Understanding Old English

How far back in history could you go until you could no longer understand the English language?Stanislava Suplatovich has the answer in Quora. To answer this question, she uses three examples. Here’s the first one: “See ye not yon twa bonny boys, As they play at...

Sea Shanties of the Ancients

When I was at school, we learned of Ri-Pa-Pe – the rhythmic chant of Athenian oarsmen pulling a trireme’s 180 oars. Contrary to what you might think, triremes were manned not by slaves but by some 200 free men from all social strata. Indeed, for a...

The Mold Cape

I’m fresh back from my Easter break, and have the story of one of the most impressive treasures ever found in Britain to share with you: the Mold Cape. No, it’s not moldy (although after so many centuries buried underground, I wouldn’t be surprised...

The Dancing Plague of 1518

Vitmor Gomes recently shared on Quora one of the most fascinating Medieval stories I’ve heard: the dancing plague of 1518. In July 1518, in the town of Strasbourg, Alsace (now France), something unexpected happened. A housewife, called Frau Troffea, came out of...

The “Lunar Ark” Project

Tibi Puiu of ZME Science recently presented a backup plan in case we screw up this planet for good: a “Lunar ark” that would store DNA from millions of species in Moon’s lava tubes. The project, first described in a paper presented by researchers at the...

Unsung Heroines: Susie King Taylor

In honor of Women’s Day, I thought I’d share with you the story of Susie King Taylor as told on Quora by Karin Muller. Susie King Taylor Every day at 9 am, Susie King Taylor and her brother would walk the half a mile to the small schoolhouse, their books...

Viking Ulfberht Swords

When we think of Vikings, our minds don’t normally conjure a picture of a miner. So where did the Vikings (and others) get the iron ore to forge their tools and weapons? As Mats Andersson says on Quora, they literally fished it out of bogs. Bog Iron As Wikipedia...

Surprisingly Progressive Pirates

As a kid, when I thought of pirates I dreamed of absolute freedom with plenty of swashbuckling. When I grew up, I realized that pirates were bloodthirsty savages who deserved to be strung for their unforgivable crimes against countless civilians. So terrible was their...

The Origins of Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day today and we celebrate love. But why, exactly, do we do that? What are the origins of Valentine’s Day? History.com has some interesting theories to offer. One theory is that Valentine was a priest who served during the third...

The Worst Time in History to Be Alive

The ninth plague of Egypt was complete darkness that lasted for three days. But in 536 A.D., much of the world went dark for a full 18 months, as a mysterious fog rolled over Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. The fog blocked the sun during the day, causing...