What are 'pieces of eight'?

Spanish pieces of eight were silver coins worth eight reales. They were shipped in huge quantities between Europe and Mexico by the powerful Spanish empire. Commonly known as dollars, they and the gold doubloon coin were the main targets of pirates.

In 1652 the Massachusetts Bay Company became the first colony to mint its own coins, since because of the English Civil War there was no monarch on the throne of England. The issue of coinage by colonists was strictly prohibited by England, but the Puritans of Massachusetts continued to make their own coins for some thirty years thereafter, stamping the year 1652 on them as a way to circumvent the law.

There were frequent money shortages in the colonies, which usually ran a trade deficit with Europe: the colonies supplied raw goods to Europe, but finished goods, including manufactured items were mostly imported, resulting in an imbalance of trade. Coinage scarce, most colonists conducted trade as barter, exchanging goods and services for the same. The monetary situation on the North American mainland remained tenuous even after the American Revolution (1775–1783). It was not stabilized until after 1785 when Congress established the dollar as the official currency of the new United States.

Credit : Encyclopedia.com

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What was the wooden horse of Troy?

This story is told in Homer's poem, the Iliad. Troy in Asia Minor, had been under siege by the Greeks for 10 years. The Greeks tricked the Trojans into opening the city gates for a great wooden horse, which was full of soldiers hidden inside. Once the gates were opened the Greek army followed and captured Troy.

The Trojans believed the huge wooden horse was a peace offering to their gods and thus a symbol of their victory after a long siege. They pulled the giant wooden horse into the middle of the city.

They didn't realize that the Greeks had hidden a select group of soldiers inside the horse. That night, after the Trojans had gone to bed, the Greek soldiers inside the horse were able to get out and open the gates of the city to let in the remainder of the Greek army, which had sailed back under the cover of night.

Taking the Trojans by surprise in the middle of the night, the Greeks were able finally to conquer Troy. Today, the term “Trojan horse" is still used to refer to any kind of deception or trick that involves getting a target willingly to allow an enemy into a secure place.

The Trojan horse is also the source of the nickname “Trojans" for computer programs — called malware — that can infect computer systems. Many of these harmful programs appear to be useful or merely harmless programs. In this way, they convince users to install and run them, not realizing what harm they can do once they're installed.

Credit : Wonderopolis 

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What were wagon trains?

Rumours began to reach the eastern states of the great rich lands of the West. Stories of great rivers, plentiful supplies of food and gold made families decide to risk everything. They sold their homes and packed everything into a small covered wagon.

Because of the risk from Indians and robbers they travelled in large numbers called wagon trains.

Wagon-train transportation moved westward with the advancing frontier. The 19th century saw the development of such famous roads as the Santa Fe Trail, the Oregon Trail, the Smoky Hill Trail, and the Southern Overland Mail route. It was, however, in transit westward over the Oregon-California Trail that the wagon trains attained their most highly organized and institutionalized character. Meeting in early spring at a rendezvous town, perhaps near the Missouri River, the groups would form companies, elect officers, employ guides, and collect essential supplies while awaiting favourable weather, usually in May. Those riding in the wagons were directed and protected by a few on horseback. Once organized and on their way, wagon-train companies tended to follow a fairly fixed daily routine, from 4 AM rising, to 7 AM leaving, 4 PM encampment, cooking and tending to chores while the animals grazed, and simple recreation before early retirement. The companies had to be prepared for such challenges as crossing rivers and mountains and meeting hostile Indians.

Wagon-train migrations are more widely known and written about than wagon freighting, which also played an essential role in an expanding America. Teamsters, best known as bullwhackers or muleskinners, conducted commercial operations on a more or less fixed two-way schedule until replaced by the railroad and the truck.

Credit :  Britannica 

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What does the word Eskimo' mean?

The people of the Arctic are called Eskimo, which means 'eating it raw. Traditionally, they lived on a diet of raw fish, walrus, seal blubber and whale skin.

They prefer to call themselves 'Inuit', which means 'the people'.

The origin of the word Eskimo is a matter of some contention, but it is generally understood to be of Algonquian origin, Innu-aimun (Montagnais) more specifically. It was long thought to mean “eaters of raw meat.” Algonquian language speakers (including dialects of Cree, Innu-aimun and Ojibwe) have used words to describe the Inuit that would substantiate this definition, including ashkipok (Eastern Ojibwe), eshkipot (Ojibwe), askamiciw (Cree), kachikushu (North Shore Montagnais). (See also Indigenous Languages in Canada.)

However, scholars like Ives Goddard have argued that those forms only support an Ojibwe root, rather than the understood Innu-aimun origin. This theory points to the origin of the word as the Innu-aimun awassimew/ayassimew, which means roughly “one who laces snowshoes.” It is possible that this term was used generally by the Innu to describe the Mi’kmaq, and was later transferred to Inuit upon contact between the two groups. As the word came into use in Ojibwe, its original meaning may have become blurred, as the ashk- prefix can also mean raw or fresh in Ojibwe. French explorers and settlers translated the word toesquimaux, the Danish spelling.

Credit : The Canadian Encyclopedia 

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How do you get gold from a river?

Small pieces of gold get washed down the rivers and collect in quiet pools. People would scoop up the sand from the river and swirl it around in a shallow pan. The heavier pieces of gold would be left at the bottom.

During the Tertiary period, about 2 million years ago, the mountains underwent a lot of twisting and faulting. Many streams were formed, most of which ran in a South-East direction. The benches of these ancient rivers and streams are well known for the rich deposits they contain. These deposits often have a deep blue color, and are called 'Blue lead', which turns a rusty reddish brown after being dug up and exposed to the air. They are often very hard and compacted.

Flood gold can be found at the bottom of flood layers where heavy storms with enough force to move large amounts of gold will produce concentrations. Watch for layers of differing color, hardness and consistency. Some hard layers may masquerade as bedrock, so don't give up if the going gets a little hard. The shortest route idea applies here, also. Sharp bends may show good return in the inside edges quite far from the normal water line.

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