Saturday, February 12, 2005

Cedarland

Cedarland - A look at the ancient and modern history of Lebanon. Features geography, economy, government, Phoenicians, Maronites, the Lebanese Civil War, and resources.

From the site:

History knew Lebanon from the earliest of times and never forgot it. No other country can match it in volume of historical events and in their relevance to world progress. Small in size, Lebanon has been massive in influence and its people can rightfully claim to be true benefactors of many ages. A few miles north of Beirut, where the Mount Lebanon touches the sea, the face of the rock of the Dog River gorge bears nineteen inscriptions in almost as many languages. Beginning in ancient Egyptian, Assyrian, and Babylonian, continuing in Greek and Latin, and ending in French, English, and Arabic. The inscriptions record at this narrow pass where native mountaineers took their decisive stand, the military feats of foreign invaders. The first to leave such a mark was Ramses II some 1300 years before the birth of Christ; followed by many other notables such as Esarhaddon, Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, Caracalla, Saladin, Baldwin I, Napoleon III, General Allenby, and General Gourand. Through these records we can gain a tiny glimpse of the awesome past of Lebanon.

The ancients seem to have regarded Lebanon as a place where the abnormal happened, a land of prodigies, of rare coincidences and curious events. They had good reason for doing so. The rapid growth of early religious frenzy and strange natural phenomena observed in the mountains had given the country a strange and provoking reputation. Even today Lebanon has not lost its strangeness. The pleasure which one derives from its striking natural beauty or the sheer scale of its ancient monuments is repeatedly sharpened by a sense of the curious and the unusual. The Adonis River still runs blood red to the sea, and the modern scene offers spectacles as bizarre as anything the Romans wondered at. Lebanon is a land where the imagination can run wild, standing in the surf at Tyre in the very spot where Richard the Lion Heart disembarked, one can picture Alexander inspecting his most difficult conquest. Sitting under a cedar tree on Mount Sannine watching the night sea mist roll in across the bay where St. George killed his dragon it is easy to understand why the Crusaders where inspired into not only making him their patron but also the patron of their distant lands.

Friday, February 11, 2005

History of Suriname

History of Suriname. This is an overview to the history of the South American nation of Suriname.

From the site:

Arawak and Carib tribes lived in the region before Columbus sighted the coast in 1498. Spain officially claimed the area in 1593, but Portuguese and Spanish explorers of the time gave the area little attention. Dutch settlement began in 1616 at the mouths of several rivers between present-day Georgetown, Guyana, and Cayenne, French Guiana.

Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. The new colony, Dutch Guiana, did not thrive. Historians cite several reasons for this, including Holland's preoccupation with its more extensive (and profitable) East Indian territories, violent conflict between whites and native tribes, and frequent uprisings by the imported slave population, which was often treated with extraordinary cruelty. Barely, if at all, assimilated into European society, many of the slaves fled to the interior, where they maintained a West African culture and established the five major Bush Negro tribes in existence today--the Djuka, Saramaccaner, Matuwari, Paramaccaner, and Quinti.

Plantations steadily declined in importance as labor costs rose. Rice, bananas, and citrus fruits replaced the traditional crops of sugar, coffee, and cocoa. Exports of gold rose beginning in 1900. The Dutch Government gave little financial support to the colony.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Japan, Korea and 1597: A Year That Lives in Infamy

Japan, Korea and 1597: A Year That Lives in Infamy - Excerpt of a New York Times article detailing Japan's invasion of Korea in 1597 and Korean resentment lingering from it.

From the site:

When they invaded Korea 400 years ago, Japanese samurai warriors brought back priceless porcelain, ingenious metal type for printing and noses and ears hacked off the corpses of tens of thousands of Koreans.

In one of the world's more macabre war memorials, a 30-foot-high hillock here in the ancient Japanese capital marks where the noses and ears were buried. The 400th anniversary of this Mimizuka, or Ear Mound, will be commemorated in September, underscoring the tensions and hostilities that still set the countries of East Asia against each other.

Few Japanese outside Kyoto know of the Ear Mound, but almost all Koreans do. In Japan, even among those who have heard of it, the Ear Mound is largely seen as a bizarre relic of little relevance today. To many Koreans, it is a symbol of a Japanese brutishness that still lurks beneath the surface waiting to explode.

"Frankly speaking, I think there is a risk" of Japan some day again attacking its neighbors, said Ryu Gu Che, an ethnic Korean in Kyoto, and he suggests that the best way of reducing the risk would be for Japan to acknowledge and repent the savagery symbolized by the Ear Mound.

"So although 400 years have passed," he said, "I think both peoples should study this episode and learn some lessons."

Ryu, who is organizing the anniversary ceremony, says that the lesson that Japan should learn is to show greater remorse. The lesson for Korea, he said, is to avoid corruption and weakness that could tempt foreign invaders.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Romiosini

Romiosini - A series of essays on Byzantine history by Nikolaos Provatas and Yiannis Papadimas, with a chronology of the Eastern Roman Empire, list of emperors, maps, gallery of icons and bibliography.

From the site:

This homepage is intended to outline the history and culture of "Romiosini", a word signifying "Hellenism in the Middle ages". We will cover the history of Romiosini from its foundations to the fall of Constantinople, touching also on the effect of the Greek East on the European renaissance. The motivation for this project stems from the observation that history of Romiosini, while intriguing, is insufficiently represented and more often than not, it is overlooked. What follows, however, is by no means an exhaustive study of this period. This homepage is designed simply as a small, clear and concise survey of the major aspects of this era, and, we hope, as a directional tool that will better assist the interested student and scholar of history in his/her investigation of the Greek Middle Ages. Areas of interest include: Culture, Language, Politics, Art, Science, Law, the Church, etc. Also included in this projects are links to other sources relevent to the history of Hellenism during the Middle Ages, some of them indeed much more exhaustive than this.

A word about the name "Romiosini". The modern term by which many historians refer to Hellenism in the Middle ages is "Byzantine Civilization". Strictly speaking this expression is wrong since the citizens of the Greek Roman East did not generally refer to themselves as Byzantines, but rather as "Romans". For the sake of historical accuracy it would be desirable to avoid as much as possible the term "byzantine", in favour of the term "Roman" or "Romios". On the other hand, the term "byzantine" has become so entrenched within the phraseology of Medieval studies, that to do so entirely would be impossible.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

'I helped Goering escape hangman'

'I helped Goering escape hangman.' Has the mysterious death of infamous Nazi war criminal Goering been solved? How did he get the cyanide that allowed him to cheat the gallows hours before his scheduled execution? This report from the Times of London offers a strong possibility that the mystery has been solved.

From the site:

A FORMER American guard at the Nuremberg Tribunal claimed yesterday that he had smuggled in the poison that allowed Hermann Goering, Hitler’s second-in-command, to escape the hangman’s noose.

Herbert Lee Stivers, 78, a retired sheet-metal worker from Hesperia, California, broke almost six decades of silence to appear to solve one of the great mysteries of the Second World War.

“I gave it to him,” Mr Stivers, a former US Army private, told the Los Angeles Times. He said he smuggled the cyanide capsule to Goering after befriending a beautiful, dark-haired German woman outside the court.

Goering committed suicide in his cell in a military prison on October 15, 1946, just hours before he was to be executed for war crimes. The commission that investigated his death found that he had taken his own life by swallowing potassium cyanide.

State Certification Requirements for History Teachers

State Certification Requirements for History Teachers. This article deals with how history teachers are certified to teach in American schools. It also looks at "out-of-field" teachers who instruct students in history without being formely trained in the discipline.

From the site:

In concert with a rising interest in history education, there is concern about the quality of education and certification of history teachers. Many researchers, theorists, and specialists have weighed in on the issue of teacher preparation and certification. To what extent are history teachers prepared and certified to teach the discipline? This Digest discusses (1) general findings about out-of-field teaching, (2) findings about state teacher certification requirements, (3) findings about content standards for teacher preparation and licensure, and (4) recommendations for improving preparation and certification requirements for history teachers.

Monday, February 07, 2005

History of Papua New Guinea

History of Papua New Guinea. This is a good summary overview of the history of the Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea. It is probably just me but I think they have a neat flag.

From the site:

Archeological evidence indicates that humans arrived on New Guinea at least 60,000 years ago, probably by sea from Southeast Asia during an Ice Age period when the sea was lower and distances between islands shorter. Although the first arrivals were hunters and gatherers, early evidence shows that people managed the forest environment to provide food. There also are indications of gardening having been practiced at the same time that agriculture was developing in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Early garden crops--many of which are indigenous--included sugarcane, Pacific bananas, yams, and taros, while sago and pandanus were two commonly exploited native forest crops. Today's staples--sweet potatoes and pigs--are later arrivals, but shellfish and fish have long been mainstays of coastal dwellers' diets.

When Europeans first arrived, inhabitants of New Guinea and nearby islands--while still relying on bone, wood, and stone tools--had a productive agricultural system. They traded along the coast, where products mainly were pottery, shell ornaments, and foodstuffs, and in the interior, where forest products were exchanged for shells and other sea products.

The first Europeans to sight New Guinea were probably the Portuguese and Spanish navigators sailing in the South Pacific in the early part of the 16th century. In 1526-27, Don Jorge de Meneses accidentally came upon the principal island and is credited with naming it "Papua," a Malay word for the frizzled quality of Melanesian hair. The term "New Guinea" was applied to the island in 1545 by a Spaniard, Ynigo Ortis de Retez, because of a fancied resemblance between the islands' inhabitants and those found on the African Guinea coast. Although European navigators visited the islands and explored their coastlines for the next 170 years, little was known of the inhabitants until the late 19th century.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Gondar the Camelot of Ethiopia

Gondar the Camelot of Ethiopia - Includes legends associated with Gondar, comparisons to Camelot, description of its castles, Fasiladas and other rulers of the Gondar Period, and medieval paintings. Also has pictures of castles and paintings. The format of the text is strange but it is readable if you work at it.

From the site:

Gondar, founded by Emperor Fasilidas around 1635, is famous for its many medieval castles and the design and decoration of its churches - in particular, Debra Berhan Selassie which represents a masterpiece of the Gondarene school of art.

Famous though Gondar may be, however, no one knows exactly why Fasilidas chose to establish his headquarters there. Some legends say an archangel prophesied that an Ethiopian capital would be built at a place with a name that began with the letter G. The legend led to a whole series of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century towns - Guzara, Gorgora and finally Gondar. Another legend claims that the city was built in a place chosen by God. Apparently, He pointed it out to Fasilidas who was on a hunting expedition and followed a buffalo to the spot.

Flanked by twin mountain streams at an altitude of more than 2,300 meters Gondar commands spectacular views over farmlands to the gleaming waters of Lake Tana thirty-five kilometers to the south. The city retains an atmosphere of antique charm mingled with an aura of mystery and violence. An extensive compound, near its center contains the hulking ruins of a group of imposing castles like some African Camelot. The battlements and towers evoke images of chivalrous knights on horseback and of ceremonies laden with pageantry and honor. Other, darker, reverberations recall chilling echoes of Machiavellian plots and intrigues, tortures and poisonings.