Tag Archives: medieval

What Evidence Proves: Ben Carson and His Unprofessional Take on the Pyramids

Alien Guy from History Channel saying "Grain Storage"

BuzzFeed recently uncovered an old video of now-presidential hopeful Ben Carson expressing the belief that ancient Egyptian pyramids were granaries rather than the archeologically accepted explanation of them being tombs. When asked, Carson acknowledged that he still holds this belief. “My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain,” said Carson, referring the Old Testament story where the prophet Joseph warned the pharaoh of famine and recommended great quantities of grain be stored. “I happen to

Bathroom Customs; or, Everyone Poops

Roman bathroom habits

There’s talk of late of where transgender people should go to the bathroom.  If you’re physically male, but you consider yourself female, do you use the men’s room or the ladies’ room?  What if you have gender reassignment surgery, so you’re physically a different gender than you were at birth? Or, a question I’ve always asked, long before I had heard of transgenderism: why the heck do we care? The Modern Urinal Of course, the urinal poses some problem, since

Richard III Funeral: Burial of an English King

Richard III Burial

More than two years after his remains were identified and 530 years after his death, King Richard III of England will be laid to rest (again) on March 26. Historical Significance of Richard III’s Burial This is quite likely the last burial of an English king, as modern monarchs are kings (and queens) of the United Kingdom.  There are a handful of other missing English monarchs, but the chances of finding and identifying their bodies is highly unlikely, other than

Everyone Farts; or, Historical Bathroom Humor

Bonnacon - Medieval monster that farts

Today’s page is dedicated to those fans who have wondered when I’m going to put up more bizarre historical art. About 300 years ago, some genius Japanese artist gave us He-Gassen, or “the fart war.”  I can’t make this up if I tried.  Not quite safe for work. And then there’s more medieval silliness on the matter: Says one source, who I’m sure is totally reputable and wasn’t drinking at all when he wrote it: …in Asia an animal is

How Long Did they Have? Life Expectancy in History

Every semester a student asks me this question: how long did people live in ancient times? Was it really only 35 years? General life expectancy across the world for most of history was, indeed 35. However, “life expectancy” is a terribly imprecise term, giving the impression that any particular person could only expect to live roughly 35 years. What is should be called is average life span. The number – in this case 35 – is the average of the

More History and Game of Thrones

HERE THERE BE A FEW SPOILERS I’ve previously written about how alternative-history needs a basis in history.  Other forms of fiction frequently benefit as well, and Game of Thrones is no exception. Dragons and whitewalkers aside, George R.R. Martin wants Westeros to feel somewhat familiar to us.  He also wants something cohesive, and one of the ways you do that is borrow from things already in existence.  So just as he leaned on history for his characters, he also drew

War of the Roses and Game of Thrones

Wolf and lion emblems

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS.  I HAVE NOT READ THE BOOKS, BUT THIS DISCUSSES EVENTS UP TO THE END OF SEASON 4. No matter how much I make up, there’s stuff in history that’s just as bad or worse. –George R.R. Martin All sorts of things influence writers: people they know, current trends, politics, folklore (consider all the supernatural fiction currently popular), famous stories (all sorts of movies are deliberately based on Shakespeare’s works), current events (Elysium‘s treatment of the healthcare

Inventing Celtic History, or My Continued Quarrel with “Cosmos”

Cosnos's idea of celtic art

The TV show Cosmos has managed to not offend me for several weeks, and this last episode certainly didn’t offend, it merely annoyed.  In its introduction to our understanding of the stars, host Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses a variety of myths surrounding constellations, particularly about the Pleiades. Among the ancient Celts and Druids of the British Isles, the Pleiades were thought to have a haunting significance.  On the day of the year that they reached the highest point in the

Judgmental Augustine: Peter Lombard Gets it Wrong

St Augustine Objecting in Lombard's Gloss of the Psalms

Medieval marginalia is most known for being bizarre and offensive. It frequently is, but not always, particularly in earlier manuscripts. In the mid 12th century, Peter Lombard wrote a gloss of the psalms. That is, he created pages that displayed both the text of the Book of Psalms and his theological commentary on the text, which included frequent references to other respected theologians. Occasionally, however, Lombard got his sources mixed up. The book was commissioned by Thomas Becket, the Archbishop

Braveheart: the Historical Movie that Isn’t

Screaming William Wallace

First, let me be clear: wide-release movies are not meant to be documentaries. There will be deviations of history, and I’m fine with that. I will also say that I greatly enjoyed Braveheart as a movie. However, if you’re going to make a historical movie, you might want to include something of actual history in it. Otherwise it’s not even good alt-history, but rather a fantasy tale which happens to label its location as “England.” William Wallace The main character,

« Older Entries