Sati is an Indian funerary practice in which a widow immolates herself on her husband’s funeral pyre. Though its stated purpose is to purge the sins of the couple and ensure their reunion in the afterlife, the practice has been encouraged by the low status of widowhood. Practiced since the 4th century BCE, sati became widespread in India in the 17th and 18th centuries, and not all instances were voluntary. Today, it occurs rarely, and mostly in remote areas. When was the practice outlawed?
Continue reading “Sati”
In the late 1800s, fears of being mistakenly assumed dead and accidentally buried alive led to the invention of “safety coffins.” To avoid such a fate, US President George Washington requested on his deathbed that his burial be delayed to ensure that he had truly died. Premature burial can also be intentional. Saint Oran was buried alive as a human sacrifice in Scotland in the 6th century. Later, he was dug up and found to be alive, but he was supposedly hurriedly reburied after saying what? Discuss
Continue reading “Premature Burial”
Established in 57 BCE, the ancient Korean kingdom of Silla lasted for more than a millennium. The nearly impenetrable royal Sillan tombs—located near the modern South Korean city of Gyeongju—have yielded lavish treasures. Among them are a number of fragile, solid gold crowns, crafted with an intricate tree branch motif. Because they are so delicate, they were probably used only for formal occasions or burials. Why did the Sillan practice of opulent burials end by the end of the 6th century?
Continue reading “Crowns of Silla”
Probably the son of a Christian martyr, Origen studied philosophy in Alexandria and became a prolific writer and famed teacher. A stern ascetic, he castrated himself out of a desire for purity. He held that even Satan was not beyond repentance and salvation, a view for which he was condemned. Although attacked as a heretic, Origen remained an influential thinker throughout late antiquity and the Middle Ages. He died around the year 250, shortly after having survived what? Discuss
Continue reading “Origen”
Red River ox carts were a vital form of transportation during the 19th-century westward expansion in the US and Canada. They carried fur to trading posts in places like St. Paul, Minnesota, and then carried supplies back to settlements along the Red River of the North, which now forms the Minnesota–North Dakota border. Built entirely of wood and animal hide—and no metal—the carts typically had two wheels, which were notorious for their constant creaking. Why couldn’t their axles be greased? Discuss
Continue reading “Red River Ox Carts”