Saturday, November 19, 2005

History of South Korea

History of South Korea. This short essay highlights the key events in the history of the Asian nation of South Korea.

Of course, South Korea is a divided part of a single Korean nation. Since the taint of communism infected the northern part of the country, the Koreans have been divided against each other. The rule of mad men in the north has made the hope of reunification slim.

But I have hope. Germany was reunified against seemingly impossible odds. It can happen in Korea too. And I am optimistic it will happen in my lifetime.

From the site:

The myth of Korea's foundation by the god-king Tangun in BC 2333 embodies the homogeneity and self-sufficiency valued by the Korean people. Korea experienced many invasions by its larger neighbors in its 2,000 years of recorded history. The country repelled numerous foreign invasions despite domestic strife, in part due to its protected status in the Sino-centric regional political model during Korea's Chosun dynasty (1392-1910). Historical antipathies to foreign influence earned Korea the title of "Hermit Kingdom" in the 19th century.

With declining Chinese power and a weakened domestic posture at the end of the 19th century, Korea was open to Western and Japanese encroachment. In 1910, Japan began a 35-year period of imperial rule over Korea. Memories of Japanese annexation still recall fierce animosity and resentment by older Koreans, as a result of Japan’s efforts to supplant the Korean language and culture. Nevertheless, restrictions on Japanese movies, popular music, fashion, etc. have been lifted, and younger Koreans eagerly follow Japanese pop culture.

Japan's surrender to the Allied Powers in 1945, signaling the end of World War II, only further embroiled Korea in foreign rivalries. Division at the 38th Parallel marked the beginning of Soviet and U.S. trusteeship over the North and South, respectively. On August 15, 1948 the Republic of Korea (R.O.K.) was established, with Syngman Rhee as the first President; on September 9, 1948, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.) was established under Kim Il Sung.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Piltdown Man

Piltdown Man - Piltdown man was one of the most famous hoaxes in science. This site covers the history of the hoax, its reception by the paleontological community, how the hoax was executed, its exposure, myths and misconceptions, and theories about the perpetrator.

Who created this hoax? It is still unknown. Wikipedia noted, "Assigning responsibility for the hoax has been a minor academic industry for a number of years. Charles Dawson was naturally the prime suspect, but a number of prominent persons had been to the site at various times, including Arthur Conan Doyle and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and various theories were proposed naming them. The general idea was that a practical joke had been played on Dawson, or on paleontologists generally, but the locking away of the specimen had prevented immediate discovery, and the huge publicity for the discovery had caused the hoaxer to keep silent."

From the site:

This is the home page for Piltdown man, a paleontological "man who never was". In April of 1996 there was an extended discussion in the news group about the Piltdown man hoax. During the discussion I checked the web and discovered that Piltdown man did not have a home page. I resolved to eliminate this deficiency in the scholarly resources of the world wide web; here, for your delectation, is Piltdown man's home page. Corrections and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

This page has been laid out so that it can be read sequentially or so that you can skip around in it using links. It is broken up into sections and subsections. Each section is headed by a list of links to the other sections. Each subsection has links back to the list of sub sections. There are brief biographies and a bibliography with internal links to them through out the text. This page is a self contained, text only, document. However there are links to supporting documents and pictures.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bureaucrats and Barbarians

Bureaucrats and Barbarians. Richard Hooker summarizes the civilization of Crete and southern Greece up until the time of Homer and provides an atlas and a gallery as well.

The site covers the period of the Greek Dark Ages. I had not heard this time referred to as a dark age before although it makes sense to call it that. I love the title too! Bureaucrats and Barbarians sounds like a role playing game in the line of Dungeons and Dragons. (I am sure a game could be designed to fit this time period in Greece.)

From the site:

In an overall reading of the module, students should be able to identify the central events, peoples and historical trajectories of Minoan and early Greek history and the surrounding areas and be able to articulate their relation to one another. They should be able to identify and use concepts and practices unique to ancient Minoan and early Greek cultures and the derivation of these concepts from other cultures and their relationship to concepts and ideas from other cultures. Students should be able to approach primary texts and other artifacts, including music and art, from this period using both the experience of the major historical events and the an understanding of the unique cultural concepts and practices underlying the texts. Finally, students should internalize the complexity and difficulty of the historical, cultural, and especially linguistic aspects of the Aegean and Greek civilizations and confront the text written here critically. The text is written from as neutral a perspective as possible and the student should master all sides of a controversy and the ideas that animate those controversies.

The resources in this module include an historical text, a discussion of culture and religion, an historical atlas, a glossary of terms, a text of primary readings, a gallery, a hypertexted bibliography of internet resources, and administrative texts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

History of Somalia

History of Somalia. This is a short history to the troubled African nation of Somalia. In the last decade, the country has struggled to maintain national cohesion as warlords have repeatedly marganilized the national government.

Somalia was also the site of a failed American relief effort in the early 90s. The hope was to offer assistance against the backdrop of famine and anarchy. There was resistance from local warlords and the US withdrew in 1994.

From the site:

Early history traces the development of the Somali people to an Arab sultanate, which was founded in the seventh century A.D. by Koreishite immigrants from Yemen. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portuguese traders landed in present Somali territory and ruled several coastal towns. The sultan of Oman and Zanzibar subsequently took control of these towns and their surrounding territory.

Somalia's modern history began in the late l9th century, when various European powers began to trade and establish themselves in the area. The British East India Company's desire for unrestricted harbor facilities led to the conclusion of treaties with the sultan of Tajura as early as 1840. It was not until 1886, however, that the British gained control over northern Somalia through treaties with various Somali chiefs who were guaranteed British protection. British objectives centered on safeguarding trade links to the east and securing local sources of food and provisions for its coaling station in Aden. The boundary between Ethiopia and British Somaliland was established in 1897 through treaty negotiations between British negotiators and King Menelik.

During the first two decades of this century, British rule was challenged through persistent attacks led by Mohamed Abdullah. A long series of intermittent engagements and truces ended in 1920 when British warplanes bombed Abdullah's stronghold at Taleex. Although Abdullah was defeated as much by rival Somali factions as by British forces, he was lauded as a popular hero and stands as a major figure of national identity to some Somalis.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Jerusalem Mosaic

The Jerusalem Mosaic - The Hebrew University of Jerusalem offers a readable history of the city by period, with a map for each and photographs and information on surviving historic buildings. There are English and Hebrew versions available.

There is good content here but I will confess I found navigating the site difficult. I looped around a few times before finding some items.

From the site:

Jerusalem, with a recorded history of some 4000 years, has been familiar to many people for a longer period than any other place on earth.This is the site of the mystic hill-city which was founded in the third millennium BCE, and the "Urusalim" which appears in pottery inscriptions at the beginning of the second millennium BCE. This is the city of David, who unified the Land of Israel and proclaimed Jerusalem the capital in the tenth century BCE. It is the city of Solomon's Temple, and the city where the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah uttered thoughts which influenced the moral and religious attitudes of half the human race. This was the scene of Jesus' last ministry, and where he was crucified.This is a city held holy by the Muslim, who believe that Muhammad ascended to heaven in Jerusalem.In its antiquity, its tumultuous past, its holiness, its monuments associated with the giant biblical figures of distant ages, in the sheer enchantment of its location and the colourful pattern of its daily life, Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Israel, is perhaps the most dramatic city in the world.

Monday, November 14, 2005

And Then Came Clothing and Speech

And Then Came Clothing and Speech - Mark Roberts discusses why Europe was colonized by hominids half a million years ago. This was originally published in the Journal of British Archaeology in 1996.

Roberts argues that colonists were more advanced than what researchers had previously thought. He also notes that these hominids were displaying many behaviors consistent with modern humans.

From the site:

Why was Europe colonised by hominids half a million years ago? And what sort of people were these first colonisers?

There may be evidence, as some claim, for a sporadic occupation of Spain around a million years ago at sites such as Atapuerca and Orce (see BA, September 1995). However, without doubt the main colonising event began in the interglacial, or warm period, of 524-478,000 years ago. During this period incontestable sites are found throughout the western part of the continent. The originators of this colonis-ing thrust are thought to have come from Africa and the Levant, and their principal tool was the stone handaxe. They are referred to generally as archaic modern humans or specifically as Homo cf heidelbergensis, although some researchers still see them as Homo erectus rather than an evolved form of this lineage.

As for why these hominids moved into Europe, hypotheses have been postulated such as a change in the composition of the carnivore populations of Europe, thus reducing competition for food resources; or climatic and hence environmental change in Africa, forcing a general population movement. It is feasible that these populations met up with other colonisers coming from the east via Asia and the Caucasus.

But what forces were driving the colonisers steadily northwards and east? The archaeological record suggests it was unlikely to be because of competition with a remnant population, or population pressure amongst the colonisers. One explanation may be recolonisation of the continent by flora and fauna, as the inter-glacial climate began to take effect - hominids may well have moved in conjunction with expanding ecological zones that satisfied their subsistence requirements. There exists too, the possibility that the migration route may have been around the European coastline, which would have avoided many of the natural obstacles of a direct route, although access to large grazing herds would have been restricted.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Great Tangshan Earthquake

Great Tangshan Earthquake - An account of the anticipation of the great earthquake of 1976, and the steps that a few authorities took in the preceding days. It is from the UN Global Programme site.

Over a quarter of a million people in China died during and after this quake. However, Qinglong County prepared for the disaster and had only one death! The county was surrounded by areas with high deaths but except for the loss of buildings, the county emerged OK. Credit must be given to Wang Chunqing, a 21 year old administrator who believed scientists who warned about the strong possibility of a quake.

From the site:

Administrator Wang Chunqing attended a conference organized by the State Seismological Bureau (SSB) for the North China-Bohai region. During this conference, on the evening of July 16, 1976, scientist Wang Chengmin of the SSB's Analysis and Prediction Department spoke at an informal meeting attended by sixty conference participants. Young administrator Wang Chunqing was among the audience.

On July 21, 1976, administrator Wang Chunqing returned to Qinglong County. He reported on the Tangshan conference, highlighted the talk given by scientist Wang Chengmin, and included updated information from the county's 16 lay monitoring stations. Public officials of Qinglong County took the report very seriously and acted upon the information immediately.