History’s Unknown, Part IV: Pot-Smoking Assassins

There is a story about an Old Man in the mountain who trained other men to kill false worshippers. He founded an Islamic sect headquartered at Alamut castle. The Old Man’s name was Hasan, and he was so shrewd that he was able to steal possession of the castle from its original owner all without a single drop of blood. 

This sect of Islamic fundamentalists supplied themselves with a very potent type of marijuana known as Hashish. This group of Muslims known to history as the Hashshashin Assassins, was an elite secret society of highly trained warriors who occupied the castle of Alamut. This palace was buried deep in what is now the Qazvin Province of Iran.

(Photo of the infamous hide-and-conceal daggers used by Assassins)

The Assassins (unrelated to the classic videogame) were a terrifying, clever, and zealous group of Islamic warriors. Operating in absolute stealth, none of their victims ever saw them coming. The Assassins themselves feared nothing, not even death, in fact they embraced it.

Like a pack of wolves preying in the woods, fear of the Assassins could be felt by all souls in the Islamic world from sultans and princes, to Christian kings and their knights, and the Pope and his Crusaders. The Christians received the stealth brutality of the Assassins, but the organization itself did not discourage from Killing Muslims either.

(Pictures of the Assassins victims)

Their victims numbered in the thousands, all while they smoked hash on a daily basis receiving hallucinations. Pictured at the top left is their first victim, Nizam al-Mulk. On the right is King Conrad of Jerusalem, whose belly was sliced open by the Assassins as he strolled down the city streets of his kingdom despite having an armed escort of guards. Yeah that’s exactly how good they were. 

Pictured at the bottom right is the first European to feel the poison daggers of the Assassins, Raymond II of Tripoli (Syria). Last, on the bottom left is the attempted assassination of King Edward I of England.

Back at Alamut castle, its grandmaster Hasan, his soldiers, and servants were getting their smoke on, delving deep into the aurora of hallucinations. Hasan would use hash to recruit young boys off the streets. Furthermore, the effects of the drug gave Hasan the power he needed to hypnotize and brainwash these young cadets, binding them to his will and bidding. The term Assassin originated from the term Hashshashin. 

Marco Polo had this to say about the young killers of Hashshashin “when these young men woke, and found themselves in the garden with all these marvelous things, they truly believed themselves to be in paradise. And these damsels were always with them in songs and great entertainments.” 

The garden Marco speaks of possesses rivers filled with honey and wine. Exotic plants like palm trees, and much more. The recruits first consumption of hash caused them to fall in a deep sleep for three days, and once under the Old Man’s spell after entering this “garden” they were promised a place in heaven. 

History’s Unknown, Part III: Ancient Graffiti

Recall how I began this series with a discussion on ancient emojis, well my third entry in the Unknown series follows along the same lines. Communication is the heart, but the smiley faces and taco symbols have been replaced with graffiti!

Graffiti is spontaneous! Unlike inscriptions made by stone, which last centuries graffiti can fade easily. Graffiti has been around forever; from ancient caves to carved mountainsides, to city murals. 

Graffiti is a work of art thrown or carved onto any kind of surface. Beyond that graffiti is a tool of many human expressions ranging from political uprising to advertising.

Pompeii, this ruined city houses the oldest known graffiti. Pictured above, the message reads “Gaius Pumidius Diphilus was here.” Dated October 3, 78. B.C.

Looking at the graffiti running along the walls and old town markets of Pompeii you’ll find messages and drawings references jokes, undying romance, insults, and even memorials for fallen loved ones. 

Thankfully, these ancient inscriptions survived the destruction of Pompeii. A volcanic explosion left Pompeii in an eternal coat of ash, but the graffiti left behind by its residents tells a story that recreates the city entirely. As you walk along the streets of this ruin reading the various messages written on the walls you begin to hear voices of the past.

The city continues to be one huge notebook, call it a writer’s paradise. It makes you wonder did people go around leaving messages on walls for their friends saying “let’s meet up, come by the market.” Very intriguing, as it can be considered the first text messages. 

The origin of social media lay here. Pompeii was a nexus city filled with informative inscriptions detailing merchant transactions to the birth of donkeys. I mean hell you could discover information about anywhere, anybody, and anything!!!!

History’s Unknown, Part II: Ancient Desserts

Hello friends, fans, and loyal supporters sorry my series is dragging, but I have been busy traveling and attending conferences on historical topics. 
This second essay in the History’s Unknown follows sweets and treats from Classical Antiquity, from Rome and Greece and such. More importantly this essay on Ancient Desserts is a special dedication to by very best friend, my little sister, Keely who we call Kiwi! Happy 21st birthday babygirl lol but I guess I can’t call you that anymore huh haha 

First we begin with Keely’s personal favorite, ice cream, the girl adores this treat most of all. Roman Emperor Nero once ordered that ice be chipped and carted from the mountains, and brought to his palace, where they were to be combined with fruit toppings.

Ice cream is not as recent as people may think, in fact, in the year 1780 B.C. the King of Mari commanded an icehouse be built to store snow. It was the first of its kind. These icehouses flourished in the eras of Persian and Greek empires; Alexander the Great is said to have preferred his snow flavored with honey and nectar, and used it as an instrument to reward his soldiers.

The icehouses belonging to the Persians called Yakhchals had the capacity to store snow for long periods of time. The Persians were quite fond of flavoring their snow with grape juice.

There is also the tale of King Tang of Shang who loved to freeze buffalo milk then mixed it with flour, and flavored it with camphor. In the tomb of his descendant, prince Zhanghuai depicts a picture of women carrying “Su Shan” another ancient dessert. 

The Arab formula for ice cream. mainly in Baghdad and Damascus was, of course milk and sugar. But they also used rosewater, nuts, and dried fruits. 

The Egyptians were famous for many things, but desserts is one of thier more underrated treasures by historians; found on a broken piece of Egyptian pottery was the recipe for Tiger Nuts.

Tiger Nuts come from the Cypherus esculentus plant. The nuts were chopped into small pieces, and topped with honey and spices. 

Honey cakes, date loaves, and dumplings. While the latter is a famous food, the formers are pretty rare for the most part; we have tomb paintings depicting Egyptians smashing down honey cakes. Cooked in the shape of a folded pie and filled with not just honey but fruit and nuts.

Date loaves were crocodile-shaped loaves of mashed dates, mixed with goat’s milk, honey, and coconut. The reason for the crocodile shape is due to its symbolism in Egypt, which meant good luck.

Furthermore, dumplings as I said are nothing new. The ancient Egyptians rolled their dumplings in cinnamon. drizzled them in honey, and shaped into balls.

As you can see honey was a major staple in Classical Antiquity. Ironically, it can be considered the first candy. Once sugar was introduced in the medieval period did consumership of sweets triple. 

The term “cake” is originate from the Norse word “kaka”. And as you have read you see how cakes of the ancients was different from ours, as they were made out of bread and honey.

The pie has surprising roots too. Known as galettes in 9,500 B.C. it was cooked over host coals inserted with various fruits and reserved only for the Egyptian Pharoah. King Ramses loved his pies so much his tomb is decorating with paintings of such. 

And so Happy Birthday babygirl!!! ❤❤❤

Watch “Nocturnal Raven: Episode II” on YouTube

Brief summary with show and tell of items purchased for the Mid Atlantic British Studies Conference and Medieval Academy Annual Meeting

Join me as I prepare for one of the most promising events of my life, or rather my career lol

I bought fliers, cards, legalpads etc to fully embrace this experience 
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