The image of the great conqueror as a bloodthirsty warlord is an unfair one, here’s why

14th century portrait of Genghis Khan, comissioned by his grandson Kublai, National Museum Taipei,Taiwan. Image source and licensing : Wikimedia Commons.

I had a distorted view of Genghis Khan (pronounced Chinggis Khan) till my early twenties. Many believe he was a brutal conqueror who razed cities and wiped out civilizations. I shared their views.

Then I came across an intriguing opinion on Genghis by Geoffrey Chaucer, the father of English literature, in his most famous work, the Canterbury Tales.

Why did Geoffrey Chaucer praise Genghis Khan, although he…


A princess with a tattoo of a griffin like creature buried with a cosmetic bag and six horses

Reconstruction of the Siberian Ice Maiden. Image Source and Credits: Marcel Nyffenegger/ The Siberian Times.

In 1993, Russian archaeologists discovered an intriguing find in the Ukok plateau near the Russia-China border. They had got information about a grave robbery. Digging at the grave site they stumbled upon a giant block of ice.

The team, led by Dr Natalya Polosmak of Novosibirsk’s Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, began melting the block.

They found the mummified body of a 25-year-old princess known as the Siberian Ice Maiden. Polosmak and her staff found the princess had tattoos!

Her well-preserved body revealed an ancient culture’s rituals. …


The Antonine Plague with a mortality rate of 25% had devastating consequences for Rome

Angel of death striking a door during the plague of Rome in 165 CE, by Lavasseur. Image source and licensing: Wikimedia Commons.

In the year 165 CE, returning Roman soldiers from a campaign in Parthia (modern-day Iraq) began complaining of fever, swollen throat, diarrhea, vomiting, and coughing.

Sounds familiar?

They were the symptoms of an ancient pandemic known as “plague” at the time. The said illness, dubbed as the Antonine plague or Galen’s plague, changed the course of Roman history.

During the outbreak of this disease, the Roman Empire was at its peak of military and economic power. The pandemic triggered a chain of events that may have contributed to the Roman Empire’s downfall. When we think of the reasons behind the…


No, people did not believe the Earth was flat

God the Geometer(13th century Illumination: Medieval scholars explored the harmony between creation of the universe by God and its geometric measurements. Image source and licensing: Wikimedia Commons.

In 2012, Barack Obama likened climate change deniers to the Flat Earth Society when speaking to a crowd at Prince George’s Community College in Maryland.

Obama says in his speech:

“We’ve heard this kind of thinking before. Let me tell you something. If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail — they must have been founding members of the Flat Earth Society.They would not have believed that the world was round.”

While the comparison appears to be sound, what he said was historically incorrect. …


No, Nero did not play the fiddle while Rome burned

“Sack of Rome by the Visigoths ,410” by Joseph-Noël Sylvestre , 1890. Image source and licensing: Wikimedia Commons

A few days ago, a friend of mine called to complain about a business presentation that didn’t go as planned. He mentioned that one of the new hires made a vital mistake during the presentation, but his team leader didn’t intervene.

My friend said: “The team leader just sat during the presentation doing nothing. Kept checking his phone. Like Nero, he played the fiddle when Rome burnt. I may lose this deal.”

“I’m sorry to be a nitpicker,” I said, “But Nero didn’t play the fiddle when Rome burned. …


A rare case of natural mummification without any chemicals

Gue monastery at Gue village where the mummy was discovered. Photo by Smiti Murarka on Unsplash

In 1975, an earthquake jolted Spiti Valley, India, in the Himalayan foothills. To clear the area, the Indian government dispatched two soldiers from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, an Indian paramilitary force. One soldier made an unexpected discovery while digging.

It was a mummy of a man sitting in a crouched position, his teeth still intact. The remains appeared to be old and well preserved. A scroll was nearby, but it disintegrated as soon as they held it. The soldiers were confused and alerted the authorities.

This discovery caught the attention of scientists. They contacted the local monastery in Gue village


Mongols introduced pathbreaking measures to spread scientific knowledge and make international trade easier

Marco Polo traveling to Kublai Khan’s court, Catalan Atlas. Image source and licensing: Wikimedia Commons.

We perceive Mongols as bloodthirsty conquerors who laid waste to civilizations across Eurasia. Rising from the humble grasslands of Mongolia, the nomadic Mongols forged the world’s largest contiguous empire.

When the dust settled, the Mongols realized it was international trade, transferring knowledge, and encouraging a world free of religious strife that helped them conquer minds, not brute force. This resulted in the Pax Mongolica, a century of peace in Eurasia from mid 13th to mid-14th century. As you might expect, we base the term on Pax Romana, or Roman peace during Rome’s peak power.

Pax Mongolica sowed the seeds of…


Archaeologists believe the golden tongue helped the dead to communicate in the afterlife.

Photo by Robert Thiemann on Unsplash

Archaeologists in Egypt discovered two mummies with golden tongues in February of this year. You can check their original images in the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities’ Facebook post.

Wait, did I read that right?

“Golden Tongues!”

This find sparked my curiosity. What is the significance of golden tongues? This was not the first time mummies with golden tongues were unearthed. Archaeologists have previously discovered them in mummies, according to Jennifer Houser Wegner, curator of the Penn Museum in Philadelphia, which houses such mummies.

But this was a one-of-a-kind find. …


No, you are not going to be a better writer by writing everyday

Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably attempted the most popular writing tips, but they didn’t exactly work out. You wrote every day and completed the 30-day writing challenge of writing at least one piece per day. You polished your headlines and researched the most popular topics to write on.

And then….. crickets!

The views were not as good as you had hoped. People did not take the time to read the article.

After all the work, it’s a letdown.

But why is that? What went wrong, and where did it go wrong? The problem wasn’t with the advice; it was…


The story of Yasuke, who rose through the ranks to become Japan’s first foreign-born Samurai

Artistic depiction of Yasuke, Japan’s first African Samurai. Image source and licensing : Wikimedia Commons

Black Samurai, a live-action film starring Chadwick Boseman, was announced in early 2017. His untimely death in August 2020 has caused a delay in the project, but the fascination with an African Samurai remains. Yasuke, an anime based on the same person, was recently released on Netflix. In Japan, there are many mangas, video games, anime, and documentaries about Yasuke, Japan’s African Samurai.

But who is Yasuke and why is he such a cultural icon?

Behind the Hollywood movies, mangas, and anime is the inspiring true story of an African slave who became a Samurai warrior.

Yasuke arrived in Japan…

Prateek Dasgupta, MS

Renaissance man who is interested in History, Science and the History of Science. Former engineer, part-time writer, and full time tea connoisseur.

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