Younger Dryas and Gobekli Tepe

Interesting new theory: a comet killed off the wooly mammoth – and impelled the rise of civilization!

Experts at the University of Edinburgh analysed mysterious symbols carved onto stone pillars at Gobekli Tepe in southern Turkey, to find out if they could be linked to constellations.

The markings suggest that a swarm of comet fragments hit Earth at the exact same time that a mini-ice age struck, changing the entire course of human history.

Scientists have speculated for decades that a comet could be behind the sudden fall in temperature during a period known as the Younger Dryas. But recently the theory appeared to have been debunked by new dating of meteor craters in North America where the comet is thought to have struck.

However, when engineers studied animal carvings made on a pillar – known as the vulture stone – at Gobekli Tepe they discovered that the creatures were actually astronomical symbols which represented constellations and the comet.

Using a computer programme to show where the constellations would have appeared above Turkey thousands of years ago, they were able to pinpoint the comet strike to 10,950 BC, the exact time the Younger Dryas begins according to ice core data from Greenland.

The Younger Dryas is viewed as a crucial period for humanity, as it roughly coincides with the emergence of agriculture and the first Neolithic civilisations.

Before the strike, vast areas of wild wheat and barley had allowed nomadic hunters in the Middle East to establish permanent base camps. But the difficult climate conditions following the impact forced communities to come together and work out new ways of maintaining the crops, through watering and selective breeding. Thus farming began, allowing the rise of the first towns. 

Emphasis added. There’s more at the link. Gobekli Tepe has been noticed earlier on this blog.

Heligoland

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Heligoland coat of arms. Wikipedia.

From the National Post:

‘Blow the bloody place up’: Why, 70 years ago, Britain blew up an entire German island

In 1947, Britain had a problem. It had thousands of tonnes of explosives left over from the Second World War. And it also had a German island in the North Sea that it hated.

So, 70 years ago this week, the Royal Navy enacted an elegant solution: Use the explosives to blow the island to hell.

“Blow the bloody place up,” was reportedly the instructions given to F.T. Woosnam, the British naval engineer tasked with making the island of Heligoland disappear.

The preparation wasn’t overly technical.

For nearly a year, crews had simply stacked up more than 7,000 tonnes of old munitions and wired them together: Depth charges, old torpedoes, boxes of grenades and stacks of aerial bombs.

Photos from the era show crews nonchalantly kicking dismantled torpedoes into large heaps.

The resulting April 19 explosion, triggered with the push of a button by a sharply dressed naval commander, not only shattered every vestige of human habitation on the island — but permanently altered the topography of the place.

The United Kingdom had plenty of reasons to hate Heligoland. For starters, the island had once been part of the British Empire after it was captured during the Napoleonic Wars.

But finding no use for a windy outcrop filled with vacationers, in 1890 London handed it over to the newly formed German Empire in exchange for the African island of Zanzibar.

To the Brits’ chagrin, the Germans then proceeded to spend two world wars using Heligoland as a fortress from which to attack the U.K.

The island was the site of the first naval battle of the First World War, and the first major aerial battle of the Second World War. In both conflicts, it was a key forward base for submarines looking to starve the U.K. into submission.

After the first war in 1918, the victorious Allies had simply ordered the island to be demilitarized.

But when that clearly hadn’t worked, the victors of another war settled on a backup plan: Detonate the place so severely that it could never again be used for military purposes.

“A very reasonable way of celebrating Hitler’s birthday,” proclaimed the narrator of British newsreel documenting the destruction.

Then, just for good measure, the Royal Air Force spent the rest of the 1940s using Heligoland as a target site for their bombers.

Only in 1952 were Heligolanders allowed to move back.

Why the Brits didn’t just keep it I do not know. I seem to remember that the place played a role in the John Malkovich movie Shadow of the Vampire (2000). Click on the link to read more and to see newsreel footage of the explosion.

From Dr. Furnish

Reinhardt professor Tim Furnish draws our attention to a blog post of his from Good Friday in 2014, discussing Isma’ili Islam’s view of the Crucifixion.

For some 14 centuries, the vast majority of Muslims, following mainstream Islamic doctrine, has denied that Jesus was crucified—and thus, of course, that He was Resurrected. The proof text for this Islamic rejection of the central teaching of Christianity is Sura al-Nisa’ [IV]:157:

And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah .” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.

Muslim commentators such as Ibn Kathir, et al., have long maintained that Jesus was taken to heaven and someone else—probably Judas—was crucified in His place. Other Islamic writers over the centuries have held slightly differing positions, but the bottom-line conclusion has always been that Jesus’ Crucifixion is a Christian lie. However, one group of Muslims—the (heterodox) Isma’ili (Sevener) Shi`is—has for centuries held a unique view of Jesus’ Crucifixion, as elucidated in the paper by Khalil Andani, “`They Killed Him Not.’ The Crucifixion in Shi`a Isma’ili Islam” (2011). Andani makes several points herein—that: the Qur’anic text does not deny the Crucifixion per se—but rather that the Jews perpetrated it; over the centuries Muslim commentators have held views ranging “from total denial to actually asserting that the crucifixion did take place historically;” and, most importantly, “it was only the human body or the nahut of Jesus that was killed and crucified upon the Cross while the eternal reality of lahut of Christ can never be killed or crucified.”

Illustrations and links in the original – read the whole thing.

Tartans

A lot of Scottish highland “tradition” is not medieval at all, but a product of the nineteenth century – this includes one of the most Scottish emblems of all: the woven pattern known as tartan. And yet, to a North American, that is still a very long time indeed – and never underestimate the power of nationalist feeling to make people cherish something anyway! (I remember, in Canada, when inukshuks and the dish poutine seem to have come out of nowhere in the early 1990s to assume instant status as national icons, and when Bob and Doug Mackenzie taught us that “hoser” was a typically Canadian insult, even though I had never heard it before their schtick became famous c. 1982.) Tartan, according to Wikipedia,

is made with alternating bands of coloured (pre-dyed) threads woven as both warp and weft at right angles to each other. The weft is woven in a simple twill, two over—two under the warp, advancing one thread at each pass. This forms visible diagonal lines where different colours cross, which give the appearance of new colours blended from the original ones. The resulting blocks of colour repeat vertically and horizontally in a distinctive pattern of squares and lines known as a sett.

It is doubtful that particular tartans represented anything specific prior to the mid-nineteenth century, but with the Victorian “invention of tradition” they came to be associated with particular Scottish regions, clans, or institutions, with a certain amount of prescriptiveness. In reality, most people choose which tartan to wear for aesthetic reasons alone, although by the strictest standards of propriety, they should not. But the good news is that tartan is a tradition that has become universalized. You don’t need to steal someone else’s tartan, because you can always get one of your own, and register it with the Scottish Register of Tartans. Naturally this appeals to groups with Scottish connections, but all sorts of tartans exist, or so I discovered from Facebook on Tartan Day (April 6). Some examples:

17796562_10154362353636892_6086054473039248723_nRoyal College of Physicians, Edinburgh. Tartans do not need to be allusive but this one is: four colors represent the four humors of Hippocrates – blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. (Presumably this is for historical reasons only and not reflective of the current curriculum.) My friend Rick Num brought this one to my attention.

 

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“Organised by Dunedin (Florida) local doctor Pat Snair and designed and woven by Lochcarron of Scotland for the Toronto Blue Jays – the Canadian city’s baseball team which does its winter training in Florida.”

 

 

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“A tartan created for Domino’s Pizza Group which integrates its well-known brand colours. The Tartan will be used to mark the opening of a new store in Glasgow and will be made available for team members who would like to wear a kilt.”

 

 

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“Designed by Polly Wittering of House of Edgar to commemorate the return of the Stone of Destiny from Westminster.”

 

 

 

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“Designed in December 1981 by Peter E. MacDonald. Commemorates the 250th Anniversary of founding of Georgia but is now widely regarded as the Georgia State tartan. Was designed at the suggestion of Dr Micheil MacDonald following discussions with officers of Stone Mountain Games… Adopted as the official State tartan by the State legislature on 1st May 1997.”

 

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“Based on the colours of the International Bear Brotherhood flag, this tartan is the first in the Equality series of kilts for Kilted Bros, LLC.”

 

 

 

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“Full name is ‘Metropolitan Atlanta Police Emerald Society Pipe Band’. Designed by Thomas D. Alexander III and Marjorie Warren with help from Alistair Buchan of Lochcarron. The Society was formed to promote brotherhood and to care for their own. The Society is open to all interested persons.”

 

 

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“The University of Georgia tartan was commissioned for UGA by Mr. Estes & Mrs. Hoover, who hired Matthew Newsome of the Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, NC, to design the tartan. Ownership of this tartan has now been transferred to the University of Georgia.”

 

 

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“Designed in 2002 by Dr. Phil Smith for Auburn University, Montgomery, Alabama, USA. Threadcount corrected in Sept 2004 in line with designer’s note. Sole agents are Scotpress of Auburn, Alabama.”

 

 

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“Also called ‘We Are Crimson,’ this was the winning tartan in a design contest for an official University of Alabama tartan sponsored by the College of Human Environmental Sciences at the University of Alabama. ‘I wanted my tartan to be easily recognized as the University’s plaid,’ Rich said of her design. ‘So, naturally I wanted the predominant colors to be crimson and white, with accents of black and grey. Secondly, I wanted it to represent the entire University, so I used 13 lines to represent the 13 colleges that comprise The University of Alabama today. Then, in the center of the design, the innermost white square represents Denny Chimes, and the whole central plaid represents the Quad because the Quad is the heart of the campus. The four corners of the centre plaid speak to our past and represent the four original buildings that survived the fire set by the Union troops during the Civil War.'”

I think that is the most allusive tartan I’ve ever encountered.

The Register (which since 2009 has been administered by the National Archives of Scotland) has its own tartan and, I’m pleased to note, its own coat of arms. Apparently it recognizes some 4000 tartan designs – which for now does not include one for Reinhardt University.

Vimy Ridge

The Battle of Vimy Ridge, which took place 100 years ago this coming week, represented an allied victory over the Germans during the First World War. In particular, according to Canadian historian Pierre Berton, it marked the moment when Canada “truly emerged as a nation” – the four Canadian divisions coming together to take a fortified knoll outside Givenchy-en-Gohell and capture some 4000 prisoners. Wikipedia suggests that the nation-building story only came about during the latter part of the twentieth century (i.e. during the 1960s, when the Liberals were trying to downplay Canada’s British connection). Be that as it may, it is clear that the battle, as a rare victory in an otherwise disastrous and pointless war, has become important to Canada’s psyche. The British commanding officer, Field Marshall Julian Byng (elevated to the peerage in 1919 as Baron Byng of Vimy) was appointed Governor General of Canada in 1921, and Vimy Ridge was one of the eight sites granted to Canada for the construction of memorials; Walter Seymour Allward’s winning design was opened by King Edward VIII in 1936.

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Wikipedia.

And check out the Vimy 100 page at the National Post, whose current top story relates the news that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and 25,000 other Canadians are headed to France for ceremonies marking the centenary.

UPDATE: Dartblog covers Vimy Ridge also. Check out the photo of the current $20 bill and the link to Coach’s Corner.

UPDATE: This morning I discovered my Vimy pin. These appeared in the wake of the refurbishment of the monument in 2007.

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Gift of Ron Good.

I also noticed that Mike Babcock was wearing one last night as his team made the playoffs for the first time since 2013. (I don’t know why he wasn’t smiling more).

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Apparently the Vimy pin is now “April’s poppy,” according to the Vimy Foundation website. It proceeds to explain that:

The four coloured boxes represent the four Canadian divisions which fought together for the first time on April 9, 1917 at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The red represents the First Division, the dark blue the Second Division, the grey-blue the Third Division, and the green the Fourth Division. The order of the ribbon’s colours (left to right) reflects the positioning of the four Canadian Divisions facing the German defences on the day of the battle.

Thoughts on Book Eight of the Histories of Herodotus

Book Eight centers on the battle of Salamis. If Thermopylae, the inspiring defeat, is the better-known battle, Salamis was an actual victory, won through superior Greek tactics, in a venue where Greeks feel particularly at home: the sea. The Homeric-style ship catalogues in 8.1 and 8.43 are a nice touch, and the divine interventions are also reminiscent of Homer, such as a storm destroying the Persian fleet in 8.12 (“done by a god, that the Persian armament might be made equal to that of the Greeks and not much greater”), or the miracles at Delphi (8.37), in which arms moved themselves, and lightning struck and chunks of cliff fell on the enemy. Themistocles himself in 8.109 attributes the victories to “gods and heroes” who desired that one man should not rule both Europe and Asia.

The Olympic games are characteristically Greek and used by Herodotus to burnish the Greeks’ reputation. First, there is the passage in 8.26 when the deserters from Arcadia explain to the Persians that the Greeks compete in the games for an olive crown, to which Tigranes exclaims, “What sort of men have you led us to fight against, who contend, not for money, but purely for the sake of excelling?”, a pro-Hellenic sentiment if there ever was one. In 8.59, discussions in the Greek council of war refer to the games: Admiantus says that “those who get off the mark too soon are whipped,” to which Themistocles replies, “but those who get left behind never get crowned.” (One can imagine any number of sports metaphors expressing similar ideas today, e.g. “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”). Finally, Eurybates and Themistocles received actual victors wreaths from the Spartans. Thus does the Greek athletic spirit inspire a successful fighting spirit, and illustrates the superiority of the Greeks to the barbarians. (8.86: “Proper discipline and ordered ranks” vs. “no order and no… sense of purpose.”)

Herodotus does deal with some Greek cleverness that does not necessarily reflect well on their side. Artemisia may have escaped from Salamis through subterfuge (8.87), but Themistocles himself convinced the Greeks not to pursue the Persians, intending “that this act should be as a reserve to his credit with the Persians, that he might have a refuge if, one day, trouble overtook him” (8.109), which indeed came to pass.

As for his own sources, Herodotus indicates that there is slight disagreement between the Athenians and the Aeginetans about the progress of the battle of Salamis (8.84). He indicates that the Delphians told him things directly in 8.39. But he cannot bring himself, in 8.8, to name the source of the story of Scyllias of Scione, the best diver in Greece, who allegedly swam ten miles underwater: this exploit is treated with the passive voice (“it is told” and “it is said”), and Herodotus is deeply skeptical of “other stories” about him. No miracles here.

Confederate Heritage Month

For Confederate Heritage Month, First Floor Tarpley presents an amusing interpretation of 1860s American politics that is not necessarily in accord with current historical consensus. This excerpt may be found in Janet and Geoff Benge, Lottie Moon: Giving her all for China (Seattle: YWAM, 2001), a children’s chapter book in a series entitled Christian Heroes: Then and Now. 

On April 12, 1861, a month before she graduated, Confederate artillery in South Carolina opened fire on Fort Sumter at the entrance to the Charleston harbor, which was manned by the U.S. Army. The attack was the climax of a long series of disagreements between northern states and southern states over the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. Lottie had heard these disagreements being discussed endlessly around dinner tables and on buggy rides, but she, like most other people, was shocked that the North and the South were now firing at each other.

Basically the North was in favor of the federal government’s having broad rights over all of the states in the Union, while the South wanted the federal government to have very limited powers. The southern states wanted to make their own decisions and fund their own projects. The North and South had already clashed over a number of issues, including who should pay for new roads and railways in the West, taxes on manufactured goods, and one issue that did not start off being very important but quickly grew into a big issue: slavery. In the beginning, the North did not want to ban slavery in the South but rather wanted to prohibit slavery in any new western states. The South was afraid that if this ban happened, there would eventually be so many “free” states in the Union that they could, and most probably would, vote to outlaw slavery everywhere. As a result, the shots fired at Fort Sumter marked the beginning of the War Between the States, or the Civil War, as it came to be known.

The war dragged on. Ike Moon was wounded in battle but lived to tell about it. Lottie and her sisters tried their hardest to keep the plantation going with a steadily dwindling supply of equipment and labor. 

GHRAC Graduate/Undergraduate Awards

I have been asked to help publicize these two awards, offered annually by the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council:

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS

2017 AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE

GRADUATE AND UNDERGRADUATE PAPERS OR PROJECTS IN GEORGIA HISTORY

GEORGIA HISTORICAL RECORDS ADVISORY COUNCIL (GHRAC)

The Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council (GHRAC) is now accepting nominations for its 2017 Awards for Excellence Program. The deadline for submission of award nominations is Thursday, June 1, 2017.

The GHRAC Awards Program recognizes excellence in historical research and scholarship utilizing archives and records, as well as other endeavors in archival and records management in Georgia, in 12 award categories. Two of the award categories are:

Award for Excellence in Student Research Using Historical Records, Graduate Level

and

Award for Excellence in Student Research Using Historical Records, Undergraduate Level.

GHRAC is requesting your assistance in bringing to its attention student work of excellent caliber, by nominating such work for one of these two awards.

Information about the GHRAC Awards Program is located on the website of the Georgia Archives, www.georgiaarchives.org. On the homepage, in the top blue banner, click on “About Us,” and then click on “Advisory Council” in the dropdown menu. Scroll down, and under the heading “Programs and Services,” click on the blue text which reads “Awards Program.” You can then click on links for the Nomination Form and instructions, the Award Categories and Selection Criteria for all 12 awards categories, and a list of all award recipients 2004 through 2016.

A nomination package consists of the one-page nomination form (please provide all requested contact information), a 500-word summary or project description, a copy of the work itself, and any supporting documentation necessary to appropriately portray the complete work (in the case of a project which includes an exhibit, a website, or an audiovisual, instructional, service, or performance component).

If submitted electronically, one copy of the nomination package should be emailed to:  christopher.davidson@usg.edu

If submitted as hard copy, six (6) complete nomination packages should be sent to:

GHRAC
Georgia Archives
5800 Jonesboro Rd.
Morrow, GA  30260

[Copies will not be returned.]

Nominators should pay particular attention to the following requirements:

  1. Georgia students who research and write in an area other than Georgia history or a Georgia subject must use the resources of Georgia records repositories to qualify for these awards.
  2. Student nominations which are self-nominated, or nominated by a family member, must be accompanied by a letter of support from a professor, teacher, adviser, or other appropriate representative of an organization or institution.

Award recipients are typically notified in August or September, and the annual GHRAC Awards Reception and Ceremony are typically held at the Georgia Archives in October.

Please share this solicitation of nominations widely with all interested parties whom you think might like to submit nominations.

If you have any questions about the preparation of a nomination, please contact:

Christopher Davidson
Director, Georgia Archives
christopher.davidson@usg.edu

or

Jill Sweetapple
Reference Archivist, Georgia Archives
jill.sweetapple@usg.edu

We look forward to receiving your nomination, and thank you for your participation in the 2017 GHRAC Awards for Excellence Program.

Georgia Regional PAT Conference 2017

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On Saturday, April 1, Reinhardt student Kyle Walker, alumnus Alex Bryant, and Prof. Jonathan Good traveled to Macon to participate in this year’s Georgia Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference. Many thanks to Abby Dowling and John Thomas Scott for their hard work in putting together a good one. Mercer last hosted this conference in 2011, and it was a pleasure to return, as the Mercer campus is gorgeous, especially in the spring. The papers I heard were all very good – especially Kyle’s, who spoke of how the domino theory of Communist expansion in southeast Asia was applicable to Indochina only, largely on account of all parts of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos all having been part of the French empire. Communism did not spread beyond these places because Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Burma, etc. had different histories (i.e., communism and nationalism did not converge there, as it did in Indochina). Plus, the US commitment to containing communism entailed a great deal of support for the non-communist governments of these countries, which helped to protect them from that particular ideology. This was the silver lining of the Viet Nam war – it didn’t prevent the North from taking over the South, and from backing the Pathet Lao and Khmer Rouge as they took power, but it did prevent the spread of communism beyond Indochina.

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Kyle Walker ’17 at the Georgia Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference, Mercer University, April 1, 2017.

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Participants in the “Eastern Front” session: chair Joshua van Lieu (LaGrange College), MiKaylee Smith (LaGrange), Daniel Garrett (LaGrange), Kyle Walker (Reinhardt).

The plenary session at lunch featured a very interesting presentation by Maurice Hobson of Georgia State University, professor of history and African-American studies, whose book The Legend of the Black Mecca: Myth, Maxim and the Making of an Olympic City is about to be released by UNC Press. Dr. Hobson’s talk, entitled “Using Hip Hop as History: From the Black New South to the Dirty South,” referenced W.E.B. Dubois, Atlanta’s first black mayor Maynard Jackson, the 1996 Summer Olympics, artists like OutKast and Goodie Mob, the Atlanta Child Murders, and Hobson’s own personal history, to demonstrate how not all African-Americans were uplifted by Jackson’s post-segregation New South.

Georgia Gwinnett College (home of former Reinhardt professor Pat Zander) has agreed to host this conference next year.

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Alex Bryant ’15 and Kyle Walker ’17 flank a Mercer bear.