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Author Topic: Most annoying historical myths?  (Read 17889 times)

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Offline Oniya

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #175 on: October 25, 2013, 08:01:06 PM »
Secondly, there is the matter of language. Welsh and Irish are quite easily recognisable as completely different and separate to English. Even Scottish retains some of its original language despite being considered a variant of English, and numerous Counties in England have their own language which is completely different to what we call English. This is particularly noticeable up north, in the Counties that are closest to the Scottish border.

Scots Gaelic is quite different from English, being part of the Goedelic branch of the Celtic language family, along with Irish and Manx.  Welsh and Cornish are on the Brythonic branch.  English is on the West Germanic branch of the Germanic language family.

Offline ladia2287

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #176 on: October 25, 2013, 08:08:23 PM »
Scots Gaelic is quite different from English, being part of the Goedelic branch of the Celtic language family, along with Irish and Manx.  Welsh and Cornish are on the Brythonic branch.  English is on the West Germanic branch of the Germanic language family.

Thanks Oniya. Having that extra bit of detail helps my argument, I think :D

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #177 on: October 25, 2013, 08:27:42 PM »
I think that you're missing bits of history, as Japan was unified in 1615 under the Tokugawa Shogunate. I even went and double checked my facts. And this would be considered the end of the Feudal era of Japan or Warring states period. It was a Military government, run by Shogun, and lasted until the Boshin War and the Meiji restoration.

This idea that Japan didn't become unified until European interference kinda would be considered an irritating historical myth for me.

I'd also like to add China to the list of countries that were so isolated that they were a "country" Even if they were more of an Empire. So I suppose in linguistics terms Nations are a new thing but the definition of nation is according to define Nation in my google bar "a large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory." So an empire is still a nation, even if they don't use that term.

Very good points, Rogue, and I'd just add in that "Did conscious nationalism exist in England/France/Japan in the 16th century, or in the middle ages?" is a somewhat different question than "Was there a mass sense of conscious nationhood in those countries and times, a fairly steady feeling all through the country of "I belong with this nation, the history of this country, with our history - and we all do, from land tenants and serfs to the bishops, the earls and the sovereign"?". Most English serfs, peasants or maybe even artisans and sailors in the 16th century wouldn't have had much of a cohesive idea of the history of England. Not even the kind of history presented by Geoffrey of Monmouth or Shakespeare's history plays - some of which had Geoffrey's work and Holinshed's more recent history tome as chief sources. They would have known some of the stories of King Arthur and his knights, of Merlin and perhaps vague memories of the crusades, and local folktales and stories, but hardly enough to create a consistent picture of a national destiny: "we are of the same kind and kin as these old heroes who fought for England". The idea of a national tale that unites different eras and leads into the future, based on nation, that's mostly a later conception I think. At least among the wider masses of the people.

Quote
Nationalism isn't really so much a modern invention as a new word to mean "I'm loyal to my land and the people I care for that live on it and will fight for it if necessary." But then again, I might have a different idea of what "nation" and "nationalism" is than you.

I think Hemingway has a point that in the old days, loyalty was more towards one's lord or to a local sense of unity than to the nation, the country. Sometimes to the King in person, but even then it'd have been more about the king as a banner of unity. an impressive leader or figurehead, than the permanence of the country and the nation being personified in the king at a given time - and fifty years later by some other king (even if it was the son or grandson of the former king).
« Last Edit: October 25, 2013, 11:16:08 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Hemingway

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #178 on: October 25, 2013, 08:49:41 PM »
I think that you're missing bits of history, as Japan was unified in 1615 under the Tokugawa Shogunate. I even went and double checked my facts. And this would be considered the end of the Feudal era of Japan or Warring states period. It was a Military government, run by Shogun, and lasted until the Boshin War and the Meiji restoration.

This idea that Japan didn't become unified until European interference kinda would be considered an irritating historical myth for me.

Considering that the Europeans landed in Japan before the 17th century, the chronology isn't actually wrong. However, I never suggested that Japan was not in any sense unified. The Edo period was a period of peace and political stability, but that's not the same as saying there's suddenly a common identity and an identification between all people in Japan, and the feudal structure remained. The Meiji restoration, oddly enough, is quite similar to the various nationalist movements in Europe at the time.


Nationalism isn't really so much a modern invention as a new word to mean "I'm loyal to my land and the people I care for that live on it and will fight for it if necessary." But then again, I might have a different idea of what "nation" and "nationalism" is than you.

Yes and no. Nationalism implies some sort of shared identity, and nationalist movements very often try to legitimize their particular identity by pointing back to some earlier time. A common theme in European nationalism around the mid 1800s is the question of how to define the nation, because a loose definition of those people will not do. There's no one way of defining what a nation is - which is part of the reason I say here that nations are a myth. Of course, I ought to clarify again what I mean. Because what I really want to claim is a myth, is the primordialist conception of the nation as a somehow constant and eternal thing.

... discussing nationalism is very tricky. It's very interesting, but very tricky. Because of course most people have some commonsense idea that they're part of a national community. It's just that those ideas generally are not critically examined. Which is generally fine, because it generally poses no harm at all. I could go on and on, but ... well, I'm trying to make myself understood, not cause mass confusion.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #179 on: October 25, 2013, 08:53:51 PM »
Thanks Oniya. Having that extra bit of detail helps my argument, I think :D

I took a bit of Welsh in college, and during our May term trip over there, I picked up a couple of translation dictionaries. :-)  Even in England proper, you had the Saxons, the Angles, and the Normans fighting with each other at various times.


Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #180 on: October 25, 2013, 09:00:31 PM »
I took a bit of Welsh in college, and during our May term trip over there, I picked up a couple of translation dictionaries. :-)  Even in England proper, you had the Saxons, the Angles, and the Normans fighting with each other at various times.

Some Englishmen can be quite passionate about this. I remember reading that "Tolkien hated the Norman invasion of England as powerfully as if it had happened in his own day".  ;)

Obviously, as a faculty professor of Anglo-Saxon and a lover of all things to do with Arthur or Beowulf, he was very grounded in the "England" that was lost in 1066.

Offline ladia2287

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #181 on: October 25, 2013, 09:01:25 PM »
I took a bit of Welsh in college, and during our May term trip over there, I picked up a couple of translation dictionaries. :-)  Even in England proper, you had the Saxons, the Angles, and the Normans fighting with each other at various times.

Yes, and while the Normans were in charge the official language of England was a variant of French. Basically, the history of language in the UK is the forced suppression of regional tongues in favour of whoever is in power. Even in the 20th Century, the government got it in their heads to 'eliminate' the different accents and dialects by forcing schools to only allow 'recognised good English' to be taught. This had the (in my opinion) sad effect of several dialects being lost to the masses.

Offline Rogue

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #182 on: October 25, 2013, 09:18:46 PM »
Considering that the Europeans landed in Japan before the 17th century, the chronology isn't actually wrong. However, I never suggested that Japan was not in any sense unified. The Edo period was a period of peace and political stability, but that's not the same as saying there's suddenly a common identity and an identification between all people in Japan, and the feudal structure remained. The Meiji restoration, oddly enough, is quite similar to the various nationalist movements in Europe at the time.

Yes, I know. I read Silence. I understand that Europeans landed but they also were very very poorly received. Not enough to actually influence Japanese history IMO at that point in history. Also, they were ruled by the same family, the equivalence of a monarchy during the Edo Period, not just a period of peace and political stability. They may have been loyal to their regions, but regardless of the region they were loyal to the same clan. Specifically Tokugawa.

Yes and no. Nationalism implies some sort of shared identity, and nationalist movements very often try to legitimize their particular identity by pointing back to some earlier time. A common theme in European nationalism around the mid 1800s is the question of how to define the nation, because a loose definition of those people will not do. There's no one way of defining what a nation is - which is part of the reason I say here that nations are a myth. Of course, I ought to clarify again what I mean. Because what I really want to claim is a myth, is the primordialist conception of the nation as a somehow constant and eternal thing.

... discussing nationalism is very tricky. It's very interesting, but very tricky. Because of course most people have some commonsense idea that they're part of a national community. It's just that those ideas generally are not critically examined. Which is generally fine, because it generally poses no harm at all. I could go on and on, but ... well, I'm trying to make myself understood, not cause mass confusion.

You see, I've never really learned of the nation of England or anything until after the British Empire. It's always been kingdoms and such, not actually "Nations". But... I have a slightly different historical perspective than a lot of people. I honestly never really knew this was a thing until it was brought up. I knew about the US being a nation because they broke free from the British Empire and became recognized as a country... and even then they weren't "Nationalized" as a lot of them were more loyal to their states than the country itself. So maybe I'm missing what the myth is as I never had it told to me?

Offline Hemingway

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #183 on: October 26, 2013, 07:37:49 AM »
Yes, I know. I read Silence. I understand that Europeans landed but they also were very very poorly received. Not enough to actually influence Japanese history IMO at that point in history. Also, they were ruled by the same family, the equivalence of a monarchy during the Edo Period, not just a period of peace and political stability. They may have been loyal to their regions, but regardless of the region they were loyal to the same clan. Specifically Tokugawa.

Oh, they influenced it, all right. But politically, that is to say toward some sort of unification, probably not. But the main thing here is that a centralized government does not automatically mean there's a sense of a Japanese nation, because Japan was still very much divided along clan lines.

Anyway, I'm starting to get the sense I've derailed the discussion here long enough with debates that are only vaguely related to my central point.

Offline Rogue

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #184 on: October 26, 2013, 11:53:44 AM »
Oh, they influenced it, all right. But politically, that is to say toward some sort of unification, probably not. But the main thing here is that a centralized government does not automatically mean there's a sense of a Japanese nation, because Japan was still very much divided along clan lines.

Anyway, I'm starting to get the sense I've derailed the discussion here long enough with debates that are only vaguely related to my central point.

*shrugs* Sorry. When I was speaking I was referring strictly to politics. >.> My bad. However, one should consider that even with clan lines, their main religion at the time ((Shinto)) points towards the concept that they, as a people, are superior to other people outside of Japan (as children of their God and Goddess). Which I think actually makes some amount of we are Japanese even before the period I originally stated...

But yeah, I suppose that this has outlived it's use... >.>


Offline Kythia

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #185 on: October 26, 2013, 07:25:59 PM »
I mention borders as being vaguely defined because it's important for understanding how easily fealty could shift. I'd actually like to go a bit further. Because when you focus so much on the external borders of the British Isles, you miss the fact that internally it is still not a state. 'Country' is a very fuzzy word, and I prefer not to use it. It's entirely possible, of course, that people would have some sort of allegiance to their 'country' - it's where they live, after all. Or they might have their allegiance to their lord, and even by extension to the king. But that is not nationalism. Nationalism is dangerous to those in power, because it implies some sort of equality. Equality, and separation.

Yes.  Yes, that's precisely my point.  Nationalism didn't happen in the British Isles (or Great Britain at least) because, I submit, we already had a national identity fixed.  My argument is that Nationalism didn't exist in the UK (in the standard European sense), yours is that it did.  It seems you're arguing against yourself a little?  Or have I misunderstood your point?

Quote
And I've yet to see you actually address the issue of the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual nature of Britain. Because that is not irrelevant. I mean, not if the argument is that Britain is special because it's an island. Because this implies that Britain is united by common identification with the same, clearly bounded place.

It is irrelevant. We agree we're discussing the UK prior to about 1850?  Precisely how multi-ethnic and multi-lingual do you think it was?

Quote
Now, maybe you feel comparing it to Japan makes no sense, but what I'm trying to get across is this: If being an island was somehow special, you'd expect similarities. And there are similarities. Just not in the way that you've been suggesting.

This makes no sense at all, I'm afraid.  As Rogue has pointed out, Japan went through long periods of being unified.  Further, Japan pursued a deliberately isolationist policy which Britain, with short term exceptions, never did. 

Offline ladia2287

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #186 on: October 26, 2013, 07:51:11 PM »
I'm going to throw in another myth for discussion before the warring factions here go into all-out battle, lol.

As someone who has spent most of my life studying Egyptology, there are a few myths in that topic that really annoy me. But here is the most common that I've come across.

The boy pharaoh Tutankhamun was murdered

Okay, eighty years or so ago when his tomb and mummy were first dug out, this myth made a lot of sense because we didn't know very much about Ancient Egypt then and our techniques for investigating Ancient History were crude at best. An x-ray and a few other basic techniques established that Tutankhamun was approximately 20 years old when he died, and on the x-ray of the skull they noticed a tiny fragment of bone that had broken away from the nose cavity. Given our lack of knowledge at the time, the theory that this now famous King was murdered seemed to hold some credence. Since then, though, a great deal more evidence has come to light that basically declares this theory to be nothing more than a myth.

First of all, we now know that part of the process of mummification involved using a tool to scoop out the brains of the deceased, through the nasal cavity. It is virtually impossible to do so without breaking a certain bone near where the nose meets the skull, which explains the fragment of dislodged bone floating around in Tutankhamun's skull.

Secondly, it is now known that Ancient Egyptians had a very short life expectancy. Only a handful are known to have lived past the age of 25. Therefore, the fact that Tutankhamun died at about 20 is not so unusual. Those who have read up about the 'Amarna' period, of which Tutankhamun was the last pharaoh, can probably guess that he was most likely suffering from severe malnutrition for the majority of his life, much like the rest of the population, making his 'early' demise even less unusual.

Recent tests have actually suggested that Tutankhamun's death was brought about by a gangrene infection in his leg, most likely following a fall from his chariot. A very common injury at the time, completely accidental and totally devoid of any likelihood of foul play. So there you have it; I think that myth is now debunked

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #187 on: October 26, 2013, 08:16:35 PM »
Plus Tutankhamun came from a family with lots of inbreeding and, frankly, royal incest (which was sort of regular in many Pharaonic dynasties). Some of his family relatives died early too, even around twenty-five one or two of them, according to anicent Egyptian chronicles and family lists, and his body does look delicate. I read somewhere that he may have suffered from gout even as a young man. So he was not a powerfully built and resilient guy.

Offline ladia2287

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #188 on: October 26, 2013, 08:22:31 PM »
Actually, whilst incestuous marriages were very common amongst royal couples, there is very little evidence to suggest that these marriages were anything more than political alliances to strengthen one's claims to the throne. Aside from Tutankhamun's own wife Ankhesenamun, none of the sister- or daughter- marriages of the the Amarna period resulted in any children, and even Tutankhamun's and Ankhesenamun's two children were stillborn.

It wasn't actually until the Ptolemaic dynasty that true incestuous relationships amongst the royals began, and that was really because they didn't fully understand what they were looking at and assumed 'marriage' automatically meant 'sex'.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #189 on: October 26, 2013, 08:25:17 PM »
Yes.  Yes, that's precisely my point.  Nationalism didn't happen in the British Isles (or Great Britain at least) because, I submit, we already had a national identity fixed.  My argument is that Nationalism didn't exist in the UK (in the standard European sense), yours is that it did.  It seems you're arguing against yourself a little? Or have I misunderstood your point?

I think you have. Or I haven't been entirely clear.

I'm not denying that there existed several identities at different levels in the British Empire. I'm not convinced that would've been the case, as you said, in the high middle ages. I'm also not convinced that Britain was special in that way - or in any way, except as an empire, of which there were many.

It is irrelevant. We agree we're discussing the UK prior to about 1850?  Precisely how multi-ethnic and multi-lingual do you think it was?

I count at least four separate 'nations', and it's possible these were further subdivided. More if we're talking about the high middle ages.

I don't think it's irrelevant in the least, unless I'm wrong about the basis of your argument. It seems to me that for the 'island nation' argument to make sense, all people on that island would have to belong to the same nation, which is very obviously not the case in Britain, even a thousand years ago.

This makes no sense at all, I'm afraid.  As Rogue has pointed out, Japan went through long periods of being unified.  Further, Japan pursued a deliberately isolationist policy which Britain, with short term exceptions, never did.

I think I've covered what I meant by drawing the comparison.

Offline ladia2287

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #190 on: October 26, 2013, 08:28:50 PM »
Okay... This debate about British nationalism is getting tiresome, especially as I can't actually see any concrete facts being put forward to support either side. The argument seems to be entirely opinion-based. Moving on

Offline Hemingway

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #191 on: October 26, 2013, 09:07:36 PM »
I disagree entirely! However, just to please you, I decided I'd do a bit of work. I'm not sure what you'd consider "concrete facts", since we are in fact discussing history, which is not natural science, but I gave it my best shot.

Quote from: Colley, L. cited in Jeffrey 1997: 6
". . . a sense of specifically British nationality was forged in the eighteenth century by the combination of a set of historical forces. The unity of the United Kingdom was strongly reinforced and underpinned by a shared Protestantism. . . . The succession of successful wars against France had the effect of emphasizing and consolidating British nationality and drawing a pointed contrast between Britain . . . and France."

Quote from: Jeffrey 1997: 11
"The definition of the national character was completed, in the nineteenth century, by the fusion of two powerful creeds. The first was Evangelical Protestantism. . . . [The second was] a revival of chivalry which became all-pervasive in the nineteenth century."

It's taken from Richards, Jeffrey ( 1997 ): Film and the British national identity: From Dickens to Dad's Army. It can be found online, probably only partly unless you're connected to a network with full access. I included specific page numbers for your convenience.

Offline ladia2287

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #192 on: October 26, 2013, 09:12:27 PM »
Hemingway, you're giving me a headache. The debate is over. We have moved onto a completely different topic, in case you failed to notice.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #193 on: October 27, 2013, 05:28:23 PM »
Hemingway, you're giving me a headache. The debate is over. We have moved onto a completely different topic, in case you failed to notice.

Well, the joy of conversations is that they're about whatever people are conversing about.  So if people are still debating then, by definition, the debate isn't over.  That said, though, I'm inclined to agree with Hemingway that we've gone massively off topic.  Enjoyed speaking with you, Hemingway, and if you want to continue our discussion via PM I'd be fine with that, though don't feel obliged.

Offline HannibalBarca

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #194 on: December 14, 2013, 11:39:07 AM »
One of my favorites:  Texas was wrested from the control of weak, decadent Mexico by rugged individualists and made into an independent nation before becoming the brightest shining Lone Star on the Stars and Stripes.

Tejas was a northern territory of Mexico that the Mexicans struggled to populate due to the horrific losses sustained in their war of independence from Spain.  They invited U.S. citizens to come join in helping to build the territory up, given that said U.S. citizens signed papers saying three things:

1) They would obey all Mexican laws.  Fair enough in a foreign land, right?
2) They would convert to Catholicism.  Somewhat difficult to verify I'd think, but it was their territory, so, okay.
3) They would bring no slaves there.  Unlike the U.S., Mexico banned slavery in their original Constitution.

What happened?  Well, since Tejas happened to be right next to the Southern U.S., the majority of U.S. pioneers that headed there were Protestant slave owners, or at least sympathetic to slavery.  Well, that pretty much shit on #1, too.

Many Texans of today also tend to forget that there was a very large number of native Mexicans in Tejas that rose up and assisted them in throwing off Mexican government rule--mostly so they would not have to follow Mexican rule from distant, out-of-touch Ciudad Mexico.

Later, President John Tyler, Southern sympathizer, annexed Texas in order to give the Slave states more votes in Congress against the Free states.

Now, President James Polk--owner of plantations and beaucoup slaves--falsifying facts to pull Mexico and the U.S. into a war as a blatant land grab to create even more Slave states is a related but whole other history rife with its own myths.

What really bothers me, as an historian, is when people get incensed with me bringing up parts of our nation's past that aren't flattering.  If citizens of this country took history more seriously as the institutional, collective, national memory that it is, we'd avoid a lot more of our more recent flubs, like the hauntingly-similar Iraq War.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2013, 09:30:38 AM by HannibalBarca »

Offline ladia2287

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #195 on: December 14, 2013, 02:46:35 PM »
I'm not American and I've never been there, but the impression I seem to get from my interactions with Americans (I have a penpal currently living in NH as well as a number of online Roleplaying buddies), as well as the ridiculous amount of American television that is broadcast where I am, is that any historic reference that does not present America or an individual who has been established in American history as a 'hero' is generally frowned upon.

Every country is guilty of trying to keep less flattering aspects of its history hidden from view, but one of my American associates recently informed me that she was actually kicked out of class once for mentioning that she believed the American armed forces had gone too far when they dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As far as her teacher was concerned, those attacks were justified by the fact that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbour. I was quite shocked to learn this; for one, Pearl Harbour is one city. And yeah, Japan was wrong to attack that city, given that at the time America had not engaged in any conflict with Japan, but in retribution America is justified in utterly destroying two cities, both of which are still suffering the long term consequences of excessive radiation exposure? That logic does not make any sense to me.

As a fellow historian, though admittedly not a professional one, I know all too well the frustration of people who only see one side of the story, and refuse to even look at the other side for no reason other than the other side of the story may well disprove what they personally believe.

Another common myth that I frequently come across is that Ancient Egyptian royalty was in the constant habit of incestuous relationships. To someone who has not looked at Ancient Egyptian history, politics and religion too closely, this is a fairly reasonable assumption to make, but it is completely false.

According to folklore, the Goddess Nut bore five children; Osiris, Isis, Seth, Nephthys and Harmachis. Osiris, the eldest, became Pharaoh and made his sister Isis his Queen. He also had an affair with his youngest sister, Nephthys and both women bore him one son each, but as Isis was his wife, it was their son Horus who was considered to be his heir.

Every Pharaoh, according to Egyptian law, had to make sure his or her (for there were several female Pharaohs) right to the crown was legitimate and watertight. Most did so by marrying either a sister or a daughter, but there is little evidence of these marriages being any more than a political alliance; the Pharaoh could 'justify' his position this way as he was married to a woman who bore the title 'Daughter of Pharaoh', whether this was his own daughter or a daughter of a previous Pharaoh. Very few of these 'Daughter of Pharaoh' wives are known to have had children in these marriages and in many cases the marriage was only temporary, with a divorce occurring so that the 'wife' could later on marry properly, usually into a union that would benefit Pharaoh in some way.

It wasn't until the Ptolemaic dynasty, the very last dynasty before Egypt was assimilated into the Roman Empire, that incest became a habit. The simple fact was that during this time Egypt was ruled by Greeks who could not speak or read Egyptian. They saw these political brother-sister marriages and assumed that they were marriages in the 'traditional' sense, and copied what they thought the Egyptians had been doing. This was also the most turbulent and dangerous period to be a royal, with members or the Ptolemaic family constantly contriving and conspiring to get their own relatives out of the way, usually by murder, sometimes by seduction and trickery. But that's another story for another day.

Offline Lux12

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #196 on: December 14, 2013, 04:36:23 PM »
Even if I am a neopagan, the idea that Wicca is an old religion kind of grates on my nerves. It's a new religion based in old wisdom. The witch cult hypothesis as cool as it sounds is another one. I do believe that you likely had similar groups practicing in private, but it wasn't quite the story that people make it out to be. Another is that people believed the earth was flat around the time of Columbus and didn't know it was round. In fact, people were quite aware the world was round. A Greek intellectual had proved this centuries prior. Not a couple centuries before, but as far back as the B.C. era.

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #197 on: December 14, 2013, 09:53:19 PM »
Another is that people believed the earth was flat around the time of Columbus and didn't know it was round. In fact, people were quite aware the world was round. A Greek intellectual had proved this centuries prior. Not a couple centuries before, but as far back as the B.C. era.

Eratosthenes.  He also used shadows and mathematics to determine how large the Earth was, and wasn't off by very much (rather impressive considering the limited equipment he had.)

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #198 on: December 14, 2013, 11:23:03 PM »
Eratosthenes.  He also used shadows and mathematics to determine how large the Earth was, and wasn't off by very much (rather impressive considering the limited equipment he had.)
Thank you! I was having trouble recalling his name.

Also, this notion that Africa has never had any influential civilizations than Egypt drives me up a wall. I mean, does no one remember the Nubians, the history of Ethiopia, the Ashanti and Mali empires, and Dahomey?

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #199 on: December 14, 2013, 11:36:13 PM »
Thank you! I was having trouble recalling his name.

Also, this notion that Africa has never had any influential civilizations than Egypt drives me up a wall. I mean, does no one remember the Nubians, the history of Ethiopia, the Ashanti and Mali empires, and Dahomey?

I go to the British Museum pretty regularly.  They have a large section devoted to Egypt then three rooms in a basement for "Africa".  I called one of the tour guides on it once and had a really interesting conversation.  He said that short of thing like the Benin Bronzes and whatnot, Egypt was the only civilization from Africa that had left us real honest to god "stuff" and that that had had a massive effect on scholarship.  In the west, at least.