(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘World History

“There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know”*…


world history

Map of the globe with a focus on trade and expansion, c. 1565, based on an earlier map by Giacomo Gastaldi. Image credit: Library of Congress


As we look forward to 2019 and beyond, we might do well to pause and take a look back…

This animation shows how humans have spread and organized themselves across the Earth over the past 200,000 years. The time lapse starts with the migration of homo sapiens out of sub-Saharan Africa 200,000 years ago, with a few thousand years passing every second. As the agricultural revolution gets underway and the pace of civilization quickens, the animation slows down to hundreds of years per second and eventually, as it nears modern times, 1-2 years per second…

Via Kottke.org.  See also time lapse animations of the history of Europe from the fall of Rome to modern times and human population through time. (via open culture)

* Harry S. Truman


As we listen for the rhymes, we might wish the happiest of birthdays to Isaak Yudovich Ozimov– aka Isaac Asimov– who was born on this date in 1920.  A biochemistry professor, he is better remembered as an author– more specifically, as one one of the greatest science fiction authors of his time (imaginer of “The Foundation,” coiner of the term “robotics,” and author of “The Three Laws of Robotics”).  But Asimov was extraordinarily prolific; he published over 500 books– including (in addition to sci fi) 14 books of history, several mysteries, a great deal of popular science, even a worthy volume on Shakespeare– and wrote an estimated 9,000 letters and postcards.

Isaac.Asimov01 source


Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 2, 2019 at 1:01 am

A Pyrrhic Victory?…

From the History Atlas of Europe (Macmillan).

The most monumental failure of the past two millennia:  ironically, our pick—Charles Martel’s victory at the Battle of Tours in the year 732 A.D.—is considered by most Westerners to be a great success, and the so-called victory made Martel (a.k.a. Charles the Hammer), one of the heroes of European history.

At first glance, the results of the battle seem clear cut, as the Arab defeat marked the turning point in their unsuccessful attempt to conquer the world. But what would have happened had Charles been defeated at the Battle of Tours and the Arabs went on to overrun the rest of Europe? It is not only possible, but probable, that the development of modern science and technology would have been accelerated by several hundred years, making our lives that much better than they are today…

Read more of this provocative alternative history at the always-fascinating Failure Magazine.


As we agree or disagree, we might recall that it was on this date in 1979 that the Shah of Iran fled his country.  Installed by the British in 1941 (to replace his father, whose coup they had aided in 1921), the Shah ruled with steely firmness– and with the aid of close Western allies.  By 1978, opposition to what many Iranians considered a dictatorship, put and held in place by non-Muslim Western powers, boiled over– amid reports of oppression, brutality, corruption, extravagance, and a series of functional failures: e.g., economic bottlenecks, shortages and inflation; and an overly-centralized royal power structure.  The Shah’s attempts to control the populace, including increasing use of his army and SAVAK, his secret police, simply inflamed the uprising.

Finally, faced with an army mutiny and violent demonstrations against his rule (during which most of the statuary celebrating him throughout the country was pulled down and destroyed), the Shah abdicated the Peacock Throne and fled Iran.  Fourteen days later, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of the Islamic revolution, returned after fifteen years of exile and took control of Iran.  The Shah visited a series of countries before entering the U.S. in October, 1979 for cancer treatment.  In Tehran, Islamic militants responded on November 4 by storming the U.S. embassy and taking the staff hostage.  With the approval of Khomeini, the militants demanded the return of the Shah to Iran to stand trial for his crimes.  The U.S. refused to negotiate, and 52 American hostages were held for 444 days.  Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi died in Egypt in July, 1980.

The Shah and Empress Farah shortly before leaving Iran in 1979


Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 16, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”*…


From Susanna Wolff at College Humor,

Start at the beginning…

Or click through to a particular period…

More social history.

[TotH to EWW]

* George Santayana


As we slouch toward Bethlehem, we might recall that it was on this date in 1776 that five students at the College of William and Mary founded what has become the most prestigious undergraduate honor society in U.S. higher education, Phi Beta Kappa.  When the Revolutionary War forced William and Mary to close in 1780, newly formed chapters at Harvard and Yale took over Phi Beta Kappa’s development; by the time that the William and Mary chapter was revived in 1851, Phi Beta Kappa was active at colleges throughout New England.  By the end of the nineteenth century, the once secretive, exclusively male social group had transformed itself into a national honor society, open to men and women, dedicated to fostering and recognizing excellence in the liberal arts and sciences.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 5, 2011 at 1:01 am

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