A Student of History

August 29, 2006

Zulu War site located

Filed under: Historic Places,Wars — John Maass @ 4:38 pm

In a BBC article, it is reported that archaeologists have revealed details of soldiers’ battle for survival during a bloody siege in the Anglo-Zulu War, as a team of experts from Glasgow have now uncovered a forgotten British fort.

Fort at Eshowe

The fort was built by the British army following the invasion of Zululand in January 1879 and was besieged by a huge Zulu force for more than two months.  The full article is here.

The BBC has more on this era here, and the webpage of the Anglo Zulu Historical Society’s page is of interest as well. The Society includes the publication of articles, letters and reviews likely to be of interest students of the Anglo Zulu war of 1879. Publication takes the form of two quality Anglo Zulu Historical Society journals published on-line, in June and December of each year containing articles of a high academic standard. The contributions are detailed, incisive and explanatory. Any thought provoking or controversial issues are tactfully examined.

August 28, 2006

A new twist to historic preservation….

Filed under: Historic Preservation — John Maass @ 7:29 pm

In an article called “Historic sites compete for cash,” the BBC gives details on a Welsh plan to have historic sites vie for money to help preserve themselves. Its part of the BBC’s TV show called Restoration Village. Viewers must choose between slate workshops and a community institute in north Wales and a Carmarthenshire farm, which dates back to the 14th Century.

Prichard Jones Institute

The article is here.

Are TV viewers really the best judges of what is worthy or restoration, or even if the job can be done at all?

Theory: Why the Mayans Collapsed

Filed under: Historic Places — John Maass @ 2:12 am

A new theory has been proposed as to why the Mayan civilzation declined, and went belly up. 

The decline of the Maya civilization began some 1,100 year ago when millions of Indians working on the contruction of tall pyramidal temples and palaces learned that their kings weren’t gods, Spanish anthropologist Andres Ciudad told EFE.

The complete article is here.

August 26, 2006

The Most Influential Documents of US History

Filed under: The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 9:22 pm

The People’s Vote, co-sponsored by the National Archives and Records Administration, National History Day, and U.S. News & World Report, invited Americans of all ages and educational backgrounds to vote for 10 of 100 milestone documents drawn mainly from the holdings of the National Archives. The vote is part of a larger project created by the National Archives and National History Day in collaboration with USA Freedom Corps titled Our Documents: A National Initiative on American History, Civics and Service. The purpose of Our Documents is to provide programs like The People’s Vote to engage Americans in a better understanding of the records that shaped our country. More on this effort can be found here.  The complete list is here. Note: go to the list and click on the document name and it will bring up an image of the ACTUAL document on the list, which I think is great!

From John Carlin, the Archivist of the United States:

The People’s Vote is truly a unique initiative. No other project has invited Americans from all walks of life, all across the country, to voice their opinion on documents that have shaped our history, culture, and society today.

Not only did the People’s Vote challenge voters to really think and learn about these 100 milestone documents, but it encouraged enthusiastic debate in homes, classrooms, workplaces, and online. U.S. News created the People’s Vote web site; tabulated both online and paper ballots; and featured the vote in their magazine – among many other contributions.

And National History Day was instrumental in working with teachers to bring the Vote into classrooms around the U.S. I want to extend my thanks to everyone associated with this project.

Overall, nearly forty thousand people cast more than three hundred thousand votes for the documents they believe have most influenced America.

Some of these records are well known, like the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, or Bill of Rights, but some played a lesser known role in history like the Morrill Act, which enabled new western states to establish colleges for its citizens, opening educational opportunities to thousands of people and the Keating-Owens Child Labor Act that limited the working hours of children and forbade interstate sale of goods produced by child labor.

Statistics give some very interesting insight into this project.

This was truly a diverse national initiative, as people from all geographic regions and age groups participated. More votes came from the midwest than any other region, followed by the northeast. Almost 27 thousand votes were cast online, while approximately twelve thousand people voted by paper ballot.  And interestingly, almost twice as many males voted as females.

About 15 thousand of the voters were over 50 years old, and the next largest age group of participants was people between 18 and 34 years old. There were about eight thousand voters in this group.

The rest of Carlin’s remarks are here.

The top 10 Documents?  No surprises, really, though I would have put the Emancipation Proclamation higher than the La. Purchase.

The Top 10 Milestone Documents:

  1. Declaration of Independence (1776) 29,681 votes
  2. Constitution of the United States (1787) 27,070 votes
  3. Bill of Rights (1791) 26,545 votes
  4. Louisiana Purchase Treaty (1803) 13,417 votes
  5. Emancipation Proclamation (1863) 13,086 votes
  6. 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women’s Right to Vote (1920) 12,282 votes
  7. 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Abolition of Slavery (1865) 11,789 votes
  8. Gettysburg Address (1863) 9,939 votes
  9. Civil Rights Act (1964) 9,860 votes
  10. Social Security Act (1935) 8,157 votes 

August 25, 2006

Stonehenge and “progress”

Filed under: Historic Places,Historic Preservation — John Maass @ 4:24 pm

From Yahoo, is a story on the tunnel to be built near Stonehenge, to contain traffic in the area.  However, the government is now having second thoughts on the desirablity of this effort, given its huge price tag. 

Prime Minister Tony Blair should intervene in the

For the entire but short article, click here.

August 24, 2006

On the trail of the Swamp Fox

Filed under: Historic Places,The strange place called the South — John Maass @ 6:19 pm

Battle of Wyboo Swamp Mural in Manning 

From THE STATE, of Columbia, SC:

More than two centuries after Francis Marion ruled the swamps of northeast South Carolina, archaeologist Steve Smith is stalking his every move.  Smith is trying to find sites in the Pee Dee associated with Marion to help create a Francis Marion Trail. Smith has spent the past several months in the heart of Marion’s early campaigns along the Pee Dee, Lynches and Black rivers in Georgetown, Florence, Marion and Williamsburg counties.

The archaeologist is working with the Francis Marion Trail Commission to determine which sites need further work for possible development for the new trail being created to honor the Revolutionary War hero nicknamed the Swamp Fox.

The rest of the newspaper article is here.

For a lot more on Marion, go here.

Historian has new take on Culloden

Filed under: Historic Places,The past that is still with us,Wars — John Maass @ 1:47 am


From the Sunday Times, Aug. 20th edition:

BONNIE Prince Charlie’s defeat at Culloden should be a cause for national celebration instead of collective wailing and gnashing of teeth, one of Britain’s leading historians has advised Scots. Dan Snow, presenter of the BBC’s Battlefield Britain series, said that the most famous defeat on Scottish soil was good for the country. He condemned Scottish nationalists for using the result to promote anti-English hatred. Snow believes that Culloden was not about warring nations but was a Highland uprising against the Hanoverian government in London and its representatives in Edinburgh.

A wee bit of background on the battle, from the National Trust for Scotland:

Culloden Moor, scene of the last major battle fought on mainland Britain, is one of the most iconic and emotive sites in Scotland. The battle that took place here on 16 April 1746 effectively ended Jacobite hopes of restoring the exiled Stuart dynasty to the throne of Britain. The army of Prince Charles Edward Stuart was crushed by Government forces led by the Duke of Cumberland. In less than an hour – the time it takes to walk round the battlefield – it was over. The brutal measures imposed after the battle signalled the end of the distinctive way of life and culture of the Highland people of Scotland.

(Modern view of the field)

August 22, 2006

Old Fort found in Quebec

Filed under: Historic Places — John Maass @ 7:14 pm

The site of one of North America’s first settlements will be the object of an extensive archeological dig ahead of Quebec’s 400th anniversary celebrations. The site, in a suburb southwest of Quebec City, is believed to be where Jacques Cartier built a fort during his third and final voyage to the French colony. The Quebec government said Friday it will give $8 million to the archeological project over the next three years, according to a news report here.  Its the oldest European settlement to be discovered north of Mexico. 

Cartier was a French navigator who was origionally recognized as the European who discovered the St. Lawrence River. Cartier was a born in 1491 at St. Malo, Brittany. Cartier was to make three voyages to North America between 1534 and 1542. On the first voyage in 1534, he thoroughly explored the Gulf of St. Lawrence. He claimed the Gaspe Peninsula for France and took two Laurentain Iroquois home with him to learn French.

August 18, 2006

Peruvian past Recovered, in part…

Filed under: Historic Preservation — John Maass @ 3:16 pm

From Reuters:

An ancient headdress, depicting an image of a sea god, was recovered from a lawyers’ office in central London and is considered to be of “phenomenal importance” to Peruvian cultural heritage.  “We are speaking about an archaeological object of the utmost historical and aesthetical importance, one of the most important ornaments of the ancient Peruvian cultures,” said Walter Alva, director of the Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum in Peru.


The head-dress had been stolen by looters almost 20 years ago.  It is thought to date from about 700 AD.  The article does not specify how the lawyers got it and what it was doing in their offices….

August 16, 2006

226th Anniversary of the Battle of Camden

Filed under: Wars — John Maass @ 6:53 pm

Today marks the 226th anniversary of the battle of Camden, in South Carolina. It was one of the worst defeats in the Revolutionary War for the Patriots.  A summary of the battle can be found here, while a very detailed and acccurate site on research surrounding the battle as well as preservation is here.

This battlefield, largely undeveloped, was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1962. The Hobkirk Hill chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution purchased and preserved 6 acres in the heart of the battlefield in the 1920. Major progress towards protecting this important piece of American History started in 2000 with the Katawba Valley Land Trust (KVLT) successful acquisition of a historic property conservation easement from Bowaters, Inc. The 50 year easement over 290 acres of the heart of the battlefield requires a long-range strategic plan to be developed. To accomplish this planning, the KVLT has organized a steering committee composed of all interested governmental and non-governmental organizations. The Steering Committee is organized into financial, archaeological, documentary history and land acquisition sub-committees. The documentary history sub-committee was formed to review all relevant historical works and documents and is the sponsor of this website.  More about the preservation of this battlefield can be found here.

A sign of the times….

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 12:35 pm

According to a Fox News report, nearly three-quarters of those asked in a recent poll could name each of the Three Stooges — Larry, Curly and Moe — but only 42 percent were able to name the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.

That’s according to a new Zogby poll in which 77 percent of Americans could name two of the seven dwarfs, while just 24 percent knew two of the nine Supreme Court justices.

And while 57 percent of Americans could name fictional boy wizard Harry Potter, less than half could name Great Britain’s real prime minister, Tony Blair.

August 13, 2006

Iron Age village unearthed in Co. Tip.

Filed under: Historic Places,Ireland — John Maass @ 5:04 pm

A significant archaeological find has been unearthed in the village of Two-Mile-Borris, the Tipperary Star has learned.

The find centres around the site of the original ancient village settlement of Two-Mile-Borris close to the present day village at the rear of the existing Black Castle and near the adjacent river on land owned by local man, Pierce Duggan.
The find is thought to similar to what was discovered in Lough Gur in Co. Limerick and dates back to the Iron Age.
The Iron Age marks the period of development of technology, when the working of iron came into general use, replacing bronze as the basic material for implements and weapons. It is the last stage of the archaeological sequence known as the three-age system (Stone Age, Bronze Age, & Iron Age).

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