Why I love history and you should too

Written by Brianna Aplin

As a small kid, one of many things I wanted to be was an explorer, and I was so disheartened to learn that the world had already been mapped. It was years later when I realised that history was so fascinating because of the things we know that we don’t know; it gives me the idea that there are things I can still discover, parts of the world that the world doesn’t know about. The Amber room, Cleopatra and Marc Antony’s tomb, Jack the Ripper, and so many more mysteries throughout ancient and modern history.

The Amber room first caught my eye at an age so young I can hardly remember the documentary that introduced it to me. How could an entire room vanish? The Amber room was actually panels made of amber and gold leaf estimated at $142 million in the 2000’s. It could be assembled and disassembled at will, as it was many times. In 1716 the room travelled from Prussia to Russia as a gift, and then moved in 1755, again in 1941, when it was stolen by the Nazis, and eventually it disappeared from Germany during a series of bombings in 1944. Conspiracies range from its fiery destruction in 1944, to at the bottom of the sea on an ill-fated ship. There are stories of a curse that follows the people linked to the room, as they lead short lives of murders and car crashes during investigation periods. It’s fascinating, that we might never know, but one day it could be in the news; “The 8th Wonder of the World has been found.”

Likewise to rooms missing from history, the tomb of Cleopatra and Marc Antony was never found. They were famous lovers, and died within days of each other after their defeat by the hands of Augustus, the first informal King of Rome. If the records of the placement of this fabled tomb were ever declared, it’s been lost to living memory and written documents. Archeologists and historians drool over this one. Tombs contain artifacts, and sealed tombs contain untouched, and for the most part, preserved artifacts. This was why Tutankamun’s tomb is so widely popular, for while small, it was the only tomb found safe from tomb raiders. And who doesn’t love a story about love? Because that’s what Cleopatra and Antony were, lovers with a greater love story than Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with historically, a lot more feminism. Any proof of this tomb is the ending to a great love story, and a historical boon.

So many fictional stories have excuses for Jack the Ripper, utilising the mystery of this particular serial killer to help insinuate that the supernatural creators in these stories were hiding beneath our noses and involved in our world. To be fair to these supernatural claims, Jack the Ripper methodically took two lives in one night, in less time than it takes to travel from one location to the next. With modern technology this killer would have been caught, with cameras and DNA left at the scene. But with the limited facilities of Scotland Yard, it was an impossible task. This is a mystery that any good serial killer fanatic adores, an unexplained murder in smoke covered England with gory and precise medical cuts on the victims. The perfect details for a podcast.

See? How could I not be obsessed with history when it’s a book I haven’t finished? They’re stories that I can feel part of because I might be there for the discovery.