Lessons From Memphis. A comic that looks at history for inspiration to go forward.
The Fall of Rome is a podcast on the later Roman Empire, focusing especially on the various invasions that contributed to its collapse and how different regions of the empire experienced the disruptions of Late Antiquity. The most recent episode, "Attila And The Empire Of The Huns", has a particularly interesting discussion of how the Huns were able to project power over a vast swath of territory as a sophisticated multi-lingual, multi-ethnic empire, far from the mindless savages they are often portrayed as.
The Erasure of Islam from the Poetry of Rumi Rozina Ali revisits the cultural legacy of Rumi in the West: 'The erasure of Islam from Rumi’s poetry started long before Coldplay got involved. Omid Safi, a professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at Duke University, says that it was in the Victorian period that readers in the West began to uncouple mystical poetry from its Islamic roots. Translators and theologians of the time could not reconcile their ideas about a “desert religion,” with its unusual moral and legal codes, and the work of poets like Rumi and Hafez. The explanation they settled on, Safi told me, was “that these people are mystical not because of Islam but in spite of it.” This was a time when Muslims were singled out for legal discrimination—a law from 1790 curtailed the number of Muslims who could come into the United States, and a century later the U.S. Supreme Court described the “intense hostility of the people of Moslem faith to all other sects, and particularly to Christians.” In 1898, in the introduction to his translation of the “Masnavi,” Sir James Redhouse wrote, “The Masnavi addresses those who leave the world, try to know and be with God, efface their selves and devote themselves to spiritual contemplation.” For those in the West, Rumi and Islam were separated.' [Rumi previously]
A skirt believed to have belonged to Elizabeth I -- probably the one depicted in The Rainbow Portrait -- has been discovered in St. Faith's church (Bacton, Heresfordshire), serving as an altar-cloth for the last 400 years. It is the only surviving piece of clothing worn by Elizabeth I. [more inside]
Anne Helen Peterson on going to college after the internet became a thing, but before it became *a thing*. Part of 1999 Week at Buzzfeed. [more inside]
Yet remarkably little is known of the beginnings of Mycenaean culture. The Pylos grave, with its wealth of undisturbed burial objects and, at its bottom, a largely intact skeleton, offers a nearly unprecedented window into this time—and what it reveals is calling into question our most basic ideas about the roots of Western civilization.—This 3,500-Year-Old Greek Tomb Upended What We Thought We Knew About the Roots of Western Civilization by Jo Marchant.
The Origin of Cities - "It may seem odd to conduct the rise of cities to ritual, inequality, and debt, and yet they play a very large role in the urban revolution." (via) [more inside]
The upcoming transfer of power in the United States will be a time with much pomp and music, with people singing along to "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America," but "Hail to the Chief" remains instrumental, even though there are lyrics, as sung by the Mormon Tabernacle. And if we sang those lyrics, we'd be missing its origin as a song to celebrate Roderick Dhu, or Black Roderick, a fictional medieval Scottish outlaw, which was re-written a number of times before becoming the song that Julia Tyler, wife of President John Tyler, requested for presidential entrances. [more inside]
[I]n the middle of so many discussions of the causes of this year’s events (economics, backlash, media, the not-so-sleeping dragon bigotry), and of how to respond to them (petitions, debate, fundraising, art, despair) I hope people will find it useful to zoom out with me, to talk about the causes of historical events and change in general. Historian Ada Palmer writes about the history of the idea of progress, the role of individuals in history, the (simulated) Papal election of 2016, and what it all means for us here in 2017. [more inside]
Sierra Lomuto writes about resisting the fascist, neo-Nazi, and racist cooption of medieval history in "White Nationalism and the Ethics of Medieval Studies." (similar issues previously, in the classics context) [more inside]
The 1847 Irish potato famine was the first national disaster to attract significant international aid efforts. Among the donors to the Irish people were the Choctaw Nation, which collected and donated $174 to famine relief efforts--despite having themselves barely survived the Trail of Tears only sixteen years before. Indeed, it was the 1831 winter marches from Mississippi to Oklahoma that originally inspired the name "Trail of Tears". In 2015, Cork dedicated a major memorial statue honoring the Choctaw for their help. For their part, the Choctaw have continued to donate to aid efforts following tragedies like Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake. Most recently, the Choctaw nation have continued their generosity by sending aid to the Sioux community of Standing Rock.
In which we meet an adorably-described Mac SE/30 known as the Mother Gopher. The rise and fall of the Gopher protocol.
The New York Times has published excerpts from Richard Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman's notes proving that during the 1968 Presidential election, Nixon did in fact, as he always denied doing, sabotage peace talks that could've ended the Vietnam war years early, saving thousands of unnecessary deaths and potentially giving Hubert Humphrey an edge in the election.
The History of the Great War is a podcast [iTunes link]that goes "week by week through the War to End All Wars". It started in the summer of 2014 and has mostly kept to a weekly schedule since.
The test transmission from August 1936 is shown in the documentary Television Comes to Bradford, followed by a 1986 interview with the singer, Helen McKay. Regular broadcasts began in November 1936. One of the early programmes was a documentary, Television Comes to London. First part is about the work to convert Alexandra Palace into a broadcasting station. From 12.40 the film shows the first night of broadcasting. [more inside]
"One of the most enigmatic objects on display in the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is "Ashley's Sack." On loan from South Carolina's Middleton Place, this unbleached cotton sack features an embroidered text recounting the slave sale of a nine-year-old girl named Ashley and the gift of the sack by her mother. Until now, Ashley's identity has been unknown. New research by Mark Auslander traces Ashley's Sack from the initial gift during the era of slavery to the present."
The language of Chaucer and Malory, Middle English can be surprisingly approachable for modern English speakers even 800 years later (although knowing a little French or German doesn't hurt). Let's dive in! [more inside]
It has often been said that when an Igbo man’s wife makes a request of him, he will move mountains to achieve it. Thus it was that when my mother, who lost her father, and some of her brothers, on the same, rainy day, in October 1967, asked my dad to do a memorial to them, he obliged, and did the memorial on his fence. The pix you’ll see next are the result, and I’ll do a sort of story guide…
"The more they dug, the more obvious it became that this was no ordinary place. The structures they excavated were full of ritual objects charred by sacred fires. We found the remains of feasts and a rare earthen structure lined with yellow soils. Baires, Baltus, and their team had accidentally stumbled on an archaeological treasure trove linked to the city's demise. The story of this place would take us back to the final decades of a great city whose social structure was undergoing a radical transformation." Annalee Newitz for Ars Technica: Finding North America's lost medieval city [more inside]
The Strange Roots Of Globalization (And Its Discontents) - "Today's global economy has its roots in the frivolity of spice."
It is thus confidently hoped, that the volume now offered to the public will prove an interesting and cheerful companion for a Christmas fire-side, and be employed among the innocent and rational of Christmas festivities...Selections from The Masquerade collects hundreds of riddles and literary word puzzles from the late 18th and early 19th century. [more inside]
"So here you are, dead and alone. Chances are you didn’t want this, but your wishes were ignored. Whatever happens to the part of you that you recognize as somehow quintessentially you (call it soul, self, spirit, spark), the other part isn’t finished yet—the fleshly part, the limbs and guts that ached and pleased you in so many ways, the meaty bits that you vainly or grudgingly dragged around for all those years. That piece is still of interest to the bureaucrats. It is still a potential source of profit. In your absence its journey is just beginning." ~ What Really Happens After You Die?
"This man’s skull was ritualistically transformed 9,000 years ago in Jericho. To flesh out the features on the so-called Jericho Skull, archaeologists at the British Museum have worked for more than two years to reconstruct the face of a man whose skull had been reshaped by ritual throughout his long life. While he was an infant, his head had been bound tightly with cloth to change its shape. After he died at a ripe old age, his skull was then plastered, decorated, and put on display."
How the Soviets invented the internet and why it didn't work - "Soviet scientists tried for decades to network their nation. What stalemated them is now fracturing the global internet." [more inside]
"Scientific analysis reveals origins of odd 'lumps' in Anglo-Saxon grave. How did bitumen from Syria wind up in a buried Anglo-Saxon boat?" [more inside]
Making the Geologic Now is an online book in the form of a Zuihitsu, in which short chapters that are part science, part interview, part engineering, part art, part culture, and part whimsy mingle with each other to reflect upon the Anthropocene. It can be browsed on the web, downloaded for a price you choose (including free), or bought as a hardcopy.
Ars Technica: "Humans began making paint and glue at roughly the same time with the same tools. Evidence from a cave in eastern Ethiopia has revealed something extraordinary about the origins of symbolic thought among humans." [more inside]
The story of the purchase of Manhattan is one of the most contentious and oft-disputed stories in American history. That modest sale has gone down in history as the biggest swindle ever perpetrated.... But what may be the most surprising fact about the whole transaction is that in 1626, and for a long time afterward, both parties were very happy with it.The complexities of navigating the economics of desire, an excerpt from Aja Raden's Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World [Amazon].
During the early years of the nineteenth century, as nations in the Americas gained and asserted their independence, pictorial representations of the landscape forged visions of the whole hemisphere. Landscape imagery of the period shows how we are connected by a shared pan-American history, but also underscores the differences between our respective national identities based on our relationships to the land.Picturing the Americas features over 100 landscape paintings from Tierra del Fuego to the High Arctic. You can explore the site by theme, by timeline, by artist, and by map.
A well-stocked and carefully curated medicine cabinet conveyed care and successful home management, while an overstuffed or unconsidered one ran afoul of received ideals of motherhood. Yet while women were responsible for the cabinet’s care and contents, certain products essential to their own health and hygiene were long thought to be inimical to it.A feminist cultural history of the medicine cabinet, an interview with Dr. Deanna Day.
Historian Mike Dash explains just how awful medieval cities smelled.
Despotism (1946) A 70 year old educational short, still of interest today. (10 minute slyt, previously)
In his new four-hour series, BLACK AMERICA SINCE MLK: AND STILL I RISE, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. embarks on a deeply personal journey through the last fifty years of African American history. Joined by leading scholars, celebrities, and a dynamic cast of people who shaped these years, Gates travels from the victories of the civil rights movement up to today, asking profound questions about the state of black America—and our nation as a whole. [more inside]
The Pilgrims are often depicted in popular culture as wearing only black and white clothing, with large golden buckles on their shoes and hats and long white collars. This stereotypical Pilgrim, however, is not historically accurate. The Pilgrims, in fact, wore a wide variety of colors. Mayflower History and Plimoth Plantation have more information on and examples of authentic Pilgrim and Wampanoag clothing, to correct just a few of the numerous issues with common depictions of early Thanksgiving celebrations (previously) that can be addressed through updated discussions and depictions of Thanksgiving celebrations. [more inside]
Unix History Repository. The history and evolution of the Unix operating system made available as a revision management repository, covering the period from its inception in 1970 as a 2.5 thousand line kernel and 26 commands, to 2016 as a widely-used 27 million line system. The 1.1GB repository contains about half a million commits and more than two thousand merges.... The project aims to put in the repository as much metadata as possible, allowing the automated analysis of Unix history.
“Fascism cannot be explained only in terms of fanaticism, the history of the places where it gains a lodging must be taken into account.” — Northwest author Robert Cantwell, 1939Starting in late 2015, Knute Berger of Seattle's Crosscut magazine began a lengthy series on the historical roots of fascism in the Pacific Northwest. [more inside]
Baldwin is trying to convey in one image both his sense of space and height and his view of the ground. The execution is not entirely successful. Nevertheless, the attempt is significant. In combining phenomenological and visual sensations, Baldwin is responding to the extraordinary new conditions of flight.Lily Ford on how balloon flight transformed out idea of landscape. Part 2.
A Maryland Food History Blog: 300 Years of Black Cooking in St. Mary’s County---Free State Oyster Omelet ---Interview with a Maryland Waterman---Mrs. Kitching’s Clam Chowder
TOKYO CULTURE STORY｜今夜はブギー・バック(smooth rap) in 40 YEARS OF TOKYO FASHION & MUSIC / 'A chronological music video that compilates 40 years of Tokyo fashion and music from 1976 to 2016.'
56 years ago today, 6 year old Ruby Bridges walked up the steps of the William Frantz Elementary School and into history, on the first day of integrated schools in New Orleans. [more inside]
“Folk Music in America” is a series of 15 LP records published by the Library of Congress between 1976 and 1978 to celebrate the bicentennial of the American Revolution. It was curated by librarian/collector-cum-discographer Richard K. Spottswood, and funded by a grant by the National Endowment for the Arts. The music, pulled primarily from the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Song (now Archive of Folk Culture), spans nearly a century (1890-1976) and virtually every form that can be considered American music. This includes native American songs and instrumental music, music of immigrant cultures from all over the world, and uniquely American forms like blues, jazz and country.Folk Music in America [more inside]
The United States Military Academy, West Point, has posted more than a thousand military campaign maps used in their course "History of the Military Art". These are organized into Atlases, such as the Korean War and the Chinese Civil War.
The album cover is a picture of two middle-aged black people, seated on folding chairs. The woman is in her late thirties, the man in his mid-fifties. She wears a plain print housedress and a wry expression; the man’s white socks are rolled at the ankles. A trumpet is on his lap, supporting his folded arms. There is no written information on the cover other than the name of the record label: “Verve,” it says. “A Panoramic True High Fidelity Record.” On the spine is the album’s title: "Ella and Louis.”
The American Civil War is perhaps the most exhaustively studied period in the history of the United States, but there are still some stories that have slipped through the cracks or have been subtly washed from the pages of America’s past. One such rarely examined fragment is that of the Great Revival and the Coming of the Natural Man. [more inside]