There are many things in this world that we take as gospel truth, sometimes without even being aware of their origins. After all, things like New Year’s resolutions and even chicken for dinner have been around ever since we can remember ourselves. But the truth is, many seemingly eternal concepts and objects have beginnings too, and some of these origins stories are definitely worth knowing and learning about.
In this article, we collected 10 absolutely fascinating historical facts, many of which touch upon these unexpected origins of common objects and concepts.
1. The domestication of chickens
It is believed that chickens were first domesticated seven thousand years ago somewhere in Southeast Asia. Genetic data approximates that the wild ancestors of modern domestic chickens are red and green junglefowl. From there, chickens spread to China and India, although researchers believe that the first tame chickens were used in cock-fighting, and not for food.
2. The Ancient Maya wrote thousands of books
We will probably never know the full extent of Maya knowledge and history, even though they wrote thousands of books. Only four of these books (known as Maya codices) have survived to this day: the Dresden Codex, the Paris Codex, the Madrid Codex, and fragments of the Grolier Codex.
3. Anna Haining Swan and Martin Van Buren Bates are the tallest married couple
Anna Haining Swan was 7' 11" (2.4 m) tall and Martin Van Buren Bates was slightly shorter - 7' 9" (2.3 m). The couple got married in Victorian London in 1871. Their son was the largest known newborn ever recorded. He weighed 23 pounds (10 kg) and was 30 inches (76 cm) long at birth.
4. Victorian men drank tea out of special cups that protected their mustaches
These cups were known as mustache cups, and they were invented in the 1860s by a British potter named Harvey Adams. These fancy cups prevented Victorian gentlemen from getting their whiskers wet into tea or hot chocolate.
5. Roman Gladiators may have been the first celebrities
The heroic Ancient Roman fighters were treated like celebrities. Posters of popular gladiators were sold to fans, or even gladiator dolls were available for children. Unsurprisingly, gladiators were especially popular among the ladies.
6. The River Thames Police in London is the oldest police force in the world
The Thames Police protects the port in London, and it has been active since 1798. This makes the Thames Police the oldest continuous police force in the world.
7. William Shakespeare published the first-ever “Yo Mama” joke
The joke was published in the play "Titus Andronicus," and it goes as follows:
Demetrius: "Villain, what hast thou done?"
Aaron: "That which thou canst not undo."
Chiron: "Thou hast undone our mother."
Aaron: "Villain, I have done thy mother."
8. Ancient Babylonians started off the tradition of New Year’s resolutions
Some 4,000 years ago, Ancient Babylonians practiced a religious festival called Akitu, where they promised to pay their debts and return borrowed items during the first 12 days of the year.
9. Those who pronounce “ask” as “axe” are not wrong
You may be surprised to learn that the original pronunciation of the word ask is indeed "axe." The oldest English version of the Bible called the Coverdale Bible (published in 1535) even spells ask as "axe" in the following quote from Matthew 7:7, “axe and it shall be given you.”
10. The Egyptian queen Cleopatra spoke nine languages
Cleopatra was the first Egyptian queen to speak Greek, and she also spoke eight other languages: Egyptian, Hebrew (or Aramaic), Arabic, Median, Parthian, Troglodyte, Syriac, and Early Amharic. That's pretty amazing and admirable, right?!
Share these fascinating facts with family and friends!