Monday, 30 September 2013

History of Chocolate

People in Central America drank chocolate as early as 1,500 BC. Much later the Mayans and the Aztecs drank chocolate. The Aztecs called it xocolatl from which are word chocolate is derived. After the Spanish conquered Central America they bought cocoa beans back to Europe. The beans were roasted and ground and used to make a drink with hot water. The Spanish added sugar to make it taste sweeter and they stirred it with a wooden stick to make it foamy. 

At first chocolate was drunk only in Spain but in the 17th century chocolate spread from Spain to the rest of Europe. In London a chocolate house where you could buy a drink of chocolate opened in 1657. In the late 17th century people began to mix chocolate drink with milk to make it taste better. 

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Peasants in the Middle Ages

The poorest people lived in one-room huts. Slightly better off peasants lived in huts with one or two rooms. There were no panes of glass in the windows only wooden shutters, which were closed at night. The floors were of hard earth sometimes covered in straw for warmth.

In the middle of a peasant's hut was a fire used for cooking and heating. There was no chimney. Any furniture was very basic. Chairs were very expensive and no peasant could afford one. Instead they sat on benches or stools. They would have a simple wooden table and chests for storing clothes and other valuables. Tools and pottery vessels were hung on hooks. The peasants slept on straw and they did not have pillows. Instead they rested their heads on wooden logs.

The peasant's wife cooked on a cauldron suspended over the fire and the family ate from wooden bowls. Candles were expensive so peasants usually used rush lights (rushes dipped in animal fat).

At night in summer and all day in winter the peasants shared their huts with their animals. Parts of it were screened off for the livestock. Their body heat helped to keep the hut warm.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Roman Toilets

The Romans also built sewers to collect rainwater and sewage. (They even had a goddess of sewers called Cloacina!). Wealthy people had their own toilets but the Romans also built public lavatories. In them there was no privacy just stone seats next to one another without partitions of any kind. Despite the public lavatories many people still went in the street. After using the toilet people wiped their behinds with a sponge on a stick. 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Viking Women

In Norse (Viking) society women had a good deal of freedom. It was considered very shameful for a man to hurt a woman. 

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Who Invented the Ironing Board?

In 1875 a portable ironing board was invented by John B. Porter. Sarah Boone patented an modified device in 1892. Meanwhile Henry Seeley invented the electric iron in 1882. 

Friday, 13 September 2013

Who Invented Alphabet Blocks?

In 1693 the English philosopher John Locke said that 'dice and playthings' with letters on them would help children to learn the alphabet. In 1882 Adeline Whitney patented alphabet blocks. 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Who invented the circular saw?

In 1777 a man named Samuel Miller was granted a patent for a device which included a circular saw. However its not certain if Miller invented the circular saw or if it existed before then. At any rate circular saws were certainly known in England in the late 18th century. In 1804 Marc Brunel built machines for making pulley blocks. They included circular saws. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Who Invented the Hair Brush?

We don't know who invented the hairbrush. However the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used hairbrushes. The brush boring machine was invented by Mason Pearson in 1885. That made hairbrushes cheaper. Pearson also invented a rubber cushion hairbrush in 1885.