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Otzi is an endlessly fascinating subject. I have used him in my classroom before and wrote a post about it last year. Researchers never cease looking for new discoveries and in just the past few months issued new findings based on studies of Otzi's stomach contents right down to what they learned from examining the pollen recovered on the surface of the food. It is impressive that even 27 years later, there are new things to be learned. Because the studies of Otzi are well funded and well managed these new techniques will likely be useful for other mummified remains across the world. I updated the post today and though it is focused on teaching, there is a lot of information that should be of general interest.

historyarch  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: The Fall of Constantinople

I enjoyed reading Gibbon, or I should say skimming a lot of Gibbon. Much of what he wrote is outdated but I wouldn't say irrelevant. I enjoyed one commentator who as I paraphrase disagreed with the conclusion that Christianity caused the downfall of Rome by responding that the very religious Byzantines would be surprised to hear that and would take issue.

I forget the name of the historian who said it, but his observation was basically "history is a conversation because no one can fully describe every event or know its precise impact." (another paraphrase). Gibbon did get the conversation started and his flawed conclusions led to more research and differing conclusions. I think about the disadvantages historians of the past had in not having access to primary sources, the difficulties in gathering materials, etc. It's much easier today of course.

I like your remark about the ancient world going "poof." The Byzantines thought of themselves as Roman even though they were quite different but as I tried to emphasize in the article, those changes occurred very gradually over centuries. One thing I have learned in writing about Charlemagne, the Franks and now the Eastern Empire is how hard multiple parties tried to restore Rome after it fell. Several like Theodoric and Justinian had some limited success. Even a millennium later, the urge to restore the glory of Rome and all its achievements contributed to the emergence of the Renaissance and has echoed throughout history ever since.

Actually, that would make for a pretty good post.

Thanks for taking the time to read my article and post your comment.

Following the Kardashians and other dreck that passes for American culture also probably lowers one's IQ.

historyarch  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: The Fall of Constantinople

The Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 ended the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) that had lasted over 1,500 years by doing something 22 other besiegers could not do (not including German Crusaders), get past the historic city Walls of Theodosius. The Ottomans used cannon, but not just any cannon. The largest was 27 feet long, able to hurl stone balls weighing over half a ton. The fall of Constantinople cut one f the last links to the Ancient World and symbolically represented the beginning of the Age of Gunpowder and a new form of warfare.

The successful landing of Apollo 11 is one of the great accomplishments in human history. Neil Armstrong became the first human being to set foot on another celestial body. That achievement was rooted in the great political conflict of the era, the Cold War. Since both sides were precluded from fighting each other because of atomic weapons, conflict manifested itself in the form of just about every possible endeavor. US and Soviet technological competition was one of the most important and consequential aspects and the Space Race cannot be properly understood solely as a scientific foray or a battle for international prestige, it was both.

Wolfe is not a household name like Tom Clancy but that doesn't mean his work was not influential. For example, Wolfe had a penchant for summing up American culture and/or cultural facets in succinct and memorable ways. He described the self-centered focus on self fulfillment of the 70s as the "Me Decade." He also created the understanding of "good ol' boy" we have today in an article he wrote on NASCAR in the early 70s. There are many others. Some of the phrases he coined have become so ingrained, you aren't even aware of it. I read somewhere that Wolfe is quoted 150 times in the Oxford English Dictionary.

You can't judge the books by the quality of the movies. Wolfe was not involved in the film version.

Bonfire of the Vanities has been described as the book that defined the 80s. You never know how literary reputation will develop. Some authors are very popular in their day and fade out. Some get more popular after they die. We'll see how Wolfe's work fares over time. I have been surprised to note that in obits like this, there was no mention of The Right Stuff or The Painted Word. He's already made a pretty big impact in coining a number of phrases that are in the popular vernacular. You may not even realize he created them.

This obit is pretty weak. The NY Times, NPR and The Atlantic wrote much better ones. Here's one:

This is awful. People should immediately put away their phones and stop looking things up on the internet or reading their email all the time.

-Sent from my iPhone

Klaus Schmidt, who began the excavations, noted similarities in stone tools at Gobeckli Tepe and other sites which was one of his methods for dating. (see: Some of the male figures bear similarities to those found elsewhere as well. So clearly, Gobeckli Tepe was not isolated. From the Gobeckli website, the archaeologists date the most recent phase to be 9,600-8,000 BC (see" which also notes the comparison of carved figures). Dating these sites is imprecise but that could indicate only a 500 year gap which may actually be much less if estimates at Gobeckli Tepe and Çatalhöyük are off-- which is a distinct possibility.

Further, much of Gobeckli Tepe is unexcavated so it is risky to draw too many conclusions. It may have been abandoned in 9,000 or even 8,000 BC. There also may be other as yet undiscovered sites that will establish a clear line of development. Jericho and Çatalhöyük suffered devastating destruction in ancient times, there may have been much more sophisticated artistic endeavors that were destroyed, taken away or have yet to be found. Gobeckli Tepe was intentionally buried which likely means more is preserved.

I agree with everyone here that Gobeckli Tepe is fascinating, leaves us with many more questions than answers and may imply a different societal evolution than previously supposed.

I was sort of kidding, I thought adding the reference to chewing gum would make that apparent. Oh well, humor is tough to get across in a comment sometimes.

If there was a previous society, they must not have produced plastic or chewing gum which will probably outlast the human race by billions of years.

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