [gold]" from the 6th c BCE til it was extinct from over-farming in the 2nd c BCE. It's demand was purely from its ability to induce abortion
4. "Satan" in ancient Hebrew means both "adversary" and "advocate" and is first mentioned as a "job title" of an otherwise-anonymous angel (deity? see: next fact) in the Book of Job. In this, the satan (not a proper noun!) is an advocate for Yahweh and follows his instructions
5. Since I can't leave that "diety" thing hanging: ancient Yahwehism was neither monotheistic nor polytheistic, but "henotheistic' which means that they had one principal deity but acknowledged the existence of others. Angels most likely originated as lesser, appropriated deities
6. Reactionaries love to look at "Hellenization" as proof of the superiority of Greek culture over its neighbors but it took 600 years and conquest by the Roman military for the Greek colony at modern Marseilles to stop making vases in Celtic [their customers] designs and tastes
7. The Song Dynasty of China (10th-13th c CE) had everything necessary to industrialize by the 12th century. Probably the most "modern" place you'd find until the 18th century in the UK. Check out this incredible view of Kaifeng at the time:…
8. Some might claim the alphabet comes from the Greeks (don’t laugh!) but this is hogwash. “Alpha” and “Beta” come from the Phoenician words “Aleph” (cow) and “Betah” [spelling?] (house). The “A” is a cow’s head and the B is a house’s floorplan
9. More anti-Hellenization for yall: Apollo was an Anatolian god appropriated by the Ionian Greeks [Anatolian is the most likely hypothesis but there are other possibilities] [None of them “Greek”]
10. Also, we credit the Athenians with democracy but similar governments had been in place in Mesopotamia for centuries before that. But go off
11. Since this is quickly becoming a thread on debunking white supremacist myths: these are bronze heads from Ife (in modern Nigeria) that are so lifelike and advanced for the 12th century (when they're from) the German who found them thought this was proof of Atlanteans
12. The English presented the finest gifts England could provide to the Mughal Emperor of India in the 16th century to establish trade relations. The English envoy reported that the Emperor laughed at their shitty wool and thought it was a joke
13. Ok so some real gossip for yall: that envoy stayed in India and wrote extensively in his journal about how the Emperor was a good friend of his on a personal level. Historians looked at the Emperor's personal writings and never saw the Englishman mentioned. Not once.
14. I made a thread about this () but Mansa Musa became Mansa (king) because his predecessor was curious about what was on across the ocean and so he got on a boat and never came back
15. The first reference to the name "Ethiopia" is from the name of a property owner in Mycenaen Pylos, "Ai-ti-jo-qo." A personal name or a name referring to what he looked like (Ethiopian = Aithiops = "burnt face," an observation of phenotypes)?
16. If you ever get the chance, eat some chufa (it's a root). It's probably the very first thing ever farmed and allowed the progenitors of the Mesopotamians, who lived in modern Sudan, to expand their influence b/c of their calorie advantage over non-agriculturalists
17. In 1866, the Principality of Lichtenstein went to war. It deployed 80 men to protect a mountain pass (it's in the Alps) and when the war was through, they marched back with 81 men. Legend says they had met a friendly Austrian and he went back with them to Vaduz, the capital
18. "Aaron" is an Egyptian name. Most of the Biblical names right before the Exodus are. Better yet, it's Egyptian pronunciation was "A-a-ron"
19. Dante's Divine Comedy (Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso) was so popular that it is almost single-handedly responsible (along with Petrarch and some others) for why the dialect he wrote in, Tuscan, is now just called "Italian" (there are others)
20. In 1789, only an estimated 50% of the population of France spoke French. The rest spoke languages like Occitan, Breton, and Basque
21. The ancient Roman Senate, famous for being the legislature of the Republic and rubber stamp of the Empire, persisted after the demise of Imperial authority in the west. It's last act we have records for is the approval of two statues in 603 CE, over 1000 years after its start
22. The game ET was so horrendously bad that thousands of copies were buried in a desert and the video game industry almost died out in its infancy
23. Madagascar's national language, Malagasy, is not closely related to the nearby African languages but rather those in modern Indonesia. Thousands of years ago, people sailed across the whole Indian ocean and settled on the island.
24. 1628: the Swedish launched a mighty warship, one of the largest in the world. Its name was the Vasa. "Vasa sank in full view of a crowd of hundreds, if not thousands, of mostly ordinary Stockholmers who had come to see the great ship set sail." Also present were ambassadors.
24.5: the Vasa was actually raised in recent history and you can see it in a museum now!…
25. One of my favorite things is etymologies, which is probably gonna pop up in this thread a few more times. Ex:
Germany = Germania = Germani = a group encountered by Caesar
Allemagne = Alemanni = a tribe near France
Deutschland = Diutisc [Old High German] = "of the people"
26. Speaking of which: "Austria" is the result of the English Anglicizing "Osterreich," which means "Eastern Realm"
27. Gonna blurt out a bunch of etymologies I particularly dig.
Iran = an endonym (what the ppl call themselves) coming from "Aryan"
Persia = a Greek exonym referring to Persis, only one province of the entire land

If you wonder why "Iran" is no longer called "Persia": that's why
28. The old realm of Castile, which is basically the primary political force in medieval and early modern Spain, got its name from all the castles in its land. Its heraldry even has castles on it. The lions represent León, which was under a personal union with Castile
29. Europeans really didn't come up with new symbols for stuff before nationalism came around. They just mashed shit together to show what shit they've collected. This is the coat of arms of Charles I of Spain/V of Austria (depending on which you're counting)
29.5 Now I know what you're thinking. "Billy. What the hell is this? How will it get my ex-wife to love me again?" It's past midnight, I know buddy. Can't help you there. What I can do, however, is explain this horseshit. First to note: diagonal clusters are the same.
29.75. yellow box: what Chuck got from his Spanish inheretance. We see Castile quartered with Leon again. Next to that is Navarre [Basque country] with the dots. The double eagles are Sicily. The weirdly stretched cross with mini-crosses is Jerusalem. They were delusional.
29.875. The double eagles with the yellow and red stripes is Sicily. Okay, so that's Spain ("King of All Spains"). The black box is the Austrian and Burgundian stuff. The red/white/red lines are Austria (still it's flag today!) and the other shields are Dutch stuff
29.I'vewastedtoomuchtimeonthisguy. The final bit is the bottom, circled in puke green. It's Granada, only recently conquered from the Muslims in 1492 right before Chris Columbo fucked everything up.
30. One of my favorite wars ever: The Kettle War. Fought between the Dutch and the Holy Roman Empire in 1784, it's so-named because the only casualty was "one soup kettle"
31. 1784? Holy Roman Empire? "Periodization! what the hell Billy" oh yeah. The Holy Roman Empire, the United States, and Mughal Empire all existed at the same time
32. Speaking of Mughals! Its founder, Babur, is a particularly humanized person in the records. He had several wives, although not passionate about any of them, and wrote about having an "infatuation" with a boy when he was younger. He also wrote lots of poetry & cried in public
32.5 He was, in the most literal way I can possibly put together, a bi king
33. Some history for #InternationalWomensDay. The Varangian Guard were Norsemen hired by the Byzantine Emperor for protection. This scene is a local woman killing a Varangian who tried to sexually assault her. Next panel is his comrades praising her and giving her his stuff
34. The Rasna (who the Romans called the "Etruscans" or "Tuscans" (yeah that's where that comes from)) were actually very egalitarian for their time. They regularly depicted women as equals in relationships with men (or by themselves) and had their own independent legal status
35. Crack open your Bibles cause there are two (2) creation stories in it. Different ones, at that. This is gonna require extra explanation: Genesis 1 (the 7 Days) and 2 (The Garden of Eden) are CENTURIES apart from one another.
35.5 Genesis 1 is a Priestly account of it, written after ~700 BCE by priests concerned with order and ritual. Genesis 2 is a much, much more ancient local or "peoples'" narrative. When the Torah was compiled, the priests edited the popular old tale to fit with the "proper" one
yall think I can't keep going but boy I'm stanced up!
36. Roman Emperor Septimus Severus was in Britain when a legionary originally from Ethiopia entered his tent and told him to go die. The soldier laughed at the emperor and was gone before anything could happen. "become a god!" means "go die" because emperors were deified at death
37. Reactionaries like to point to the Battle of Tours as the first time that the Muslim armies were halted, but like much of their historical knowledge, it's wrong. Makuria (in modern Sudan) had saved their independence 100 years prior and signed the Baqt [where we get "Pact"]
38. Another thing lacking any and all nuance is the Islamic invasions. The next few facts will be themed around this series of events. For #38: less than 10,000 Arab horsemen were sent to conquer Egypt. Took 3 years & MOST of the soldiers were locals rising up against Byzantium
39. The reason why Rome (Byzantium is Rome but historians don't call it that for categorization) lost Egypt and the Levant and the Maghreb and why the Sassanids flipped over and died immediately is threefold: a huge plague, a massive, devastating war, and Christian sectarianism
40. The Christian religion at this time was divided in 2 big camps: Monophysites and the Chalcedonians. DM me if you want the theology but what's important is that the Byz were Chalcedonians & no one else was & they hated them for it. When Islam came, the locals joined in hordes
41. Chinggis Khaan embarked on one of the first genocidal campaigns in history. The Tangut, who were his allies until they dragged their feet on contributing soldiers when he was conquering Iran, were so thoroughly eradicated that we don't even know how to read their language.
42. When Caesar died in 44 BCE, his name became a title unto itself. So undying was his legacy that his name was continuously used from the time of his adopted son until Tsar Simeon II of Bulgaria stepped down in 1946. Imagine your name being peoples' title for 2000 years
42.5 clarification: "Caesar" is, in other languages, "Kaiser," "Czar," and "Tsar"
43. Simeon II is actually still alive in 2018 and is notable for being the only monarch in history to step down and become the democratically-elected head of government (Prime Minister)
ok I'm gonna go to sleep for now (it's 2 AM now) but I'm gonna pick this up tomorrow and make it my little side project and keep it up for a while
300 individual history tidbits is gonna be basically impossible so this is more or less just a general mandate to say all the stuff I can. A few corrections:
only 20%, not 50%, of people in France in 1789 spoke French
"Baqt" is not the root of "Pact," they share an origin
44. The name "Candace" comes from "Kandake." This was a title for queens and queen-mothers of the African kingdom of Kush in antiquity. Here's a little bit more on them from a source I just found which corroborates what I learned in college…
45. Something I like to bring up whenever someone says "that was the time they lived in!": there's an interesting aside in Aristotle's "Politics." In his defense [or maybe condemnation, because of its particulars] of slavery, he mentions "Athenian abolitionists"
46. In 711 CE, Umayyad general Jabal Ṭāriq lead an army across the Pillars of Hercules into Visigothic Iberia. It was memorable enough that his name is now applied to the place he landed, "Gibraltar"
47. The inspiration for the Griffin is probably the Protoceratops. The Greeks didn't consider the Griffin to be mythological at all, their writings depict them as contemporary animals one could see if they visited eastern Scythia. Protoc. skeletons dotted the landscape
48. This flute, between 43,000 and 67,000 years old, is considered the oldest musical instrument found so far. I don't know a whole lot about musical history but this stood out to me once
49. The tomb of the first emperor of China is a huge unopened truncated pyramid. Next to it stands the famous Terracotta Army. The warriors were armed with real weapons. The emperor was not popular. When he died, rebels overthrew his son with the weapons his father gave clay men
50. Poland (technically the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) used to be big as hell
51. Most estimates say that the total amount of gold ever mined by humans is only enough to fill one Olympic-sized swimming pool
52. Roman slingers would inscribe their projectiles with stuff like “catch,” “take this,” “for Pompey’s backside,” and of course, dicks (see fig 11)
53. Actually the Romans had a thing for putting dicks on stuff. These are all from Pompeii and apparently pointed the way to brothels, but I don’t have confirmation on that particular
54. The Code of Hammurabi (1754 BCE) is not actually the oldest surviving law code. That distinction goes to the Code of Ur-Nammu, which is actually 300 years older than that of Hammurabi. That said, there are even older ones we know existed, but don't survive.
55. There was once a Afro-Arabic man named Ziryab (this is a nickname). He was born in Iraq around 790 CE and was a musical prodigy. He had to skip town when, according to some contemporary sources, he embarrassed his teacher by playing much better than him in front of the Caliph
55.5 Ziryab is then invited to Cordoba by the Umayyads. His time in Al-Andalus, or Muslim Spain, is the stuff of legend. Apparently [take this with a grain of salt], he introduced: a 5-string lute, asparagus, toothpaste, deodorant, daily baths, seasonal attire, & 3-course meals

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Apr 26, 2018
As some of y'all know, I am a fan of history. Quite a fan, actually. I would consider myself a historian, at this point. My goal is to work in museums, those institutions which developed and fueled my passion for history over the course of my childhood and those many others. But.
But. But. Museums have a troubled past. Especially those in the West, many are built around loot and plunder taken from colonized peoples or otherwise speak to a history of domination and exploitation.
These institutions are invaluable educational tools, but many don't exist as components of their communities or as anything integrated into the world beyond their doors. This is where ethical ownership would come into play.
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