Saturday, July 09, 2005

History of Turks and Caicos Islands

History of Turks and Caicos Islands. This is a history of this small island group located in the Caribbean.

The Turks and Caicos Islands are situated over 575 miles southeast of Miami, Florida and 39 miles south east of Mayaguana in the Bahamas. Covering over 193 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean, the Turks and Caicos Islands has one of the longest coral reefs in the world.

The history of the islands has some exciting events. The British, French, and Spanish fought over the islands repeatedely in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Pirates were a common site in those days as well. Recent history is mostly political and a lot more tame.

From the site:

The islands were uninhabited when, about 1678, the Bermudians began to visit them to rake the salt found in the ponds. These visits became annual and permanent settlements were made. In 1710, the British were expelled by the Spaniards, but they returned and the salt trade (largely with the American colonies) continued to be carried on by the Bermudians despite attacks by Spaniards and French, and counter-claims to the islands by the British authorities at the Bahamas, who about 1765 made good their claim.

From about 1690 to 1720, pirates hid in the cays of the Turks and Caicos Islands, attacking Spanish treasure galleons to Spain from Cuba, Hispaniola and the Spanish posessions in Central America and Peru.

In 1799, the islands were given representation in the Bahamas Assembly, and they remained part of that colony until 1848, when on the petition of the inhabitants they were made a separate colony under the supervision of the governor of Jamaica. This arrangement proving financially burdensome the islands were in 1873 definitely annexed to Jamaica.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Mesopotamia Photographs of the Great War

Mesopotamia Photographs of the Great War. Extensive picture collection taken in World War I in Iraq by Captain Charles Henry Weaver. Includes biography of the photographer.

This site is made up of 300 pictures taken by the photographer during his service in The Great War. This was the time of the creation of Iraq out of "Southern Turkey".

From the site:

The pictures and artefacts were kept by Mr Weaver's daughter Joyce Edna Huntly (1926-2002) to whom this site is dedicated.

Mesopotamia was the first foreign affray for the (British) Indian Military. By 1918 there were 304,000 Indian troops and 107,000 British troops stationed in Mesopotamia. The British Indian Command was different and the two armies did not always work well together. The Indian side was poorly invested in modern equipment, and medical facilities were pitiful. The war was called "MesPot" with good reason. Some order was established by 1920, from which the modern state of Iraq was established.

The pictures show a different Iraq in many ways, although many of the sites can be recongised when shown on television nowadays.

These pictures were taken on the British side, no doubt in during the times when things were slack.

Captain Weaver was a contemporary of Dr Maurice Nichols who was an RAMC doctor. Dr Nichols gave a copy his book "In Mesopotamia" to Captain Weaver. The book was written under the pen name Martin Swayne. Dr Nichols became a leading psychiatrist after the war, and was one of the first New Age thinkers, developing "The Fourth Way". Martin Swaine describes the heat in evocative detail, only hinted at in these pictures. "Through the double canvas of the tent the sun beats down like a giant with a leaden club" is just one line he uses. In one period from 7th-28th July 1917 temperatures did not fall below 116 Deg F in the shade and 423 British and 59 Indian troops died of heat stroke.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

James Cook: Celebrated North Country Explorer

James Cook: Celebrated North Country Explorer - The life of Captain Cook and his contemporaries as represented by the collections of the British Library, the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, and other institutions.

The site includes some video clips including one that answers the question of who Captain Cook was. It also includes a family tree, timeline, and picture gallery.

From the site:

Discover the story of Captain James Cook through the outstanding collections of the British Library linked with material held in institutions such as the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum in the North East of England.

Cook was born in 1728 in Marton, now a suburb of Middlesbrough, and is probably the most famous maritime explorer of the 18th century. His exploits in Canada and North West America, the islands of the Pacific, New Zealand and Australia and his incursions into waters of the Arctic and Antarctic are well recorded, particularly through the journals, logs and pictures which were made during the voyages and today preserved in museums, libraries and archives throughout the world.

Find out how, since his death in 1779, Cook has been celebrated in the towns and villages of his native North East of England where there are survivals of his times in ‘Captain Cook Country’.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Why Only Some Became Farmers: A Global View

Why Only Some Became Farmers: A Global View. Noel Broadbent, Goran Burenhult, and Moreau Maxwell discuss the sweeping changes associated with adoption of food production and offer an explanation why these events only took place independently in a few locations.

This essay is originally from The People of the Stone Age, American Museum of Natural History, pages: 187-193.

From the site:

The transition from hunter-gatherer to farmer was one of the most sweeping events in the history of humankind. Most experts today agree that the impetus for this transition came from need rather than desire. Such a fundamental shift in the way of life led to major changes in social structures, and to the development of new religious systems - farmers' gods were different from those of hunter-gatherers. Increased sedentism created entirely new settlement patterns, and at the same time, population growth increased. Mobile hunter- gatherers have to restrict their group size, both for practical reasons-you cannot carry more than one child at a time during long journeys and in order to be able to survive when times are harsh. In a farming economy, on the other hand, as long as virgin land is available, more hands mean that more crops can be grown and more cattle raised, thus starting an endless circle of population growth leading to a demand for more food.

The developing farming tradition was accompanied by a number of new phenomena. With increased population pressure came the need to control personal territory, and this created the risk of conflict. For the first time, evidence of aggression appears in the form of fortified settlements and ceremonial combat weapons-symbols of power and dominance. With this new emphasis on strength and aggression, women's status declined. In many places, inequality between the sexes had its roots in the social organization of the established farming societies.

With large numbers of people living in the same area for long periods, problems of hygiene arose that were unknown to mobile hunter-gatherers. As time went on, the farming way of life also led to a far less balanced and less nutritious diet than that enjoyed by hunter-gatherers. The quality of stored food deteriorated as a result of infestation by rats and other vermin, creating a breeding ground for new, deadly strains of bacteria. Epidemic disease appeared for the first time.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

History of Ukraine

History of Ukraine. This is a half-way decent essay covering the major points of the history of the Ukraine. It is biased towards coverage of the 20th Century.

It also covers the chaos that occured around the presidential vote in the Ukraine last year. In the end, Viktor Yushchenko won the presidency. However, it took several votes and international pressure to get to that point as there was evidence of fraud that kept Yushchenko from winning initially.

From the site:

The first identifiable groups to populate what is now Ukraine were Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians, and Goths, among other nomadic peoples who arrived throughout the first millennium B.C. These peoples were well known to colonists and traders in the ancient world, including Greeks and Romans, who established trading outposts that eventually became city-states. Slavic tribes occupied central and eastern Ukraine in the sixth century A.D. and played an important role in the establishment of Kiev. Situated on lucrative trade routes, Kiev quickly prospered as the center of the powerful state of Kievan Rus. In the 11th century, Kievan Rus was, geographically, the largest state in Europe. Christian missionaries, Cyril and Methodius, propagated the Christian faith and the Cyrillic alphabet. Kievan Rus Prince Volodymyr converted the Kievan nobility and most of the population to Christianity in 988. Conflict among the feudal lords led to decline in the 12th century. Mongol raiders razed Kiev in the 13th century.

Most of the territory of what is modern Ukraine was annexed by Poland and Lithuania in the 14th century, but during that time, Ukrainians began to conceive of themselves as a distinct people, a feeling that survived subsequent partitioning by greater powers over the next centuries. Ukrainian peasants who fled the Polish effort to force them into servitude came to be known as Cossacks and earned a reputation for their fierce martial spirit and love of freedom. In 1667, Ukraine was partitioned between Poland and Russia. In 1793, when Poland was partitioned, much of modern-day Ukraine was integrated into the Russian Empire.

Monday, July 04, 2005

The American Revolution

The American Revolution - To my American readers, Happy Independence Day! To visitors from the rest of the world, I hope you take a moment to explore one of the most significant revolutions in history.

Designed to complement PBS' "Liberty!" series, the site features 16 essays on some of the complex political and social issues of the period. The H-Net site (hosted by Michigan State University) produces excellent history resources and the American Revolution theme is no exception.

The series is now available on DVD. I enjoyed this series and if you have't watched it yet I think you would too. If I could just find the time to read 1776 by David McCullough...

From the site:

The American Revolution ended two centuries of British rule for most of the North American colonies and created the modern United States of America. The Revolutionary era was both exhilarating and disturbing---a time of progress for some, dislocation for others. In the wake of the Revolution came events as varied as the drafting and ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America and the rebellions of slaves who saw the contrast between slavery and proclamations of liberty. The television series Liberty! offers us a chance to learn about the Revolution and to reflect on the Revolutionary legacy. The Revolution website offers a chance to join in national discussions of American revolutionary origins.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Eleusinian Mysteries

Eleusinian Mysteries - This essay is a discussion of the known facts about the rites of the Eleusinian Mysteries in which Greek priestesses were significantly involved.

These rites have been lost to history. The participants were very good at keeping the rituals secret. They were so successful at this that much of what happened is now lost.

It is sad that many of the details are now gone. Scholars would benefit from having all the facts. Yet, it is a testament to the worshippers of this mystery that the rite remains secret. Can you imagine a cult of this size in the modern world being able to keep the rite secret? It only takes one person to take a pay out and it would be all over the Web and the traditional media.

From the site:

The Eleusinian Mysteries, held annually in honor of Demeter and Persephone, were the most sacred and revered of all the ritual celebrations of ancient Greece. They were instituted in the city of Eleusis, some twenty-two kilometers west of Athens, possibly as far back as the early Mycenaean period, and continued for almost two thousand years. Large crowds of worshippers from all over Greece (and later, from throughout the Roman empire) would gather to make the holy pilgrimage between the two cities and and participate in the secret ceremonies, generally regarded as the high point of Greek religion. As Christianity began to spread, the Mysteries were condemned by the early Church fathers; yet the rites continued for hundreds of years more and exercised considerable influence on the formation of early Christian teachings and practices.