Reckon you know your history? Don’t be so sure! Over the centuries, plenty of facts have been twisted, exaggerated, and even completely made-up. Many of these misconceptions are believed by just about everyone, and in some cases even end up in the history books! You think Lincoln freed the slaves? That street gunfights were common in the Wild West? Then you’ve fallen victim to these falsehoods too! Fear not, for in this article we have collected the five most common historical misconceptions in order to set the record straight once and for all.
5. The Pyramids Were Built By Egyptian Slaves
Hollywood movies have always depicted the Egyptian pyramids being built by thousands of slaves that had been captured by the Egyptian people. However as of a few years ago, Egyptian archaeologists discovered brand new tombs that belonged to the people who had helped construct the pyramids. The tombs were perfectly preserved and inside they contained the skeleton remains, amongst containers that had once held beer and bread for the afterlife (treatment that slaves would definitely not have received).
4. The Wild West Loved a Good Gunfight
Wrong, wrong and WRONG! You may think the Wild West is all about gunfights in the midst of showdowns, honour, fancy shooters and crooked sheriffs… but this has all been fabricated by our wonderful friend, Hollywood. Here’s a statistic for you to get your head round: the average murder count in an old-west town each year was 1.5 persons. In fact, you are more likely to get killed in the USA today than in the old west. Of course, if at any point in your life you come to some kind of misunderstanding during a game of poker with Clint Eastwood and he’s packing heat… head for the hills!
3. Lincoln Freed The Slaves
Bet you believed this one! Contrary to the popular version of history, Lincoln’s 1863 decree did not technically free anyone – the law only applied to the areas of America under the rule of the Confederacy, who obviously didn’t obey it. It was not until 1865, when the 13th Amendment to the United States’ constitution was passed, that the institution of slavery was officially abolished.
2. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb
Despite being a great inventor, Thomas Edison did not actually invent the light bulb. For at least fifty years before his breakthrough, dozens of inventors and chemists were experimenting using electricity to generate light. Charles Brush even started his own arc lighting business in 1877, which was two years before Edison’s work with incandescent light. Edison’s real achievement is for creating an incandescent bulb that burned long enough to be practical for home use.
1. Ancient Rome Was Filled With White Marble Statues
When you think of Ancient Rome, what comes to mind? If your ideas about history are anything like those of the masses, then you probably imagine great white marble statues throughout the empire. Afraid not! The truth is, these statues were painted in bright and realistic colors. It’s important to remember that classical Roman architecture is thousands of years old, so we can forgive their paint jobs for not standing up to the test of time. Scientists have used tiny traces of paint pigment to reconstruct what the statues once looked like – just check out the bust above! So, next time you imagine ancient Rome, or even watch a typical film about it, add a splash of color for a touch of historical accuracy!
This article was contributed by Tom, an eager traveller and history buff. Currently on a historical sight-seeing journey through Singapore and Hong Kong, he blogs on behalf of HotelClub.com.