Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution - Introduction to the principal players in the revolution. It also has a reading list, sections about relevant topics and links to useful websites.

From the site:

The purpose of this website is to provide biographies of the main individuals associated with the Russian Revolution. The text on each of these pages has been taken from the MSN Encarta website. I have also tried to name my sources where possible.

I have included links to useful websites: they cover a wide range of political and historical opinion. They are also aimed at people with different levels of education. I have also included reading lists: they are aimed at those who are studying the subject at University level (some of these books may be out of print).

Friday, May 20, 2005

History of Egypt

History of Egypt. This is an overview to the history of the African nation of Egypt. Mind you, Egyptian history is thousands of years old. This essay reduces it and leaves out much. It is still a good summary if you want to see the bigger picture.

From the site:

Egypt has endured as a unified state for more than 5,000 years, and archeological evidence indicates that a developed Egyptian society has existed for much longer. Egyptians take pride in their "pharaonic heritage" and in their descent from what they consider mankind's earliest civilization. The Arabic word for Egypt is Misr, which originally connoted "civilization" or "metropolis."

Archeological findings show that primitive tribes lived along the Nile long before the dynastic history of the pharaohs began. By 6000 B.C., organized agriculture had appeared.

In about 3100 B.C., Egypt was united under a ruler known as Mena, or Menes, who inaugurated the 30 pharaonic dynasties into which Egypt's ancient history is divided--the Old and the Middle Kingdoms and the New Empire. The pyramids at Giza (near Cairo), which were built in the fourth dynasty, testify to the power of the pharaonic religion and state. The Great Pyramid, the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu (also known as Cheops), is the only surviving monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ancient Egypt reached the peak of its power, wealth, and territorial extent in the period called the New Empire (1567-1085 B.C.).

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Battle at Prairie De Ann

Battle at Prairie De Ann - Detailed account about this little-known, four-day American Civil War battle. Includes CSA Brig. Gen. Joseph O. Shelby's poetic report about the men who fought and died.

From the site:

The story of the four days of fighting on Prairie De Ann is a part of the story of the expedition of the Union forces into Southern Arkansas in the spring of 1864. This expedition was made up of two armies, one from Little Rock, and one from Fort Smith. It lasted for a period of forty days and, reckoning from Little Rock, covered a distance of about 275 miles. It included, besides the fighting on Prairie De Ann, the battles of Okolona, Elkins' Ferry, Poison Spring, Marks' Mills, and Jenkins' Ferry and almost continuous skirmishing over much of the route.

Prairie De Ann, a circular body of land embracing some twenty-five or thirty square miles, lies in the northern part of Nevada County, a hundred miles southwest of Little Rock. The Forests that once surrounded it have largely disappeared, and, except by local people, its name is almost forgotten. Located in the central section of the prairie is the city of Prescott, the county seat, with a population of approximately four thousand. The rest of the prairie, for the most part, is taken up by farms and ranches. Through the prairie and the city passes the Missouri Pacific and the Prescott and Northwestern Railroads, and paved Highways 67, 371, and 19.

In the days of the Civil War, Prairie De Ann was far different from what it is today. One soldier, looking upon it for the first time, said that it "stretched away smoothly as a sea of glass." Another said, "Like an oasis lies this beautiful prairie in the midst of dense forests and almost impassable swamps, a relief for the eye of the traveller, who for many days has hardly seen anything but rocks crowned by dark pines or gloomy cypress swamps." The city, the railroads, and the highways had not then been built. Much of the land was unoccupied. Here and there, widely seperated, were a few small farm houses, and the village of Moscow nestled away in the eastern edge. The prairie was a well-known landmark and noted for its singular natural beauty.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Talking Knots of the Inka

Talking Knots of the Inka - Paper on the Inka accounting system that used knotted strings called quipus to record numerical data.

From the site:

An Inka accounting system that used knotted strings called quipus to record numerical data has long been known to scholars. The complexity and number of knots indicated the contents of warehouses, the number of taxpayers in a given province, and census figures. Were quipus also used to record calendars, astronomical observations, accounts of battles and dynastic successions, and literature? If so, all knowledge of such use has been lost--or has it?

At conference of Andean scholars this past June, Laura Laurencich Minelli, a professor of Precolumbian studies at the University of Bologna, described what she believes to be a seventeenth-century Jesuit manuscript that contains detailed information on literary quipus. Surfacing at a time when the decipherment of these string documents is at a standstill, the manuscript, if authentic, could be a Rosetta Stone for Andean scholarship.

Found in the family papers of Neapolitan historian Clara Miccinelli, the manuscript consists of nine folios measuring eight by 11 inches with Spanish, Latin, and ciphered Italian texts. Included in the document are three half-pages of drawings signed "Blas Valera" and an envelope containing a wool quipu fragment. The manuscript, folded in eighths, had been bound in a chestnut-colored cover bearing the title Historia et Rudimenta Linguae Piruanorum, or History and Rudiments of the Language of the Peruvians.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Those Were The Days

Those Were The Days - Short book self-published on the web by Trevor Hemans: "Some of the incidents and experiences in the life of a District Commissioner in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe between 1946 and 1981."

From the site:

I have attempted in this little book to record some of the incidents and experiences in the life of a District Commissioner in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe during the 36 years between 1946 and 1981, which saw the phasing out of the colonialist era and the coming into being of the new nation of Zimbabwe. It is in no way a technical book and I have attempted to record all facets of a District Commissioner's life in as entertaining a way as possible without digressing in an erudite manner into the realms of ethnology, law and custom. I have tried to be as non-controversial as possible, because I live in Zimbabwe and have my loyalty to Zimbabwe.

For the benefit of my readers who are not familiar with the new names of various districts, towns and rivers, I have in most cases retained the old names. From a chronological point of view, I should have used the word "Native Commissioner" for events up to 1962 and "District Commissioner" thereafter, but that would have been most awkward and so I have used "District Commissioner" throughout except where it is necessary from the context to use the former version.

Monday, May 16, 2005

History of Hawaii

History of Hawaii. This is a decent (although uneven) history of the American state of Hawaii. Of particular interest is the last paragraph which takes aim at the Hawaiian Independence (separatist) Movement. Hawaiian independence from the USA is no more likely to occur than Alaskan or Texan independence...

From the site:

There is little popular sentiment in Hawaii for independence from the United States of America although a small vocal group repeatedly rails for this. Independence from the USA would be virtually impossible to achieve anyway. Hawaii is recognized by international law as an American possession. Further, the American Civil War clearly established that an American state may not leave the Union. Independence for Hawaii would require an amendment to the American Constitution allowing states to secede followed by a vote of all Hawaiian citizens (not just those of Hawaiian descent) actually favoring independence.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Pre and Proto-historic Settlement in Sri Lanka

Pre and Proto-historic Settlement in Sri Lanka - A paper by S.U. Deraniyagala, Director-General of Archaeology, Sri Lanka presented at the Proceedings of the XIII Congress Forli'-Italia, 8-14 September, 1996 discussing the cultures, timing, and paleo climates from the first human influences to the Historic Period in Sri Lanka.

From the site:

Sri Lanka is an island off the southern tip of India. There is secure evidence of settlements in Sri Lanka by 130,000 years ago, probably by 300,000 BP and possibly by 500,000 BP or earlier. Palaeo-environmental investigations indicate that interglacials correlated with increased atmospheric activity over the island - which was manifested in correspondingly increased rainfall on the windward aspect of the central mountains and increased desiccation on the leeward side due to the drying foehn effect of katabatic winds. This model has been transposed to the eight major ecozones of the country with their respective prehistoric carrying capacities fluctuating in phase with climatic shifts. Population densities in these ecozones have been estimated for the Quaternary on the basis of ethnographic analogy. Subsistence strategy has also been assessed through archaeological evidence against a backdrop of ethnographic analogy and postulated biotic resources that would have been available for exploitation by Quaternary foragers.

At the commencement of the 1st millennium BC, there are indications of a rapid transition from a geometric microlith-using Mesolithic culture to the Early Iron Age, with horse, cattle, pottery and paddy cultivation. It is proposed that with iron technology (for clearing hitherto intractable equatorial rainforest) a greatly enhanced food production capability increased carrying capacity several-fold, thus attracting long distance links with India. The latter possibly involved migrations, of which the Indo-Aryan Sinhalese language (which was in use in Sri Lanka since at least 500 BC) could be but one manifestation.