History

Category archives for History

Five Mountain Names

Mount Everest: named after Colonel Sir George Everest (1790-1866), British Surveyor General of India. K2: an early land-surveyor’s shorthand notation, used because nobody lived near enough to the mountain for it to have a local name. Himmelbjerget: “Mount Heaven”, 147 meters above sea level. Denmark’s highest point is in fact Møllehøj, “Windmill Barrow”, at 171…

Union Depot, Duluth

Upon hearing that I’m going to Minnesota, my excellent detectorist buddy Kenth Lärk sent me some scans of postcards from Duluth that his emigrant uncle sent home to Sweden in the early 1910s. I particularly like this image of the 1892 Union Depot, as the architecture is similar to that of the station houses along…

Post-Modernist Historiography

Historiography is meta-history, that is, the historical study of historical studies in the past. It is useful and valuable to historical research as ongoing quality control and provides a kind of user’s manuals for those who wish to use old literature in new studies of the past. Also, it can often help explain political ideas,…

Here’s a case of odd priorities. The Royal Library in Stockholm keeps a copy of everything that is printed in Sweden (and Swedish), and also has a lot of people tending LIBRIS, the national bibliographic database. Recently, the folks who keep track of scholarly publications in historical research (through the Swedish Historical Bibliography project) completed…

Monday Miscellany

On Sunday 14 November at 1400 hrs I’m giving a talk on the aristocracy of the 1st millennium AD at the Town Museum of Norrköping, Holmbrogränd. On Monday 15 November I’m speaking at a seminar in Gothenburg about social media and scientific and political communication. My talk will be some time between 1300 and 1600…

Saint Paul Never Read the Bible

We interrupt this transmission for a piece of Christian chronology. Did you know that the Epistles of Saint Paul are the oldest writings in the New Testament? Did you know that Mark, the oldest of the Gospels, was written just about the time of Paul’s execution in AD 64/65? Though Mark had worked as a…

Two Queenly Careers

Through my reading I was reminded of two Scandinavian early-12th century queens whose careers are pretty amazing. Though originally probably unrelated, they became kin by marriage in several ways. ~1085. Margareta Ingesdotter born, daughter of King Inge I of Sweden. (Birth year unrecorded.) ~1100. Ulvhild Håkonsdotter born, daughter of the Norwegian nobleman Håkon Finnsson of…

And here’s star philologist and religion scholar Ola Wikander with a guest lesson in Akkadian. The word of the day is nuḫatimmu. It means “a cook” in Akkadian (or sometimes “a baker”). Maybe something to interest Gordon Ramsay? And wouldn’t it be great if there was an Akkadian version of the TV show MasterChef, named…

In the early 15th century, Imperial Chinese mariners under the eunuch admiral Zheng He made great voyages of discovery in enormous ships. Then the Hongxi Emperor decided that what they had found on far shores was underwhelming, the whole fleet was scuppered and the Chinese paid no further attention to seafaring. In 2007 I discussed…

A Deadly Find

What’s the most dangerous find an archaeologist can make? Some fear anthrax spores in sealed burial caskets. Others the asbestos used to temper certain types of North Scandinavian pottery. But German construction workers are on a whole other level than us. They regularly find Allied bombs from WW2. One weighing 500 kg was recently found…