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Epic of Gilgamesh – Mesopotamian writing

By | 2017-09-15T09:14:45+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Literature, West Asia|

Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu fight the monster Humbaba, on an Assyrian cylinder seal from the 600s BC The Epic of Gilgamesh is a story about a Sumerian king (Gilgamesh) who seems to have lived around 2500 BC, in Mesopotamia. Story-tellers probably began telling this story not long after he died, and someone probably wrote down the [...]

What is tonsure? Medieval Christianity and hair

By | 2018-01-02T16:36:48+00:00 August 23rd, 2017|History|

A monk getting tonsured Tonsure means to cut off someone's hair. Monks and nuns in the Middle Ages generally showed that they were monks by cutting their hair short (when most people wore theirs long).  Christian monks got a special short haircut by shaving a bald spot in the middle of the back of their [...]

What is feudalism? Definition of medieval feudalism

By | 2017-12-28T12:05:29+00:00 August 1st, 2017|Government, Medieval|

Medieval feudalism: Harold swears an oath to William (Bayeux Tapestry, about 1077 AD) Feudalism is a way to govern a large state when the king is poor and not very powerful, and when there aren't good roads so it is hard to communicate with people who live far away at the other end of your kingdom. Fiefs [...]

Ancient Indian government

By | 2017-07-20T10:01:15+00:00 July 20th, 2017|Government, India|

Sanchi Stupa Northern Gateway (ca. 50 BC) Nobody knows what Indian government was like in the Harappan period. Probably they had a king over each city, the way West Asia did at this time. Probably they had some queens, the way Egypt did. But about 1500 BC, there was an Indo-European invasion. Sometime after that, the government seems to have divided [...]

Government of Ancient Greece – Greek democracy and tyranny

By | 2018-01-05T16:34:11+00:00 July 6th, 2017|Government, Greeks|

Government of ancient Greece: the Mask of Agamemnon, from Mycenae, Greece (1500 BC). Now in Athens Ancient Greece had a lot of different kinds of governments, because there were many different city-states in ancient Greece. Each city-state had their own government. People's ideas about what made a good government changed over time, too. [...]