A History of Changing Western Attitudes Toward Islam

Since its beginnings in the Arabia of the 7th century CE, the religion of Muhammad the prophet had pushed against the borders of Christendom. Less than a week after the attack on the Twin Towers in New York on 11 September 2001, US President George W. Bush gave a remarkable speechabout America’s “Muslim Brothers and sisters”.[…]

Leonardo’s Depiction of Mary and Jesus Tells Us about His Religious Beliefs

Leonardo da Vinci emphasized the naturalness of the relationship of Jesus and Mary in his art, while also inviting viewers into a religious message. On the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, Italian academic Francesco Caglioti’s recent claim that a sculpture held at a London museum bears close similarities with the work of the Renaissance genius[…]

Times Like Good Friday Were Dangerous for Medieval Jews

Language about Jews in the medieval Good Friday liturgy often carried over into physical violence toward local Jewish communities. As Christians observe Good Friday they will remember, with devotion and prayer, the death of Jesus on the Cross. It is a day of solemnity in which Christians give thanks for their salvation made possible by the suffering[…]

Antisemitism in the Middle Ages

The medieval period saw Jews experience intense antisemitism. Introduction The roots of antisemitism can be found in ancient history. Antisemitism existed prior to Christianity, as the work of Manetho from the third century BCE shows. However, antisemitism increased considerably following the rise of Christianity in Europe. This was partly due to the differences in belief,[…]

Architecture of Ancient Sri Lanka

The architecture of ancient Sri Lanka displays a rich diversity. Introduction The architecture of ancient Sri Lanka displays a rich diversity, varying in form and architectural style from the Anuradhapura Kingdom (377 BC–1017) through the Kingdom of Kandy (1469–1815). Sinhalese architecture also displays many ancient North Indian influences. Buddhism had a significant influence on Sri Lankan architecture after it was introduced to the island in[…]

Grim Relics: Excavating Long-Buried Stories from the Nazi Era

In a discussion with Reinhard Bernbeck, he delves into the origins and ethics of conducting archaeological investigations of the Nazi period. By Christopher DeCou the end of the Cold War, high school students from the German city of Witten visited the Dachau concentration camp to learn about the Holocaust. Walking among the still buildings, they[…]

The Template for the Holocaust – Germany’s African Genocide

Germany, which had only unified in 1870, was a latecomer to the colonial game. By David Carlin “Within the German borders every Herero, with or without a gun, with or without cattle, will be shot.” General Lothar von Trotha, Commander of German Forces in South West Africa, 1905 Hundreds of emaciated prisoners look out helplessly.[…]

‘Valiant Lunatics’: Heroism and Insanity in the Charge of the Light Brigade

The charge of the Light Brigade always elicited ambivalent responses from eyewitnesses. The charge of the Light Brigade has always elicited ambivalent responses from eyewitnesses. Even though he was writing at a remove of time and distance from the action, Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem echoes the conflicted reactions of both British and Russian witnesses who[…]

Medieval European Warfare: Technological, Social, and Cultural Developments

Developments forced a dramatic transformation in the character of warfare from antiquity, changing tactics, weaponry, and fortifications. Strategy and Tactics De re militari Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus wrote De re militari (Concerning Military Matters) possibly in the late 4th century.[2] Described by historian Walter Goffart as “the bible of warfare throughout the Middle Ages”, De re militariwas widely distributed through the Latin West.[…]

Castrum: Ancient Roman Forts

Although given basic defensive features, forts were never designed to withstand a sustained enemy attack. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Roman army constructed both temporary and permanent forts and fortified military camps (castrum) across the frontiers of the empire’s borders and within territories which required a permanent military presence to prevent indigenous uprisings. Although given[…]

The Battle of Zama – The Beginning of Roman Conquest

The Battle of Zama not only ended the Second Punic War, it also established the Roman army as the greatest fighting force since the armies of Alexander the Great. Introduction The Second Punic War (218-202 BCE) began when the Carthaginian general Hannibal attacked the city of Saguntum, a Roman ally, reached its height with the[…]

A 20th-Century Economic History of Iran

Examining Iran’s economic history pre- and post-revolution. Introduction Prior to 1979, Iran’s economic development was rapid. Traditionally an agricultural society, by the 1970s the country had undergone significant industrialization and economic modernization.[1][2] This pace of growth had slowed dramatically by 1978 as capital flight reached $30 to $40 billion 1980 US dollars just before the revolution.[3] After the Revolution[…]

The Oil Age: Refinement and Development in the 19th Century

It was during the 19th century that refinement techniques were developed and oil began to boom. Introduction The Age of Oil,[1] also known as the Oil Age[2][3] ,the Petroleum Age, [4][5] ,or the Oil Boom, refers to the era in human history characterised by an increased use of petroleum in products and as fuel. Though unrefined petroleum has been used[…]

Science and Technology in Ancient and Medieval Persia (Iran)

Throughout history, Iran was always a cradle of science, contributing to medicine, mathematics, astronomy and philosophy. Introduction Iran has made considerable advances in science and technology through education and training, despite international sanctions in almost all aspects of research during the past 30 years. In recent years, the growth in Iran’s scientific output is reported[…]

Written in the Stars: Astronomy and Astrology in Medieval Manuscripts

Faith, science, and stargazing influenced everyday decisions in the Middle Ages. Introduction Humankind has always looked to the sky in wonder, with a desire to understand our place in the universe. Eclipses, comets, and star and planet sightings mesmerize us and inspire awe. In the medieval world, from about 500 to 1500, astronomy was a[…]

Divine Light and Melodies Lead the Way: The Medieval Santmat Tradition of Bihar, India

Examining the branch of Santmat, prevalent in the rural areas of Bihar, India. Abstract This paper focuses on the branch of Santmat (thus far, unstudied by scholars of Indian religions), prevalent in the rural areas of Bihar, India. Santmat—literally meaning “the Path of Sants” or “Point of View of the Sants”—of Bihar represents a unique[…]

A Brief History of Ancient Buddhism

The origin of Buddhism points to one man, Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, who was born in Lumbini. Introduction Buddhism is one of the most important Asian spiritual traditions. During its roughly 2.5 millennia of history, Buddhism has shown a flexible approach, adapting itself to different conditions and local ideas while maintaining its core teachings.[…]

Dark, Bloody, and Savage: 20th-Century European Violence and Its Narratives

Examining major European twentieth-century narratives and interpretations that have seen it as an age of violence, terror, and genocide. Abstract This paper[1] looks at major European twentieth-century narratives and interpretations that have seen it as an age of violence, terror and genocide. Using examples from historiographical debate and the analysis of specific historical processes (including[…]

A History of Feminist Movements in the United States in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Feminist movements have generated, made possible, and nurtured feminist theories and feminist academic knowledge. Introduction “History is also everybody talking at once, multiple rhythms being played simultaneously. The events and people we write about did not occur in isolation but in dialogue with a myriad of other people and events. In fact, at any given[…]

Advice from Medieval Monks on Avoiding Distraction

They saw the mind as an inherently jumpy thing. Medieval monks had a terrible time concentrating. And concentration was their lifelong work! Their tech was obviously different from ours. But their anxiety about distraction was not. They complained about being overloaded with information, and about how, even once you finally settled on something to read,[…]

Chaucer Was More Than English, He Was a Great European Poet

The mantle of patriarchal Englishness would have seemed distinctly odd to Chaucer himself. By Dr. Marion TurnerAssociate Professor of EnglishUniversity of Oxford In 2013, a Prospect magazine profile of the UKIP leader Nigel Farage described the Brexiteer’s party in Chaucerian terms: UKIP is indeed a rag-tag bag … of cussed, contrary, wilful, protesting, obstreperous, bantering Englishmen and[…]

Oral Tradition: The Oldest True Stories in the World

Evidence gathered in recent years shows that some ancient narratives contain remarkably reliable records of real events. Nothing stirred in the relentless midday heat. The gum trees appeared exhausted, nearly drained of life. The hunters crouched in the foliage, their long, sharp spears poised to unleash at a moment’s notice. The giant birds that were[…]

Creating a Digital Museum to Memorialize America’s Slave Past

Art historian Renée Ater reflects on how pain and reconciliation coexist at the Contraband and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial in Virginia and other monuments to slavery. By Chelika Yapa Scholar James Young once posed this provocative question: How does a nation memorialize a past it might rather forget? Art historian Renée Ater is exploring this question[…]

Jefferson’s Legacy: A Brief History of the Library of Congress

If ever a library had a single founder, Thomas Jefferson is the founder of the Library of Congress. Introduction The Library of Congress, America’s oldest national cultural institution, will be two hundred years old in the year 2000. With generous support from the U.S. Congress, it has become the largest repository of recorded knowledge in[…]

Consulting Cicero on Steadfast Moral Fortitude

Cicero’s life was marked by a tension between the life of a politician and that of a philosopher. I’m often impressed by the fortitude displayed by some of the philosophers and statesmen of the Classical world. Socrates,Musonius Rufus, Seneca, Cato, and many others faced incredible challenges. The magnitude of the events they experienced – war, imprisonment,[…]

The Ancient Roman Dead: Revealing the Diversity of Roman Britain

New research has rubbished perceptions of Roman Britain as a region inhabited solely by white Europeans. Our knowledge about the people who lived in Roman Britain has undergone a sea change over the past decade. New research has rubbished our perception of it as a region inhabited solely by white Europeans. Roman Britain was actually[…]

The Extremism of King Creon in the Greek Tragedy ‘Antigone’

Political and moral views are framed in terms of a fight between patriot and traitor, law and conscience, and chaos and order. In a Greek tragedy written in the middle of the fifth century B.C., three teenagers struggle with a question that could be asked now: What happens when a ruler declares that those who[…]