shwetanarayan:

medievalpoc:

The history that you learn in school depends on which political party is in power in your district. Even college presidents are trying to control which version of History young people are allowed to learn.

People can say what they like about…

"Menstrual pads have been mentioned as early as the 10th century, in the Suda, where Hypatia, who lived in the 4th century AD, was said to have thrown one of her used menstrual rags at an admirer in an attempt to discourage him"

— if you don’t think history is a truly inspiring subject you’re wrong  (via boysncroptops)

(Source: orcasoup, via mommapolitico)

barbotrobot said: So I've just begun work on a fantasy novel - mostly piles of research, in no small part from your incredible blog - and I thought it would be fun to ask: what's some stuff you've encountered that you can't believe has never made it into a fantasy story?

medievalpoc:

Thanks, and good luck!

Huh! Most of it, probably (although I think one or two of these have been used in historical fiction and/or fantasy in non-Western media). Off the top of my head:

The feedback I’ve gotten from fantasy writers seems to indicate a lot of what I post makes good inspiration for fantasy stories. I just think it really sucks that fantasy fiction isn’t considered to be especially accountable to history (dragons and magic, y’know) until characters have brown skin. :|

medievalpoc:

[part of a series on this exhibit]

xanthy-m submitted to medievalpoc:

Not entirely sure if I should include this and the next one but I’ll do it anyways:
this is one of the skeletons in the bit about disabilities.

As a disabled person and someone whose day job involves ensuring PWD/disabled people receive equal access to education, this is very much relevant to the mission of this blog.

Although this display deals with prehistory and disability in society, it sets a solid framework for other posts I have made on the topic of disability in European history, from an art history, literary,  and sociological perspective.

It is ableism today that shapes our ideas about what people’s attitudes toward disability in the past were, and how disabled people were treated in their societies. As always, it is my hope that having a greater understanding of history can help shift our views of disability in society from a kind of individual tragedy, towards a society that considers disability as a kind of human variation that should and must be considered in everything from educational planning, architecture and civic planning, to the way our appliances (which are a form of adaptive technology themselves!) are designed. Keep in mind: people of color and disabled people are not mutually exclusive categories.

I think that examining the evidence of the lives of disabled people from the past, sometimes the far distant past, will cause us to question why and how in this day and age, we still consider disability to be “Other”, and how our society is constructed to exclude in so many ways, rather than having our world and material objects designed in such a way to be accessible to everyone.

medievalpoc:

fictiveprophet:

medievalpoc:

xanthy-m submitted to medievalpoc:

So, uh, this might not be very relevant but I’m submitting it anyways.
I just wanted to say I went to Stockholm a few weeks back, and the Swedish Historical Museum there reminded me of your blog. 
There were quite a few bits devoted to the fact that history is always written with some kind of agenda (the first thing you see in the viking section is that the concept of vikings was used to promote everything from voting rights to nazism), how our current society impacts our views on history (one sign even questions gender definitions) and that even our ‘objective’ research is actually pretty subjective sometimes. There was also a small section on disabilities during the “viking age” which I found pretty cool (mostly amputees and stuff, but with actual skeletons to prove they existed, which is far more than what you get in most museums). 
The medieval section of the museum had some bits that focused on subjectivity as well, but I didn’t get to spend quite as much time in there so I can’t give an in-depth review or anything.
What I can say is that whoever arranged this museum was obviously trying to make sure the visitors think for themselves and have a critical approach to what people tell them. At times they seemed to think the questions were more important than the answers. Seems like some historians do know what’s up, and that makes me happy.
I am apparently only allowed to upload one pic but I have more should anyone be interested :)

I LOVE this!!!
I would honestly be overjoyed to publish your other submissions, and I can organize it into a photoset if you want to submit multiple times.

Sweden is no doubts a country with trouble when it comes to race, white supremacy and racism (we got a political party with a racist agenda that is frighteningly popular, just to mention one thing), but there is thankfully a lot of academic effort to fight racist and sexist structures.Amongst my introduction courses when I studied archaeology, we had a course titled “African and comparative archaeology” which basically was a quarter of a semester long course focusing on how much harm archaeology has done in most parts of Africa because of colonialism, post-colonialism and ignorance, as well as how we as future archaeologists have huge responsibility to be aware, educate ourselves and others to undo those damages and also a couple of classes pointing out that as European archaeologists, we must understand that it isn’t our prehistory to uncover, that what we might find interesting and fascinating isn’t free for us to just dig into. Basically they were warning us that as archaeologists, we can easily act culturally appropriative, but we must check ourselves so we don’t. We also had another course, the same length, that covered the relation between past and present, how our bias is going to make us do interpretations that most probably are false or even offensive, that the way museums showcase prehistory is strongly dictated by post-colonialism etc. Basically half our introduction semester was teaching us to be extremely critical of previous as well as current research, especially in regards of how it relates to politics, privilege etc. I wish they’d have these types of classes already in high school, because they were really eye-opening, engage the students in rethinking “scientifically proven” and humbling in a way that obviously Sweden needs more of. 

I really wish that American education was structured in this way more. In my experience and observation, the topics you refer to above are touched on for maybe one class at the beginning (or end) of a semester in more undergrad courses, and then never really revisited or integrated into the rest of the course material.
This has the effect of making it seem like a footnote that can be acknowledged and then forgotten, or something that is firmly in the past and irrelevant to current study in the humanities.
Sadly, it seems as though in the United States, our curricula are shaped by political and financial pressures from the same sort of frighteningly popular and definitely racist groups. Rather than having these important counternarratives and critical thinking workshops included in the teaching material, they are marginalized within the way the classes are grouped and required for different majors. A lot of this discourse is only included in elective classes, and are considered along the lines of “esoteric specialties”. The classes in humanities that are required for graduation are generally “traditional”, a.k.a. Eurocentric, as has become our educational standard.
I like that from the way you speak about it, these classes seem to underscore how important it is to be actively engaged in scholarship, questioning bias and context when it comes to the framing of art, artifacts, and other primary sources by people writing about them.

medievalpoc:

fictiveprophet:

medievalpoc:

xanthy-m submitted to medievalpoc:

So, uh, this might not be very relevant but I’m submitting it anyways.

I just wanted to say I went to Stockholm a few weeks back, and the Swedish Historical Museum there reminded me of your blog.

There were quite a few bits devoted to the fact that history is always written with some kind of agenda (the first thing you see in the viking section is that the concept of vikings was used to promote everything from voting rights to nazism), how our current society impacts our views on history (one sign even questions gender definitions) and that even our ‘objective’ research is actually pretty subjective sometimes.
There was also a small section on disabilities during the “viking age” which I found pretty cool (mostly amputees and stuff, but with actual skeletons to prove they existed, which is far more than what you get in most museums).

The medieval section of the museum had some bits that focused on subjectivity as well, but I didn’t get to spend quite as much time in there so I can’t give an in-depth review or anything.

What I can say is that whoever arranged this museum was obviously trying to make sure the visitors think for themselves and have a critical approach to what people tell them. At times they seemed to think the questions were more important than the answers. Seems like some historians do know what’s up, and that makes me happy.

I am apparently only allowed to upload one pic but I have more should anyone be interested :)

I LOVE this!!!

I would honestly be overjoyed to publish your other submissions, and I can organize it into a photoset if you want to submit multiple times.

Sweden is no doubts a country with trouble when it comes to race, white supremacy and racism (we got a political party with a racist agenda that is frighteningly popular, just to mention one thing), but there is thankfully a lot of academic effort to fight racist and sexist structures.

Amongst my introduction courses when I studied archaeology, we had a course titled “African and comparative archaeology” which basically was a quarter of a semester long course focusing on how much harm archaeology has done in most parts of Africa because of colonialism, post-colonialism and ignorance, as well as how we as future archaeologists have huge responsibility to be aware, educate ourselves and others to undo those damages and also a couple of classes pointing out that as European archaeologists, we must understand that it isn’t our prehistory to uncover, that what we might find interesting and fascinating isn’t free for us to just dig into. Basically they were warning us that as archaeologists, we can easily act culturally appropriative, but we must check ourselves so we don’t. 

We also had another course, the same length, that covered the relation between past and present, how our bias is going to make us do interpretations that most probably are false or even offensive, that the way museums showcase prehistory is strongly dictated by post-colonialism etc. Basically half our introduction semester was teaching us to be extremely critical of previous as well as current research, especially in regards of how it relates to politics, privilege etc. I wish they’d have these types of classes already in high school, because they were really eye-opening, engage the students in rethinking “scientifically proven” and humbling in a way that obviously Sweden needs more of. 

I really wish that American education was structured in this way more. In my experience and observation, the topics you refer to above are touched on for maybe one class at the beginning (or end) of a semester in more undergrad courses, and then never really revisited or integrated into the rest of the course material.

This has the effect of making it seem like a footnote that can be acknowledged and then forgotten, or something that is firmly in the past and irrelevant to current study in the humanities.

Sadly, it seems as though in the United States, our curricula are shaped by political and financial pressures from the same sort of frighteningly popular and definitely racist groups. Rather than having these important counternarratives and critical thinking workshops included in the teaching material, they are marginalized within the way the classes are grouped and required for different majors. A lot of this discourse is only included in elective classes, and are considered along the lines of “esoteric specialties”. The classes in humanities that are required for graduation are generally “traditional”, a.k.a. Eurocentric, as has become our educational standard.

I like that from the way you speak about it, these classes seem to underscore how important it is to be actively engaged in scholarship, questioning bias and context when it comes to the framing of art, artifacts, and other primary sources by people writing about them.

lohelim said: RE: the conversation about Roman slavery, class, and race relations. I'm a classical studies major and it really bugs me when we get into conversations like this and frame it in the context of US race relations. To Romans, there were functionally only two races - Roman and non-Roman. They did not give a flying crap about skin color as long as you worshipped their gods (or made a pretense of it), paid their taxes, followed their laws, and fought on their side.

medievalpoc:

Yes, I am aware it “bugs” you. It “bugs” a lot of people.

I’m noticing a pattern, and the people it “bugs” the most are almost always academics. I am assuming you actually read the conversation, but you still sent this message, so I guess I’ll just say it all over again.

Racism today affects how we view the past.

Racism in 1930 affects how we view the past.

Racism in 1850 affects how we view the past.

Racism in 1787 affects how we view the past.

The knowledge we currently possess has been filtered though all of these centuries before it got to us, and each century between us and the ancient world has shaped how the knowledge was passed on.

Every conversation we have about Roman slavery, class, and race relations is affected by not only these factors, but who we are as the people researching, reading, and exploring these materials.

Where did your information come from? How did you form these opinions and ideas? Someone wrote a book. You read it. Someone with authority you trust told you. Knowledge was passed from human being to human being. It doesn’t come from some kind of Supreme Universal Authority, it comes from human beings. Human being are not objective.

In plain terms-in previous eras, these histories were purposely racialized because the authors who wrote them were racist, and lived in an era where furthering white supremacy was highly encouraged and well-compensated.

Instead of challenging, confronting, or refuting this influence, the reaction has been “Hey, let’s just drop it already" from most of the disciplines involving history (which is honestly just about all of them).

Instead of trying to curtail or ameliorate the voices that infused white supremacy into our education in the first place, most people seem a lot more comfortable shush-shushing the voices that want to point out that that happened. To confront it head-on, and explore how this influence continues to shape our ideas, our worldviews, and our knowledge of the past.

It bugs you. Good! I’m not comfortable, you’re not comfortable, so let’s go digging because no one promised anyone the truth is a comfortable pair of well-worn shoes that fit everyone exactly the same.

roundlittleowl said: So one of my favorite posts of yours is the one about the Roman socks (their poor, cold toes), and it made me curious about the history of knitting (though actually those socks are nalbinding?). Anyway I read an article about it and was specifically intrigued by "There is a fairly obvious trail of artifacts from Egypt to Moorish-occupied Spain, and up into the rest of Europe." I was wondering if you knew of any examples of fiber arts made/imported/etc by POC in the Middle Ages?

medievalpoc:

Yes, and it’s SO interesting!

Surviving trade goods like textiles, beads, and small, portable artworks are actually one of the reasons we know that the Silk Road has been in use pretty much since there have been humans. It’s such a fascinating history, no matter where you start or where you end up!

You can find Egyptian beads in Irish graves, and Persians silks and Chinese beads in Viking funeral ships.

The Silk Road has been in use since about 500 B.C., and the pre-Historic Silk Road trade route was called the Steppe Road.

In the Middle Ages in Europe, one of the most highly prized trade items was cloth from The Middle East and Asia. It was often called “Tatar cloth”, and there are even paintings like this that show Asian traders with these kind of precious goods:

image

[Italy, c. 1350]

The incredible value of this cloth caused a trend in Medieval European art: “Psuedo-Kufic" characters, which were basically imitation Arabic letters, added to painted garments in Medieval European paintings to make the cloth look richer:

image

Tatar Cloth

Tatar People (Brittanica.com)

The Silk Road in Antiquity (the Met Museum)

Commercial Exchange and Diplomacy Between Venice and the Islamic World

A little more about Venice and the Mamluks, the Ottomans, and the Safavids

By the time the cloth got to Italy, it was already expensive. By the time it got to Northwestern Europe, it was nearly priceless.

There’s also the history regarding how both supply and demand for goods from Asia was generated by the massive population movement during the Mongolian invasion of Europe, and how much cultural exchange, especially in the form of fashions, there really was.

Although there was some trade in textiles between African nations and empires during the European medieval period, most of the trade took the form of gold and salt, the most highly prized commodities. The Ghana and Malian Empires exported almost unspeakable amounts of gold. In the days of Mansa Musa, Mali was providing half the entire world’s supply of salt and gold. That’s basically where the money for the European Renaissance came from.

I’m sure you’ve read about or maybe even seen “cloth-of-gold”. Ancient and Medieval textiles always have a fascinating history behind them. This is the story behind this piece of cloth-of-gold:

image

Beginning in 1211, Genghis Khan invaded the Jin Empire, then proceeded across Central Asia to conquer eastern Iran and the territories east of the Oxus River (today Amu Darya) known as Transoxiana. The artisans and master craftsmen from conquered cities were enslaved and distributed among members of the Khan’s family and distinguished generals.

The nomadic Mongols took these artisans, who fashioned luxury items and other highly desirable articles, to cities in Mongolia and eastern Central Asia. Historical accounts and travel narratives of the period mention them, yet little has survived of the objects, particularly the textiles, they produced.

This magnificent cloth of gold is one of the few silk and gold textiles that can be associated with those craftsmen. It is woven with pairs of winged lions within aligned, tangent roundels and pairs of griffins in the interstices. The background is densely filled with scrolling vines and palmettes. Both the overall design and the animals are Persian; yet the cloud-like ornamentation of the lions’ wings, the cloud scrolls at the terminals of the vines filling the background of the roundels, and the dragons’ heads at the ends of the lions’ tails are based on Chinese models.

The synthesis of Eastern and Western elements is purely Central Asian, which is not surprising considering that captive craftsmen from the former Jin territories were working in the same cities as the captured artisans from eastern Persia and Transoxiana. The density of its design and the fact that the design was entirely woven with gold thread are characteristic of textiles produced during the Mongol period.

The artistic and technical quality of this textile is unsurpassed among the silk and gold textiles that have survived from the early Mongol period. Given that it was once preserved in a Tibetan monastery, this textile was probably woven during the middle of the thirteenth century.

The Mongols only began to make contact with Tibet in 1240 and did not sign a treaty until 1247. In honor of that occasion, gold, silver, and two hundred precious robes were given as imperial gifts to Tibetan monasteries. A few years later, starting in 1251, members of Genghis Khan’s family began to patronize different Tibetan sects, which involved presenting gifts that, in those days, always included precious textiles. A textile of the extraordinary quality and value of this cloth of gold would almost certainly have reached Tibet as an imperial gift.

The Cleveland Museum of Art

nok-ind:

The Empire of ancient Ghana
The empire of ancient Ghana created by the Mende (Soninke) with human habitation dating back to at least around 4,000 BC.

Ancient Ghana was located in what is now southeastern Mauritania and western Mali.
Today the area around Dar Tichitt in southern Mauritania has been the subject of much archaeological attention, revealing successive layers of settlement near what still were small lakes as late as 1200 BCE. At this time people there built circular compounds, 60-100 feet in diameter, near the beaches of the lakes. (‘Compound’ is the name given to a housing type, still common today, in which several members of related families share space within a wall.) These compounds were arranged into large villages located about 12 miles from each other. Inhabitants fished, herded cattle and planted some millet, which they stored in pottery vessels. This was the last era of reasonable moisture in this part of the Sahara. By 1000 BCE the villages, still made up of compounds, had been relocated to hilltop positions, and were walled. Cattle were still herded, more millet was grown, but there were no more lakes for fishing. From 700-300 BCE the villages decreased in size and farming was reduced at the expense of pastoralism.

Architecturally, the villages of Dar Tichitt resemble those of the modern northern Mande (Soninke), who live in the savanna 300-400 miles to the south. These ancient villagers were not only farmers, but were engaged in trade connected with the salt and copper mines which developed to the north. Horse drawn vehicles passed through the Tichitt valley, bringing trading opportunities, ideas, and opening up the inhabitants to raids from their more nomadic northern neighbors. Development of the social and political organization necessary to handle commerce and defense must have been a factor in the subsequent development of Ghana, the first great Sudanic empire, in this part of West Africa.

It is very plausible to think that the people of antiquity in Ancient Ghana may be connected to the Ancient peoples who lived in the Sahara before it turned into dessert. Additionally Habitation of the region where the Ghana empire existed is much older than Western academics are aware of.

(Source: city-data.com, via diasporicroots)

Tags: WWI Myths History

"If you know I have a history, you will respect me.

Those who assume that a people have no history worth mentioning are likely to believe they have no humanity worth defending.

"

-Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage, William Loren Katz. (p. 10) [from the mission statement] (via medievalpoc)

Hello! I apologize in advance for the wall of text ahead. I’ve been following your blog for a couple months now and I absolutely love having you on my dashboard. I’m constantly blown away by the legacy of whitewashing and the fact that non-Eurocentral historical sources are too few and far…

kleinecharlotte:

Art History Meme [3/8] Artists
↳ Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931)

(via londoninquisitor)