This week: May 1st - International Worker's Day answers questions
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Projects and Pages for late April:

chinese woman sitting at a spinning wheel

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 page this week:

ARAWAK: Still working on early South America; this page is about the Arawak people who lived in Venezuela and Surinam. Arawak people conquered the Caribbean islands beginning in the 300s AD, wiping out the Native people there. Then about 1500 AD, Columbus and his men wiped out the Arawak in turn. So the Arawak held the Caribbean for about a thousand years, and so far Europeans have held the islands for about half that long.

New discoveries this week:

MUMMY IN PERU: A woman's burial near Caral in Peru, from about 2500 BC showed that Norte Chico people were pretty well off: she died at about forty or fifty, and was buried with a necklace of seashells and with brooches carved with monkeys and birds. She was probably an important person herself, not just as a wife - you might compare her to the priestess Enheduanna in West Asia about the same time.

EARLY IRANIAN KILNS: Big industrial pottery kilns from 3000 BC in Iran show that even in the very beginning of the Bronze Age, people were producing pottery to trade, and not just to use themselves. They might have been trading the pottery for obsidian or flint, or for tin to make bronze, pr for pearls, or maybe to the Harappans in exchange for sugar cane or cotton cloth.

ON VEILING: Women commonly veiled themselves in ancient Greece, just as they do in some Islamic countries today, so we shouldn't be too quick to associate democracy and freedom with women's unveiled hair. As in Islamic countries, Greek veiling first was a privilege for rich women, but by the Hellenistic period came to be something poorer women did too.

SKELETON MOSAIC IN TURKEY: An unusually early mosaic floor from ancient Antioch dates to the 200s BC. It shows a skeleton lying on a couch drinking, with a loaf of bread and a bottle nearby, and the words "Be cheerful; Enjoy life" in Greek. In the next panel, there's a man and a herm: you get the sense that this room was for drinking parties.

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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

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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? has articles on the history of Passover, and on Joseph, Moses, New Kingdom Egypt, Egyptian slavery, and the Ten Commandments. Get recipes for making your own matzoh, gefilte fish, haroset, chicken soup with matzoh balls, matzoh brei and macaroons! Or, read another theory on what happened...