Newsletter: August 8th, 2016
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white stone statue of two men wrestling
Greek wrestlers

OLYMPIC GAMES: While you're watching the modern Olympic Games, check out our pages on the ancient Greek Olympic Games. We'll tell you about the origin of the Olympic games, the opening ceremonies, and what events there were at the Greek Olympic Games. Find out more about Greek games in general, or about Hera and Zeus, or the history of swimming. Don't miss our suggestions for an Olympics project everyone will love.

BRAZIL: While we're focused on Brazil, also check out Quatr.us' pages on the history of Brazil, the Arawak, the Tupi, and the Guarani. What did Brazilians eat? Peanuts, yuca root, fish, corn. What happened to Brazil when the Portuguese arrived?

photo of ruined city
Nagasaki after the bomb

NAGASAKI: August 9th, 1945: As if Hiroshima wasn't enough, the United States Air Force dropped a second nuclear bomb using fission power on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. The bombs killed tens of thousands of people immediately, and many more died of radiation poisoning.

OSTROGOTHS: August 11th, 490 AD - The Ostrogothic leader Theodoric defeats Odoacer and takes over Italy on behalf of the Roman Emperor Zeno, though Theodoric ends up ruling Italy (and then Spain too) pretty much independently.

fancy tower leaning to one side
Leaning tower of Pisa

LEANING TOWER OF PISA: August 9th, 1173 AD - The Italian city-state of Pisa starts to build a new bell-tower (imitating Islamic minarets) to go with its new Romanesque cathedral. It all seems good at first, but the foundations aren't solid, and today that tower is known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

MONGOLS INVADE JAPAN: August 15th, 1281 AD - A storm destroys Kublai Khan's Mongol fleet on its second (and last) attempt to invade Japan.

PUEBLO REVOLT: August 10th, 1680 AD - The Pueblo people of the Southwest of North America, enslaved and abused by Spanish invaders, revolt against their oppression. They succeed in winning their independence, and also in capturing a number of Spanish horses. The Pueblo breed the horses and sell them to their neighbors, the Apache, the Ute, the Cheyenne, etc., starting the culture of the buffalo-hunting Plains Indian. Their independence lasted until the 1880s, when the railroad came through, and even then the Pueblo were not conquered, but just became part of the new states of New Mexico and Arizona.

WHAT TO DO THIS WEEK: Watch the Olympic Games! Hold your own Olympic games in your neighborhood with this fun project.

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New pages this week:

fiery furnace
A modern steel furnace in China

STEEL: We've updated our page on the early history of steel to reflect new discoveries about steel-making in Central Asia and India, and we've written a brand-new page about the history of steel since 1500 - modern steel - including the invention of the Bessemer process and open-hearth furnaces.

BELLOWS: To go with our new pages on steel, we've also added a page on the history of the bellows, the tool you use to blow extra oxygen into the forge so it will get hot enough to melt things like copper, tin, glass, or iron.

New discoveries this week:

ROMAN KITCHENS: Not really a new discovery, but they've put back the things that were found in some of the kitchens at Pompeii so you can see how Roman people cooked meals - check out also our pages on Roman kitchens, braziers, glassware, and pottery.

OLYMPICS: Some other people's articles on the history of the Olympic games - the sacrifices, cheating, doping, and nudity.

CAHOKIA: Native American city from about 1000 AD has high status burials with both men and women., showing that there was a high-status class of people, not just high-status men.

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Seasonal food of the week:

PLUMS: This week we're inundated with avalanches of ripe Italian plums, and everyone's looking for ways to use them up. People are canning, freezing, and dehydrating, but also try this recipe for sweet and sour lamb meatballs with plums, or this one for plum clafouti. You can use plums in other recipes too: try them in a crisp, or a cobbler. Or just eat them in your hand, fresh from the tree!

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

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

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Music in Ancient Africa

Women in the Roman Empire

How did people evolve to have eyes?

Riots and the Cancellation of Debts

Why do bees like flowers, and flowers need bees?

Where did chocolate come from?

Why do horses like apples and carrots?


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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, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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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