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it happened one night
The death of the great Arab scholar, al-Jahiz (d. 868 or 869 CE)

His exact cause of death is not clear, but a popular story is that an accident, where the books piling up his private library, toppled over and crushed him, caused his death. He died at the age of 93.

Here is my friend's cat, reenacting al-Jahiz's last moment:
15th-Oct-2007 10:48 pm - Mata Hari
it happened one night

On this day in 1917, dancer/spy Mata Hari was executed by a 12-man firing squad in Paris, France for espionage (relaying information/secrets to the Germans).

She first came to Paris in 1905 and found fame as a performer of exotic Asian-inspired dances. She soon began touring all over Europe, telling the story of how she was born in a sacred Indian temple and taught ancient dances by a priestess who gave her the name Mata Hari, meaning "eye of the day" in Malay. In reality, Mata Hari was born in a small town in northern Holland in 1876, and her real name was Margaretha Geertruida Zelle. She acquired her superficial knowledge of Indian and Javanese dances when she lived for several years in Malaysia with her former husband, who was a Scot in the Dutch colonial army. Regardless of her authenticity, she packed dance halls and opera houses from Russia to France, mostly because her show consisted of her slowly stripping nude.

She became a famous courtesan, and with the outbreak of World War I her catalog of lovers began to include high-ranking military officers of various nationalities. In February 1917, French authorities arrested her for espionage and imprisoned her at St. Lazare Prison in Paris. In a military trial conducted in July, she was accused of revealing details of the Allies' new weapon, the tank, resulting in the deaths of thousands of soldiers. She was convicted and sentenced to death, and on October 15 she refused a blindfold and was shot to death by a firing squad at Vincennes.

There is some evidence that Mata Hari acted as a German spy, and for a time as a double agent for the French, but the Germans had written her off as an ineffective agent whose pillow talk had produced little intelligence of value. Her military trial was riddled with bias and circumstantial evidence, and it is probable that French authorities trumped her up as "the greatest woman spy of the century" as a distraction for the huge losses the French army was suffering on the western front. Her only real crimes may have been an elaborate stage fallacy and a weakness for men in uniform.

2nd-Oct-2007 01:00 am - TITULUS CRUCIS
 In 1492, a dramatic discovery was made in the course of repairs to a mosaic in Church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (Rome): a brick inscribed with the words TITULUS CRUCIS (Title of the Cross). Sealed behind the brick was a fragment of an inscription in wood, with the word «Nazarene» written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin

. . . . . . . . . . הנצ . . . . .
 . . . . . . . B SUNERAZAN SI
. . . . . 

ישו] הנצ[רי מלק היהודים]

This Title is mentioned in all four Gospels accounts:
Pilate also wrote a title (joltit-John 19:19) and put it on the cross; it read, «Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews». Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Christ was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek (John 19:19-20; also Matthew 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38).   
Visoki Dečani Monastery, the first cultural monument on the territory of Kosovo Province, is situated in the western part of the UN administered Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohia. It was built between 1327 and 1335 by the Serbian medieval king St. Stephen of Decani and was dedicated to the Ascension of the Lord. The construction activities were continued by his son Stefan Dusan until 1335, but the wall-painting was not completed until 1350.
On the eastern wall of church porch it was preserved the fresco with the image of "Vine or genealogical tree of Nemanichies", which based on the iconography of the "Tree of Jesse". "Vine or genealogical Tree of Nemanichies" for the first time appears in Grachanitse (1321), where the generation of Nemanichies is represented in the form of the genealogical tree, in branches of which are placed the portraits. Benefactor (ktitor) of cathedral is depicted in the apex of the basic stem of tree in complete emperor ornate. Those departing of that depicted above the segment of sky angels entrust to it obtained from Christ itself insignii of emperor authority. Analogous fresco (1356-57) with the genealogical Tree of Nemanichies is located in the monastery of the Holiest Virgin in Mateich (Kumanovo). Here only among the ancestors Nemanichies there are represented the members of the Byzantine Comnen’s dynasty and Bulgarian Asen’s dynasty. The idea of the united reign of three Orthodox peoples - Serbians, Greeks and Bulgarians - inspired many medieval masters.


King Rodoslav. Fresco "Vine or genealogical Tree of Nemanichies" (until 1350). Visoki Dečani Monastery. Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohia.
12th-Aug-2007 06:46 pm - on this day in history...
it happened one night
30 BC - Cleopatra commits suicide after her defeat and Mark Antony's defeat at the battle of Actium.

29th-Jul-2007 09:46 pm - something i should be doing right now
it happened one night

Historically, homework was frowned upon in American culture. With few students interested in higher education, and due to the necessity to complete daily chores, homework was discouraged not only by parents, but also by the legislature. In 1901, Congress passed an act that effectively abolished homework for those who attended kindergarten through the eighth grade. But, in the 1950s, with increasing pressure on the United States to stay ahead in the Cold War, homework made a resurgence, and children were encouraged to keep up with their Russian counterparts. By the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, the consensus in American education was overwhelmingly in favor of issuing homework to students of all grade levels.


28th-Jul-2007 11:44 pm - The symbolism of peacock
Peacock (pavum, ταώς).
The symbolism of peacock

19th-Jul-2007 07:37 pm - POWs for the win!
it happened one night
The Chinese invented paper in 105 AD, but it wasn't until after the Battle of Talas (conflict in 751 AD between the Arab Abbasid Caliphate and Chinese Tang Dynasty) when knowledgeable Chinese POWs were ordered to produce paper in Samarkand. By the year 794 AD, there was a paper mill in Baghdad and the technology of paper-making was soon transmitted to the West.

17th-Jul-2007 10:15 pm - The Pact of 'Umar, 7th century
it happened one night

The Status of Non-Muslims Under Muslim Rule

After the rapid expansion of the Muslim dominion in the 7th century, Muslims leaders were required to work out a way of dealing with Non-Muslims, who remained in the majority in many areas for centuries. The solution was to develop the notion of the "dhimma", or "protected person". The Dhimmi were required to pay an extra tax, but usually they were unmolested. This compares well with the treatment meted out to non-Christians in Christian Europe. The Pact of Umar is supposed to have been the peace accord offered by the Caliph Umar to the Christians of Syria, a "pact" which formed the patter of later interaction.

We heard from 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Ghanam [died 78/697] as follows: When Umar ibn al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, accorded a peace to the Christians of Syria, we wrote to him as follows:

In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate. This is a letter to the servant of God Umar [ibn al-Khattab], Commander of the Faithful, from the Christians of such-and-such a city. When you came against us, we asked you for safe-conduct (aman) for ourselves, our descendants, our property, and the people of our community, and we undertook the following obligations toward you:

We shall not build, in our cities or in their neighborhood, new monasteries, Churches, convents, or monks' cells, nor shall we repair, by day or by night, such of them as fall in ruins or are situated in the quarters of the Muslims.

We shall keep our gates wide open for passersby and travelers. We shall give board and lodging to all Muslims who pass our way for three days.

from Al-Turtushi, Siraj al-Muluk, pp. 229-230.

[This was a from hand out at an Islamic History Class at the University of Edinburgh in 1979. Source of translation not given.]

Taken from here
17th-Jul-2007 10:10 pm - The zunnar/الزنار
abu nuwas
The zunnar was a girdle or sash worn by Christians and Jews to distinguish themselves from Muslims according to a dress code established in the seventh century in the so-called "Pact of 'Umar"

from Abu Nuwas, A Genius of Poetry (from the Makers of the Muslim World series), by Philip F Kennedy
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