Thursday, July 19, 2018

College Board Now Says AP World Will Start in 1200 not 1450

The College Board recently responded to complaints about starting AP World History in 1400 instead of with prehistory, where it has started since the inception of the course.

Now, according to the correspondence below, the course will start in 1200 (great, if you love the Mongols, but not so great if you also love the rise and spread of Islam).

Many teachers are furious and think the changes do not go far enough. Check out the stories below from Inside Higher Ed and Forbes Magazine and the Twitter response from Amanda DoAmaral. Her exchange with Trevor Packer at an Open Forum duirng the AP World reading in Salt Lake City in June, went viral.

Check back. I will try to update the news stories about the new start date of 1200.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Story and History of Human Rights

How did the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights develop?

Facing History and Ourselves produced the video below which decribes Elenor Roosevelt's isntrumental role in its devlopment.

And here's an excellent overview of Human Rights from The Youth for Human Rights.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Complexity of Islamic Design: Ted Talk

Here's a terrific TedEd clip on how Islamic artists use geometry to develop their designs. Eric Brough developed the clip and even has a book about the geometr of Islamic design.

Monday, July 9, 2018

BBC IWonder Guides about Religion


BBC developed IWonder interactive guides in 2014. The guides "explore a range of factual and education topics from Science and Natural History, Arts, History, Religion and Ethics, Food and more."

They are colorful, interactive, and easy to read and often include short video and audio clips, infographics, and excellent written summaries.

The IWonder guides that deal with religion are terrific and can work well in the classroom. For example, the guide, "Why do Buddhists meditate" includes a terrific video clip with host, Betttany Hughes, the British historian.

The guide on the Baha’i, "Can a religion accept other faiths," includes a clip with host, Rev. Peter Owen Jones, the English Anglican clergyman and author,  and a great slideshow of important Baha’i sites.

Here are IWonder guides that deal with religion.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Hinduism: Resources

Here are two excellent resources for studying Hinduism, both short documentaries.

The first is a 23 minute overview from the The Himalayan Academy, which publishes Hinduism Today Magazine.

The documentary is engaging and includes great photography. It's divided into five short parts: origins, sacred texts, Hindu society, beliefs and practices, and finally, festivals.
Another resource comes from Freer Sacker Museum and shows Hindu devotion, called Puja.

Finally, you can see a terrific graphic that explains the caste system.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

3-D Tours of Sistene Chapel

Students and faculty at Pennsylvania’s Villanova University created these awesome virtual 3D tours.

There are six in all (which I found on Open Culture) and include Basilica of St. Peter, Basilica of Paul Outside-the-Walls, Basilica of St. Mary Major, and The Pauline Chapel.

I've seen 3D tours of the Sistine Chapel but not of the others. If you look at the St. Peter Basilica, you can click on different numbers to view specific areas like the nave or the pieta or the alter.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Mughal & Muslim Art Analyzed: Shangri La Center for Islamic Art

Here is a terrific Islamic art collection, some of which you can see online, and some of which you can see explained by scholars.

It's all part of the The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art at Shangri La in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Doris Duke was the heiress of a tobacco tycoon and traveled throughout the world.

But it was her travels to Egypt, Jordan, and India in 1935 where she developed an appreciation and love for Muslim art.

Over the next 50 years, she built a large collection of Muslim art, especially with floral motifs. She even commissioned a bedroom designed with a Mughal motif.

The best part of the collection is the scholar favorites. Here, various resident scholars analyze various pieces of art in short video clips of three to five minutes.

In the first clip below, Dr. Amanda Phillips, Fellow at the Institute of Iranian Studies at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, explains how a velvet panel made in Bursa used silk from Iran and dyes harvested from oak trees.

Later, however, in the 16th and 17th century, they were using dyes from tiny parasitic insects imported from Mexico called cochineals.

And, in the second clip, Jennifer Scarce, Honorary Lecturer, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee, analyzes a color tile from Iran and made in the late 19th century.

She notes that it is an excellent example of the technical skill of glazing and composition.  And, the scene comes from one of  Persia's great romantic poems, Layla and Majnun, the story of two star-crossed lovers.

Influence of Zoroastrianism on Modern Culture

Which religion influenced the beliefs of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism?

Monotheism started with its founder long before Abraham. The idea of heaven and hell originated with it, as did the idea of good and evil.

Not only did its ideas influence the Abrahamic religions, they also influenced culture.

Richard Strauss' "Thus Spoke Zarathustra"  can be seen in the score of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Freddy Mercury, lead signer of Queen, got inspiration from the religion's founder and the Mazda car maker takes its name from the founder.

Zoroastrianism started in Iran and grew with the three great Iranian empires which included that of Cyrus the Great, but began to weaken after the invasion of Alexander the Great and the later development of Islam. Many Zoroastrians fled and migrated to India where they became known as Parsis.

In a terrific essay for BBC Culture, called "The Obscure Religion that Shaped the West," Joobin Bekhrad examines the influence of Zarathustra's beliefs on western culture.

You can find out more about Zoroastrianism from BBC Religion.

And here is an interesting article about the vanishing population of India's Parsi community.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Awesome Podcast: Islam & Middle East

Here's an awesome podcast called Head On History about Islam and the Middle East.

Ali A. Olomi produces the podcast.

He's a graduate student pursuing his doctorate in the cultural, intellectual, and religious history of the ancient Mediterranean.

Olomi just produced a special podcast about the controversy in AP World History. The College Board wants to start the course in 1450 instead of prehistory, where it has always started. Olomi provides the context for the study of world history, explaining its origin as a discipline and its relationship to Western Civilization courses.

In addition to this special podcast, Olomi produces many episodes dealing with the history of Islam. I listened to one about Al Andulus and Islamic Spain. He reviews how Muslims expanded into Spain and Portugal and how  Berbers and Moors influenced Spanish culture.

We learn, for example, that the majority of Islamic history for hundreds and hundreds of years took place outside the so-called Arab world in places like Spain and Egypt. While Arab was the "lingua franca," few in these outside places were ethnically Arab.

Here are some of the other podcasts.

Thanks to Angela Lee for tweeting the link.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Slavery and the Silk Road

Long before the development of the Atlantic slave trade, slavery existed all along the Silk Road. Private merchants handled most of the trade but governments also imposed taxes on both the movement and sale of slaves.

In a new book called  "Silk, Slaves and Stupas: Material Culture of the Silk Road,"  Susan Whitefield traces the stories of some of the these slaves and makes some interesting conclusions.  For example, Whitefield notes that the trade was both local and regional.  

She notes that the trade in Slavs was the one of the most extensive. They were "captured by the Rus in northern Europe and sold at the capital of the Bulgars," especially in the ninth and tenth centuries.

Jewish merchants controlled another big network that extended from "western Europe through to Africa, Arabia, India, and China."

Thanks to Bram Hubbel for tweeting the link to this story. As Hubbell notes, this short essay might provide students with great context or synthesis for the Atlantic slave trade.
?Slave girl resting on a camel
8th century, Hanshenzhai, Xian.Terracotta, 73 cm x 60 cm.Shaanxi Archaeological Institute, Xian, G大41.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Silk Roads: Maps, Links, and Stories

The Silk Roads Foundation, a non- profit organization started in 1996, to promote the study and preservation of cultures and art on Inner Asia and the Silk Road, has a website with terrific links to maps and journal articles about the Silk Roads.

Click on Articles, then Journals, and you'll find links to stories about the Silk Roads from Aramco World including The Autobiography of A Coin by Franklin Holt, and The Golden Horses of Turkmenistan by Jonathan Maslow.

One of the most interesting parts of the website are "studies." One of the "studies" reviews how Buddhism spread along the Silk Roads. Another study reviews Dunhuang cave art. Unfortunately, some of the images no longer work.

The history of silk and how its made is another fascinating study.

You'll also find terrific trade maps if you scroll down the left hand menu to Maps. One shows China's trade during the Tang dynasty along the Silk Route during the 8th century.

Route Maps show the routes of famous travelers like Marco Polo and Xuanzang.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Many Gods, One Logic: Animated Hindu Concepts

Here are two terrific animated clips that explain two concepts in Hinduism--the idea of many gods and the idea of Brahman or oneness.  One runs less than two minutes and the other less than four.

Both come from a YouTube channel called Epified. I found them on another blog about Hinduism.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

China's Golden Age: From The Story of China

The Song Dynasty and the  Golden Age of China

Michael Wood reviews China's golden age in Episode 3 in  The Story of China. 

Wood notes that Keifeng became the largest city in the world and shows the vitality of that city in the famous The Qingming Scroll.  Lamp lit streets, tea shops, book shops, restaurants, and music all characterized Kefeng in the twelfth century.
Wood reviews inventions like movable type and the magnetic compass. You can watch or assign specific clips about these inventions at PBS Learning Media here.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

AP World Score Overview

Here's the AP World score overview for the 2018 exam from Trevor Packer. Almost 9% earned a 5, almost 20% earned 4's, and the number of 3's and 2's were similar at about 27%.  And 15% earned only 1 point.

You can see how students did on different components of the exam in the tweets below.

On the multiple choice, Packer notes that students did better on Period 4 than on period 3. Packer initially announced that he would split the course in 2019 and begin with period 4.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Muslim Heritage: An Awesome Resource

Studying Islam?

Here is a  terrific website that reviews the achievements of pre-Renaissance Islamic culture called Muslim Heritage.  It covers Muslim art, architecture, literature, culture, music and people.  It includes images, essays, videos, and maps.

Among the featured essays on the site's home page is one one of my favorites, Mega Cities on the Silk Road. Can you list three of the biggest?

Xi’an (Chang’an) is at the top. It became the capital of the Chinese empire in the 4th century and was a significant trading post and melting pot. Under the Tang Dyasty, it was home to a panoply of religions including Buddhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Nestorian Christianity and Islam.

Another top mega city along the Silk Road included Samarkand in the heart of central Asia. From Han times, merchants from Samarkand traveled as far China and Tamerlane was one of its prominent leaders.

Another essay, Technology in Sub-Saharan Cultures, reviews advances in metallurgy and quarrying. The Nubians, from modern-day Sudan, during Egypt's Middle Kingdom (2050-1800 BCE), mass produced iron and bronze used to make items like cutlery,  jewelry, weapons, and even musical instruments.

And Aksum, in Ethiopia, quarried lots of granite between 100 and 700CE. According to the essay's author, Aksum had "extensive" knowledge of granite extraction.

An essay by Salah Zaimeche examines the difussion of Muslims crops and farming techniques to regions outsdie the Muslim world.

But it was in math and science that Muslims made some of the most stunning achievements like the invention of the astrolabe or the translation of ancient Greek texts to Latin and then to European languages, or the development and building of hospitals in many cities in the Muslim world.

A new documentary called “1001 Inventions and the World of Ibn Al-Haytham” reviews these achievements and many more.

The film is part of a global  educational campaign with UNESCO and is available on ITunes.

Muslim Heritage and the website for 1001 Inventions are great for both teachers and students. Some of the essays are ideal for students. And teachers can easily create an interesting web quest out of the material.