"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia
was written by Pliny the Elder
between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian
, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum
, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification. [more inside]
On July 13, 2010, a cargo container arrived in Genoa, Italy from Saudi Arabia. It was emitting torrents of radiation. No one knew what was inside. And no one knew what to do next.... [more inside]
The Modern Art Iraq Archive
(MAIA) is a resource to trace, share, and enable community enrichment of the modern art heritage of Iraq. Explore the works by artist, browse through related textual materials, or add your own images or stories to the archive.
Audio slideshow: Photography of Sir Wilfred Thesiger
Sir Wilfred Thesiger took nearly 40,000 photographs during his eight decades of travels throughout Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Now, to mark 100 years since his birth, Oxford's Pitt Rivers Museum is displaying some of his most striking images.
Women Explorers and Travellers of Asia and the Middle East - In an age where women struggled for basic human rights, these individuals were literal trailblazers. Leaving their homelands for varying motivations (but often due to dissatisfaction with their social lot in life), they devoted their lives to "explore these antique lands
before they are irretrievably caught up in the cacaphonic whirl of the modern world." [more inside]
The Maria Theresa Thaler
(or MTT), a coin first minted in 1741 and continuously to this day, remained legal tender in parts of the Arabian peninsula as late as 1970, where it was much prized both as a coin and for jewelry
[magazine article] Incredibly important for trade between Europe and the Middle East, the MTT had a great impact on history. For more information turn to Maria Theresa's Thaler: A case of international money
an indepth article about the MTT by Adrian Tschoegl.
The "same people who attacked us on 9/11"?
It may be the very latest talking point from the Administration
, but it's actually true--altho it's not Al Qaeda in Iraq, but Saudis. Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia ...
A historical note: 15 of the 19 hijackers
on 9/11 were Saudis.
So much for Democracy,
Tony Blair has hit back at claims a corruption probe into a Saudi arms deal with BAE Systems was dropped after commercial and political pressure.
is the state-owned oil production company in Saudi Arabia. It's also the largest oil company in the world
. Its headquarters are in Dhahran
(wiki), a city owned by Saudi Aramco (other cities being Abqaiq, Ras Tanura, and Udailiyah), which houses numerous expats and native Saudis. You might have heard about Dhahran recently as they just fielded a Little League World Series
team (featuring a 6'8", 256 lb. first baseman
The cruiser Emden
was launched in 1910. When World War One broke out, she was under the command of Korvettenkapitän Karl Friedrich Max von Müller, with Kapitänleutnant Hellmuth von Mücke as executive officer, who "was as extroverted as his commander was modest." When Graf von Spee, commander of the East Asiatic Squadron, decided to keep it united and head for Chile to coal up, Müller said he'd rather go off on his own and harass British shipping. Spee agreed, and the Emden
embarked on a spree of destruction that made him a hero not only to the Germans but even to the British; when it was over, the Telegraph
said: "It is almost in our hearts to regret that the Emden has been captured and destroyed.... There is not a survivor who does not speak well of this young German, the officers under him and the crew obedient to his orders. The war on the sea will lose some of its piquancy, its humour and its interest now that the Emden has gone."
The TRILLIAN dollar question.
Will the Saudi Royal family recieve diplomatic immunity for helping finance Osama and Al Qaeda all these years? A lawsuit filed by 9/11 victims last year which demands reparations from the Saudis will come to a close next week. Background story here: Evidently there's precedent for pay-out.