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Bad Archaeology

» "Bad Archaeology is the brainchild of a couple of archaeologists who are fed up with the distorted view of the past that passes for knowledge in popular culture. We are unhappy that books written by people with no understanding of real archaeology dominate the shelves at respectable bookstores. We do not appreciate news programmes that talk about ley lines (for example) as if they are real."

"In short, we are Angry Archaeologists."

"The aim of this site is to explore the main strands of thought within the 'fringe', to explain how and why they are different from orthodox archaeology. Although much of what we have written is aimed at debunking the misconceptions and distortions of the past promoted by fringe writers, we are always open to the idea that they may be able to tell orthodox archaeology something of value. The fringe is interesting and entertaining in its own right; this site can only scratch the surface of such a huge area of human endeavour but we will continue to dig away, exposing Bad Archaeology wherever we find it."  [ 09/18/07 ]

How uses, not innovations, drive human technology

» New Yorker: What Else Is New? How uses, not innovations, drive human technology. So far up my alley, and absolutely fascinating. (via br(2) Comments  / [ 07/19/07 ]

The Food Timeline

» The Food Timeline: food history reference & research service. From the FAQ:

What is the history of your favorite food? That depends upon the food and how deep you want to dig. Take tiramasu. This dish was "created" in the late 20th century. You could find a few magazines articles confirming period popularity/origination and stop there. Or? You could go the next level and research the recipe based on composition. You would soon discover this dish was based on Victorian-era moulded creams which were based on Colonial-era tipsy cakes which were inspired by Renaissance-era trifles.
Very few (if any) foods are invented. Most are contemporary twists on traditional themes. Louis Diat's famous Vichysoisse was a childhood favorite. Today's grilled cheese sandwich is connected to ancient cooks who melted cheese on bread. 1950s meatloaf is connected to ground cooked meat products promoted at the turn of the 20th century, which are, in turn related to ancient Roman minces. Need more? Corn dogs and weiner schnitzel. French fries and Medieval fritters. New York gyros and Middle Eastern doner kebabs. Hershey's Kisses and ancient Incan cocoa.

So awesome.

At Hampton Court, we spent some time with the Experimental Food Historians in the Tudor Kitchens, perhaps the highlight of my visit. Since learning there is such a thing, I am tempted to become an Experimental Food Historian myself when I get home, working from my own kitchen, and subjecting my poor husband to experimental concoctions. (via br [ 06/18/07 ]

Karen Hess, RIP

» Karen Hess, a "kind but combative" food historian died last week. Apparently, her book The Taste of America doesn't just chronicle food history—it skewers the popular chefs of the day, including my beloved Julia Child. "She always believed that history was written in our daily lives, not just in battles won and court cases, which was how traditional historians had always written things." John Martin Taylor, cookbook author.  [ 05/28/07 ]

Feeding a family on WWII rations

» In a nice piece of serendipity, Peacockharpy is doing her own experiment in feeding her family this month: Food is a munition of war.

I've always been interested in historical cookery, particularly because I feel it is a sort of time travel -- with some limitations, you can eat the same foods that the Romans did, or the medieval French, or the Elizabethan English. My husband has done World War II re-enactment, and I've joined him on occasion for a USO dance. So perhaps it's not surprising that when I said, "I think... it might be an interesting experiment to try and live on World War II rationing rules for a month," he didn't say, "Are you crazy?" but instead replied, "Hey, that does sound interesting. Let's do it."

She's right. One of the reasons I love cooking from other cultures—or even from other parts of my own country—is that I feel I'm engaging in that culture in an intimate way when I do. What people eat tells you so much about their everyday lives: what the climate is like, what is available in their area, how they spend their time, and then, over time, how those factors shape how they think about food. Food, for me, is one way to understand other people's lives.

She's using the rations laid out in a collection of U.K. wartime rationing recipes and plans to use some UK wartime recipes. What an absolutely fascinating project. (2) Comments  / [ 05/14/07 ]

King Herod's Tomb Found

» Archaeologists have found King Herod's tomb. I can't wait to see inside. (1) Comments  / [ 05/07/07 ]

The History of the Minimum Wage: Graphs

» Oregon State University: The History of the US Minimum Wage, in graphs. Very interesting. (via dm [ 05/07/07 ]

John White, New World Painter

» The Guardian: American beauty. In the 1530s, British artist John White travelled to the New World, and was among the first to document what he saw there in drawings and paintings. His work is currently showing at the British Museum through June 17, and you can see some of his watercolors online at Virtual Jamestown.  [ 04/27/07 ]

Diagrams of connections

» A collection of diagrams, including How the United States are connected to each other, a Hebrew Bible overview, Wall Street Scandals, and Star Wars. (via notm(1) Comments  / [ 04/16/07 ]

Stonehenges all around us

» Stonehenges all around us. Tracing the patterns of neolithic architecture through our modern cities. (via dm [ 02/20/07 ]

Buck O'Neil, Negro leagues pioneer is dead

» As a followup to yesterday's news that Si Simmons has died, here's an early October obitutuary for Buck O’Neil, another Negro Leagues Pioneer. "Nowadays, whenever us Negro leaguers put on the old uniforms for autograph-signings and such, you can just see the years peel away. I’ve seen men lose 50 years in just a few hours. Baseball is better than sex. It is better than music, although I do believe jazz comes in a close second." Buck O'Neil, writing in his memoir, I Was Right On Time [ 11/01/06 ]

Si Simmons, oldest living Negro leagues player, dies

» Si Simmons, the former Negro leagues baseball player believed to be the longest-living professional ballplayer in history, died Sunday at age 111. Here's an older article describing his life and times. "Negroes had a lot of pride. They felt like baseball, that was the greatest thing in the world for them. You had some great players in those days. [...] After a while they were in the big leagues, playing ball, which you thought would never come. But eventually it did come. And that was the greatest thing of my life when I saw these fellows come up and play big league baseball." Si Simmons, reflecting on his life in the Negro leagues.  [ 10/31/06 ]

Learning about the lives of slaves

» An Abolitionist Leads the Way in Unearthing of Slaves’ Past (via dm [ 09/11/06 ]

Why African-Americans Can't Swim

» Why African-Americans can't swim [ 08/18/06 ]

Medieval and Renaissance Food and Miscellany

» Those of you who enjoy Geoffrey Chaucer's delightful blog may also enjoy perusing Cariadoc's Miscellany (especially the "Articles in Persona") and the Medieval and Renaissance Food Homepage. I love, love, love these old-fashioned webpages, and they are a dying breed. Every new site, it seems, is a blog (as if that's the only way to order information) and no one seems willing to put up a plain, unstyled piece of information anymore. (2) Comments  / [ 08/16/06 ]

Geoffrey Chaucer hath an Exboxe

» Speaking of the fair Mr. Chaucer, he was recently introduced to the "Exboxe CCCLX" by his son. You may enjoy his reviews of Donkeye-Kynge, Civilisatioun, Trojan Kombat, Tyger Woodses Huntinge And Hawkinge, Auriole, and Grande Thefte, Collusioun, And Mayntenance ("Ye run arounde and commit various actes of trespass with force and armes, and then use yower patrones and affinitee groupes to get yow out of prisone").  [ 08/16/06 ]

Sangaku was Sudoku for the 17th century

» Sangaku was the Sudoku of the 17th century, complex math problems based on principles even a child could understand. Because the Japanese cut themselves off from the West, they didn't learn about Calculus when it was invented. They developed Sangaku to solve similar problems. "Some of the tablets feature solutions provided by 12-year-olds. But that doesn’t mean they were easy. Today’s high school geometry problems tend to require only five or six lines to solve, whereas the old problems often demand pages and pages of work. Sangaku were more like math Olympics problems, or the sort of thing your teacher might have put on the wall for extra credit." Tony Rothman, Princeton physics lecturer. (1) Comments  / [ 08/15/06 ]

Was the Odyssey written by a woman?

» Was the Odyssey written by a woman [ 08/01/06 ]

Lillybridge III: Early 20th century photo essay

» Lillybridge III, the final installment in Karmen Franklin's lovely photo essay about early 20th-century life in Colorado is online.  [ 07/21/06 ]

BYU builds replica Pioneer Odometer

» Using computer modeling and manual tools, Brigham Young University graduate student Joey Jacobsen and mechanical engineering professor Larry Howell have built a working replica of the odometer pioneers used on the Mormon Trail. Information collected was later published in in the Latter-day Saints' emigrants' guide. It's hard to see exactly how this works, (cunning gears and a rotating stick) but it's rather large and requires someone to record every mile it tallies. "When I realized that although the pioneers were in tough circumstances out in the wilderness they took the time to do a research and development project to help other people, I wanted to do my own project to recognize their contribution." Larry Howell.  [ 07/21/06 ]

Lillybridge II: 20th Century Photo Essay

» Karmen Franklin's lovely photo essay about life in early 20th century Colorado continues: Lillybridge II: 20th Century Photo Essay [ 07/20/06 ]

Colorado early 20th century photo essay

» Karmen Franklin has used the Western History Photos collection at the Denver Public Library to construct Lillybridge I: An Early 20th Century Photo Essay. She has focused on the photos of local photographer Charles S. Lillybridge, who set up a photography studio in 1904 and proceeded to document life on the Colorado canals.  [ 07/19/06 ]

The Spanish conquest of North America

» Tony Horwitz on the early Spanish conquest of what is now the United States.

Two iconic American stories have Spanish antecedents, too. Almost 80 years before John Smith's alleged rescue by Pocahontas, a man by the name of Juan Ortiz told of his remarkably similar rescue from execution by an Indian girl. Spaniards also held a thanksgiving, 56 years before the Pilgrims, when they feasted near St. Augustine with Florida Indians, probably on stewed pork and garbanzo beans.
The early history of Spanish North America is well documented, as is the extensive exploration by the 16th-century French and Portuguese. So why do Americans cling to a creation myth centered on one band of late-arriving English—Pilgrims who weren't even the first English to settle New England or the first Europeans to reach Plymouth Harbor?

 (2) Comments  / [ 07/10/06 ]

Andean Pyramid is ancient farming clock

» A recently discovered Andean Pyramid has proven to be a cosmic "farming clock" that helped ancient farmers time the planting and reaping of their crops in Lima 4000 years ago.  [ 05/30/06 ]

Advanced preclassic Mayan culture discovered

» New discoveries at the site of ancient Pyramids in Guatamala are giving researchers glimpses into a previously unknown—and highly advanced—Preclassic Mayan culture. It seems the paintings were found accidentally. "We are entering a golden age of Preclassic study. [The discipline of Maya research] will be marked by a time before the discovery of these paintings in the jungle of Guatemala, and a time thereafter." Stephen Houston, of Brown University. (via dm [ 05/24/06 ]

Jack the Ripper may have been a woman

» Partial DNA profiles of Jack the Ripper suggest that he may have been a woman—a theory espoused by one of the investigators of the time.  [ 05/19/06 ]

Amazon Stonehenge

» Since reading 1491, this doesn't surprise me as much as it once would have: Amazon Stonehenge found in Brazil, possibly 2000 years old.  [ 05/19/06 ]

Religious affiliations of the world's 100 most influential people

» Religious Affiliations of History's 100 Most Influential People, as ranked by Michael H. Hart in The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History. Catholics dominate. The highest ranking atheist: Karl Marx, at #27. I wonder if they counted Jesus (#3) as a pre-Nicene Christian, or (my choice) as a Jew? (via cn(1) Comments  / [ 05/12/06 ]

DaVinci Code 'historical background' is wrong

» Part of the appeal of the DaVinci Code is that it purports to offer a glimpse into secret societies and hidden history. Instead, a group of Christian scholars say that author Dan Brown got key historical background events wrong(2) Comments  / [ 05/03/06 ]

The Smithy Code Revealed

» The Smithy Code revealed [ 04/28/06 ]

The deep structures of writing systems

» After pooling the features from 100 different writing systems, including alphabets, abjads, abugidas, and syllabaries, scientists have concluded that all of them are based on shapes derived from the natural world, chosen because we are hard-wired to recognize them.  [ 04/28/06 ]

All things come to she who waits and complains enough

» After 63 years of waiting, a real-life Charlotte Gray get her wings. "It was a complete accident that I ended up leading 1,500 Resistance fighters. I was not a military person — I was supposed to be a courier — but I ended up having to use whatever sense I had." Pearl Cornioley, WWII French Resistance leader. (via dm [ 04/19/06 ]

What is the price of female equality?

» A Little Weekend Reading: Working Girls, Broken Society is a terrible title for a really smart article . "While the benefits of career equality are axiomatic, its negative repercussions are wilfully ignored. In a contentious essay that is sparking fierce debate in Britain, a King's College professor argues that we must confront the losses to society when women choose work over family."

Politicians, journalists and businessmen often emphasize the negative economic consequences of any barriers to female participation in the workforce, and of losing half the country's best brains to the kitchen sink. Of course they are right, and I am in no hurry to go back there myself.
But it is striking how little anyone mentions, let alone tries to quantify, the offsetting losses when women choose work over family. This is stupid.

(via dm(8) Comments  / [ 04/14/06 ]

Prehistoric cave paintings = Paleolithic tagging

» Were Paleolithic cave paintings created by prehistoric teenage boys? It's a surprisingly compelling case. "Today, boys draw the testosterone subjects of a hot automobile, fighter jet, Jedi armor, sports, direct missile hit, etc. — all of the things they associate with the Adrenalin of success." R. Dale Guthrie, author of The Nature of Paleolithic Art. (via dm)  (1) Comments  / [ 04/05/06 ]

Most linked blogs 2000

» I've been getting a lot of hits lately from Beebo's Most linked blogs, September 2000. This list in itself refutes the notion that blog-popularity is just a pyramid scheme in which the longest-standing blogs win. Only 3 of these weblogs are in the Technorati Top 100 today. Likely only 3 of today's Technorati Top 100 will be there 6 years from now.

And I'll dispute Michael's assertion that there were no political blogs at the time. I was one of the first bloggers to post about politics. And I would say that Medley pioneered the long-form political commentary that is the norm for most political blogs today — though I'll wager none of them have heard of that blog. The difference then was that few, if any, of us were focused strictly on one topic: our weblogs were a reflection of all of our interests, not just one obsession. (1) Comments  / [ 03/24/06 ]

The re-emergence of Acoustic-Era Pop

» How Pop Sounded Before It Popped describes the resurgence of interest in turn-of-the-20th-century pop music, long shunned by roots enthusiasts for its crass commercialism — and for the uncomfortable questions it raises about the artistic merit of entertainment that is based on racial stereotyping. "Acoustic-era music is the historical underdog. These are scratchy records, with 19th-century aesthetics, with racist material all over the place, with artists you've never heard of. This stuff is completely unknown, and it's a treasure trove." Richard Martin, co-owner of Archeophone Records, a label that specializes in acoustic-era pop.  [ 03/22/06 ]

The Smithsonian's Travelling American Food Exhibit

» Key Ingredients: America by Food is the website companion to the Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibition of the same name. It features an American Food Timeline, a collection of recipes and stories from across the USA (contribute your own!), and an exhibition schedule [ 03/21/06 ]

Chinese First Skiiers?

» Northwestern Chinese peoples living in the remote Altay mountains of Xinjiang province practice a unique style of skiing, and use skis whose design dates back 2,000 years. Since I am in the section of Guns, Germs, and Steel that describes the domestication of animals, I was particularly interested in the description of the days-long Altaics elk hunts, which end in them tiring the animals so much the can capture them and keep them captive. It's like a little glimpse of history.  [ 03/16/06 ]

Housing is a lousy long-term investment

» Wanting to take a truly long-term view of real estate values, a Dutch professor studied the price of real-estate transactions over four centuries on the Herengracht canal, and discovered that, adjusted for inflation, real property values rose only 0.2 percent per year. "It's true that economic and social conditions were different back then. But major crises do happen, and we can't necessarily predict them. Will bird flu be a major disaster? Will there be more hurricanes? I don't know. Nobody knows." Piet Eichholtz, a professor of real-estate finance at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. (thanks, jjg!)  [ 03/08/06 ]

The Clinton Administration set the stage

» Clinton's Guantanamo. (via b&s [ 02/28/06 ]

US Statistics Ahoy!

» The Historical Statistics of the United States, Millenial Edition is 5 volumes, weighs 29 pounds, costs $825, and took 11 years to compile. "The critical skill that's more required than formal statistics is more like literary criticism. You look at a number and don't say that's a fact. You want to say where did it come from, who generated it, why, is it consistent with what we would get from looking at other sources, does it make sense? What sort of insight can the quantitative record give to the qualitative one?" Professor Susan Carter, editor in chief of Historical Statistics of the United States [ 02/23/06 ]

Shakespeare Death Mask?

» New tests reveal that a death mask found in a ragpicker's shop in 1842 may — or may not — be a likeness of Shakespeare. (The article features a picture of the mask.)  [ 02/23/06 ]

What the Shakers Did

» New Yorker: Shining Tree of Life: What the Shakers did. Something beautiful is what. (via dm [ 02/17/06 ]

Lomax Recordings: Jelly Roll Morton

» The Economist: Jelly on a roll tells the story of folklorist Alan Lomax's encounter with Jelly Roll Morton, and the amazing recordings they made together.

So fans of jazz, music in general, or just the incomparable richness of the human scene can relish Morton's musings complete, in state-of-the-art sound. Softly strumming the keys like a singer of tales, he recalls the "tough babies and sweet mamas" of the fabled red-light district of Storyville, and such denizens as Sheep Bite, Toodlum Parker and Chicken Dick. He conjures up a New Orleans funeral, from the wailing dirge to the graveyard to the raucous march back to the wake, with all its sorrow and jubilation—in his words, "the end of a perfect death". [...]
Throughout, he uses these sessions as a platform to demonstrate his views on jazz—not loud and blaring in the modern style, but subtle and melodious, with an irresistible beat and ample scope for dynamics and imagination.

(via dm [ 02/10/06 ]

AFC Lomax Collection

» The American Folklife Center's Lomax Collection contains 70 years of Alan Lomax's work.

Included in the collection are sound recordings of traditional singers, instrumentalists, and storytellers made by Lomax during numerous field trips to the American South, the Caribbean, Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, and Italy; original video footage, shot in the South and Southwest, Washington, D.C., and New York City, that was used as the basis of Lomax's American Patchwork television series, as well as videotapes of all the programs in the series; 16mm footage of performances by Howling Wolf, Son House, and others during the Newport Folk Festival in 1966; videotape of folk dance performances; and work elements and originals of numerous films made by Lomax.

  [ 02/10/06 ]

Rounder Records Lomax Collection

» Rounder Records is producing the Lomax Collection.

The Collection begins with Lomax’s first field trips with his father in the penitentaries of the American South in the 1930s, and follows his journeys throughout Haiti in 1936 and 1937, Great Britain, Italy and Spain in the 1950s, his subsequent trips throughout the American South in the late 1940s and again in 1959 and 1960, and his visits to the islands of the Caribbean in 1962 and 1967.

  [ 02/10/06 ]

Canadian views from two eras

» Urban Life through Two Lenses [flash required]. "A century apart, but the same place, and the same time: two photographers, two lenses, but the same goal. 'Urban Life through Two Lenses' invites you into a unique virtual space where two daily realities coexist, raising questions about each other." This online exhibit is a little hard to navigate, but in some ways quite well done. Mouse over the images to hear representative ambient sound of the time.  [ 01/24/06 ]

Free to be, You and Me

» CSM: US celebrates its most misread freedom. "American Muslims often tell me how much they appreciate the freedom to practice Islam the way they want to, which they couldn't do in their native country even though it was a Muslim nation. But then they say, 'What is this nonsense about the separation of church and state — why do we need that?' They don't understand that's why they have their freedom." Charles Haynes, of the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va.  [ 01/20/06 ]

Evangelical Warmongering

» NYT: Wayward Christian Soldiers is a remarkable piece by an American evangelical who is troubled by the role his movement played in selling the invasion of Iraq to the American people. "Recently, I took a few days to reread the war sermons delivered by influential evangelical ministers during the lead up to the Iraq war. [...] Many of the most respected voices in American evangelical circles blessed the president's war plans, even when doing so required them to recast Christian doctrine." (via dm)   [ 01/20/06 ]

Luddism Resources

» Luddism, Neo-Luddites, and Dystopian Views of Technology, Martin Ryder, University of Colorado.  [ 01/20/06 ]

One lump, or two?

» The McCord Museum of Canadian History has designed a series of games to help you learn history. These look like fun: a Monty Python-esque series of situations designed to test your knowledge of etiquette from the Victorian Era and the Roaring 20s. [Doesn't work in Firefox] (via ml [ 01/20/06 ]

Book Review: 1491, Charles C. Mann

» This week on Cool Tools, Kevin Kelly is reviewing 5 Good Books. Kelly has a gift for conveying his enthusiasm when making recommendations. Nearly every book and film he's ever recommended sound tremendously interesting to me, even when I'm not interested in the subject matter at all. But the book he recommends today, 1491 by Charles C. Mann, sounds even more interesting than the rest. So much so, that I ordered it — and Guns, Germs, and Steel — from the library today.

Charles Mann makes the best case yet, in non-technical prose, for the emerging archeological view that native Americans (north and south) had created vast cities and civilizations on a scale that dwarfed Europe at the time. These bustling cities, not just in MesoAmerica, but in the Mississippi and the Amazon, were erased into invisibility ahead of settlers (and textbooks) by disease and environmental factors.

  [ 01/19/06 ]



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