Saturday, April 09, 2005

From Art and Tools Came Human Origins

From Art and Tools Came Human Origins. Larry Barham reports in British Archaeology that evidence of modern human behaviour 200,000 years old may have been found in Africa.

From the site:

Until fairly recently, modern humans were thought to have emerged some 40,000 years ago. There were several theories about how we had evolved from earlier species such as Homo erectus and the Neanderthals. Then, during the 1980s, new dating techniques were employed on early modern human fossils with startling results: our species was between 150,000 and 100,000 years old, with a clear origin in Africa. Genetic (DNA) evidence supported the case, and the `Out of Africa' theory of human origins was born.

During the 1990s, the trend of pushing back the dates of modern human origins continued. The evidence was still coming from Africa and the `Out of Africa' theory, despite some temporary setbacks, has been strengthened. Moreover, a totally new type of evidence - for modern human behaviour, in addition to modern skeletal form - has also been brought into play.

In recent years, remarkable new evidence has been found in Africa for the earliest use of pigment, dating to between 200,000 and 350,000 years ago. The use of pigment for body-painting or drawing suggests a `symbolic' awareness which has long been regarded as one of the hallmarks of modernity.

Friday, April 08, 2005

History of French Polynesia

History of French Polynesia. This is a short overview to the history of this French possession in the Pacific. This is also where Tahiti is located.

From the site:

Part of the archipelago was discovered by Pedro Fernandez Quiros in 1607. In 1767 Samuel Wallis re-discovered it, and named it King George's Island. In 1768 Louis de Bougainville visited Tahiti, claimed it as French, and named it La Nouvelle Cythere. On the 12th of April 1769 the British expedition to observe the transit of Venus, under the naval command of James Cook, arrived at Tahiti. On this first voyage (he subsequently re-visited the islands twice) he named the Leeward group of islands Society in honour of the Royal Society, at the instigation of which the expedition had been sent; Tahiti and the adjacent islands he called Georgian, but the first name was subsequently adopted for the whole group. In 1772 and 1774 the islands were visited by a Spanish government expedition, and some attempt was made at colonization. In 1788 Lieutenant Bligh of the spent some time at Tahiti.

The 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia wrote, "Bougainville, Cook, and other explorers made Tahiti famous in Paris as "La Nouvelle Cythère", and in London aroused an enthusiasm for "the lovely isle", which led to the formation, by Dr. Haweis and others, of the London Missionary Society in 1794-95, and the despatch of the "Duff" in 1796 with some 60 persons, missionaries and teachers of trades and crafts, for the conversion of the island and its neighbours. The representatives of the society made little progress until Pomaré II, King of Tahiti, accepted Protestantism in 1815. Under his successors they gained great influence in the island government. In 1836 two priests of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary of Picpus arrived in Tahiti from the Gambier Islands, where Catholicism had gained a foothold. They were twice expelled by Queen Pomaré IV, with the support and approbation of the English Protestant missionaries, and took their cause to Paris. In 1838 a French naval expedition exacted from Queen Pomaré an indemnity and guarantees for the future for French residents in the island. In 1841 a mission was established by the Congregation of Picpus."

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Dynasties I and II, The Unification of Egypt

Dynasties I and II, The Unification of Egypt. Presents a summary of the individual rulers who helped to make Egypt a single nation in ancient times.

From the site:

Much of what happened during the earlier periods of Egyptian history is speculative. It seems that the southern king Narmer (perhaps Aha or the legendary Menes) won a victory over a northern king which has been immortalized by the Narmer Palette. What may have been another southern victory over the inhabitants of the Delta is depicted on the Bull Palette.

1st Dynasty (3100-2890 BCE)

According to Herodotus Upper and Lower Egypt were united by Menes (who may be representing a number of kings involved in the process of unification), the founding king of the first dynasty who, according to Manetho, came from the Thinite province in Upper Egypt. Whether unification was achieved by military or peaceful means is uncertain.

According to tradition, Menes founded Memphis on an island in the Nile, conducted raids against the Nubians and extended his power as far as the first cataract. He sent ambassadors to Canaan and Byblos in Phoenicia to establish peaceful commercial trade links. He founded the city of Crocodilopolis and built the first temple to the god Ptah.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Vasco da Gama

Vasco da Gama. Explores da Gama's role as the knight commander of the military Order of Christ. Includes other biographical information and sketches.

From the site:

Dom Vasco da Gama was born circa 1469 at Sines and died on Christmas eve in Cochin, India, in 1524, being Viceroy of India. After his successful first voyage by sea to India (1497-1499), King Emmanuel I gave him the title of Dom (Lord) with an annual grant of 300.000 reais, for him and his descendants, and appointed him Admiral of the Indies (January, 1500). In 1519, the Admiral was granted the coveted title of Count of Vidigueira.

Very little is known about Vasco da Gama before his appointment as Capitão-Mor (Captain-General) of the fleet sent to find the sea route to India. He was the son of Estêvão da Gama - a knight commander of Cercal of the Order of St. James of the Sword and alcaide-mor of the village of Sines, which also belonged to the latter Order - and of his wife Isabel Sodré.
His father was a member of the Household of prince Dom Fernando - master of the Order of St. James, and later on, to that of the prince's son - Dom Diogo, duke of Viseu, having also fought in Castille and in the North Africa's military campaigns. His father's family, from the southern province of Alentejo, appears to have had close links with the military Order of Avis and later on with the Order of St. James.

His mother's family, of English ascendancy, had also links with the household of Dom Diogo, duke of Viseu and governor of the military Order of Christ.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


WebChron. A web chronology project sponsored by North Park University featuring regional timelines spanning from 12,000 BC to present day.

From the site:

The chronological listing of important events is one of the most basic of historical tools. One needs to know the chronological order of events in order to determine causal relations.

The traditional chronology, however, is usually a simple, two-dimensional listing of events. WebChron uses the power of hypertext to create a more interesting, more useful, multi-dimensional chronology. Using hypertext, we are able to present chronologies in outline form, so that it is easier to see the relationship between long term and short term events. We are also able to interweave chronologies so that one can also more readily see the relation between events in one field to events in another.

Because they are intended for use in survey history courses, these chronologies are not intended to be exhaustive. Many significant events have been left out; many of the dates given are very coarse generalities. Nevertheless, we hope that what is presented is nevertheless pedagogically useful.

Monday, April 04, 2005

History of El Salvador

History of El Salvador. This is a brief overview to the history of the Central American nation of El Salvador.

From the site:

In 1821, El Salvador and the other Central American provinces declared their independence from Spain. When these provinces were joined with Mexico in early 1822, El Salvador resisted, insisting on autonomy for the Central American countries. In 1823, the United Provinces of Central America was formed of the five Central American states under Gen. Manuel Jose Arce. When this federation was dissolved in 1838, El Salvador became an independent republic. El Salvador's early history as an independent state--as with others in Central America--was marked by frequent revolutions; not until the period 1900-30 was relative stability achieved. Following a deterioration in the country's democratic institutions in the 1970s a period of civil war followed from 1980-1992. More than 75,000 people are estimated to have died in the conflict. In January 1992, after prolonged negotiations, the opposing sides signed peace accords which ended the war, brought the military under civilian control, and allowed the former guerillas to form a legitimate political party and participate in elections.

Roberto D’Aubuisson and other hard-line conservatives, including some members of the military, created the Nationalist Republican Alliance party (ARENA) in 1981. D’Aubuisson's electoral fortunes were diminished by credible reports that he was involved in organized political violence. ARENA almost won the election in 1984, with solid private sector and rural farmer support. By 1989, ARENA had attracted the support of business groups. Allegations of corruption by the ruling Christian Democratic party, poor relations with the private sector, and historically low prices for the nation’s main agricultural exports also contributed to ARENA victories in the 1988 legislative and 1989 presidential elections.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Time 100: Heroes & Icons - Edmund Hillary & Tenzing Norgay

Time 100: Heroes & Icons - Edmund Hillary & Tenzing Norgay. The twenty most influential heroes and icons of the 20th century as selected by Time Magazine. This article focuses on the famous mountain climbers who conquered Mount Everest.

From the site:

On May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal became the first human beings to conquer Mount Everest--Chomolungma, to its people — at 29,028 ft. the highest place on earth. By any rational standards, this was no big deal. Aircraft had long before flown over the summit, and within a few decades literally hundreds of other people from many nations would climb Everest too. And what is particularly remarkable, anyway, about getting to the top of a mountain?

Geography was not furthered by the achievement, scientific progress was scarcely hastened, and nothing new was discovered. Yet the names of Hillary and Tenzing went instantly into all languages as the names of heroes, partly because they really were men of heroic mold but chiefly because they represented so compellingly the spirit of their time. The world of the early 1950s was still a little punch-drunk from World War II, which had ended less than a decade before. Everything was changing. Great old powers were falling, virile new ones were rising, and the huge, poor mass of Asia and Africa was stirring into self-awareness. Hillary and Tenzing went to the Himalayas under the auspices of the British Empire, then recognizably in terminal decline. The expedition was the British Everest Expedition, 1953, and it was led by Colonel John Hunt, the truest of true English gentlemen. It was proper to the historical moment that one of the two climbers immortalized by the event came from a remote former colony of the Crown and the other from a nation that had long served as a buffer state of the imperial Raj.