European Neolithic Mining Practices

Neolithic-mineDuring the Neolithic period, flint was as prized as gold was to the Hindus, Christians, and Buddhists. 4500 years ago, flint miners dug shafts up to 12 meters deep in search of more flint. Ladders and wooden platforms made extracting the ore easier. This task was Herculean as the only picks available were reindeer antler. When a mine was exhausted, a new hole would be dug and the rubble from that hole would be used to back fill the previous mine. Most flint can be found above ground and most of the flint found at Neolithic sites is indeed surface flint so it is unclear why such a massive undertaking was performed as much more readily available sources were freely available. Flint is black in color with a shiny, glass like appearance similar to obsidian. Flint chips easily and is fairly simple to make incredibly sharp by simply cracking off a piece with a harder rock. It’s possible that mine shafts were dug as a ceremonial coming of age tradition in that a prepubescent adolescent would enter into the mine, dig into the depths of the Earth, and then emerge back out as an adult. This theory is backed up by the fact that the majority of miners left their picks in the mine, possibly signifying that they had reached adulthood. It is unclear if these picks were left because they were considered to be spiritually polluted or if they offered their pick as an offering to the Earth itself in exchange for what has been brought to the surface. There is a site in Britain at which over 400 of these mines were dug a few meters from eachother giving the landscape a cratered appearance

The First Industrial Revolution, Second Industrial Revolution, and Impending Third Industrial Revolution

Third-Industrial-RevolutionIndustrial revolutions require 3 key components to occur, 3 defining technologies which emerge and converge to create the catalyst needed to usher in a new era of human achievement and progress. The first component is new methods of communication technologies to make communication more efficient and to manage economic and social life (e.g. video conferencing), the second is new sources of energy to more efficiently power economic and social life as well as governance (e.g. renewable energy technologies), and the third is new modes of mobility and logistics to more efficiently move economic and social life as well as governance (e.g. on demand ride sharing). The First Industrial Revolution was caused by the discovery of a new source of energy; coal. Coal powered the new communications medium, the steam powered press, and a new logistics structure via the locomotive railway. When these 3 technologies converged, much of the world (eg. the whole of Europe) changed seemingly overnight. As a direct consequence of the First Industrial Revolution, business models moved toward market capitalism and major city hubs began developing ushering in the modern world format. The Second Industrial Revolution occurred in the U.S. during the late 19th and early 20th century with the advent of the telephone in the late 19th century, and the advent of radio and television in the early and mid 20th century. At approximately the same time that the telephone and telecommunications networks were being developed, the U.S found a new source of energy which was oil in Texas, United States of America. Henry Ford compounded this discovery by producing a cost effective combustion engine, powered by oil which provided new logistics and mobility technology. The Second Industrial Revolution however is now fading away due to the impact it has had upon the Earth’s climate and humanity is now upon the precipice of a Third Industrial Revolution. The internet has become the new communication medium, millions of people are now adopting renewable energy (e.g. solar, wind, geothermal etc.) and it is predicted that when autonomous vehicles connect to smart roads, the last piece of this puzzle will be complete, thrusting humanity into its 3rd epic epoch

The Mythology of Japan Having a Closed Society Throughout History

Deshima-Island-Japan

It is a myth that Japan was completely cut off from the rest of the world throughout history, developing in a vacuum, as the official policy of the state was to close its doors, but the unofficial policy of the people was to remain open to the influence and ideas of other civilizations. The shoguns made a single exception to this rule pertaining to outsiders which was the advent of Deshima Island, a trading port that was the only place in Japan which Europeans were allowed to live and trade. Only Dutch traders were permitted access to this site due to the fact that the Dutch understood how to curry favor with influential members of Japanese society by showing tribute and swearing allegiance to the shogun, therefore becoming part of Japan’s internal feudal system. The narrow bridge between Deshima Island, Japan and Nagasaki, Japan upon the mainland was the only connection Japan had with the outside world for centuries

The Ancient Mesopotamian Law Code of Hammurabi

Code-of-Hammurabi

Dating from 1770 B.C., the most complete of ancient Mesopotamian legal texts is the Code of Hammurabi, a compendium of 282 laws which dictated the rules of commercial interactions and set fines and punishments for those found in violation of these laws. Inscribed upon a phallic piece of black obsidian, Hammurabi’s Code is depicted as receiving these laws from Shamash, the god of the sun, justice, and order, with the primary role of protecting the weak from the strong. It is written and recognized within the Hammurabi Code the first appearance of the biblical punishment of an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. Considered by many scientists to be one of the foundational stones of world civilization, the Hammurabi Code is a mixed blessing for women, both protecting women and lowering their social rank as second class citizens. Upon the positive end, the Hammurabi Code recognized women’s basic right to own property, fundamental in its importance as it provided women legal protection in regard to the control of their dowries and inheritance. The Hammurabi Code also forbade arbitrary poor treatment and/or neglect, which meant wives who were ill or barren couldn’t be simply discarded. In divorce, women were permitted to keep their dowries, and in widowhood, women were permitted the opportunity to utilize their husbands estates as their own for the duration of their lives. The Hammurabi Code essentially recognizes Mesopotamian women as distinct persons in a legal sense, rather than property which is how most of the ancient world recognized women. Upon the negative side however, women’s economic and sexual freedoms became severely restricted, forbidden from performing any commercial activity outside of their home and supporting and legalizing the concept of the patriarchy by providing men immense autonomy over the bodies of women, meaning husbands and fathers now owned the sexual reproduction of their wives and daughters which lead to women being executed for adultery, virginity becoming a condition of marriage, and rape not viewed as a violent sexual offense against the female victim, but rather an economic offense against her father as it would cause the father to suffer a severe loss in respect to a daughters bride price as the daughter would be considered a damaged commodity. It’s unclear how these legal mandates and statutes worked at the local level as they are ideals of Mesopotamian culture, but the driving force of these laws and how they are setup and constituted is abundantly clear, allowing male authority and patriarchal notions of male honor, to become sacrosanct

The Advent of the Computer Mouse

Apple-Macintosh-first-mouse

The computer mouse became a mainstream accessory for computers shortly after Steve Jobs viewed a prototype mouse from Xerox in 1979. Jobs asked his team to create a mouse which was under $15.00, would last for 2 years, and could be used upon either a particle board desk or the jeans of a persons lap. Dean Hovey ended up creating the concept of the computer mouse by visiting a drug store after Jobs made this request in a business meeting. Hovey purchased a roll on deodorant and a butter dish and began working upon the initial design. Hovey popped the spherical applicator out of the deodorant and covered it with the butter dish to make a rollable, undulating handheld device

The Guaranteed Path to Heaven for Muslims and its Relation to Najaf, Iraq and Celebrity Undertaker Ali al-Amiya

Wadi-al-Salam-Najaf-Iraq

Shia Muslims believe that to be buried in Najaf, Iraq, guarantees a path to heaven, with many industries related to death found within the city including the manufacturing and provision of burial plots, caskets, grave stones, and grave digging, ironically with those involved, making a living from death. The largest cemetery in the world is Wadi al-Salam which means the “Valley of Peace” in Arabic, with over 5,000,000 (5 million) gravesites. Ali al-Amiya, the most famous person within this Iraqi industry, works at this cemetery as an undertaker. Traditionally, caskets are white, but al-Amiya started the trend of using black caskets. al-Amiya is famous because of his distinctive tombstone designs, innovative funeral services, and because of the way he digs graves. al-Amiya has over 800,000 followers upon Facebook and has a catchphrase that is known by all Iraqis which is, “who is going to bury you like the Prophet Mohammad? Ali al-Amiya!”. al-Amiya offers heavily discounted or free burials for martyrs and the extremely impoverished. al-Amiya is vehemently disliked by most other undertakers within the industry and has nearly been a victim of multiple sting operations in which prostitutes were sent to solicit him as well as physical threats upon his life and his family’s. Modern, progressive thinking undertakers like al-Amiya face resentment in Iraq but the rise of social media has helped combat this animosity. In 2017, a survey found that 85% of Iraqis use social media, specifically Facebook which has demonstrated instrumental in altering public perceptions of Islamic burial traditions

The 18th Century Gin Craze and it’s Association with Murder

19th-century-London-England-Gin-Craze

Gin was highly consumed in poorer areas of London, England as it was a cheaper alternative to beer. Gin was unregulated during the early 18th century, and was often badly distilled and filled with harmful compounds like oil of vitriol which is similar in construct to modern day turpintine, sulfuric acid, and methylated spirits. By 1750, gin consumption was at its peak, with the city of London consuming 11,000,000 (11 million) gallons per year. In the poorest areas of London, specifically upon the east end, it was not uncommon for everyone in public to be permanently drunk; an analogue to the modern day crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980’s. All members of society consumed gin including men, women, and children, with many cases exhibiting severe addictive traits as was the case with Judith Darfour, who took her child into a heath, murdered them to sell their petticoat clothing and acquire more gin, then attended work later that day as if nothing had occurred. Gin related crime soared and Mothers Ruin which refers to “women who killed their family members to acquire funds for gin” was responsible for the deaths of thousands of men, women, and children. When the death rate climbed higher than the birth rate, the British government was forced to intervene, outlawing small gin distilleries and ending the era referred to as the “Gin Craze”

Timbuktu, Mali and its Cultural and Commercial Traditions

Timbuktu-MaliTimbuktu, Mali is located at the precise point where the Niger River flows northward into the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, which is an incredibly difficult place to reach and is why it is often used in the English language as a representative of a far away place. In Timbuktu, men keep their faces veiled while in the presence of women at all times, not even lowering their veils to eat, instead taking in food from underneath the veil. Women predominantly make familial decisions and hold the position of power within society. Timbuktu is made up of various ethnic tribes including the Kel Tamasheq, Songaï (pronounced “sore-eye”) (sometimes spelled as “Songhai”) and Arabs primarily. Timbuktu was founded by the Tuareg people however their numbers are vastly outweighed by the 3 main tribes of Timbuktu during the modern era. Despite once being a trading hub of both of salt and gold, Timbuktu now primarily trades in salt as the price of gold has made gold inaccessible for the average inhabitant. Timbuktu is slowly being buried in the sands of the Sahara Desert as these sands blow in and slowly but surely bury Timbuktu’s structures a little bit at a time. Fortunately, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has been helping to preserve the city of Timbuktu and its buildings from the elements of sand, wind, and rain which have eroded its structures made from natural materials, mainly adobe and mud brick

The Advent of the Restaurant in Paris, France

L'Art-du-Cuisinier-book

The modern concept of the restaurant is a French idea, with the term “restaurant” being derived from the term “restaurer” which means to ”provide food for” in French, with a more literal translation of “restoration” in that a restaurant is a place to restore, replenish, and refill one’s energy. Chef Antoine Beauvilliers (pronounced “ann-twon boo-vill-ee-yay”) opened the Grande Taverne de Londres Restaurant (pronounced “gran tah-vern de lon”) in Paris, France in 1782. Fine cuisine was served at private tables, to the general public, an experience which until then had only been available within the homes of the nobility. The main idea which caught on was not only the introduction of the serving of food, but that the food being served wasn’t preselected as was customary during dinner banquets for nobility. The ability to choose from a selection of items upon a restaurant’s menu was very popular once made available to the Parisian public. The timing for this invention was absolutely perfect as the abolition of the French monarchy and related nobility during the French Revolution left many extremely talented chefs suddenly without work which lead to a large number of these chefs opening up restaurants of their own

The First Mass Produced Items of the Ancient World

Ancient-Egyptian-Aquamarine-Shabti

The first mass produced pieces of artwork were the ancient Egyptians shabtis which were essentially miniature mummies that the ancient Egyptians believed had magical powers and were therefore buried with the dead. Shabtis were comprised of Egyptian faience which is a type of glass ceramic material made from sand. Egyptian faience is referred to as such in order to distinguish it from faience, which is a tin glazed pottery associated with Faenza, Italy. The idea of Egyptian faience was to replicate semiprecious stones like turquoise lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, which at the time was more expensive than gold. The recipe for Egyptian faience is 90% crushed silica, crushed fine natron salt to act as a flux, crushed limestone, and then the coloring with blue being the most popular, a color achieved through the use of pure copper oxide. Water was introduced to turn this composition from a granular mix into a dough like substance. Natron salt which is a type of baking soda, is the key ingredient to this recipe as it rises to the surface when baked and lowers the overall temperature at which sand melts and becomes glass. The statues are left to stand for 24 or more hours as this helps the salt grow on the surface through a chemical reaction process as oxygen within the ambient environment mixes with the ingredients inside the Egyptian faience