History—our past—is an incredibly fascinating field of study. It tells us who we are and who our ancestors were. It’s filled with stories of remarkable people, wartime victories and defeats, inventions, fashion trends, and much more. Despite its importance, the study of history often takes a back seat to more streamlined subjects.
But just because a subject isn’t mandatory in our schools, doesn’t mean it’s uninteresting. Quite the contrary! In fact, there is a countless number of remarkable, thrilling stories that stretch back to the dawn of time. And each one has much to offer to anyone who takes the time to learn about it. To illustrate this point, here are some of the most bizarre, astonishing, and fascinating historical facts that you probably didn’t know about.
The First Recorded Strike
One of the earliest recorded strikes took place in Ancient Egypt, around 1152 BC. An account of an Egyptian stonemason’s strike was uncovered from the records of the Egyptian court. The story tells of how the stonemasons, who were building a sarcophagus for Pharaoh Ramses III, went on strike because they hadn’t been provided with enough food.
The Pharaoh, in an attempt to apologize, gave more food to the stonemasons in order to get them to work again. While this might not seem particularly significant today, it is the earliest record of a strike in human history. It’s both amusing and remarkable—especially when you consider that even in ancient time the concept of labor rights was well known.
The Great Molasses Flood
On the morning of January 15th, 1919, the city of Boston was rocked by a disaster that left its mark on history. What occurred that day has since been known as the Great Molasses Flood. The cause of the horrific incident was an immense tank located in the North End of Boston that held 2.3 million gallons of molasses.
Unfortunately, the metal tank was unable to contain the force of the molasses, and it burst, sending a massive wave of sticky, gooey liquid throughout the city. This wave destroyed buildings, caused 21 deaths, and injured 150 people. The molasses even created a whirlpool that swallowed trucks, horses, and people.
Inventing the Phone Booth
Few inventions have stood the test of time as well as the phone booth. Long gone are the days of these iconic structures, but it is impossible to deny their importance and influence in the development of communication technology.
The first phone booth was created by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) in 1919. It was originally intended to be located outdoors, in close proximity to railway stations. However, this plan was quickly abandoned in favor of indoor phone booths—all of which used to charge small fees for calls.
The Last Supervised Slave Trade
Slave trading has been occurring since ancient times, yet few know that the last officially-supervised slave trade occurred as recently as 1927. This is largely due to the fact that it took place in Saudi Arabia, a country which is not typically associated with slavery. But despite this, Saudi Arabia was and still is the only country to have performed a social-sanctioned slave trade in the 20th century.
It even took the British Royal Navy five years to put an end to it. This included a hazardous mission where West-Indian sailors led a mutinous attack against a powerful sheikh in order to end his reign of terror. In the end, the sheikh was killed and the slave trade was abolished in the region.
The First Major Currency
Contrary to popular belief, the first major currency wasn’t the U.S. Dollar or the British Pound. Instead, it was the Lydian Stater, which was invented by King Alyattes in 615 BC. The Stater was made of electrum, an alloy of silver and gold, and it was widely accepted as currency throughout the entire region.
What made the Stater unique was its advanced form of coinage. It was split into fractions and even incorporated symbols, such as birds and lions, on its face. In essence, it symbolized the first type of proto-money to be used all over the world—and it was a defining moment in human history.
Our past is an incredibly fascinating field of study and there’s so much we can explore, learn, and appreciate. From Egypt’s first recorded strike to the Great Molasses Flood, the invention of the phone booth and the last major slave trade, to the invention of the world’s first major currency—there’s always something new to discover and exciting to uncover, even in the seemingly trivial details of history.
Indeed, there is something captivating about the land of forgotten memories and ancient lore. Each country, each war, each invention, each person—each of them has an incredible story to tell us, if only we take the time and effort to learn about them.
So if you’re interested in expanding your knowledge or just want to get lost in the wonderful dimensions of history, this list of fascinating facts will get you started. From there you can discover even more and open your eyes to the secrets hidden within our history.