Tag Archives: ancient Rome

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11 Historical Misconceptions!

1.Was the Red Square really named after the Red Army?

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Red Square in Moscow

In contrast with the widely prevalent misconception, the Red Square(Krásnaya Plóshchad), was called Red Square long before the October Revolution(which actually happened in November) started in Moscow.

2.Was the Star of David really an ancient Jewish symbol?

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Hexagram on the  gateway to Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi, built in 16.th century

The Star of David, generally recognized symbol of Judaism, has become the symbol of Judaism as we know it only recently. Only after the end of 17.th century, the Jews started to use the hexagram as a symbol of their faith and identity. During much of the history, there was no special connection between the hexagram and Judaism, it was used all over the world as one of the many other magical symbols.

3.Did Einstein get his Nobel Prize for the Teory of Relativity?

Albert Einstein did not get his Nobel Prize in Physics of 1921 for his famous Theory of Relativity, first published in 1905, but especially for his works about the photoelectric effect.

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Albert Einstein

By the way, he didn’t acquire his prize in 1921, but rather during the ceremony which took place one year later, together with Danish physicist Niels Bohr, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics 1922.

4.Did Hitler really declare war to England and France?

When hitler attacked Poland on the 1.st of September, he hoped to the last moment that the Allies would tolerate his campaign in the same manner as they did after the remilitarization of the Rhineland(1936), the annexation of Austria(1938), and the annexation of Czechoslovakia(1939). Although the Nazis calculated with the possibility of war with England and France, they generally thought that the invasion of Poland would only lead to another diplomatic crisis.

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German Invasion to Poland

After Hitler continued the military campaign on 3.rd of September 1939, England and France declared war on Germany. The other countries joined as follows: Australia and Morocco on 5.th of September, Iraq on 6.th of September, South Africa on 8.th of September and Canada on 10.th of September

5.Were the Bagpipes really invented in Scotland?

Bagpipes don’t orginally come from Scotland, they were already known in the ancient Greece. People also used musical instruments similar to bagpipe in ancient Persia, China and Rome(as ”Tibia Utricularis”). In the Middle Ages, they were known as ”Cornemuse” in France, ”Cornamusa” in Italy, and ”Sackpfeife” in Germany.

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Man playing bagpipes(17.th century, Dutch Republic)

They are even mentioned in the Bible: “that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and all kinds of music, you fall down and worship the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.”(Daniel 3:5)

According to available evidence, bagpipes were brought to the island of Great Britain by ancient Romans, where they have become very popular musical instrument, used to the present day. But the Scots never invented them.

6.Did human ancestors really live in caves?

Because a lot of evidence about the human ancestors comes from caves, it often makes us think that majority of these so-called ”cavemen” actually lived in caves during much of their lifetime. In reality, caves served only as temporary habitats for prehistoric humans.

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Artistic depiction of a prehistoric human camp.

First people lived, hunted, worked and slept mostly on open air, and inhabited caves only during the harshest of winters. Due to nomadic lifestyle of our ancestors, they couldn’t use the caves as permanent dwellings, but only as night shelters during their travels.

7.Were the Canary Islands really named after Canary Birds?

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Map of the Spanish Canary Islands(Islas Canarias)

Name of the Canary Islands was doesn’t come from the Canary birds, in fact, opposite is true. The name ”Canary Islands” is derived from the Latin name ”Islas Canarias”, which means ”The Islands of Dogs”. According to Roman historians, the Canary Islands have been named that way because they contained ”vast amounts of dogs of large size”.

8.Did Romans really kill christians in the Coloseum?

Although many novels, theatrical plays and folktales (such as ”Androcles and the Lion”) suggest otherwise, Coloseum was never used for throwing the Christians to the lions or similar hungry beasts.

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Christian martyrs in Collosseum(Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1883)

Christians, who died in ancient Rome as martyrs, were never executed by imperial authorities, but rather by authorities of local community on a sporadic basis. During Roman Imperial period, only dangerous criminals, murderers and bandits were regularly executed in the arena as part of a unforgettable public spectacle.

9.Was the sinking of Lusitania really an act of terrorism?

On 7.th of May 1915, RMS Lusitania, world’s largest ship at the time, was torpedoad by a German U-Boat. In following minutes, more than 1000 passengers drowned in the sea, including 128 citizens of the United States. The sinking, often interpreted as an act of terrorism, strongly influenced the decision by the US to declare war on Germany in April 1917.

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Sinking of RMS Lusitania(1915 painting)

Contrary to American propaganda during the First World War, Lusitania was not completely a civil vessel. During its final trip, RMS Lusitania was allegedly loaded with large amount of military ammunition. Its unusually fast sinking was probably caused by violent explosions of dynamite, which was being transported by the ship at the time. For that, it should have been regarded as a military ship according to the international law.

10.Did Martin Luther really nail his 95 theses to church door?

‘Only few pillars of the Western education seem as solid as the nailing of Martin Luther’s 95 theses to the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg. However, it’s very possible that it didn’t happen the way we all have been taught it did.

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Martin Luther(1526)

According to available evidence, this memorable event did never happen. There were no eyewitnesses, and even Martin Luther himself never said anything about him nailing his theses to the church door. Of course, Luther did publish his 95 theses in year 1517. However, they were not hung on the church door, but rather handed out straight to the bishop of Brandenburg.

11.Was the Pompeii really buried in lava?

Contrary to popular belief, ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were never buried under the hot lava, but rather under the volcanic ash and pyroclastic material from the Mount Vesuvius.

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79 explosion of Vesuvius(artistic depiction)

Inhabitants of the cities didn’t die from the direct volcanic explosion, but instead they suffocated from the sheer amounts of volcanic ash and toxic gases released before the pyroclastic eruption itself.

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Wadlow

5 Largest Giants in History!

Throughout the history, people were always amazed by plethora of stories and legends about mythical giants, people or gods reaching incredible heights. While most of them were nothing more than myths, for instance Goliath, King Og or the Titans, some of these legends were based on real foundations.

We have many records of incredibly high people living in the past. Although some of them are greatly exaggerated, many are backed by solid evidence. In this article, we are going to explore the lives and feats of 5 most famous historical ”giants”, and maybe even find out how they grew to such an exceptional height.

1.Robert Wadlow

Robert Pershing Wadlow, often known as the Giant of Illinois, was the tallest man who ever lived.

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Robert Pershing Wadlow, compared to his father Harold Wadlow (measuring 5 feet 11 1⁄2 inches)

Born to Addie Johnson and Harold Wadlow in Alton, Illinois on 22.nd of February, 1918, he was the oldest of five children. Few months after his birth, he was diagnosed gigantism, a rare genetic disorder that causes over-production of growth hormone. During his childhood, he was growing rapidly, reaching height of more than 3 feet 6 inches(106 cm) at the age of only 11 months, outgrowing both of his parents at the age of six and reaching 200 cm at the age of eleven.

During elementary school, he had to sit in special desk made for him, because of his exceptional heigh and weight(180 pounds). In 1936, after he graduated from Alton High School, he was 8 feet 4 inches (2.55 m) tall. His size soon began to take its tool; Robert Wadlow needed special leg braces to be able to walk, and lost feeling in his feet. However, he never used a wheelchair.

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Shoe of Robert Wadlow

In 1936, Wadlow went on a U.S. Tour with the Ringling Bros. Circus, and continued to participate in various tours and public appearances, until his death in 1940, caused by parasitic infection(only 22 years old). After his death, he was buried on July 19, in a 10-feet long(3 m) long coffin, weighing more than 1,100 pounds. Thousands of people attended his funeral in Upper Alton.

Eighteen days before his death, he was measured at 8 feet 11.1 inches(2.72 m), more than any other human in history. His shoe size was 37AA, largest in the world, and at the age of 21, one year before his death, his weight was recorded as being 492 pounds.

Little known fact; Robert Wadlow was also a Freemason, and his ceremonial ring was the largest ever made.

2.Angus MacAskill

Although this Scottish-born Canadian(1825 – 1863) was not as tall as other people on this list, he was the tallest recorded ”natural giant” in history, suffering from no growth abnormalities, with perfectly normal proportions. He was also the strongest man to live in modern history, and had the largest chest circumference of any non-obese man; about 80 inches(200 cm).

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Angus MacAskill

Angus MacAskill was born in the Hebrides, Scotland, in year 1825. According to historical sources, as a baby, he was not as large as the other children.During his childhood, he was also of normal stature, however, after he entered puberty, he started to grow rapidly and by his 24.th birthday he had attained about 7 feet 9 inches(2.36 cm). During much of his adulthood, he is said to weigh more than 500 pounds (230 kg). His hands were eight inches wide and more than a foot long, and his shoes 17.5 inches(44 cm) long. According to historical sources, Angus McAskill had deep-set blue eyes, curly black hair, a deep musical voice, and a pleasant personality.

McAskill was well-known for his immense strength. He allegedly managed to lift an 2,800-pound(1,300 kg) ship anchor to shoulder height, and easily carried barrels full of wine under his arms. In year 1849, he started to work for the P.T.Barnum’s circus, touring the Caribbean in 1853. He frequently appeared with Tom Thumb, a natural midget 3 feet 4 inches(102 cm) tall. In year 1854, he allegedly visited Queen Victoria in the Windsor Castle.

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Grave of Angus Macaskill

However, in 1856, during his famous anchor lifting, he accidentally broke his arm when one of his shoulders got caught under one of the anchor’s flukes, ending his circus career.

In August 8, 1863, McAskill died peacefully after a week-long ilness. Exact cause of death remains unknown, but it was probably meningitis.

3.John Rogan

John Rogan, the second tallest person to ever live, was born in Tennessee, between years 1865 and 1868(exact year unknown). During his childhood, he was of normal stature, however, only until his 13.th birthday, when he started to grow rapidly.

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John Rogan

However, his growth soon led to the development of severe ankylosis(stifness of joints), leaving him completely unable to stand or walk. He then used a goat cart to get around. By year 1899, he had already reached a height of 8 feet 6 inches(2.59), and became a local celebrity, often known as the ”Negro giant”. Known for his friendly personality and exceptionally deep voice, he earned for a living by selling portraits and postcards at local train station.

His hands were 11 inches(28 cm) long and his feet 13 inches(33 cm) long. At the time he died in September 1905, he was measured at 8 feet 9 inches(2.67), however, he weighed only 175 pounds. That makes him the second tallest person in history, and also the tallest African American ever recorded.

His body was buried in Sumner County, Tennessee, under concrete panels, preventing anyone to exhume and further examine his remains.

4.Zeng Jinlian

Zeng Jinlian(1964-1982) was the tallest female ever measured in medical history, surpassing the historical world record 7 feet 11 inches, previously set by English woman Jane Bunford(1895-1922). She is also the only woman who has reached verified height of 8 feet or more.

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Zeng Jinlian

She was born on June 26 1964 in Yuian, China. 4 months after her birth, she started growing rapidly, and at age 4 ,she had already reached height of more than five feet. Her growth patterns exhibited exceptional similarity to these of Robert Wadlow. On average, she grew 5 inches every year, was able to lift a 110 pound(50 kg) stone at the age of 5, and slept in specially made bed, 8 feet long.

Zheng Jinlian was later diagnosed pituitary tumor, which caused her gigantism, and she was also suffering from diabetes, disease that also caused her death at the age of 17 in Hunan. Few days before her death, she would have been 8 feet 1.75 inches tall, but she could not stand straight because of her severely deformed spine.

5.Maximinus Thrax

However, reports about people of immense stature are not limited to modern times.

Maximinus Thrax(Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus Augustus), also known as emperor Maximinus I, was an Emperor of Rome in years 235-238. Born in Thrace, hence the name Thrax, he was the first emperor never to enter the Rome.

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Bust of Emperor Maximinus Thrax

Contemporary sources, most prominent being Historia Augusta depicted Maximinus Thrax as a man of immense size, exhibiting large eyebrows, nose and jaw(symptom of acromegaly). His thumb was allegedly so large, that he often wore a bracelet of his wife as a ring on it. Famous historian Herodian noted:

“He was definitely a man of such frightening appearance and colossal size, that there is no possible comparison at all with any of the best-trained Greek athletes or the most fierce of all barbarians.”

According to historian Cordus, he was approximately 8 foot 6 inches(2.5 m) tall, but exhibiting normal proportions(similar to Angus McAskill). In his works, Cordus notes, that Maximinus was so strong that he could pull an fully loaded ox cart on his own.

While the exact size of Maximinus will be never known, he was likely to be a man of immense size and significantly taller than than the average Roman citizen of his time.

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