History's 10 greatest forgotten moments

The history of humanity is much more than a series of dates and facts that we study at school. On many occasions, for different reasons, events of great importance have been left out of official history and as a result have been completely forgotten. In this slideshow we will look at 10 little-known historic events.

The city of Cahokia

Cahokia was a city that existed between 400 BC and 1400BC on the banks of the Mississippi River in what is now the state of Missouri in United States. Until its disappearance, it was the largest native civilisation in North America. Often forgotten by historians, this place holds many secrets and little is known about the descendants of the tribe which created the largest urban centre of the Mesoamerican peoples in the north. A museum has been created next to the archaeological remains of Cahokia, near the city of St. Louis, to spread knowledge of the site’s legacy.

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Gil Eannes’ exploration of Cape Bojador

Gil Eannes was a Portuguese explorer who sailed under the command of Henry the Navigator, the third child of King John I of Portugal. Despite the fact that it has been forgotten by history, his exploration south of Cape Bojador in 1434 marked a milestone in the advance of colonialism. Although the area, located to south east of the Canary Islands on the northern coast of the Western Sahara, had already been discovered, this navigator was the first to advance to the south and disprove fearsome legends and myths about the region. His arrival at Cape Bojador was a key element in Portuguese colonial expansion, which brought about a period of great wealth and economic development for the kingdom.

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The Peshtigo fire

The Great Chicago Fire of October 8, 1871, which killed hundreds and destroyed large parts of the city was considered to be one of the greatest disasters to hit the United States in the 19th Century. It is perhaps for this reason that another fire which occurred on the same day, and in which between 1,500 and 2,500 people are believed to have died, has largely been forgotten. The fire which occurred in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, destroyed thousands of hectares of forest and devastated several communities, claiming many lives. There are several theories that seek to connect the two tragedies. For example, one theory proposes that fragments of the comet "Biela" could have caused both fires.

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The sinking of the SS Sultana

The SS Sultana was a steamboat that exploded on 27 April, 1865, in what is the largest naval tragedy in the history of the United States. Despite the fact that an estimated total of 1,730 people were killed in the tragedy the event that has now been virtually forgotten by the American public. The vessel, which was carrying mainly Union soldiers in the closing days of the American Civil War, sank after three of its four boilers exploded. It is believed that the cause was poor maintenance. The sinking was overshadowed by the death of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, the day before.

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Air-naval landing at Alhucemas

On 8 September, 1925, Spanish and French troops landed on the shores of Morocco, during the Rif War, in what became the first air-naval landing in history. Despite the fact that the landing involved more than 13,000 soldiers and can be said to have blazed a trail for similar amphibious operations during the Second World War, this military action has not been remembered by many. Planned to take place the day before, the landing had to be postponed due to bad weather. When the operation did commence, the landings were preceded by a bombardment of the shore by aeroplanes and cannons to prepare the way for the troops to come ashore at nightfall.

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The British invasions of Buenos Aires

Everyone rightly remembers the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina in 1982. However, what most people do not know is that it was not the first time British and Argentine forces had clashed. British troops twice attempted to capture Buenos Aires in 1806 and 1807. The invasions were part of the Napoleonic Wars, as Britain sought to seize the colonial possessions of France’s ally Spain. The British soldiers were twice defeated by local militia and a similar attempt to take Montevideo in Uruguay was also thwarted. The victories are seen as vital in setting Argentina on the path to eventual independence from Spain as they helped empower the local population.

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The destruction of the Temple of Artemis

This temple was considered one of the "Seven Wonders of the Ancient" before it was destroyed in a fire in 356 BC. Located in the city of Ephesus, in what is now modern-day Turkey, the building was dedicated to the goddess Artemis (Diana to the Romans). The temple was built about 550 BC on the orders of Croesus, the King of Lydia. However, this majestic construction was lost to history in a devastating fire caused by arson.

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Malinche's betrayal

Malinche, also known as Doña Marina, was one of the women given to Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés in 1459 by defeated native people in what is present-day Tabasco in Mexico. Due to her knowledge of different languages she became his interpreter. However, there relationship deepened and they had a son together. Malinche played an active part in the operations against the Aztecs. Indeed, she is often seen as a traitor of her people for both her role as the conquistador’s lover and as a facilitator of the strategies of the Spanish in Latin America.

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The destruction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, created by King Nebuchadnezzar II for his palace next to the Euphrates in modern-day Iraq, were considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and their decline and destruction accompanied the decline of the Babylonian Empire. It is said that they were a gift from the Emperor to his wife, as she was missing the lush vegetation of her homeland in the Media. Described by contemporary authors for their sublime beauty, the gardens had their moment of glory around 600 BC but were later abandoned when the Empire fell into decline. By the time off Alexander the Great’s arrival, the gardens were already in ruins and some suggest they were eventually destroyed by earthquakes that took place between 200 BC and 100 BC.

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Hannibal’s elephants

In the spring of 218 BC, Carthaginian general Hannibal set off from Sagunto, on the Spanish coast, to invade northern Italy with 50,000 men, 9,000 horses and more than 30 elephants. His aim in crossing both the Pyrenees and the Alps was to take the Romans by surprise. Little is known about the elephants that Hannibal used in his epic invasion. Many argue that they belong to a type of smaller and more manageable elephant that is now extinct. What is certain is that they had travelled from India to Carthage (now Tunisia) to take part in Hannibal’s military adventure.

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