Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Apple Edge

I found this image everywhere, but never with a source. So if you know it, please send me info on who to credit!

This one is a little more recent than most of the things I've covered here. I don't want to date myself here, but when I was a kid Halloween was kind of the Biggest Day of the Year. Mostly because it was a holiday we could celebrate at school, and was thus exempt from the "no celebrating holidays" tradition at home. 

I never got to go trick or treating though, because there wasn't really much point in trying to do that through a school, and my parents were convinced that the candy being handed out to children were laced with things like razors and hypodermic needles. Every parent "knew" that it happened to a ton kinds just last year somewhere out there. 

Except it totally didn't. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Vomeo, Vomere, Vomitum

This one isn't particularly complicated, but it's pretty prolific. 

The idea is that the ancient Romans, with their great love of feats, would have a room set aside so that guests could go and vomit what they've eaten, so they could resume feasting with a freshly emptied stomach. This room was supposedly called a "vomitorium."

Except, no, they didn't. And while Romans did have vomitoriums, they didn't actually have anything to do with vomit

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fe Lady

The Iron Maiden. Usually this brings up one of two mental images for most people. One's a band.

That's not the one this post is talking about. 

This is about this one:

This is one you'll hear a lot. Medieval Torture Instrument # 1. The Iron Maiden. 

There's only one problem. It's not medieval. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Apple and Tree

Adam and Eve by Albrecht Dürer (1507)

This particular myth has been perpetuated in western art for centuries. That the narrative given in the Bible, the Qur'an, and the Torah says that the forbidden fruit was an apple. 

Do they say apple?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cleo Myths

Cleopatra is one of the most famous women in the historical record. Pretty much everyone recognizes her name, and is usually able to spout of some information they've heard about her. 

1) She was an Egyptian Queen.
2) She had two husbands/lovers -- Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony.
3) She was black.

Let's see... that's a quasi right, a nope, and a.... nope.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ages of Old

Georg von Rosen - Oden som vandringsman, 1886 (Odin, the Wanderer)

It seems to be a common belief that the current generation of people below the age of 20(ish) will be the first generation to live a shorter lifespan than their parents. It's often paired with the belief that every generation BEFORE this generation has lived a slightly longer time than the one before them (with a few exceptions due to massive wars).

So much so that I've heard people say that people died of old age in Ancient Egypt while in their mid-20s. And that you were "ancient" if you made it to 30. Now, obviously this can't be true for all of human history, or else people would have been dying of "old age" while they were still infants. [*]

But how much younger was "old age" back in "the day"?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Columbus is probably another one of those "American Continent  history people that get a lot less attention in Europe. Since "Columbus Day" was just yesterday in the US, I figured we'd tackle some Columbus myths. I'll admit that Columbus is a bit of a sore subject for me, (I don't think you'll find many people with even a fraction of a percentage of Amerindian decent singing his praises), so I'm not going to go on about what he actually did once he got here, these are just going to myths about his first trip.

1) He proved the earth was round, when everyone in his time thought it was flat.
2) His ships were named the "Nina," the "Pinta," and the "Santa Maria."
3) His trip was the only big thing to happen in 1492. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Medieval Food

When asked to list what foods people ate in the middle ages, most people think of huge feats of meat, bread, and copious amounts of alcohol. 

Something like this, really:

But when pressed for details, those details can get a little... odd. 

The most common "fact" to crop up was that people ate a lot of meat, but the meat was usually spoiled, but seasoned with a lot of spices so you couldn't taste it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wooden Washington

One of the more common things I hear when people start talking about myths and George Washington is that they know that Washington didn't actually chop down a cherry tree, and then they  go on to inform me that Washington did have wooden teeth -- occasionally with the elaboration that the teeth were made from cherry wood, and thus the origin of the tree chopping myth. 

So did George Washington have wooden teeth, cherry or otherwise?