Annual Editions: Western Civilization, Volume 1
These articles discuss some of the attributes of early civilizations. The topics discuss the role of dogs, Egypt, law, ancient wonders, and ancient empires.
1. More than Man’s Best Friend, Jarret A. Lobell and Eric A. Powell, Archaeology, September/October 2010
Whenever or wherever dogs were first domesticated they have left mementos all over the archaeological world. The authors explore the roles dogs played in past cultures and how the ancients celebrated them.
2. Uncovering Secrets of the Sphinx, Evan Hadingham, Smithsonian, February 2010
American archaeologist Mark Lehner has been working for many years to discover aspects and meaning of the Sphinx. He believes that Pharaoh Khafre built the Sphinx to honor his father, Khufu and it served to harness the sun’s power to resurrect the soul of the pharaoh.
3. Journey to the Seven Wonders, Tony Perrottet, Smithsonian, June 2004
Though only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still stands, they still intrigue our imagination. Author Tony Perrottet details the Pyramids, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and the Statue of Zeus at Olympia. Why do these monuments still capture our thoughts after 2,000 years?
4. The Coming of the Sea Peoples, Neil Asher Silberman, Military History, Winter 1998
About 1200 B.C. a new military force swept southward across the Aegean Sea and into Asia Minor, Cyprus and Canaan—and even reached the borders of Egypt. Where were the "sea peoples," and how did their weapons and tactics launch a military revolution in the ancient world?
5. I, Pillar of Justice, Frank L. Holt, Saudi Aramco World, May/June 2009
The major focus of this article is Mesopotamia in the time of Hammurapi and discusses the Law Code. There are 282 laws enumerated and the conditions and penalties for various offenses.
6. Before Tea Leaves Divination in Ancient Babylonia, William W. Hallo, Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2005
William Halo discusses the use of hepatoscopy (a form of divination involving the inspection of animal livers) by the Assyrian kings. He sees parallels between ancient liver inspections and modern intelligence.
These articles focus on Greek and Roman society. Sports, crime, politics, military conquests, women in Etruscan society, and Cleopatra are discussed.
7. Troy’s Night of the Horse, Barry Strauss, The Trojan War, March 2007
There have been many theories as to the reality of the Trojan War, but most historians are convinced that the Trojan Horse was a fiction. However, Barry Strauss suggests that we think of the fall of Troy as an example of unconventional warfare—Bronze Age style, and that the Greeks must have used some kind of deceit to take the city.
8. The Historical Socrates, Robin Waterfield, History Today, January 2009
The popular image of Socrates as a man of immense moral integrity was largely the creation of his pupil Plato. If we study the evidence of his trial, says the author, a different picture emerges, of a cunning politician opposed to Athenian democracy.
9. Good Riddance, I Say, Frank L. Holt, Saudi Aramco World July/August 2008
Frank L. Holt uses a bit of broken pottery to enlighten us about daily life in fifth century Athens. He explains how the political banishment called ostracism was used between two Athenian statesmen—Themistocles and Aristeides the Just.
10. Outfoxed and Outfought, Jason K. Foster, Military History, January/February 2007
Jason K. Foster recounts how the superior-trained Athenian Hoplites (heavily armed soldiers) and new battle tactics overwhelmed the ancient world’s greatest empire, Persia. Had Athens been defeated, democracy, art, culture, and philosophy might have been lost forever.
11. Mighty Macedonian: Alexander the Great, Richard Covington, Smithsonian, November 2004
His victories on the battlefield earned him the title Alexander the Great, but what were his motives? Was it his motivation to surpass his father, Philip II, or to win his mother Olympias’ love, which enabled him to conquer the Persian Empire?
12. Etruscan Women: Dignified, Charming, Literate and Free, Ingrid D. Rowland, Archaeology Odyssey, May/June 2004
The author tells us that the Etruscan Women’s freedom of action, appetite for wine, and their loose morals were scandalous to the Greeks and later, to the Romans. They were powerful, dignified, elegant, and aristocratic, and seemed to be equal to men.
13. Rome’s Craftiest General: Scipio Africanus, James Lacey, Military History, July/August 2007
Publius Cornelius Scipio "Africanus" learned the art of war at a very young age against Rome’s greatest enemy, Hannibal Barca. Although Scipio and the Romans were first defeated, he eventually gained a command to take Spain from Carthage and then met Hannibal at Zama in 202 B.C. The latter was the crowning achievement of his career and gave him the title, "Africanus" or "victor of Africa," but it was to be his last important command.
The articles in this section examine the Hebrew religion, Jesus, and Mary Magdalene.
14. Did Captured ARK Afflict Philistines with E.D.?, Aren M. Maeir, Biblical Archaeological Review, May/June 2008
What did the Bible mean by the statement that God afflicted the Phillistines with ‘opalim’ which is usually translated as "hemorrhoids." The author contends that the real meaning had to do with sexual function.
15. Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?, Andrew Lawler, Smithsonian, January 2010
There is a controversy fueled by the thoughts of Israeli archaeologist, Yuval Peleg, who does not believe in the traditional view that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by an ascetic group called the Essenes. He contends that Jews, fleeing from the Roman War 66–70 A.D. hid documents in the Qumran caves to keep them safe. His and other theories are discussed.
16. From Jesus to Christ, Jon Meacham, Newsweek, March 28, 2005
How did the Jesus of history, whom many in his time saw as a failed prophet, come to be viewed by billions as the Christ of faith? What were the Jewish traditions incorporated into Christianity? And why did Christianity succeed where many other religious movements failed?
17. An Inconvenient Woman, Jonathan Darman, Newsweek, May 29, 2006
Was Mary Magdalene a saint or sinner? Most of her history remains a mystery but Jonathan Darman says that she was faithful to Jesus’ message of love and hope.
These selections discuss the Byzantine civilization as well as important political and scientific methods in the Muslim world.
18. The Elusive Eastern Empire, Dionysios Stathakopoulos, History Today, November 2008
The author recounts the history of the Byzantine Empire which began with Constantine the Great and lasted until the capital, Constantinople, was captured by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Great emperors such as Justinian and Heraclius are detailed along with the many problems in religion and foreign attackers.
19. The Lost Secret of Greek Fire, Bruce Heydt, Military History, April 2006
Greek Fire was a terrifying weapon which protected the Byzantine Empire for centuries, but there are many secrets which the modern world would like to know. What was the chemical makeup, how was it discharged, and when was the secret lost? The author says that perhaps some day we may find the answers in a forgotten archive.
20. Islam’s First Terrorists, Clive Foss, History Today, December 2007
The Kharijites emerged in the late seventh century and caused chaos during the Arab civil wars. Although they flourished in chaotic times and were able to set up a few states, none of these states lasted. Their insistence on democracy undermined a strong leadership, while their fanaticism led to internal splits.
21. Al-Kimiya Notes on Arabic Alchemy, Gabriele Ferrario, Chemical Heritage, Fall 2007
Alchemy meant a method by which base metals could be transmuted into noble (gold or silver) ones. The experiments and writing of Arabic scientists gave us words in chemistry for alcohol, elixir, distillation, and solvents. These alchemists transmitted the legacy of the ancient and Hellenistic knowledge to the West.
These selections examine the medieval world. Topics include the church, education, military conquests, trade, and culture.
22. The Church in the Middle Ages, Marius Ostrowski, History Review, December 2006
When the Roman Empire fell in the fifth century, it was the Christian church which gained immense power and held it for a millennium. The church brought together politics, religion, warfare, and culture which lasted until the Reformation.
23. What Did Medieval Schools Do for Us?, Nicholas Orme, History Today, June 2006
When the Roman Civilization evaporated in England during the fifth century, learning inclined more into/toward the monasteries, where Latin Grammars were developed to teach those who knew no Latin. By the twelfth century, school became what we would call modern: they moved away from the monasteries, had full-time teachers, and they were more in number. Many more children—boys and girls—were literate.
24. 1215 and All That, James Lacey, Military History, May 2010
After signing the Magna Carta, which limited King John’s powers and protected the nobles rights, one might have hoped for peace. However, the barons got drunk and proclaimed John a disgrace, while the king turned to vengeance.
25. The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople, Jonathan Phillips, History Today, May 2004
What caused the knights of the Fourth Crusade to sack Constantinople and establish a Latin Empire, which lasted from 1204 to 1261? Jonathan Phillips says that it was a clash of cultures—the Byzantines saw themselves as superior to the West and the Westerners saw the Byzantines as effeminate and duplicitous.
26. Monsoons, Mude and Gold, Paul Lunde, Saudi Aramco World, July/August 2005
The global economy of the Middle Ages was created by taking advantage of the monsoons to link the Indian Ocean with the West. The Venetians sent mude, or convoys of ships, to the East for luxury items. This trade meant finding new sources of gold needed to pay for the goods as well as maps of the routes.
27. How a Mysterious Disease Laid Low Europe’s Masses, Charles L. Mee Jr., Smithsonian, February 1990
The great Bubonic plague of the fourteenth century destroyed a third of Europe’s population and had profound psychological, social, religious, economic, and even artistic consequences. Charles Mee spells out the causes, symptoms, and effects of the epidemic that altered medieval life.
The following articles discuss, the Renaissance, politics, war, culture, and the importance of religion in Western Europe.
28. Joan of Arc, Kelly DeVries, Military History, January/February 2008
Kelly DeVries says that Joan of Arc’s fame comes from her skill at leading men into battle against great odds. She inspired later generals to adopt her tactics, such as direct engagements and frontal assaults. These things later made her celebrated and a saint.
29. Christian Humanism: From Renaissance to Reformation, Lucy Wooding, History Review, September 2009
Christian Humanism had key features such as internationalism or traveling scholars, correspondence between scholars, one language—Latin, a sound biblical knowledge, and a desire for education.
30. The Luther Legacy, Derek Wilson, History Today, May 2007
Martin Luther has been seen as an advocate of individual freedom, intellectual repression, nationalism, spirituality, and secularism. But, as Derek Wilson says, this did not make Luther a dry philosopher but a flesh-and-blood fallible human being. He was a theologian who lived his theology.
31. Explaining John Calvin, William J. Bouwsma, The Wilson Quarterly, New Year’s Edition 1989
John Calvin’s image in history is well established. The religious reformer has been credited with—or blamed for—promoting the capitalist work ethic, individualism, and Puritanism. His biographer, William Bouwsma, says our image of Calvin as a cold, inflexible moralist is mistaken. According to the author, Calvin’s life and work were full of "the ambiguities, contradictions, and agonies" of a troubled time.
32. Who Was Henry VIII and When Did It All Go Wrong?, Suzannah Lipscomb, History Today, April 2009
The author says that what we know today of King Henry VIII is a false picture. We take our understanding of Henry in his last days and use it as a blueprint for his life and his reign—his character flaws were not manifest until much later.
33. Women in War, John A. Lynn, Military History, October 2007
In the armies of sixteenth century Europe, there was a woman for every man. The tasks performed by camp women were prostitution, laundry, meal preparation, commerce, and heavy camp labor. The import of women in the field is recounted by John A. Lynn.
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