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Author Topic: Most annoying historical myths?  (Read 17849 times)

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Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #325 on: January 01, 2014, 10:05:37 PM »
Smallpox definitely helped, and probably was the decisive factor. But I've seen a lot of accounts that just talk about the Conquistadors, their metal armor, horses, and guns - completely ignoring the army of locals they recruited to help.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #326 on: January 02, 2014, 12:54:42 AM »
Is that including the fact that a lot of their sacrifices were captured prisoners of war? If I remember right, one of the other things history books tend to forget was how Cortez broke the Mayans leading a small army of all the other little tribal powers the Mayans had been abusing and warring against for generations, not just his Spanish conquistadors.

 I thought that was the Aztecs. The Mayans live/lived on the Yucatan peninsula, not in central Mexico. By the time Cortez showed up, the Mayan city state civilization had been dead for several hundred to a thousand years.

Offline Lux12

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #327 on: January 02, 2014, 01:32:36 AM »
I thought that was the Aztecs. The Mayans live/lived on the Yucatan peninsula, not in central Mexico. By the time Cortez showed up, the Mayan city state civilization had been dead for several hundred to a thousand years.
Yes. The Maya as a culture were still alive (and they still are, currently six million of them), but it was the Aztecs that had risen to power during that time.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2014, 01:33:43 AM by Lux12 »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #328 on: January 02, 2014, 06:19:43 AM »
Yes. The Maya as a culture were still alive (and they still are, currently six million of them)

And they were very amused at the whole '2012' thing.  (The little Oni went to an exhibition about it at the Penn Museum of Archaeology.)

Offline TheBlackRider

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #329 on: January 02, 2014, 08:17:08 AM »
Annoying Myth: The Confederate soldiers were much better fighters than the Union soldiers in the American Civil War, and lost only because the North sent wave after wave of men to their deaths in order to wear the Confederates down.

Fact: The North did have an advantage of numbers, but the Union soldier was every bit as good a soldier as his Southern counterpart. If the myth that "one southern boy could whip ten yankees" had been true, we would have seen very disproportionate casualties, with the Union losing far more then than the South. Instead, we see that the casualties are roughly equal, with both sides losing upwards of 400k men according to modern tallies. Now, combine that with the knowledge that the North often had to take the offensive in these battles, and that the tech of the time favored the defenders, you can see how tough the average Union soldier would have had to have been.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #330 on: January 02, 2014, 12:03:52 PM »
I thought that was the Aztecs. The Mayans live/lived on the Yucatan peninsula, not in central Mexico. By the time Cortez showed up, the Mayan city state civilization had been dead for several hundred to a thousand years.

Right...I get the Maya, Aztec, and Inca confused sometimes. Cortez beat the Aztec, Pizarro beat the Inca, but the Maya beat themselves.

Offline consortium11

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #331 on: January 02, 2014, 12:59:01 PM »
Right...I get the Maya, Aztec, and Inca confused sometimes. Cortez beat the Aztec, Pizarro beat the Inca, but the Maya beat themselves.

It's somewhat unclear what led to the Maya collapse, with a number of competing theories. Some suggest the issues were generally internal (likely peasant equivalent revolts in major city states such as Teotihuacan which in turn led to a collapse in the trade network) or over-farming leading to an ecological collapse (although that theory has been somewhat discredited as it became apparent the Mayan's had a far more sophisticated agricultural system then simple "slash and burn"). Others suggest it was outside stimulus, largely focusing on either a foreign invasion (although the evidence for this is somewhat outdated and these days tends towards the internal revolt theory) or "drought theory"... that a series of droughts destroyed the civilisation either through being "mega droughts" or simply minor ones that went over the tipping point eventually.

So it's a perhaps a bit simplistic to say the Mayan's beat themselves. They may well have done (or at the very least not had a culture/empire able to survive changes) but any civilisation would likely struggle with a mega drought one theory suggests. At the end of the day we simply don't know what happened... the Maya collapse coincided with (and in truth almost certainly directly led to) an almost complete cessation of monumental inscriptions which are one of main sources for Mayan history.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #332 on: January 02, 2014, 01:14:28 PM »
True, it is over-simplifying, but so is saying Cortez beat the Aztecs, like I was talking about previously, so we're sort of looping back to where this all started.



I just remembered one 'myth' I'm not sure of the historical veracity of, maybe someone here does. Supposedly, when Christian missionaries first went up north to try and convert the native Inuit/First Nation/Eskimo tribes, they had very little success because they emphasized the fate of eternity in Hell for unbelievers - a place of perpetual heat and warmth, which sounded like the dandiest thing ever to the Inuit. They only started getting converts after they modified the preached theology to describe Hell as perpetually cold and desolate. Accurate, or another reflection of the 'pandering to stupid savages/missionaries-as-used-car-salesmen' stories?

Offline consortium11

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #333 on: January 02, 2014, 01:49:51 PM »
There are newspaper reports about the story from 1937 which quote Segundo Llorente (probably the most famous missionary who worked in Alaska, one of the most prolific writers about the area and one who was repeatedly used for quotes and the like). So, there's a good chance it's accurate although at the same time Llorente was also known for his sense of humor so it might be an apocryphal tale.

Offline DTW

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #334 on: January 02, 2014, 02:36:26 PM »
TThings Alleged to have destroyed the roman empire

  • Gay Marriage
  • Welfare
  • Decay owing to general malaise
  • Failed Economic Polices
  • Monocausal decay

Things That Actually Caused The Fall Of The Roman Empire
  • The Germanic Tribes kicking their Shit In


Seriously I'm pretty sure  having their buildings burned down  and  their people slaughtered was probably the deciding  factor their fall.


I think the empire  would've lasted a little bit longer had   a significant portion of  them not have been murdered by the Visigoths.






Offline Oniya

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #335 on: January 02, 2014, 02:38:44 PM »
The lead contamination in their drinking water from the pipes couldn't have helped either.

Offline ladia2287

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #336 on: January 02, 2014, 02:58:01 PM »
I think it's a bit naive to claim that one invasion was the sole cause of the empire's fall. Realistically, it had been in steady decline for a long time before the Germanic invasions. The main problem, really, seems to be rooted in the empire's resources being spread too thin. Quite simply, the Roman Empire grew so much that the central government had a very hard time defending and controlling it. The other factors already mentioned definitely didn't help matters.

Offline Lux12

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #337 on: January 02, 2014, 03:52:07 PM »
It's hard to believe some people still believe this, but some people still think the Egyptians lived and did everything in pyramids. The pyramids were funerary complexes that people overall paid little attention to once pharaoh was there interred.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #338 on: January 02, 2014, 05:01:23 PM »
I think it's a bit naive to claim that one invasion was the sole cause of the empire's fall. Realistically, it had been in steady decline for a long time before the Germanic invasions. The main problem, really, seems to be rooted in the empire's resources being spread too thin. Quite simply, the Roman Empire grew so much that the central government had a very hard time defending and controlling it. The other factors already mentioned definitely didn't help matters.

Agreed...the Visgoths may have tipped it over the edge, but that was the Fall, the empire's Decline started much earlier and lasted much longer. At its peak, the German tribes would have just bounced off like a rubber ball, but it had withered and weakened a great deal from there.

Offline TheBlackRider

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #339 on: January 02, 2014, 05:17:35 PM »
It's hard to believe some people still believe this, but some people still think the Egyptians lived and did everything in pyramids.

Fun fact: More time had passed between the building of the Great Pyramids and Cleopatra's reign than have passed between Cleopatra's reign and right now. I have a hard time grasping that the pyramids would have already been ancient way back when Marc Antony was on the creep in Alexandria.

Offline IStateYourName

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #340 on: January 02, 2014, 07:11:59 PM »
Fun fact: More time had passed between the building of the Great Pyramids and Cleopatra's reign than have passed between Cleopatra's reign and right now. I have a hard time grasping that the pyramids would have already been ancient way back when Marc Antony was on the creep in Alexandria.

Just goes to show how long civilization has been around.  Of course, the entire history of Homo sapiens is little more than a fart in the wind, if you use geological timescales.

Offline Lux12

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #341 on: January 02, 2014, 07:37:21 PM »
Another sort of funny one is that there was no porn from the middle ages until the sexual revolution. If anything about visual and literary culture is certain, it's that bawdy sexual imagery in written form and in pictures have never gone away. In fact, the Marquis DeSade's writings (even if they are often disturbing) alongside a number of rather blatantly sexual pictures from the 19th and early 20th century have proven otherwise.

Offline Neysha

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #342 on: January 02, 2014, 09:39:52 PM »
Not sure if I find any of these myths annoying, though some are fascinating.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #343 on: January 03, 2014, 12:29:40 AM »
It's hard to believe some people still believe this, but some people still think the Egyptians lived and did everything in pyramids.

*laughs* I know some people (back in the 18th/19th centuries) used to believe that the great pyramids were Pharaoh's granaries, built under the supervision of Joseph during the seven fat years, but having the Egyptians living and working inside pyramids is even better!



Moving back into geological time, there's this guy I read (he was writing some time before the discovery of the Yucatan crater) who suggested that the extinction of the dinosaurs was due to the big apex predators, T. Rex and the rest, becoming so effective they eradicated the veggie-eating species and...hey, presto! Suddenly there was nothing left for the remaining meat-eating ones except your own kind!  ;D

Actually, it's a long-standing debate topic whether Tyrannosaurus and the like would have taken on Brontosaurus and other really big vegetation-eating beasts, who could be three times their size or more. Perhaps sometimes if the former were pack hunters, but that we don't know. Anyway, those big ones mostly lived in swamps and lakes, where someone like Tyrannosaurus would never have ventured deep in, and of course there's no way T. Rex could have singlehandedly driven even a couple large species of dinosaurs extinct...
« Last Edit: January 03, 2014, 12:35:11 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Lux12

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #344 on: January 03, 2014, 01:19:09 AM »
*laughs* I know some people (back in the 18th/19th centuries) used to believe that the great pyramids were Pharaoh's granaries, built under the supervision of Joseph during the seven fat years, but having the Egyptians living and working inside pyramids is even better!
I hadn't heard that one. It reminds me that a number of people used to believe that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were lost tribes of Israel or that there was once a theory that the Navajo and Tibetans were very direct relatives. which in some circles was widely  accepted. You could probably fill a book with all the intricate and unusual bible based theories and rumors alone.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #345 on: January 03, 2014, 01:20:03 AM »
I hadn't heard that one. It reminds me that a number of people used to believe that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were lost tribes of Israel or that there was once a theory that the Navajo and Tibetans were very direct relatives. which in some circles was widely  accepted. You could probably fill a book with all the intricate and unusual bible based theories and rumors alone.

Or about 40% of the History Channel's programming.

Offline Lux12

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #346 on: January 03, 2014, 01:21:21 AM »
Or about 40% of the History Channel's programming.
Don't get me started on that ancient aliens crap. I could fill another book with my complaints about show.

Offline ladia2287

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #347 on: January 03, 2014, 02:02:42 AM »
On the topic of Ancient Egypt, another common myth that seems to keep cropping up is that the Pharaoh Akhenaten 'invented' the God Aten and forced the Egyptian populace to forsake all the other gods.

Fact: Aten was simply one of several aspects of the Sun God, Ra, who was known by several different names. And whilst, during Akhenaten's reign at least, Egyptian law did not recognise any of the rest of the Gods, one man sitting in an extremely remote city could not hope to have the resources to enforce such a law outside of his own newly-built capital.

Offline consortium11

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #348 on: January 03, 2014, 06:12:19 AM »
Or about 40% of the History Channel's programming.

With the other 60% being "Nazi's were bad".

Offline Oniya

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #349 on: January 03, 2014, 07:05:50 AM »
I hadn't heard that one. It reminds me that a number of people used to believe that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were lost tribes of Israel or that there was once a theory that the Navajo and Tibetans were very direct relatives. which in some circles was widely  accepted. You could probably fill a book with all the intricate and unusual bible based theories and rumors alone.

I seem to recall some genetic research that showed commonalities between some Pacific Coast tribes and some Siberian bloodlines...

(Journal article here, but here's a quick overview.)
« Last Edit: January 03, 2014, 07:07:18 AM by Oniya »