Helen after Troy

Bradford McCormick, a reader of this blog, mentioned Helen of Troy in a comment and got me thinking. What did happen to that crazy lass after Troy fell? Well, turns out the answer, as told by Steve Theodore on Quora, is both complicated and fascinating. A Happy Ending...

Ancient Surgery

Plenty of ancient resources mention medical procedures such as surgery. The early Chinese surgeon Hua Tuo (c. 140-208) is credited with being the first recorded person to use cannabis as an anesthetic. He reduced the plant to powder and mixed it with wine for...

Polishing vs. Painting vs. Seasoning Your Armor

One thing I inherited from my late father is a small house in Evia, an island off of Athens. When I first visited the place, it had been closed for a couple of years, with no one visiting. What struck me was how rusted everything was, including even nickel faucets and...

An Executioner’s Tale

While browsing Quora, I came across the fascinating tale of a family of executioners in the Late Medieval era. I just know this will inspire your writing, so here it is. Thanks to Jean-Marie Valheur for the great answer. A Reluctant Executioner Imagine you’re a...

Ending Letters

Have you paid any attention to the letters we use to end our words? For example, you won’t find any words ending in U, V, I, or J. Why is that? Gareth Adamson has the answer on Quora. And yes, it has to do with history. But also with grammar. Ending with a J ‘J’...

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...