6 Interesting Events You May Not Have Learned In History Class

Interesting Events Body On Ground

Source: Hyper Vocal

The Jonestown Massacre, 1978

Perhaps one of the most disturbing events in modern history, the Jonestown Massacre was the site of the largest recorded mass suicide and the the point of origin for the phrase “drinking the kool-aid”. On November 18, 1978, over 900 people from the settlement of Jonestown, Guyana, willingly died from cyanide poisoning.

The settlement was established by Jim Jones, a communist who founded his own church – the People’s Temple – in 1950. Jonestown was meant to be a utopia for its citizens, but as so often is the case, fell far short of its idyllic goals.

Jonestown was a cesspool for illness, hard labor, overcrowded housing and food shortages. In 1978, Congressman Leo Ryan visited Jonestown as part of an investigation, but he and several members of his party died in a shooting at an airstrip outside of Jonestown.

Interesting Events Jonestown Aerial

An aerial view of the massacre.

Jones grew paranoid after the assassination, and gathered the congregation to inform them that they were no longer safe from the US government. Jones told his congregation that the only way to escape from their clutches was to commit a “revolutionary act” of suicide. Over 900 people took part. Jonestown residents infused grape flavored Flavor-Aid with cyanide and Valium, administering it to children through syringes. According to reports, 918 people died, though a few did survive.

Interesting Events Jonestown Massacre Kool Aid

Source: NPR

Interesting Events: Tunguska Explosion, 1908

Interesting Events Tunguska Explosion

Source: NASA

On June 30, 1908, an explosion that was equal to more than 2,000 atomic bombs, estimated to have the effects of a 5.0 magnitude earthquake, and was as hot and bright as the sun shook the wilderness of Tunguska, Siberia. Millions of trees fell and dust from the explosion lit up the night sky, all of which was able to be seen as far away as London.

Interesting Events Tunguska Siberia

Source: Science Buzz

To this date, nobody is quite sure what caused the event. Witnesses claim that a fireball descended from the sky to cause the devastation, though some scientists believe that a meteor exploded just above the ground.

Some wilder theories posit that a UFO crashed into Earth, that it was all Nikola Tesla’s fault, and even that a black hole touched the Earth.

Interesting Events Tunguska Aerial View

An aerial view of Tunguska. Source: Slate

Pax Romana, 27 B.C.E – 180 C.E.

Interesting Events Pax Romana Map

Source: Adeva Herranz

The Pax Romana (literally translated as: Roman peace) was, as you might have guessed, the 200-year period of relative peace in the Roman Empire.

It began when Octavian became the leader of the Roman Empire, and ushered a period of peace, prosperity and innovation to an empire that had been plagued by civil war and bloodshed after the death of Julius Caesar.

In battle, Octavian defeated Lepidus as well as Marc Antony’s naval force, and was thus bestowed the title of Augustus. Though his rule only lasted 41 years, Octavian laid the groundwork for the peace and stability of the Pax Romana for centuries to come.

Interesting Events Pax Romana Roads

Source: US History

The Pax Romana heralded many accomplishments including roads made from sand, cement and stone that linked the vast areas of the Empire (which spanned from present-day England to Morrocco and Iraq), and allowed for the transportation of troops. A postal system was refined and granted the empire a better communication system. Aqueducts and plumbing were established to carry water to cities and farms.

The Pantheon was erected, and some of the finest literary minds – Horace, Livy, and Virgil among others – were honed. The period of peace not only improved Roman daily life, but had resounding effects in history that still influence modern society.

Interesting Events Pax Romana Pantheon

Source: Wikimedia

The ‘Lost Colony’ of Roanoke, 1587

Interesting Events Roanoke Colony

Source: Wikipedia

In 1587, John White led 117 people to establish a permanent English settlement in Roanoke Island, located in present day North Carolina. The colony existed for two years, but tensions with the native population – particularly the Powhatans living on Croatoan Island – made life there grim and hostile, and supplies dwindled.

John White was forced to return to England to get reinforcements that might ease hostilities and supplies for the colony.

Interesting Events Lost Colony Map

A map of Roanoke. Source: Williamsburg Private Tours

Interesting Events Huts Roanoke

Source: Blogspot

Delays (namely the war with Spain) kept White away from Roanoke for three years, and when he eventually did return, he found that the entire colony – including his wife and daughter – had completely disappeared.

Thatched-roof cottages were dismantled, not a single living soul from the original population was to be seen, and the only signs of life were a shoddily constructed fort and the words “CROATOAN” and “CRO” carved on a post and tree, respectively.

Conclusive proof as to what happened to the settlement remains elusive, and none of its members were ever seen again.