The Epic Facial Hair of the Forefathers of the National Parks

We’re currently in the thick of Movember, that special time of the year where fellas around the world grow out their facial hair to raise awareness for men’s health. To honor the cause, the National Park Service is reminding everyone that many of the parks’ forefathers were sporting some pretty killer grooming styles year-round and long before it was the cool thing to do.

In the post, John Muir, George Bucknam Dorr, George Bird Grinnell, and Gustaf Nordenskiold all get a tip of the hat. Muir—the so-called “Father of the National Parks”—sported a sizeable beard (seen above on the right, alongside Teddy Roosevelt) throughout his life, a look that paired well with his work championing for wildlife preservation.

Dorr is responsible for the existence of Maine's Acadia National Park. He fell in love with the landscape, bought a small parcel in 1909, and with some serious lobbying, was able to turn it into the foundation for the park. With his sizable fortune and sizable ‘stache, he continued to help grow the park for the rest of his life.

George Dorr, National Park Service

Grinnell also had a hefty mustache and a lengthy resume when it came to advocating for nature preservation. Trained in ornithology and paleontology, he was the official zoologist of George Custer's expedition to the Black Hills in 1874, advocated for hunting and vandalism regulations in what became Yellowstone National Park, founded the Audubon Society, helped organize the New York Zoological Society, and helped to establish the Boone and Crockett Club.

George Bird Grinnell // Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Finally, Nordenskiold came to America from Sweden in search of a climate that would make the symptoms of his tuberculosis more bearable, and ended up helping to excavate the ruins of what is now Mesa Verde National Park. He brought worldwide attention to the site, all while wearing an impressive English-style mustache.

Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Utility Workers May Have Found One of Rome’s First Churches
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

The remains of what may have been one of Rome’s earliest Christian churches were accidentally discovered along the Tiber River during construction, The Local reports. The four-room structure, which could have been built as early as the 1st century CE, was unearthed by electrical technicians who were laying cables along the Ponte Milvio.

The newly discovered structure next to the river
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

No one is sure what to make of this “archaeological enigma shrouded in mystery,” in the words of Rome’s Archaeological Superintendency. Although there’s no definitive theory as of yet, experts have a few ideas.

The use of colorful African marble for the floors and walls has led archaeologists to believe that the building probably served a prestigious—or perhaps holy—function as the villa of a noble family or as a Christian place of worship. Its proximity to an early cemetery spawned the latter theory, since it's common for churches to have mausoleums attached to them. Several tombs were found in that cemetery, including one containing the intact skeleton of a Roman man.

Marble flooring
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

A tomb
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma1

The walls are made of brick, and the red, green, and beige marble had been imported from Sparta (Greece), Egypt, and present-day Tunisia, The Telegraph reports.

As The Local points out, it’s not all that unusual in Rome for archaeological discoveries to be made by unsuspecting people going about their day. Rome’s oldest aqueduct was found by Metro workers, and an ancient bath house and tombs were found during construction on a new church.

[h/t The Local]

Alexis Pantos, University of Copenhagen
Scientists Just Found the Oldest Known Piece of Bread
Alexis Pantos, University of Copenhagen
Alexis Pantos, University of Copenhagen

An old, charred piece of long-forgotten flatbread has captured the interest of archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians around the world. Found in a stone fireplace in Jordan’s Black Desert, this proto-pita dates back 14,400 years, making it the oldest known example of bread, Reuters reports.

To put the significance of this discovery in context: the flatbread predates the advent of agriculture by 4000 years, leading researchers to theorize that the laborious process of making the bread from wild cereals may have inspired early hunter-gatherers to cultivate grain and save themselves a whole lot of trouble.

“We now have to assess whether there was a relationship between bread production and the origins of agriculture,” Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, a researcher with the University of Copenhagen, told Reuters. “It is possible that bread may have provided an incentive for people to take up plant cultivation and farming, if it became a desirable or much-sought-after food.”

A report on these findings—written by researchers from the University of Copenhagen, University College London, and University of Cambridge—was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It was once thought that bread was an invention of early farming civilizations. A 9100-year-old piece of bread from Turkey was previously regarded as the oldest of its kind. However, the Jordanian flatbread was made by a group of hunter-gatherers called the Natufians, who lived during a transitional period from nomadic to sedentary ways of life, at which time diets also started to change.

Similar to a pita, this unleavened bread was made from wild cereals akin to barley, einkorn, and oats. These were “ground, sieved, and kneaded prior to cooking,” according to a statement from the University of Copenhagen. The ancient recipe also called for tubers from an aquatic plant, which Arranz-Otaegui described as tasting “gritty and salty."

[h/t Reuters]


More from mental floss studios