A History of Europe after the Fall of the Berlin Wall

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union accelerated the push for deeper European integration. By Jeanne Park Introduction The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 laid the groundwork for new institutions, new states, and, in some cases, new conflicts. In the three decades since the end of Germany’s[…]

How Hitler Went from Fringe Politician to Dictator

He went from fringe political to chancellor of Germany within a few years and from chancellor to dictator in a matter of months. From Fringe Politician to Chancellor For most of the 1920s, Hitler was a fringe-party rabble-rouser. In 1923, as the leader of the tiny Nazi party, he incited a violent attempt to overthrow the government and got[…]

The First World War through a Camera Lens

Soldier photographers would capture the day-to-day routine of military life. The Great War was the first conflict that would be comprehensively documented by amateur photographers. While professional lenses had captured scenes from the Crimean and the American Civil War, this was the first time that large numbers of serving men took cameras into the frontlines[…]

Authority in Ancient Rome: Auctoritas, Potestas, Imperium, and the Paterfamilias

Examining various types of authority which spanned across centuries and covered all facets of Roman life. By Jesse SifuentesArtist and Historian Introduction Authority in ancient Rome was complex, and as one can expect from Rome, full of tradition, myth, and awareness of their own storied history. Perhaps the ultimate authority was imperium, the power to command the Roman army. Potestas was legal power belonging[…]

The Julio-Claudians: First Dynasty of the Roman Empire

Romans obsessed on the concept of family lineage: the family was the most important thing in one’s life. Introduction The Julio-Claudians were the first dynasty to rule the Roman Empire. After the death of the dictator-for-life Julius Caesar in 44 BCE, his adopted son Octavian – later to become known as Augustus (r. 27 BCE[…]

Watergate and Nixon’s ‘Saturday Night Massacre’

The political and public reactions to Nixon’s actions were negative and highly damaging to the president. Introduction The Saturday Night Massacre is the name popularly applied[1] to the series of events that took place in the United States on the evening of Saturday, October 20, 1973, during the Watergate scandal. U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered[…]

VP Spiro Agnew’s War on the Press during the Nixon Administration

When Vice President Spiro Agnew gave a speech in 1969 bashing the press, he fired some of the first shots in a culture war that persists to this day. Introduction Americans witnessed an unprecedented event 50 years ago: live television coverage on all three national networks of a speech by the vice president of the[…]

Westcar Papyrus: The Art of the Story in Ancient Egypt

In the manuscript, each of Khufu’s sons speaks in turn, telling their own tale for their father’s entertainment. Introduction The ancient Egyptians enjoyed storytelling as one of their favorite pastimes. Inscriptions and images, as well as the number of stories produced, give evidence of a long history of the art of the story in Egypt[…]

The Neanderthal Diet—From Teeth to Guts

Some populations of Neanderthals were definitely more carnivorous than others. By Dr. Anna GoldfieldArchaeologist One of the more tenacious misconceptions about Neanderthals is that they were exclusively meat eaters. Sure, in some of the colder regions of Europe plant food would have been very seasonally limited, so meat was almost certainly a large part of[…]

Neanderthal Legs and Feet—Suited to Sprinting

Even genetics support the idea that Neanderthals were better sprinters than runners. By Dr. Anna GoldfieldArchaeologist If you’re like me, you view long-distance running as a somewhat unrealistic aspiration and see those people who do it well as remarkable creatures. The truth, though, is that Homo sapiens are well-designed for loping along for long distances[…]

Kristallnacht 80 Years On: Some Reading about the Most Notorious State-Sponsored Pogrom

Eight decades on, the thought of the state encouraging people to attack groups of citizens is hard to believe. Here are some books that might help. Introduction On the evening of November 9 1938 a Nazi pogrom raged across German and Austrian cities. Nazis branded the atrocity with a poetic term: Kristallnacht or “Crystal Night”.[…]

The Mass Destruction of Jewish Homes during ‘Kristallnacht’

Most histories highlight the shattered storefronts and synagogues set aflame. But it was the systematic ransacking of Jewish homes that extracted the greatest toll. By Dr. Wolf GrunerShapell-Guerin Chair in Jewish Studies and Professor of HistoryFounding Director, USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide ResearchDornsife College of Letters, Arts and SciencesUniversity of Southern California Introduction[…]

Stories of Gender and Sexuality from Early Modern Wonder Books

The category of ‘persons who have changed their sex’ in the wonder books cannot be exactly matched onto any modern term. By Lee RayeHistorian of Science In early modern England, the wonder book provided a vernacular genre that collected stories of monsters, marvels and prodigies. Although the books had a veneer of scholarly respectability, their[…]

The Female World of Love and Larceny in the Eighteenth Century

Men were transient figures (and often dupes) of light-fingered sex workers, but women’s relationships with each other were often more enduring. I was recently delighted to learn of the return of the period drama Harlots for a third season. The television series set in rival eighteenth-century London brothels is good viewing, even if its portrait[…]

A New Generation Is Reviving Indigenous Tattooing

People in Arctic and Northwest Coast communities are uncovering the therapeutic history of tattoos. By Joshua Rapp Learn To celebrate her graduation from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Alaska Native Studies program in 2012, Marjorie Kunaq Tahbone got a tattoo. Tahbone is Inupiat, an Alaska Native people, and the design was a traditional Inupiat pattern:[…]

The Body as a Map: A History of Body Modification

People have long made their skin into canvases that convey rich personal, spiritual, or ritual meanings in specific cultural contexts. By Dr. Djuke VeldhuisAnthropologist By Dr. Matthew Gwynfryn ThomasData Scientist and Anthropologist For decades, two mummies lay in the British Museum concealing a secret. The ancient Egyptian pair, nicknamed Gebelein Man A and Gebelein Woman,[…]

The Internet At 50: How the Dot-Com Bubble Burst

As the new millennium began, greed, ignorance, and misplaced hopes within the tech world nearly destroyed the financial potential for the internet. “When will the Internet Bubble burst?” For scores of ‘Net upstarts, that unpleasant popping sound is likely to be heard before the end of this year.” Jack Willoughby, Barron’s, March 2000 It was[…]

Important Inventions of the Industrial Revolution

The inventions themselves were not an immediately profitable investment throughout many parts of Europe during the 18th century. Introduction The Industrial Revolution was a time of great change and development throughout parts of Europe in which society made substantial technological progress. A large amount of this progress was centered in Britain, not only because of[…]

The Birth and Growth of Gerrymandering in Early America

Gerrymandering, the politicians’ practice of drawing district lines to favor their party and expand their power, is nearly as old as the republic itself. Elbridge Gerry was a powerful voice in the founding of the nation, but today he’s best known for the political practice with an amphibious origin. Long and thin, the redrawn state[…]

Elbridge Gerry’s Monster Salamander that Swallows Votes

Examining the two-hundred-year-old creation of Founding Father Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts. By Harlow Giles Unger As Americans prepare to vote in local and state elections on Election Day, tens of thousands–even millions–will find their votes chewed, swallowed, and discarded by a monstrous “salamander”—the two-hundred-year-old creation of Founding Father Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts. Gerry created the[…]

Nizari Ismailis: Assassins of Medieval Persia and Syria

Their name has since come to be associated with their chief modus operandi, the act of murder for political or religious purposes. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Assassins (aka Nizari Ismailis), were a heretical group of Shiite Muslims who were powerful in Persia and Syria from the 11th century CE until their defeat at the[…]

How England Tried to Mark the Regicide of King Charles I from 1649 to 1660

Exploring some of the struggles that occurred over commemorating that most difficult of anniversaries: the execution of a king. Introduction In January 1649 Charles I, King of England, was found guilty of treason against his own people, and, on the 30th day of the same month, he was executed at Whitehall. Upon the scaffold he[…]

Regicide or Tyrannicide? The ‘Assassination’ of Charles I

Examining the controversy between Milton and Salmasius, with a comparative analysis of the two trials (1649 and 1660). Abstract Milton’s defence of tyrannicide appeared in a complex political context, when several interpretations of the trial of King Charles I competed for preeminence. A comparative analysis of the two trials, that of the Tyrant (in 1649)[…]

The Marriage of Mathilde and William the Conqueror

This kind of arrangement, know as a more danico union, a Danish-style union, was common among people of Norse descent. Caen, as I hardly need to remind you, was one of the capitals, with Rouen, and later London, of Guillaume, Duc de Normandie, remembered by posterity as William the Conqueror, King of England. You can[…]

A Brief Biography of William the Conqueror

His impacts included displacing much of the pre-Conquest Anglo-Saxon nobility to reshaping the English language. William’s Early Life William was the son of Robert I, duke of Normandy (reigned 1027–1035), and a woman of lower social status named Herleva. Through his mother, William had two half-brothers: Odo, the bishop who commissioned the Bayeux Tapestry; and[…]

Ancient China’s Terracotta Army Bronze Weapon Preservation

The good metal preservation probably results from the moderately alkaline pH, a very small particle size of the burial soil, and bronze composition. By Dr. Marcos Martinón-Torres, et.al.Pitt-Rivers Professor of Archaeological ScienceUniversity of Cambridge Abstract For forty years, there has been a widely held belief that over 2,000 years ago the Chinese Qin developed an[…]

Chariots in Ancient Hunting, Sports, and Warfare

Horses were not used for transport, ploughing, warfare or any other practical human activity until quite late in history, and the chariot was the first such application. By Rodrigo Quijada PlubinsHistorian Introduction The chariot was a light vehicle, usually on two wheels, drawn by one or more horses, often carrying two standing persons, a driver[…]