Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Apocalypse 2012?

This is really not a history post. However, I guess it can be considered as such if one considers how many times that people in the past thought the Apocalypse was coming soon and were wrong.

CNN has an article up titled Apocalypse in 2012? Date spawns theories, film. It was written by A. Pawlowski. It centers on what some believe in regards to the Mayan calendar regarding the "end of the world."

The article notes:

Just as "Y2K" and its batch of predictions about the year 2000 have become a distant memory, here comes "Twenty-twelve."

Fueled by a crop of books, Web sites with countdown clocks, and claims about ancient timekeepers, interest is growing in what some see as the dawn of a new era, and others as an expiration date for Earth: December 21, 2012.

The date marks the end of a 5,126-year cycle on the Long Count calendar developed by the Maya, the ancient civilization known for its advanced understanding of astronomy and for the great cities it left behind in Mexico and Central America.

Of course, many scholars disagree with this. Some dispute that the end of the Mayan calendar means anything. Other argue that it only means that a time of change is coming which may have nothing to do with doomsday. Even others dispute that the Mayan calendar is ending on December 21st, 2012.

Regardless, expect some people to go nuts. "The whole year leading up to it is going to be just crazy, I'm sorry to say," David Stuart, director of the Mesoamerica Center at the University of Texas at Austin. "I just think it's sad, it really just frustrates me. People are really misunderstanding this really cool culture by focusing on this 2012 thing. It means more about us than it does about the Maya."

Here is a good tip. If you want to start a money making end of the world cult, now is a good time. There are a lot of impressionable people who will fork over their life savings for a chance at survival. If you are wrong, you get to keep the money probably by invoking religious freedom. If you are right, the world ended anyway. Why not enjoy the end times in style?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Art of African Exploration

The Art of African Exploration is a collection of 19th-century European paintings, drawings, and maps. It gives a good indication of how Africa as seen by Western eyes. This is yet another quality collection from the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.

From the site:

The lure of the unknown has always inspired travel. Early maps of Africa show vast expanses of uncharted territory. Before the 1800s, little was known about the interior of the continent, its geography, plants, animals, and peoples. As advances in medicine and technology made longer journeys possible, the zeal for African exploration peaked. A host of European travelers, driven by scientific curiosity, the desire for conquest or profit, missionary fervor or a thirst for adventure, explored the continent. Africa became a magnet for adventurers and scientists, opportunists and humanitarians. By the late 1800s, much of Africa had been mapped, giving European nations a foothold for imperialism, while uncovering a world largely unknown to science.

The compelling images that emerged from this time tell the story of Africa as it was first seen by Western eyes, and the impact it had on a fascinated public.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Interactive Mummification Tutorial

From the University of Chicago comes this great site for learning how to make a Mummy. It is the Interactive Mummification Tutorial. This is a cool tutorial that actually walks you through the whole process.

From the site:

Greetings! I am Anubis, the god of embalming. The ancient Egyptians believed the body of the deceased need to be preserved so that the soul could recognize it after death.