89 votes
Accepted

Did the ancient Greeks ever climb Mt. Olympus?

The answer is probably Yes, some Greeks had visited the peak around 2900 meters above the sea level. Average people who are fit can easily do it, at least from one side. But it's important to realize ...
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  • 2,704
89 votes

Did Aztecs know how many continents there are on earth?

Do you know how many continents there are on Earth? (I don't!) Is Europe a separate continent from Asia? Is Australia the biggest island or the smallest continent? Is Antarctica an ice-locked ...
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  • 5,890
59 votes
Accepted

Why was the Cold War carried out over the whole world instead of between Siberia and Alaska?

Location of Conflicts This is because fundamentally, the Cold War was about which ideology would dominate the world. Both sides wanted to export their ideology, or perhaps more importantly, stop each ...
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  • 96.2k
39 votes

Did the ancient Greeks ever climb Mt. Olympus?

It is impossible to ascertain for sure. Eleven gods of the Greek major pantheon all lived in various named corners of the mountain. Even Zeus resided on only the second-highest of the many peaks, ...
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36 votes
Accepted

Why is the capital of Turkey Ankara rather than Istanbul?

During the early stages of the Turkish War of Independence, Kemal commanded two army corps: One in Ankara and one in Erzurum. At first Erzurum was Kemal's base of operations, but on 27 December, 1919 ...
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  • 14.5k
31 votes
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Did Aztecs know how many continents there are on earth?

I was hoping that someone with better resources on Aztec mythology would speak up, but in absence of that, I'll tell you what I found looking into this online. Chief among it was that I could find ...
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  • 110k
28 votes
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Did Magellan's log show a lost day?

The first ship to successfully circumnavigate the world was the Nao Victoria. It was originally part of Magellan's fleet. All of the other ships (the Trinidad, the San Antonio, Concepción and the ...
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  • 3,587
28 votes
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Did ancient or medieval people know about underground rivers/lakes?

Awareness of (and habitation alongside) underground rivers dates back many thousands of years. Cave systems with rivers, providing a ready supply of one life's essentials, were shelters from both the ...
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28 votes
Accepted

Did pre-Columbian Americans know the spherical shape of the Earth?

Firstly, it is important to be aware that our understanding of the civilisations and culture of Pre-Columbian America is far from complete. Secondly, I don't propose to attempt to cover every ...
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  • 76.4k
28 votes
Accepted

Why was the northern boundary of the Mongol empire set where it was?

There always is a trade-off when occupying someone else's territory: the resources you can extract plus any strategic value versus the resources you need to invest to maintain control. The wooded ...
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  • 6,123
22 votes

Did anyone in Europe predict the existence of the Americas?

Europeans, perhaps not, someone in the old world, yes. Al-Biruni (973–1050) lived in Khwarezm (modern Uzbekistan). Among other works in mathematics, astronomy, physics, mineralogy, history and ...
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  • 968
21 votes
Accepted

Was the location of the 180° line of longitude coincidence or deliberately chosen?

The Prime Meridian we use now was the one the British chose, since it went through Greenwich Observatory near London. France had their own where Paris was 0 degrees, the US had one. When the ...
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  • 11.9k
20 votes

How many different countries could a person alive today have lived in without leaving their hometown?

Metohija Ottoman Empire (until 1912) Montenegro (1912-1915) Austria-Hungary (1915-1918) Serbia (1918) Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (1918–1929) Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1929–1941) Italian ...
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  • 201
20 votes

Kurds and their relation to the start of civilization?

That seems highly unlikely. The invention of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent was roughly 10,000 years ago, principally in the Tigris-Euphrates river valley system. The people living there when ...
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  • 110k
20 votes

What was the error in 1790, if any, of the lat. and long. of Greenwich Observatory of 1783?

I found the answer. In 1790, no error was found. Roy [who headed the survery] probably did not know that in 1785 Maskelyne [who was confident of the coordinates of Greenwich] had equipped his ...
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  • 409
19 votes

Where on a modern map are these areas of Ptolemy's map?

More or less, it's something like this: Not all the details are correct, but that is to be expected for an area that is known mostly by hearsay. The Malay Peninsula and Sumatra are conflated; ...
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17 votes
Accepted

Are there any ideas as to what the English landscape was like before the arrival of the Angles?

The Angles, along with the Saxons and the Jutes, probably started arriving in Britain around the middle of the 5th century, some 50 years after Rome abandoned its northern-most province. They would ...
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17 votes

Why was the Cold War carried out over the whole world instead of between Siberia and Alaska?

This question made me scratch my head for a minute. I think there may be some false premises in the OP's question that have been overlooked. I will paraphrase the Q: "Why didn't they aim nuclear ...
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16 votes
Accepted

What was an upper and a lower region?

Typically it refers to a river, and "lower" is down-river (closer to the coast), while "upper" is up-river (further inland). This is because the land at the mouth of a river is lower (in altitude) ...
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  • 110k
14 votes
Accepted

Since when is the Nile Delta known as "Delta"?

Francis Celora in Delta as a Geographical Concept in Greek literature (login required, 100 free articles / month) notes: That a stranger who arrives at the mouth of the Nile in times when maps were ...
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13 votes

Was the location of the 180° line of longitude coincidence or deliberately chosen?

The book "Longitude" discusses this, and says the international standardization of the prime meridian arose mainly due to the publication of practical astronomical tables which used the Greenwich ...
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  • 231
12 votes

Why was the Cold War carried out over the whole world instead of between Siberia and Alaska?

The reason the Cold War resulted in conflicts across the world and not just between the US and USSR's closest points is because neither side wanted to actually enter into open hostilities, because ...
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  • 3,863
11 votes

Did ancient or medieval people know about underground rivers/lakes?

The river Reka (literally: river) in Slovenia goes underground in the caves of Škocjan (San Canziano, St. Kanzian) and comes out as Timavo some 35 km further west. According to the Wiki page linked ...
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10 votes
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Kurds and their relation to the start of civilization?

It is certainly true that many of the foundations for later civilisations, like the development of agriculture, the development of writing, and even an invention of the wheel, can be traced to The ...
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  • 76.4k
10 votes
Accepted

When did "Africa" become the name of the whole continent?

The earliest available evidence of 'Africa' applied to the whole continent (including Egypt) would appear to date from the work of 16th century map makers. Abraham Ortelius (1527-98) produced this map ...
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10 votes
Accepted

Where is Hermodontus?

There's an important hint in the footnote at the end of p. 96 - it tells that Albinus (Albinus pauperis scolaris / Albinus (cardinal)) included the list of Roman provinces by Polemius Silvius at that ...
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  • 3,316
9 votes

What is the story behind the tall Northern offshoot on the West Virginia map?

Some colonies, including Virginia, claimed all land to their west. Other states, including Pennsylvania, had defined western boundaries: Ever since the proprietary grant to William Penn in 1681, ...
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  • 17.9k
9 votes
Accepted

Why is Hungary geographically important to travel between Europe and the Middle East?

(original image by Wikimedia Commons user San Jose) If you look at a topographic map of Europe, the reason should be self-evident: the easiest land route from northern/western Europe passes through ...
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  • 8,464
9 votes

How area of a country used to be calculated?

Satellites and modern technologies are irrelevant here. If you have a map of the country, break it into sufficiently small pieces (so that each piece is approximately flat, and the scale of the map is ...
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  • 37.5k
9 votes
Accepted

Did pre-16th century Europeans call the Pacific Ocean the Atlantic?

Kind of. To the extent that Europeans were even aware that a body of water existed beyond China, it was indeed thought to be connected to the Atlantic. But this body of water was often given its own ...
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  • 96.2k

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