Levitating Caesar, a Wild Honeymoon, and a Whole Lotta Death

This week on History Around the Web, find out how Elizabeth Bennet afforded all those books, how King’s used a bit of magic to wow their subjects, and how ancient people built things (without the help of extra terrestrials, okay):


Vintage Pictures From a Dramatic, Five-Year Honeymoon Around the World

One imagines Eleanor and Harris Phelps must have traveled with a great deal of luggage. Things tend to pile up during half a decade of world travel: clothes, toiletries, visas, curios … and, in their case, more than a thousand souvenir photographs.

Old real life drama is the best drama. Eleanor and Harris Phelps were wealthy high-society New York scions in the later 1800’s. Eleanor came from Old Money and married the ambitious lawyer Harris, much to the chagrin of her family. After marrying for real (They initially eloped because clearly these two are wild and rebellious), they went on a whirlwind romp around the world and took as much photo-graphical evidence as they could. Back then, it seemed an easy feat for the wealthy–the pair got up to all corners of the world. But, naturally, what good would a wild ride be without some serious drama? Apparently, the honeymoon phase ended rather abruptly when Eleanor enjoyed some flirtations with a few officers in Tehran and Harris wasn’t having any of that (Despite the fact that his wife was paying for the whole trip, but I digress). They fought, made up, and continued on their trek but not without being chased across the border into Russia because this story needs a bit more color if it’s going to ever get optioned for a Netflix series (PLEASE). The drama doesn’t end there…lawsuits, kidnapping, war. Seriously. This needs a small-screen retelling. Check out the article for the full story!

How does a preindustrial society put a 13-ton hat on a statue?

As if the Easter Island statues weren’t enigmatic enough, a few of them are wearing hats-6.5-foot-wide, 13-ton cylinders of cindery red volcanic rock called scoria. The hats are as much of an enigma as the statues themselves. For starters, archaeologists aren’t actually sure they’re supposed to be hats at all.

Say it with me folks, “stone ramps not aliens”. Repeat, repeat, repeat!

Archaeologists Dig Up Mass Grave of Soldiers Crushed by Napoleon’s Troops

DEUTSCH-WAGRAM, Austria -Just under the topsoil of the farm fields in this small town northeast of Vienna, there are traces of one of the biggest battles of the Napoleonic Wars. According to some estimates, 55,000 soldiers died when Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops clashed with the Austrian army during the Battle of Wagram between July 5 and 6, 1809.

Man, the Napoleonic Era was particularly gruesome. One of the biggest battle sites is finally getting a good sweep by Archaeologists, and the results are about has bone-chilling as you’d expect. They’ve discovered around 50 skeletal remains so far, with data suggesting the age range being from 16-30, with traces of scurvy, inflammation from exhaustion related to long marches, pneumonia, and other infectious diseases. There’s also an interesting comparison between bodies found at a battle a few weeks prior to this one–suggesting particular wearing as there is evidence of respiratory ailments among the skeletons found at the Battle of Wagram site. With another 54,950 or so of skeletons to find, I’m sure we’ll have even more interesting observations to come.

How Lizzie Bennet Got Her Books | JSTOR Daily

There are plenty of mentions of novels and popular literature in Jane Austen’s books. But books were expensive in the early nineteenth century, and women weren’t necessarily encouraged to read them. How, then, did her heroines get their book fix? Literature scholar Lee Erickson uncovers the frivolous (and serious) secrets of circulating libraries.

A $100 for a book?! No thanks, I’d rather go to a library. Thank goodness the Regency era had some kind of proto-Netflix-esque subscription membership based…thing. According to scholarship, these were like if Barnes & Noble also doubled as a Golf Club, a place were wealthy folks could hang around socially while hob-nobbing with the latest reads. And while women weren’t exactly encouraged to read at the time, making an event of the whole thing was something they could surely write-off to their husbands or fathers. Elizabeth Bennett was probably not as unwell-off as she seemed.

Why Do Genes Suggest Most Men Died Off 7,000 Years Ago?

Modern men’s genes suggest that something peculiar happened 5,000 to 7,000 years ago: Most of the male population across Asia, Europe and Africa seems to have died off, leaving behind just one man for every 17 women. This so-called population “bottleneck” was first proposed in 2015, and since then, researchers have been trying to figure out what could’ve caused it.

A lot of men died off according to genetic evidence and researchers weren’t exactly sure why. The latest study and theory suggests the reason being that men in clans were murdering the hell out of each other, decimating entire familial lines. I mean, yeah, that’d probably do it.

The Marvelous Automata of Antiquity | JSTOR Daily

Walking into the throne room of the palace of Constantine VII, visitors were treated to an elaborate special-effects spectacle. First, they passed a golden tree, with gilt leaves fluttering and branches bedecked with twittering golden birds. Next, they came to the throne, framed by two gilded lions, their tails thumping the ground.

Practical effects being used to astonish and dismay have been around for a loooong time. Check out this article for some well-known examples from antiquity, including a levitating Julius Caesar!

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