Thursday, December 31, 2015

HTHS: 2015 Retrospective

It's that time of the year again. Here are HistoryThruHerStory's 2015 Superlatives: a look back at this year's major historical happenings. Happy New Year.

Image source: The Guardian

I don't know if this is the best story, but it makes me the happiest. Anyone who says they hate technology, it's stories like these that make me understand you the least. Israel’s Antiquities Authority spent six months trying to identify this object. Within hours, Facebook users had named it as a New Age ‘energy harmoniser’.

Least Surprising Story: No Evidence of Nazi Gold Train
Image source: History

In August, a pair of amateur treasure hunters caused a stir with their claim that they had located a Nazi train laden with looted gold, gems and weapons buried in a secret tunnel in southwestern Poland. However, Polish scientists who investigated the site announced that they could find no evidence of the train’s existence.

Best Nickname: “Britain’s Schindler”
Image source: History

Nicholas Winton, a British stockbroker who saved the lives of more than 650 children trapped in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II, died in July. He was 106. Those ears.

Most Unique: Statue of Liberty Inspired by Arab Woman
Image source: Discovery

wut. The Statue of Liberty, a symbol of democracy and freedom that has greeted countless immigrants to US shores, was inspired by a project representing an Arab woman guarding the Suez Canal, researchers said.

Most Changed Since Freshman Year: King Tut 
Image source: Tumblr

The boy king's iconic funerary mask lost its beard earlier this year and was later repaired.

Class *Evil* Clown: ISIS
Image source: The Guardian

ISIS sucked the big one in 2015. Among all the horrors, the Syrian city of Palmyra faced huge loses to it's ancient ruins.

Most Hopeful 2016 Discovery: Secret Chamber in King Tut's Tomb
Image source: Washington Post

The chamber has been confirmed, but not yet explored. Could it contain the remains of Nefertiti?

Best Discovery: 22 Shipwrecks Found in Single Location in Greece
Image source: Discovery

"Surpassing all expectations, over only 13 days we added 12 percent to the total of known ancient shipwrecks in Greek territorial waters," said Peter Campbell, of the University of Southampton and co-director from US based RPM Nautical Foundation.

Most Talented: Tituba
Image source: Smithsonian

Smithsonian had a great article this year featuring the elusive Tituba. How did the Salem witch epidemic gather such speed, and how did it come to involve a satanic plot, a Massachusetts first? The answers to both questions lie in part with the unlikeliest of suspects, the Indian slave at the heart of the Salem mystery.

Most School Spirited: Oxford University Students
Image source: NY Times

Hundreds of student protesters rallied at Oxford University’s Oriel College, calling for the removal of a statue of Cecil John Rhodes, a past pupil and benefactor of the school who made his fortune in diamonds while helping Britain seize control of southern Africa in the late 19th century. Thought ridiculous by some, this debate is still ongoing.

Cutest Couple: Skeletons in 6,000-Year-Old Embrace Found in Cave
Image source: Discovery

Found in one of the Diros caves in southern Greece, the prehistoric remains were positioned curled into the fetal position. Although the pair was originally found in 2014 by a team of archaeologists and speleologists, the Greek Ministry of Culture announced the results of DNA and radio carbon tests just in time for Valentine’s Day. Nothing says 'I love you' like a dead couple.

Best Looking: Adolf, the dog that looks like Hitler
Image source: Telegraph

A Welsh woman renamed her chihuahua puppy Adolf after black slanting 'fringe' and tiny mustache prompted comparisons to the Nazi dictator. For more Hitler look-a-likes, see this house.

Best Dressed: This person desperately seeking attention who willingly dresses like a Tudor
Image source: Telegraph

This cultural experiment seems to be a theme lately.

Best Smile: Queen Elizabeth II
Image source: Telegraph

Liz became the longest serving monarch in British history in 2015.

Best History Movie: Suffragette
Image source: History Extra

They were the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement; working women fighting for equality. But in 1912–13, after years of peaceful protest, some members of the Women’s Social and Political Union turned to violence as a route to change. The film starring Meryl Streep and Helena Bonham Carter charts the story of those who risked their lives and liberties to secure the vote for women.

Worst History Movie: The Imitation Game
Image sources: The Independent and Collider

Based on the biography of Alan Turing, the cryptanalyst who helped solve Germany's Enigma code during World War II and who was later prosecuted for homosexuality. Interesting story, lackluster movie. Yawn.

And some other notable stories from 2015 that were just too good to be left behind:
The Confederate flag took one more step toward eventual obscurity. Following the shooting spree at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., politicians and businesses lined up against the historically divisive banner.

After months of campaigning, advocates including the Woman on 20s organization, Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and the 600,000 participants in an online public election got what they wanted - kind of.

Researchers are collaborating on the excavation of an ancient historical site at Manwoldae, home to the Koryo dynasty’s royal palace, in an unprecedented joint project between the two countries who have technically been at war since the 1950-53 Korean conflict.

The decision to republish Mein Kampf in Germany for the first time in 75 years is understandably controversial. However, the challenge of reading Mein Kampf in hindsight is to try to understand how something so obviously wrong and so clearly the product of a broken, third-rate mind could bring about the Götterdämmerung of Europe. I would love to read this.

Onwards to 2016 y'all.

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