History

Please take a moment to appreciate the stunning interactive essay from The New York Times, which uses the medieval manuscript Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry as a reference to explore how time is perceived through the utilization of time-keeping devices, like calendars.

The documentary “The secrets of civilization” gave fascinating insights into how Romans changed their environment. First, there is an artificial mound in Rome known as Monte Testaccio, a big ancient waste heap which is nearly entirely made of broken pieces from discarded containers (amphora) used for, for example, storing olive oil. Here are two videos about the site:

Second, the documentary mentioned how a landscape in Spain, Las Médulas is the result of a Roman gold-mining technique called Ruina Montium (“wrecking of mountains”). Here is a video describing the process from IMAGEEN.

Finally, it’s interesting to know that it seems that a period of unusually warm weather, called the Roman Climactic Optimum, may have benefitted the Romans.

This article from The New York Times discusses a controversy about the restitution of prehistoric objects by Indonesian government against a Dutch Naturalis museum.

While art museums have been grappling since the 1990s with claims that they hold or display looted Nazi art, and ethnographic museums have faced repatriation claims from African nations and Indigenous people worldwide, the Java Man case pushes restitution into the realm of the natural history museum — where it hasn’t been much of an issue until now.

A positive spin on thinking about our own collapse, from an article by Thomas Moynihan who wrote a book an how humanity only recently started to think about its own extinction/collapse:

Only very recently in human history did people realize that Homo sapiens, and everything it finds meaningful, might permanently disappear. Only recently did people realize the physical universe could continue — aimlessly — without us. However, this was one of the most important discoveries humans have ever made. It is perhaps one of our crowning achievements. Why? Because we can only become truly responsible for ourselves when we fully realize what is at stake. And, in realizing that the entire fate of human value within the physical universe may rest upon us, we could finally begin to face up to what is at stake in our actions and decisions upon this planet. This is a discovery that humanity is still learning the lessons of — no matter how fallibly and falteringly.

In this article I also learned about the 1755 Lisbon earthquake which apparently which apparently lead scientists to study the phenomena, leading to modern seismology and earthquake engineering.

A quick link to a fascinating and thorough look by David Henkin at the diffusion of the week as a way of organizing social life.

The following video is a short excerpt from a PBS documentary about the history of blue jeans.

Where did blue jeans begin? This iconic American garment can be traced to fabrics woven in India, France and Italy and a knowledge of indigo dying from Africa and brought to the colonies in the trade of enslaved people. Blue jeans’ roots are as deep and entangled as the nation’s.

The following Vox video details how the invention of a “Chinatown style”, that can be found in cities around the world, can be traced back to an earthquake in San Francisco in 1906 and the subsequent re-imaging/invention of a new style and culture.

This article from Smithsonian Magazine that dispells some of the myths surrounding the tulipmania is well worth a read:

So if tulipmania wasn’t actually a calamity, why was it made out to be one? We have tetchy Christian moralists to blame for that. With great wealth comes great social anxiety, or as historian Simon Schama writes in The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age, “The prodigious quality of their success went to their heads, but it also made them a bit queasy.” All the outlandish stories of economic ruin, of an innocent sailor thrown in prison for eating a tulip bulb, of chimney sweeps wading into the market in hopes of striking it rich—those come from propaganda pamphlets published by Dutch Calvinists worried that the tulip-propelled consumerism boom would lead to societal decay. Their insistence that such great wealth was ungodly has even stayed with us to this day.

My knowledge of the British suffragettes seems to be completely wrong. Fascinating how their movements used different tactics to draw attention on the street and from the camera.

British suffragettes in the early 20th century used spectacle and drama to draw attention to their fight to win women the vote. They delivered public speeches, marched, displayed colorful banners, and got thrown in jail, all in an effort to pressure legislators to extend suffrage to women.

See more in the following video from Vox, “How British suffragettes fought for the vote”.