Vulcanalia: appeasing the God of fire

In ancient Rome, Vulcan (or Volcanus) was well known as the god of fire, both beneficial and hindering fire, particularly in its destructive aspects as volcanoes. Similar to the Greek Hephaestus, he was a god of the forge, and renowned for his metalworking skills, and he is portrayed as being lame. He was patron also of those occupations having to do with ovens such as cooks, bakers, pastry makers and pizza makers. Vulcan is one of the oldest of the Roman gods, and his origins can be traced back to…

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Döllersheim: the austrian village that Hitler destroyed to crush a rumor

About one hundred km northwest of Vienna, in northern Austria, lies a small village called Döllersheim that, eighty years ago, was literally wiped off the map by a certain German dictator with a short moustache in an attempt to erase the disreputable origins of his family. The village was first mentioned in an 1143 deed issued by Duke Henry XI of Bavaria, whereby one Chunradus (Conrad) of Tolersheim appeared as a witness. Due its location near the Austrian border with Bohemia the nearby market town held by the Lords of…

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Erdstalls Tunnels: Central Europe’s last great mystery

Across Europe, there are hundreds of underground tunnels that, apparently, lead to nowhere and about which any historic records have ever been found. They are mostly located in the southern German state of Bavaria and the nearby Austria, where they are known by the German name “Erdstall”, which literally means “place under the earth”. Locally, they are also called by various names such as “Schrazelloch”, or “goblin hole”, but also “Alraunenhöhle”, meaning “mandrake cave”, which reflects the various theories and legends associated with the mysterious tunnels. Some believed that they…

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The mystery of Lady Dai, one of the world’s most preserved mummies

Despite her quite macabre appearance, Lady Dai is considered to be one of the world’s best preserved mummies. If others tend to crumble at the slightest movement, she is so well-kept that doctors were even able to perform an autopsy more than 2,100 years after her death, probably the most complete medical profile ever compiled on an ancient individual! But not only, as they were able to reconstruct her death, as well as her life, even determining her blood type, Type A. Despite her face looks swollen and deformed, her…

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May 31, 1962: the Voghera massacre

May 31, 1962: it is a warm but not sultry night when the fate of 64 people is about to be marked. Shortly after midnight, at 0.02 am, the 8151 freight train from Milan Rogoredo station leaves from Lecco and goes to Arquata Scrivia. The convoy consists of 33 wagons. In the meantime, at 0.45 am, from another Milan station, the Central Station, the fast train 1391 also leaves, expected in Genova Brignole at 5.22 am. The passenger convoy stops at Voghera where it arrives at the third platform 15…

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A short story of English Witchcraft Acts

From 1541 to 1951, England had laws strictly prohibiting the practice of witchcraft. During the early years it was a crime punishable by death and the forfeiture of goods and chattels. Put into effect on June 1, 1653, the laws mandated the outlawing of any kind of witchcraft-related activities. However, the 1653 Witchcraft Laws were not the first to appear in the English judicial system, as in 1542, King Henry VIII passed a piece of legislation that made witchcraft a felony, punishable by death. Henry VIII’s Act was the first…

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How Blacksod lighthouse changed the course of the World War II

Blacksod Lighthouse, Fód Dubh in Gaelic, is a lighthouse at the southern end of the Mullet Peninsula, Erris, County Mayo, at the entrance to Blacksod Bay, Ireland, where the catch of the day will always include wild Atlantic lobster. The area also boasts jaw dropping scenery and offers sanctuary for Irish whales & dolphins under supervision of the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group. The 150-year-old structure is made of local granite blocks, which are believed to have come from Termon Hill, a nearby isolated outcrop of high quality granite in…

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May 14, 1983: the forgotten history of massacre of the Eros cinema in the suburbs of Milan, Italy

Saturday, May 14, 1983: while about thirty spectators were watching the first half of the porn film “Lyla, profumo di femmina” (Lyla, scent of a female), two young people showed up at the Eros Sexy Center cinema in viale Monza 101, near the Rovereto metro stop, they bought tickets, entered the hall and sat in the back rows (after the subsequent arrests, the cinema cashier will recognize Marco Furlan and remember having sold him three tickets, one of the main elements in support of the thesis that Ludwig, the obscure…

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The princes in the Tower of London: one of the great mysteries of English history

In the White Tower, the old keep at the Tower of London, there is a small staircase tucked away near the entrance. Called the Two Princes Staircase, it’s where the skeletons of two young boys, one aged about 10 and the other 13 were found during renovations in 1674. It’s widely believed the skeletons are of the two princes who disappeared at the site in the late 15th century. And this is one of the great mysteries of English history. Though there has yet to be any scientific evidence to…

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Happy Birthday Venice, 1600 years!

As story goes today, 25th March 2021, Venice turns 1600 years old. But Venice, was it really founded on March 25th 421 AD at noon? Actually no. Venice has a history spanning almost 16 centuries that involves numerous intrigues, 120 doges, several oppressors such as Napoleon and the Austrians, as well as many battles amongst others with the Turks, even though it’s not always possible to differentiate the historical facts from the legends. In short, the foundation of the Serenissima’s city is traced back to the legendary laying of the…

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Fukushima disaster: what happened 10 years ago at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

Exactly ten years ago, on a Friday afternoon, March 11, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan struck off the country’s eastern coast. The 9.0-magnitude quake was so forceful it shifted the Earth off its axis, triggered a tsunami which swept over the main island of Honshu, killing more than 18,000 people and wiping entire towns off the map. At the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, in the town of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture (on the country’s east coast, about 220km north-east of the capital Tokyo), the gigantic wave surged…

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Salii: the jumping priests of Rome

In ancient Roman religion, the Salii were the “leaping priests” (from the verb saliō “leap, jump”) of Mars supposed to have been introduced by King Numa Pompilius. They were twelve young patrician, dressed as archaic warriors: an embroidered tunic, a breastplate, a short red cloak called paludamentum, a sword, and a spiked headdress called apex. They were charged with the twelve oblong bronze shields with two recesses on the sides, called Ancilia. Among them, there was the authentic shield that Mars dropped from the sky as a gift to king…

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Juraj Jánošík: how an outlaw became the Slovak National Hero

Juraj Jánošík, the outlaw who supposedly robbed the rich and gave to the poor (a deed often attributed to the famous Robin Hood), and who has inspired really countless artistic works, was once an ordinary man, despite there are very few accounts about his life. One of them is the protocol from his trial in March 1713 when he was sentenced to death, other are the two documents from the archives in Trenčín, and lastly, there is the registry office of the parish in Varín. Thanks to the latter, we…

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#TodayInHistory – February 28

February 28 – Some important events on this day 202 BC 👉🏼 Coronation ceremony of Liu Bang as Emperor Gaozu of Han takes place, initiating four centuries of the Han Dynasty’s rule over China 1710 👉🏼 In the Battle of Helsingborg, 14,000 Danish invaders under Jørgen Rantzau are decisively defeated by an equally sized Swedish force under Magnus Stenbock 1854 👉🏼 Republican Party formally organized in Ripon, Wisconsin 1874 👉🏼 Arthur Orton, who became known as the Tichborne Claimant, was found guilty of perjury on this day after the longest…

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#TodayInHistory – February 27

February 27 – Some important events on this day 1693 👉🏼 1st women’s magazine “Ladies’ Mercury” published in London, England 1814 👉🏼 Ludwig van Beethoven’s 8th Symphony in F premieres 1827 👉🏼 1st Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans 1900 👉🏼 In London, the Trades Union Congress and the Independent Labour Party (formed in 1893) meet, results in a Labour Representative Committee and eventually the modern Labour Party in 1906 1933 👉🏼 The Reichstag, German parliament building, destroyed by fire; possibly set by the Nazis, who blame and execute Martin…

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Anthesteria: the Greek festival of spring and the dead

The Anthesteria, in Ancient Greek Ἀνθεστήρια, was one of the four Athenian festivals in honor of Dionysus, “dead and reborn”. It was held each year from the 11th to the 13th of the month of Anthesterion, around the time of the January or February full moon. It celebrated the beginning of spring, particularly the maturing of the wine stored at the previous vintage. During the feast, social order was interrupted or inverted, the slaves being allowed to participate, uniting the household. However, the Anthesteria also had aspects of a festival…

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#TodayInHistory – February 26

February 26 – Some important events on this day 1616 👉🏼 Roman Inquisition delivers injunction to Galileo demanding he abandon his belief in heliocentrism, which states the Earth and planets revolve around the Sun 1732 👉🏼 1st mass celebrated in 1st American Catholic church, St Joseph’s, Philadelphia 1797 👉🏼 Bank of England issues first £1 note 1815 👉🏼 Napoleon Bonaparte and his supporters leave Elba to start a 100 day re-conquest of France 1869 👉🏼 Franz Schubert’s Symphony number 4, “The Tragic”, premieres 1881 👉🏼 P&O’s SS Ceylon begins world’s…

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#TodayInHistory – February 25

February 25 – Some important events on this day 1570 👉🏼 Pius V excommunicates Queen Elizabeth I of England for heresy and persecution of English Catholics during her reign. Also absolves her subjects from allegiance to the crown. 1793 👉🏼 1st US cabinet meeting, held at George Washington’s home 1836 👉🏼 Showman P. T. Barnum exhibits African American slave Joice Heth, claiming she was the 161 year-old nursemaid to George Washington 1862 👉🏼 First Legal Tender Act 1862 is passed by the US Congress, authorizing the United States note (greenback)…

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#TodayInHistory – February 24

February 24 – Some important events on this day 303 👉🏼 1st official Roman edict for persecution of Christians issued by Emperor Diocletian 1208 👉🏼 St Francis of Assisi, 26, received his vocation in Portiuncula Italy 1525 👉🏼 Battle of Pavia: Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s troops beat the French. French King Francois I captured, 15,000 killed or wounded 1582 👉🏼 Pope Gregory XIII announces New Style (Gregorian) calendar 1739 👉🏼 Battle of Karnal: Army of Iranian ruler Nadir Shah defeats the forces of the Mughal emperor of India, Muhammad…

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#TodayInHistory – February 23

February 23 – Some important events on this day 303 👉🏼 Roman Emperor Diocletian begins his policy of persecuting Christians, razing the church at Nicomedia 1455 👉🏼 Johannes Gutenberg prints his first Bible (estimated date) 1540 👉🏼 Francisco Vázquez de Coronado’s expedition sets off from Mexico in search of the 7 cities of Cibola 1836 👉🏼 Alamo besieged for 13 days until March 6 by Mexican army under General Santa Anna; entire garrison eventually killed 1886 👉🏼 “The Times” of London publishes world’s 1st classified ad 1904 👉🏼 United States…

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#TodayInHistory – February 22

February 22 – Some important events on this day 1632 👉🏼 Galileo’s “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” is published 1774 👉🏼 British House of Lords rules authors do not have perpetual copyright 1797 👉🏼 The Last Invasion of Britain, launched by the French during the Revolutionary Wars, begins near Fishguard, Wales. In 1797, the European continent was engaged in a struggle with the France, which had deposed its monarchy following the French Revolution in 1787. This first conflict, between 1792 and 1797, consisted of a lightly-allied coalition (now…

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#TodayInHistory – February 21

February 21 – Some important events on this day 1173 👉🏼 Pope Alexander III canonizes Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury 1583 👉🏼 Groningen, Netherlands, begins using Gregorian calendar 1613 👉🏼 Michael Romanov, son of Patriarch of Moscow, elected first Russian Tsar of the house of Romanov 1804 👉🏼 1st locomotive, Richard Trevithick’s, runs for the 1st time, along the tramway of the Penydarren Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales 1821 👉🏼 Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire begins 1828 👉🏼 1st American Indian newspaper in US, “Cherokee Phoenix”, published…

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#TodayInHistory – February 20

February 20 – Some important events on this day 1280 👉🏼 Japanese Imperial Court orders all temples and shrines to pray for victory in the impending second Mongol invasion. In 1274 the Mongol Empire under Kublai Khan launched the first of two failed invasions of Japan. Eight years before, Kublai had sent a letter to the Japanese emperor (who in the letter he called the “King of Japan”), threatening the use of force unless Japan submitted. The Japanese did not respond. So it was that five years later the Mongol…

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#TodayInHistory – February 19

February 19 – Some important events on this day 356 👉🏼 Emperor Constantius II shuts all heathen temples 1594 👉🏼 Having already inherited the throne of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth through his mother, Catherine Jagellonica of Poland, Sigismund III of the House of Vasa is crowned King of Sweden, succeeding his father John III of Sweden. 1600 👉🏼 Peruvian stratovolcano Huaynaputina explodes in the most violent eruption in South American recorded history. 1878 👉🏼 Thomas Edison is granted a patent for his gramophone (phonograph). 1906 👉🏼 Will Keith Kellogg and Charles…

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#TodayInHistory – February 18

February 18 – Some important events on this day 1519 👉🏼 Hernán Cortés leaves Cuba for the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico with 11 ships and 500 men 1678 👉🏼 John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” is published in Holborn, London, by Nathaniel Ponder 1685 👉🏼 Fort St. Louis is established by a Frenchman at Matagorda Bay thus forming the basis for France’s claim to Texas. 1861 👉🏼 King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia becomes first King of Italy 1968 👉🏼 X Winter Olympic Games close in Grenoble, France 1879 👉🏼 Sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi…

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#TodayInHistory – February 17

February 17 – Some important events on this day 1510 👉🏼 Portuguese admiral Afonso de Albuquerque first conquers the city of Goa, entering it with little conflict 1568 👉🏼 Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II agrees to pay tribute to the Ottoman Empire for peace 1815 👉🏼 Treaty of Ghent ratified by the US Senate and signed by President James Madison ending War of 1812, over a month after it was signed in Europe. The Treaty of Ghent, signed in the city of Ghent, Belgium, ended the War of 1812 between…

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#TodayInHistory – February 16

February 16 – Some important events on this day 374 👉🏼 9th recorded perihelion passage of Halley’s Comet 600 👉🏼 Pope Gregory the Great decrees saying “God bless You” is the correct response to a sneeze 1659 👉🏼 1st known cheque (£400) (on display at Westminster Abbey) 1838 👉🏼 Weenen Massacre: Hundreds of Voortrekkers along the Blaukraans River, Natal are killed by Zulu warriors 1840 👉🏼 American Charles Wilkes discovers Shackleton Ice Shelf, Antarctica 1861 👉🏼 Abraham Lincoln stops his train at Westfield on his way to Washington to thank…

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The oldest comic in the world? In a tomb in Jordan!

It was drawn 2,000 years ago and does not depict superheroes, cute little animals or thieves in a luxury car, but the workers of the ancient city of Capitolias, in the north of Jordan, one of the 10 Greek-Roman cities listed by Pliny the Elder as the Decapolis, a group of semi-autonomous Hellenistic cities on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire, between present-day Israel, Jordan and Syria. The painting, which is the oldest example of modern “comic”, with the phrases pronounced by the protagonists spelled out next to their…

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#TodayInHistory – February 15

February 15 – Some important events on this day 399 BC 👉🏼 Philosopher Socrates is sentenced to death by the city of Athens for corrupting the minds of the youth of the city and for impiety 590 👉🏼 Khosrau II, the last great Sasanian king is crowned King of Persia 1763 👉🏼 Austria, Prussia & Saxony sign the Treaty of Hubertusburg, marking the end of the French and Indian War and of the Seven Years’ War 1903 👉🏼 1st Teddy Bear introduced in America, made by Morris & Rose Michtom…

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#TodayInHistory – February 14

February 14 – Some important events on this day 270 👉🏼 One of many St. Valentine beheaded. 1014 👉🏼 Pope Benedict VIII crowns Henry II Holy Roman Emperor 1076 👉🏼 Pope Gregory VII excommunicates Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV (for the 1st time) 1349 👉🏼 900 Jews are burned alive in Strasbourg and similar number banned from the city after being blamed for the spread of the Black Death 1779 👉🏼 Captain James Cook killed in Hawaii | READ THE ARTICLE! 1794 👉🏼 1st US textile machinery patent granted, to…

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