29+ Moments in History That Happened Much Later (or Earlier) Than We Realized


| LAST UPDATE 08/29/2022

By Elena White

Growing up, we learned about many historical events worldwide. But after placing them in a timeline, we've been left with lots of questions. Here are some surprising historical dates that have warped our sense of time…

Oxford University

It's no secret that Oxford University is an age-old academic institution. Many of the greatest scholars in history walked through its hallways, crediting the prestigious education for their success.

Oxford University Aztec EmpireOxford University Aztec Empire
Zhushenje via Wikimedia Commons

What many don't realize, though, is that when they say old, they're not using that phrase that lightly. Oxford has been around in some form since 1096. To help truly comprehend that date, think of the fact that the Aztec Empire, the oldest empire in the world, was established 200 years later in 1430!

Pablo Picasso

We might hear the name Picasso and think of olden-day valuable artwork that's been around for years. But surprisingly, a Picasso painting isn't as much of a relic as we would think. As it turns out, its high-price point arises from the incredible quality and design - and not its age because Picasso was born just last century!

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RALPH GATTI/AFP via Getty Images

This may come as a surprise to some, but Pablo Picasso was actually around more recently than the rock and roll icon Jimi Hendrix. Although Hendrix entered the world 61 years after Picasso was born, he was outlived by the artist, who passed away at the age of 91 - three years after the death of Hendrix at age 27.

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The Egyptian Pyramids

The Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt are listed as one of the seven wonders of the world for a reason. Their beautiful, breathtaking structure was beyond its time in terms of architectural skills and design, impressing people to this day. They were famously created without any modern machinery.

Great Pyramids Egypt GizaGreat Pyramids Egypt Giza
SAFIN HAMED/AFP via Getty Images

So, how old are the pyramids? Was there really no form of modern-day technologies around at the time? Constructed between 2550 and 2490 B.C. as part of a construction revolution, they were around at the same time as the pre-historical woolly mammoths! The last one of these creatures died 900 years later!

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Formation Of Italy

We had no idea that the country of Italy and the billion-dollar global corporation, Coca-Cola, were almost the same age! Just five years after the states of the Italian Peninsula decided to unite and form the country of Italy, a pharmacist in Atlanta made a groundbreaking discovery.

Italy History Coca ColaItaly History Coca Cola
Mongolo1984 via Wikimedia Commons

In 1886, Dr. John S. Pemberton made his way down the street to present his "delicious and refreshing" Coca-Cola syrup to the local pharmacy. What happened next is no secret. Does that make Coca-Cola really old? Or is Italy surprisingly young? We're not sure what to think about this revelation.

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In another unexpected historical fact, when Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart sat down to play his ever concert, America, as we know it today, did not yet exist. In fact, at the height of his career, when he was employed as a court musician at the Salzburg court from 1773-1777, America was just beginning to form.

Wolfgang Mozart American IndependenceWolfgang Mozart American Independence
Brandstaetter Images via Getty Images

One year before the end of his time at the Salzburg court, the American delegates signed the Declaration of Independence amidst the American Revolutionary War. The music Mozart created, which is still so popular today, is older than The United States of America.

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Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire, led by Suleiman the Magnificent at its peak, held great levels of control over many parts of Southeast Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa. Established in 1299, it's often associated with the ancient medieval period of the 13th century. However, it remained relevant until the 20th century!

Ottoman Empire Turkey RuleOttoman Empire Turkey Rule
DeAgostini via Getty Images

It was not until 1918, when the Empire famously sided with Germany during World War II, that it was dissolved. When the Chicago Cubs baseball team finally won a world series in 2016, they had been on a losing streak since their last win in 1908, a time when the Ottoman Empire was still thriving!

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The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most iconic structures in the world. Instantly recognizable as the heart and soul of Paris, it's hard to imagine the 'city of love' without its magic. Over 133 years ago, in 1889, the tower's opening ceremony took place, introducing the world to the then tallest building on the global record.

Eiffel Tower Paris HistoryEiffel Tower Paris History
DeAgostini via Getty Images

That same year, across the pond, the first ever issue of the Wall Street Journal was released to the world, becoming a literary icon and a staple part of the New York City lifestyle. While the majority of people are familiar with both of these creations, very few will know they came about within the same year.

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Machu Picchu

It's the number one tourist spot for anyone visiting Peru. They promise that a trek to the top of the mountain will prove worthwhile when one looks over the remains of what was once the Inca civilization. Built back in 1450 A.D., it's hard to imagine what else was around at this time.

Machu Picchu Peru HistoryMachu Picchu Peru History

According to carbon dating, just twenty-three years later, the construction of the Sistine Chapel began in 1473. Located in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City, it is the official residence of the pope. More than 260 popes later, today, Pope Francis calls the Chapel home.

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Fascist Spain

All countries develop at different speeds and in different ways. The factors that influence this are the subject of many anthropological theories and discussions, but one case study that serves as perhaps the most fascinating comparison of all took place in the 1970s.

Fascist Spain Microsoft DevelopmentFascist Spain Microsoft Development
Gure Gipuzkoa via Wikimedia Commons

From October 1936 until November 1975, Spain was ruled by Francisco Franco, the fascist dictator. While Spain was suffering under his cruel rule, falling economically behind the times, America was storming forward, with Bill Gates launching Microsoft - the technology that pretty much changed the world.

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World War I

When asked what historical event in the early 20th century was responsible for killing the most people, many would be quick to say World War I. The deadly conflict, which raged on from 1914 till November 11, 1918, involved most of the world's countries and caused an estimated 37 million deaths.

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The year the war ended, a worldwide flu pandemic spread far and wide, killing most people it reached. Known as the Spanish Flu, this epidemic killed an estimated 50 million people in total. This figure officially marks it as a more immense tragedy than the war and the most significant cause of death during the early 20th century.

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Daytona 500

The Daytona 500 is a 500-mile motor race held annually by the NASCAR Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. This spectacular sporting event has now become a calendar highlight for every passionate race car driver fan.

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Ray Brock/The Enthusiast Network via Getty Images

Over sixty years later, it's hard to remember the event's humble beginnings. At the inaugural 1959 race, Lee Petty was declared the winner. Another thing declared that year was Hawaii, which was formally made a state at the same time. For as long as we've had Daytona 500, we've had Hawaii.

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Frank Sinatra 

Frank Sinatra, the American singer and actor, is often referred to as one of the most popular performers of the '40s, '50s and '60s. Having sold over 150 million records, he is easily listed among the world's best-selling music artists. On May 14, 1998, he passed away at the age of 82.

Frank Sinatra Seinfeld NBCFrank Sinatra Seinfeld NBC
William Gottlieb/Redferns via Getty Images

That day, the world lost two transformative pillars in entertainment: the popular musician and the decade's favorite comedy sitcom, Seinfeld. After the first episode aired on NBC on July 5, 1989, the world of comedy was forever changed, with the show marked as the blueprint for every future comedy series to follow.

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Apollo 14

When Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell landed on the moon after the launch of Apollo 14, it marked a new era of world development. While it was the third Apollo mission to land on the moon, it was the first to land in the lunar highlands. It returned safely to Earth on February 9, 1971.

Apollo 14 Moon HistoryApollo 14 Moon History
NASA via Wikimedia Commons

While the world was celebrating this incredible achievement in universe discovery, a certain group of people was celebrating their own personal victory, having just been granted a fundamental right. Only this year, in 1971, the women of Switzerland were given the right to vote on a Federal Level.

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London Tower Bridge

Anyone who's visited London will be well aware of its rich architectural history. With the country thousands of years old, many of the buildings are relics, standing the test of time. However, one structure that is surprisingly not that old is the London Tower Bridge, which is outdated by many other bridges.

London Tower Brooklyn BridgeLondon Tower Brooklyn Bridge
John Phillips via Getty Images

One famous bridge of note that was built before Tower Bridge was The Brooklyn Bridge. The latter opened on May 24, 1883, marking the world's longest suspension bridge at the time. Eleven years later, on June 30, 1894, Tower Bridge was officially opened in a celebration hosted by the Prince and Princess of Wales.

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Harriet The Tortoise

Anyone familiar with the work of Charles Darwin will know of Harriet The Tortoise. They will be able to recall how the explorer and theorist collected the reptile during his 1835 visit to the Galápagos Islands and transported her to England and then to Australia. What they may not realize is how long Harriet lived to tell the tale.

Harriet Tortoise Charles DarwinHarriet Tortoise Charles Darwin
Pflodo via Wikimedia Commons

In 2006, it was announced that Darwin's tortoise had passed away at the ripe old age of 175. Located at Steve Irwin's Zoo in Australia, the reptile who once looked Charles Darwin in the eye stuck around on Earth until a few years into the Millennium! As the second longest-lived known tortoise, she truly saw it all.

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The Last Guillotine

Anyone who has attended any history class will be eerily familiar with the concept of death by guillotine. As horrifying as this beheading approach was, most of us sleep well at night comforted by the knowledge that no one has been killed in this way for hundreds of years. Right?

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DAMIEN MEYER/AFP via Getty Images

Actually, the last guillotine execution took place in France on Sept 10, 1977. While, at first, that may sound like a very long time ago, the fact that this occurred almost four months after the first Star Wars film was released may help to give us a better perspective of time. Yikes, that feels very recent.

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Harriet Tubman & Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman were two of the most prominent figures in the civil rights movement. Despite fighting for the same cause, they're often not thought of as co-existing in history. Harriet, who escaped the slavery she was born into, made it her life mission to rescue as many enslaved people as she could.

Harriet Tubman Rosa ParksHarriet Tubman Rosa Parks
Bettman/Corbis via Wikimedia Commons

A month before she passed away, on March 10, 1913, another social activist named Rosa Parks was born. Referred to as "the mother of the civil rights movement," Parks made waves for the racial inequality movement when she refused to give up her seat for a white man. These activist icons co-existed for a brief moment in time.

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Dr. Who

This timeline of events is slightly crazy to comprehend, but just one night after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the first ever episode of Dr. Who was aired. Two completely unrelated events that occupied the same space of time had an unplanned and unlikely interaction.

Dr. Who JFK HistoryDr. Who JFK History
Studio Canal via Shutterstock

Despite the big build-up to the Nov 23rd airing of the Dr. Who pilot, it was all quickly overshadowed by the death of the US President, John F. Kennedy, on Nov. 22, 1963. The media, incredibly distracted by the incident, failed to give the show the recognition it desired, as the episode was re-aired one week later.

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Although today's youth learn about the terrorist attacks of 9/11 as a historical event, many adults today vividly remember their intricate details, having been alive to witness it. Most Americans, in particular, will be able to easily recall the fear and sadness felt amongst the people.

9/11 Attacks Conspiracy Theory9/11 Attacks Conspiracy Theory
National Park Service via Wikimedia Commons

What would shock most is that these September 11th attacks occurred over seventeen years ago. While it may still feel relatively recent to today, it is actually closer in time to the fall of the Berlin Wall, which took place twelve years earlier, in November 1989.

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First Airplane

Heading to the airport, going through security, and walking through the tunnel onto the plane, most of us think of flying as somewhat routine at this point. We've become so accustomed to being able to fly where we want, when we want, that we can't imagine a time that the plane wasn't an available transport option.

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Kguirnela via Wikimedia Commons

Believe it or not, the first ever airplane was only created in the last century. In 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright made history when they completed four flights at Kitty Hawk. Forty years later, when the atomic bomb was created on July 16, 1945, Orville Wright was still around to witness it!

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The Wizard of Oz

Premiering in the US on Aug. 25, 1939, and starring Judy Garland, The Wizard Of Oz movie was an instant blockbuster hit. With her green skin and wicked cackle, the Wicked Witch of the West sent shivers down the audience's spines. The real horrors, however, were occurring away from the theater.

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Mgm/Kobal via Shutterstock

At the same time the movie was released, serious and tragic events were taking place in Eastern Europe. Just days after the premiere, on September 1, 1939, the Germans invaded Poland. From then on, the German war effort picked up speed, and millions of lives were lost.

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Abolition of Slavery

Slavery was a dark period in history. The well-known US slave trade involved the brutal yet legalized capture, selling, and abuse of African people as slaves. In 1865, the 13th Amendment was adopted as part of the United States Constitution, officially ending slavery in the US. Outside of the US, however, was a different story.

Slave Trade Mauritania Abolition Slave Trade Mauritania Abolition
John Raphael Smith via Wikimedia Commons

In many other parts of the world, slavery remained legal, keeping it relevant till more recently than we'd think. In fact, when Steve Jobs introduced the first iPod to the world in 2001, there were still legal slaves. Six years and six iPods later, Mauritania finally made slavery illegal, the last country to do so.

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Russian Serfdom

On the topic of slavery, Russian Serfdom, which officially recognized peasants as slaves to their landlords, also remained in place for longer than the average person may realize. Established in 1649, it was legal for over two hundred years and was finally abolished by the tsar in 1861.

Russian Serfdom Abolition UndergroundRussian Serfdom Abolition Underground
Fine Art Images/Heritage Images via Getty Images

Placing this in a timeline of other monumental historical events, the famous London Underground opened just two years after this. The first train ran between Paddington and Farringdon Street as part of the Metropolitan Line and was the first urban, underground railway in the world.

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Anne Frank

Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who wrote in her diary while bravely hiding from the horrors of war, is the ultimate war hero who showed internal strength even at the worst of times. While most will confidently date her to World War II, it's unlikely they realize she was alive at the same time as another famous historical hero.

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Beyond My Ken via Wikimedia Commons

Like Frank, Martin Luther King Jr. represented a persecuted minority, treated as inferior. They both fought for human compassion and mutual respect, dreaming of a better, more tolerant society. Both born in 1929, in Germany and the US respectively, they were unknowingly fighting the same world at the same time. 

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Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison was the brains behind some of the world's most genius creations. Born in 1847, he created the lightbulb, Automatic Telegraph, Movie Camera and Viewer, Carbon Telephone Transmitter, and more. Over his lifetime, he obtained 1,093 U.S. patents for his various ideas. The world lost a legend when he passed in 1931.

Thomas Edison Empire StateThomas Edison Empire State
Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Months before Edison passed, the Empire State Building was opened. In what seemed like an iconic marking of his legacy, the skyscraper had thousands of lightbulbs installed. Moreover, President Herbert Hoover pressed a button at the inaugural opening event to turn them all on at once and officially declare the building open.

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The First McDonald's

Nowadays, one can't go to any mall, airport, or high street without seeing a McDonald's. It's a staple feature of every city and has become synonymous with the rise of capitalism and success. However, back in May 1940, a Big Mac was considered a rare delicacy as the world's first and only McDonald's opened in California.

McDonalds First Chain HolocaustMcDonalds First Chain Holocaust
Bruce Marlin via Wikimedia Commons

One month later, in stark contrast, June 14, 1940, marked the first transport of European Jews as prisoners in Poland. In the midst of World War Two, the German soldiers loaded 728 Polish prisoners onto cattle cars and sent them off to face tragic fates.

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Salem Witch Trials

The Salem Witch Trials were a controversial time in history. Beginning in America in 1962, more than 200 people were killed due to the belief they were practicing witchcraft, also known as the Devil's magic. Seemingly based on superstition alone, we assume this must have been long before the invention of scientific reasoning - right?

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Baker/Joseph E via Wikimedia Commons

Surprisingly not! Six years prior to the start of the Witch trials in America, Sir Isaac Newton has come forward with his groundbreaking publications outlining the three laws of Motion. This paradigm shift in the world of Physics apparently did not influence the non-scientific belief in witches.

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First Photograph

Photos are everywhere nowadays, flooding our social media channels at all times of the day. We often forget that at one point, no photograph had ever been taken and that the first one to be printed was a worldwide phenomenon. Yes, we used to have to actually print them to see them!

Joseph Niépce First PhotographJoseph Niépce First Photograph
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce via Wikimedia Commons

The first ever photograph was taken in 1826 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. The blurry, muted photo was taken from an upper-floor window on his Burgundy Estate. The second and third US Presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, passed away that same year. That explains why we don't have any photographs of them!

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Abraham Lincoln Assassination

On April 14th, 1865, former US President, Abraham Lincoln, put on his finest suit to see his friend Laura Keene perform in Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Tragically, this is where John Booth shot him in the back of the head, leading to his death.

Lincoln Assassination History ConspiracyLincoln Assassination History Conspiracy
MP via Getty Images

With few forms of intel in existence, Lincoln's security staff had no prior knowledge of the assassination plot against him and could not protect him. The US Secret Service, which could have foiled this plan, was established just months later! Talk about unlucky timing.

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