Centuries of Preserved Shipwrecks Found in the Black Sea | National Geographic

Read here: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/10/black-sea-shipwreck-discovery/

“When the last ice age ended about 12,000 years ago, the Black Sea was really the Black Lake,” says Jon Adams, principal investigator on the project and director of the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton. As temperatures warmed and sea levels rose, saltwater from the Mediterranean began spilling over a rock formation in the Bosphorus Strait. Suddenly the Black Sea was fed by saltwater as well as freshwater rivers, resulting in two distinct layers of water: an oxygenated upper level with less salt and a lower saltwater level without oxygen. “The oxygen drops to zero below 150 meters, which is ideal for the preservation of organic materials,” Adams said.

Questions:

  • How important is it to explore the depths of the ocean?
  • Given the limited budget, how can governments balance the need to preserve culture or pursue technological advancements?

The World’s Largest Pyramid Is Hidden Under A Hill | IFLScience

http://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/the-worlds-largest-pyramid-is-hidden-under-a-hill/

What looked like a giant mound of earth and grass was actually a colossal pyramid. In fact, according to reports, it is the largest monument ever built. Legend has it that the locals covered the monument with soil themselves when they heard about the Spanish invaders sweeping through the Americas.

Questions:

  • Are there any important archaeological sites in your hometown/city/country?
  • Have there been sites that were recently discovered?
  • Why are they important?
  • Given a choice between spending money on preserving artefacts and increasing the educational standards in a country, which do you think is more important?

Warning Signs Detected For Collapse Of Ancient Populations | IFLScience

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

~ George Santayana, The Life of Reason

http://www.iflscience.com/environment/warning-signs-detected-for-collapse-of-ancient-populations/all/

As populations grew, Neolithic Europeans started to over-exploit resources. Nomadic peoples faced with the same problems might have moved, but these early agricultural populations were deeply invested in their locations. They responded in ways that might have provided temporary respite, but made things worse in the long run. “Continuing on such unsustainable courses in the face of steady resource decline ultimately leads to catastrophic failure,” Downey and his co-authors write in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Along with sharp swings in population numbers, one of the major warning signs of collapse for these European Neolithic societies was deforestation. Considering the astonishing rates at which tropical rainforests are being felled, this is a disturbing indication that our future may reflect the worst aspects of our past. The difference is that this time we have the warning signs if we wish to act on them.

Questions:

  • Why is history important?
  • Should it be compulsory in all schools?
  • What kind of history should people learn – from their culture, other cultures, etc?

The Chinese through Abbasid eyes | Middle East Eye

http://www.middleeasteye.net/in-depth/features/1000-years-ago-chinese-through-abbasid-eyes-1745528673

The recently translated Accounts of China and India by Abu Zayd al-Sirafi and other chroniclers gives a fascinating insight into the interconnectedness and mobility of the Abbasid era. For today’s readers, removed in time and place, some of the writers’ observations may seem bizarre and implausible. But in most of their akhbār  – credible reports of what they saw and heard –  one can easily recognise modern Indians and Chinese.

History tells us what may happen next with Brexit & Trump | Medium.com

https://medium.com/@theonlytoby/history-tells-us-what-will-happen-next-with-brexit-trump-a3fefd154714#.e2gvlii1b

Then after the War to end all Wars, we went and had another one. Again, for a historian it was quite predictable. Lead people to feel they have lost control of their country and destiny, people look for scapegoats, a charismatic leader captures the popular mood, and singles out that scapegoat. He talks in rhetoric that has no detail, and drums up anger and hatred. Soon the masses start to move as one, without any logic driving their actions, and the whole becomes unstoppable.

That was Hitler, but it was also Mussolini, Stalin, Putin, Mugabe, and so many more. Mugabe is a very good case in point. He whipped up national anger and hatred towards the land owning white minority (who happened to know how to run farms), and seized their land to redistribute to the people, in a great populist move which in the end unravelled the economy and farming industry and left the people in possession of land, but starving. See also the faminescreated by the Soviet Union, and the one caused by the Chinese Communists last century in which 20–40 million people died. It seems inconceivable that people could create a situation in which tens of millions of people die without reason, but we do it again and again.

But at the time people don’t realise they’re embarking on a route that will lead to a destruction period. They think they’re right, they’re cheered on by jeering angry mobs, their critics are mocked. This cycle, the one we saw for example from the Treaty of Versaille, to the rise of Hitler, to the Second World War, appears to be happening again. But as with before, most people cannot see it because:

1. They are only looking at the present, not the past or future

2. They are only looking immediately around them, not at how events connect globally

3. Most people don’t read, think, challenge, or hear opposing views