Up until the 18th century, the fork was considered…

forksUp until the 18th century, the fork was considered an elitist tool used by the (primarily Italian) upper class. Other Europeans considered it “unmanly,” “excessive,” and “an insult to God.”

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After the fall of the Roman Empire the technology…

concreteAfter the fall of the Roman Empire the technology to make concrete was lost for 1000 years.

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In 585 BC a solar eclipse occurred in the middle of a battle…

EclipseofThalesIn 585 BC a solar eclipse occurred in the middle of a battle between the Lydians and the Medes. They promptly ceased fighting and signed a peace treaty.

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In medieval times, there was a system in place for parents to deal harshly…

parenting-medieval-smallIn medieval times, there was a system in place for parents to deal harshly with children, sending them away to live and work in someone else’s home.

Around the year 1500, an assistant to the Venetian ambassador to England was struck by the strange attitude to parenting that he had encountered on his travels.

He wrote to his masters in Venice that the English kept their children at home “till the age of seven or nine at the utmost” but then “put them out, both males and females, to hard service in the houses of other people, binding them generally for another seven or nine years”. The unfortunate children were sent away regardless of their class, “for everyone, however rich he may be, sends away his children into the houses of others, whilst he, in return, receives those of strangers into his own”.

It was for the children’s own good, he was told – but he suspected the English preferred having other people’s children in the household because they could feed them less and work them harder.

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In ancient Egypt, couples were considere …

marriage-ancient-egypt-smallIn ancient Egypt, couples were considered married whenever they moved in together- wedding ceremonies were reserved for the upper classes.

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In ancient Egypt, any books found in ships…

Library_of_Alexandria_smallIn ancient Egypt, any books found in ships coming into port, would be brought immediately to the library of Alexandria and be copied. The original would be kept in the library and the copy given back to the owner.

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Oldest writing symbols (before Sumerians …

Tărtăria_tablets_smallOldest writing symbols (before Sumerians, hieroglyphs and Dead Sea Scrolls) was found at Tărtăria, Romania, on three small tablets dated around 5300 BC.

The Tărtăria tablets are three tablets, discovered in 1961 by archaeologist Nicolae Vlassa at a Neolithic site in the village of Tărtăria (about 30 km (19 mi) from Alba Iulia), in Romania. The tablets, dated to around 5300 BC, bear incised symbols known as Vinča symbols.

These tablets, together with the symbols have been the subject of considerable controversy among archaeologists. It happened so because it is (still) hard to prove that these symbols represent, in fact, a type of language. Yet, these remains the oldest symbols known that could be associated with a type of writing.

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If Earth’s history were condensed into 24 hrs…

evolution_of_life_EarthIf Earth’s history were condensed into 24 hrs, life would’ve appeared at around 4am, land plants at 10:24pm, dinosaur extinction at 11:41pm, and human history would’ve began at 11:58:43pm.

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The founder of Sparta made the people sw …

LycurgusThe founder of Sparta made the people swear to follow his laws until he returned from a trip, then went into voluntary exile for the rest of his life.

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Christopher Columbus, on the way to the …

Lunar-eclipseChristopher Columbus, on the way to the New World, was stranded in Jamaica in 1503 A.D. Knowing that he was wearing out his welcome with the natives and that a lunar eclipse was near, Columbus warned the natives that moon would vanish if they did not continue to feed him and his sailors.

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In ancient Rome, the architectural featu …

VomitoriumIn ancient Rome, the architectural feature called a vomitorium was the entrance way through which crowds entered and exited a stadium, not a special room used for purging food during meals. Vomiting was not a regular part of Roman dining customs.

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Before alarm clocks, there was a a profe …

knocker-upperBefore alarm clocks, there was a a profession called a knocker-upper who would go around and knock on your door until you awoke.

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Two Christian monks smuggled silkworms o …

SilkwormsTwo Christian monks smuggled silkworms out of China in bamboo canes. Those silkworms were used to give the Byzantine Empire a trade monopoly in Europe, which became the foundation of their economy for the next 650 years.

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King Louis XIV may have dressed fabulously but…

Louis_XIV_of_FranceKing Louis XIV may have dressed fabulously but one Russian ambassador once stated “His Majesty [Louis XIV] stunk like a wild animal.” Like so many of his time in that part of Europe, Louis almost never bathed. In Louis’ case, his physicians advised him to abstain from bathing to maintain proper health. Louis himself also said he found the act of bathing disturbing. Rumor has it, in his adult life, he supposedly only bathed twice.

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