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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: 18
Latest Activity: on Monday

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 has Fremdschämen. Last reply by May the Big Bang RIP 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 has Fremdschämen. 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 has Fremdschämen. Last reply by Doone has Fremdschämen Jul 11, 2012. 2 Replies

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


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Comment by Michel on February 8, 2012 at 11:59am

@Jaume - Yeah extrapolators... A friend once noted that in the late 1800's extrapolators were fearing mounds of horse manure and resulting catastrophic pollution in big cities when populations would reach astronomical numbers in the mid 1900's. They were right about the population.

Comment by Jaume on February 8, 2012 at 11:39am

Yep. I like Bruno's weird "map", but the other are interesting as well. What's funny in Sparks's is the extrapolation to the 1950's - Canada as influential or powerful as the USSR, or Germany dwarfed by France ;-)

Comment by Michel on February 8, 2012 at 11:32am
Comment by Doone has Fremdschämen on February 8, 2012 at 10:36am

Cartographies of Time

photoJohn Sparks, The Histomap, New York, 1931.

Text by Rosecrans Baldwin

Comment by Doone has Fremdschämen on February 6, 2012 at 6:20am


by Hartosh Singh Bal

Lost to history, a number of cities of classical antiquity once existed along the banks of the river Narmada in central India. Many of these cities date back to the 3rd century BC, to the time of the emperor Ashoka, who united the subcontinent into an empire whose extent was never again to be matched in the history of India. The emperor ruled from Patliputra (modern day Patna) in the heart of Magadh in the Indo-Gangetic plain but the spread of his empire made it inevitable that there would be other centers of administration. It was carved into four provinces, after Magadh the most important of these was Avanti with its capital Ujjain. Along the highway connecting the two capitals a number of cities came up and prospered, including some on the banks of the Narmada.

A coup by a Brahmin commander-in-chief who in all likelihood could not tolerate the ascendance of Buddhism brought down the Mauryan Empire. In the aftermath Patliputra could no longer exercise control over the unwieldy empire, the cities soon went their own way. One of the most important of these was Mahismati. Despite several references that crop up in classical Sanskrit literature, today it is difficult to pin down its exact location. This has given rise to a host of claimants along the Narmada, residents of modern day towns such as Mandla and Maheshwar still wage a fevered battle  - leaving nothing aside, myths, fanciful notions, borrowings from questionable sources, notions that historians of repute would never touch.

ScreenHunter_12 Feb. 06 10.47There remains one authentic source for delving into the history of these cities. Coins dating back as far as the third century BC have been recovered in such abundance from the Narmada valley that the subject now forms a separate field of study. Borrowing symbols used on coins once struck at the Ujjain mint, we can guess at the existence of cities such as Bhagila, Kurara and Madavika only through the markings on their coins.

The coins do not differ much in size from the modern coin, though square shapes seemed to have been preferred. They are often crowded with symbols. A single square coin, no larger than the modern 25paisa coin, could accommodate as many as five symbols on each face.  Some of these symbols were in use across the subcontinent, such as the swastika; others such as the Ujjain symbol resembling the iron cross demarcated a region.

Continue reading "The search for a two-thousand-year-old city"

Posted by Hartosh Singh Bal at 12:05 AM | Permalink 

Comment by Doone has Fremdschämen on February 2, 2012 at 8:58am


Ivan Lett in Open Letters Monthly:

City lights are romanticized just as they are demonized. Urban areas attract the majority of the world’s population, and in the United States, the percentage is approximately two-thirds. Some people feel that life in the grander metropolises—places like New York, London, Tokyo—is too much, too busy, too crowded. Still, as Edward Glaeser writes in Triumph of the City, “On a planet with vast amounts of space (all of humanity could fit in Texas—each of us with a personal townhouse), we choose cities”, and the subtitle promises high returns from this judicious choice.

I am no die-hard New Yorker, but I love the city where I live. In fact, I moved here for many of the reasons described in Glaeser’s book—access to artists, intellectuals, entertainment, and their interconnected cultural circles. Many friends from earlier phases in life preceded me in moving, so I had a ready-made social group when I arrived. And I use public transportation daily, including a work commute back and forth to New Haven, Connecticut, which is easily more than double the average 48-minutes spent on public transportation commutes, according to Glaeser’s research.

Why would I do such a thing to my schedule (let alone my wallet)? It is exactly as Glaeser describes: “Cities are the absence of physical space between people and companies. They are proximity, density, closeness. They enable us to work and play together, and their success depends on the demand for physical connection.”

More here.

Posted by Abbas Raza at 04:08 PM | Permalink 

Comment by Marianne on January 4, 2012 at 8:07pm

The idea that Manhattan was an early urban design from the 19th century gives an idea why this subject should have become a necessity much earlier, allowing for example for recreational areas, and whilst in this case the design seems very geometrical, this is notat all the trend now in urban design... well anyway it was a start and better than a hapharzardly growth....

Comment by Doone has Fremdschämen on January 3, 2012 at 7:50am


From The New York Times:

In the old photograph, a lonely farmhouse sits on a rocky hill, shaded by tall trees. The scene looks like rural Maine. On the modern street, apartment buildings tower above trucks and cars passing a busy corner where an AMC Loews multiplex faces an overpriced hamburger joint and a Coach store. They are both the same spot. Not so long ago, all things considered, the intersection of Broadway and 84th Street didn’t exist; the area was farmland. “The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011,” now at the Museum of the City of New York, unearths that 1879 picture of the Brennan Farm among other historic gems. The show celebrates the anniversary of what remains not just a landmark in urban history but in many ways the defining feature of the city. After all, before it could rise into the sky, Manhattan had to create the streets, avenues and blocks that support the skyscrapers. The grid was big government in action, a commercially minded boon to private development and, almost despite itself, a creative template. With 21st-century problems — environmental, technological, economic and social — now demanding aggressive and socially responsible leadership, the exhibition is a kind of object lesson.

Simeon De Witt, Gouverneur Morris and John Rutherfurd were entrusted with planning the city back in 1811. New York huddled mostly south of Canal Street, but it was booming, its population having tripled to 96,373 since 1790 thanks to the growing port. Civic boosters predicted that 400,000 people would live in the city by 1860. They turned out to be half-right. New York topped 800,000 before the Civil War. The planners proposed a grid for this future city stretching northward from roughly Houston Street to 155th Street in the faraway heights of Harlem. It was in many respects a heartless plan. There were virtually no parks or plazas. The presumption was that people would gravitate east and west along the numbered streets to the rivers when they wanted open space and fresh air, and not spend lots of time moving north or south. That partly explains why there were only a dozen avenues. In the abstract, the idea was really nothing revolutionary; grid plans went back to ancient Greece and Rome. But installing one in Manhattan was deeply subversive because, while still undeveloped, the island was already parceled into irregularly shaped, privately owned properties.

More here.

Posted by Azra Raza at 06:50 AM | Permalink 

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 has Fremdschämen 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



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