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Historical Facts That Sound Made Up, But Are Actually True

Samantha Franco

History is a treasure trove of astonishing stories that often sound more like fiction than fact. However, some things that seem far-fetched are actually true historical oddities that baffle our perception of time. Below is a list of true historical facts that seriously warp our understanding of our human historical timeline. Continue scrolling on to learn more about these unique historical facts.

Queen Elizabeth II reigned for almost 30 percent of US history

A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II overtop of a map of the US.
(Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images and Samir Hussein / WireImage / Getty Images)

Despite all of the incredible accomplishments the US has made on the global stage, in the grand scheme of things, the United States is a pretty young country. The Declaration of Independence was only signed in 1776, meaning that the country has existed for less than 250 years.

Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne on February 6, 1952, when she was just 25 years old. She ruled for 70 years until her death on September 8, 2022. If we count 2022 in the equation, Queen Elizabeth II reigned for over 28 percent of America’s history!

The fax machine was invented before the telephone

A woman working an old fax machine.
(Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

The fax machine – the everywhere technology of the 1980s and 1990s. The fax machine was the way to send important documents across large distances during this time, and it appeared to be directly linked to the telephone. However, did you know that the fax machine was invented before the telephone?

While Alexander Graham Bell won the first US patent for the telephone in 1876, inventor Alexander Bain filed the first patent for a fax machine in 1843. It looked nothing like the fax machines of the 1980s and 1990s, and it sent messages over telegraph lines.

Nintendo and the Ottoman Empire existed at the same time

A painting of people from the Ottoman Empire with the Nintendo logo on top.
(Photo Credit: Fausto Zonaro / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain and FTCjuan08 / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Another time warp that we can’t really get our heads around is the fact that Nintendo existed at the same time as the Ottoman Empire. When we think of Nintendo, images of video games like Super Mario Brothers, Legend of Zelda, and Pokémon flash before our eyes, but in reality, Nintendo as a company was established long before the advent of video games. Founded in 1889, Nintendo is actually one of the oldest companies in the world.

The Ottoman Empire was first founded in 1299, and because of this, when we think back to its existence, we remember it as practically ancient. However, the empire existed for over 600 years, lasting all the way until 1922. This means that there is an overlap of 33 years between the Ottoman Empire and Nintendo!

Brain surgery happened before the written word was invented

An illustration of the steps of trepanning.
(Photo Credit: Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

Probably one of the most difficult jobs in the world is that of a brain surgeon. Performing surgery on the brain is nearly as complex as the brain itself, so one would assume the practice is relatively new. However, at the root of it, “brain surgery” has been happening for several millennia.

Known as “trepanning,” people have been surgically cutting into skulls dating as far back as the New Stone Age. The written word wasn’t even around until 3400 BC, making it far older! However, motivations to do so were far different than they are now. People who suffered from mental illness would be “operated on,” as it was believed that cutting into the skull would release the pressure on the brain that was causing the illness. Of course, without scientific medical knowledge, it is estimated that only 40 percent of people who received trepanning surgery actually survived.

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Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!