Thursday, April 02, 2009

News from Kaffiristan


The Big Picture
has a portfolio of pictures from Afghanistan, including a number from Nuristan (formerly Kaffiristan). Lots of poppy fields, Canadian troops, and debris from explosions.

Image: Doesn't this have an uncanny resemblance to Catal Huyuk?

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Job satisfaction

I am now in the home stretch of my grading of winter term final examinations. This is the part of academic life teaching professors hate the most, and it is grueling. It is very difficult to be consistent and fair when you're reading similar material time and again, and there is no mistake so gruesome or flabbergasting that somebody will not eventually make it on the paper you are grading.

But this year, grading exams that are made up of short or long essay questions, I am feeling a good deal of job satisfaction. Grading these essays has assured me that the courses I presented succeeded in inspiring some insight and even passion in some of my students. It's hard to say how much they got from me, or how much is original in their thinking, but actually I don't care what the balance is. Students who never had much reason to think about medieval English or ancient history, I guess, have presented me with evidence that they found things in the course material that they actually cared about.

I've done my job.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Resurrection of the Iraqi National Museum

Five years ago, during the invasion, the enormously significant archaeological collection at the Iraqi National Museum was plundered. (I'm sure there is a big story behind that plundering, not that we are likely ever to know it.)

Now, some good news: progress is being made towards restoration. The Globe and Mail has a short video report here.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Don't believe in miraculous visions seen by famous dictators?

Like, say, Constantine?

In addition to the example above, taken from English Russia, see more here.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, March 24, 2008

HIST 2055 and 3425: Final exam study sheets

HIST 2055 and HIST 3425. The sheet for HIST 1505 will follow soon.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dacia, Decebalus, and Sarmizegetusa


Today in Ancient Civilizations class I will be discussing the era of the Officially Good Emperors and will touch on the emperor Trajan's conquest of the kingdom of Dacia (roughly modern Romania over the Danube). About a year ago a good friend of mine was trekking through Dacia and visited the ruins of its pre-Roman capital, Sarmizegetusa. His account and reflections on Dacia are here. The various episodes are in blog-order: You have to start with the entry for May 12 or 13 and work up the page.

Image: The ruins of Sarmizegetusa today.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Roman games


Ancient Civilizations students who want to follow up on today's lecture on The Arena might want to look at this book in our collection: Gladiators and caesars : the power of spectacle in ancient Rome edited by Eckart Köhne and Cornelia Ewigleben.

It is well illustrated and has insights born from systematic re-enactment efforts.

Film clips from the Ben Hur chariot race sequences from 1925 and 1959 can be found at Youtube.com. Those must certainly count as re-enactments.

Labels: , , , ,

Female gladiators


For students who can't wait for today's lecture on the Roman arena, why not have a look at this article on a possible grave find of a female gladiator discussed by Steven Murray in the Journal of Combative Sport?

Or a short article in Discover Magazine about archaeologist Steven Tuck's research into death in the arena?

Read both articles and come to lecture and you'll have a "Steven hat-trick."

Image: from the JCS article, two female gladiators, Amazon and Achillea.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A druid grave?


A friend sent me this very sensible article from Spiegel Online International about what might be the grave of a druid. The archaeological site, in Essex, sounds very interesting, but what might be the best thing about the article is how the author explains why archaeologists have to be careful in using labels like "Druid."

Image: Some of the utensils found in the grave.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Laughing along with Cornelius Tacitus

The Roman historian Tacitus (wrote circa AD 100) is not usually associated with humor -- and no wonder, since he chronicled the bloody intrigues of the Julio-Claudian emperors. Mordant, or bleak might be better words. However, I was recently reading Michael Grant's lively Penguin translation, and it occurred to me that he sometimes might have been going for laughs, and not just a sour little chuckle.

Read these two passages and see what you think:

Pharasmanes [leading a group of Iberian mountaineers against the Parthians] reminded his troops that they had never submitted to Parthia -- the loftier their aspirations, he said, the greater the honour of victory, and the disgrace and peril of defeat. Contrasting his own formidable warriors with the enemy in their gold-embroidered robes, he cried: "Men on one side -- on the other, loot!"

OK, maybe that's a doubtful case (though whether you laugh or not, it does sound like something out of 300), but consider this:

[An honorary triumph was awarded to Curtius Rufus, a commander in Upper Germany:] He had sunk a mine in the territory of the Mattiaci to find silver. Its products were scanty and short-lived, though the troops suffered and toiled, digging channels and doing underground work which would have been laborious enough in the open. This forced labour covered several provinces. Worn out by it, the men secretly appealed to the emperor, in the name of all the armies, begging him to award honorary triumphs to commanders before giving them their armies.
What do you think now? (NB: no blood was shed in either anecdote.)

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Irbil as tourist attraction

Irbil in northern Iraq -- or if you prefer, Kurdistan -- is the best existing example of how continuous occupation of sites resulted in the creation of "tells," hills made up of the rubble of previous layers of settlement. Irbil (sometimes spelled Arbil) is one city that after maybe 8,000 years is still sitting perched on all that rubble.

Alas, Irbil, at least the old central part of the city, is crumbling and few of the buildings there are still occupied. Bet that's happened before! The municipal authorities, according to this Associated Press/MSNBC story, see an opportunity here. Given a certain amount of investment and peace and quiet, this could be a unique tourist attraction!

I'd go in a heartbeat.

Thanks to Explorator for bringing this to my attention.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Amarna finds: religious reform can be hard work


Well, I was just talking a bit ago about "the old con games," wasn't I? So today I saw over at Archaeoastronomy a post on an upcoming BBC TV show on recent work at Amarna, the city/religious center founded by the "monotheist" pharoah, Akhenaten. Here's the key passage:

One of the most shocking findings are the ages at death. There’s a chart you can look at and it’s pretty clear that Amarna was a lethal place. The 2007 report has a chart of its own. This shows that aging a skeleton isn’t always possible, but both charts indicate that a life in Amarna would likely be over at 35. The report by Melissa Zabecki, also from Arkansas, is grim. They had dental caries but probably didn’t complain too much about toothache as they were also likely to have extremely bad backs. Zabecki has found evidence of osteoarthritis and spinal trauma in many of the skeletons. Zabecki’s conclusion is that these people were worked to death. Akhenaten wanted to change Egyptian religion overnight, and that can’t be done without a lot of work. The twisted bones of the workers of Amarna show some of the cost of turning from the old gods.
I've been skeptical for a long while about Akhenaten's reputation as a "worthy heretic" and exemplar of religious progress; I've seen his religious regime as the product of a theological power grab in a heavily-ecclesiasticized society. This is not the first evidence that lots of people died in religious conflicts, either at his hands or those of his opponents.

For more detail on recent work, see the Amarna Project site.

For an aerial view of the ruins, see this BBC presentation.

Image:
Tomb #9 at Amarna, photo copyright Ross Day.

Labels: , , , ,

Cornelius Tacitus speaks

One of the old greats, the Roman historian Tacitus ("I, Claudius" is derived from his vision of the early empire) says it all, or at least something significant:

Contradictory rumours have raged around [an imperial death] among contemporaries and later generations alike. Important events are obscure. Some believe all manner of hearsay evidence; others twist truth into fiction; and both sorts of error are magnified by time.

Of course, Tacitus himself has often been seen as the greatest of those who "twist truth into fiction."

The translation is by the prolific Michael Grant.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Alexander: a king or THE King?


See A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe for one whacko theory.

Image is copyright by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 20, 2008

News from Catal Huyuk


I've always been fascinated by the early town site (representing maybe the earliest town) of Catal Huyuk (Çatalhöyük), in southeastern Turkey (Anatolia), and in my Ancient Civilizations course, I talk about its significance at length.

Well, recently the Turkish Daily News has published a good article on the work that has been done at Catal Huyuk since 1993.

I am pleased to see that my lecture material is still not obsolete, despite this interesting work.

Thanks to Explorator for this.

Image: Recent excavations, from TDN.

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 21, 2007

The challenges of cultural history

Students of mine who have struggled to make sense of ancient or Anglo-Saxon history, when the evidence is severely limited, may be interested or amused at what seems to be a controversy about the origins of heavy metal music.

I was alerted to this debate by an article in the British newspaper the Guardian, in which Joe Queenan, commenting on a film documentary called Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, by Sam Dunn and Scott McFadyen, casts doubt on the filmmakers' contention that an obscure, one hit wonder band called Blue Cheer deserves to be recognized as the originators of heavy metal. I was flabbergasted that anyone should think this. We are talking about 1968, when I was about the age of many of my students now: in other words, the age when music really matters. I was a big fan of loud, "hard rock," "psychedelic" music and the San Francisco sound, and today when I read Queenan's article, I couldn't even dredge up the slightest memories of Blue Cheer (and no, it has nothing to do with my non-existent drug-taking). Though I remember their hit Summertime Blues, a cover of an earlier rockabilly (!) record.

But sure enough, you can find on the Web the many champions of the claim that these guys were the source of heavy metal (see, for instance, the Wikipedia entry for Blue Cheer). I don't buy it; if the patriarchs of metal are not Black Sabbath, then there are plenty of people in 1967-8 who contributed more to the metal sound. Let me cite only three: Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix, and Jimi Hendrix. (As this web-site points out, Blue Cheer were pretty derivative of Hendrix.) I'm not excluding any influence, but others surely were more influential (Iron Butterfly, even maybe the pretty laughable in retrospect Vanilla Fudge).

Why is this on Early History? It strikes me that if we can't agree on something this recent and well-recorded as this phenomenon, how well can we do for the 8th century, or the 8th century BC? How many jokes, to take one point, lie undetected in our sources?

Yet despite our problems with determining facts and influences, I still say, Blue Cheer, bah. Just look at that album cover.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, December 15, 2007

HIST 2055, assignment for the second paper


Here is the assignment for Ancient Civilizations, HIST 2055. I promised to distribute the evaluation sheet for the paper, but I haven't composed that yet.

Image: Creating an ancient (piece of papyrus) paper.

Labels:

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Thucydides on ancient Greek politics

In my Ancient Civilizations class, I referred to the famous Funeral Oration of Pericles as "the one passage in Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War that makes the Greeks look admirable." I was only 3/4 of the way through a rereading of the History when I said that, but I'm still looking for the second. More typical (though to my sensibilities more repellent than many others) is this incident from Book 8, chapter 41, page 560 of the Penguin translation:

On his voyage along the coast he landed at the Meropid Cos. The city was unfortified and had collapsed in an earthquake which was certainly the greatest one that can be remembered. He sacked the city, the inhabitants of which had fled to the mountains, over-ran the country, and made off with everything in it except the free men, whom he let go.

One could rant for hours about this passage. Even the Soviets would be ashamed to admit to this kind of behavior.

BTW, I have left the war criminal anonymous here; he's got enough publicity over the last 2 1/2 millenia. I have a similar policy for famous assassins.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 23, 2007

Historical treasures, imagined and real


Over at Blogenspiel, Another Damned Medievalist has posted Carnivalesque XXXIII, a collection of links to interesting Ancient/Medieval items from recent blogs. Aside from cutting remarks about Beowulf and Neil Gaiman's role in it (go look it up!), there is a fine item from Tony Keen on what he'd like to see recovered from Pompeii if further digs discover more lost literature on the lines of the Greek library already found there. Posts like this can be tiresome but I liked Tony's so much that I followed his link to a post by Mary Beard, who earlier asked her readers for their wish lists.

It may seem that this wishing is ridiculously unrealistic. Well, wishes almost never come true in the way you'd like them to. But this week has shown that the unexpected can occur in a stunning manner. At least, I was stunned by two discoveries.

The first was a seemingly 7th-century royal cemetery in the North of England, the only such, with some individual pieces reminiscent of the Sutton Hoo material from East Anglia. This is really hot stuff, which will be analyzed for a long time to come.

Even better, if you are interested in Rome, is the apparent discovery of the Lupercale in Rome. To quote the Guardian, it's

a large vaulted hall beneath the Palatine hill ... almost certainly the fabled Lupercale - a sanctuary believed by ancient Romans to be the cave where the twin boys Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf.
The Guardian site has some video footage. You see, the cavern is in bad shape, and has only been seen via a probe-camera inserted from above. Watching it, you can imagine the excitement of the archaeologists and technicians who first saw it. The lead archaeologist, Andrea Carandini, said it's ""one of the greatest discoveries ever made" and whose to say that's wrong?

One story I saw said this shrine was accessible until the 16th century. Does any reader know more about this, and how the Lupercale was lost?

Let's call this Good News Friday and leave it at that.

Image: The English finds, from the BBC story.

Labels: , , , ,

Common questions about the term tests

I'm excerpting a letter I got from a student in HIST 2055, Ancient Civilizations, and answering the writer's questions here for others in this course and the other two:

First of all, I was wondering if all of the terms and essays will be on the exam, or if you are selecting a few from the given list to actually be on the exam.

I will be choosing a number of terms and essay topic from those I put on the study sheet.

Also, I have started preparing the essays, and I was wondering if you wanted the essay to address the questions which were at the top of the lecture notes and extra readings or is there another format you would like us to follow.

In HIST 2055 and 3425 the essay questions are based on source material we looked at in class, and in preparation for class discussion I suggested some questions to think about. It wouldn't hurt to look at those questions again, but you aren't restricted to reacting to them only. After a term of lectures and discussion, you may have a good idea of your own to write about.

And last, but not least, are the actual documents going to be on the exam, or just the titles and we create our essay from what we know!
The documentary material that was on the study sheet will also be on the exam paper.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ancient sources

For students in Ancient Civilizations, here's the list of ancient sources suitable for the second paper:

Julius Caesar, The Conquest of Gaul (usually called The Gallic War)

Euripides, Medea and Other Plays

Plautus, The Pot of Gold and Other Plays

Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome

Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War


All of these are conveniently available in Penguin Classics versions.


Labels:

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Shout a warning unto the nation that the sword of God is raised!


Long ago, I heard this song, Pride of Man by Hamilton Camp, on the first Quicksilver Messenger Service album; a friend heard a young Gordon Lightfoot sing it live. I put the lyrics here for my Ancient Civilizations students who worked so hard on Robert Wright's A Short History of Progress and Bryan Ward-Perkins's The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization. The students will see the connection, I think.

I've always had an ambiguous feeling toward this song. It's certainly powerful; but I can all too easily see Maximilien Robespierre and Osama bin Laden doing a duet. Classic imagery works, but it's all too easily adopted wholesale.

Pride of Man
by Hamilton Camp

Turn around,
go back down,
back the way you came,
Can't you see that flash of fire ten times brighter than the day?
And behold a mighty city broken in the dust again,
Oh God, Pride of Man, broken in the dust again.

Turn around,
go back down,
back the way you came,
Babylon is laid to waste, Egypt's buried in her shame,
The mighty men are all beaten down, their kings are fallen in the ways,
Oh God, Pride of Man, broken in the dust again.

Turn around,
go back down,
back the way you came,
Terror is on every side, lo our leaders are dismayed.
For those who place their faith in fire, their faith in fire shall be
repaid,
Oh God, Pride of Man, broken in the dust again.

Turn around,
go back down,
back the way you came,
And shout a warning unto the nation that the sword of God is raised.
Yes, Babylon, that mighty city, rich in treasures, wide in fame,
Oh God, Pride of Man, broken in the dust again.

The meek shall cause your tower to fall, make of you a pyre of flame,
Oh you who dwell on many waters, rich in treasures, wide in fame.
you bow unto your God of gold, your pride of might shall be a shame,
For only God can lead His people back unto the Earth again.

Oh God, Pride of Man, broken in the dust again.
A Holy mountain be restored, and mercy on that people, that people

Here's a live performance of July 1, 2007, by the Jefferson Starship.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 09, 2007

Samaritans

I promised the Ancient Civilizations students a link to the recent Globe and Mail article on the ancient and still-surviving Samaritans, descendents of the ancient Israelites. The Globe article is behind the paywall but I found another site for it.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Smelting in my backyard

After last Thursday's lecture on ancient metallurgy, at least one student was curious about why I had a used smelting furnace in my backyard. Here's an explanation (and if you are really curious you may find an earlier post in here somewhere--Sept. 2006?).

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Another perspective on old legal codes and charters

Students who have heard two lectures from me that discussed the doubts that surround the meaning of the Code of Hammurabi, which apparently was never cited by working judges in the Old Babylonian era -- might be interested in a view of old legal documents, early medieval this time, put forward in the blog A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The New Mamlukes?


The American blog Progressive Historians compares the prominent but secretive mercenary company Blackwater, whose activities in Iraq have been recently in the news, to the Mamlukes of old. Mamluke and Mamluke-like groups have come up in both my World History class and Ancient Civilizations. Is it a reasonable comparison? How about the "free companies" of the Hundred Years War as an analog?

Progressive Historians is notable for providing detailed historical arguments more often than most political blogs. One would hope that would be the case.

Labels: , , , , ,

Epic (and) history

On Monday in the Medieval England course I will be discussing the Old English epic Beowulf as a source for early English life; on Tuesday I'll be discussing the Sumerian epic Gilgamesh for clues about early Mesopotamian culture. Coincidence? I guess, the courses were devised and first put on years apart. I don't think this conjunction has happened before.

I didn't assign reading for either lecture, but the ambitious among you can look up translations of each work on the Web.

For Gilgamesh, you may want to look at the section of the epic (one version thereof) where Gilgamesh fights Humbaba (Huwawa).

I've linked to the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, which is an attempt to make Sumerian literature, generally available in specialist editions stored in specialist libraries, move widely accessible, both in editions of the Sumerian texts, and in English translation. Since Sumerian is one of the most difficult of historic languages, this is a worthy enterprise.

For Beowulf, I found it harder to make a choice from the variety of on-line translations. So to give you an idea of the challenges of translating this poem, whose audience's expectations were so different from a modern one's, I include three links: to the opening of the poem, on great Danish kings of the past, translated by Tony Romano, to another version of the opening by somebody else (no back link!), and the section on Beowulf's battle with Grendel, translated by Sullivan and Murphy.

There are complete versions on the Web, too, but I'll leave that to the enthusiasts who want to know how the stories come out.

Image: Gilgamesh and Enkidu in superhuman combat.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, September 21, 2007

It is the death of history

That is the title of an article in the Independent (UK) on the destruction of Iraqi archaeology by home-grown looters and careless American occupiers. It's everyone for his/her self and nothing is sacred.

Labels: , ,

Religion and politics today


In the Ancient Civilizations this week we talked about the close relationship between religion and politics in the earliest records of the Middle East. Someone quite rightly pointed out that religion and politics often go together now. So of course for the next few days religion and politics met my eye every time I looked at the Web. Here are two recent news items and a slightly older one I hadn't got around to.

According to this BBC story, Pope Benedict has refused to receive US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in person because, among other things, she was the point person who publicly rejected Pope John Paul's concerns about US policy on Iraq in 2003. A few well-informed commentators recalled to mind an occasion when Joseph Stalin brushed off papal concerns with the scornful question, "How many divisions does he have?" The point being of course that Stalin and his Soviet Union are gone, while the papacy is still here.

Then there is the piece that a friend of mine alerted me to last month, about continuing Chinese efforts to suppress Tibetan identity. The Dalai Lama in exile is the heart and soul of Tibetan resistance so (according to Newsweek):

In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation." By barring any Buddhist monk living outside China from seeking reincarnation, the law effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to continue the work of relieving suffering.
"Absurd?" "Traditional" might be a better word. When you're talking about "absurd" and "history," you've got a lot to choose from -- especially when the subject is official reasons why you should shut up and do what you are told. The raising and toppling of monuments to former god-kings doesn't seem so far out by comparison, does it?

This last item, about the "House of Wisdom," gives me the creeps:

The U.S. military has introduced "religious enlightenment" and other education programs for Iraqi detainees, some of whom are as young as 11, Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone, the commander of U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, said yesterday.

Stone said such efforts, aimed mainly at Iraqis who have been held for more than a year, are intended to "bend them back to our will" and are part of waging war in what he called "the battlefield of the mind." Most of the younger detainees are held in a facility that the military calls the "House of Wisdom."

The religious courses are led by Muslim clerics who "teach out of a moderate doctrine," Stone said, according to the transcript of a conference call he held from Baghdad with a group of defense bloggers. Such schooling "tears apart" the arguments of al-Qaeda, such as "Let's kill innocents," and helps to "bring some of the edge off" the detainees, he said.

Now normally I'd be happy to hear that Muslim moderates were engaging with young jihadis to talk some sense into them, and once upon a time the idea of a school for that purpose might have struck me as a positive development. That was before the setting up of the prison at Guantanamo and before the US military took over Saddam Hussein's torture chambers at Abu Ghraib. I have to be deeply suspicious of an institution meant to "bend them back to our will," (whose will, exactly?) and which has appropriated the name of a long-ago Baghdadi religious school to do so. What does this "battlefield of the mind" look like, anyway? What will we know about it in 20 years that we don't know now?

What do you think?

"We're busting them down, we're making whole moderate compounds that didn't exist before."

Stone described a sort of religious insurgency that occurred at one detention facility on Sept. 2. "We had a compound of moderates for the first time overtake . . . extremists. It's never happened before. Found them, identified them, threw them up against the fence and shaved their frickin' beards off of them. . . . I mean, that is historic."

Gotta love that "religious enlightenment."

Image: A poster for the movie 300. I feel an inexorable pressure to see this flick.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ronald Wright book is in the campus shop

I've been notified that the Ronald Wright book, A Short History of Progress, is now available in the Campus Shop.

Labels:

Friday, September 07, 2007

Welcome students!

I just met some of you yesterday, and I'll see the rest of you on Monday and Tuesday, so I guess it is time to say a few words about this blog.

Muhlberger's Early History was created as an informal addition to my courses at Nipissing University, though in the past year and a half it's grown to be a bit more than that (like most journals do). I try, however, to keep my students foremost in my thoughts as I add to it. Here's what you can expect to find here:

1. Those pesky but sometimes useful and interesting announcements that are constantly coming my way: "Please announce this to your classes." That's not a very efficient way to get the information across. It's better to do this:

I am writing to invite you to attend and participate in the 2nd Annual Welcome Pow Wow scheduled for Friday, September 14, 2007 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. It will be held outside the main cafeteria next to the pond (rain out location: Robert J. Surtees Athletic Centre).

The Aboriginal Learning Unit (ALU) of Canadore College and Aboriginal Services and Programs of Nipissing University are hosting this event to welcome students back to campus. As well, it is an opportunity for the campus community to participate in a social activity rooted in First Nation traditions.

Students, faculty and staff are invited to attend and participate in an event with traditional drumming, singing, dancing and food. Traditional drummers, singers and dancers (some of whom are our students) will be participating and you, the campus community are invited to join us.
2. Another kind of material is information directly related to the course material that occurrs to me during lecture or is just too long or tangential to fit into the scheduled class time. A great deal of it is in the news; you may be surprised how often history hits the various media outlets. Also there are plenty of well-informed people contributing short, medium and long pieces about subjects of historical interest.

Most of this material will be about "early history" since my specialty is medieval history and most of my teaching concerns the pre-railroad era (my personal definition of early, at least in a teaching context); however, since I sometimes teach right up the present (Islamic Civilization, this year's History of the Modern World), and have an interest in the world-wide history of democracy, recent events will creep in.

3. Finally, there will be more than a few entries that concern philosophical, historical, and political issues, either my thoughts or those of others on the web that I find interesting (not just those I agree with). I try to limit this material to avoid producing an unfocused personal blog, but on the other hand what use is a blog if it doesn't contribute occasionally to the Great Conversation?

Enough for now: To show you how this blog can be useful to you, I'm linking from here to the on-line lectures for HIST 2055 and HIST 3425 , so those of you who come here will see these resources just a little before everyone else.

Ancient History Lectures (still keyed to dates in 2000-1, I'm afraid; will fix.)

Medieval England Lectures (still says HIST 2425, a former course number for it; keyed to 2004-5.)

Labels: , , ,