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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.


World History

A group about World History so that I do not end up spamming my USA and Non USA News Group

Location: #culture
Members: 17
Latest Activity: Aug 14

Discussion Forum

How the British Divided Up the Arab World

Started by Hope. Last reply by Chris Oct 15, 2016. 7 Replies

How the British Divided Up the Arab WorldThe development of the modern nation states throughout the Arab world is a fascinating and heartbreaking process. 100 years ago, most Arabs were part of the…Continue

Tags: Arab, World, Up, Divided, the

History Snippets

Started by Doone. Last reply by Tom Sarbeck Oct 12, 2016. 3 Replies

AN AMERICAN CREATION STORYby Akim ReinhardtThere is scientific evidence indicating that Asiatic peoples migrated…Continue

Tags: Snippets, History

Old Time Religion and Buildings

Started by Doone. Last reply by Onyango Makagutu Nov 30, 2012. 1 Reply

Tatev Monastery - Tatev, ArmeniaThe Tatev monastery once played a notable role in the advancement of medieval Armenian culture when it housed the University of Tatev in the 14th and 15th…Continue

Tags: Buildings, and, Religion, Time, Old


Started by Doone. Last reply by Doone Jul 11, 2012. 2 Replies

THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE AND THE RISE OF ISLAMTom Holland in The Guardian:Whenever modern civilisations…Continue


Comment Wall


You need to be a member of World History to add comments!

Comment by Marianne on November 17, 2011 at 7:23pm

Im glad that the continent of America had humans artists as far as 13,000 yrs, it's implications are enormous...

This is a reply to Doone's post yesterday.

Comment by Doone on November 16, 2011 at 6:43am

Published:  - By Staff

Cave Painters Didn’t Dream Up Spotted Horses, Study Shows

When prehistoric artists adorned cave walls with colorful images of nature, they painted it like they saw it, according to a new study. An international team of researchers has used DNA analysis to show that creative types living more than 25,000 years ago fell squarely within the realist camp when they sketched horses with spotted or dappled coats. Previously, experts thought only brown and black horses existed back then, meaning the leopard-like patterns on ancient equestrian art must have sprung from cave painters’ imaginations.
Spotted Horses

A replica of the spotted horse images found in France's Pech Merle cave.

During the last Ice Age, people living in what is now southwestern France painted lifelike images of animals on the walls of a cave known as Pech Merle. Prancing among wooly mammoths, bison and deer are two white horses with black spots that bear a striking resemblance to today’s appaloosas. Some archaeologists have pointed to these spotted steeds as evidence that Paleolithic artists weren’t just documenting the world around them; instead, like their abstractionist successors, they imbued their work with symbolic meaning. That’s because the genetic variation behind spotted coats was thought to have appeared much more recently, possibly after humans domesticated horses around 4000 B.C.

To determine whether Pech Merle’s decorators would have idolized Edward Hopper or Edvard Munch, researchers analyzed DNA from the bones and teeth of 31 horses that lived in Europe and Siberia as far back as 35,000 years ago. They found that six of the animals shared a gene associated with the leopard-like spotting seen in modern dappled horses. The others had either black or bay (brown with darker manes, tails, lower legs and ears) coats; these are the other two color patterns that crop up in cave paintings, including at France’s famed Lascaux complex.

“While previous DNA studies have produced evidence for bay and black horses, our study has demonstrated that the leopard complex spotting phenotype was also already present in ancient horses and was accurately depicted by their human contemporaries nearly 25,000 years ago,” said Michael Hofreiter of the University of York, a co-author of a paper on the findings published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Our findings lend support to hypotheses that argue that cave paintings constitute reflections of the natural environment of humans at the time and may contain less of a symbolic or transcendental connotation than often assumed.”

In other words, it looks like ancient painters didn’t dream up spots to lend ho-hum reproductions of monochromatic horses a fanciful air. Another co-author, Arne Ludwig of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, speculated that prehistoric artists, including those who left their mark on Pech Merle, aspired to capture their surroundings with accuracy. “Attributes of coat colors may also have been depicted with deliberate naturalism, emphasizing colors or patterns that characterized contemporary horses,” he said. Researcher Terry O’Connor of the University of York added that the team’s findings could help shed light on other examples of prehistoric art, explaining, “People drew what they saw, and that gives us greater confidence in understanding Paleolithic depictions of other species as naturalistic illustrations.”


While spotted coats may have ancient origins, we can’t yet assume that cave painters appreciated dappled breeds for their beauty. After all, they weren’t exactly horse lovers—at least not in the typical sense. Back then, humans hunted horses for their meat, a staple protein in Eurasia and later in North America, archaeologists believe.


Posted in Art HistoryStone Age


Comment by Doone on November 16, 2011 at 6:41am

Earliest American Art Found in Florida?

The earliest Americans not only may have hunted enormous beasts such as mammoths and mastodons, but they also depicted them in artistic engravings, according to researchers from the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Florida. Earlier this month, they announced the discovery of the oldest known example of prehistoric American art: a bone fragment engraved with the image of an ancient trunked mammal.
Mammoth Engraving

An image of a mammoth or mastodon carved into a prehistoric bone fragment is the oldest known example of American art and the only Ice Age depiction of an extinct trunked mammal found outside Europe, according to researchers. (Credit: University of Florida/Smithsonian Institution)

In 2009, James Kennedy cleaned off a bone he’d discovered in his native Florida that had been sitting under his sink collecting dust for a couple of years. To his surprise, the amateur fossil hunter noticed an image of what appeared to be a mammoth or mastodon etched into the 15-inch-long fragment. He handed it over to scientists at the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Florida, who recently announced that the engraving, estimated to be at least 13,000 years old, might be the earliest known example of art in the Americas, as well as the only Ice Age illustration of a proboscidean—an animal with a trunk—ever uncovered outside of Europe.

Bone Fragment

The image is carved into a 15-inch-long bone fragment that may have belonged to the same type of animal featured in the engraving. (Credit: University of Florida/Smithsonian Institution)

“This is an incredibly exciting discovery,” said Dennis Stanford, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and co-author of a paper the researchers published this month in the Journal of Archaeological Science. “There are hundreds of depictions of proboscideans on cave walls and carved into bones in Europe, but none from America—until now.”

Using forensic analysis and other cutting-edge technologies, the team identified the bone as having once belonged to a mammoth, mastodon or giant sloth, creatures that roamed North America during the last Ice Age. They also enlisted specialists from a wide range of disciplines, including engineers and artists, to help determine that the engraving was truly of prehistoric origin rather than a modern-day imitation. “The results of this investigation are an excellent example of the value of interdisciplinary research and cooperation among scientists,” said Barbara Purdy, professor emerita of anthropology at the University of Florida and the lead author of the study.


Kennedy found the fossil at a site called Old Vero, where in the early 20th century archaeologists unearthed bones from both humans and numerous supersized mammals—including mammoths, mastodons, saber-toothed cats and giant sloths—that went extinct at the end of the Late Pleistocene, between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago. It is believed that the New World’s earliest settlers may have used their newly developed weapons to hunt these massive beasts, possibly even wiping them off the face of the earth. Now, according to the latest study, it seems they drew artistic inspiration from the colossal mammals, known collectively as megafauna, as well.


A cast of the engraved fossil bone is now on display at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.

Video: Mammoth Vs. Man

Posted in Art HistoryEarly Humans
Comment by Doone on November 13, 2011 at 7:25pm

Could A Single Marine Unit Take Down The Roman Empire?


A thought experiment on Reddit is on its way to becoming a major motion picture. Alyson Sheppard tries to answer the question:

Historian Goldsworthy says the MEU would probably lose in the long term—without the ability to resupply their modern weapons, they simply wouldn’t be able to overcome the Roman numbers. However, he says, they could destabilize the Roman Empire, encourage civil war, and initiate regional fracturing. "[The Marines] might discredit the Emperor by defeating the closest army to Rome," he says. "But they would lack the numbers to control Rome itself—with a population of a million or so—let alone the wider empire." 

(Photo: "Battle Scene with a Roman Army Besieging a Large City" by Juan de la Corte)


Comment by Doone on November 8, 2011 at 10:00am

Fertility: Canadian Pioneer Style


Pioneers breed like rabbits, or so says a new study published in Science and reviewed in Scientific American. The study analyzed marriage and birth records in Canada’s Charlevoix Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean region (northeast of Quebec City) and found that “families living on the edges of the expansions had 20 percent more children than families living at the settlement’s core. They also married one year earlier, on average, and contributed up to four times more genes to the region’s current population.” Henry Harpending, an anthropologist unaffiliated with the study, compares the behavior of pioneers to plant species: READ MORE »


Comment by Doone on November 7, 2011 at 8:05am


by Hartosh Singh Bal

ScreenHunter_01 Nov. 07 09.48Two recent events, the removal of an essay on the many tellings of the Indian epic the Ramayana from the curriculum of Delhi University and the firebombing of a French newspaper for printing a cartoon of the Prophet in an edition devoted to a satirical look at the Shariat, share a surface resemblance.  They have taken place in India and Western Europe, two diverse places but both places that take pride in a tradition of tolerance. While it is possible to read into the incidents the continuing religious intolerance for any examination of faith, it seems to make more sense to me to focus on the differences between the two events and what they say about the manner in which these two societies actually practice tolerance.

The essay removed from the curriculum at Delhi University was written by A.K. Ramanujan, at least in the Indian way of thinking a Hindu, drawing upon a long tradition in which the diversity within the faith is itself a source of tolerance. The opposition to this essay has come from the Hindu right, which is not a conservative but a radical force. It wants to historicize a tradition that is rooted in myth and storytelling. Uncomfortable with the elasticity of myth, they prefer the certainty they think history grants them. For them the figure of Rama, central to the epic, is not subject to the vagaries of storytelling and local lore, he is a historical figure with a kingdom and a birthplace.

This historicity is central to a version of Hinduism that goes by the name of hindutva and shores up the main opposition party in Indian, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).  Irrespective of its antecedents (it is a modern idea, born in the early twentieth century) it has come to command enough of a following to influence the norms that actually mediate tolerance in India.  By tolerance, I do not just mean intellectual tolerance which however important is only a part of a wider idea. By tolerance I mean the wider idea that allows diverse ways of living to coexist in a society.

Continue reading "The problems of pluralism"

Posted by Hartosh Singh Bal at 12:40 AM | Permalink |

Comment by Doone on November 7, 2011 at 8:01am


by Justin E. H. Smith

[For the first installment in this series, go here.]

The idea that there is a hierarchy or ladder of world cultures, with European culture at the top (often promoted to the status of 'civilization'), was a cornerstone of most Enlightenment philosophy. It was rejected in the era by a handful of counter-Enlightenment thinkers such as Herder, but it continued to reign in the burgeoning discipline of anthropology until the early-20th-century innovations of Franz Boas and others. It was only definitively displaced from anthropology in the decade or so after World War II. In philosophy today, by contrast, though everyone officially abjures the ladder model of human cultures, it continues to determine much of our reasoning about what counts as philosophy and what does not.

It is worth pointing out that all societies that have produced anything that we are able to easily recognize as philosophy are ladder societies. We might in fact argue, if not here, that philosophy as a discrete domain of activity in a society is itself a side-effect of inequality. The overwhelming authority of the church in medieval Europe, the caste system in ancient India, the control of intellectual life by the mandarin class in ancient China (meritocratically produced by the Confucian examination system, but still elite) present themselves are three compelling examples of the sort of social nexus that has left us with significant philosophical works. The fact that philosophy always comes from the top rungs of ladder societies could have something to do with the difficulty, in spite of our best intentions, of de-Eurocentrizing the current academic discipline of philosophy: New York, London, and the idyllic campuses that are an easy commute from these metropolises are the true locus of philosophy today, in just the same way that royal courts were in ancient India. It is as hard for us to think of the intellectual activity of, say, some village sage in postcolonial, third-worldified India as 'philosophy', as it would have been for a high-caste member of the literate elite to think of the folk beliefs of some forest-dwellingādivāsī in this way.

When philosophers try to get away from the ladder, as most agree for political reasons it is necessary to do, what they usually end up with is the museum, or perhaps, with apologies to André Malraux, the imaginary museum of philosophical multiculturalism. As the Soviets once did with the traditional costumes of their empire's ethnic minorities, those who aim to promote non-Western philosophy usually end up putting the Chinese and the Indians, and sometimes a slapped-together group they dub 'Africans' as well, in entirely separate, non-overlapping display cases, as if their philosophical traditions were just so many traditional costumes or pieces of pottery.

Continue reading "Non-Western Philosophy, Part 2: the Ladder, the M...

Posted by Justin E. H. Smith at 12:50 AM | Permalink |

Comment by Doone on November 6, 2011 at 12:10am

Published:  - By Staff

Ancient ‘Fast Food’ Window Discovered

Can you imagine life without the convenience of takeout food? According to new research, neither could the ancients. Evidence found at Godin Tepe, an archaeological site in the mountains of western Iran, suggests that its inhabitants may have used "windows" to obtain and distribute food and even weapons more than 5,000 years ago.


Godin Tepe

The main building at Godin Tepe, where researchers have found two windows they believe might have been used for “takeout.” (Credit: Royal Ontario Museum)

Nestled in the Zagros Mountains near the modern city of Kangavar, Godin Tepe was first excavated in the 1960s and 1970s by a research team led by T. Cuyler Young Jr., a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada. After Young’s death in 2006, other researchers continued his work, and they recently published much of their findings in “On the High Road: The History of Godin Tepe” (Hilary Gopnik and Mitchell Rothman, Mazda Publishers, 2011).  
According to their research, Godin Tepe apparently began as a simple rural agricultural village settled by the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia as early as the mid-fifth millennium B.C. It remained that way for some 1,000 years. Around 3200 B.C., the village’s small houses were razed to make way for a main building of mud-brick built around an oval enclosed area, like a courtyard. One of the surrounding walls facing into the courtyard had two windows, which were very unusual for architecture of the time in the Middle East.
When they looked inside the building with the windows, researchers found beveled rimmed bowls of a common type used in the region, along with a fireplace and food remains ranging from dried lentils to goat and sheep bones. But that’s not all—they also discovered more than 1,700 clay sling bullets, of the type commonly used in hunting and warfare. Hilary Gopnik of Emory University, who discussed the findings at a recent symposium at the Royal Ontario Museum, argues that the evidence suggests that Godin Tepe served as a sort of ancient takeout joint. On the other hand, Victoria Badler, a doctoral student of Dr. Young’s, suggests it may have had a military purpose, and that the windows may have been used to pass out provisions to soldiers.

More than 1,700 clay sling bullets have also been discovered at Godin Tepe. (Credit: Royal Ontario Museum)

This is not the first time that Godin Tepe has given us a “window” into its ancient civilization. In the early 1990s, according to findings published in the journal Nature, archaeologists found chemical evidence that people at Godin Tepe were making and drinking beer as early as 3500 B.C. Beer was thought to be a favorite beverage of the Sumerian civilization, which produced works of art depicting people drinking collectively out of a large vessel. Researchers had also discovered the earliest known chemical evidence of wine at the same site.
Thanks to its strategic position along the major east-west trade route known as the High Road, or Silk Road, which would eventually link the Mediterranean with China, Godin Tepe served as an important Sumerian trading post. The settlement was mysteriously abandoned during the second or third millennium B.C., and it’s unknown whether the inhabitants left under peaceful or violent circumstances.


Posted in Ancient HistoryFood


Comment by Chris on November 3, 2011 at 9:57pm

Can someone point me to a web site that shows the world map over time?

Comment by Marianne on November 2, 2011 at 7:55pm

Concerning "the barter myth", as was presented and referenced by Doone.

It appears to me unreasonable to argue that barter didn't exist because of family and likes and dislikes of other people in the same village.  This would be because I can't imagine a family with only their friend "manufacturing" or producing all the necessities to survive, adapt and evolve without bartering with other members of, say, the village... ?


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