Quote of the Month:
Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom. -Thomas Jefferson
I would rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent than in the extent of my powers and dominion.
Alexander the Great
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Re: article below, the Nordic Bronze Age is c 1700-500 BCE.
Bronze Age Grave in Denmark Contained Egyptian Bead - Archaeology Magazine
As a follow on to Tom's post, the A.D. system is attributed to Dionysius Exiguus who, in 525 CE, began using it to identify date on which Easter would fall. He pegged his system to what is referred to as the incarnation, birth or beginning of the life of, Jesus, with anno domini, being year 1, there being no Year Zero in the system. Notwithstanding, scholars generally now believe that Jesus was born some time before the death of Herod the Great in 4 BCE, thus making the a. domini designation off by a few years. The CE year 1 is, of course pegged to the original 1 AD.
Bird lover words for the day: a gaggle of geese; an exaltation of larks; a parliament of owls; a charm of plovers; a covey of quail; and a kettle of vultures. One more: a murmuration of starlings (definition of this onomatopoetic word is the act of murmuring: the utterance of low continuous sounds or complaining noises [see dictionary.reference.com/browse/murmuration]. Technically, its a flock of starlings, but I much prefer the word for their synchronized fight.
A follow on to our 11/19 post on Zenobia, the Queen of Palmyra: Constantine the Greats father, Constantius Chlorus (Constantius the Pale), served as one of Roman Emperor Aurelians bodyguards (Protectores Augusti Nostri) in the battle against Zenobia. Two decades later, he was Constantius I, Emperor of the Roman Empire (293 to 306).
Although Kat and Eisen thought they saw the Worlds smallest church when they visited S.t Trillos in Llandrillo yn Rhos, Wales, but they were wrong. Cross Island Chapel, in Oneida, New York has only two seats inside. Supposedly, it is 28.68 square feet and has only enough room for a preacher and two others. St. Trillos is, of course, much older. It was founded about 546 CE whereas Cross Island dates only to 1989. Happy New Year!
Around 1900 CE, Greek sponge divers found the Antikathera mechanism in a Roman ship that sank near the island of Antikathera in 70 to 60 BCE. It is generally believed that the Antikathera mechanism was made in nearby Rhodes possibly as early as 200 BCE, but more likely around 150 BCE to 100 BCE. Rhodes is suggested because the Greek astronomer Hipparchus lived there. However, some scholars, for example Magdalini Anastasiou, Attilio Mastrocinque and Adrienne Mayor, believe it may actually be the device Strabo called the Globe of Billarus. If so, the Globe would have been on that Roman ship because Strabo said the Roman general, Lucullus took it when he conquered Sinope (the capital of Pontus) in 72 - 71 BCE during the third Pontic War. The Globe was never heard of again. Mastrocinque believes thats because it sank to the bottom of the sea at Antikythera.
See, Box: Celestial mirror from the deep: Where did the Antikythera mechanism come from? by Jo Marchant Published online 24 November 2010 | Nature468, 496-498 (2010) | doi:10.1038/468496a. Happy New Year!
Quote of the Month:
Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. -Thomas Jefferson
The Library of Congress (LOC), founded in 1800 and initially housed in the Capitol, is reputedly now the largest library on the world. The LOCs initial collection was destroyed in 1814 by the British during the War of 1812. A new LOC collection began in 1815, when Congress approved the purchase of Thomas Jeffersons personal library of 6,487 books. The LOC website says that Jefferson anticipated controversy over the nature of his collection, which included books in foreign languages and volumes of philosophy, science, literature, and other topics not normally viewed as part of a legislative library. He wrote, I do not know that it contains any branch of science which Congress would wish to exclude from their collection; there is, in fact, no subject to which a Member of Congress may not have occasion to refer." PS: The LOC owns the Waldseemller Map. Published in 1507, it is the first known map to use the name America.
In Renegades, Susan mentions the twin sisters, Agnes Smith Lewis and Margaret Dunlop Gibson, who, in 1892, found the Syriac Sinaiticus at St. Catherines Monastery in the Sinai. The Sinaticus was a 4th century translation of the Gospels into Syriac. In 1896, these same twins identified fragments from the geniza at the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat (medieval Cairo), as important religious and secular writings from as early as the 9th century. They showed the fragments to Rabbi Schechter at Cambridge (Kat and Dafs alma mater). He ultimately brought 193,000 manuscripts back to Cambridge, where they now form the Taylor-Schechter Cairo Genizah Collection. A geniza is a designated area of a synagogue where worn-out texts containing Gods name are stored prior to proper disposal.
Zenobia, the great queen of Palmyra, claimed to be a descendant of Cleopatra. She became queen of the Palmyrenes following the death of her husband Odaenathus in 267 CE. She proceeded to expand the empire, taking Egypt from the Romans in 269 CE. She went on to conquer much of Anatolia, Chalcedon, Syria, Palestine and Lebanon. She ruled until 274 CE, when she was defeated and taken as a hostage to Rome by Aurelian. Her Cleopatra claim comes through Drusilla of Mauretania (38 CE), a granddaughter of Cleopatra Selene and King Juba II. Cleopatra Selene was the daughter of Cleopatra VII and Marc Antony. This same Drusilla also claimed descent from a sister of Hannibal and from a brother of the Carthaginian queen, Dido. Zenobia's paternal ancestry can be traced six generations. It includes Gaius Julius Bassianus whose daughter married the emperor Septimus Severus.Aurelius said of Zenobia: "Those who speak with contempt of the war I am waging against a woman, are ignorant both of the character and power of Zenobia. It is impossible to enumerate her warlike preparations of stones, of arrows, and of every species of missile weapons and military engines.â€
Boudica, known in Welsh as Buddug, was queen of the Celtic Iceni tribe. The Iceni initially became allies of Rome during Claudius reconquest of Britain in 43 CE. As an allied kingdom, they kept their independence, but only during the life of their allying ruler. That ruler, in turn, had to will his kingdom to Rome. When Boudicas husband died, his kingdom was annexed by Rome as if it had been conquered. In 60-61 CE, she led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. According to Tacitus, she routed a Roman legion, killed as many as 70,000 Roman civilians and burned Londinium (London) to the ground. Archaeologists have found a layer of burnt debris almost half a meter thick that shows the extent of that destruction. London. Although she was defeated, Suetonius said the uprising had almost caused Nero to abandon Britain.
Quote of the Month:
The natural course of the human mind is certainly from credulity to skepticism. -Thomas Jefferson (1807)
When Susan mentions the “Throne of the Devil” to Marta, she is, of course, referring to the Altar of Zeus built in the 2nd century BCE in Pergamon (now Bergama, Turkey). The entire altar was dismantled in the 1870s and is now in Berlin’s Pergamon Museum. When John of Patmos chastises the Christian congregation in Pergamon (Revelation 2:12-17; Pergamon is one of his seven churches gone astray; it was the one that needed to repent), he says, “I know where you dwell, where the throne of Satan is….”
When Jon told Susan that there definitely were pre-Clovis sites, one site he had in mind was at the Paisley Five Mile Point Caves in rural Oregon. It may be the oldest known human habitation site in the Americas, pre-dating Clovis by 1,000 years. The U.S. National Park Service today added the Paisley Caves site to its National Register of Historic Places.
Pergamon, the home of the Throne of the Devil, had a library (founded in the second century BCE) that was second only to Alexandria’s. Mark Antony gifted a portion of the Pergamon library’s collection to Cleopatra. He was said to be atoning for the burning of a substantial portion of the Library of Alexandria (founded in 295 BCE) during the Roman civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey. In 48 BCE, Caesar had ordered the ships in the Alexandrian harbor to be set on fire during a battle with Ptolemy XIII, who sided with Pompey. The fire spread and destroyed much of the great library.
One of the earliest libraries (an organized collection or archive of information) is Ashurbanipal’s library at Nineveh (founded in 668 - 627 BCE). It is said that Alexander included a library in his plan for Alexandria after seeing the one in Nineveh. Alexander died before it could be built. His general, Ptolemy, began the Library of Alexandria around 300 BCE. According to Carl Sagan, “This legendary library was the mind and glory of the greatest city on earth, and was the first centre for scientific research in the history of the world.”
One of the more complete copies of the Epic of Gilgamesh was found at Ashurbanipal’s library. Gilgamesh included one of the many great “Flood” stories, other examples being Plato’s Timeus and the Old Testament’s story of Noah. Some suggest that the recurring theme of a great flood in ancient literature reflects rising waters during the end of the last glacial period (about 10,500 BCE). Adrienne Mayor goes further to suggest that these flood stories were inspired by seashells and fossil fish found in mountainous areas. See Mayor, Adrienne. The First Fossil Hunters. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011.
The ruins of the Pergamon Library are found by going north from what’s left of the Throne of the Devil to the ruins of the Temple of Athena. It is just northwest of there. The library, which included both papyrus and parchment documents, was begun by Eumenes II (197-158 BCE) to emulate the Library of Alexandria. Parchment was invented in Pergamon when Egypt stopped exporting papyrus. Whereas papyrus is made from the pith of a sedge (Cyperus papyrus) that was common in the Egyptian Delta, parchment basically is limed (vs. tanned) animal skin that has been scraped and dried.
A summary of a recent discussion between Renegades characters Eisen and Susan: Niō are the two angry looking, muscular protectors of the Buddha usually seen at the door to Buddhist temples. Perhaps the most beautiful pair, made around the end of the 12th century, stands at the south gate of Tōdai-ji Temple in Nara. Eisen described the Niō as embodying beginning and the end, life and death, or everything. Susan commented that the meaning was similar to an appellation of Jesus in Revelation (“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Rev 22:13. See also Rev. 1:8 and 21:6). For more information about the Niō, see, for example, http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/nio.shtml
If you ever find yourself crossing Nevada on US Highway 50, you surely will agree that its 1956 nickname is still applicable. In July of that year, Life magazine called it the Loneliest Road in America. But then, compared to LA's I-405, even Michigan Avenue looks lonely.
If you accept the definition of a library as an organized collection or archive of information, then there were libraries at el-Amarna, where the Pharoah Akhetaten reigned (about 1350 BCE) and even earlier in Sumer (about 2600 BCE). Although the Library of Celsus at Ephesus (about 135 CE) is well recognized by what is left of its beautiful faÃ§ade, it was not a particularly large library, having an estimated 12,000 scrolls. It was destroyed in 262 CE by an invasion of the Goths. The third and fourth centuries were not good for libraries. What was left of the Library at Alexandria was finished off by an invasion by Aurelian around 270 CE. The final blow came from the Coptic (Egyptian) Pope Theophilus in 391 CE. (Next: the Imperial library of Constantinople, the last great library of the ancient world, and the Library of Congress, which after it was destroyed in the War of 1812, was rebuilt from a core of Thomas Jefferson’s Library to today, with over 838 miles of shelves).
The Anla Libertatis, funded by Gaius Asinius Pollio in 39 BCE, was said to be Rome’s first civic library. It was intended to rival the Library of Alexandria. The Anla Libertatis was the first to separate works into Greek and Latin, a design that would become the standard. We then fast forward to Constantine who reunited the West and East of the Roman Empire and chose Constantinople as its capital in 330 CE. Constantine was said to have collected religious texts for conservation (copying them from papyrus to the more durable parchment). However, the non-Christian philosopher Themistius says that it was Constantine’s son, Constantius II (337-361 CE), who began the Imperial Library of Constantinople to preserve the literary heritage of ancient Hellenism. Though damaged many times over the centuries by fire and ransacked in 1204 CE by the Fourth Crusade, it lasted for over a 1,000 years until 1453 when Constantinople was conquered by the Ottomans. The Imperial Library is sometimes called the last great library of the ancient world.
They say that Nero fiddled away while Rome burned in 64 CE. However, there were no fiddles (or violins) until sometime in the middle ages. At best, he might have played the lyre, a small, harp-like instrument not to be confused with the lyra, an instrument from Byzantine times that is played with a bow. The lyra is still played in the Balkans, Greece and Turkey. Also, Tacitus said Nero was at Actium that night. Nero came up because Susan erred with respect to Nero and Luther being ‘Antichrists.’ There are some references to Luther as the ‘Antichrist’ because of his criticism of the Catholic Church. However, it was Luther, in response to a Papal Bull of Leo X, who called the Catholic Church the ‘Antichrist.’
Quote of the Month:
For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead... -Thomas Jefferson
In his Life of Crassus, Plutarch provides us with the longest and best-known account of the rebellion of the Thracian, Spartacus, in 73–71 BCE. Did he and Mithradates plot to overthrow Rome? Quoting a line from Alfred E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad, “I tell the tale that I heard told. Mithradates, he died old.”
In about 1855, Jefferson Davis brought a herd of camels to the US to serve as pack animals in the Southwest. According to an April 1934 story in the Oakland Tribune, the last known descendant of those camels, died in the LA County Zoo in 1934. Hadji Ali, better known as Hi Jolly, was brought over from Turkey to run the camel program. Hi Jolly is buried in Quartzite, AZ.
Susan Graves loves the beauty of Clovis points. A new study [G. Sanchez et al, Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA http://doi.org/tr4 (2014)] suggests that the Clovis people hunted elephant-like animals called gomphotheres around El Fin del Mundo in Sonora, Mexico around 13,400 years ago. This makes El Fin one of the oldest and southernmost Clovis sites known. It also suggests that gomphotheres survived longer than expected.
Julia Ward Howe’s husband, Sam Howe, was one of the “secret six” who backed John Brown’s 1859 abolitionist raid on Harper’s Ferry. Coincidentally, in 1861, Ms. Howe heard the marching song, “John Brown’s Body,” while attending a military review with Reverend James Clarke. Union soldiers had replaced the lyrics from an old religious camp song, turning it into the popular marching song. The Reverend suggested she write more appropriate lyrics. So, on the night of November 18, 1861, she wrote the poem “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” which was then set to the music of “John Brown’s Body.” The “Battle Hymn” supposedly became Lincoln's favorite song.
For those of you who have read Renegades among the Tumbleweeds, our posts lay a foundation for the next book which hopefully will be out next spring: Religion in Ancient Rome is an interesting mix of cultures. Cicero, who became an augur, saw religion as a source of social order. Livy put the 12 “Great Gods” of Rome in male/female pairs [Jupiter/Juno; Mars/Venus; Neptune/Minerva; Apollo/Diana; Vulcan/Vesta; Mercury/Ceres]. Roman policy with respect to religions of conquered people generally was one of absorption rather than eradication as a way of maintaining social stability. Mithraism, a new religion practiced by many Romans in the 1st to 4th centuries CE, probably was not derived from the Persian worship of Mithras.
As Eisen told Kat in Renegades, many cultures have boats shaped like the coracles of the Welsh and the Mandans. And many Mesopotamian cultures have stories of catastrophic floods; for example, the Epic of Gilgamesh from Nineveh and the story of Noah’s Ark (Genesis 6-9), from the Jews of the Old Testament. The British Museum’s Dr. Irving Finkel says that’s natural, since Mesopotamia’s basically a flood plain; there is even evidence of a cataclysmic flood around 5,000 BCE. Finkel’s new book, The Ark Before Noah, Decoding the Story of the Flood, says that one of the museum’s cuneiform tablets pre-dating Noah by at least 1,500 years, tells how to build an Ark. The Ark was round, not oblong. In fact, it was a coracle. Eisen can’t wait to tell Kat. Chivers, Tom. “Irving Finkel: reader of the lost Ark,” The Telegraph 19 January 2014.
Since our characters Susan and Marta love birds, we thought you should know that the Audubon Society has decided that common names of birds must be capitalized. Hence, it is now proper to refer to Phainopeplas, but javelinas will remain javelinas.