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Link Love: Another Dracula Story

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Eric Kolinsky, host of the Imaginary Worlds podcast, lays out the origins of Bram Stoker's Dracula. The story, he argues, wasn't really based on Vlad the Impaler (Stoker hardly knew anything about him...). Instead, the character is based (perhaps) on the British actor Henry Irving and, of all things, Buffalo Bill. The podcast is 22 minutes long and totally worth a listen. (Click play on the Soundcloud embed or find it the Imaginary Worlds website.)

Link Love: (Almost) No One Thought the Earth Was Flat.

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Per our conversation in L02 today, a history of the people who knew the earth was round from Today I Found Out: "People in Columbus' Time Did Not Think the World Was Flat." (I should apologize, though, for overstating my point in class today. Some people before the 6th century BCE did think the earth was a round, flat disk. So, it isn't that no one thought the earth was flat...it's just that humans have know it was round for a really, really long time.)

Get this, though. Pythagoras and Aristotle and a bunch of people without spiffy telescopes or satellite images knew the world was a sphere, but there are still people TODAY who think the world is actually flat because there's a horizon. Thank goodness Neil DeGrasse Tyson is around to set things straight.

Link Love: Valentine's Day

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From NPR: "The Dark Origins of Valentine's Day": Read about the transformation of Valentine's Day from the Roman festival of Lupercalia to the Norman's "Galatin's Day" to the transformation of the holiday by Shakespeare, Chaucer, and finally Hallmark to the "loverly" holiday we think of today. (PS - This is also a nice example of what a descriptive blog post could look like... It clocks in at about 622 words and uses embedded images from Getty Images - a free, fair use option for hundreds of thousands of images.)

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Link Love: Epic of Gilgamesh

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A newly discovered tablet V of the epic of Gilgamesh. The left half of the whole tablet has survived and is composed of 3 fragments. The Sulaymaniyah Museum, Iraq. Photo © Osama S.M. Amin.
A newly discovered tablet V of the epic of Gilgamesh. The left half of the whole tablet has survived and is composed of 3 fragments. The Sulaymaniyah Museum, Iraq. Photo © Osama S.M. Amin.

This Sept. 2015 article from ancient.eu details newly found lines from the fifth tablet of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Of particular note for our class, the author notes that the twenty new lines suggest that Humbaba is not in fact a monster in the cedar forest, but rather a wealthy king who appears in  Gilgamesh's territory (and whom Enkidu may have spent some time with before meeting Gilgamesh). That quite alters the story, I think...

Link Love: Egypt and Rome

For those of you suffering UGC withdrawal (ha), here's a couple of links to sustain you:

  1. "Radar Scans in ing Tut's Tomb Suggest Hidden Chambers" (National Geographic): There might be more to King Tut's tomb (maybe the tomb of Nefertiti is hidden just behind a wall?)
  2. "From Gladiator Duels to Caesar's Last Words: The Myths of Ancient Rome" (NPR): Fresh Air interviews historian Mary Beard about her newest book, SPQR, and all of the things she loves (and doesn't) about popular portrayals of emperors, gladiators, and Roman women.

Link Love: Medieval Medicine

So, remember how I told you medicine wasn't so hot in medieval Europe? Well, I love when I'm proven wrong. Check out this recent Radiolab podcast episode in which the hosts interview microbiologist Freya Harrison and historian Christina Lee about "the best medicine" recommended by Bald's Leechbook. Harrison and Lee look at a surprisingly effective medieval recipe for (potentially) killing staph infections like antibiotic resistant MRSA.

You can listen via the embedded player below or click here for more info about the episode.

Link Love: Human Origins

Hands, from the Cave of Hands. By Mariano (Own work) [ GFDL  or  CC BY-SA 2.5 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Hands, from the Cave of Hands. By Mariano (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

For anyone interested in learning a bit more about human origins/evolution, two recent discoveries to check out:

  1. New info about food production/consumption by paleolithic peoples (forager societies from about 2 million BP-10,000 BP). Turns out they were making flour way before the agricultural revolution…
  2. Researchers in South Africa have uncovered the bones of a previously unknown hominid specieshomo naledi. Fascinating stuff.
  3. Tool use might date back further than we thought - to the histories of other hominids: "Maybe Early Humans Weren't the First to Get a Good Grip" (from NPR)