WTF Fun Fact 12676 – The Ancient History of Ukraine

There’s nothing “fun” about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the fact is that war turns up some interesting things. In this case, more proof that Ukraine has its own unique history and culture.

Digging war trenches is not the same as digging for archaeological purposes. Nevertheless, that’s how some of Ukraine’s ancient artifacts are coming to light as they defend themselves from the invading Russians.

According to the Kyiv Independent, digging in the port city Odesa, located on the Black Sea has uncovered ancient amphorae. Odesa was once known as Odessus. Ancient sources say it was founded by the Milesians, who came from a city in what’s now modern-day Turkey. Ancient inscriptions show that it was likely under some form of democratic government shared by five ancient Greek states. It played an important role in ancient history because it was a port town, so it saw people and goods from all over the region. Its local money even had an image of the Egyptian god Serapis on it.

The modern soldiers of the Ukrainian 126th Territorial Defense found slightly more recent archaeological artifacts – ancient Roman amphorae, which have been dated to the 4th or 5th century CE. These are tall jars (and shards that often held wine or were used as decorative vessels). They shared the discovery on Facebook.

Russia has been targeting Odesa with missile strikes as well as a blockade of the port in order to disable the city’s vital operations in grain and wheat exports to the rest of the world.

If anything can be said to be “lucky” here, it’s that the amphorae are in excellent condition and have been turned over to the Odessa Archaeological Museum, which will hopefully be able to preserve this important part of the city’s history. –  WTF fun fact

Source: “Ukrainian Soldiers Uncover Fourth-Century Urns While Digging Defense Trenches” — Smithsonian Magazine

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WTF Fact 12430 – The Truth About Sunflowers

Don’t you just love sunflower season? Ok, it might be a bit too hot for some of us, but these big, happy flowers are a fun way to bring some sunshine to your yard or home.

If you’ve seen the sunflower a lot these days, it’s because it’s also the national flower of Ukraine. Girls would weave smaller varieties into flower crowns, and they’re commonly found on traditional embroidery. But the sunflower originated on the North American continent, in what is not the Western United States. In fact, it’s the only flower used for seed that originated in the US.

It wasn’t until the 1550s that Spanish conquerors brought the sunflower to Europe. Sunflowers have many practical uses since they can be pressed for sunflower oil, and the seeds are edible. Ironically, it wasn’t until the flowers reached Russia that they were seen as beautiful for display.

But the more fascinating thing about the sunflower might just be that – biologically speaking – what we consider to be one flower is actually thousands of tiny flowers. Those little brown things we think of as…well, what do we call those?… Anyway, those are individual flowers! And so are the petals.

That means a sunflower contains thousands (usually between 1000 and 2000) of individual flowers all held together by that impressive receptible base. The brown flowers develop into seeds, while the yellow petals (or “ray flowers”) simply wither.

Another cool fact about sunflowers is that they are heliotropic, which means the flowering head (which we guess is technically the correct phrase for what we refer to as a flower) turns with the sun for maximum exposure.

So if you set a vase of sunflowers on a table near a window and notice them all “looking” outside during the day, don’t assume someone turned the vase! The flower did that all on its own. – WTF fun facts 

Source: “Sunflower: An American Native” — University of Missouri, Department of Agronomy

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