Saturday, October 01, 2005

Rise and Fall of the Vikings and the Little Ice Age

The Rise and Fall of the Vikings and the Little Ice Age - Illustrated, scholarly study by Scott Mandia on the impact of long-term climate changes on the Viking civilization in Greenland and Iceland.

As we continue to debate the validity of global warming, it is important to remember that the climate has changed a lot over time. The Vikings in Greenland suffered as the world grew colder. Temperatures rise and fall on a regular basis. It is really tough sometimes to tell how much impact people have on the weather.

From the site:

The weather impacts every aspect of life whether it be human, animal, or plant-life. Long-term weather, or climate, forces humans and all other life forms to continuously adapt in order to survive most efficiently within the climate type of a given region. On a geological time scale of thousands or millions of years, the earth has experienced much warmer and much cooler climates than those today. Humans, however, are influenced by climate changes occurring over much shorter time scales. Most are familiar with the term, El Niño, which is the name given to the two to five year change in climate associated with abnormally warm equatorial Pacific Ocean sea-surface temperatures. During an El Niño period, news stories abound about how this phenomena has caused global havoc such as floods, droughts, severe hot and cold, etc.

During the years 600-1850, Europe (and perhaps the world) experienced climate changes that lasted for hundreds of years. The effects of these long-term climate changes were far-reaching - every aspect of life in Europe was influenced including, among others, exploration, agriculture, health, deaths, economics, and art and literature. In particular, the rise and fall of the Viking civilization in Greenland and Iceland is directly linked to climate changes.

Friday, September 30, 2005

History of Swaziland

History of Swaziland. This is a history of the African nation of Swaziland. Of note, Swaziland still practices the Umhlanga Reed Dance where young maidens dance topless for the king. The current monarch (Mswati III) picks a new wife at this event every year.

Wikidepia notes, "The Kingdom of Swaziland is a small country in southern Africa (one of the smallest on the continent), situated on the eastern slope of the Drakensberg mountains, embedded between South Africa in the west and Mozambique in the east. The country is named after the Swazi, a Bantu tribe."

From the site:

According to tradition, the people of the present Swazi nation migrated south before the 16th century to what is now Mozambique. Following a series of conflicts with people living in the area of modern Maputo, the Swazis settled in northern Zululand in about 1750. Unable to match the growing Zulu strength, the Swazis moved gradually northward in the 1800s and established themselves in the area of modern or present Swaziland.

They consolidated their hold under several able leaders. The most important was Mswati II, from whom the Swazis derive their name. Under his leadership in the 1840s, the Swazis expanded their territory to the Northwest and stabilized the southern frontier with the Zulus.

Contact with the British came early in Mswati's reign, when he asked British authorities in South Africa for assistance against Zulu raids into Swaziland. It also was during Mswati's reign that the first whites settled in the country. Following Mswati's death, the Swazis reached agreements with British and South African authorities over a range of issues, including independence, claims on resources by Europeans, administrative authority, and security. South Africans administered the Swazi interests from 1894 to 1902. In 1902 the British assumed control.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Northumberland Rock Art

Northumberland Rock Art - Provides Web access to the Beckensall Archive which is a large database of panels of rock art by Neolithic and Early Bronze Age people in Northumberland in the north east of England. Also includes tutorials, maps, video, audio, and press clippings.

From the site:

This website is the celebration of rock carvings made by Neolithic and Early Bronze Age people in Northumberland in the north east of England, between 6000 and 3500 years ago. Over 1000 carved panels are known and most of them are still located in the countryside.

The website is also a celebration of the work of Stan Beckensall who has spent 40 years finding and recording this ancient rock art. For many years Beckensall shared his knowledge and recordings of Northumberland rock art through public talks, conference presentations, and richly illustrated publications. Now we have the World Wide Web!

It is our hope that the information and images presented in this website will encourage greater enjoyment of this cultural resource; inspire the creation of new knowledge and insights into Northumberland and British rock art; and set the basis for the effective management and conservation of this ancient resource for future generations.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Trafalgar Roll

The Trafalgar Roll - Part of a genealogy site, this page lists British ships and seamen (some 1,640 of them) who fought at Trafalgar. There are also lists of killed and wounded and brief descriptions of some other naval actions.

The recorded names are probably correct but there is a note of warning at the site, "The details have been copied as accurately as possible from the original list but there are some instances where the wording is indistinct and cannot be read with full assurance of accuracy. In these cases ?? have been used to indicate uncertainty. "

From the site:

This information has been compiled from a long list of the awards made to the seamen who fought in the various Royal Navy ships under the Command of Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21st October 1805.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

History of the Northern Mariana Islands

History of the Northern Mariana Islands. This is a short introduction to the history of the American territory known as the Northern Mariana Islands.

Wikipedia notes, "The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is a commonwealth in political union with the United States of America at a strategic location in the West Pacific Ocean. It consists of 14 islands about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines, at 15°1′2″ N 145°4′5″ E."

From the site:

The first people to come to the Marianas arrived over 3500 years ago, probably from Southeast Asia through the Philippines. The south islands were occupied early, the north later. The ancient people evolved into Chamorro people. An ancient trading route between the central Carolinian islands brought ancestors of the Carolinians to Saipan.

The first European to arrive in these islands was the Portuguese navigator, Ferdinand Magellan, who came to Guam and Rota in 1521 during his circumnavigation of the world in an attempt to find a route across the Pacific. Spain took possession of the archipelago in 1565 and ruled it for more than 300 years. The first permanent Spanish colony was established in 1668. Spain ceded Guam to the United States following the Spanish-American War, then sold the Northern Mariana Islands to Germany in 1899. Germany acquired these islands primarily to increase their international prestige. German economic development was based on the copra industry.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Demos: Classical Athenian Democracy

Demos: Classical Athenian Democracy - A digital encyclopedia of classical Athenian democracy offering biographies, images, history, and arguments. Some of the content is in PDF format.

A few sample articles include Scythian Archers: policing Athens, Legislation under the Athenian Democracy, and A Brief Early History of Athenian Democracy.

From the site:

Our goal is to build a digital encyclopedia of classical Athenian democracy that will be useful to a wide audience. We hope to describe the history, institutions, and people of democratic Athens in the 5th and 4th centuries BCE, to publish the efforts of scholars to answer questions about Athenian democracy, and to invite you, our audience, to explore, discover, and judge for yourselves.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Examining the American Bill of Rights Using the Ethic of Justice

Examining the American Bill of Rights Using the Ethic of Justice. This is another semi-philosophical look at history. The author argues from the perspective of the ethic of justice as postulated by Starratt (1991). It reviews all ten amendments and gives a rationale why the framers of the Constitution would want to limit federal power.

For example, here the commentary on the 2nd Amendment:

Amendment Two: A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"Although controversial today, the founders firmly believed that everyone was entitled to own a gun. Not only was this important for hunting and defense against hostile natives, it assured that the people would have a means of offering resistance to the government if it became unjust. This is not surprising considering that the new nation had just used guns to overthrow British rule. The very idea that resistance to unjust laws is morally correct is demonstrated by the inclusion of gun ownership as a basic right. "