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Ancient Origins Tour IRAQ

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Weird Facts

The world’s history books teach us about famous figures, ancient civilizations and important events that have shaped our world. But there is so much more to history than just the ‘big moments’. History is full of weird and wonderful tales, bizarre events, quirky people, and strange happenings, and it is these ‘weird facts’ that bring to life our past in a way that is fun, amusing and sometimes shocking!

Caricature of Charles Cunningham Boycott, published in Vanity Fair magazine in January 1881. Source: Public domain

Captain Boycott's Abuse of Irish Farmers Sparked the Term “Boycott”

Certain words emerge from peculiar circumstances, leaving an indelible mark on language and society. The term “boycott” is one such example, as it carries a fascinating origin story that intertwines...
Millions of postcards made a mockery of Leap Day traditions which gave women the opportunity to propose to men once every four years on the 29th February. Source: Public domain

Women Have Proposed Marriage to Men on Leap Day for Hundreds of Years

Welcome to February 29th, the Leap day that comes around but once every four years! In the age of viral marriage proposals, the persistence of outdated traditions whereby men inevitably go down on...
The secret staircase at la Casa del Rey Moro in Ronda. Source: Ingo Bartussek / Adobe Stock

‘Moorish King's House’ Had a Secret Staircase to Survive Sieges

Nestled within the rugged landscape of Ronda, Spain, lies a hidden gem of ancient ingenuity: La Casa del Rey Moro, or the House of the Moorish King. While this historic site is renowned for its...
Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson has been remembered as one of the greatest naval commanders in British history. Painting by Arthur William Devis. Source: Public domain

Admiral Nelson's Defiance Inspired the Saying “To Turn a Blind Eye”

The expression “turning a blind eye” denotes the deliberate choice to ignore or overlook something, especially wrongdoing or undesirable information. While deeply ingrained within the English...
Bara Imanbara in Lucknow in northern India. Source: Memories Over Mocha / Adobe Stock

The Gravity-Defying Bara Imambara was Built to Create Jobs During a Famine

The Bara Imambara, or “Great” Imambara of Lucknow in northern India, stands a testament to human ingenuity and compassion. Built during a devastating famine in the 18th century, this architectural...
The tonsure of King Wamba, by Joan Brull Vinyoles circa 1894. Source: Public domain

King Wamba Lost the Throne When He Unwittingly Underwent a Tonsure

Within ancient history, tales of kings and rulers often contain unexpected twists and turns. Enter Wamba, the 7th century King of the Visigoths, whose reign is shrouded in a peculiar legend regarding...
Fresco of a priest sporting a coronal tonsure hairstyle. Source: Public domain

Roman Catholic Priests Rocked Seriously Quirky ‘Tonsure’ Hairdos

In the annals of religious history, the Roman Catholic tonsure hairstyle stands out as a peculiar and enduring tradition. From the early centuries of Christianity to its eventual abolition by the...
Representational image of Ashoka the Great.  Source: Luke/Adobe Stock

Shocked by His Own Brutality, Ashoka Converted to Buddhism

One of the most remarkable transformations in history unfolded during the life of Ashoka the Great, a ruler who transitioned from a brutal conqueror of a vast empire to a benevolent emperor guided by...
Nike Air Jordans which broke world record as most expensive sneakers ever sold at auction. Source: Jordan Geller / CC BY-SA 4.0

Nike Sportswear Took its Name from the Ultimate Champion

Believe it or not, but the origin of the name Nike for the globally recognized sportswear giant dates back to Greek mythology. For the brand chose the winged goddess of victory as its namesake. The...
Susanna and the Elders, by Artemisia Gentileschi in 1610. Source: Public domain

Artemisia Gentileschi Used Art To Avenge Her Rape

Since the 1970s, the work of Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi has seen a surge in popularity due to her unique perspective as a female artist of the 17th century. Artemisia Gentileschi...
Within Chinese medicine, dragon bones or long gy have long been prescribed to treat a variety of ailments. Source: Nu / Adobe Stock

Thanks to the ‘Dragon Bones’ Malaria Cure, China Unearthed its Earliest Writing

Believe it or not, but the intriguing discovery of China's earliest writing was thanks to an unlikely ally— malaria . When the Chancellor of the Imperial Academy, Wang Yirong, contracted malaria, he...
Mysterious eyes in binary code.  The Great Cipher of Louis XIV had codebreakers stumped for centuries. Source: Kundra / Adobe Stock

Louis XIV’s Great Cipher Baffled Codebreakers Until the 19th Century

In the clandestine corridors of 17th-century France, a remarkable cryptographic system known as the Great Cipher emerged, becoming the go-to code for the French monarch Louis XIV. The genius behind...
Representational image of a Pyrrhic Victory and a bloody battlefield. Source: Mr. Bolota / Adobe Stock

King Pyrrhic’s Costly Conquest that Inspired the Term “Pyrrhic Victory”

The term “Pyrrhic Victory” stands as a testament to the intriguing and often paradoxical nature of warfare. Originating within the victories of the Greek king Pyrrhus of Epirus, this term has found...
Woodcut depicting a vagrant being punished in the streets of Tudor England. Source: Public domain

Unemployment Under Edward VI Was Punished with Branding and Slavery

In the annals of history, peculiar laws are often found, shedding light on the societal norms and governance of bygone eras. One such oddity is the Vagrancy Act of 1547, a draconian decree that sent...
Papier mache masks on sale for making effigies or “monigotes” to burn during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Ecuador. Source: Iryna / Adobe Stock

Ecuadorian Effigies Share Last Will and Testament on New Year's Eve

In Ecuador, New Year’s celebrations are steeped in unique traditions and peculiar rituals. One such eccentric custom is the creation and burning of Año Viejo effigies on the night of the 31st...
Disputing clerics from the 14th-century Grandes Chroniques de France. Source: Public domain

At One Point, There Were Three Catholic Popes at the Same Time

One would hope that church leaders are always the epitome of ethical eminence and spiritual integrity. But reality is seldom so simple. In fact, in the annals of ancient history, there exists a...
When reindeer ruminate, aka chew, they are actually catching up on their sleep, claims new study. Source: Leo Rescia / Current Biology / Furrer et al.

Scientists Discover A Reindeer Superpower - Ruminating is a Naturally Restful Sleep Hack!

Throughout history, reindeer have woven themselves into the fabric of Arctic society, mythology and folklore. Reindeer have also found their way into popular culture, prominently featuring in the...
A Chasqui roadrunner playing his pututu. Source: Public domain

Inca Chasqui Relay Roadrunners Revolutionized Communication

In an era devoid of the internet and telephone, the ancient Inca—reigning from the 15th to 16th centuries—turned to the Chasqui runners to provide direct communication. Operating in the Andean...
Representational image of an aboriginal man playing a didgeridoo. Source: Mockup Station / Adobe Stock

The Aboriginal Didgeridoo Was a Tool for Healing and Peace

Never has it been more important to search for clues to finding healing and peace in the world. With that in mind, it appears that within ancient Aboriginal societies the didgeridoo is believed to...
Representational image of the pious Saint Drogo. Source: nsit0108 / Adobe Stock

Saint Drogo was the Bilocating Patron of the Unattractive

Sometimes it really does seem that there is a saint for everything. For among the vast pantheon of saints stands Saint Drogo, a 12th-century Flemish nobleman who, after experiencing an inexplicable...
Rastafarian playing reggae music. Source: Victor / Adobe Stock

Reggae Music Lyrics are Intimately Linked to Historic Babylon

Next time you find yourself swaying along to Bob Marley’s Exodus , pay attention to the lyrics. “We know where we’re going. We know where we’re from. We leaving Babylon. We going to our Father’s Land...
Image from the Philips Sonicare toothbrush advertisement. Source: CM Dental.

Romans Used Powdered Mouse Brain and Human Urine in Their Toothpaste

Romans were particularly meticulous about their oral care, but their toothpaste recipes were anything but ordinary. A primary ingredient in Roman toothpaste was powdered charcoal, derived from...
Australian Aboriginals are the first culture to make bread. Source:  Riccardo Niels Mayer / Adobe Stock.

Australian Aboriginals Have Been Baking Bread for 34,000+ Years!

Long held as the inventors of bread , the Egyptians, credited with this culinary innovation around 8000 BC, have been surpassed by Australian Aboriginals in historical precedence. Remarkably,...
Lead white was a lethal pigment. Source: rodjulian / Adobe Stock.

Lead White Was a Lethal Pigment That Painted a Deadly History

Lead white, a pigment as notorious as it is historic, has painted a perilous line through human history. For over two millennia, this deceptively vibrant hue has been a silent killer , lurking in the...

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