Surprising Facts About the Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Empire, located in modern-day Turkey, was quite an interesting civilization with a unique culture—they called themselves Romans but spoke Greek. And thanks to all their surviving artwork, literature and architecture, we have a pretty clear picture of what life back then must have been like back then. There’s so much to cover but for now, here are five surprising facts about the Byzantine Empire that will blow your mind.

1. They Created Greek Fire

Greek fire sounds like something straight out of Game of Thrones, but it couldn’t have been more real. What made this fire so uniquely dangerous was the fact that it burned over water, making it even more difficult to put out. The birthplace of Greek fire where it played a huge role in battles up until the 15th century when it strangely disappeared from history. It was described as a sticky and mysterious and alchemical kind of napalm that was most likely made with petroleum, sulfur, quicklime and naphtha.

2. Chariot Racing Was Huge

Americans love their football but perhaps not as much as the Byzantine loved chariot racing. It was sort of like the ancient version of NASCAR racing, but powered by horses instead of engines. Fans and competitors alike were drawn to the ring in large numbers but for different reasons—the latter often did it to earn their freedom and for the prize money of up to 15 bags of gold. And like any sport, overly passionate fans often broke into fights, like that one 3,000 fans were wiped out by overzealous enthusiasts of an opposing team.

3. They Created Their Own Silk Industry

Up until the 6th century, anyone in search of silk would have to travel through Persia to China to get some. But the silk industry had its difficulties that often arose when Persia “The Silk Road” during war. Many buyers found this inconsistency to be frustrating, especially Emperor Justinian who resolved to fix this issue once and for all. Under his command, he sent two monks to China to snatch some silkworms, then smuggled them back to the capital in their canes. It may have taken them two long years but that didn’t matter, as the Byzantine silk industry immediately took off, putting a huge dent in China and Persia’s stronghold on the silk industry.

4. Constantinople Fell to a Massive Canno

At the heart of the Byzantine Empire stood its capital, Constantinople, which was surrounded by walls that stood strong for approximately 1,100 years. During that time they were attacked a total of 23 times, but no one managed to break through their defenses. That is until the Ottoman Empire commissioned a 27-foot-long cannon which had to be dragged by 200 men and 60 oxen some 140 miles to Constantinople. The long and tedious journey was well worth it as the ginormous cannon managed to do what no one else did—blast through the previously unconquerable city.

5. The First New England Was There

Nowadays, when someone mentions New England, they’re often referring to the northeastern region in the United States, such as Massachusetts. But it should be mentioned that the first New England came way before the one we’re familiar with, specifically in the year 1075 when a group of English immigrants settled in the Byzantine Empire. Their numbers totalled around 4,000 and they called their new home “Nova Anglia” meaning “New England.” These people moved there shortly after the Norman conquest of 1066, so they were most likely refugees of war.

The Most Amazing Double Agents in History

In a world that is fueled by success, competition and the idea of survival of the fittest, the role of double agents is never redundant. Double agents are known for bringing to the table their skills as intelligence operative; spies who pose as working for another agency while actually serving the organization they claim to be spying on. Clever strategy, huh? Hero and traitor all in the same sentence. Though this job is dangerous, double agents have been in existence for centuries. Here are some double agents of the past who definitely stand out.

1. Kim Philby

Kim Philby served as a British intelligence officer and a double agent for the Soviet Union. In 1934, he was recruited by Soviet intelligence. He worked for the United Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Service, was the first secretary to the British Embassy in Washington and a chief British liaison with American Intelligence agencies. Philby was identified in 1963 as a member of the Cambridge Five, the group of spies who leaked British secrets to the Soviet Union during World War II in the early Cold War. Of the five, Philly is said to have had the greatest success to give the Soviets access to top-secret information.

2. Aldrich Ames

Aldrich Hazen Ames is a former CIA officer who became a KGB double agent. On February 21, 1994, Ames was arrested by the FBI on espionage charges. Ames was a thirty-one-year CIA veteran who had been spying for the Russians from 1985. He was suspected of compromising many CIA assets. He gave the Russians access to sensitive information regarding CIA and FBI human sources and technological operations aimed at the Soviet Union, through which he made millions. Ames is currently serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole.

3. Oleg Penkovsky

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Oleg Penkovsky served as a colonel in the Soviet military intelligence (GRU). His actions significantly changed the course of history. Penkovsky revealed Soviet military secrets to the United States in the United Kingdom. Before and during the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962, the United States found great value in the information Penkovsky gave regarding the Soviet Union’s very limited capability in long-range missiles. On October 22, 1962, Penkovsky was arrested by the Soviets and was tried for treason.

4. James Rivington

James Rivington was an American journalist and the publisher of a “loyalist” newspaper known as Rivington’s Gazette. Later, he was the King’s Printer for New York. Rivington became a member of Culpher’s Spy Ring and worked closely with Robert Townsend a.k.a. Samuel Culpher Jr. He provided key information to General George Washington. However, after New York was evacuated and Rivington remained, he was no longer trusted by New Yorkers. By then people stopped supporting his business and it failed.

5. Robert Hansen

Robert Philip Hansen is a former FBI double agent from the United States. He worked against the United States from 1979 to 2001 as a spy for Soviet and Russian intelligence services. After joining the FBI, Hansen offered his services to the Soviet Main Intelligence Directorate and subsequently began his work as a spy. He remained anonymous to the Russians. Numerous classified documents detailing American nuclear war plans, advancements in military weaponry and facets of the country’s counter intelligence program were sold by Hansen to the KGB. The identities of the KGB spies working for the U.S were compromised. The Department of Justice referred to his spying as perhaps the worst intelligence disaster in U.S history.

Forgotten Accomplishments of President Lincoln

Without a doubt, Abraham Lincoln is one of America’s most cherished presidents whose achievements marked some of the greatest turning points in the nation’s history. Everyone knows of his role in the Civil War which led to the signing of the 13th Amendment. But did you know that he was the first to make Thanksgiving a national holiday? Or that he approved of the shift from gold to printed money? Well, all this and more is true, as you’ll find out in this list below.

1. The Yosemite Grant Led to the Creation of National Parks in the United States

On June 30, 1864, President Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act, originally called the Senate Bill 203, which granted federal lands over to California including the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Tree Gove. As stated in the act, these lands were to be held for public use, resort, recreation and leasing to other entities, to name a few. It also paved the way for President Ulysses S. Grant’s signed legislation which made Yellowstone as the first National Park, and the subsequent state and national parks that came after.

2. Thanksgiving as a Federal Holiday

Most people associate Thanksgiving with Black Friday sales, football games and hearty meals, not “Honest Abe.” But they should, as he was the one who made it a federal holiday in the first place. In October 1863, Lincoln made a proclamation which declared that the last Thursday in November to be a national holiday, as “a day of thanksgiving and praise.” The idea quickly took hold, and by the 1930s, Thanksgiving was already associated with the beginning of the holiday season and shopping sprees.

3. The Legal Tender Act of 1862

It was Abraham Lincoln who helped the American government transition from gold and silver reserves to printed paper money. Initially called “greenbacks” due to the color of ink on the reverse side of the notes, they were deemed as “legal tender in payment of all debts, public and private.” Naturally, many people were wary of this shift, especially so-called financial experts and bankers who expected it to fail furiously. But they were all proven wrong as federal bank notes quickly became the standard currency in America, with $500 million greenbacks being printed during Lincoln’s presidency.

4. The Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862

Abraham Lincoln was not the first to pass the Morrill Land-Grant Act. It was first legislated in Congress in 1859, though President James Buchanan completely rejected the idea. But three years later, Lincoln breathed new life into the act by signing it into law on July 2, 1862. With this, 30,000 acres of federal territory was assigned to a state for every representative that state had in Congress, as well as its two Senators. Many states took advantage of this act, and used the lands to build educational institutions, such as the Iowa State University and Cornell University.

5. The Revenue Act of 1862

The Revenue Act of 1862 was preceded by the failed attempt just one year prior. This act was meant to be a source of revenue for the federal government, but poor planning and coordination prevented it from taking off smoothly. The revised act tackled the issues associated with the first one, including replacing the previous 3% tax on incomes over $800, with a more progressive tax system and a lowered threshold of $600. They also hired three detectives who pursued tax evaders. And this was pretty much the beginning of the much loved branch of the federal government, the Internal Revenue Service.

Gifts Given Between Countries

Be it due to friendship, gratitude or celebration, the exchanging of gifts is a really old tradition that has been around for thousands of years. Many times, a country will often go to great lengths to strengthen their ties with another, usually for diplomatic reasons. And in this article, we’ve selected five remarkable items that nations have given away as a gift. 

1. France Gave the United States the Statue of Liberty 

Despite being a symbol of the United States, Lady Liberty is actually French, given the fact that she was constructed in Paris. So how did she make her way to America? It all began in 1865, when Edouard Rene de Laboulaye, a French law professor and politician, suggested that the statue be given to the United States as a gift. The statue was built in France then shipped in over 300 crates aboard the frigate Isère, just in time for the 1876 Centennial Exposition, a celebration of the Declaration of Independence’s 100th anniversary.

2. Since World War II Ended, the People of Netherlands Have Given Canada 20,000 Tulip Bulbs Every Year

Every year, since 1945, the Dutch royal family and its citizens have sent an estimated over 20,000 tulip bulbs to Canada as a sign of gratitude and friendship. The Canadians in turn graciously accept the gesture, and plant the flowers in beds all over Ottawa. This is because the Dutch were deeply grateful for the warmth and generosity that the Canadians showed them when they fled their home country following the German invasion during WWII. Their Princess Juliana temporarily made Canada her home too, and even had her third child there.

3. China Paid for and Built Costa Rica’s Estadio Nacional, a Soccer and Multi-use Stadium 

Although Costa Rica’s Estado Nacional is considered as a gift from the Chinese, many view it as nothing more than a pricey business deal. Sure, China paid $100 million for the state of the art football facility and had their workers build it too, but that was because of the many things they got in exchange including Costa Rica severing their diplomatic ties with Taiwan, Chinese workers being exempted from all Costa Rican labor laws, and a free trade agreement.

4. President Nixon Presented the Soviet Union with a Custom-Made Porcelain Chess Set 

So it turns out that the Soviet Union and its now independent republic are huge fans of chess. That’s what inspired Richard Nixon to commission a custom chess set as a gift from the people of the United States, and present it to Soviet Premier Brezhnev. It was truly one of a kind, with a measured height of 7 inches and a width of three feet by three feet. Also, what made it unique was the fact that it was based on 14th century tapestries “The Nine Heroes” and characters from Arthurian legends.

5. Great Britain Gave the Soviet Union the Sword of Stalingrad, Inscribed by King George VI

To commemorate their victory over the Germans in the Battle of Stalingrad, Prime Minister Winston Churchill suggested that the British prepare a gift for the Soviet Union. They settled on what was dubbed the “Sword of Stalingrad,” made from the finest Sheffield steel with the words “To the steel-hearted citizen of Stalingrad – the Gift of King George VI – in token of homage of the British people,” inscribed on each side. Churchill personally delivered the gift himself to Soviet Premier Stalin at the 1943 Tehran Conference.


How Things Worked Before Life-Changing Inventions

Modern humans, especially in western countries, live a life of relative ease, despite always finding petty things to complain about. We live much longer than we ever did before thanks to all those amazing discoveries and technological advancements. But what about days gone by when people had to do everything themselves? Well in the article, you’re going to find out about just exactly how things worked before those life-changing inventions came to be!

1. Before Crash Test Dummies, Living Volunteers Were Used

In the 1930s, prior to the crash test dummy, corpses were the go-to test subjects in order to analyze the impact of a crash on the human. Although this was helpful, it still wasn’t enough. That’s when, between 1960 and 1975, researchers like Lawrence Patrick, a biomechanics professor who, along with his students, volunteered for all sorts of tests including 400 rides on a rocket sled and crushing blows to the head and body. It was totally worth it because one of his students, Harold Mertz, went on to develop Hybrid III, the current standard crash test dummy.

2. Before Modern Erasers People Used Bread Crumbs

Rubber erasers came into existence in 1858. And before that? Well, bread crumbs were the go-to option for clearing out your mistakes. Sounds weird at first, but it really isn’t. This is because erasers work by sticking to the graphite marks on the paper, then grind them away as you rub against it. And this principle is pretty much the same with a lot of other substances, including breadcrumbs. So from about 1612 and 1770, whenever someone made a mistake, they’d just reach over for some leftover bread!

3. Before the Heart Lung Machine, Cross Circulation Connected Two Living Patients Together

The heart-lung machine, a key component in undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass, was developed during the 1950s. It basically takes over the function of the heart and lungs while the patient is undergoing surgery on these organs. But before that was a thing, doctors came up with the ingenious idea of connecting two living patients together. This is known as cross-circulation and in 1954, a father and son were put under anesthesia and had their veins and lungs connected while the latter underwent surgery to repair his heart.

4. Before Insulin, Diabetics Had to Live on Dangerous Low Carb Diets

Most diabetics today live a fairly long healthy life thanks to Frederick Banting’s discovery of insulin in 1921. Before, they were only given a life expectancy of only three to four years from diagnosis, and it was a pretty rough time for them. The only treatment was a strict diet that was completely void of carbohydrates. This sometimes worked for type II diabetics. But that wasn’t the case for type I’s whose body is unable to produce insulin. Some only consumed a mere 450 calories a day, which, unsurprisingly, led to starvation and death.

5. Before Radar, War Tubas Helped Detect Enemy Aircraft

The invention of radar was one that took war to a whole new height, making it much easier for soldiers to detect incoming enemies before it was too late. But it only came to be in 1935 and the closest thing to a radar before this was the war tubas which was devised by the Japanese. Like the name indicates, the war tuba was a giant horn that pointed upward at the sky so that the wide-opened mouth end would catch the sound of an approaching aircraft. Seemed like a great idea, though there really isn’t much evidence that it worked.


Unbelievable Things That Shut Down the Stock Exchange

The stock exchange is a key aspect of finance which offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to raise large amounts of capital and revolutionize the world. Five days a week, stockbrokers and traders buy and sell stocks and bonds. This economic activity seems complex to many and has become even more fascinating with the introduction of cryptocurrency. Although it is said that the market never sleeps, there have been incidents that have surely shut it down. Here are five things that have led to such an outcome.

1. COVID-19 Pandemic 

From March 2020, the world plummeted into a time of uncertainty, turmoil and great distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shut down in March 2020; something that no one anticipated. It temporarily closed and was forced to resort fully to electronic trading. This was the same for other stock markets. After being shut down for a little over two months, the NYSE reopened in May 2020. This unprecedented event saw a drop in economic output and crashed the stock exchange. Who would have ever imagined that a virus could shut down the stock exchange?

2. Solar Storms

On August 16, 1989, a solar flare shut down the Toronto Stock Exchange. Scientists attribute the events to an extraordinary surge of solar activity. Trading was halted for three hours because three disc drives crashed in quick succession on a computer system that was intended to be “fault-tolerant.” This came as a great shock to officials. A few months prior, the sun’s unusual activity was noted. This period was characterized by solar flares, charged particle discharges and magnetic storms on earth which caused many personal computers around Toronto to malfunction.

3. Squirrels

Squirrels seem to be raging a silent waging war on the US stock exchange. The tiny rodents were the culprits in the shutdown of the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations Service (NASDAQ) for eighty-two minutes on December 9, 1987. Officials explained that a squirrel with a sense of adventure started the power outage in Trumbull, Connecticut. It was estimated that the power outage prevented the trading of a little more than twenty million shares. When the power was restored, the power surge rendered Nasdaq mainframe computers inoperable and significantly affected the complex’s electrical infrastructure, leaving backup generators useless.

4. A Loud Noise

In 2018, a North European stock market was brought to its knees when the computers were affected by a loud noise. The fire prevention system made the noise when it was activated. Data centers frequently use devices that release inert gas to displace oxygen and extinguish fires instead of spring water which can damage delicate equipment. The gas leak was loud and the high decibel whistle took down Nasdaq servers at Digiplex data center in Stockholm. This incident halted trading in seven countries which lasted for several hours.

5. Groucho Marx

Groucho Marx was an American comedian, actor, writer, singer and television star from 1905 to 1976. He was one of Hollywood’s big stars. In 1950, he was invited to the New York Stock Exchange to have a tour of the facility. Marx, the superb showman, took over the public announcement system and started singing “Lydia the Tattooed Lady” for the traders who were present. He expressed that they owed him at least one song because he had lost all his money in 1929 when the stock market crashed. He closed the market for fifteen minutes as he had caught the interest of all the traders who gave him their undivided attention.

The Worst Airports in the World

For most of us, the thought of going on a vacation brings a smile to our faces. But to get to that destination and experience all that it has to offer, we often have to first face the airport. The hustle and bustle, long queues, several security checks, flight delays and trying not to get lost in the maze definitely do not make time spent at airports pleasant. While this is often the expectation, some airports are known for being the absolute worst. For some, horrible is an understatement. Let’s look at five of these airports.

1. Kuwait International Airport

Kuwait International Airport is located in Farwaniya Governorate, Kuwait and is a hub for Kuwait Airways and Jazeera Airways. It is the home of the headquarters of the Kuwait Air Force. Serving millions of people yearly, you would think this airport is a good one. Well, Kuwait International Airport ranked on the list of world’s worst airports by AirHelp for many years, often securing the second spot. Travelers provide negative reviews such as flight departures are tardy, customer service is poor and the security wait times are unusually long. There have also been complaints about the horrible stench at the airport.

2. Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt Airport in Germany is nothing short of frustrating to say the least. The airport design is one that travelers constantly complain about. A confusing network of escalators, elevators, staircases and tunnels connect to the airport and direct passengers past ticketing, security, customs and boarding via what seems like random detours. It is a long distance from the gate to the terminal. The airport building is a fair distance from where planes land and shuttle rides to the terminals can take up to thirty minutes. Travelers often have to face long queues and poor service. There are very few restaurants so passengers should stock up on snacks before getting to this airport.

3. London Stansted Airport

Travelers arriving or departing at London Stansted Airport often expressed that wait times to get their bags after landing are excruciatingly long, as are the lines for security and check-ins. The airport is known for excessive noise and overcrowding with several unpleasant staff who seem overwhelmed. It’s one thing dealing with overcrowded terminals but it being filthy as well makes it even more unpleasant. There is also limited seating for such an airport that sees many travelers. The facilities are certainly not welcoming.

4. Lyon-Saint-Exupery Airport

The Lyon-Saint-Exupery Airport in France, is known for its impressive architecture and design. However, travelers continue to write reviews online expressing their dissatisfaction with Lyon-Saint-Exupery Airport. They claim that the staff is unfriendly and not helpful. They mention the lack of technology to allow a flawless check in process. This results in long lines and long wait times which are quite frustrating.

5. Jeddah King Abdulaziz Airport

This airport in Saudi Arabia serves millions of people yearly. Exasperated travelers continue to complain of Jeddah King Abdulaziz Airport being small, congested, and extremely noisy. The litany of issues there also include rude, arrogant and unhelpful staff, untidy washroom, slow processing and checking in and lack of decent food. Due to inadequate seating, travelers have to sit on the floor in the lounges. It is a challenge to pass through the airport because of the long winding lines at the check-in counters and the crowded luggage carts.


The Unbelievable Times Cats Saved Lives

Certainly we’ve heard the proverb that cats have nine lives to mean that our feline friends are lucky and frequently survive dangerous incidents. You would think that they happen to save their own lives but it may surprise you to know that cats have saved the lives of people. Yes we may see them as household pets that chase mice away but hero is not a title we ordinarily give to cats. Here are five incidents where cats saved lives.

1. Tara Saves a Young Boy

Tara, a tabby, was a stray cat who was taken in by Roger and Erica Triantello in 2008 after following them home. Tara grew particularly attached to the couple’s two sons. On 13th May, 2014, Tara risked her life to save Jeremy, the four-year-old son. Jeremy, who was playing on his bike in his yard, was attacked by the neighbor’s Labrador and Chow mix that escaped from its yard. Jeremy was dragged off his bike by his leg by the vicious dog. Tara leapt into action, launched her claws at the dog and attacked until the dog let go of Jeremy and fled. Tara chased after the dog before it returned to Jeremy. This incident was caught on a security camera and the video went viral.

2. Masha Helps an Abandoned Baby

Masha was a communal pet cat that was cared for by the people of an apartment complex in Obninsk, Russia. One frigid day in January 2015, the neighbor was alerted by Masha’s persistent cries. Irina Lavrova found the long-haired cat wrapped around a freezing baby boy and licking his face. It seemed that the baby was out in the cold for a few hours. Given the low temperatures recorded that day, the infant was saved from hyperthermia by the cat’s furry protection.

3. Fidge Detects Cancer

Cats are said to have an amazing sense of smell, over fifteen times more powerful than that of humans. British woman Wendy Humphreys believes that her kitten, Fidge, sensed her cancer and saved her life. A few weeks after Wendy and her husband adopted the kitten, Wendy claims that Fidge began to jump on the side of her chest whenever she sat. This unusual behavior continued for a couple of weeks, and Fidge’s frequent sorties had left Wendy feeling sore. Wendy went to see her doctor who found a malignant lump in Wendy’s right breast. This early detection saved her life.

4. Major Tom Saves Owner From Sinking

Grant MacDonald, an Australian and Major Tom, a black and white cat, resided on board the yacht Osprey. In September, 2015, a few miles off the Western Australian coast, the boat began to flood. MacDonald was fast asleep until Major Tom began to head-butt him repeatedly to wake him up and alert him of the danger. After realizing that there was nothing he could do, MacDonald grabbed his cat and abandoned the yard by getting on the life raft. The yacht sank.

5. Homer Stops An Intruder

Homer, a homeless black cat who lost his eyes due to a terrible eye infection was adopted by Gwen Cooper. One night, Cooper awoke to Homer on her bed growling loudly. This was unusual behavior for her cat. She then noticed that there was an intruder in the room. Before Cooper could take action, Homer launched his tiny body at the intruder, bit and scratched him mercilessly until the man fled. Gwen Cooper later penned “Homer’s Odyssey” which became a bestselling book as well as a follow up to tell the remarkable tale of her cat. 

Unbelievable Cases of Spontaneous Human Combustion Survival

Randomly bursting into flames? And from the inside out no less? Sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, doesn’t it? Though the hundreds of unrelated accounts say otherwise. Sadly, most victims don’t make it out alive, and sometimes all that’s left of them are nothing but their legs and arms. But those who did are living proof that humans suddenly being engulfed in flames is not a hoax, and they have the scars to prove it. 

1. Susan Motteshead

In the winter of 1980, a woman in Cheshire, England named Susan Motteshead was in her kitchen when she suddenly found herself engulfed in blue and yellow flames. While wearing fire-resistant pajamas no less! Luckily the fire was short-lived and Susan remained totally unscathed—not even her hair caught fire. The firefighters who responded to her call initially dismissed her claims of spontaneous combustion, only to realize that she was telling the truth when they tried to light up her fire-resistant pajamas by traditional means, but nothing worked. 

2. Jeanna Winchester

Susan Motteshead wasn’t the only one who became the Human Torch in 1980. On October 9, what was supposed to be a pleasant ride in Jackson, Florida unexpectedly turned into something straight out of a movie. Without any warning, Jenna Winchester was suddenly overtaken by yellow flames that burned nearly 20 percent of her body. Her friend Leslie Scott, who was driving, saved her friend by beating out the fire, but crashed the car into a pole. As for Winchester, she had no recollection of what happened between riding in the car and waking up at the hospital.

3. Frank Baker

Frank Baker is a well-decorated Vietnam War veteran who, one day, randomly found himself under literal fire. In June 1995, while chilling on the couch with his fishing buddy Pete Willey, Baker’s torso and forearm randomly went up in flames from the inside out. Wasting no time, the pair managed to extinguish the fire, and rushed Baker to the ER to get his burns treated. The on-duty doctor was stunned, claiming that it was unlike anything he’s ever seen. And what’s more surprising is that Baker claimed that he felt zero pain during the whole ordeal.

4. Charles Williamson’s Wife

In January 1932, the Williamson family was subjected to a series of bizarre combustions, beginning with the matriarch, Mrs. Williamson who alerted her husband and daughter of her demise. The pair managed to tear off her cotton dress just in time, and although she was unhurt, the strange occurrences followed the family over the next four days. First was the bed, then some curtains and even a pair of Charles’ pants, all set ablaze with smokeless and odorless, blue, jetlike flames. The family temporarily evacuated on the fourth day for authorities and experts to investigate their home, but returned on the fifth when things returned to normal.

5. The Man That Gampe-Saevrei Saved

This one is most likely the first recorded case of spontaneous combustion, going all the way back to the early 16th century in Rauland, Norway. While leaving church, a parson by the name of Gampe-Saevrei stumbled across a blacked-out drunkard on the ground with blue flames shooting out of his mouth. Being the honest and god-fearing man that he is, the parson did the most reasonable thing he could think of: he put out the flames with his own body fluids. The drunkard, and the nearby congregation, took offense to Gampe-Saevrei’s act and beat him with a candlestick from his altar.

Things Religions Have Copied from Each Other

At first glance, most religions appear to be completely separate from each other. But upon further inspection, this is hardly the case as many of them share similar themes and even their sacred figures. You’d be surprised to learn just how much religions have copied from each other, be it due to violent raids and crusades, or just naturally interacting with different cultures. There is so much to discuss, but here are the top five ones.

1. Moors Bring Greek Philosophy

For nearly 535 years, the Moors ruled over Sicily, Malta and the Iberian Peninsula, raiding Christian churches and restricting public displays of anything that wasn’t Muslim. However, during the 9th and 10 centuries CE, venerated intellectuals such as al-Kindi and al-Razi were strong supporters of the previously dismissed teachings of Greek philosophers such as Plato, Socrates and Aristotle. So they spread these Greek teachings which remained highly favored among Spanish theologians who originally translated the texts not in Greek, but Arabic.

2. Roman Mythology Was Heavily Influenced by the Greeks

The Roman and Greek gods are often thought to be one and the same, just with different names. You know, like how Mars and Ares are the gods of war, while Pluto and Hades rule the underworld. The reason for those striking similarities is because of the multiple Greek invasions, which led to the Romans adopting parts of the Greek faith, much like your friends copying your homework. Roman mythology also differed from the Greeks’ in the sense that religion played a huge role in the social life of its citizens, such as the publicly accessible priesthood institutions.

3. Greek Mythology Changes Christianity

Most of the early copies of the New Testament were originally written in Greek, before it was translated into other languages. So it only seems natural that the Greeks would insert their own beliefs while translating Christian texts. According to Arthur Fairbanks’ 1910 novel A Handbook of Greek Religion, the sudden rise of Virgin Mary as a heralded figure was significantly influenced by the worship of the Greek goddess of virgin and wisdom, Athena. Similarly, saints and gods began to mirror each other, such as St. Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors being modeled after Poseidon, the god of the sea. The same goes for holidays, such as Easter.

4. Christianity Overlaps with Hinduism

There is a widely held belief within the Vedas, ancient scriptures of Hinduism, that Jesus Christ was the eighth incarnation of their god, Vishnu as a human. However, many historians believe that this was not an organic addition into their mythology, but rather the result of forgeries to the Vedas by British colonizers in an attempt to convert the Indian people to Christianity. As for the Vedas, its origins are so unclear that many historians believe they came from Aryans in Central Asia instead of India.

5. Hinduism to Buddhism

For one reason or another, certain sects of Hinduism were willing to incorporate figures from other religions, though they were still Hindus first and foremost. Vaishnavism, in particular, states that Bhudda was another incarnation of Vishnu in the flesh, the 9th one to be precise. A claim that was first made by 12th century poet Jayadeva who believed that Vishnu became Buddha with the goal of putting an end to the practice of animal sacrifice that was widespread among the Hindu community. Though the math doesn’t quite add up, considering that Christ, the supposed 8th incarnation of Vishnu, was born several centuries after Buddha’s death.

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