WEB SITE TRIVIA
Normal 6 sided dice go back to the beginning of civilisation. The first ones seem to have appeared in the Ancient Indus Valley Civilisation [ also known as the Harappa Culture ]. Loaded dice seem to have been invented the next day.
20 sided dice, so beloved of Dungeons and Dragons Players, were invented in the 3rd Century AD in Egypt during its Roman Period. What they did with them is unknown. No numbers are marked on the various surfaces, instead they have a variety of strange symbols on them. My own personal and totally unsupported idea is that they could have been used in fortune telling [ its easier than looking at chickens intestines and much less messy].
Knitting seems to have first appeared in Egypt somewhere in the 10 century. They however used cotton. Woollen knitting would not appear until well into the Medieval Period. A similar looking process [similar in regards to the look of the final product] called nalbinding appeared much earlier. It uses a single needle and is rather slow and tedious. In the Medieval Period knitting was very much a mans job.
3) BOARD GAMES
The oldest surviving board game seems to be Backgammon dating back to the third millennium BC. The rules have changed considerably but the layout is similar. Interestingly an old version of the game survived in Georgia [the Georgia south of Russia not the american one] called Nard. Chess only dates to the Sixth Century AD [appearing first in India]
In the Medieval Period there was a curious Seven Sided version of Backgammon played with seven sided dice.
The chinese possessed many board games that date back thousands of years and are still played. Chinese checkers is not one of them. It was invented about 150 years ago in Germany [the chinese bit was a marketing ploy].
Heels came in during the Medieval period and were mainly to prevent your foot slipping through the stirrup [the thing you put your foot into when you ride a horse]. The Mongols seem to have come up with the idea [we think].
5) LAST LONGBOW
The last use of a longbow in battle was in 1939 [ yes that's World War 2 ] when a British Commando named Jack Churchill shot a German Sergeant with one during a raid. It should be noted that Jack Churchill also liked to carry a broadsword and bagpipes into battle. Surprisingly he survived the War.
Is made from lye [sodium hydroxide] and either animal fat [cattle or sheep] and vegetable oils [olive oil most common]. Lye is made from leaching wood ash [use hard wood and soft water]. Poor people use animal fat based soap while richer people used vegetable based. Note to vegetarians soap still is made this way [though with the usual array of dubious modern additives]. The first mention of soap is around 2800 BC in Babylon [Iraq], though like most middle eastern soaps they used sesame seed oil.
Medieval soap was mainly used for washing clothes not people. Stories about how grotty filthy and dirty people were back then are largely true. Clothes [mainly under clothes] were washed far more often than the people who wore them.
7) MYTHIC MYTHS
a) The Pied Piper of Hamelin was real but he bought the kids [orphans] from the town in a legitimate business deal. There is no mention of a pipe.
b) Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves was quite possibly written by a french guy in the 1700's and added to the 1001 Nights.
c) The legend of William Tell seems to have started in Denmark but don't tell the Swiss.
d) Dick Whittington was Lord Mayor of London, no one knows where the cat came from.
e) Cinderella wore white slippers not glass slippers. The two words in french are easy to confuse and were.
8) REALLY WEIRD IDEAS
Many migratory birds breed in areas that were unknown to Medieval Europeans. This caused some confusion. One legend stated that Barnacle Geese started life as large black and white shellfish which would hatch at the appropriate time and the young Geese would simply fly off.
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