Saturday, January 24, 2015

King Tut Loses His Perfectly Braided Beard

The world-renowned funerary mask of King Tut has been irreparably damaged after it lost its beard while on display at Cairo's Egyptian Museum. The 3,300-year-old mask wasn't destroyed by a vandal or clumsy museum visitor, but one of the museum's own curators. Ya know, one of those college-degree-wielding professionals who are trained to handle artifacts?

Image source: Tumblr

There are conflicting testimonies from museum employees as to what exactly happened to the "most famous archaeological relic in the world." One person said the beard just fell off. One person said it was knocked off while dusting. Who the fuck is dusting, the Hulk? After beard left face, the director of the museum wanted its moneymaker back on the floor and ordered immediate repairs. Staff epoxy-glued the beard back on which left the mask irreversibly damaged. Once glued, a conservator realized 'hey, maybe that idea wasn't so great,' grabbed a spatula, and proceeded to scrape the glue off, leaving permanent scratches on the mask's surface. The final damage: a gap between the beard and face, scratches, and a visible layer of transparent yellow glue.

What kind of a ship are you running over there Cairo?

Friday, January 23, 2015

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb #20

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb is a round-up of brand spankin' new history articles, selected by yours truly. Click on the link to be directed to the home site where you can read a professional being professional in their entirety.

Despite the pain, millions of Chinese women stood firm in their devotion to the tradition of foot binding, the "aesthetically pleasing" practice of binding your feet so freaking tight, that you looked like you had hooves.

No. No one likes all that stiff academic talk. It is said that today’s textbooks rely too heavily on magazine-style bite-sized chunks of text, and deprive students of the serious historical storytelling that was prevalent from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Everyone already knows Disney was King Anti-Semitic. This was an interesting read, but I don't agree that Winston Churchill should have been included in this list because A. he is the man, and B. he. was. not. anti. semitic. How did none of the Kennedys make this list?

The exhibition, Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation, will run from late April to early August and is thought to be the biggest and most significant of its kind to be held outside Australia.

"Mom look at this sweet swastika sign I made." A British teenager uses Legos to depict key events in the rise and fall of Nazis for a school history project. Also, what is happening in this picture? Did Hitler shoot the horse? And now he's lying on his back doing a Nazi salute?

In the Middle Ages, the nation widely skipped breakfast. Yet, by 1600, a culinary non-entity had become a key part of our daily routine. Why the change?

Traces of painted red numbers have been discovered during the ongoing restoration of the Colosseum, indicating various sectors of the amphitheater similar to the seating system employed by today's stadiums.

Hundreds of papyrus scrolls, reduced to lumps of coal by the 750-degree Fahrenheit cloud that wrapped the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum during the Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79 A.D., might soon emerge as the most significant rediscovery of classical literature since the Renaissance.

The surprise announcement on Monday that at least five corpses lay buried in the Alexander the Great era tomb in Amphipolis, in northern Greece, has deepened the mystery around the massive and lavishly decorated burial. As expected, speculation is running wild about who the five people buried there are.

Friday, January 16, 2015

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb #19

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb is a round-up of brand spankin' new history articles, selected by yours truly. Click on the link to be directed to the home site where you can read a professional being professional in their entirety.

Flops from a "knife and fork cleaner" to a "cholera belt" provide a curious look at life in 19th century England.

All you need is your replica 3-D-printed kylix, some diluted grape juice, and some friends.

As the final weeks of World War II raged on, Adolf Hitler came to the slow realization that his Reich would fall. As Soviet forces descended on Berlin, Hitler took shelter in a specially made bunker deep beneath the ground of his chancellery. It was in that space that he would marry Eva Braun and spend his final days before shooting himself and leaving his body to be burned.

Ever feel like the Internet has been around forever? Turns out you were right. Take a look at the ways the internet was channeled throughout history.

Analysis of fecal matter from the natural mummy of Cangrande della Scala, a medieval warlord, has established the Italian nobleman was poisoned with a deadly heart-stopping plant known as Digitalis or foxglove.

More than 45 years after his death, Martin Luther King, Jr. still stands as one of the most symbolic, most loved, and most tragic of figures of the Civil Rights Movement. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, take a look back at his life and some of his greatest accomplishments.

He is considered one of the defining figures of the 20th century, remembered for his inspirational speeches and for leading Britain to victory in the Second World War. But you might be surprised to learn that Winston Churchill had a patchy academic record, almost married a woman other than Clementine, and was one of the first adopters of the ‘onesie’.

Legend has it that when Genghis Khan died in 1227, his soldiers murdered the builders of his tomb and all the people who witnessed his funeral procession. The soldiers themselves were then killed, leaving no one alive who could reveal the location of the notorious warlord’s final resting place. For the past several years, scientists have enlisted thousands of volunteers to go through high-resolution satellite images of vast swathes of Mongolian landscape, seeking any unusual features that might lead them to Khan’s tomb.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The Goddess of History looked down to earth. Only through the hottest fires can purification be achieved.
The Goodreads Choice Awards were released last month and All the Light We Cannot See, winner in the Historical Fiction category, looked so so good and I was anxious to read. Santa (Mom) sent me Anthony Doerr's novel set in war-torn 1940s Europe, which averages a whopping 4.2 out of 5 rating on Goodreads. And I trust that.

Title: All the Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Pages: 544
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Scribner
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 4/5

Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks. When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall. 

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

I really enjoyed getting to know one of the novel's primary settings (also appearing on the book cover), Saint-Malo, a fortress town on the northwestern coast of France. Saint-Malo played an essential role in the last-ditch effort of Axis resistance during WWII, but is often overlooked as film and books tend to focus more on prominent locales. Also a refreshing departure from the "typical WWII retelling" was the character of the young German soldier. Werner was forced to enlist before he turned 18, but was so poor, confined to his hometown, and ignorant that he didn't have enough sense to think, 'Hey, Hitler. This isn't cool.' He just went with the flow of his comrades. This was both oddly endearing,  horrifying, and incredibly pathetic.

Anthony Doerr's slow progression of events leading to the war were so ominous and fantastic. It started with a smell. Little Marie-Laure in Paris could smell the faint odor of oil drifting in from the east. The impending doom and gloom of the war to come was palpable.

Doerr's ability to paint a scene so quickly and completely is something few authors can muster. For example:
In January 1942, Werner goes to Dr. Hauptmann in his glowing, fierily office, twice as warm as the rest of the castle, and asks to be sent home. The little doctor is sitting behind his big desk with an anemic-looking roasted bird on a dish in front of him. Quail or dove or grouse. Rolls of schematics on his right. His hounds splay on the rug before the fire.
He summons all your senses with just a few sentences. I am cozy-warm. And I can smell that damn roasted bird. I'm hungry. This was a beautiful book filled with poetic passages. I am insanely jealous of Doerr's seemingly effortless ability to begin and wrap up chapters so quickly and gracefully.

THAT BEING SAID, I didn't deduct points for nothin'. 

I was so put off by the cross-country Nazi pursuit of the rare diamond. I thought it was cheesy. The folklore about the Sea of Flames was great, but the German huntsman was obnoxious and evoked a less badass version of Hans Landa. Plus the shitty Monuments Men movie spawned a lot of Nazi plunder talk/articles/documentaries this past year. I've had my fill.

Image source: Socially Relevant

The characters were fine. When bad things would happen to them I didn't really sympathize. It could be my cold sick heart (I did have the flu while reading this) or it could be that they were unable to establish any character/reader emotional connection, good or bad.

A majority of the second half of the novel was repetitive and I think editing some of it out would have done wonders. Werner rides around in a truck. Werner reminisces about times with his sister. Werner locates radios. Rinse. Repeat. I was bored by his story after awhile. If I had one of his janky old antennas, I would have inserted it up my nose, into my brain, and performed a lobotomy.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and am happy to have it on my bookshelf. I thought Werner's story in the middle was kind of a slog and Hans-Landa-Wannabe was a pain, but the writing more than made up for any dislike of plot. Doerr could describe a bowel movement and make it sound lovely.

Friday, January 9, 2015

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb #18

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb is a round-up of brand spankin' new history articles, selected by yours truly. Click on the link to be directed to the home site where you can read a professional being professional in their entirety.

Several sections of potential Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson’s 2012 book America the Beautiful were plagiarized from various sources, BuzzFeed News has found. Not the title though, the title is 100% original.

A new study contradicts the idea that the prehistoric Rapa Nui people of Easter Island suffered a demographic collapse brought on by poor environmental stewardship.

Tracking the First Americans at National Geographic
The first face of the first Americans belongs to an unlucky teenage girl who fell to her death in a Yucatán cave some 12,000 to 13,000 years ago. Her bad luck is science’s good fortune.

Churchill has reached out to the tech-savvy generation, popping up as a playable character in the video game Civilization IV, and there are countless Facebook pages, Instagram and Twitter feeds quoting Churchill and even some purporting to be him.

'Selma' is meant to shed light on an important moment in civil rights history, but some are saying it gets it wrong. Despite its emotional power and critical acclaim, the movie has recently come under fire for its supposed lack of historical integrity -- mostly because of its depiction of President Lyndon B. Johnson as a flaky, politically maneuvering jerkhole.

The assault on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is just the latest chapter in a long history of violence between Muslim revolutionaries and the French state. The attack reflects a barbaric clash between two realities that exist in painful tension.

Tales of monsters, Gods, spells and love affairs: Celtic myths reflected the social thinking and traditions of pre-Roman Celts of Britain, Ireland and Europe. Spread by travelling poets and storytellers who plied their trade from village to village, the myths came into being partly to explain natural phenomena, and to try to address basic human concerns about life and death.

Atlantis' Legendary Metal Found in Shipwreck at Discovery
Gleaming cast metal called orichalcum, which was said by Ancient Greeks to be found in Atlantis, has been recovered by a team of the most Italiany Italians you'll ever see.

Tomb of mystery Egyptian queen discovered by archaeologists at The Guardian
Czech archaeologists have unearthed the tomb of a previously unknown queen believed to have been the wife of Pharaoh Neferefre who ruled 4,500 years ago, officials in Egypt said Sunday.