16
votes
3answers
1k views

Which cultures did *not* produce alcohol?

I've been reading Harold McGee's fascinating On Food and Cooking, and the chapter on alcohol has some interesting historical notes. He describes the widely varied and creative methods used in various ...
0
votes
4answers
348 views

Why some monarchs are sent to exile after a country is declared a republic?

Personally, I like monarchy. Monarchs are symbols of national unity and rich heritage. Just look at British monarchy. It is a matter of their pride. And, I also think that countries like France, ...
3
votes
3answers
155 views

Timing of Trotsky's Assassination

Stalin's arch rival Trotsky was exiled, but why did Stalin wait until later before sending assassins to finish him off?
9
votes
2answers
372 views

Were the 19th century decades referred to as 40s, 50s back then?

I was just thinking what will happen to our reference of "the 50s", "the 60s" when we get to the end of this century. So I began wondering if this collision has already happened back when the 20th ...
4
votes
1answer
73 views

In Golf history, why is Musselburgh considered the first course, when St. Andrews was where golf was first played?

As the title states, Musselburgh Links is widely considered to be the first golf course, but it's also widely acknowledged that the game was invented at St. Andrews. This disparity doesn't quite make ...
29
votes
3answers
10k views

Did World War II-era bombs actually whistle?

In WWII-era films and newsreels, aerial bombs are often shown making a whistling sound as they fall; starting high pitched, then decreasing as the bomb approaches the Earth (example here, starting at ...
7
votes
2answers
198 views

Why is the Ping Yuen river in Hong Kong called River Ganges?

Why is the Ping Yuen river in Hong Kong called River Ganges? From the wikipedia: Ping Yuen River (also known as River Ganges) (平原河) is a river in northern New Territories, Hong Kong. Its source ...
3
votes
6answers
184 views

What lands have been called by names chosen to disassociate those lands from its inhabitants

Historically, the name "Persia" has been applied to southern Asia to disassociate that land from the people who inhabit it, who called themselves Aran. Similarly, the name "Palestine" has been applied ...
4
votes
1answer
75 views

President proposes bills: provenance

The President of the United States sends proposed bills to members of Congress, that they may introduce the bills on his behalf. There's no provision for this in the Constitution (AFAICT). What was ...
20
votes
3answers
2k views

When was Silver ever more valuable than Gold?

These days we pretty much take it as a given that gold is more valuable than silver. The obvious example is the Olympics and other such competitions that give "gold" medals for first place and ...
9
votes
1answer
427 views

What would be the problem if Turkey admits Armenian Massacre? [closed]

Armenian massacre happened long before the establishment of Turkish republic. Can't Turkey just say that, "Yes, it happened. But since the Ottoman emperor Abdul Hamid is responsible for that, Turkey ...
13
votes
1answer
213 views

Castaways rescued by a message in a bottle?

Has there ever been a time when people were rescued by sending out a message in a bottle to drift across the sea? The "bottle" doesn't have to be an actual bottle. It could be a box, a cask, a ...
7
votes
3answers
299 views

What was the first major historical event to be photographed?

The first photograph is supposed to have been taken in the late 1820s. But what was the first major historical event to be photographed?
3
votes
1answer
81 views

Why did non prosecuted craftsmen go to the new world in the Roanoke era?

I've just been reading The Rise & Fall Of The British Empire by Lawrence James. In this book, James said that craftsmen, who were not prosecuted for their religion, went to the New World because ...
5
votes
1answer
166 views

First recorded use of a traditional tombstone?

The question is rather straight-forward. I consider a "traditional" tombstone as some sort of monument having an inscribed name and date of birth/death or age.
16
votes
5answers
3k views

Why hasn't Russia maintained significant numbers of Aircraft carriers?

The United States has 11 aircraft carriers in total. Russia has only one. This is reflective of the past, in which we saw that the USSR also didn't put much importance on constructing aircraft ...
7
votes
1answer
367 views

How far into the past was significance ascribed to the Golden Ratio?

I think everyone knows about the golden ratio or the divine proportion (I got to know more about it after reading the wikipedia article on it). It's present everywhere in nature and also in the human ...
5
votes
1answer
347 views

Literacy in the classical world

How literate was the ancient world? I'm particularly interested in the Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians in, say, the first few centuries BC. It's hard to find authors willing to give an explicit number, ...
8
votes
2answers
4k views

Why did Spain not participate in World War I?

Spain was losing influence in America for the previous 100 years, and there was a recent Spanish-American war. So how could have Spain remained neutral? Why could Spain not find a place in the ...
5
votes
2answers
213 views

Were there many instances when an “overaged” commander was at odds with a much younger second in command?

I can think of two. The first was at Stirling Bridge, in 1297 when the English outnumbered the Scots some 4 to 1, but the 72-year old English commander, John Warrenne, Earl of Surrey was not keen on ...
12
votes
2answers
163 views

Completeness of Old Parish Registers in the 1700s

In England, local churches were required to keep registers of all baptisms, marriages and burials. Are there any studies that show how complete these records generally were, in particular in relation ...
12
votes
1answer
423 views

Why did civilisation/city states never take root in Australia and North America?

I recently read that the Australian Aborigines numbered close to a million during the time of Botany Bay and comprised of ~250 tribes/nations. The Native Americans of North America also boasted ...
13
votes
2answers
422 views

Early history of prime numbers

Prime numbers are those whole numbers greater than 1 which cannot be written as a product of numbers greater than 1. I'm curious about their very early history, say 200 BC and earlier. What I know: ...
5
votes
1answer
197 views

Did the Carthaginians have the option of sending Hannibal to Sicily?

Sicily was a major focus of the First and Second Punic Wars. The first Punic war ended with Carthage handing over major grain-growing areas on the island, and the port of Lilybaem to Rome as spoils of ...
2
votes
1answer
332 views

Mountain flags from Batman Begins

This question may come up as a bit strange, but rest assured, it is about culture and symbolism. During the first few minutes of Batman Begins (at 06:25), there is a scene of Bruce Wayne wandering to ...
-2
votes
1answer
3k views

What do modern German citizens feel about the defeat in WW2 and division of Germany? [closed]

What do modern German citizens feel about the defeat in WW2 and division of Germany in the hands of USA + UK? How do they feel about the current presence of 52440 US troops in the soil of Germany?
5
votes
4answers
344 views

Which historical figures are remembered for actions contradictory to their intentions?

Some historical figures are remembered for their actions (Alexander of Macedon, Napoleon), while others are remembered for their intent (Charles de Gaulle). Which historical figures are remembered for ...
15
votes
5answers
621 views

What made Alexander great?

Historians have titled Alexander III of Macedon "the Great". In a very short period of time he conquered one of the largest empires in ancient history and was undefeated in battle. What I'd like to ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

What kind of siege weapons were used during Punic wars

I would like to know which kind of siege weapons were used during Punic wars on both sides, there is not wery much information around.
2
votes
1answer
120 views

Reception of Acemoglu-Robinson 'extractive institutions' thesis?

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson believe that a great deal about the economic, social, and political life of a country can be explained by the quality of political institutions, especially the degree ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Why did the United States enter World War I?

The topic of World War I came up last night with a few strangers, at a bar, of course. One seemingly knowledgeable gentleman, who happened to have Howard Zinn's A Peoples' History of the United States ...
2
votes
1answer
732 views

What is the secret behind the economic success of ROC(Taiwan)?

Even though the Republic of China (also known as Taiwan) is not a member of the United Nations, it has been economically successful. What is the secret behind the economic success of it then?
19
votes
3answers
3k views

Can the Queen of England fire the prime minister of Australia?

My Australian friend says yes. I'm not so sure, considering the monarchy collects no taxes from England, much less a country in the commonwealth. What's the verdict? Can she say "you're fired" and ...
4
votes
1answer
146 views

Are there any existing foreign language teaching texts from the Ancient Near East?

The various cultures of the Ancient Near East spoke a wide array of languages and we know that there was plenty of communication between cultures. We even have a language like Akkadian that served as ...
25
votes
12answers
2k views

Have fair-skinned peoples ever been the lower/oppressed class?

In many societies around the globe today we see that the darker skinned peoples are generally of a lower social status than the fair skinned peoples of the same area, or that fair skin is considered ...
6
votes
2answers
641 views

When was the African National Congress added to the US terror list?

In 2008, the ANC was removed from the US terror list. From BBC: US President George W Bush has signed a bill removing Nelson Mandela and South African leaders from the US terror watch list, ...
7
votes
2answers
232 views

Why did Ieyasu Tokugawa oppose Hideyoshi's plan for expansion?

When Hideyoshi wanted to invade Korea, the Tokugawa clan noticeably stayed out of the conflict. What were the reasons for them doing so?
9
votes
1answer
430 views

Extent of the Roman empire after Trajan?

It is generally acknowledged that the Roman Empire reached its geographical zenith during Trajan's reign. Listening to the highly interesting History of Rome podcast I didn't notice any major ...
6
votes
2answers
262 views

At what point did mapmaking begin to accurately reflect what we now know about the earth?

Looking at maps through the ages, it is apparent that maps have become closer and closer to representing the locations and shapes of the Earth's features with increasing accuracy over the centuries. ...
6
votes
3answers
232 views

What is the origin of the English Ship Building Philosophy?

I was reading an article on the Vasa the ship built under command of King Gustav Adolf, the ship sank during its launch on August 10, 1628. Part if the article mentions that the ship was somehow ...
10
votes
1answer
204 views

Were mattress labels inspired by public outcry?

If you're an American consumer, you likely know the "mattress tag", labels attached to mattresses, pillows, stuffed animals, and pet beds, which often begin "This tag may not be removed under penalty ...
7
votes
2answers
192 views

Was residual animism partially responsible for Hitler's rise?

Although Miller had never bothered to think about it, it was once out of these and other oceans of pine and beech that the old Germanic tribes had swarmed to be checked by Caesar at the Rhine. ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

How much faster were the printing presses than hand writing?

How many times faster were the printing presses, which gave Europe an advantage over other continents in term of access to knowledge, compared to copying of books by hand?
18
votes
6answers
1k views

How accurately could ancient astronomers find latitude and longitude?

In classical times (let's say 200 BC to 400 AD), how accurately could a Greek/Roman/Babylonian/etc. astronomer determine their location on the earth by coordinates like latitude/longitude? Could they ...
7
votes
3answers
364 views

Why the difference of opinion about the disappearance of Subhas Chandra Bose

A year back, Harvard professor Sugata Bose released a biography of the Indian leader Subhas Chandra Bose which claimed to lay all speculation regarding his death to rest. However, last week, a veteran ...
14
votes
7answers
7k views

Why did Nazi soldiers do Hitler's bidding?

The atrocities committed by Nazi soldiers during World War II are well known. I'd like to know what motivated those soldiers to do Hitler's bidding. Were they brainwashed? Did they believe they were ...
12
votes
9answers
5k views

Why does Europe have so few skyscrapers compared to East Asia?

The European Union has virtually no skyscrapers except the newly built 'The Shard' in London. There are also a series of newly-built state-funded skyscrapers in Moscow. On the other hand if you look ...
3
votes
6answers
589 views

What went wrong with India's scientific development as a society?

India had been among the "leaders" in scientific research spanning Mathematics, Medicine, Chemistry and others. ...
12
votes
1answer
700 views

Was there a bronze age in the Americas?

One of the answers to What are the factors that caused the new world civilizations to be less technologically advanced than the old world? made an interesting statement: in terms of metalworking, ...
13
votes
1answer
306 views

Who first combined the lateen and square sails that led to the carrack?

In the middle ages the square sail was used in the Atlantic cogs, whereas in the Mediterranean the lateen sail was used due to its more flexible use. The combination of both sails into one ship ...

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