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Science in Central America and South America

By | 2017-09-10T14:57:10+00:00 September 10th, 2017|Central America, Science, South America|

A rubber ball made by the Olmec people (about 1000 BC) With different natural resources available to them, the people of South America and Central America invented different things than the people of Europe, Asia, or Africa did. One early invention was rubber. The Olmec people invented rubber (in fact the word "Olmec" means "rubber people" in the Aztec language, Nahuatl). The Olmec began to [...]

Christmas Trees – American holidays

By | 2017-08-14T14:26:19+00:00 August 14th, 2017|North America, Northern Europe, Religion|

Christmas Tree in Germany (late 1700s, by Joseph Keller) Because Christmas is related to old celebrations of the winter solstice, evergreen trees have always been popular decorations in northern countries at Christmastime. They're green when everything else is dead and white. In the time of the Roman Empire, people sometimes hung small bits of metal from trees at this [...]

Medieval School – Europe

By | 2017-08-04T08:33:14+00:00 August 4th, 2017|Medieval, People|

Clerks in the Manessa Codex (1300 AD) In medieval Europe, even fewer kids went to school than in the Roman Empire. People were poorer, and kids had to work in the fields weeding and harvesting and taking care of pigs and chickens. Most people never learned to read or write. Richer people often home-schooled their children, especially girls and children [...]

Republic of Genoa – Medieval Italy

By | 2017-08-02T21:27:55+00:00 August 2nd, 2017|History, Medieval|

Medieval drawing of the city of Genoa (1493) Around 900 AD, the Holy Roman Empire began to lose control of Italy, and Genoa was among the Italian cities that got their independence about this time. Genoa became one of the first medieval cities where citizens won some political rights. Genoa's independence started badly when a Fatimid fleet burned and [...]

Medieval economy – Europe

By | 2017-08-01T09:57:13+00:00 August 1st, 2017|Economy, Medieval|

A medieval carpenter works in his shop. After the fall of Rome, people used money less than they had before. Instead they mostly lived on what they could produce themselves. Rich people lived on what they could make other people give them because they were landlords or landladies. Still even poor people in the countryside kept on [...]

Who invented paper? Ancient China and the history of paper

By | 2017-12-14T09:10:26+00:00 July 27th, 2017|China, Literature, Science|

History of paper: Early Chinese paper Paper invented in China Since the invention of writing, people had been trying to come up with something easier to write on than papyrus or parchment, and also something easier and cheaper to make. But it took 3000 years to come up with paper! Paper was invented around 100 BC in China. In [...]

Yamato period – Early Medieval Japan

By | 2017-10-10T16:12:22+00:00 July 27th, 2017|History, Japan|

Haniwa seated woman from a kofun tomb, possibly a Shinto religious leader (ca. 500 AD) By the end of the Yayoi period (Japan's Iron Age) in 250 AD, there was probably an emperor in Japan. But the real power still lay with the rulers of many different city-states. The emperor couldn't really tell them what to do. That stayed [...]

The Mamluks – Medieval Islamic history

By | 2017-12-28T16:13:46+00:00 July 25th, 2017|History, Islam|

Mamluks: A Mamluk inn for merchants in Cairo Mamluks were enslaved soldiers The Mamluks were originally enslaved bodyguards of the Abbasid caliphs of the Islamic Empire (the word "mamluk" just means "slave" in Arabic). Starting around 850 AD, the Abbasid caliphs captured or bought young boys who were not Muslims as slaves. The caliphs brought the boys up to be Sunni Muslim soldiers [...]

Hafsid Dynasty – Medieval Islam

By | 2017-10-29T17:42:34+00:00 July 24th, 2017|Africa, History, Islam|

Hafsid gold coin In the early 1200s AD, the Almohad empire fell apart into Marinid, Christian, and Hafsid kingdoms. The middle of North Africa broke away from the Almohad dynasty in 1229 AD. Modern Tunisia, western Libya, and eastern Algeria came under the leadership of Abu Zakariya. People called his descendants the Hafsids, because they belonged to the powerful Banu Hafs [...]