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Women in History - Queen Anne

Sovereign Queen of Great Britain
Queen Anne was the last of the Stuart monarchs and the first sovereign of Great Britain. Born on 6 February 1665 in London, she was the second daughter of James, Duke of York, brother of Charles II.

During her early years she lived in France living with her aunt and grandmother who raised her to be a protestant, even though her father was a Catholic.  She got married in 1683, to Prince George of Denmark and although marred by Anne's frequent miscarriages, still births and the death of children in infancy, it is said by modern history sources to have been a happy marriage.

In 1685, Anne's father James gained the crown though he was overthrown in 1688 by Anne's sister Mary and her Dutch husband William of Orange. After both the king and queen died with no children in 1702, Anne became queen.

She became an important figure amongst women in history within months when the War of the Spanish Succession started. A series of victories by John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, put England in a strong negotiating position and in 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht was signed in  which, France recognised Anne's title over that of James II's Roman Catholic son, James Stuart and confirmed England's possession of Gibraltar.

On 1 May 1707, England and Scotland were united into a single kingdom and Queen Anne became the first sovereign of Great Britain. Now, one British parliament would meet at Westminster and they would unite under a common flag and coinage, however Scotland would keep its own established Church and its law and education systems.

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The stuff of myths and legends!

Most people today agree that vampires are just the stuff of myths and legends however for much of our past; they were believed to be real. Evidence of this emerged with an archaeological dig conducted in 2009 near Venice. The dig uncovered a skull from 1576 that had its jaw bones forced open with a large stone. According to the vampire slayer guides of the day, this was a method of exorcism done to stop vampires returning from the dead…..

I Think, Therefore I Am ~ René Descartes

Women in History – Queen Isabella of Castile

Queen Isabella of Castile was a powerful woman in history at a time when Europe passed from the medieval period to the Renaissance. She enjoyed the finer things in life such as pretty dresses and jewells and was described as having beautiful blue eyes, chesnut hair and as being a striking looking woman. She held the title of Queen Isabella of Castile from 1474 to 1505, after fighting a civil war to secure her crown.

Ferdinand, her husband, and Isabella succeeded as joint sovereigns a unified Spain from 1481, the "Catholic Kings," as Ferdinand and Isabella became known, ruled both kingdoms of Castile and Aragon jointly, however kingdoms maintained their separate laws, institutions and governments. A typical example of Queen Isabella's political vision was when she agreed to fund the expedition of Christopher Columbus which brought spain into contact with the lucrative New World.

Source: Queen Isabella I of Spain (r. 1474 - d. 1505)

Five Facts About Alchemy

Alchemy, the Science of Love!
  1. Ancient history sources reviel that alchemy was first conceived in the ancient civilisations of the Babylonians and the Egyptians who could mine and refine metal ores, and transform them into precious metals.
  2. There are early text sthat give recipes for producing various precious metals, gemstones and dyestuffs. A popular alchemist practice was to add silver or copper to gold which made it look like there was more gold.
  3. In Renaissance Europe, the theories behind alchemy were much the same as those of the ancient Greeks. According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, matter consisted of four elements, earth, water, air and fire. It was believed that as everything was made up of these four elements, it was possible to transmute any starting material into anything else.
  4. The idea of turning base metals into gold was known by the Greek term chrysopoeia, but it was not the only aspect of alchemy. It was however, seen as the logical conclusion for alchemy and it was believed it would be possible if the golden combination of ingredients could be found.
  5. Although alchemy was and still is seen by many as a mystical art in general world history, some alchemists had a much more scientific approach. From the middle ages, the name for it was ‘chymistry’ and it laid the foundations for modern day chemistry.
Source: The Science of Alchemy

    Mae West Philosophy

    Iceni Queen Boudicca  Female Warrior of Legend

    Queen of the Aztecs
    Young as she was, she was exceedingly artful and vicious; so that, finding herslf alone, and seeing that her people feared her on account of her rank and importance, she began to give way to an unlimited indulgence of her power.

    Whenever she saw a young man who pleased her fancy she gave secret orders that he should be brought to her, and shortly afterwards he would be put to death. She would then order a statue or effigy of his person to be made, and, adourning it with rich clothing, gold, and jewellry, place it in the apartment in which she lived. 

    The number of staues of those whom she thus sacrificed was so great as to almost fill the room....

    The British did all they could to increase the trade: They bribed officials, helped the Chinese work out elaborate smuggling schemes to get the opium into China's interior, and distributed free samples of the drug to innocent victims.

     The government took the threat of UFOs so seriously in the 1950s that UK intelligence chiefs met to discuss the issue, newly-released files show.

    Cases in the files include:
    • The "Welsh Roswell", an incident in 1974 that saw people strange lights in the sky and feeling earth tremors.
    • A near-miss incident with an "unidentified object" that was reported by both the Captain and the First Officer of a passenger plane near Manchester Airport in 1995. 
    • Attempted rebberies at RAF Rudloe Manor in Wiltshire which is sometimes referred to as Britain's Area 51
    • The Western Isles Incident, in which a loud explosion was reported up in the sky over the Atlantic in the Outer Hebrides. 
    • A film relating to the Blue Streak missile test launch in 1964, was missing 14 minutes of footage. Many believe it was removed as it showed an alien. 

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      Pin-Up Girl: Holly Marilyn Tiki

      On the 8th of November, 1519, Cortes and his men arrived at the city of Tenochtitlan and were greeted with a state welcome by Moctezuma, who still did not know whether he was dealing with men or gods.

      The Spanish acted like perfect guests for two weeks and marvelled at the sights of the city that included a huge market place, an aqueduct that carried water to more than a hundred thousand citizens and the Great Temple, which was a towering pyramid.

      Cortes tricked his way into Moctezuma’s palace and took him prisoner and persuaded him to declare to his people that he had been placed under guard willingly; by 1520, the Aztec emperor declared that he was the vassal of the Spanish king Charles I. Cortes installed a crucifix on the Great Temple infuriating the people of Tenochtitlan and in a bid to quell any ideas of uprising, he slaughtered hundreds of unarmed Aztec nobles while they attended a ritual dance.

      Moctezuma pleaded with his people to remain calm but was stoned by them and killed, leading to the city rebelling against the invading force. In just one night that became known as ‘the sad night’, two thirds of the Spanish force were killed along with hundreds of Aztecs and the remainder of Cortes’ men and their allies fled.

      Cortes formed alliances with local towns and raised an army numbering around ten thousand men. He divided his forces into three and launched short, sharp attacks on Tenochtitlan which were fiercely resisted by the Aztecs. The Spanish then turned to siege warfare burning bridges and buildings, cutting off food supplies and destroying the capital’s aqueducts.

      To make matters worse, many Aztecs were dying from smallpox, which they had caught from the Spanish. On 13th of August, 1521, after ninety-three days of daily fighting while their city burned around them, the Aztecs finally fell after the royal palace and Great Temple were seized and the new emperor had been captured.

      The Aztec capital Tenochtitlan was left in ruins by the Spaniards; Moctezuma’s treasure and the Temple’s religious idols went missing, they are believed to have been smuggled out by priests and have never been found. Over the following years, Cortes built a new Christian city on the site and claimed the regions gold mines for Spain, generating vast wealth for the most powerful nation on earth.

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      GOLD WOMAN Pictures, Images and PhotosWhile salmon fishing near the Klondike River in Canada's Yukon Territory on this day in 1896, George Carmack reportedly spots nuggets of gold in a creek bed. His lucky discovery sparks the last great gold rush in the American West.

      Hoping to cash in on reported gold strikes in Alaska, Carmack had traveled there from California in 1881. After running into a dead end, he headed north into the isolated Yukon Territory, just across the Canadian border.

      In 1896, another prospector, Robert Henderson, told Carmack of finding gold in a tributary of the Klondike River. Carmack headed to the region with two Native American companions, known as Skookum Jim and Tagish Charlie.

      On August 16, while camping near Rabbit Creek, Carmack reportedly spotted a nugget of gold jutting out from the creek bank. His two companions later agreed that Skookum Jim--Carmack's brother-in-law--actually made the discovery.

      Regardless of who spotted the gold first, the three men soon found that the rock near the creek bed was thick with gold deposits. They staked their claim the following day. News of the gold strike spread fast across Canada and the United States, and over the next two years, as many as 50,000 would-be miners arrived in the region. Rabbit Creek was renamed Bonanza, and even more gold was discovered in another Klondike tributary, dubbed Eldorado.

      "Klondike Fever" reached its height in the United States in mid-July 1897 when two steamships arrived from the Yukon in San Francisco and Seattle, bringing a total of more than two tons of gold. Thousands of eager young men bought elaborate "Yukon outfits" (kits assembled by clever marketers containing food, clothing, tools and other necessary equipment) and set out on their way north.

      Few of these would find what they were looking for, as most of the land in the region had already been claimed. One of the unsuccessful gold-seekers was 21-year-old Jack London, whose short stories based on his Klondike experience became his first book, The Son of the Wolf (1900).

      For his part, Carmack became rich off his discovery, leaving the Yukon with $1 million worth of gold. Many individual gold miners in the Klondike eventually sold their stakes to mining companies, who had the resources and machinery to access more gold. Large-scale gold mining in the Yukon Territory didn't end until 1966, and by that time the region had yielded some $250 million in gold.

      Today, some 200 small gold mines still operate in the region.


      Early in the 20th century doctors discarded leeches as having no place in modern medicine. But today leeches are back, helping to heal skin grafts.

      Few images conjure up the horrors of primitive medical practice more powerfully than that of the leech. This parasitic worm was used to suck blood from the veins of sick people in the belief that it could draw out the “evil vapors” responsible for their disease.

      Large numbers of leeches were employed. In 1837 alone, 96,000 leeches were applied to 50,557 patients at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. Their use was so common in England that British-bred leeches became scarce, and foreign leeches had to be imported from India and Mexico.

      In the 19th century more than 50 leeches were sometimes applied simultaneously to a patient. In modern-day plastic surgery usually only one or two leeches are used at one time. But if the arteries to the grafted area take a long time to develop, leeches may be applied at six-hour intervals over a week-some 28 leeches in all.

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      Fires in London were common, even inevitable, given the capital's largely timber construction.

      Yet for years there had been warnings of London's total destruction by fire: in 1559 Daniel Baker had predicted London's destruction by 'a consuming fire'. In April 1665, Charles had warned the Lord Mayor of London of the danger caused by the narrow streets and overhanging timber houses.

      Furthermore, a long, hot summer had left London dry and drought had depleted water reserves. Thus by September 1666, all that was required was a spark. This was provided at the house of Thomas Farynor, the king's baker in Pudding Lane, near London Bridge.

      At 2.00am on Sunday 2nd September his workman smelled smoke and woke the household. The family fled across the nearby roofs, leaving only a maid, too scared to run, who soon became the first of the four listed casualties of the fire.

      With only narrow streets dividing wooden buildings, the fire took hold rapidly, and within an hour the Mayor, Sir Thomas Bloodworth, had been woken with the news. He was unimpressed, declaring that 'A woman might piss it out'.

      Yet by dawn London Bridge was burning: an open space on the bridge, separating two groups of buildings, had acted as a firebreak in 1632. It did so again: only a third of the bridge was burned, saving Southwark from destruction and confining the fire to the City of London, on the north bank.

      Samuel Pepys lived nearby and on Sunday morning walked to the Tower of London. There he saw the fire heading west, fanned by the wind, and described 'pigeons... hovering about the windows and balconies till they burned their wings and fell down'. With Bloodworth dithering, Pepys went to Whitehall, informing the King and his brother James, Duke of York, of the situation.

      Although Charles II immediately ordered Bloodworth to destroy as many houses as necessary to contain the fire, early efforts to create firebreaks were overcome by the strength of the wind, which enabled the fire to jump gaps of even twenty houses. By the end of Sunday the fire had begun to travel against the wind, towards the Tower, and Pepys had begun to pack.

      By the following dawn, the fire was raging north and west, and panic reigned. The Duke of York took control of efforts to stop the fire, with militias summoned from neighbouring counties to help the fight, and stop looting. But the flames continued relentlessly, devouring Gracechurch Street, Lombard Street, the Royal Exchange, and heading towards the wealthy area of Cheapside.

      By mid afternoon the smoke could be seen from Oxford, and Londoners had begun to flee to the open spaces of Moorfields and Finsbury Hill. By nightfall the streets were jammed with the carts of fleeing Londoners, and the fire was heading down Watling Lane, towards St Paul's Cathedral.

      The next day saw the greatest destruction. Both the King and the Duke of York were immersed in the battle against the fire, which was contained until late afternoon, when it jumped over the break at Mercers' Hall and began to consume Cheapside, London's widest and wealthiest street.

      Although demolition began to take effect in the east, in the west the fire had destroyed Newgate and Ludgate prisons, and was travelling along Fleet Street towards Chancery Lane. It was visible as far away as Enfield, embers were falling on Kensington, and flames surrounded St Paul's Cathedral, covered in scaffolding. This caught fire, soon followed by the timber roof beams. The lead roof melted and flowed down Ludgate Hill, and stones exploded from the building. Within a few hours the Cathedral was a ruin.

      This marked the height of the inferno. On Wednesday morning the fire reached a brick wall - literally - at Middle Temple and at Fetter Lane. Workers took the opportunity to pull down more buildings and widen the break.

      At the same time, the wind slackened and changed direction, turning south and blowing the fire onto itself and into the river. In the north, it was being checked at Smithfield and Holborn Bridge, and the Mayor, finally useful, was directing demolition in Cripplegate.

      Written by Bruce Robinson:
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      Te means ‘hand’ or ‘hands’, but in its widest context means martial arts. Te is the newer description of ‘Ti’ that has been practised, nurtured and developed through time in the Ryukyu Islands.

      Prior to the fashionable influx of Chinese based kata, Te was a personal form of self-defence and development for the Okinawan royalty and nobility. The closest thing resembling kata was free-form dance.

      From the 17th century onwards and with the learning of new katas from China, the villages of Shuri, Tomari and Naha had Te put on the end of those village names, thereby perpetuating a myth that the ancient ‘Ti’ had been mysteriously swallowed up and bettered by these Chinese empty hand and weapons based arts (called Kobudo).

      Although these styles have some elements of Ti in them, they certainly haven’t bettered it, as anyone who has trained in the full Ti system would surely know.

      Previously the two surviving Ti schools on Okinawa were the Seidokan of Seikichi Uehara and the Bugeikan of Seitoku Higa along side a few branch dojos. Today there are other scattered sources around the world. In particular Tigwa (Te and related arts) was introduced in the early 90s by Mark Bishop upon his return to Great Britain after 15 years of living and training in Okinawa.

      The Te dynamics of soft and circular based on the curved sword and naginata, and the straight directness of bow and arrow and spear, interlink so perfectly with all its aspects that from the very first health exercise to a mortal technique, there is an unlimited progressive evolution from the core principles of hand configuration and footwork that is the same in exercise, basic and advanced striking techniques, grappling, pressure points, weapons, Kiko (Chi Kung) and meditative walking (based on the old Okinawan dances) and therapeutic bodywork (Shiatsu). These aspects go hand in hand, and are one and the same.

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      Accounts differ as to whether duelling existed in ancient Greece and Rome, but certainly it was a fixture in the barbarian Germanic tribes, later spreading through Europe and America.

      The duel is defined as a prearranged combat between two persons, fought with deadly weapons according to an accepted code of procedure to settle a private quarrel.

      Thus the duel is distinguished from a brawl (which is not prearranged or fought according to rules), a war (a prolonged affair with many combatants), and a tournament (which although it operated by the same rules, was a test of skill that decided no private dispute). The customary duelling weapon was the sword, superseded in the 19th century by the pistol.

      The duel evolved from its origins as a legal method of resolving disputes into an extrajudicial avenue for settling private matters that could not be regulated by law: matters of honor and insult. Coincident with the formulation of code, which provided procedural guidance in conducting a duel, were attempts by church and state to curtail the practice.

      The fascination of duelling may have its roots in the curious dichotomy of a prevalent and culturally accepted yet illegal pursuit, governed by a “code.” Its persistence as a fixture in so many cultures speaks of its universal appeal as the expression of a visceral human response that managed to survive, in assorted manifestations, for many centuries.

      But the notion of duelling as an atavistic reaction alone falls short of the mark, since it looks past the reality that duels were fought chiefly by one segment of society, its aristocrats. It is this social ingredient that defines the duel as an institution and has fixed its status as a legal conundrum.

      Although condemnation by governmental and ecclesiastical authorities progressively increased, duelling originally was a legal means of deciding disputes between two people. The “judicial duel” or combat was based on religious belief: that God would protect the party in the right by allowing him to win.

      Although many combats were arranged to decide criminal matters, combat also could serve as a means for resolving civil disagreements such as disputes over property. Women, the infirm, very young, and very old men were not required to enter combat but could engage champions on their behalf. The judicial duel was a ceremonial affair presided over by royalty who proclaimed the victor.

      The earliest known law that governed the judicial duel is found in the Burgundian Code, an early East Germanic barbarian code promulgated in the late 5th and early 6th centuries. The date of legal establishment of the trial by combat traditionally is stated as the year 501.

      Eventually trial by combat was permitted only in cases of serious crimes, such as murder and treason. The right to choose trial by combat existed in England until the early 19th century, where the last claim for combat occurred in 1817. Although the court granted this claim, circumstances did not permit the encounter, and promptly in 1819 Parliament abolished the right to trial by combat.

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      Britain's Stonehenge once had a long-lost twin just a stone's throw away from the prehistoric monument, archaeologists announced Thursday.

      The discovery, made completely without digging, suggests that now solitary Stonehenge may have been surrounded by "satellite Stonehenges," archaeologists say.

      "This finding is remarkable," said survey-team leader Vince Gaffney, an archaeologist the University of Birmingham in the U.K. "It will completely change the way we think about the landscape around Stonehenge."

      Using the latest geophysical imaging technology, Gaffney's team captured digital impressions of the now buried remains of the newfound henge formation, just over half a mile (900 meters) from its world-famous neighbor.

      Measuring 82 feet (25 meters) wide, the circular feature had a segmented ditch dotted with 20 or so large holes—suspected to have been postholes for a timber, rather than stone, circle, the team says. (Also see "Wooden 'Stonehenge' Emerges From Prehistoric Ohio.")

      The circle's estimated date of 2,500 to 2,200 B.C. suggests "it was operating when Stonehenge was in its final and most dramatic form," Gaffney told National Geographic News (interactive Stonehenge time line).

      Currently the leading view is that the immediate area around Stonehenge was a sacred, off-limits area where only a select few, such as high priests or nobility, were allowed. (See "Stonehenge 'Hedge' Found, Shielded Secret Rituals?")

      "If [the newfound henge] was there at the same time, it demonstrates there was massively more activity going on in the landscape adjacent to Stonehenge," Gaffney said.

      That isn't to say Stonehenge was open to anybody, he added, "but we are saying there seems to be more activity inside that boundary.

      "Stonehenge," he added, "is one of the most studied monuments on Earth but this demonstrates that there is still much more to be found."

      The team suggests the supposed wooden henge, like Stonehenge, performed an important ceremonial role for ancient Britons who gathered at the summer and winter solstices to mark the passing year with sacred rituals.

      Also like Stonehenge, the now vanished henge is oriented toward the solstice sunrise with entrances to the northeast and southwest.

      "This new monument is part of a growing body of evidence which shows how important the summer and winter solstices were to the ancient peoples who built Stonehenge," said Amanda Chadburn, as archaeologist with English Heritage, the government agency that manages the Stonehenge World Heritage site.

      Source: National Geographic
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      Confucius was born in 551 BC in the Chinese state of Lu. His birth name was K'ung Ch'iu but the name Confucius is actually a Latinized version of the Chinese K'ung-fu-tzu, which he took later in life, and meant Master / Teacher K'ung.

      He was a descendant of the house of Shang, which ruled China between the 17th and the 12th century BC. Confucius' father died when he was 3 years old and his mother raised him in poverty. After the age of the 15 he set his mind on studying and at the age of 17 he employed himself in book-keeping and watch-care of animals, agricultural production and state parks.

      He got married when he was 20 and had two daughters and one son. His mother died by the time he was 23 and then Confucius retreated from public activities for a three-year period to mourn.

      At about the age of 30 he began teaching, while always acquiring further knowledge through studying, and by the age of 35, he had a significant number of students. After the age of 50 Confucius became active in politics and was appointed minister of Justice in the State of Lu and later on he served as prime minister.

      He governed the state in such a way that the community flourished, something that competing neighbouring states viewed with worry, fearing the rise of power of the Lu state. However, Confucius had to resign after 4 years, probably due to differences of opinion in State-management with the nobility in Lu.

      He then travelled to other States for a period of approximately 13 years where he sought to shift people of authority towards more rightful and virtuous ways of management, in an effort to implement his dominant idea of spreading virtuousness. He seldom achieved his target, as most leaders were not so open to his advice and some were even hostile. Confucius put himself at risk on several occasions during his travel period.

      At the age of 68 he was called back in the state of Lu, where internal problems were brewing, however he did not assume any governmental position, rather he continued teaching. Confucius died at the age of 72, which was considered a number of great significance in Chinese culture, and his disciples mourned for many years after his death. His tomb was later turned into a great cemetery that has been expanded over time and is in very good condition for almost two and a half millennia.

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      The Plantagenet period was dominated by three major conflicts at home and abroad.

      Edward I attempted to create a British empire dominated by England, conquering Wales and pronouncing his eldest son Prince of Wales, and then attacking Scotland. Scotland was to remain elusive and retain its independence until late in the reign of the Stuart kings.

      In the reign of Edward III the Hundred Years War began, a struggle between England and France. At the end of the Plantagenet period, the reign of Richard II saw the beginning of the long period of civil feuding known as the War of the Roses. For the next century, the crown would be disputed by two conflicting family strands, the Lancastrians and the Yorkists.

      The period also saw the development of new social institutions and a distinctive English culture. Parliament emerged and grew, while the judicial reforms begun in the reign of Henry II were continued and completed by Edward I.

      Culture began to flourish. Three Plantagenet kings were patrons of Geoffrey Chaucer, the father of English poetry. During the early part of the period, the architectural style of the Normans gave way to the Gothic, with surviving examples including Salisbury Cathedral. Westminster Abbey was rebuilt and the majority of English cathedrals remodelled. Franciscan and Dominican orders began to be established in England, while the universities of Oxford and Cambridge had their origins in this period.

      Amidst the order of learning and art, however, were disturbing new phenomena. The outbreak of Bubonic plague or the 'Black Death' served to undermine military campaigns and cause huge social turbulence, killing half the country's population.

      The price rises and labour shortage which resulted led to social unrest, culminating in the Peasants' Revolt in 1381.

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      The ritual purposes of Hula are many including a use to increase fertility, the birth of a chief, anniversary of first born children, and after death to celebrate the dead. In the past, these dances were performed by specially trained performers that were under the patronage of Kapo and Laka. They were said to embody the ultimate in spirituality.
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      30. Calling Card

      Keichu, the great Zen teacher of the Meiji era, was the head of Tofuku, a cathedral in Kyoto. One day the governor of Kyoto called upon him for the first time.

      His attendant presented the card of the governor, which read: Kitagaki, Governor of Kyoto.

      "I have no business
      with such a fellow," said Keichu to his attendant. "Tell him to get out of here."

      The attendant carried the card back with apologies. "That was my error," said the governor, and with a pencil he scratched out the words Governor of Kyoto. "Ask your teacher again."

      "Oh, is that Kitagaki?" exclaimed the teacher when he saw the card. "I want to see that fellow."

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      On July 1, 276 American historians sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in opposition to a proposal to license a casino located one-half mile from the Gettysburg National Military Park.

      Beyond the individual signatories, the American Historical Association, National Coalition for History, National Council on Public History, Organization of American Historians, Society for Military History and Southern Historical Association sent a separate letter of opposition to the Gaming Board.

      Although many individual historians have previously voiced opposition to the casino proposal, such a large and diverse group uniting in this cause demonstrates Gettysburg’s unique place in our nation’s heritage.

      Among the signers are some of the most prominent historians in America, including James McPherson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom and Edwin C. Bearss, Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service.

      In part, their message states that as professional historians, they “feel strongly that Gettysburg is a unique historic and cultural treasure deserving of our protection. Gettysburg belongs to all Americans equally—future generations no less than those of us alive today,” before concluding that “there are many places in Pennsylvania to build a casino, but there’s only one Gettysburg.”

      Read more: National Coalition for History
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      Frequently history is stranger than fiction and none more so than in the tale of Alexander Selkirk: the real-life Robinson Crusoe.

      Born in 1676, the seventh son of a cobbler, Alexander Selkirk grew up in Lower Largo, Fife. At the age of 19 he found himself in trouble with the Kirk Session after his brother’s trick of making him drink sea water resulted in a family fight.

      Before his case was heard, Selkirk fled to sea hoping to make his fortune through privateering (effectively legalised piracy on the King’s enemies) against Spanish vessels off the coast of South America.

      Within a few years his skill at navigation led to his appointment as Sailing Master on the ‘Cinque Ports’, a sixteen gun, ninety ton privateer. The expedition was a disaster. The captain of the ship was a tyrant and after a few sea battles with the Spanish, Selkirk feared the ship would sink. So, in an attempt to save his own life he demanded to be put ashore on the next island they encountered.

      In September 1704, Selkirk was castaway on the uninhabited island of Más a Tierra (today known as Robinson Crusoe Island), over 400 miles off the West Coast of Chile. He took with him a little clothing, bedding, a musket and power, some tools, a Bible and tobacco.

      At first Selkirk simply read his Bible awaiting rescue, but it soon became apparent that the rescue wasn’t imminent. He resigned himself to a long stay and began to make island life habitable with only rats, goats and cats for company in his lonely vigil.

      After several years of isolation, two ships drew into the island’s bay. Selkirk rushed to the shore, realising a little late that they were Spanish. Their landing party fired, forcing him to flee for his life although he managed to evade capture and the Spaniards eventually departed.

      Finally On 1st of February 1709, two British privateers dropped anchor offshore. Alexander lit his signal fire to alert the ships, who dispatched a rather astonished landing party to find a ‘wildman’ dressed in goat skins. Remarkably the privateers’ pilot was William Dampier, who had led the Selkirk’s original expedition and was able to vouch for the ‘wildman’.

      Selkirk had spent four years and four months of isolation on the island, yet seemed stable when he was found. The experience had, in fact, saved his life. From William Dampier he learnt that he had been right to leave the ‘Cinque Ports’, which had sunk off the coast of Peru with all of its crew drowned except the captain and another seven men, who had survived only to be captured and left to rot in a Peruvian jail.

      Selkirk re-embarked on his career as a privateer and within a year he was master of the ship that rescued him. In 1712 he returned to Scotland £800 richer, and surprised his family as they worshipped at the Kirk in Largo.

      They had long given him up for dead and were astonished that he was alive, let alone alive in his fine, gold and lace clothes. In 1713 he published an account of his adventures which were fictionalised six years later by Daniel Defoe in his now famous novel: ‘Robinson Crusoe’.

      Selkirk, however, could never really readjust to life on the land, and, in 1720, a year after he was immortalised by Defoe, he joined the Royal Navy only to die of fever off the coast of Africa.

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      The spectacle of gladiatorial combat was initiated by wealthy Romans over 250 years before the birth of Christ as a part of the ceremonies held to honor their deceased relatives. Later, these games became separate events sponsored by Rome's leading citizens in order to enhance their prestige.

      With the decline of the republic and the rise of the empire, gladiator games were appropriated by the emperor. The primary purpose of these life-or-death duels was to entertain the multitude of spectators that jammed the arena.

      Although some freemen elected to live the life of a gladiator, the majority were slaves, captured during the numerous wars Rome fought to expand its territory. The prospective gladiator received extensive training and became proficient in a particular mode of combat and the use of specific weapons such as the sword, net or the three-pronged spear known as the trident.

      The games began early, lasted all day and were usually divided into three presentations. The morning was devoted to the display and slaughter of animals, many of them exotic beasts gathered from the far reaches of the empire. Lions, elephants, giraffes and other rare animals all played a role in a display of butchery designed to advertise the diversity of the far-flung empire and Rome's mastery of Mother Nature.

      The morning session was followed by a lunch break in which patrons could leave the arena to satisfy their hunger. Those who lingered were entertained with the execution of common criminals. An attempt was made to match the method of the condemned person's death with the crime committed. Those who had murdered were thrown unprotected to wild beasts. Those who had committed arson were burned alive. Others were crucified. Criminals also provided the fodder for entertainment in the reenactment of historic naval battles in which the arena was flooded and the condemned forced to play the role of the doomed crews of enemy ships.

      The afternoon was devoted to the main event - the combat of the gladiators. Typically, gladiators with different specialties were pitted against one another. Much like a modern boxing match, the duels were governed by strict rules and overseen by a referee to assure these rules were followed.

      Music provided an accompaniment with the band varying the tempo of its play according to the action in the arena. The crowd would ultimately decide whether the loser would live or die.

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      There are an enormous number of musicians and dancers depicted in temples and tombs from all periods of Egypt’s dynastic history. Miraculously hundreds of these instruments have survived and were recovered from their ancient tombs.

      These priceless ancient instruments have found homes in museums and private collections around the world. Many of these instruments have survived because they were individually wrapped in cloths and preserved in the same tradition as the mummification of their deceased.

      There is evidence of orchestral ensembles and bands in ancient Egypt. These ancient musicians played instruments made of ivory, bones, gold and other fine metals and stones. Four basic types of musical instruments dominated all Egyptian vocal and instrumental compositions.

      All Egyptian instruments can be classified into one or more of the following categories: idiophones, membranaphones, aerophones and chordophones. Many of the ancient musical instruments have evolved into many modern day instruments used in orchestras today.

      An idiophone is any musical instrument able to produce sounds by rigorous self-vibration. These unique instruments can produce sound not using membranes or strings. Idiophones are percussive instruments that when struck or hit with a hand or a stick vibrate. The idiophones used in ancient Egyptian music were: clappers (two pieces of curved shaped wood with hands carved on the end of each clapper struck or clapped together), sistrum (a metal rod with a hoop supporting small metal disks that produce a tinkling sound when shaken) and cymbals to name a few.

      These instruments were played by temple priestesses who led Pharaohs, funerals and temple priests in ritual ceremonies. Additional idiophones used that are more familiar today are: a triangle, bells, claves, African thumb piano, maracas, musical saw, gong, woodblocks, vibraphone and a Jew’s harp.

      Instruments classified as membranaphones require the use of animal skin stretched over resonators to produce sound. Ancient Egyptian membranaphones include tambourines and drums of various shapes and sizes. Many of the drums in antiquity included small hand-held drums that were easy for the temple priestess and dancers to play and still move freely. These ancient membranaphones were also played at banquets, temple rituals, as well as religious and military functions.

      In the Old and Middle Kingdom tombs are representations of soldiers going to war and marching to the beat of drums. Some membranaphones are capable of producing pitch while others are for rhythmic accompaniments only. Additional membranaphones used in orchestras today are snare and bass drums, bongos, jingles, castanets and timpani.

      Aerophones are instruments that require a body of air to produce their sound absent of strings and membranes. Egyptian aerophones are the flute, trumpet, pipes and double reed pipes. Aerophones utilized today day in classical music are the piccolo, clarinet, saxophone, trombone, coronet, French horn, euphonium, tuba, oboe, and bassoon. Other aerophones that are popular to specific cultures are the whistle, recorder, jug, panpipes, single and double reed bagpipes, conch shell, shofar, harmonica and the bugle.

      Chordophones in ancient Egypt consisted of three types: the harp, (which were geographically indigenous to Egypt), the lute and the lyre. Chordophones are string instruments whose sound is produced by the vibration of the strings. Resonators pick up the original vibrations of the strings and vibrate them rigorously amplifying the original sound. Chordophones can be plucked, stroked or bowed.

      The harp is believed to be the oldest chordophone. Extremely ornate and simple harps are pictured one the wall paintings in ancient Egypt and Samaria. Additional chordophones are the violin, viola, cello, contrabass, guitar, banjo, harpsichord, hammered dulcimer and the piano. 

      Image souce

      Early humans migrating out of Africa adapted to freezing climes more than 800,000 years ago, far sooner than previously thought possible, according to a landmark study released Wednesday.

      A trove of flint tools found near Happisburgh in the eastern English county of Norfolk marks Homo sapiens' earliest known settlement in a location where winter temperatures fell below zero degrees Celsius (minus 32 degrees Fahrenheit).

      The discovery implies our ancestors some 26,000 generations ago survived climates like those of southern Sweden today, perhaps without the comforting benefit of fire or clothes, the study says.

      Until now, almost every archaeological site testifying to habitation across Eurasia during the Early Pleistocene period, 1.8 million to 780,000 years ago, has been below the 45th parallel, suggesting a natural temperature barrier to further northward expansion.

      All these sites were either tropical, savanna or Mediterranean in character. The climate boundary cut across southern France and northern Italy, Romania, southern Kazakhstan and Mongolia, as well as northeastern China and the northern tip of Hokkaido Island in Japan.

      The only known exception -- a site at Pakefield in Suffolk, southern England -- was occupied by humans during a balmy interlude. But the new research, led by Nick Ashton of the British Museum, has thrown down a challenge to the 45th-parallel rule. It has shown for the first time that our hardy forebears, armed with a few stone tools or weapons, could survive in a challenging, frigid environment.

      Source: Discovery Channel
      Image source: Daily Mail

      “When Marduk sent me to rule over men, to give the protection of right to the land, I did right and righteousness in . . . , and brought about the well-being of the oppressed.”

      Hammurabi was the first king of the Babylonian Empire, extending Babylon’s control over Mesopotamia by winning a series of wars against neighboring kingdoms. Hammurabi is most remembered for his law code, including 282 laws regulating people’s relationships in Mesopotamia.

      Marriage and Family Under the Hammurabi Law Code

      Marriages were arranged by the parents for their children. All parties involved signed a contract because without it the couple was not considered legally married. The husbands provided payment to the parents of the bride, in return receiving a dowry from the bride’s family.

      Women had very little rights in the marriage and failure to uphold their responsibilities were grounds for divorce. If the wife was not able to bear children or left home to engage in business, her husband could divorce her and did not have to return the dowry.

      In the case of divorce, if the man divorced the wife for no good reason, the wife could get the dowry back with just cause. Consequently, if the husband died the wife inherited his lands and would decide which son would receive the inheritance.

      Sexual Relations Under the Law Code of Hammurabi

      Husbands were permitted to partake in sexual relations outside of marriage, but not wives. A wife that committed adultery, with her lover, was thrown into the river. If one party was pardoned, the other half had to be as well. Incestuous relations between a daughter and her father would result in banishment. Incest between a mother and her son resulted in both being burned.

      Similar to many ancient societies, the father ruled the family and his wife with strict authority. No offense was off limits or unpunishable, as the father would embrace the “eye for an eye” aspect of the fundamental system of the Hammurabi Law Code.

      Source: Lauren Axelrod at
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      25.   Three Days More

      Suiwo, the disciple of Hakuin, was a good teacher. During one summer seclusion period, a pupil came to him from a southern island of Japan.

      Suiwo gave him the problem: "Hear the sound of one hand."

      The pupil remained three years but could not pass this test. One night he came in tears to Suiwo.

      "I must return south in shame and embarrassment," he said, "for I cannot solve my problem."

      "Wait one week more and meditate constantly," advised Suiwo. Still no enlightenment came to the pupil. "Try for another week," said Suiwo. The pupil obeyed, but in vain.

      "Still another week." Yet this was of no avail. In despair the student begged to be released, but Suiwo requested another meditation of five days. They were without result.

      Then he said: "Meditate for three days longer, then if you fail to attain enlightenment, you had better kill yourself."

      On the second day the pupil was enlightened.

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      Visitors are always welcome here, for each visitor is a gracious gift from god

      ~ Turkish Proverb ~

      The Middle Awash area of Ethiopia is the most persistently occupied place on Earth. Members of our lineage have lived, died, and been buried there for almost six million years. Now their bones are eroding out of the ground. Step by step they record how a primitive, small-brained primate evolved to conquer a planet. Where better to learn how we became human?

      In the Afar desert of Ethiopia, there are a lot of ways to die. There is disease, of course. One can also perish from wild animal attack, snakebite, falling off a cliff, or in a shoot-out between one of the Afar clans and the Issa people across the Awash River to the east.

      But life is fragile all over Africa. What is special here is the occasional durability of the deceased’s remains. The Afar Basin sits smack atop a widening rip in the Earth’s crust. Over time, volcanoes, earthquakes, and the slow accumulation of sediments have conspired to bury bones and then, much later, disgorge them to the surface as fossils. The process is ongoing. In August 2008 a young boy was taken by a crocodile in Yardi Lake, in an area of the Afar known as the Middle Awash.

      Three months later, Tim White, a paleoanthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley, stood at the lakeshore near where the child had died. Blanketed by lake sediments, he said, the boy’s bones had a decent chance of becoming fossils someday too. “People have been dying out here for millions of years,” said White. “Occasionally we get lucky and find what’s left .”

      The Middle Awash research project, which White co-directs with his Ethiopian colleagues Berhane Asfaw and Giday WoldeGabriel, announced its greatest good fortune last October: the discovery, 15 years earlier, of the skeleton of a member of our family that had died 4.4 million years ago at a place called Aramis, less than 20 miles north of today's Yardi Lake.

      Belonging to the species Ardipithecus ramidus, the adult female—"Ardi" for short—is more than a million years older than the famous Lucy skeleton and much more informative about one of evolution's holy grails: the nature of the common ancestor we share with chimpanzees. In the mediaphilic field of paleoanthropology, it has become almost a reflex to claim that one's new find "overturns all previous notions" of our origins. Tim White despises such hyperbole. But in Ardi's case, it seems to be true.

      Sensational as it is, however, Ar. ramidus represents just one moment in our evolutionary journey from an obscure ape to the species that holds in its hands the fate of the planet. There is no single better place on Earth to see how this transformation took place than the Middle Awash. In addition to Aramis, layers there representing 14 other time periods have yielded hominids—members of our exclusive lineage (also called hominins)—from forms even older and more primitive than Ar. ramidus to early incarnations of Homo sapiens.

      White had told me that many of these "windows of time" lie in such close proximity that one could literally walk from one to another in the course of a couple of days. He invited me to join the team in the field so they could prove it. Our plan was to begin in the present at Yardi Lake and walk backward through time, peeling away what makes us human, trait by trait, species by species.

      Read more: National Geographic
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      Archaeologists found a mass grave containing 97 infants at a Roman villa in the 
      Thames Valley and believe it may have been a brothel......

      Source: BBC History

      Contemporaries were horrified by the onset of the plague in the wet summer of 1348: within weeks of midsummer people were dying in unprecedented large numbers. Ralph Higden of Chester, the best known contemporary chronicler thought 'scarcely a tenth of mankind was left alive'.

      His analysis of the scale of the mortality is repeated by other commentators. The phrase 'there were hardly enough living to care for the sick and bury the dead' is repeated in various sources including a chronicle compiled at St Mary's Abbey, York. 

      The Malmesbury monk, writing in Wiltshire, reckoned that 'over England as a whole a fifth of men, women and children were carried to the grave'. The plague did not abate in the Winter but became even more virulent in the early months of 1349 and continued into 1350.

      Chroniclers and administrators make numerous references to the extension of graveyards, for example in Bristol, and to the mass burial of bodies in pits. At Rochester (Kent) men and women cast their dead children into communal graves 'from which arose such a stench that it was barely possible to go past a churchyard'.

      Modern excavation of such pits in London, near The Tower on the site of former Royal Mint and in the cathedral close at Hereford, testify to these extreme measures. In London the pits took the form of long, narrow trenches with bodies laid in orderly rows: at Hereford the evidence was of more haphazard committal to the earth.

      Today we have the benefit of hindsight. We know, as fourteenth-century people suspected, that the mortality caused by the bubonic plague of the Black Death was the worst demographic disaster in the history of the world. We also know that the mortality came to an end in the first outbreak soon after 1350; contemporaries could not have known this would happen - so far as they were concerned everyone might well die. Some treated each day as if it were their last: moral and sexual codes were broken, while the marriage market was revitalised by those who had lost partners in the plague.

      We also know that the plague returned regularly, first in 1361 and then in the 1370s and 1380s and, as an increasingly urban disease, right through until the Great Plague of 1665 in London. But by around 1670 it disappeared from England for over two centuries until a number of outbreaks occurred either side of 1900.

      It was not until these modern outbreaks that the bacillus was identified and connection between rats and plague discovered. Despite all their best efforts people in the historic period had no remedy against the mysterious plague, except as Daniel Defoe put it, to run away from it.

      Source: BBC History
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      The legend of La Llorona (Spanish for the Weeping Woman)

      All ideas, Marx would argue, are a product of their time and place in history. Marx formed his ideas as Europe embarked upon the massive transformations which changed traditional, peasant farming societies into modern, industrial ones. 

      As he wrote, for the first time large industrial cities were being developed. Filth, overcrowding, sickness and poverty existed alongside a new urban rich.

      Marx was not alone in offering an analysis of these changing conditions. What is distinctive about his thought is that he sees the key factor in understanding the development of these new societies, the thing which at the end of the day shapes how the society is organised, what we think and believe, who we are and what we can become, is not the new industrial technologies nor even the new urban spaces but the way in which production is organised.

      The new world that Marx was analysing was the first flowering of a mature capitalist system. Today we are so used to talk of ‘market forces’ that it is hard to remember that there is nothing natural or God-given about the capitalist economic system. It exists because human beings have created it and sustained it. The key difference between capitalism and the economic systems that had gone before it is the way in which the relationships between property and labour are organised.

      Capital lies in private hands and those who own it seek profit as their reward for its deployment in the economy. Investment - whether in farming, mining, manufacturing or services - requires workers if it is to see a return; there is no point building a factory unless there are workers to labour in it. As well as bringing into being a new class of owner, capitalism also requires a new kind of worker: one tied not by traditional loyalties or by relationships of servitude, but formally free labour entering into a contractual relationship with the employers for wages.

      When Marx looked at this relationship between the owners of capital and those who have to sell their labour power to survive, he saw not a fair deal, but a system of exploitation. 

      Read More: open2-net
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       Jarretta Hamilton is suing her former employer, Southland Christian School, in St. Cloud, Florida.

      Jarretta Hamilton was hired by Southland Christian School as a fourth-grade teacher in January of 2008. In 2009, she found out that she was expecting a baby. Soon afterwards, she went to talk to school officials maternity leave policy.

      Little did she know, but the maternity leave section of school policy was the least of her worries. Jarretta Hamilton had not long been married, which led school officials to specifically ask her the date that she conceived. Mrs. Hamilton explained that she conceived about three weeks prior to her marriage.

      The private Christian school decided to fire Mrs. Hamilton for failure to “maintain and communicate the values and purpose of [Southland Christian School].” NBC news shared a clip of a letter from Southland Christian School on the subject, “Jarretta was asked not to return because of a moral issue that was disregarded, namely fornication, sex outside of marriage.” The letter also claims that Mrs. Hamilton agreed to uphold standards related to school values on her job application, a fact that Mrs. Hamilton disputes.

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