This week: Earth Day, March for Science
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Projects and Pages for the end of April:

INTERNATIONAL WORKER'S DAY: May 1st, all over the world, is International Worker's Day, a holiday to celebrate people who work, and to join together in solidarity -and in labor unions - to work for equality and respect, safe working conditions, more reasonable work schedules, and better pay. In honor of May 1st, suggests checking out our pages on how farming causes inequality, on Egyptian slavery, and on Greek slavery and tyranny. Then there's Chinese slavery and Roman slavery. Women, who often work without pay, even when they're not exactly enslaved, have their stories told in the pages about silk weavers in China and wool weavers in ancient Rome.

In more recent times, there's been the great shame of American slavery and indenture, and then the oppression of sharecroppers after the Civil War. In England, women and children worked long days in factories to spin that cotton. Notice how it's still all about cloth and clothing, though now it's cotton. Sadly, we don't have much about unions - that's something we hope to write more about this year.

greek vase of woman playing pipes

PELOPONNESIAN WAR: On April 25th, 404 BC, the starving, besieged Athenians finally gave up and surrendered to the Spartans, ending the Peloponnesian War. As Thucydides reports, the Spartans forced the Athenians to tear down their city walls, while women played joyful flute music, as if it were a party.

ISLAMIC INVASION OF SPAIN: April 27 711 AD, Tariq ibn Ziyad and his Muslim Berber army land their boats at Gibraltar to begin conquering Spain from the Visigothic kings.

map of united states with a line across the west
Lewis and Clark's route

LOUISIANA PURCHASE: April 30th, 1803 - Thomas Jefferson buys most of the western part of North America - still really belonging to the Mandan, the Shoshone, the Sioux, the Nez Perce, the Chinook, and other Native peoples - from the French emperor Napoleon in the Louisiana Purchase. Napoleon sold the land in order to raise money for his European wars. Soon afterwards, Jefferson sent out the surveyors Lewis and Clark to map and report on the new territory, and began to plan out how to take the land from its Native owners.

WHAT TO DO THIS WEEK: Go to a May Day rally in your town, or start one if there isn't one planned. Or, interview someone in your family who's been a union member. What did it mean to them?

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New articles this week:

drawing of a black woman
Nzinga of Angola

CONGO AND ANGOLA: We're working our way around the continent of Africa, and we're working on articles about Congo and Angola to add to our slightly older articles about Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Kenya. Read about Queen Nzinga of Angola, who successfully resisted colonization in the 1600s, and Beatriz Kimpa Vita of Congo, who also resisted European culture. (But give us until tomorrow to get the final versions up: sorry!)

History Deals of the Week:

Working on the history of Congo and Angola led us to David Van Reybrouck's Congo: The Epic History of a People (2015), at just $13.99 in paperback, and - just out - Linda Heywood's Njinga of Angola: Africa’s Warrior Queen (Harvard University Press 2017), for $22.92 in hardcover. We're also reading Chris Wickham's Medieval Europe (2016) (though we see a world that was more commercialized than his), and Tamim Ansary's Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (2010).

New discoveries this week:

stone relief carving of two women fighting with helmets, shields, and spears
Women fighting as gladiators

WOMEN GLADIATORS: A very welcome article in Forbes magazine reminding us that Roman women could fight as gladiators, not just men. Some rich women volunteered to fight for the excitement, but the Romans also forced enslaved women of color from Ethiopia and Sudan to fight in their games.

WOMEN TRAVELLING: Another chemical analysis that shows that people - including women - did not stay put in their villages, even in the Bronze Age, but travelled widely. This time, it's a women who grew up somewhere else about 1300-1200 BC - could be southern Germany, France, Sweden, or the Czech Republic - and then came to Denmark in her early teens, possibly to be married. She died only a few years later. They're trying to figure out which of those places she came from, now.

very old boots with red and black stripes over the instep
Khitan boots from the 900s AD

WOMEN SEWING: A Turkik woman from the Altai mountains in Mongolia was buried in the 900s AD with her sewing kit, a long knife, a horse sacrifice, her saddle, and a very pretty pair of boots that people are comparing to Adidas running shoes. But more violence: she died when somebody hit her on the head.

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Seasonal food of the week:

STRAWBERRIES: It's finally time for some fresh fruit, at least where we are. And the first fruit of the year is always strawberries. You can use them lots of ways: in strawberry jam (just cut them in half, take off the green tops, and cook them with a little water over low heat until they thicken into sauce), dipped in chocolate, in a bowl with sugar, microwaved to make strawberry sauce for pound cake.

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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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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  • Carr, K.E. . Study Guides, . Web. 24 April, 2017