Past and Present: The Idiocy, Fabrications, and Lies of ‘Ancient Aliens’

Using the “Gish Gallop” – spouting off a series of misinterpretations and falsehoods to bury his opponent under an avalanche of fictions and distortions. By Riley BlackFreelance Science Writer Until now, I have assiduously avoided Ancient Aliens. I had a feeling that if I watched the show—which popularizes far-fetched, evidence-free idiocy about how human history has[…]

The “Pitmen Painters” of England and Japan in the Early 20th Century

Throughout the centuries, a number of coal miners have documented their lives with paintings. Some of their works are now in museums and bring the stories of the “pitmen” back to life. By Dr. Diana Cooper-RichetChercheur au Centre d’histoire culturelle des sociétés contemporainesUniversité de Versailles Saint-Quentin en Yvelines – Université Paris-Saclay Introduction Curiously, despite its[…]

The ‘Horse-Rider’ Theory of the Conquering of Ancient Japan

The ‘horse-rider theory’ (kibaminzokusetsu) was proposed by the historian Egami Namio in 1948. Introduction The ‘horse-rider theory’ is a controversial proposal that Japan was conquered around the 4th or 5th century CE by a culture from northern Asia to whom the horse was especially important. Although archaeological evidence and genetics point to a close relationship[…]

Hemp or Cannabis in Ancient Greece and Rome

The image of an intoxicated ancient world goes against the idea that moderation was the key to life. By Dr. Alan SumlerProfessor, Modern Languages DepartmentUniversity of Colorado Denver The ancient Greeks and Romans used hemp fiber for their boat sails, ropes, wicker-work, clothes, and shoes. Although no piece of Classical scholarship has focused on hemp[…]

Francis Xavier and the Arrival of Christianity in Japan in 1549

In July 1549, Francis Xavier arrived in Japan, hoping to find success converting the Japanese to Christianity. A Discovery in Takatsuki In 1920, researchers from the Kyoto Imperial University in Japan made a miraculous discovery. They found a locked chest—seemingly unopened for centuries—tied to a beam in the ceiling of an old house. When they[…]

What Is Modern Architecture, Anyway?

Five things to look for, and how these design features changed the world. The development of Modern architecture revolutionized our cities and workplaces, and its design principles not only reflected progress in science, health, and social equality but were also intended to help these ideals thrive. Today, Modern design principles help connect society and are[…]

Japonisme: Japanese Artistic Influence on the West in the Nineteenth Century

The Western fascination with Japanese art directly followed earlier European fashions for Chinese and Middle Eastern decorative arts. Introduction James McNeill Whistler’s Whistler’s Caprice in Purple and Gold (above) is an early example of Japonisme, a term coined by the French art critic Philippe Burty in 1872. It refers to the fashion for Japanese art[…]

An Introduction to the Art of the Neolithic Period, c.7000–1700 B.C.E.

Neolithic people did not write. However, because they lived in settled communities, they left many traces. By Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art Introduction The Neolithic period, or New Stone Age, is characterized by the beginning of a settled human lifestyle. People learned to cultivate plants and domesticate animals for food, rather than rely solely on hunting[…]

A Farmer, a Gay Naval Surgeon, and Forward Thinking in 1810

A Yorkshire farmer argued in 1810 that homosexuality is innate and should not be punished. The diary entry by Matthew Tomlinson suggests that recognisably modern understandings of homosexuality were being discussed by ordinary people earlier than is commonly thought. Mr Tomlinson was a farmer at Dog House Farm, which is on the site where a[…]

Art in Ancient Minoa

There is a vibrancy in Minoan art which was not present in the contemporary East. Introduction The art of the Minoan civilization of Bronze Age Crete (2000-1500 BCE) displays a love of animal, sea, and plant life, which was used to decorate frescoes and pottery and also inspired forms in jewellery, stone vessels, and sculpture. Minoan artists delighted in[…]

The Ancient Celtic Roots of the Neo-Pagan Wheel of the Year

Celts of thousands of years ago celebrated the festivals the wheel highlights. Introduction The Wheel of the Year is a symbol of the eight Sabbats (religious festivals) of Neo-Paganism and the Wicca movement which includes four solar festivals (Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, Fall Equinox) and four seasonal festivals (celebrating or marking a significant[…]

The Ancient Athenian Calendar

Athenian calendars used lunar cycles and/or solar events to affix dates. Introduction The term “Athenian Calendar” (also called the “Attic Calendar”) has become somewhat of a misnomer, since Ancient Athenians never really used just one method to reckon the passage of time. Athenians, especially from the 3rd Century BCE forward, could consult any one of five[…]

A Page from the Sahib Din’s Mewar ‘Ramayana’ in the Seventeenth Century

By the time of Din’s work in 1650, the Ramayana had grown to twenty-four thousand verses that were organized into seven thematic books. By Dr. Arathi MenonHistorian of Art and Architecture What’s In a Story? In its simplest form, a story has a beginning, an end, and events that unfold in between. It has a[…]

Thinking Outside the Boxing Ring: How a Tattoo Helped Identify a Boxer

The 1950s were a popular time for boxing as a number of extraordinary fighters came on the scene during the time. It’s a quick moment of action frozen in time. Joey Maxim, World Light Heavyweight Champion, is being knocked to the side, his face contorted from a powerful blow. His opponent, fists raised, can only[…]

Almost as Good as Presley: Caruso the Pop Idol

When he died in 1921 the singer Enrico Caruso left behind him approximately 290 commercially released recordings, and a significant mark upon on the opera world including more than 800 appearances at the New York Met. This explores Caruso’s popular appeal and how he straddled the divide between ‘pop’ and ‘classical’. This article, Almost as[…]

Queen Tamar: First Female Monarch of Medieval Georgia

She presided over Georgia’s greatest territorial expansion, taking advantage of the decline of other major powers in the region. Introduction Tamar was the queen of Georgia from 1184 to 1213 CE. She is considered one of the greatest of medieval Georgia’s monarchs, and she presided over its greatest territorial expansion, taking advantage of the decline[…]

Hindu Architecture at Rajarajesvara Temple in Tanjavur, India

The Rajarajesvara temple was built by one of the most successful rulers of the medieval period, Rajaraja Chola I. By Dr. Arathi MenonHistorian of Art and Architecture Introduction To see the Hindu god Shiva in the Rajarajesvara temple complex in Tanjavur, we must enter two impressive gateways, walk into a cloistered courtyard, past an enormous[…]

Analyzing an Ancient Indus Seal from Mohenjo-daro

Seals numbering in the thousands have been discovered in excavations of Indus cities as well as in sites in the Persian Gulf in southwest Asia. By Dr. Arathi MenonArt Historian Introduction Incised on this small stone (less than two inches across), we see a large figure seated on a dais surrounded by a horned buffalo,[…]

Brewminate 2020 Election Forecast

Brewminate’s running weekly forecast for the 2020 election. By Matthew A. McIntoshJournalist and HistorianBrewminate Editor-in-Chief Brewminate will be updating a forecast of the 2020 election on a weekly basis. The updates will be posted every Saturday at a minimum with possible updates daily with added commentary. We take an average across multiple polls in each state[…]

Zounds! What the Fork Are Minced Oaths and Why Are We Still Fecking Using Them?

From 16th-century playwrights to ‘The Good Place,’ wordplay has found clever ways to get around uttering profane and blasphemous language. Introduction What in tarnation is “tarnation?” Why do people in old books exclaim “zounds!” in moments of surprise? And what could a professor of linguistics possibly have against “duck-loving crickets?” I’ll get to the crickets[…]

Magna Ecclesia: A History of the Hagia Sophia

The aesthetic qualities of a geometric design are what most concern the twentieth-century work on Hagia Sophia. Introduction Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, constructed 532-537 CE, continues to be revered as one of the most important structures in the world. Hagia Sophia (Greek Ἁγία Σοφία, for ‘Holy Wisdom’) was designed to be the major basilica of the[…]

The Slicker Wars of Missouri: 19th-Century Vigilante Justice on the Frontier

Vigilance committees formed throughout the Missouri Ozarks, and spread to several areas within the state. Introduction During the mid-1800s, conflicts between outlaws and local vigilante groups spread across the Missouri Ozarks and became known as the Slicker Wars. The Missouri Ozarks is known for its bluffs, rivers, mountains, forests, and caves. During the 1840s, this[…]

The Bald Knobbers: 19th-Century Vigilantism in the Ozarks

The Bald Knobbers, who mostly sided with the Union in the Civil War, were opposed by the Anti-Bald Knobbers, mostly Confederates. Introduction and Background The Bald Knobbers were a group of vigilantes in the Ozark region of southwest Missouri from 1883 to 1889. They are commonly depicted wearing black horned hoods with white outlines of[…]

Pliny the Younger and the Elite in the Ancient Roman Empire

After serving one year on the staff of a Syrian legion, he began the long, imperial road through the cursus honorum. Introduction Pliny the Younger (61-112 CE) was the nephew of Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE), the author of the 37-volume Natural History. He had a remarkable political career, gained a reputation as an excellent lawyer and[…]

The End of the Roman Republic: Yielding Freedom to Autocracy

Augustus framed his autocratic takeover and control of the Roman state as a sort of democratic act. In 22 BC a series of political and economic crises buffeted the regime of Augustus, Rome’s first emperor. Augustus had won control of Rome’s Mediterranean empire in 30 BC after nearly two decades of civil conflicts, but his[…]

The Sicilian Revolt against the Second Triumvirate in the Ancient Roman Republic

30,000 slaves were captured and returned to their masters, with another 6,000 being impaled upon wooden stakes as an example. Introduction and Context The Sicilian revolt was a revolt against the Second Triumvirate of the Roman Republic. Occurring between 44 BC and 36 BC, the revolt was led by Sextus Pompey and ended in a[…]

Avenging Caesar: The Liberators’ Civil War in Ancient Rome

After the murder of Caesar, Brutus and Cassius (also known as the Liberatores) had left Italy and taken control of all Eastern provinces. Introduction The Liberators’ civil war (43–42 BC) was started by the Second Triumvirate to avenge Julius Caesar’s assassination. The war was fought by the forces of Mark Antony and Octavian (the Second[…]