Space Farts and Crappy Jobs

The wee one’s fascination with bodily functions (as witnessed by her poetry) must be rubbing off on me, as I couldn’t stop browsing Quora to learn more about toilet habits, old and new. Sher Afgan and Silvia Serra have shared a brief illustrated history of...

How Did They Make Iron in the Iron Age?

The Iron Age (800 BC-100 AD) took its name from, well, iron. This kickstarted a number of technological and social changes, with centuries-old Bronze Age (2200-800 BC) civilizations based on copper and tin falling prey to invincible newcomers who wielded formidable...

The City that Vanished into the Sea

When people speak of climate change, I often think of Dunwich, a town on the Suffolk coast that has almost entirely vanished into the sea. Dunwich is a pleasant city that consists of just about one street and a museum, a shingle beach, and a nearby forest. As George...

Medieval Matresses

First of all, let me apologize for the week-long delay in posting. I had my first vaccine (Astra) and it had quite the kick. Then, Electra had it and she was even worse than me. Between taking care of her and the wee one, I had precious free time in my hands for the...

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...

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 Epicene Pronoun and Singular They

Back in 2016, I had written about the appeal and long history of singular they. I recently found myself referring to this old post on Quora, during an argument with someone who claimed its use was a mistake. “Singular they” is a so-called epicene pronoun:...

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...

How Latin Became Modern Italian

In my last post, I explored some ways in which a new language is born. This post examines one of the best-known historical examples (at least for anyone in the West): the way that Latin became modern Italian. As Luca Guala explains on Quora, the road taken was neither...