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Quatr.us: history/science facts


Welcome to Quatr.us!

Projects and Pages for mid February:

CHINESE NEW YEAR: It's Chinese New Year! (The first new moon after the winter solstice) This year, we're starting the Year of the Monkey. Check out Quatr.us' pages on Chinese fireworks, traditional Chinese gods, Chinese religion, and the I Ching. Chinese New Year marks the beginning of rice planting in China, so it's a good day to eat rice for dinner.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: For the second week of Black History Month: medieval African history. By 1000 AD, most people in Africa lived in state societies, with kings ruling them. They sold ivory and gold, furs, slaves and gum arabic to India and West Asia for cotton cloth, steel, and sugar. People were eating new imported foods: bananas, plantains, coconuts, and rice. Africans built stone churches and mosques, castles and city walls, and two of the world's biggest universities - Timbuktu and Cairo - were in Africa.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: (For the primaries this week) Algonquin people probably came to New Hampshire from western Canada sometime before 1000 AD. They were hunters and gatherers, using canoes to trade with the Cree and the Iroquois. In the 1500s the Algonquin sold furs to Europeans. British cod fishermen came in the 1600s, and many Algonquin died of smallpox. By the 1740s, British soldiers had killed many Algonquin and forced most of the rest to move north to Canada. In the 1800s, New Hampshire women worked in textile factories; as those closed, New Hampshire got poorer, but now it's almost a high-tech suburb of Boston.

WHAT TO DO THIS WEEK:

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New discoveries this week:

EARLIEST JEWELRY: People were making and wearing shell bead necklaces in South Africa 80,000 years ago, probably before the first modern humans ever left Africa. They used bone drills to make the holes; they made cord to string the beads on, and they probably tied knots to fasten the string. These same people also carved geometric lines in red ocher - art? math? or some religious ritual?

HISTORY OF CATS: DNA analysis shows that early farmers in China were domesticating local cats around 3500 BC, separately from Egyptian and West Asian farmers who domesticated their own local cats about 6500 BC. In both places, cats were attracted to human villages by mice and rats, which ate the grain people were storing. But modern Chinese cats are descended from the African/West Asian cats, not the Chinese ones. Maybe Western cats traveled east to China along the Silk Road, in the 300s BC? But we don't know yet.

BABYLONIAN PRE-CALCULUS: New evidence from a cuneiform tablet shows that scholars working in Babylon around the time of Alexander, about 300 BC, knew more about calculus than we thought they did, and used it to calculate the orbit of Jupiter. European mathematicians re-invented this idea a thousand years later (or maybe just learned it from Islamic astronomers?).

NATIVE AMERICANS, SMALLPOX, AND FOREST FIRES: Survey work shows that Native people didn't die of smallpox in the 1500s, but more in the mid-1600s, maybe from Spanish Jesuit missions. As people died, and trees grew up in their fields and villages, forest fires became more common in the Southwest - showing that Native people knew how to manage forests successfully.

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Quatr.us 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:

PORK: One of Iowa's biggest products is pork, and pork's also an ingredient in many traditional African-American dishes. Plus, it's winter food: people traditionally killed their pigs in November or December to eat all winter (and save on feeding them). Try making pork rillette as an appetizer, or pulled pork for dinner, with coleslaw. But you can also try spicy Thai pork salad, or cassoulet...

Also check out our seasonal and budget recipes at Gevirts.com.

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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 Quatr.us!

Quatr.us (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?

It's Chinese New Year! (The first new moon after the winter solstice) This year, we're starting the Year of the Monkey. Check out Quatr.us' pages on Chinese fireworks, traditional Chinese gods, Chinese religion, and the I Ching. Chinese New Year marks the beginning of rice planting in China, so it's a good day to eat rice for dinner.