Beards have had many uses during the history of humans. Early humans used beards for warmth and intimidation. In current times, they have been used to show masculinity, royalty, fashion, and status.
Prehistoric men grew beards for warmth, intimidation and protection. Facial hair kept prehistoric men warm and it also protected their mouths from sand, dirt, the sun and many other different elements. A beard on a man’s face creates the look of a stronger looking jaw line; this exaggeration helped them appear more intimidating.
In 3000 BCE to 1580 BCE, Egyptians royalty used a false beard that was made of metal. This false beard was held onto the face by a ribbon that was tied over their heads. This practice was down by both kings and queens. Ancient Egyptians were also known to die their chin beads with reddish brown to strong brown dyes.
Mesopotamian civilizations took great care of their beards. They would use products like beard oil to keep their beards looking healthy. They would also fashion their beards using ancient curling irons and make ringlets, frizzles, and tiered effects. The Assyrians dyed their beards black, and the Persians died theirs a orange-red color. During ancient times, in Turkey and India, when someone had a long beard it was considered a symbol of wisdom and dignity.
During ancient times, in Greece, beards were a sign of honor. Ancient Greeks commonly curled their beards with tongs in order to create hanging curls. Their beards were cut only as a punishment. Around 345 BCE Alexander the Great decreed that soldiers couldn’t have beards. He was afraid that opposing soldiers would grab on to the Grecians’ beards and use it against them while in battle.
Ancient Romans preferred their beads to be trimmed and well groomed. A Roman by the name of, Lucius Tarquinius Pricus, encouraged the use of razors in order to guide the city to hygienic reform in 616-578 BCE. Although Pricus tried to encourage shaving, it still was not generally accepted until 454 BCE. In 454 BCE, a group of Greek Sicilian barbers traveled from Sicily unto main land Italy. They set up barber shops that were situated on the mains streets of Rome. These barber shops were typically only used by people who didn’t own slaves, because if you owned a slave they would shave you instead. Eventually shaving started to become the trend in ancient Rome, philosophers kept their beards regardless of the trend.
Anglo-Saxons wore beards until the advent of Christianity in the 7th century. Once Christianity came around the clergy were required by law to shave. English princes sported mustaches until 1066-1087 CE when a law by William the First created a law that required them to shave in order to fit in with Norman fashions. Once the Crusades began the return of beards also began. For four centuries all sorts of facial hair was allowed. It was much like current times, where men could choose from beards, mustaches and clean shaven faces. In 1535 beards became fashionable again and with it came all sorts of sorts of styles and lengths. Anglo-Saxon men began to starch their beards in the 1560s.
In the early 1600s, a painter named Sir Anthony Vandyke began to paint many aristocrats with pointed beards. This style of beard was called the Vandyke. The men used pomade or wax to shape their beards, and they applied with tiny brushes and combs. The people of this time invented different gadgets in order to keep mustaches and beards in shape while they slept.
There have been many beard styles throughout the ages. A style made popular by Abraham Lincoln, is called the chin curtain. This is when there is facial hair along the jawline which is long enough to hang from the chin. American essayist, Henry David Thoreau, had a style called the chinstrap beard. This style is achieved when sideburns are connected to each other by a narrow hair line along the jaw. English heavy metal musician, Lemmy Kilmister wore his facial hair in a style called, friendly muttonchops. Friendly muttonchops are formed when muttonchops are connected by a mustache and there is no chin hair. Another facial hair style is the goatee. The goatee is when only the hair around the chin and mustache are left on the face. American professional wrestler, Hulk Hogan, was famous for the style horseshoe mustache. This is a full mustache with ends that extend down in parallel strait lines all the way down to the chin line.
Currently, about 33% of American males have facial hair of some kind, while 55% of males worldwide have facial hair. Women found full bearded men to be only 2/3rd as attractive as clean-shaven men.
Contemporary Beard Products
Beard products have come a long way from their humble beginnings. In ancient Egypt they used false beards, you can still purchase false beards. Unlike in ancient Egypt these false beards are not made of gold.
Also, just like men from Mesopotamia used beard oil, you can purchase beard oil.
More Historical Fun Facts
Otto the Great, swore on his beard, as someone in current times would swear on their mother’s grave.
During the middle ages, if a man touched another man’s beard it was offensive and could be grounds for a duel.
In the 16th century, men started experimenting with their beards and came up with trends like the forked beard and even a style called the stiletto beard.
Sited on the banks of the Tiber River, on a hill sits the Vatican City. It is a place that has one of the richest histories in the world and is one of the most influential. The religious history that surrounds the Vatican City crosses centuries and is now the embodiment of many of the most important parts of the cultural history of Rome.
The Vatican City is home to the Roman Catholic Church headquarters. There you will find the central government for the Church, the Bishop of Rome, otherwise known as the Pope and the College of Cardinals.
Every year millions upon millions of people travel to the Vatican City, primarily to see the Pope but also to worship in St Peter’s basilica and to view the wonders that are stored in the Vatican Museums.
The Beginning of the Vatican City
Technically speaking, the Vatican City is a country, an independent city-state and is the smallest in the whole world. The Vatican City’s political body is governed by the Pope but, and not everyone knows this, it is many, many years younger than the Church.
As a political body, the Vatican City has been classed as a Sovereign State since 1929, when a treaty was signed between the Kingdom of Italy and the Catholic Church. That treaty was the end result of more than 3 years of negotiations on how certain relations should be handled between them, namely political, financial and religious.
Although the negotiations took 3 years, the dispute actually began back in 1870 and neither the Pope nor his cabinet would agree to leave the Vatican City until the dispute was resolved. That happened in 1929 with the Lateran Treaty.
This was the defining point for the Vatican as it was this treaty that determined the City as a completely new entity. It was this treaty that split the Vatican City from the rest of the Papal States that were, in essence, most of the Kingdom of Italy from 765 through to 1870. Much of the territory was brought into The Kingdom of Italy in 1860 with Rome and Lazio not capitulating until 1870.
The roots of the Vatican City go back much further though. Indeed, we can trace them back as far as the 1st Centruy AD when the Catholic Church was first established. Between the 9th and 10th Centuries right on through to the Renaissance period, the Catholic Church was at the top of its power, politically speaking. The Popes gradually took on more and more governing power eventually heading up all of the regions that surrounded Rome.
The Papal States were responsible of the government of Central Italy until the unification of Italy, almost a thousand years of rule. For a great deal of this time, following their return to the City in 1377 after an exile to France that lasted 58 years, the reigning Popes would reside in one of a number of palaces in Rome. When the time cane for Italy to unify the popes refused to recognize that the Italian King had a right to rule and they refused to leave the Vatican. This ended in 1929.
Much of what people see in the Vatican City, the paintings, sculpture and architecture, was created during those Golden years. Now revered artists, people such as Raphael, Sandro Botticelli and Michelangelo made the journey to the Vatican City to pronounce their faith and their dedication to the Catholic Church. This faith can be seen in the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s basilica.
The Vatican City Now
Today, the Vatican City remains a religious and historical landmark, as important now as it was then. It receives millions of visitors from all around the world, visitors who come to see the beauty of the City, to take in its history and the culture and to express their belief in the Catholic Church.
The influence and the power of the Vatican City were not left in the past though. It is the center, the heart of the Catholic Church and, as such, because Catholicism is still one of the single largest religions in the entire world, it remains as a highly influential and visible presence in the world today.
In between the priceless art houses in the Museums, the beautiful architecture that is St Peters Basilica and the religious significance of the Pope, the Vatican City has become one of the most popular destinations in the world for travelers. It is the embodiment of some of the more significant parts of both Western and Italian history, opening a window onto the past, a past that lives on today.
The iPhone is one of the world’s most iconic devices and, in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t very old. But when did it begin? Where did the idea come from?
The very first iPhone was unveiled in January 2007 at the MacWorld convention. Steve Jobs revealed what Apple had been developing for nearly 3 years and, for its time, it represented the cutting edge of technology.
The device was introduced as an iPod with a wider screen, controlled by touch instead of physical buttons. In short, it was a mobile phone and a device to communicate with the internet. At the time, Jobs told the audience that this device would “reinvent the phone”.
While revealing the design of this new device, Jobs took time out to make fun of the current smartphones on the market, ones that relied on a physical keyboard and were unwieldy to use. He showed off how simple it was to control a phone using simple touch gestures on a screen and the audience were hooked.
The world’s financial markets are destined to be stuck in a loop, forever repeating history, as overspending and bad business decisions result in financial crisis for everyone. This has been the pattern in the world since the financial industry began.
A look back over the last 30 years or so sees the same pattern repeating itself – excessive and unrestrained exuberance, poor regulations, poor accounting and a sense that “it won’t happen to me”.
This is a look at some of worst crises to hit the world markets since 1980 and how, it would seem, lessons are never learned.
1982 – Latin American Sovereign Debt
This crisis occurred when a number of Latin American countries, who had been irrationally spending and running up deb for years, suddenly took stock and realized they had no hope of paying it back.
Mexico, Argentina and Brazil were the biggest culprits, using borrowed money for infrastructure and development. Their economies were in a boom period and banks were happy to loan money. In just 7 years, the debt in Latin America quadrupled.
The crunch cane when the world went into recession in the late seventies – interest rose, currencies fell and, in August 1982, the then Mexican Finance minister, Jesus Silva-Herzog, declared that Mexico could not pay.
1980’s Savings and Loans Crisis
While the problem in Latin America was being resolved another one was taking place in America. The Savings and Loans crisis lasted for more than a decade following the breakdown of more than 700 different savings and loans associations in America.
It happened because each of these associations was lending money long term at fixed rates but was using short-term cash. Interest rates went up, many companies were insolvent but, because of a stream of deregulation that happened when Ronald Reagan was the president, many managed to appear as if they were actually still solvent.
1987 – Stock Market Crash
Despite what happened in the eighties, lessons were not learned and another two crises happened before 1989. The biggest one was the stock market crash of 1987, now commonly known as Black Monday.
Stock markets around the world fell fast, including the US where the Dow Jones lost 23% of its value in hit. There is still, to this day, much debate about the cause of the crash but the consensus seems to be program trading and its growth.
It lasted only a very short time and. By December of the same year, the markets were on the up again and everything was back to normal, as if it had never happened.
1989 – Junk Bond Crash
This one resulted in a rather significant recession in the US and there is still disagreement about the cause. Most people point the finger at the buyout of UAL, costing $6.75 billion, while other says it was the Ohio Mattress Fiasco.
Whatever the reason, the result was one of the most expensive to ever hit the US and it resulted in the closure of one of the largest investment banks in the US, Drexel Burnham Lambert, who dealt heavily in Junk Bonds.
1994 – Tequila crisis
This one was kicked off by the sudden devaluation of the Peso in Mexico and it resulted in an interest rate crisis of massive proportions. The cause of it was the new President abolishing tight currency controls that were put in place by his predecessor. His reasoning was that, although they stabilized the market, the controls also place a huge strain on the country’s finances.
Before he took power, banks were lending at low rates and with Chiapas, one of the poorer southern states, rebelling, the peso fell in value by almost 50% in the space of a week. The US bailed Mexico out to the tune of a $50 billion loan and the economy picked up almost immediately.
1997 – 1998 – Asia Crisis
Over 15 years after the LatAm crisis in 1982, history repeated itself in Asia. The Thailand currency, the baht, collapsed in July 1997 after the government was forced it float it on the market.
Thailand was in debt in a big way, money it could pay back even before their currency broke down and the financial crisis quickly spread across Asia. Once again, the IMF came to rescue with a bailout to the tune of $40 million but the exact same thing happened in Russia just one year later.
1999 – 2000 – Dotcom Bubble
Once again, the financial markets forget everything that had happened in the past and the result was the burst of the Dotcom bubble in 2000. Preceding the crash, stocks in technology and internet pushed the stock format into a bull market, crating millionaires overnight.
The fact that so few people actually made any money was largely ignored and hysteria continued to build until the inevitable burst in 2000. The economy put the brakes on and interest rates went up, resulting in companies going bust everywhere.
2007 – Date – Global Financial Crisis
A mere few years after that crash, the world went into its nastiest meltdown yet, resulting in the European Sovereign debt crisis. Many major financial institutions collapsed and this is considered to be the worst crisis to hit since the Great Depression.
There are many causes to this crisis but the main starting point was when the US housing market crashed. That crisis is ongoing to this day and, although many countries are now struggling out of the depths, it is expected to be several years before full recovery is experienced.
Have we learned our lessons?
Probably not. It seems that the world’s financial markets are stuck in an endless loop of repeating themselves. Markets boom, prices and interest rise. It reaches a point where it can’t be sustained and everything crashes to the floor.
Every time there is a crisis, new regulations are brought out to prevent a recurrence. It doesn’t work and there are those that believe we need the crashes to make the world a stronger place
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