History Guild General History Quiz 176
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History Quiz 176

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The stories behind the questions

1. How long did the Berlin Wall stand?

28 years – Built in 1961 to stop an exodus of East Germans to the West and falling in 1989, at least 140 people were killed trying to cross this barrier. The period leading up to its fall in 1989 saw increasing instability in the Eastern Bloc countries. Concerts played by David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band in West and East Berlin contributed to this atmosphere, leading to further demonstrations, protests and riots in East Berlin.

2. Where did Australia’s largest prison breakout occur?

Cowra, 1944 – In August 1944 hundreds of Japanese prisoners of war ran towards the barbed wire fences brandishing makeshift weapons such as sharpened table knives and clubs. 334 prisoners escaped, all being recaptured in the following days. Four Australian soldiers and 231 Japanese prisoners were killed, while a further 108 prisoners and three guards were wounded.

3. How old was the Great Sphinx at Giza when Roman historian Pliny the Elder wrote about it?

2,600 years – Created around 2500 BCE for the pharaoh Khafre, the builder of the Second Pyramid at Giza. Pliny saw and wrote about the Great Sphinx around 70 CE, reporting that it was coloured red. Thus we are closer to the time when Pliny wrote about the Sphinx than he was to its construction.

4. Where did the 2003-2011 War in Darfur occur?

Sudan – Beginning in 2003 when the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement rebel groups began fighting the government of Sudan, which they accused of oppressing Darfur’s non-Arab population. Other factors at the roots of the event were conflicts between semi-nomadic livestock herders and those who practice sedentary agriculture, water access, and the Second Sudanese Civil War.

In 2011, a referendum was held to determine whether South Sudan should become an independent country and separate from Sudan. South Sudan, with the majority of the population adhering either to indigenous religions or Christianity, formally became independent from Sudan (predominantly Muslim). The country continues to be ravaged by civil wars, is the least developed country in the world, and faces a massive humanitarian crisis.

5. What was the Roman name for the town of Bath?

Aquae Sulis – Latin for ‘the waters of Sulis’ around 60 CE the Romans built baths and a temple in the valley of the River Avon, at the site of existing known hot springs. Around 410 CE the baths fell into disrepair. In the Elizabethan era the city experienced a revival as a spa, the baths were improved and the city began to attract the aristocracy to bathe in the supposedly health giving waters.

6. Which artwork was sensationally stolen in 1911 and recovered in 1913, increasing its fame?

The Mona Lisa – Italian museum worker Vincenzo Peruggia, who had worked at the Louvre, stole the painting in 1911 then attempted to sell the Mona Lisa to an art gallery in Florence in 1913. He was arrested but claimed that he had only wanted to return the painting to its homeland in Florence. The theft helped to make the Mona Lisa the famous work it is today.

7. What crisis led to Robert Walpole becoming Britain’s first Prime Minister in 1721?

The South Seas Company stock market bubble – The South Seas Company was provided with a Royal monopoly on slave trading with the Spanish Empire. Many Britons invested in the company which developed into a Ponzi scheme. The collapse saw the Chancellor of the Exchequer arrested and Walpole taking a prominent role in the recovery.

8. What was the first movie to be released with a licencing deal that included t-shirts, books, comics, games and many toys?

Star Wars – The toys alone were a spectacular success, making over $100 million in its first year alone and with demand often outstripping supply. The licencing franchise has generated over $20 billion in revenue from merchandise.

9. When were bayonets first used in combat?

1647 – An evolution from the pikeman who protected early musketeers, the bayonet allowed firearms troops to have their own means of defence. They were initially a plug type, which was pushed into the end of the barrel after the musket was fired. From this the socket bayonet was developed, which allowed the weapon to be loaded and fired with the bayonet in place.

10. Built in 1843, what was the first iron ship to cross an ocean?

SS Great Britain – Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, she was the largest passenger ship in the world from 1845 to 1854. Built of iron and propelled by a screw propeller she was the first to combine these features in a large ocean-going ship. In 1845 she crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 14 days.

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