Arctic ice brings an understanding of ancient Europe’s economy

Greenland's icy mountains are not an obvious place to search for an archive of economic history, but a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that they provide one. Read the full article at The Economist

The Abandoned City of Mud and Mystics

The ruined city of Arg-e-Bam is made entirely of mud bricks, clay, straw and the trunks of palm trees. The Iranian city was originally founded during the Sassanian period (224-637 CE) and while some of the surviving structures date from before the 1100s, most of what remains was built during the Safavid period (1502-1722).     Bam prospered because of pilgrims visiting its Zoroastrian fire temple, which had been built early in the Sassanian period, and because Bam was a trading hub along the Silk Road. It was later the site of Jame Mosque, built during the Saffarian period (866-903 CE). Next to the mosque is the tomb of Mirza Naiim, a mystic and astronomer.     The city was largely abandoned since a series of invasions in the early 1800s. In 1953, work began to intensively restore Arg-e-Bam. Restoration work continued until December 26, 2003, when a massive earthquake hit the area -- an estimated 6.6 on the Richter Scale. Almost everything in Bam was destroyed. After that, restoration was given up, and today Arg-e-Bam is at the mercy of the elements.     click through the image gallery to see photographs of what Arg-e-Bam looks like today

The Moment of Enlightenment

  After meditating for forty days beneath a pipal tree, the Buddha approached the moment of omniscience. Evil demons have failed to distract him, and he calmly touches the earth goddess to witness his attainment of enlightenment. His right hand, lowered in the earth-touching gesture (bhumisparsha mudra), signals that this sculpture depicts that specific moment.     Kushan Dynasty, Pakistan or Afghanistan. Late 100s to early 200s CE.

The Americas' Linguistic Diversity

There were dozens of language families, each the equivalent of the Indo-European family, before 1492. This map is a "simplified" one. In today's California, for instance, languages that are spoken by neighboring tribes are as different as French and Chinese.     Why did the Americas develop such linguistic diversity? Many linguists suspect that at least some of these separate families date back to separate migrations of different tribes from Asia who originally spoke unrelated languages. Linguistic and archaeological data hint at more than one migration from Asia into the Americas, all of them through Alaska.     Extra Fun Fact: see “Eskimo-Aleut” in northern North America? It is not colored because there is no evidence those languages are related to any other indigenous American languages!

What's In A Word

The term "golem" appears in the Hebrew Bible with the meaning "formlessness." The Talmud, Jewish commentaries on the Bible and Jewish law, uses "golem" to mean an "uneducated person." From this combination comes the modern sense of the word: a clumsy, ugly, human-made monster who has no life until it is given to him by his creators.

Why Did Men Switch From Tunics To Pants?

Why did the medieval Europeans switch from tunics, which were favored by the earlier civilizations like Greeks and the Romans, to pants? The answer is simple: horses win wars.  All around the world, societies which had mastered the art of horseback combat wiped out those that had not. The theory goes that men in battle need protect their most sensitive organ. So pants it was.

Tang Dynasty Scroll Describes How Not To Destroy A Kingdom

This one page from a manuscript dating to the Tang dynasty and found complete in a cave in Dunhuang, China. It is a Tang dynasty copy of "On the Fall of States," by Lu Ji (261-303), a writer of the Western Jin dynasty. "On The Fall of States" describes the rise and fall of the Eastern Wu in the Three Kingdoms period, as well as the meritorious contributions of the Lu family. Famous among ancient works on administration, "On the Fall of States" argues that the key to a country's fortunes is to assess and employ people wisely.

A huge cache of stone inscriptions from one of Africa's oldest written languages have been unearthed in a vast "city of the dead" in Sudan. The inscriptions are written in the obscure 'Meroitic' language, the oldest known written language south of the Sahara, which remains only partially deciphered. The city of the dead is Sedeinga, located on the western shore of the Nile River in Sudan, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of the river's third cataract. It was once part of Nubia, a gold-rich region south of Egypt, which was home to multiple great ancient kingdoms. Sedeinga itself holds the vestiges of at least 80 brick pyramids and more than 100 tombs from the kingdoms of Napata and Meroe, which lasted from the 600s BCE to the 300s CE. They were cosmopolitan kingdoms, mixing Egyptian culture and sub-Saharan culture. One of the finds in Sedeinga, for instance, is a temple to the Egyptian goddess Ma'at, but depicted with Sub-Saharan African features for the first known time.

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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