Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mythical Victory
Relief of Rameses II at Kadesh

In c. 1274 B.C.E., Rameses II, Pharaoh of Egypt engaged in battle with the Hittite King Muwatallis II at the city of Kadesh in modern day Syria. The resulting battle can only be described as a serious defeat for the Egyptian forces. But in an example of propaganda and the use of the big lie Rameses managed to largely successfully portray his defeat has a victory and to throw such dust into people’s critical faculties that still to this day people think of the battle has a tie or a draw at worst.1

What it was, was a serious, indeed disastrous defeat.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Dark Side


The Roman Empire is too this day greatly admired, but a lot of that admiration is based on the fact that it occurred so long ago so that the bruises of everyday knowledge of Roman power are softened by the nostalgia of distance in time. It is also helped by the fact that Greco-Roman culture was and is so widely admired as the foundation of Western Civilization.

The result is a tendency to whitewash the regime of the Emperors and to represent it as a benign institution except of course when “bad” Emperor’s ruled. Of course it is a common shibboleth in classic scholarship that a “bad” Emperor was one disliked by the Senate. The bottom line is that if the institution of Emperorship was so open to be so easily being “misused” then of course the problem wasn’t just with the individual but the institution as well.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Lost Civilization

Great Bath at Mohenjo-daro 

Generally the first great civilizations are considered to be Mesopotamia and Egypt. Mesopotamia is considered to be earlier but Egypt was civilized by 3000 B.C.E. In Mesopotamia the process by which civilization developed seems to have been, from the archaeological data both long and “slow”. And it is a process that we can chart through archaeological digs. The process by which farmers settled in the alluvial plains of southern Mesopotamia, congregated in villages that later coalesced into towns that became city states is a process that took many centuries.1

Monday, September 09, 2013

Ironed Out
Movie Poster
Iron Man 1

One of the most interesting phenomena’s of the last decade has been the truly astounding success of the Iron Man franchise. The movies have been incredibly successful earning in excess of two billion dollars.1 Also to a surprising extent the films work as movies even though they are basically popcorn action flicks.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

More is the Pity
Book Cover

Years ago I did a brief review of Niall Ferguson’s book The Pity of War for the Amazon website.1 I have decided to put it up here. This version is an expanded version of the original with references.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Kissing Cousins

Kanzi, his Language Board and Susan

One of the most interesting relationships that humans have with the world they live in is the one we have with our nearest biological kin. In this case our Chimpanzee and Bonobo relatives. What is particularly interesting is the human desire to deny, downplay and frankly ignore the relationship. It appears that Bonobos and Chimpanzees are the embarrassing cousins that we don’t want to be reminded exist.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The Ruling Ptolemaic Queens
A Brief Overview

Egyptian Base Relief
Of Cleopatra

In a previous posting I discussed briefly the few ruling Queens of Ancient Egypt. Here I will discuss the ruling Queens of the last dynasty to rule Egypt; the Ptolemaic dynasty.1

Sunday, September 01, 2013

A Tantalising Figure

Vortigern being presented-
 with his Saxon Bride

The period after the Roman’s abandoned, or were driven out of England is perhaps the most obscure period in English history we know virtually nothing about this time period. In fact historical knowledge of any reliability only really begins again in the late 6th century and not coincidentally at the same time the Christianity was reintroduced to England.1

During this early part of this time period two sources refer to a King named Vortigern who supposedly invited the Anglo-Saxons to settle in exchange for service as military units. Supposedly the Saxons had then risen in revolt and took control over much of England until they were halted by the Britons lead by Arthur. I have previously discussed why it is likely that Arthur is a mythological character but it appears that Vortigern is actually a real person.2