Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Origins of Angkor Archaeological Project

The Origins of Angkor Archaeological Project is a site from the University of Otago. It investigates the Mun River valley of Northeast Thailand. Included are reports on Bronze and Iron Age sites includes site notes, radiocarbon dates, graphics, maps, biographies, and bibliography.

This site has not been updated since since 2001 which makes it appear as though it may be abandoned. I hope it is maintained in the future. I hate getting dead links at this blog.

From the site:

The Origins of Angkor Archaeological Project is a multi-disciplinary research project being undertaken by the University of Otago Department of Anthropology and the Fine Arts Department of Thailand. The aim of the project is to assess the seminal aspects of the social, cultural and technological development in the Mun River valley of Northeast Thailand. Four sites have been excavated, a Bronze Age site Ban Lum Khao, and three Iron Age sites, Non Muang Kao , Noen U-Loke. and Prasat Phimai. In addition, recent excavations at Phum Snay and Baksei Chamkrong have begun to shed light on the previously poorly understood prehistory of northern Cambodia. This work has been completed with the assistance of Earthwatch and their volunteers. In the 2002 field season, The Origins of Angkor Project began investigations at a new site in Northeast Thailand, Ban Non Wat.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Brief History of the Mastiff Breed

A Brief History of the Mastiff Breed
By Autumn Louther

Mastiffs in one form or another have been around since before written history began. Carvings from the Babylonian palace of Ashurbanipal (these carvings are on display in the British Museum) show large Mastiff-type dogs hunting lions in the desert near the Tigris River.

Mastiffs as war dogs

Phoenician merchants introduced the Mastiff to ancient Britain in the 6th century BC. The ancient Celts began using them as combat dogs who accompanied their owners into battle. This was the beginning of a long history of Mastiffs as fighters, soldiers, protectors, and watchdogs. A popular story tells that when Sir Peers Legh was injured in the Battle of Agincourt, his Mastiff stood over him and protected him for many hours while the battle raged on.

When the Romans invaded Britain around AD43, they took Mastiffs back to Italy and used them to protect property and guard prisoners, in addition to fighting in the arena. The Mastiff is said to have been Julius Caesar's favorite dog. Kubla Khan had a kennel of 5,000 Mastiffs for hunting and war use. When Hannibal crossed the Alps, he took several battalions of war Mastiffs.

Mastiffs in Britain

Back in Britain in the 11th century, the Mastiff was one of the few breeds listed by name in The Forest Laws of King Canute, the first written laws of England. Mastiffs were recorded as being kept for protection, and the middle toes of their front feet had to be amputated so the dogs could not run swiftly enough to catch deer (which traditionally belonged to royalty). British royals kept Mastiffs to protect their castles and estates, releasing them at night to ward off intruders. Henry VIII is said to have presented Charles V of Spain with 400 Mastiffs to be used in battle.

From the 12th through 19th centuries, Mastiffs were used for bear-baiting. This "sport," in which dogs attacked chained-up bears, bulls, and even tigers, was especially popular during Queen Elizabeth's time. Such fights were often staged for the queen's entertainment. The size of the Mastiff and its need to eat about as much food per day as an adult man made a Mastiff too costly for most common folk, except butchers, who had enough meat scraps to feed a Mastiff well. Therefore, the Mastiff was often called the "Butchers Dog."

Mastiffs in the United States

The first Mastiff in North America was brought from Britain on the Mayflower by the Pilgrims. The breed didn't become prominent in America until the 1800s, when Mastiffs were often found on plantations in the South as property guards.

During the World Wars, Mastiffs were commissioned to pull munitions carts at the front lines. However, their popularity was declining at the same time, partly because of their size: It was considered unpatriotic to keep a dog that ate as much in one day as a soldier. By the 1920s, Mastiffs were almost extinct in Britain, and by the end of World War II, Canada and the United States were sending Mastiffs to Britain to save the breed. Now, the breed is well-established in both continents.

From war dogs to family pets

How did Mastiffs go from hunting and fierce war dogs to the gentle pets we know today? Part of the reason is that breeders have bred the Mastiff for gentleness and have thus created an excellent companion. In addition Mastiffs are simply treated differently today. No longer are they used for barbaric practices like bear bating or lion fighting. As for being war dogs, modern warfare has made them obsolete as war dogs. Instead, Mastiffs are either kept as pets or put to use as watchdogs, guards, police or military dogs, search and rescue dogs, or as weight pullers.

Autumn C. Louther is a Mastiff owner who adores the Mastiff breed Autumn owns and runs

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How Urban Legends Work

Howstuffworks has an informative essay up on How Urban Legends Work. It was written by Tom Harris. Urban legends often become a part of folklore and history. What urban legend circulated today will be considered a historical fact by future historians? Which urban legends of ancient times are considered true today?

Parts of this article include:

1. Introduction to How Urban Legends Work

2. Types of Urban Legends

3. Friend of a Friend

4. Sources of Urban Legends

5. What Do Legends Mean?

6. Urban Legends and the Internet

7. Lots More Information

From the site:

Folklorists have come up with a number of definitions for urban legend. To many, a legend must be a story, with characters and some sort of plot. Others lump widely dispersed misinformation into the urban-legend category. For example, the erroneous belief that you will automatically pass all of your college courses in a semester if your roommate kills himself is generally considered to be an urban legend.

While these "facts" don't always have the narrative elements of traditional legend, they are passed from person to person and frequently have the elements of caution, horror or humor found in legends. Particular urban legends may be spread either as fact or as a story. For example, someone could tell you that there are giant alligators in New York's sewers, or he could tell you a riveting story about a group of kids who stumbled upon such an animal.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Battle for Iwo Jima

The US Department of Defense has a nice site up dedicated to the Battle for Iwo Jima. This was a fierce conflict between American and Japanese forces during World War II fought in early 1945. The site features articles, maps, videos, and a picture gallery.

From the site:

Iwo Jima was the site of the most horrific amphibious assault of World War II and perhaps modern warfare. Approximately 70,000 Marines from the Vth Amphibious Corps (made up of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Marine Divisions) fought 21,000 Japanese in a brutal contest that left about 28,000 American casualties with nearly 6,821Americans dead. The battle remains the most costly in Marine Corps history.

Iwo Jima literally means "Sulfur Island" in Japanese, and as the planes landed on the island, the pungent smell of sulfur filled the air. After donning their 782 gear, Marines made the 5-mile trek from the airfield to the 565-foot towering summit of Mount Suribachi - the sight of the famous American flag-raising and the second most recognized icon in the world.