Category Historic Lasts

Who first used clocks?

It is believed that the Babylonians fist used a pole fixed in the ground to measure the passing of time. They noticed that the position of the shadow changed during the hours of sunlight. They found that the shadow was long at sunrise and that it slowly grew shorter until it reached a point when it started to lengthen again. They learnt to judge the time by looking at the shadow.

        The simple shadow and pole arrangements were the basis of the various shadow clocks or sundials used by the ancient Egyptians. Eventually sundials were provided with the hour figures engraved on a metal plate.

      The Egyptians also used a clepsydra or water clock. This was a basin-shaped, alabaster vessel filled with water that ran out through a hole in the bottom. The time was indicated by the level of water remaining inside.

      Monks were the first to operate clocks by wheels and weights. Clocks of this type, found in monasteries, date back to the 14th Century. The first spring clock is dated about 1500.

Picture credit: google

Why were the temples of Abu Simbel moved?

When construction began on the high Dam at Aswan, in southern Egypt, it was realized that the temples of Abu Simbel would be completely submerged as the waters to the Nile rose behind the dam to create a much needed reservoir.

       In 1959 Egypt and its southern neighbor Sudan appealed for help to the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organization. The first archaeological surveys began in 1960 and U.N.E.S.C.O’s response grew into what was to become the biggest archaeological rescue operation in history.

      Abu Simbel consists of three temples of Rameses II built more than 3,000 years ago. The most important and impressive temple included four gigantic seated statues of the king, each 65 feet high. By 1968 these four enormous monuments to Rameses had been cut out of the rock and reconstructed, exactly as they were, high up on a cliff.

      Six more great statues of Rameses and his queen (about 30 feet high) were also excavated and moved to a dry sanctuary above the old river bed, along with everything else that could be salvaged.

Why was the First World War fought?

               The First World War was fought from 1914 to 1918. It is called a world war for the simple reason that all the major countries of the world were involved in it. In this war on one side were Britain, France and Russia called “The Allies” while on the other side were Germany, Austria and Bulgaria known as “Central Powers”. Later, USA joined the Allies while Turkey participated in the war from the other side. The war fought bitterly for four years resulted in the victory of the Allies. In the history of warfare, the First World War stands out prominently as during its course, battles were fought on land, in air and on sea. Britain used a great military weapon like “tank” in this war for the first time.

               As a background, we can mention that in the Franco—Prussian war of 1871, France was brought to her knees by Prussia (later known as Germany) who snatched from her two important provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. France resented this loss very much and harboured deep bitterness against Germany. France waited for an opportunity to take revenge against Germany. Imperialistic rivalries among the colony seeking powers of Europe, like England, France, Italy, Spain and Germany also helped in fouling the atmosphere and paved way for a war. In addition stock piling of powerful weapons by major countries of the world also created militant feelings among these nations surcharging the atmosphere.

               The immediate cause was however the murder of Austrian Prince Archduke Ferdinand by a Serb at Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. Austria squarely blamed Serbia for this crime, and sent an ultimatum which was ignored by Serbia on the instigation of Russia. As a result Austria declared war against Serbia on July 28, 1914. This led to the escalation of conflict and gradually drew all the major countries of Europe as active participants. Russia declared war on Turkey on 2nd November, 1914 and Britain and France also followed suit. On 7th May, 1915 Germans attacked and sunk an American ship which later led to the involvement of USA in the war. USA declared war on Germany on 16 April 1917. Interestingly, Japan also fought against Germany in this war. The war ended in 1918 following a treaty known as the “Treaty of Versailles”. 

Turtle Ship

            The turtle ship, also known as the kobukson, was designed by Admiral Yi. It was the first iron clad ship in the world. This armed warship played a significant part in Korea’s victory over Japanese naval forces. Yi Sun-sin used overlapping iron plates like the carapace (hard shell) of a turtle, to give stronger protection against enemy arrows and gun shots. Cannons were placed to give all round offensive fire, iron spikes guarded the ship, and a dragons head at the prow blew out frightening plumes of smoke.

Which was the last day of the Soviet Union?

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, also known as the USSR or Soviet Union was the successor to the Russian Empire of the tsars. It came into existence in 1922, and stretched from the Baltic and Black Seas to the Pacific Ocean. In its final years, it consisted of 15 Soviet Socialist Republics.

During the period of its existence, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was by area, the world’s largest country. It was also one of the most diverse, with more than 100 distinct nationalities living within its borders. The U.S.S.R. covered some 22,400,000 square kilometers, seven times the area of India, and two and one-half times that of the United States. The country occupied nearly one-sixth of the Earth’s land surface, including the eastern half of Europe, and roughly the northern third of Asia.

 Dramatic changes, both political and economic, occurred during the late 1980’s and early 90’s. There was political restructuring, and greater openness to revitalize a struggling economy. There was also a wave of increased nationalism among the member republics, and in December of 1991, as the world watched in amazement, the Soviet Union disintegrated into fifteen separate countries. On 25th December 1991, the Soviet flag was lowered for the last time, marking the last official day of the Soviet Union.

Which was the last day of the British Raj in India?

The British ruled India for over 100 years, and this period is known as the days of the British Raj. Under British rule, a strong Indian Nationalist Movement developed, that was led by Gandhiji. His famous campaign of non violence and civil disobedience finally succeeded in ending the British Raj and winning independence for India.The British Raj formally ended on midnight, August 14th 1947. A conch shell was blown to herald freedom, and to mark the opening of the new Indian Constituent Assembly. Each member swore allegiance to independent India. Nehru’s Independence Day speech stirred every Indian’s heart as he uttered the now famous words  ‘At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom’.


When did slavery end?

Between 1450 and the late 1800’s, it is estimated that between 10 and 15 million Africans were kidnapped, and sold into slavery. The slave trade was incredibly profitable, but very cruel too. For over 300 years, slaves were captured along the west coast of Africa, often with the active help of African kings and merchants. Slaves were traded for beads, textiles, brandy, horses, and guns. Slavery was illegal in the United States after the Civil War, but slaves continued to be traded in Central and South America for another 40 years, until finally slavery was declared illegal in Central and South America as well. 

Slavery existed not only in America, but in other parts of the world as well. Denmark was the first European country to abolish slavery in 1804, while Britain abolished slavery in March 1907. In the United States, slavery was one of the main issues in the Civil War between the North and the South. The last day of legal slavery in the USA was 31st January, 1865, while the world wide abolishment of slavery took place only in 1926.


Why are the last days of Pompeii significant?

Pompeii was a large and prosperous city in Ancient Rome. It was located in the Bay of Naples, at the foot of the volcano, Mount Vesuvius. It was the biggest of three cities – the other two were the neighbouring cities of Herculaneum and Stabiae- that were completely destroyed by the mighty eruption of Vesuvius on 24th August 79 AD.

The Roman writer Pliny the Younger has given an eyewitness account of the disaster that gives us a clear picture of ever horrific detail during Pompeii’s last days. The first explosion created a thick cloud of dark ash, which was followed by a flood of hot ash, cinders, and poisonous fumes over the next two days. The ash completely buried and sealed off the cities of both Pompeii and Stabiae. Bodies were perfectly preserved by the hot ash, so that they remained exactly as they were, even to their facial expressions, at the moment of death. Herculaneum was buried under a stream of boiling mud and lava, and was preserved in perfect detail too. The ruins of Pompeii were discovered only in 1749. 

How did ‘Z’ become the last letter of the alphabet?

 The ancient Phoenicians had an arrow-like symbol in their alphabet. It was the seventh letter, and called ‘zayin’. The ancient Greeks adopted this symbol from the Phoenicians as the sixth letter of their alphabet in 8000 BC. They called it ‘zeta’, and gave it its present form. The Romans adopted it from the Greek alphabet in 100 AD, and Z is the last letter of the Roman alphabet to this day. ‘Z’ is pronounced as ‘zed’ by the British and as ‘zee’ in America. If you are sending a Morse code, you will have to send two dashes and two dots to present ‘Z’! Another interesting fact about ‘Z’ is that it was used to represent the Roman number 2000 in medieval times.

Why Western Australia is considered the last penal colony of Britain?

  Do you know what a penal colony is? It is a settlement of prisoners who have been exiled from their homeland as a punishment, and transported to a far away location. Britain started sending convicts to America from 1597 onwards. The practice was stopped in 1776, with the American War of Independence. British prisoners were sent to Western Australia instead, and new penal colonies were established there. Twenty per cent of these first convicts were women. A system of labour was established in which people, whatever their crime, were employed according to their skills – as brick makers, carpenters, nurses, servants, cattlemen, shepherds, and farmers. Educated convicts were set to the relatively easy work of record – keeping for the convict administration.

 Convicts formed the majority of the colony’s population for the first few decades, and by 1821, there were a growing number of freed convicts who were appointed to positions f trust and responsibility as well as being granted land. Meanwhile, public opinion in Britain was against the establishment of penal colonies, and the practice was abolished in 1860. The last convict ships left Britain in 1867, and arrived at their destination in 1868, 80 years after the arrival of the first convicts in Western Australia