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What was the Safavid Empire? History of Iran

By |2018-04-25T23:04:50+00:00September 11th, 2017|History, West Asia|

The first Safavid, Ismail, kills the Uzbek leader Death of Timur When Timur died in 1405 AD, he left his empire to his sons, and they left it to their sons. But that last Mongol empire got gradually weaker and weaker. By 1506, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan broke up into many small kingdoms. Ismail and the Twelvers [...]

European Warfare – Military history

By |2018-04-20T08:25:05+00:00August 7th, 2017|Modern Europe, War|

British cannon from the Hundred Years' War (now at Mont St. Michel) Not long before 1500 AD, everything medieval soldiers did in wars suddenly changed. First, Europeans learned how to make and use gunpowder from Central Asian scientists, and they put gunpowder into metal cannons. Once you had cannons, you could blow holes in thick castle walls and in soldiers' armor, and [...]

Weapons, war, and armor in medieval Europe

By |2017-08-04T13:56:30+00:00August 4th, 2017|Medieval, War|

British cannon from the Hundred Years' War (now at Mount St. Michel) Throughout the Middle Ages, nobody in Europe had much money or power. Kings couldn't afford to maintain a standing, professional army the way the Romans had. Instead, when the king wanted to fight a war, he ordered each of his lords [...]

Roger Bacon – Medieval science

By |2018-04-24T08:21:21+00:00August 4th, 2017|Medieval, Science|

Roger Bacon's diagram of a human eye Roger Bacon was born in England maybe about 1210 AD. It was late in the reign of King John. (That's the one in Robin Hood.) England was just beginning to get richer from raising and selling high quality wool cloth on the Silk Road. In addition, a warmer climate - the Medieval Warm period - was making [...]

Medieval science in Europe

By |2018-04-24T09:01:17+00:00August 4th, 2017|Medieval, Science|

Medieval science: an Italian pharmacy jar, about 1400 AD (Metropolitan Museum, New York) Learning from Islamic science During the Middle Ages, the best scientists and doctors weren't in Europe. They were in the Islamic Empire to the south and east. Most of the science and medicine that people were doing in Europe was learning from Islamic scientists [...]

The Parthenon blows up – Greek architecture

By |2018-04-22T10:26:24+00:00July 2nd, 2017|Architecture, Greeks|

A model of the gold and ivory statue of Athena inside the Parthenon Inside the Parthenon, the great sculptor Pheidias carved a huge statue of Athena made out of gold and ivory (chryselephantine). (The statue isn't there anymore; it was melted down to get the gold eventually. This is an artist's idea of [...]

What is charcoal? History of Science

By |2018-09-27T04:40:55+00:00June 20th, 2017|Art, Science|

Charcoal history Why use charcoal? Charcoal is a certain kind of half-burnt wood. People use charcoal for fires because it burns hotter and cleaner than wood (less smoky), and more slowly. Your house or workplace stays cleaner. You need charcoal to melt copper and tin ore to make bronze, too. More about combustion [...]

Science in ancient and medieval China

By |2018-05-28T00:10:52+00:00June 7th, 2017|China, Science|

Chinese science: a double-action piston box bellows (China) What are some Chinese inventions? Chinese scientists started inventing a lot of new things around 500 BC, during the Warring States period. That might be because of the formation of the first empires and the rise of the Silk Road. (More about the Silk Road) [...]

History of Gunpowder: Gunpowder in ancient China

By |2018-10-02T09:40:12+00:00June 7th, 2017|China, Science, War|

History of gunpowder: Fireworks Who invented gunpowder? Like the idea of zero, gunpowder developed gradually over time. In 142 AD, during the Han Dynasty, a man named Wei Boyang was the first to write anything about gunpowder. He wrote about a mixture of three powders that would "fly and dance" violently. We aren't [...]

Epic of Koroglu – Central Asian stories

By |2017-05-31T22:25:56+00:00May 31st, 2017|Central Asia, Literature|

In this story, Koca Yusuf was a poor man who worked in the horse stables of the powerful Bey of Bolu. One day, Koca Yusuf saw a young filly (a girl horse). This horse had not had enough food and was very skinny and didn't look like anything special. But Koca Yusef knew horses, and [...]