History

Category archives for History

No Sign of Cleopatra

I suddenly have this unaccountable urge to comment on the current issue of National Geographic Magazine. Maybe that isn’t so strange. I mean, after all, I like reading the mag and I’m on record as saying, in the Swedish Skeptics quarterly no less, that my ideal museum exhibition would be a 3D version of a…

I’ve written before (1 – 2 – 3) about the Kenyan village with a poorly supported and recently concocted origin myth involving Medieval Chinese sailors. Now my buddy Axel Andersson has alerted me to a similar case. But here it’s sort of the other way around: a Chinese village with a poorly supported and recently…

Chinese tourist sites follow a set of conventions that seem to go back hundreds or thousands of years, far into a past when tourism, as we understand it, did not yet exist. Essentially we’re dealing with named and inscribed sites. I have visited many in my Chinese travels, but since I can’t read the language…

Viking Period Drinking Bowl

My colleague Karl-Magnus Melin specialises in ancient and modern woodworking and has a major paper in Fornvännen’s summer issue about well fittings made from hollowed-out tree trunks. He’s kindly sent me some post-conservation pics of a Viking Period wooden drinking bowl. It’s lathe-turned unless I’m very much mistaken. The bowl was found sitting in a…

Journalist Geoffrey York has dug deeper for the Globe and Mail into the story about alleged descendants of Medieval Chinese sailors on the coast of Kenya that I wrote about once in ’07. He finds that not even the locals, who supposedly tell “legends” about their Chinese ancestry, believe any of it or indeed know…

Sankt Joachimsthal (“Valley of Saint Joachim”) is the German name of Jáchymov, a small town in the Czech Republic. It’s in the Erzgebirge mountains near the country’s north-western border towards Germany. This place currently has only a bit more than three thousand inhabitants, and yet its name is used daily by billions of people worldwide.…

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…