This week: Feminists and Chinese New Year answers questions history/science facts

Welcome to!

Projects and Pages for late January:

small round cakes
Chinese New Year moon cakes

CHINESE NEW YEAR: Chinese New Year is Saturday, January 29th; the year that is ending is the Year of the Monkey, and next year will be the Year of the Rooster. Read more about traditional Chinese religion, the I Ching, and Chinese gods.

FEMINISM: In honor of the great women's marches last weekend, we thought we'd remind ourselves and you that despite centuries of oppression, there have been powerful and creative women in every period of human history, many of them - most of them! - women of color. From the 2000s BC, there's the Iraqi poet Enheduanna and the Egyptian chief doctors Merit Ptah and Peseshet. From the 1000s BC, there's the Pharaoh Hatshepsut. After 1000 BC, Queen Shanakdakhete and her successors in Sudan. Then it's the Roman empresses Agrippina and Pulcheria, and the Chinese Empress Wu. The 1000s AD start with Matilda of Canossa, and also bring us many Ottoman sultanas, the poet Lalla Arifa, the preacher Anne Hutchinson, and the scientist Emilie du Chatelet. What will the 2000s bring?

a native american woman carrying a baby on her back
Shoshone woman

ABBASIDS RULE: January 25th, 750 AD - Abbasid takeover of the Islamic Empire in 750 AD. The Abbasid caliphs murdered all of the men of the Umayyad dynasty (except one, a teenager who swam a river, escaped to Spain, and started his own dynasty there), so they could rule West Asia and North Africa themselves. The Abbasids were more interested in Central Asia than in the Mediterranean, and moved their capital east from Damascus (in Syria) to Baghdad (in Iraq). In Baghdad, they started a great university, and got rich selling sugar, horses, glass, Persian carpets, and cotton cloth on the Silk Road.

DANTE EXILED: January 27th, 1302 - A few hundred years later, the end of January also saw the poet Dante exiled from his home in Florence (in northern Italy). Dante had been fighting for the Guelphs in a war between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. The Guelfs wanted Florence to be an independent republic, and the Ghibellines were trying to make Florence part of the Holy Roman Empire. When the Guelphs lost, Dante lost too. Dante lived another twenty years, and he wrote his best poetry, the Divine Comedy, while he was in exile, but he never got back to Florence again.

KING CHARLES AND CROMWELL: January 30th, 1649 - Oliver Cromwell had King Charles of Britain killed, and took power himself, permanently ending the great power of the kings of England and leaving most of the power in the hands of Parliament. Twelve years later, on the same day, Cromwell himself was killed, and Britain put Charles' son, Charles II, back on the throne, but Parliament still kept control of what really happened. Cromwell's revolution helped to inspire first the American Revolution and then the French Revolution too.

SHOSHONE MASSACRE: January 29th, 1863 saw the Bear River massacre of Native Americans from the Shoshone tribe. The Shoshone lived mainly in eastern Oregon and Wyoming, and they weren't farmers - they hunted and gathered their food. Most of them died in the 1700s from smallpox and measles they caught from their neighbors, the Mandan. Sacagewea was among the surviving Shoshone people. When white people built the railroad on their land, the Shoshone tried to fight it. But there weren't enough of them left, and the United States army killed more than 400 Shoshone people at Bear River. The Shoshone kept on fighting until 1911, and even now most Shoshone live on their traditional land. Their numbers are growing.

WHAT TO DO THIS WEEK: Go to a Chinese New Year celebration near you, and then go out for some Chinese food or cook some at home!

(Want more like this? Email us to sign up for' email newsletter!)

New page this week:

painting of a white man in medieval clothes

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS: When did women get the right to vote? Did we really make wine and beer illegal? Read about every single one of the United States' constitutional amendments from 1789 to today.

History Deals of the Week:

For Chinese New Year, check out Grace Lin's Bringing in the New Year, or Sanmu Tang's Celebrating the Chinese New Year. But also read these inspiring feminist books: Sylvia Pankhurst's The Suffragette: The History of the Women's Militant Suffrage Movement, and Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future!. And watch Meryl Streep and Helena Bonham-Carter's mini-series, Suffragettes.

New discoveries this week:

WOMEN FED LESS IN ANCIENT CHINA: Bone analysis shows that when people first started farming in ancient China, about 5000 BC, women and men ate about the same foods, and both were fed about the same amounts. But by the time of Eastern Zhou, about 500 BC, girls were more often malnourished, and were smaller than the earlier girls. Boys got millet and meat, while girls got wheat, barley, and edamame.

COPPER MINE IN ISRAEL: Archaeologists have found a big fortified gatehouse at the entrance to a big Iron Age copper mine in Israel, complete with donkey stables. The whole mine had a big stone wall around it, and the miners ate meat, fish, and pistachios. Copper mining wasn't a small scale operation but, just like today, it was done by big businesses working with the government. Probably international trade was involved.

AND A GLASS FACTORY: They have discovered a new glass factory in Israel from the time of the later Roman Empire, around the time of the Empress Pulcheria. This factory made huge lumps of glass, and sold pieces to other glass manufacturers to melt down and blow into mold-blown bowls and cups, which stores could sell and traders could carry to Iran, India, and China on the Silk Road. The Eastern Mediterranean was a major center of glass production throughout antiquity, so this isn't surprising, but it confirms that manufacturing was a large-scale commercial enterprise, not something individuals did on their own.

AND FINALLY, A SUNDIAL SHAPED LIKE A HAM: From Pompeii, one of the earliest known portable sundials, carved from marble in the shape of a ham. You hang it from a string and line up the shadow with the month of the year, and then you can tell the hour, more or less. How to make your own sundial.

Help support! is entirely supported by your generous donations and by our sponsors. Most donors give about $10. Can you give $10 today to keep this site running? Or give $50 to sponsor a page?

Seasonal food of the week:

CHINESE FOOD: For Chinese New Year, check out these Chinese recipes - try making beans and beef stirfry, tofu fried rice, or hot and sour soup, or wontons. Not Chinese, but still Asian: chawanmushi, sushi, and spicy Thai pork salad.

Also check out our seasonal and budget recipes at

Or, view an extensive range of science and history based educational and learning toys by visiting now.

(Want more like this? Email us to sign up for' email newsletter!)

Thank you to for their support!
Also check out these
kids discount codes too!

Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

Help support! (formerly "History for Kids") is entirely supported by your generous donations and by our sponsors. Most donors give about $10. Can you give $10 today to keep this site running? Or give $50 to sponsor a page?

With the Presidential inauguration this weekend, it's a good time to review the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and all the Constitutional amendments since the Bill of Rights. Also check out our articles on people who have been excluded from power in the United States - Native Americans, people of color, Mormons, Quakers, women...