5 Weird Things about Ancient Rome

Ancient Roman society has helped develop lots of important tools and ideas that are still used today. The aqueduct, the roads and open citizenship type of civilization are a few of the obvious ones. Like all great things, Rome had a few flaws and we should be thankful that those did not survive. Here are a few of the weird traditions of ancient Rome.

Funeral Sacrifice

In ancient Rome there were two methods of funerals. One was a regular funeral where the dead would be buried in the cemetery in the presence of his loved ones and the other had sacrifices. The one with the sacrifices is interesting because not many culture’s have sacrifice’s at funerals. There are some traditions of sacrifices for the birth of a child but the death of a person. This was unique to Rome. The sacrifice would be made at the same of the burial. The sacrifice victim was usually a pig…but sometimes exceptions would be made. Other animals would be sacrificed such as a bull and sometimes even humans. Human sacrifices were rare though and only reserved for the most important.

Fertility Medicine

Fertility has been a difficult subject for a long time even at the Great Roman Empire. Fertility issues would make a man not man and same for a woman. There were many disgusting placebo treatments for it. Such as eating the genitals of some mammals or something along those lines but this was not the case in Rome. In Ancient Rome, a very popular treatment was drinking the blood of gladiators. What most people didn’t know is that drinking human blood is unhealthy even more so if the blood is someone else.

The Colosseum

The Greeks did have men fight each other for entertainment in the Olympics but it was not a fight till the death. Fortunately killing each other is no longer considered a form of entertainment even if your prisoners or slaves. The Colosseum was not only a cemetery for humans but animals too. Animals added unpredictability and fun for the public. Only in the first day of the Colosseum 5000 animals were killed, thankfully that rate did not continue for its full duration. Despite the horrible things that happened in the coliseum, the structure itself is a piece of engineering genius even today. Its capacity in its heyday was over 300 thousand, much larger than any modern stadium.

Manwigs

The fake hairpiece known as toupee was also present in Ancient Rome long before anywhere else. Women wore it for beauty and fashion. Men wore it out of fear. A men with a bald head was not something’s the Romans liked. The Romans were very superstitious so they had weird reasons to dislike a lot of things. Julius Cesar, the famous conqueror of Gaul, had a male baldness pattern and was known to wear wigs.

Roman Poetry
Romans did tend to have a good eye for the arts. They had theatre, music, literature and sculptures. They also had poetry…well that one they didn’t have a great eye for. Romans were believed to have a really obscene sense of humour, which is why the Latin language has a lot of words with sexual references. To really know what the Romans were about search the poem Catullus 16.

Once upon a time in China -fun facts about China

We are always fascinated with the various and diversified cultures of a certain country.  It is always interesting to trace its roots and follow the path of its growth development along with time and the country’s distinct way of preserving the richness and the antiqueness of their culture.  These are considered as among the highlighted treasures and global distinction a particular country carries.

Moving towards the world map’s Eastern section is a place of such.  It is considered to possess of what is considered to be one of the oldest civilizations in the world.  This country comes zooming into mind when being “ancient” is the topic.  So ancient, its civilization is considered also to be one of the most populated countries in the world.  The gunpowder, paper, compass and printing are some of its great contributions to mankind.  We’re talking here of nothing else but the country China.

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I.  Location and Geography

To give you a clear picture of where China really is, it is that place located in the Eastern Asia.  The bodies of water surrounding or bordering it are the East China Sea, the Korea Bay, the Yellow Sea and the South China Sea.  It is between its neighboring countries North Korea and Vietnam.  China is considered as the third largest country in the world (the former USSR and Canada are on the top most) and the largest in Asia.  China’s actual claimed area is 9,596,960 sq km! (This includes Taiwan as their province).  The area China covers is a bit larger compared to that of the United States.  China’s capital city, Beijing is located at the upper eastern part of the country.  And because of its extreme amount of area coverage, it is likewise very rich in natural resources that include mountains, deserts and river basins that are fertile.  China’s western part is mostly composed of mountain ranges such as the Himalaya, Pamir and Tian.  The northern side of China is well known for its “Wan-Li Qang-Qeng” or otherwise known as the Great Wall of China which was built during the Qin Dynasty in between 221-206 B.C. to protect China against invaders.  Said man-made structure was before measured to be 6,000 miles long.

Although China has been under its government’s economic development undertakings over the years, much of people living there are still living in poverty.  With its ancient culture being intact and preserved, it is not surprising that majority of their source of living comes from farming and fishing as well.  Apart from these, China also has an abundant amount of natural resources such as gold, coal, zinc, copper and is also known to have a considerable oil deposits.

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II.  History

When it comes to history, China has probably the oldest because it is considered as one of the “pillars” or centers of human civilization.  Dr. Indiana Jones would further agree that his fellow archaeologists then that the early inhabitants of China, or maybe of the Earth, was found inside one of China’s cave.  The unearthed fossil was recorded to be approximately 300,000 to 550,000 years old. (Now, that is really old!) It is what our history books back in school use to mention – the Peking Man.  They were China’s first dwellers and were known to be the human beings who first used fire.

Since then, China was mostly ruled by various Emperors along with their dynasties.  Ancient Chinese history comprises the commencing rule of the “Three Sovereign Ones and Five Emperors” to the last Eastern Zhou Dynasty.  The Imperial era in Chinese history began with the ruling of the Qin Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty.

China’s years during the1200’s were under Mongolia’s occupation.  The first foreigners who were able to conquer and rule China were led by the historical Mongolian figure Genghis Khan’s grandson, Kublai Khan.  He then likewise established the Yuan dynasty.

1900’s were more trying times for the Chinese people as they decided to end the rule of dynasties by establishing the Republic of China.  Its establishment brought about various political problems in the nation that led to political actions that lasted and became a significant part of World War II (Sino-Japanese War).  These battles between political factions led to another uprising which led to the Chinese Civil War and eventually to the communist’s control of the country.  In 1949, the communists led by Mao Zedong established the People’s Republic of China and headed the same.  Forces from the Republic of China were forced to move up to Taiwan.  And since then, the last of the Chinese Civil Wars have politically divided China into two entities: The People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan – Republic of China (ROC).

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III.  Interesting facts you might need to know

Below are some specific Chinese facts worth noting:

  • With so large an area and so old its history, China’s number of listed languages totals to about 206;
  • As considered one of the oldest civilizations, China is also distinct as having its own ancient writing script;
  • An average Chinese only get to learn 5,000 of the 20,000 characters in the Chinese language in his lifetime;
  • The missing link between the dinosaurs and the birds was found in China as provinces like Sichuan and Dashanpu have given Dr. Indy and friends over 1000 fossils of dinosaurs;
  • The Tang Dynasty was ruled by an empress, Empress Wu; and,
  • The oldest known calendar belonged to the Chinese.  It is based on the Lunar Cycle.  A complete cycle would actually take 60 years to finish;
  • The world’s largest dam is in China, The Three Gorges Dam; and,
  • Looking for a place to party with all of your friends?  Try China’s Tienanmen Square – the world’s largest public gathering place.

IV. More Chinese facts and interesting information…

  • Tree hugging in China is strictly forbidden;
  • A Chinese rural sport in some of its areas is fast becoming rare in its urban places – spitting
  • “Taikonauts” are best known as Chinese Astronauts
  • An ancient Chinese pickled fish sauce was the roots of your favorite condiment.  The Chinese called it “ke-tsiap”. (‘Wanna guess?);
  • The chopsticks that we use in Chinese restaurants originated from and were used by the Chinese people approximately 4,000 years ago of course, in China;
  • The soldiers who then guarded the Great Wall never really left their posts in their entire lives (A true and dedicated one…);
  • China is also known for its soft silks.  These silks and its whereabouts were kept secret for two thousand years.  It was a guarded secret then that anyone who is caught giving the secret could be murdered (ssshhhh…);
  • They are truly man’s best friend. Pekingese dogs were considered sacred by Chinese Emperors for more than two thousand years (is it the dog, or the god? Try spelling it backwards);
  • Consider it an international flight when you fly from Hong Kong to China;
  • China is home to about 30 million Muslims;
  • Aside from fireworks, the Chinese then also had other use for gunpowder. They also used them for guns (obviously), land mines, grenades, rockets and stealth bombers (the last one is not included…sorry);
  • The plants that grow in China are very useful.  20% of them are used in medicine.  And that varieties (150) of these Chinese herbs are used in treating infertility (which brings us to the next fact….);
  • A minute in is equivalent to 34 babies born in China (Now that’s a real explosion!);
  • With over 870 million speakers, the Mandarin Chinese is the world’s most spoken language (qīng chu?);
  • There was one time in china that all Disney characters were banned for 40 years. (Poor Mickey!);
  • Disney’s “Mulan” and its roots have long been told in China approximately 1,500 years ago;
  • As if there’s something between China and Disney…It was then believed that “Cinderella” originated from China and not from Disney’s;
  • The CSi guys may be amazed by the fact that the fingerprinting was first used in China in 700 A.D.;
  • Packing a rice mixture and soft milk in the snow really made wonders for the Chinese around 2000 BC.  It later became our favorite ice cream;
  • The world takes pride on China as it is considered the largest apple producer in the world above US;
  • According to registry statistics, China has about 200 diverse family names;
  • Wars in China before consisted of flying kites.  They used kites mainly for war purposes only during those times;
  • Do you know China employs one of the odd jobs in the world? Apologizers;
  • A governor of China then was born with two pupils…in each eye;
  • Engineering is fast becoming the best academic course in China as they produce 70,000 Engineers yearly;
  • An internet café would be the best business opportunity as there are 100 million internet users in China;
  • But unfortunately, these millions of internet users can’t access the BBC News site; and,
  • One of my favorites…“May you live in interesting times.” (Considered as a Chinese curse).

你喜欢读的希望! (Hope you enjoyed reading!)

Historical fun facts

The year that was…

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It is almost a way of life or on a rather-not-so complicated term, a practice for us to look at the past.  Reminisce once in a while.  Although we do admit that what we have right now in the present is or was largely because of the past.  And that the differences and reality in the present is or were mainly contributed by the past.  Looking closely, the past is inevitable (not to mention in this analysis is the value of time) to all of us. The simple “tick” of a clock or a second gone is considered as “past”.

We only come to admire the grandeur and the wholeness effect of the past when we open our senses to it.  Aside from the fascinating world of science, history perhaps is one of the best things that ever happened to human existence.  And since we’re talking about history, why don’t we flip our old, dusty but reliable thick history books that we use to read during those times when…..nah, lets forget about it, its history anyway.

I was able to shovel up some interesting historical facts amongst the tons of available resources in the internet.  I will try to present this one in a random order (an article on random is also posted here).  Now who says that history is one boring subject?  Read on my co-historians.  Historical facts are unique in such a way that they come in various manners.  Interesting historical facts, weird historical facts, odd and fun historical facts are some.  They are all well-written in the portals of time.  We better start suiting up our Dr. Indiana Jones’ auras and step into our Back to the Future car with Marty Mcfly.

I was watching The Godfather series few days ago.  I was amazed on how the people dressed and lived during those eras.  A question suddenly popped in to my mind.  What does the Mafia mean?  Does it stand for something?  Searches told me that Mafia actually stands for Morte Alla Francia Italia Anela.  Our Italian friends would translate this as “Death to the French Is Italy’s Cry”.

We all know and love the famous playwright and literature icon William Shakespeare.  We’re pretty sure that his parents are so proud of him, as well as his seven (7) brothers and sister.  Yes, Romeo and Juliet lovers, Sir William had that number of siblings.  They are truly indeed, one happy family.

Now we go to war.  It was during World War II that one the famous German dictator’s (Adolf Hitler) head generals, General Goring offered $5,000.00 to anyone who could capture a certain American airman.  And this airman goes by the name of “The king of Hollywood” himself, Clark Gable.

During war days, soldiers are well equipped with certain codes with they have to protect and know by heart.  These codes are used for different reasons such as enemy infiltration.  An example of these codes is “Climb Mt. Nitaka”.  This simple code meant a lot on the Japanese soldiers especially when their planners would read the 7th of December 1941.  It simply orders one to attack the Pearl Harbor.

Let’s move back a bit to the year 1152.  A war broke out between France and England.  King Louie VII of France married the daughter of France’s duke, Eleanor.  With this, a dowry consisting two provinces was received by our gallant king.  He came home one time after his crusades without his beards (must got tired growing those so he shaved it).  His coming home received an unwelcome gesture from his wife saying that he was ugly without the beard and should grow it back.  Our king refused to so he was divorced by Eleanor and eventually married King Henry II of England (with more beards, I suppose).  The ex-wife then demanded that her dowries be returned for her new hubby.  And when King Louie refused to release said dowries, King Henry declared and waged war.  This “beard” wars lasted 301 years and finally ended in 1453.  In time after each one has grown that beard, I suppose.

Now wait till you read this one….. The year was 1704.  It was a war in Europe between again, France and England.  It all started when a certain English woman by the name of Mrs. Mashaur spilled a glass of water on a Frenchman, Marquis de Torey.  Our humble woman apologized and said that it was accidental but to Torey, was an international insult.  This odd incident resulted and stirred deeper meanings that led to an open war.  It was five (5) long war years for spilled water.  And to think they were much “cooler” during those times.

And just like another story on the block, here’s another one….In 1925, a Greek soldier’s dog went astray and ran across the border into Bulgaria.  The Greek soldier went after his canine friend but was killed by a Bulgarian soldier.  The Greeks retaliated by invading Bulgaria leaving 48 wounded and killed Bulgarians.  But before the problem got worse, the United Nations (then League of Nations) arbitrated the rising conflict.  Bulgaria paid an indemnity of 30 million levas.

Wars aren’t about conflicting ideologies per se.  Money also talks loud when an entity is into war with another. Currently (2009), USA allocates a whopping US$515.4 billion on military budget alone.  Since 1958, the US has spent over a trillion dollars on war budgets.  A trillion would simply mean a million million!  These amounts of money according to historians should have been spent on lives and not on deaths.  Hospitals and clinics all around the country could have been brought up.

And who can never forget US’s Zero Factor in history?  It’s quite a chilling fact that no US President elected in a year ending in zero left the White House alive.  This started in 1940 when Henry Harrison had a cold that drastically developed into pneumonia that eventually caused his death only a month after his inauguration.

The year 1860 was Abe’s (Abraham Lincoln) year.  I guess we all know already how he died.  He was shot at a theater in Washington.  1880 was for James Garfield.  He was also shot by a guy named Guiteau.  He hardly reached six (6) months in office when he died.  William Mckinley came to office in 1900. He too suffered that brutal fate when he was shot by an anarchist at an exposition in New York.  US’s 1920 President, Warren Harding also died at a speaking engagement tour in the West.  Speculations about the cause of his illness and death are still unknown up to now.

The US President that was re-elected four (4) times, Franklin Theodore Roosevelt, was elected in 1940.  He died in 1945 after collapsing at his work desk at the summer White House.  The next victim would be JFK (John F. Kennedy).  He was elected in 1960.  JFK was later assassinated.  Presidents Thomas Jefferson (1800) and James Monroe (1820) were the only one who escaped the Zero Factor.  President Ronald Reagan (1980) survived an assassination attempt and George W. Bush (2000) has so far been saved from the “death list”, aside from nearly getting hit by a flying shoe by an Iraqi journalist in Baghdad.

Since extracting various historical facts from our history books and almanacs is in the process, we could also cite facts about books and reading materials as part of the search.

How good is a piece of paper or information contained in a book or other forms largely depends on how wide its distribution is and how many has been sold over a span of time.  The Catholic Bible (1800-1950) stands out with 1½ billion copies.  Webster’s American Spelling Book (1783) is in the 4th place of 50-100 million copies.  The 8th spot belongs to our favorite, the Guinness Book of Records at 24 million copies.  The bottom spot (10th) belongs to American Red Cross First Aid Book with 16 million copies sold and distributed.

When we talk about historical facts, we talk of the facts of the past.  The past would also mean something which is not new.  It’s all about the old things.  Where on earth are the oldest cities, by the way?  It is said that the oldest city is located in Turkey.  Gaziantep is about 3650 B. C. old.  Israel’s Jerusalem, Kirkuk City, Zurich in Switzerland respectively shares the same age (3000 B.C.).

However we look at these historical facts; may it be odd, weird, interesting, creepy or not, they were all good reasons why we are living freely today.  They are considered the very basic mainframe of our society.  It is through the basis of these historical facts that an individual or a society is seen.  More importantly, we should treasure the things that we owe our lives to.  Again, what we are now in the present is because or mainly because of what we were in the past.

Looking back in these historical facts in the past is also an eye-opener of some sort.  Why?  Because it is through these historical facts that we see and realize the greatness, the defeats, the battles, factors and aspects that were looked upon and once ignored.  We also realize what went wrong on the things that mattered most and the possible causes of problems.  That is why sometimes, living in the past cannot be bad at all.

Why do we say Bless You after a sneeze?

Ahh-chooo – Bless you!!

We have all heard the saying “bless you” in fact we hear it almost everyday, further it is not something that only english speakers say, but almost every culture and language. But why? What is so special about it? Why is it that almost every culture use the word when someone sneeze?

English – Bless you

Farsi – Pir Shavi “Get old”

Hindi – Khush Rahi Hoon “be happy”

Persian – “Elahi shokr”(means Thanks god for be health).

For a list of Sneezes around the world – Check out this Site.

As you can see it is not something just around US, Canada, UK or Australia but many other places. Time to answer the puzzling question. But why do we say Bless You instead of something else.

To answer this question we have to go back at early times, because there are many possible answers for this certain question. First of all, the word bless you was actually God Bless you or May God Bless You, over time people start using bless you.

First possible answer is that in medieval times people believed that when someone sneezed their body was rejecting demons. by saying “god bless you” they were hoping to guard against the evil spirits entering the body again.

The tradition of saying Bless You also comes from the plague of 1665 when sneezing was first symptoms of the disease. The plague was so life-threatening that infection of the disease meant certain death. Thus the symptoms was greeted with the prayer God Bless You, and through time it became popular and people started using it.

To know more about the Black Plague of 1665 please try Google or Wikipedia. It was one of the most dangerous diseases to hit to date.