Sometimes story research for world-building takes me to very interesting places. Mainly because I don’t want to just say,
“Oh, yeah, they say some water spells and make rain happen. The end.”
I wanted it to be cool or interesting at least. For one story, I wanted to know about where certain gems came from or how they got their name in order to figure out how the magic works in that world. I must confess, a lot of these random things are a result of me going off on a tangent, but I hope you enjoy them.
First up is João Fernandes Lavrador who disappeared.
Lavrador Didn’t Ask Anyone To Name a Peninsula After Him.
He’s a Portuguese explorer who explored (well, duh) the coasts of a peninsula in 1498–99 but he did not name it. The European settlers in eastern Canada named it Labrador after him.
The dog breed, Labrador Retriever was named after the peninsula hence, in a way, named after Lavrador.
In 1501, he went off to do some more exploring but was never heard of again.
We’re presuming he died.
Makeup In Ancient Egypt
Cleopatra used powdered lapis lazuli as eye shadow.
The Romans’ Moon Rays
The Romans believed the moonstone gem was born from solidified rays of the Moon.
Yup. That’s it. Just thought “solidified rays” was an interesting thing that Romans believed in.
Insecure J. P. Morgan
J. P. Morgan formed General Electric, helped form AT&T, and was called America’s “greatest banker”. Because of his purple nose caused by a chronic disease called rosacea, he disliked publicity and hated being photographed.
Look, there’s a dog. There’s always a dog in ancient pictures. Why is there ALWAYS a dog? Or dogs. And there’s like some women with their faces flat on the table probably drunk. And way in the back, the god Saturn is being honored…I guess. If you’re wondering why they’re honoring him like this, well, he’s the god of wealth, plenty, peace, and agriculture. I guess having a big feast shows all of this???
Anyway, this is a painting of the ancient Roman festival called Saturnalia that honored the god Saturn. The common custom was to elect a “King of Saturnalia” who would give orders to people and preside over the merrymaking (a different kind of “Simon Says” game I suppose). Gifts were also exchanged usually gag gifts or small figurines made of wax or pottery.
Imagine, since ancient Roman times people liked to play pranks on other people. If you don’t know what a “gag gift” is, does “Whoopee cushion” ring a bell?
Ever wondered why (unless you’re from Greenland or Iceland) Greenland is called Greenland? When you look at an aerial photo, it doesn’t look particularly green. Just the outer rim.
Look, this is Greenland from space. GREENland from SPACE.
See that little green island next to it on the right, yeah? That’s Iceland. ICEland.
The Story of How Greenland Got It’s Deceiving Name
A Norwegian-born Icelander called Erik the Red was said to have been exiled from Iceland for murder. During exile, he found an icy land and called it “Greenland” in the hope that the pleasant name would attract settlers. Erik the Red’s recruitment of others to colonize Greenland has been recently called a land scam because he tried to make Greenland look like it was better farm land than in Iceland.
That’s what they say how it got its name. You know, “they”? Those who seem to know everything? They are very knowledgeable.
“Greenland! Great Farmland,” says Erik the Red. I always thought Greenland and Iceland should switch names because it’s confusing people. Greenland has Ice and Iceland has Green.
Danana Danana Dananana *sings*
James Dana, James Dwight Dana (excuse me!), is an American geologist, mineralogist, volcanologist (yes, it’s a thing), and zoologist. He has a LOT of things named after him for some pretentious? reason:
- A crater on Mars is named Dana.
- Mount Dana and nearby Dana Meadows in California
- Danalite (a mineral)
- Dana Park in New York completed with a fountain and monument
- A living fossil called the horseshoe crab Euproops danae
- And some other stuff. Check it out here.
You are now a Knowledgeable Person on Random but Interesting Things!
Now go and tell your friends! 😀