Friday, March 16, 2007

History Carnival #50

History Carnival 50 is up at Early Modern Notes. Sharon Howard, the founder of the History Carnival, is the host. The next History Carnival will be on 1 April at A Don's Life. As a previous host, and strong supporter, I am very pleased to see the History Carnival at 50 already.

In other carnival news, Four Stone Hearth #11 is up at Aardvarchaeology. And a new Military History Carnival is coming soon!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

History of Laos

History of Laos. This is a brief overview to the history of the Asian nation of Laos. People from Laos are called "Lao" or "Laotian." The debate over the proper term is rather heated I have seen.

The Encyclopædia Britannica notes, "Officially Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lao Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxôn Lao, French République Démocratique Populaire Lao, landlocked country located on the Indochinese Peninsula. It is bounded on the north by China, on the northeast and east by Vietnam, on the south by Cambodia, on the west by Thailand, and on the northwest by Myanmar (Burma). Laos extends about 650 miles (1,050 kilometres) from northwest to southeast. The capital is Vientiane (Lao: Viangchan)."

From the site:

Laos traces its first recorded history and its origins as a unified state to the emergence of the Kingdom of Lan Xang (literally, "million elephants") in 1353. Under the rule of King Fa Ngum, the wealthy and mighty kingdom covered much of what today is Thailand and Laos. His successors, especially King Setthathirat in the 16th century, helped establish Buddhism as the predominant religion of the country.

By the 17th century, the kingdom of Lan Xang entered a period of decline marked by dynastic struggle and conflicts with its neighbors. In the late 18th century, the Siamese (Thai) established hegemony over much of what is now Laos. The region was divided into principalities centered on Luang Prabang in the north, Vientiane in the center, and Champassak in the south. Following their colonization of Vietnam, the French supplanted the Siamese and began to integrate all of Laos into the French empire. The Franco-Siamese treaty of 1907 defined the present Lao boundary with Thailand.

During World War II, the Japanese occupied French Indochina, including Laos. King Sisavang Vong of Luang Prabang was induced to declare independence from France in 1945, just prior to Japan's surrender. During this period, nationalist sentiment grew. In September 1945, Vientiane and Champassak united with Luang Prabang to form an independent government under the Free Laos (Lao Issara) banner. The movement, however, was short-lived. By early 1946, French troops reoccupied the country and conferred limited autonomy on Laos following elections for a constituent assembly.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tourists help excavate ancient Holy Land caves

CNN has this article titled Tourists help excavate ancient Holy Land caves. The article notes, "Tourists like Krewson pay $25 to spend the day working in ancient tunnels in Israel's Bet Guvrin National Park, about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem. Participants do the dirty work, digging and sifting through the ruins, while their fees underwrite the more difficult parts of archaeological work: washing pottery shards, logging finds and publishing papers in academic journals."

What a great idea! If you need labor on an archaeological dig, you normally either pay people to do it or make some poor graduate student help in exchange for resume material. However, in Israel, some archaeologists have figured out how to make tourists pay for the privilege of working a dig site.

Ian Stern, director of Archaeological Seminars, which is licensed by the Israeli government to do the dig, said, ""We've provided more people with a personal contact with archaeology than anybody else in the world. It helps them connect to their roots."

I guess I would pay to do this. Getting inside an old cave in Israel and digging in the dirt sounds fun. And $25 for a day is a lot cheaper that most other tourist activities in Israel. I wonder if I could get my wife to dig too?

From the site:

Deep in a 2,000-year-old tunnel system outside Jerusalem, a young woman unearthed a rare oil lamp used in ancient rituals during an archaeological dig.

For Abby Krewson, the discovery is especially gratifying: Krewson is a 10th-grader from Philadelphia participating in a "dig for a day" archaeological experience with her family and a Bible college group.

"I didn't expect to find something like that, so it's very exciting," Krewson said.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Cape Cod Gravestones

Cape Cod Gravestones. OK, maybe this site is a bit on the morbid side but it is very interesting. This site displays photographs of old gravestones in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. The dates on the tombstones are from 1683-1860 from fifteen town cemeteries.

As I was growing up, I lived close to a cemetery in Dowling, Ohio. I spent a lot of time playing games and exploring that cemetery. I got to know many of the tombstones and had my favorites. As I have gotten older, I no longer feel as much desire to visit cemeteries. However, I still like to stop by and walk that old cemetery whenever I get back to my hometown. I guess this is a reason I found this site so interesting.

One fun epitaph from the site is form the tombstone of John Rogers who died in 1760. It reads, "In Memory of Mr JOHN ROGERS who was educated and took the Degree of Master of Arts at the University of Glasgow and was Grammar School master in this Town about Thirty six Years Deceased Jan'ry 2d 1760 in the 80Year of his Age." How is that for putting your resume on your tombstone?

Even some of the more humble tombs had some memorable epitaphs. Here is the one of Jesse Bourne who died in 1737, "Here lieth Jesseye Son of Merina Negro Servant to Melatiah Bourne Esq died Septye 17 1737 Aged 2 Years and 6 Mo."

From the site:

A major goal is to photograph and display the most interesting old gravestones in Barnstable County before they are lost to the ravages of time. A related goal is to provide reasonably complete gravestone records from the earliest in 1683 up to 1860 or later for all Barnstable County cemeteries. Information about the gravestone carvers and gravestone styles is included. Reference sources for cemetery surveys done over the last one hundred years are provided for further research.

Monday, March 12, 2007

King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans of Thermopylae

King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans of Thermopylae. This is an informative site dedicated to King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans, who along with 700 Thespians fought to the death defending the Pass of Thermopylae (Hot Gates) in August, 480 B.C.

In addition to an account of the battle, it provides information on movies, websites related to the battle, and items for sale relating to the event. I am pleased that the 700 Thespians who fought and died along side the 300 are given some credit at the site. It notes, "Therefore, the Thespians should be held with the highest esteem as the Spartan fallen. They distinguished themselves by remaining to fight and die with honor and courage along with the remaining Spartan heroes so that the rest of the Greek warriors could withdraw safely."

I did see 300 on Sunday night. I enjoyed the movie and even though it was a bit strange at times it was a good retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae. I am rather certain however that the Persians did not use Rhinos or elephants in the battle against the Greeks as the movie suggests.

From the site:

This website is dedicated to King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans, who along with 700 Thespians fought to the death defending the Pass of Thermopylae (Hot Gates) in August, 480 B.C. The Spartan and Thespian last stand has been immortalized in the works of Herodotus and glorified in the 1962 movie 'The 300 Spartans' starring Richard Egan, along with many other mediums consisting of artwork, books, statues, etc.

The legendary battle of Thermopylae was the focus of Steven Pressfield's 'Gates of Fire' which received many accolades and which will be visited once again with the premier of the Frank Miller movie '300'.