Saturday, May 28, 2005

Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Holocaust and Genocide Studies - International journal featuring research articles, interpretive essays, and book reviews in the social sciences and humanities. It is the principal publication to address the issue of how insights into the Holocaust apply to other genocides.

Friday, May 27, 2005

History of Gibraltar

History of Gibraltar. This is a short overview to the history of this rock owned by the UK but coveted by Spain.

From the site:

Gibraltar is a rugged promontory in the province of Andalusia, Spain, about 6 miles in circumference. Its almost perpendicular walls rise to a height of 1396 feet. The town in on the west side; on the north a narrow isthmus (neutral ground) connects the fortress with the mainland of Spain. The great rock itself is the ancient Mount Calpe, which with Abyla (Ceuta) constituted the famous Pillars of Hercules. In antiquity Gibraltar belonged in turn to the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, and Visigoths. Scipio took it from the Carthaginians, and it remained Roman territory until A. D. 412, when the Goths became masters of Spain. Being Arians, they built two churches of their faith in the vicinity of Calpe; one at San Rocco, the other, a chapel, on the rock itself. In 710 the Visigothic kingdom in Spain, after an existence of 300 years, was torn with internal strife. Amid this dissension the Moors crossed from Africa, for the second time (711), under their leader Tarik-Ibn-Zeyad, who sent a detachment of soldiers to Mount Calpe, and had a castle built there, the ruins of which yet excite admiration. The mountain was thenceforth known as Gibel-Tarik, the mountain of Tarik, or Gibraltar. Thus began the Moorish conquest of Spain. Gibraltar was besieged, in 1309, and retaken from the Moors by Alonzo de Guzman. By 1462 it had sustained eight sieges, with varying fortune. The last of these was under Alonzo de Arcos, who captured it from the Moors in 1462, the surrender on this occasion taking place on 20 August, the feast of St. Bernard, in consequence of which he became the patron of Gibraltar. The Infante Don Alonzo gave the city and territory of Gibraltar to the Duke of Medina-Sidonia in absolute and perpetual possession for himself and his successors. Ferdinand and Isabella confirmed this gift, conferring on the Duke of Medina-Sedonia the title of Marquis of Gibraltar; at a later period, however, during the same reign, the place was annexed by the Crown.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Slow Birth of Agriculture

Slow Birth of Agriculture - An essay arguing that people began cultivating some crops long before they embraced agriculture, and that crop cultivation and village life often did not go hand in hand.

From the site:

According to early Greek storytellers, humans owe the ability to cultivate crops to the sudden generosity of a goddess. Legend has it that in a burst of goodwill, Demeter, goddess of crops, bestowed wheat seeds on a trusted priest, who then crisscrossed Earth in a dragon-drawn chariot, sowing the dual blessings of agriculture and civilization.

For decades, archaeologists too regarded the birth of agriculture as a dramatic transformation, dubbed the Neolithic Revolution, that brought cities and civilization in its wake. In this scenario, farming was born after the end of the last Ice Age, around 10,000 years ago, when hunter-gatherers settled in small communities in the Fertile Crescent, a narrow band of land arcing across the Near East. They swiftly learned to produce their own food, sowing cereal grains and breeding better plants. Societies then raised more children to adulthood, enjoyed food surpluses, clustered in villages, and set off down the road to civilization. This novel way of life then diffused across the Old World.

But like many a good story, over time this tale has fallen beneath an onslaught of new data. By employing sensitive new techniques--from sifting through pollen cores to measuring minute shape changes in ancient cereal grains--researchers are building a new picture of agricultural origins. They are pushing back the dates of both plant domestication and animal husbandry (see sidebar, p. 1448) around the world, and many now view the switch to an agrarian lifestyle as a long, complex evolution rather than a dramatic revolution.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site - Several mounds including Monks Mound, the largest earthen mound in the New World. This web site includes information on the interpretive center, and presents photos, history, and event calendar at this World Heritage site.

From the site:

The remains of the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico are preserved at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. Within the 2,200-acre tract, located a few miles west of Collinsville, Illinois, lie the archaeological remnants of the central section of the ancient settlement that is today known as Cahokia.

Cahokia Mounds has been recognized as a U. S. National Historic Landmark, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) , in 1982, designated Cahokia Mounds a World Heritage Site for its importance to our understanding of the prehistory of North America. Cahokia Mounds is managed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

According to archaeological finds, the city of Cahokia was inhabited from about A.D. 700 to 1400. At its peak, from A.D. 1050 to 1200, the city covered nearly six square miles and possibly 10-20,000 people lived here. Over 120 mounds were built through time, and most mounds were enlarged several times. Houses were arranged in rows and around open plazas, and the main agricultural fields lay outside the city. The site is named for a subtribe of the Illiniwek (or Illinois tribe, a loose confederacy of related peoples) - the Cahokia - who moved into this area in the 1600s and lived nearby when the French arrived about 1699. Sometime in the mid-1800s, local historians suggested the site be called "Cahokia" to honor these later arrivals. Archaeological investigations and scientific tests, mostly since the 1920s and especially since the 1960s, have provided what is known of the once-thriving community.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Appeal to the League of Nations

Appeal to the League of Nations - A speech Emperor Haile Selassie delivered to the League of Nations in June of 1936 in Geneva. Fascist Italy had invaded Ethiopia and the resulting Italo-Ethiopian War was a disaster for the Africans.

From the site:

"I, Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, am here today to claim that justice which is due to my people, and the assistance promised to it eight months ago, when fifty nations asserted that aggression had been committed in violation of international treaties.

There is no precedent for a Head of State himself speaking in this assembly. But there is also no precedent for a people being victim of such injustice and being at present threatened by abandonment to its aggressor. Also, there has never before been an example of any Government proceeding to the systematic extermination of a nation by barbarous means, in violation of the most solemn promises made by the nations of the earth that there should not be used against innocent human beings the terrible poison of harmful gases. It is to defend a people struggling for its age-old independence that the head of the Ethiopian Empire has come to Geneva to fulfil this supreme duty, after having himself fought at the head of his armies.

I pray to Almighty God that He may spare nations the terrible sufferings that have just been inflicted on my people, and of which the chiefs who accompany me here have been the horrified witnesses.

It is my duty to inform the Governments assembled in Geneva, responsible as they are for the lives of millions of men, women and children, of the deadly peril which threatens them, by describing to them the fate which has been suffered by Ethiopia. It is not only upon warriors that the Italian Government has made war. It has above all attacked populations far removed from hostilities, in order to terrorize and exterminate them.

Monday, May 23, 2005

History of Iran

History of Iran. This is an essay on the history of Iran which was known as Persia in ancient times.

From the site:

The ancient nation of Iran, historically known to the West as Persia and once a major empire in its own right, has been overrun frequently and has had its territory altered throughout the centuries. Invaded by Arabs, Seljuk Turks, Mongols, and others--and often caught up in the affairs of larger powers--Iran has always reasserted its national identity and has developed as a distinct political and cultural entity.

Archeological findings have placed knowledge of Iranian prehistory at middle paleolithic times (100,000 years ago). The earliest sedentary cultures date from 18,000-14,000 years ago. The sixth millennium B.C. saw a fairly sophisticated agricultural society and proto-urban population centers. Many dynasties have ruled Iran, the first of which was the Achaemenid (559-330 B.C.), a dynasty founded by Cyrus the Great. After the Hellenistic period (300-250 B.C.) came the Parthian (250 B.C.-226 A.D.) and the Sassanian (226-651) dynasties.

The seventh century Arab-Muslim conquest of Iran was followed by conquests by the Seljuk Turks, the Mongols, and Tamerlane. Iran underwent a revival under the Safavid dynasty (1502-1736), the most prominent figure of which was Shah Abbas. The conqueror Nadir Shah and his successors were followed by the Zand dynasty, founded by Karim Kahn, and later the Qajar (1795-1925) and the Pahlavi dynasties (1925-1979).

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Sixty Centuries of Copper

Sixty Centuries of Copper - A history of copper mining, the development of metal-working processes and the uses of copper through the past six thousand years; originally published in 1965.

From the site:

The story of copper and its principal alloys, bronze and brass, is virtually a chronicle of human endeavor since man emerged from the Stone Age. The ubiquity of the copper metals and their contribution to every civilization since Sumeria and Pre-Dynastic Egypt gives them a unique position in the history of technology.

This book replaces a publication first issued by the Copper Development Association in 1934. Like the original work, Copper Through the Ages, the present volume is intended for the reader who is interested in the general history of copper mining, the development of metal-working processes and the uses of copper through the past six thousand years. The scope of the subject is so enormous that some sections have been covered only briefly, but it is felt that the book will be a useful introductory guide to students of history, particularly since the teaching of history has been broadened to embrace the origins of applied science. It should also help metallurgists, architects, industrial designers, engineers and other technologists to appreciate the part played by the copper metals in the past and recognize their potential contribution to future advances in civilization. The book traces the links between man's early uses of copper and the applications of today, and thereby outlines a continuous record of satisfactory service in which new uses for copper have been found in practically every century.

This website is based on Sixty Centuries of Copper by B Webster Smith which was published by the UK Copper Development Association in 1965.