This week: Snow, Cicero, Smallpox, Pearl Harbor answers questions history/science facts

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Projects and Pages for mid December:

trees covered with snow

SNOW: As we approach the beginning of winter, find out why the seasons change. What makes the wind blow? Where do clouds come from? Here's more on the different types of clouds: cirrus, stratus, nimbus, and cumulus. What causes rain, snow, and thunderstorms? And, when there's a nice day, why is the sky blue?

PEARL HARBOR DAY: We've almost forgotten now, but 75 years ago, December 7th was "a day that shall live in infamy," Pearl Harbor Day, the day the Japanese air force bombed the United States Navy at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. This attack got the United States into World War II.

CICERO: December 7, 43 BC - Octavian, as he gets more and more political power, kills Cicero, a prominent politician and philosopher who wanted to keep the Roman Republic and not have an emperor.

stone bust of a white man

MOHAMMED ATTACKS MECCA: December 11, 630 AD - The Islamic prophet Mohammed leads an army of 10,000 Islamic converts from Medina to Mecca to conquer the holy city. Read more about the Arabian peninsula and the principles of Islam.

MONGOLS INVADE RUSSIA: December 6, 1240 AD - Mongols from Central Asia, under the command of Genghis Khan's grandson Batu Khan, invade Russia and make it part of their growing empire.

a child covered with small blisters

SMALLPOX: December 9th, 1979 AD - After decades of hard work vaccinating people all over the world, doctors certify that there are no more people with smallpox anywhere on earth - the first major disease to be completely killed off by humans. Read more about viruses, Al Razi's smallpox research, Indian innoculation, Chinese innoculation, and the invention of microscopes.

WHAT TO DO THIS WEEK: PINE CONE PROJECT: To go with your Christmas tree, go out and collect some pine cones and eat some pine nuts for this pine cone project.

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New discoveries this week:

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New page this week:

KENYA: The first people may have evolved in Kenya or near it. By Roman times, the Kenyan seaport of Mombasa was already a busy trading center, selling gold and ivory and enslaved people, and buying cotton cloth, medicines, and glass beads. The new page explains what happened to Kenya after 1500 AD - the fight between the Portuguese and the Sheiks of Oman to control Mombasa, and then British colonization, and finally independence.

History Deals of the Week:

Get Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything for half off from Amazon this week: from the dawn of time to the present day, how everything evolved, and how people figured out how we evolved. Also check out James Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me, about the many inadequacies of American history textbooks, and Eric Cline's wonderful account of the end of the Bronze Age: 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed.

New discoveries this week:

AFRICANS IN ROMAN BRITAIN: Based on the shape of their skulls, archaeologists think some people buried in Leicester, in Roman Britain, were of African origin - but based on the minerals in their teeth, they were born in Britain. The people lived in the 100s AD, around the time of the emperor Hadrian. There have been other traces of African people in Roman Britain, but usually they have been immigrants - these are the first people of color who seem to have been born in Britain.

round painting of a white woman, a darker man, and two children
Septimius Severus (the dad),
who died in York in 211 AD

THRACIAN WINE: An article pointing out that wine from Thrace - mostly in modern Bulgaria - was very highly valued in ancient Greece from the early Iron Age onward. King Agamemnon, in the Iliad, drinks imported fancy Thracian wine. Once again, maybe we should remember that while the Greeks called Thracians and Scythians "barbarians", they also used the same word to describe the Persians. More about wine-making here.

POMPEII FOR ALL: Now more people will be able to visit Pompeii - they've finally opened a wheelchair-accessible route through the ancient Roman city. Also great for strollers, stumblers, and people whose vision isn't perfect. On, read Pliny's account of the volcanic eruption that buried Pompeii, or check out Pompeii's bars and forum.

DEAF MONKS: A lot of the monks at the Mt. Nebo monastery in Jordan seem to have been hearing-impaired or deaf, based on an examination of their ear-bones. This Byzantine monastery from the 700s AD was a place of silence, so it was a great place to live if you were deaf.

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Seasonal food of the week:

HOLIDAY PARTY FOOD: We don't know about you, but we have two holiday parties to cook for this week. Some suggestions to knock the socks off your neighbors, teachers, and co-workers: arugula bruschetta, crackers and baba ganoush or hummus, pork rillette, vegan, gluten free potato puffs. Need a casserole? How about this North African lamb stew or vegetarian chili and cornbread. Did you say you'd bring dessert? Try these chocolate brownies, chocolate chip cookies, pound cake, or rugelach.

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.

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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? celebrates the victory of the Sioux people and their allies at Standing Rock. Here's more about the history of the Sioux and some of their neighbors: the Mandan, the Crow, the Cree, the Shoshone, and the Paiute. And about global warming.