10 Other Things That Happened on May 5

Napoleon I dies, via Getty Images
Napoleon I dies, via Getty Images

While Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army's victory over Napoleon's French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, it's not the only historic thing to have happened on May 5. Here are 10 more.

1. CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS LANDS IN JAMAICA


Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In 1494, Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Jamaica and claimed it for Spain.

2. FIRST WOMAN IS AWARDED A U.S. PATENT

In 1809, Mary Kies became the first woman awarded a U.S. patent, for a technique of weaving straw with silk and thread.

3. KARL MARX IS BORN


Friedrich Karl Wunder, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In 1818, political philosopher Karl Marx was born in Trier, Germany. In a twist of irony, it costs about $6 to visit the famed anti-capitalist's gravesite in London.

4. NAPOLEON DIES WHILE IN EXILE


Getty Images

In 1821, at the age of 51, Napoleon Bonaparte died while still in exile on St. Helena. At the time, his
personal physician reported on the death certificate that the emperor had died of stomach cancer,
which was consistent with reports that he suffered from abdominal pain and nausea in the last weeks of his life. But his body remained remarkably well preserved, a common side effect of arsenic poisoning, inspiring centuries of suspicion about foul play.

5. FIRST U.S. TRAIN ROBBERY TAKES PLACE

In 1865,  the first U.S. train robbery took place in North Bend, Ohio. According to one newspaper report, "While everything was wild with confusion, the desperadoes entered, and with the vilest oaths, demanded the money and valuables of the passengers."

6. CARNEGIE HALL OPENS


Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Although the building had been in use since April, May 5, 1891 marked the official opening night of New York City's Carnegie Hall. And the storied venue kicked off things in an impressive way with a concert conducted by Walter Damrosch and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

7. CY YOUNG THROWS BASEBALL'S FIRST PERFECT GAME


Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In 1904, the Boston Americans' Cy Young threw the first perfect game in the modern era of baseball.

8. JOHN T. SCOPES VIOLATES THE BUTLER ACT

In 1925, John T. Scopes was served an arrest warrant for teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act.

9. ALAN SHEPARD BECOMES AMERICA'S FIRST SPACE TRAVELER


Getty Images

In 1961, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., became America's first space traveler when he made a 15-minute suborbital flight in a capsule launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

10. THE UNABOMBER STRIKES

In 1982, a Unabomber bomb exploded in the computer science department at Vanderbilt University; secretary Janet Smith was injured.

Why Are So Many Ancient Statues Missing Their Noses?

Aninka/iStock via Getty Images
Aninka/iStock via Getty Images

Spencer Alexander McDaniel:

This is a question that a lot of people have asked. If you have ever visited a museum, you have probably seen ancient sculptures such as the one below—a Greek marble head of the poet Sappho currently held in the Glyptothek in Munich, with a missing nose:

A smashed or missing nose is a common feature on ancient sculptures from all cultures and all time periods of ancient history. It is by no means a feature that is confined to sculptures of any particular culture or era. Even the nose on the Great Sphinx, which stands on the Giza Plateau in Egypt alongside the great pyramids, is famously missing:

Full profile of Great Sphinx including pyramids of Menkaure and Khafre in the background on a clear sunny, blue sky day in Giza, Cairo, Egypt with no people
pius99/iStock via Getty Images

If you have seen one of these sculptures, you have probably wondered: “What happened to the nose?” Some people seem to have a false impression that the noses on the majority of these sculptures were deliberately removed by someone.

It is true that a few ancient sculptures were indeed deliberately defaced by people at various times for different reasons. For instance, there is a first-century AD Greek marble head of the goddess Aphrodite that was discovered in the Athenian Agora. You can tell that this particular marble head was at some point deliberately vandalized by Christians because they chiseled a cross into the goddess’s forehead.

This marble head, however, is an exceptional case that is not representative of the majority of ancient sculptures that are missing noses. For the vast majority of ancient sculptures that are missing noses, the reason for the missing nose has nothing to do with people at all. Instead, the reason for the missing nose simply has to do with the natural wear that the sculpture has suffered over time.

The fact is, ancient sculptures are thousands of years old and they have all undergone considerable natural wear over time. The statues we see in museums today are almost always beaten, battered, and damaged by time and exposure to the elements. Parts of sculptures that stick out, such as noses, arms, heads, and other appendages are almost always the first parts to break off. Other parts that are more securely attached, such as legs and torsos, are generally more likely to remain intact.

You are probably familiar with the ancient Greek statue shown below. It was found on the Greek island of Melos and was originally sculpted by Alexandros of Antioch in around the late second century BC. It is known as the Aphrodite of Melos or, more commonly, Venus de Milo. It famously has no arms:

Venus de Milo is an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture
winduptu/iStock via Getty Images

Once upon a time, the Aphrodite of Melos did, in fact, have arms, but they broke off at some point, as arms, noses, and legs often tend to do. The exact same thing has happened to many other sculptures’ noses. Because the noses stick out, they tend to break off easily.

Greek sculptures as we see them today are merely worn-out husks of their former glory. They were originally brightly painted, but most of the original pigments faded or flaked off long ago, leaving the bare, white marble exposed. Some exceptionally well-preserved sculptures do still retain traces of their original coloration, though. For example:

Lady with blue and gilt garment, fan and sun hat, from Tanagra 325-300 BC
Capillon, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Even for the sculptures that do not retain visible color to the naked eye, archaeologists can detect traces of pigment under an ultraviolet light using special techniques. There are also dozens of references to painted sculptures in ancient Greek literature, such as in Euripides's Helen, in which Helen laments (in translation, of course):

“My life and fortunes are a monstrosity,
Partly because of Hera, partly because of my beauty.
If only I could shed my beauty and assume an uglier aspect
The way you would wipe color off a statue.”

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

Chernobyl Will Soon Be More Accessible to Tourists, Ukraine Says

kefirm/iStock via Getty Images
kefirm/iStock via Getty Images

The Chernobyl exclusion zone, once considered one of the most dangerous places to step foot in on Earth, has taken on a much different role in recent years. The site of the 1986 accident that blew open the core of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and flooded the surrounding area with radiation is a tourist attraction today. The HBO miniseries Chernobyl has made the spot more popular than ever, and rather than discourage the public's fascination with the disaster, Ukraine is deciding to embrace it.

As CNN Travel reports, Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky issued a statement declaring the 1000-square-mile exclusion zone around Chernobyl to be an official tourist destination.

"We must give this territory of Ukraine a new life," Zelensky said in his decree. "Until now, Chernobyl was a negative part of Ukraine's brand. It's time to change it. Chernobyl is a unique place on the planet where nature revives after a global man-made disaster, where there is a real 'ghost town.' We have to show this place to the world: scientists, ecologists, historians, tourists."

In order to boost Chernobyl's profile as a tourist attraction, the Ukrainian government will take steps to make it more accessible to the public. These will include establishing a "green corridor" that acts as a safe entry point into the area, and building new paths and checkpoints as well as renovating old ones. Pointless restrictions—such as rules against taking photos—will also be done away with.

Tours that take visitors through Chernobyl exist today, but they're much more complicated than a walk through the Louvre. Tourists must receive special permission to visit in advance, stick to approved routes, and undergo radiation screenings at various checkpoints. Despite the precautions required, tourism has exploded in the area by 35 percent since HBO's Chernobyl miniseries premiered earlier this year.

The Chernobyl exclusion zone is still radioactive, but safe enough that even the Ukrainian government is encouraging people to take day trips there. Even if you don't plan on booking your next vacation to Chernobyl, you can check out some photos of what the area looks like today.

[h/t CNN Travel]

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