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European science in the 1800s

By |2018-04-16T10:32:30+00:00August 7th, 2017|Modern Europe, Science|

European boys at school in the 1800s In the first half of the 1800s AD, countries in northern Europe like France and Britain forced India, Ghana, Nigeria, Canada, and other countries to give them food. That meant that many people in northern Europe could stop farming and get an education. Families sent more boys to school than girls, so most of the educated people were [...]

What is zero? Zero and place value

By |2017-07-29T17:35:52+00:00July 29th, 2017|Math|

A math problem showing place value How can you add big numbers without an abacus? You still group the sheep (or whatever) just as you did when you were using the abacus, but now you write the numbers down using place values, so that your hundreds are all underneath your other hundreds, your tens are underneath [...]

Early Japanese Literature

By |2018-04-23T15:32:41+00:00July 27th, 2017|Japan, Literature|

A copy of the Kojiki from the 1300s AD Just after 700 AD, the Japanese Empress Genmei ordered her staff to write and publish Japan's first history book, the Kojiki, and the first geography and botany book, the Fudoki. The recent invention of wood-block printing meant that people were publishing and reading a lot of books in nearby China, and Genmei [...]

What is Nirvana? Indian religion

By |2018-04-23T15:20:30+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

Wheel of Life (Konark Sun temple, Odisha, India, 1200s AD) About 300 BC, Hindu people in India began to feel that they didn't like the idea of being reincarnated over and over again forever. Instead, they wondered what it would be like to be free from greed, money, work and slavery. People thought maybe it would be better to [...]

Who is Lakshmi? Hindu goddess – India

By |2017-07-21T11:07:45+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

Lakshmi (Sanchi Stupa, central India, 200s BC) Lakshmi was (and is) a Hindu goddess of light, wealth, good luck and success. Her name comes from the Sanskrit word laks, which can mean "light" or "goal". And that comes from an earlier Yamnaya word for "bright and shiny". There are statues of Lakshmi starting about 500 BC, but she probably became a [...]

What is karma? Hinduism – India

By |2017-07-21T10:31:29+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

Jataka Tales about karma: King Siva offers his body to save a dove from a hawk, and King Candraprabha is so generous that he gives away his own head (Mogao Caves, China, about 500 AD) Karma is the Sanskrit word for "action" or "doing something." It comes from an earlier Indo-European word meaning "to make" or "to [...]

What is Hinduism? A religion of India

By |2017-10-14T16:35:20+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion, What|

Arjuna fighting Karna, with Krishna as his charioteer (Duttapara Temple, ca. 1500s AD) The word Hindu comes from the river Indus, and it just means the people who live near the Indus river (actually in modern Pakistan). The Harappa people who lived near that river about 2500 BC carved images of several different gods on their clay seals. We can't read Harappan writing, [...]

What is dharma? Hinduism – India

By |2017-07-21T08:23:46+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

Arjuna fights Shiva (in a story from the Mahabharata) Dharma is a Sanskrit word originally meaning order or solidity or normality. It comes from an earlier Indo-European (Yamnaya) word meaning firm, solid, like wood or a tree. Hindus later on used it to mean something like "law" or "duty" - it's the laws of nature that keep order [...]

Stories of ancient India

By |2017-07-20T17:16:54+00:00July 20th, 2017|India, Literature|

Harappan Seal One of the earliest known writing systems came from India, probably around 2500 BC. Unfortunately, nobody can read the Harappan writing yet. But we know people were using this writing to mark their property, so other people couldn't steal it, and to keep track of things. The writing was in pictographs, like Egyptian hieroglyphs. [...]

Vedic India – history of India

By |2018-04-23T14:45:28+00:00July 20th, 2017|History, India|

Vedic India: A horse-drawn chariot from the Oxus Treasure (British Museum, thanks to Mary Harrsch) About 1500 BC, a new group of people seem to have come to India from the north-west: this time, they were the Yamnaya. The Yamnaya came from Central Asia, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. We also call these people [...]