Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Egyptian Book of the Dead: Two Excellent Clips

Here are two excellent clips about the Egyptian Book of the Dead,  a book written mostly in hieroglyphics with vignettes and stories about the deceased and their journey into the afterlife.

And here is a short activity students can complete after the videos. It includes some of the entries in the Book of the Dead and asks students to create categories for the entries.

One of the clips comes from TedEd.


The second clip comes from the World History Encyclopedia.



Monday, August 15, 2022

New Podcast: British Imperialism in India and More

William Dalrymple, the author of numerous books about India, including "The Anararchy: The East India Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire," is starting a new podcast called "Empire."

Anita Anand,  author of the Patient Assassin, will cohost the podcast with Dalrymple. 

You can listen to a trailer and the first episode on Apple Podcasts and on Spotify.

Dalrymple says the first season will focus on India. "This week," he notes, " is the 75th anniversary of Indian Independence, so the first season is about British imperialism in India 1600-1947."

After that, he says, "we'll branch out:  Cholas, Khmers, Ottomans, Tang China."

Dalrymple has written two other great books about India, White Mughal: The Fall of A Dynasty, 1857, and the Last Mughal: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Hiroshima: OSU Video and Essay


Here is an excellent review of the events that led to the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the Ohio State University (OSU). You can also read an essay about the events written by Professor Craig Nelson.

I was not aware that one of the important considerations in dropping the bomb had to do with the pending participation of the Russians in the Pacific War.  The Truman administration feared that if the Russians entered the war, they would want a zone of occupation in Japan just as they had in Germany.

Another interesting observation from the video was that by 1945 the United States had "fully embraced" killing civilians in its bombing campaigns.  Examples include the American firebombing of Tokyo and Dresden, Germany.  Between 75,000 and 200,000 civilians were killed in Dresden.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Cairo in 1321: Coptic Christians & Mamluks

What was life like in Cairo in 1321?  

Coptic Christians and Mamluk Muslims did not get along. 

In fact, in 1321 violence broke out and spread throughout the city.  According to this fascinating essay on the Medievalistsnet website written by Peter Konieczny,  "over a couple of weeks, eleven Christian churches would be damaged or destroyed in Cairo, and another 49 in other parts of the country."

Violence continued and grew.  Some of it had to do with anger over the Crusades and the belief that Coptic Christians supported them. 

In addition, many jobs in Cario seemed to go to Christians at the expense of poorer Muslims. Konieczny compares this to the way Jews were treated by Christians in parts of Medieval Europe.

In an engaging and fascinating embedded 17-minute video, Princeton Professor, Marina Rostow, explains how people lived in medieval Cairo. One interesting occupation was the carving of rock crystal, which is a kind of quartz and valued for its transparency.  Shopkeepers who dealt in rock crystals learned the trade at a very young age and had to pay traders to get the crystal. They had to travel to mines in Africa or East Asia, which was no easy feat in 1321.

The second half of the video clip is fascinating. Professor Rostow explains that she is a social historian and looks at history from below. She also questions the term medieval. "Are we forgetting," she says, "that the bloodiest century was the 20th century?"  She notes that 
only in the 20th century have states employed industrial violence in the service of coercion. Neither medieval Europe nor the medieval Middle East  produced anything close to a totalitarian regime.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Silk Road Acitivities

Here are some excellent resources for teaching the Silk Roads, especially to younger students. They come from Professor Peter Frankopan and are based on an illustrated adaptation of his best-selling book by the same name. 

The resources include a timeline activity, a travel guide that focuses on the ancient city of Baghdad,  and a chart and map activity that focuses on the ideas, people, and religion that moved along the Silk Roads.

A fourth activity introduces the Silk Roads with a short reading and a map.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

The Root of Haiti's Misery From The New York Times

Haiti gained independence from the French in 1804,  becoming the first independent black republic in the world.  

But self-rule did not mean economic independence. That's because France forced Haiti to pay reparations to descendants of slave masters or face another invasion. 

According to a fascinating essay in  The New York Times, those reparations helped enrich the French bank, Crédit Industriel et Commercial, and even lured  Wall Street,  "delivering big margins for the institution that ultimately became Citigroup."

How was Haiti able to pay reparations?  The French forced the Haitian government to accept a loan out of which they could pay the reparations. According to the New York Times, this loan was called the "double debt--the ranson and the loan to pay it — a stunning load that boosted the fledgling Parisian international banking system and helped cement Haiti’s path into poverty and underdevelopment."

The essay is an ideal assignment for world history students studying the unit on revolutions in the 1700 and 1800s.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

The Transatlantic Slave Trade Ships

Here is an interesting interview with Professor Marcus Rediker about the transatlantic slave trade. One of Professor Rediker's books is about the slave ship itself. He discusses the characteristics of those ships and types of resistance. This interview would work well with a unit about the time period between 1450-1750.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Magellan & Elcano- First Voyage Around the World


The history department at OSU (Ohio State University) tweeted this excellent 10-minute clip about Magellan's voyage and its importance to Spain and to world history. 

The voyage led to the beginning of global trade and generated new scientific knowledge about global time and the earth's circumference. 

OSU includes an accompanying reading about Magellan's voyage here.

This clip is ideal for the unit on the beginning of global trade.



Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Tibetian Buddhism & Imperialism

Teaching Buddhism or imperialism? 

Here is an excellent Twitter thread by the art-crime professor, Erin Tompson, at John Jay College.

Thompson notes that in 1903 the British led a force into Tibet and killed over 600 Tibetian soldiers with Maxim machine guns. The forces looted monasteries and then burned them to the ground.

Examining primary sources about the looting, Thompson notes that one soldier wrote his mother that in one monastery "I got rather a nice gong which no doubt you will find useful when I am able to get it home."

Another soldier, a captain, wrote that 'his wife had secured a few trifles' from the monastery, including paintings that fetched high prices when auctioned at Christie's later in 1904.

The British force that killed the Tibetian soldiers and looted several monasteries was known as the Younghusband Expedition.

You can read more about this expedition and the looting here and at Jstor here and at History Extra here.


The Swahili City States: Awesome Video Clip


Here is an excellent 10-minute clip about the Swahili city-states by Stefan Milo. He outlines the origin of the states and how they eventually adopted Islam. He notes three reasons: traders became familiar with Islam, some may have converted because it gave them protection from slavery, and finally it offered major political, legal, and commercial benefits.

A commercial advantage was that Islam gave Swahili a written alphabet. Milo notes that the states grew wealthy by facilitating and controlling trade between mainland Africa and Eurasia.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Undertanding the Middle Ages as Global

Here are two great resources to help students understand the similarities and differences in the Middle Ages in different parts of the world,  including the Americas. 

One called the Global Middle Ages includes twenty projects from around the world. Two projects from Asia include the discovery of a Tang shipwreck, which takes you to an exhibit at the Singapore Museum, and a Story Map follows the early thirteenth-century travels of Yelu Chucai and Wugusun Zhongduan, who travel from north China to Central Asia after the Mongol empire's first conquests under Chinggis Khan. 

Another project looks at the connection between East Africa, Asia, and Mediterranean Europe and includes an interview with Chapurukha Kusimba, an Archaeology Journal Article on Early Swahili Towns and a 3D Reconstruction of the Songo Mnara site, which is a UNESCO site.

The story of global ivory in the premodern period is another fascinating project that includes a number of short pdf stories about ivory.

Another site looks at interesting women during the Middle Ages. Students will learn about Bharima from Bangladesh, an untouchable and a prostitute who eventually adopted Tantric Buddhism. The Royal Dancer of Gao demonstrates that while states like Ghana adopted Islam, they held on to many of their own indigenous beliefs. And in Tibet, women from the Hrug family contributed to the founding of Buddhist monasteries.

These three stories show the importance of religion and that women sometimes played an important role in its development.

Thanks to AP World teacher, Catherine Brown, for sharing the website. She included some discussion questions based on the two sites. 

  1. What are the benefits for medievalists of learning about what was going on in the Americas at the same time? 
  2. What are the drawbacks of bringing the Americas under the "medieval" umbrella? Consider the existing archaeological periodizations of the Americas as well as the effects on Native peoples today
  3. What does historical reconstruction art offer that more traditional academic output might not? What compromises must an artist make that a historian writing an article or book might not have to think about or might not accept? 
  4. How are medieval women and historical women of color represented in art you've been exposed to, whether in public art, pop culture or textbooks? 
  5. Looking through the stories on this website, did anything surprise you about the options women had open to them or the roles women could play in their societies?

Monday, June 6, 2022

Understanding the Indian Caste System

Studying Hinduism? 

Here are two excellent sources for understanding the caste system.  One comes from the BBC in an essay called "What is India's Caste System," and the second comes from Equality Labs, a Dalit civil rights organization.

Dr. Audrey Truschke tweeted both links and notes that 

Caste and its core practices--purity rituals, untouchability, and endogamy--have their roots in ancient India. It offers power and control. You can identify caste through various factors, including surname, accent, dress, region of origin, and even visible face markers."

Dr. Truschke also recommends the first few pages of the book, Everyday Hindusim, for its review of caste, which she says appears in the first 5 pages of the book.

Here is a link to Dr. Truschke's tweet.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Islamic Art & Architecture: Awesome Twitter Threads

Here are some fascinating threads about Islamic art and architecture from the Arabic Art House, Bayt Al Fann. 

They include Twitter threads about Islamic calligraphy, Islamic gardens,  unique mosques in Africa,  the dome interiors of mosques around the world, the use of geometric patterns in Islamic art, and Islamic scientists who study the cosmos.

These threads, which I have saved as pdfs could work well in a unit on Islam in World History. Groups might work on one of the topics, create a short google slide show, and then present.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Genghis Khan in 8 Minutes

Here is an excellent 8-minute overview of Genghis Khan from the Life Guide. I found it on the Ancient Origins website which also has a good biography of the Mongol leader.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

What is Zen Buddhism

 Here's an excellent and short overview of Zen Buddhism, from the online Buddhist magazine, Lion's Roar.

The author, Norman Fischer, a Zen teacher and writer,  reviews the basic principles and practices of Zen.

Korea first transmitted Buddhism to Japan in 525 CE but Zen for meditation was introduced in the 11th century.

Khan Academy's short clip about Zen also reviews those practices.