Fay Chong and Andrew Chinn: Asian Masters of American Art

Fay Chong and Andrew Chinn were Asian American artists who made major contributions to the two most important movements in American art between 1930 and 1960—Regionalism and Abstract Expressionism. Introduction Fay Chong and Andrew Chinn were Asian American artists who made major contributions to the two most important movements in American art between 1930 and[…]

Fook Shing: Colonial Victoria’s Chinese Detective

Fook Shing spent 20 years as a Melbourne gumshoe. He policed the thriving Chinese community – claiming opium as an expense – but was never promoted above his entry rank of detective third class. On July 25 1882, Inspector Frederick Secretan, the head of Victoria Police’s Detective Branch, shifted uncomfortably in his seat. In the[…]

The Second Opium War and the Treaty of Tianjin, 1857–1859

The United States and European powers had grown increasingly dissatisfied with treaties following the First Opium War. Following the First Opium War in the 1840s, the Western powers concluded a series of treaties with China in an effort to open its lucrative markets to Western trade. In the 1850s, the United States and the European[…]

The First Opium War and the Treaty of Wangxia, 1839–1844

Western powers tried to gain unfettered access to Chinese products and markets for European and U.S. trade. The Treaty of Wangxia (Wang-hsia) was the first formal treaty signed between the United States and China in 1844. It served as an American counterpart to the Anglo-Chinese Treaty of Nanjing that ended the First Opium War in[…]

The Discovery of Infectious Diseases in 2,000-Year-Old Silk Road Feces

How a research team identified parasites in ‘hygiene sticks’ that travellers on the Silk Road effectively used as their toilet paper. Once travelled by famous historical figures such as Marco Polo and Genghis Khan, the Silk Road was a hugely important network of transport routes connecting eastern China with Central Asia, the Middle East and[…]

The Prehistoric Origins and Historic Growth of the Silk Road

The Silk Road provided a conduit not only for silk, but also offered a very important path for cultural, religious and technological transmission. Introduction The Silk Road was an extensive interconnected network of trade routes across the Asian continent connecting East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean world, including North Africa and Europe. These trade routes enabled[…]

A Stuttered Hello to ARPANET: How the Internet Was Born

On October 29, 1969, an experiment at UCLA sparked a communication revolution, the implications of which are still unfolding nearly five decades later. The Spark Introduction In the late hours of October 29, 1969, an apparently insignificant experiment carried out in a lab in the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) would spark a[…]

The Domesday Book: Counting a Person’s Worth in William the Conqueror’s England

The record is unique in European history and, packed full of statistics and snippets which reveal details of medieval life in England. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Domesday Book was a comprehensive survey and record of all the landowners, property, tenants and serfs of medieval Norman England which was compiled in 1086-7 CE under the orders[…]

Medieval Heraldry: Personal Identity and Family Lineage

Heraldry began on the mid-12th century CE battlefield as an easy means to identify medieval royalty and princes. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Heraldry, that is the use of inherited coats of arms and other symbols to show personal identity and family lineage, began on the mid-12th century CE battlefield as an easy means to identify[…]

The History and Culture of Bahrain

Bahrain has a unique, indigenous middle class, which contributes to the tendency of that nation being more liberal than its neighbors. Introduction Bahrain, officially the Kingdom of Bahrain (Arabic: مملكة البحرين Mamlakat al-Baḥrayn), is an island country in the Persian Gulf and is the smallest Arab nation. Bahrain was the first location in the region in which oil reserves were discovered. As a[…]

Dilmun: Ancient Polity of Modern Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia

The great commercial and trading connections between Mesopotamia and Dilmun were strong and profound. Introduction Dilmun, or Telmun,[2] (Arabic: دلمون) was an ancient Semitic-speaking polity in Arabia mentioned from the 3rd millennium BC onwards.[3][4] Based on textual evidence, it was located in the Persian Gulf, on a trade route between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley Civilization, close to the[…]

The Fraught and Complicated History of Messianic Judaism

Messianic Jews consider themselves Jewish Christians. When Loren Jacobs, member of the Shma Yisrael Congregation, offered a prayer for the victims of the Tree of Life congregation at a campaign rally attended by Mike Pence, it left many Jews feeling very upset. The vice president’s office later denied inviting Jacobs to the event. Jacobs is a messianic Jew and part[…]

The Sykes-Picot Agreement, 1916: The Creation of the ‘Middle East’

The Sykes-Picot Agreement created the modern Middle East. It represents one of the first installments in a long line of modern European – and subsequent American – meddling in the region. The Sykes-Picot Agreement created the modern Middle East. It represents one of the first instalments in a long line of modern European – and subsequent American[…]

A History of Hasidism: A Mystical Movement within Eastern European Judaism

Hasidism was called into existence by the charismatic figure Israel ben Eliezer (ca. 1700–1760), who was active in Poland. Introduction Hasidism is a mystical religious revival movement within Judaism, which draws from the Kabbalist tradition. It was called into existence by the charismatic figure Israel ben Eliezer (ca. 1700–1760), who was active in Poland. With[…]

Early Modern and Modern Jewish Networks of Communication

These networks formed as a result of the dispersal of Jewish society over great distances starting in antiquity. Abstract Jewish networks are the far-reaching transterritorial and transcultural channels of communication between Jews and Jewries. They formed as a result of the dispersal of Jewish society over great distances starting in antiquity and ran along the[…]

The History, Burials, and Artifacts of the Bronze Age Wadi Suq

The Wadi Suq culture defines human settlement in the United Arab Emirates and Oman in the period from 2,000 to 1,300 BCE. Introduction Wadi Suq takes its name from a wadi, or waterway, East of Sohar in Oman and follows on from the Umm al-Nar culture. Although archaeologists have traditionally tended to view the differences in human settlements and[…]

The Bronze Age Culture of Umm an-Nār

Umm an-Nār in the area of modern-day United Arab Emirates and Northern Oman. Introduction Umm al-Nar (Arabic: أُمّ الـنَّـار‎, translit. Umm an-Nār, lit. ‘Mother of the Fire’) is the name given to a Bronze age culture that existed around 2600-2000 BCE in the area of modern-day United Arab Emirates and Northern Oman. The etymology derives from the island of the same name which lies adjacent[…]

Communism, from Karl Marx to the Fall of the Soviet Union

Communism has been one of the most influential economic theories of all times; recognizing its influence is key to understanding both past and current events. The Rise Overview Communism has been one of the most influential economic theories of all times; recognizing its influence is key to understanding both past and current events. Moreover, the[…]

Zhores Medvedev and the Battle for Truth in Soviet Science

Medvedev’s critical portrayal of the Soviet Union was powerful, persuasive and principled. Zhores Medvedev was not crazy. But the prolific Russian scientist and author who died at the end of last year, a day after his 93rd birthday, made many powerful enemies who repeatedly claimed otherwise. By 1961, Medvedev had established a strong reputation both[…]

The Housing Question and Anti-Semitism: Soviet Authorities in Kyiv after World War II

Kyiv was abandoned by the Nazis in November 1943, allowing the Soviet authorities to return to the city, and the Jewish people continued to be silenced. By the mid-1940s, scholars agree, the Soviet Union’s fundamental problem at home was a paradoxical need to stabilize a regime noticeably strengthened by the Second World War.[1]  One way the[…]

Maidan in Soviet Designs, 1943-1945

In 1943, a propagandistic ideal meant creating a modern Ukraine through Soviet industrialization, even as the republic lay in ruins. Only a few months after Kyiv as retaken from the Nazis in November 1943, the returning Stalinists started avoiding public mention of what had happened at places like Babyn Yar. The anti-Semitism that had emerged[…]

Women in the Viking Age

Even in a male-dominated society, Viking women were far from powerless. By Emma GroeneveldHistorian Introduction Although women in the Viking Age (c. 790-1100 CE) lived in a male-dominated society, far from being powerless, they ran farms and households, were responsible for textile production, moved away from Scandinavia to help settle Viking territories abroad stretching from Greenland, Iceland, and the[…]

The Art of the Viking Age

Viking Age Scandinavians almost exclusively made applied art – aesthetically appealing and useful. By Emma GroeneveldHistorian Introduction Art made by Scandinavians during the Viking Age (c. 790-1100 CE) mostly encompassed the decoration of functional objects made of wood, metal, stone, textile and other materials with relief carvings, engravings of animal shapes and abstract patterns. The motif of the[…]

Friends Turned Enemies: The Presidential Election of 1912

Politics can sometimes turn the best of friends into the worst of enemies. Such was the fate for the relationship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Roosevelt’s decision to challenge Taft for the Republican nomination in 1912 was most difficult. Historians disagree on his motives. Defenders of Roosevelt insist that Taft betrayed the progressive[…]

Exploring Medieval Theories of Color through Glass

An unlikely combination of artists, medieval historians, philosophers and scientists have converged to create an exhibition of glass artworks. What is colour? This is one of those big questions that unlock “treasure chests” containing centuries of riches. Reach in and there are jewels to be discovered – of classical learning, philosophy, science ancient and modern,[…]

Rare Blue Pigment in Medieval Woman’s Teeth Reveal Highly Skilled Artist

A new study posits the woman was licking brushes covered with pigments of lapis lazuli, a rare and expensive stone used to decorate illuminated manuscripts. By Brigit Katz In 2011, a team of scientists decided to study the teeth of a medieval woman who had been buried in Germany sometime between 1000 and 1200 A.D.[…]

The Role of Smallpox in the Spanish Conquest of the Aztecs 500 Years Ago

Hernán Cortés owed his conquest of the Aztecs to his expedition’s unknown, unseen secret weapon: the smallpox virus. Disease epidemics can set the course of human history. Recent outbreaks in the U.S. have drawn attention to the dangers of measles. The Democratic Republic of Congo is fighting a deadly outbreak of Ebola that has killed hundreds. Epidemics are[…]