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HISTORY TODAY: INAH REPORT: Archaeologists identify obsidian mines exploited by the people of Teōtīhuacān

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#AceNewsDesk – For thousands of years, people living in the Sierra de las Navajas have exploited the rare deposits of obsidian, a type of volcanic glass that is formed when lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimal crystal growth according to Published: 27, 2022

shutterstock 788556172
Header Image Credit : National Institute of Anthropology and History

Obsidian is produced from felsic lava, rich in the lighter elements such as silicon, oxygen, aluminium, sodium, and potassium. Due to the hard and brittle nature of the stone, it fractures to form extremely sharp edges, often used as cutting and piercing tools, instruments for worship, or for weapons manufacturing by the pre-hispanic groups living in the Americas.

INAH
Image Credit : National Institute of Anthropology and History

The deposits are located only 31 miles from the ancient city of Teōtīhuacān, for which researchers from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have located more than 500 mine shafts in the Sierra de las Navajas, a mountain range located in the south-southeast of the state of Hidalgo in central Mexico.

Teōtīhuacān, named by the nahuatl-speaking aztecs, and loosely translated as “birthplace of the gods” is an ancient mesoamerican city located in the Teōtīhuacān valley. During phase II from AD 100 to 350, the city population rapidly grew into a large metropolis, partly due to the economic pull and opportunities a thriving urban settlement presented, but also based on environmental factors suggested by the eruption of the Xitle volcano, forcing the migration from other settlements out of the central valley.Teōtīhuacān – Image Credit : Shutterstock (Copyright)

It was during this phase that many of the most notable monuments within Teōtīhuacān were constructed, including: the Pyramid of the Sun (the third largest ancient pyramid after the Great Pyramid of Cholula and the Great Pyramid of Giza), the Pyramid of the Moon, the Avenue of the Dead, and the Ciudadela with the Temple of the Feathered Serpent Quetzalcoatl.

Among the mines discovered, identifying shafts that date from the Teōtīhuacān era presented challenges to the researchers, as many were reused or sealed during the Toltec exploitation of the region between AD 950 to AD 1150, and then during the period of the Triple Alliance by the three Nahua city-states: Mexico-Tenochtitlan, Tetzcoco, and Tlacopan during the 16th century AD.

By conducting an analysis of mined obsidian, as well as the discovery of ceramic pieces and architecture containing obsidian pieces that coincides with the Teōtīhuacān temporality, the researchers have been able to gain new insights into the daily operation of obsidian mining during the Teōtīhuacān era which were transported and refined in workshops.

“The main production in the deposits of the sierra were the preforms, and considering that Teōtīhuacān carving is very special, to the extent that a single wrong blow can ruin the raw material, it should have been more efficient to make the preforms in the deposit and finish the spikes in Teōtīhuacān”, said Alejandro Pastrana Cruz from the Directorate of Archaeological Studies of the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

INAH

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.29:  2022:

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HISTORY TODAY: Filling the Gaps: By writing in margins please’s some but not everyone

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#AceHistoryDesk – Writing in a book is a divisive action in the modern day with some writing in the Margins

 17th-century manicule and notes in the margin of translations of Aristotle. Courtesy of the Penn Library.
17th-century manicule and notes in the margin of translations of Aristotle. Courtesy of the Penn Library.

Filling the Gaps: The degree of severity of this potential offense often depends on the nature of the book being marked and the type of mark being made.

In the early modern period, such a dichotomy did not exist. Love them or hate them, marginal annotations and other marks of readership are not a new concept. Early modern readers were encouraged to engage actively with texts by marking and annotating their books. These annotations were most often directly relevant to the passages of printed text they surrounded, but not always. 

For some bibliophiles, marking the most meaningful paragraphs of their favorite novels is the ultimate act of appreciation; for others, it’s the ultimate act of defilement.

Annotations and marks such as these are invaluable as evidence of readership practices in the 16th and 17th centuries. Their intrinsic value is in what they can tell us about the interests of early modern readers. Most reading was undertaken with a purpose, with a view to a specific end – social, political or professional advancement, for example. Considering the serious, intellectual, scholarly and often religious nature of most early modern texts, the majority of text-related annotations in these volumes constitute what historians term ‘aids to memory’. 

These aids came in many different forms and in varying degrees of intensity, which suggest the differing levels of engagement with the text itself. Most common, perhaps, were marks and symbols, such as an asterisk or a manicule (a pointing finger), in the margins of a page next to specific sentences or passages of particular importance.

In some instances, readers summarised the contents of a page with a sub-heading, of sorts, at the top of a page. More often, these handwritten memory aids extended into verbal summaries or short commentaries on paragraphs or points those readers found significant or pertinent to their reason for reading. Sometimes marginalia filled up the entirety of the blank page surrounding the text, leaving very little white space. Occasionally small drawings could be detailed in the margins, illustrating the content of the text. A volume from the library of Anthony Higgin, Dean of Ripon from 1608 to 1624, contains a small illustration of a crocodile in the margin of one page, followed by a drawing of the sun (complete with a smiley face) and the moon adjacent to their textual descriptions.

Paper was reasonably expensive in the 16th and 17th centuries and was a major contributor to the cost of books.

As such, the blank pages at the front and back and the white space surrounding the printed text were often the most readily available scrap paper. Sometimes we see instances of random sayings or witticisms being scribbled onto the blank pages of a book – the saying ‘God hath woollen feet but iron hands’ written in the front of a volume now in the Gorton Chest library in Chetham’s Library, Manchester, is a particularly good example. Marginalia illustrating a fight in Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita, 16th century. Mary Evans/Kings College London.

marginalia illustrating a fight in Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita, 16th century.

Marginalia and notes in books that do not directly relate to the printed text often also evidence a book’s value as a possession, both to individuals and to generations of families. Numerous volumes from Anthony Higgin’s library contain his signature in various forms. Several volumes in the Francis Trigge Chained Library in Grantham contain examples of ownership inscriptions as well, names like ‘Thomas Scarborough, Parish Clerk’ or ‘Edward Eastland, His Book’.

Perhaps one of the most significant examples of the importance of owning books and the significance of inheritance is a copy of Protestant reformer John Calvin’s Sermons upon the Book of Job, also now in the Trigge Library. This volume contains no less than six instances of ownership inscriptions throughout the book by one James Higginbotham. In one of the inscriptions, Higginbotham notes that the volume was given to him by his father, William, on 5 November 1704. William Higginbotham himself inscribed the book with his signature, dated 1688, suggesting its importance across several generations. The book also contains the signature of one John Bentley from 1693 – perhaps William loaned the book to his friend. 

Books could also serve as places to note down recipes or keep a record of accounts, particularly in the blank sheets at the beginning and end.

The pages at either end of one volume in the Gorton Chest library, for example, are covered with what seem to be accounts, written out in such detail that there is very little white space left on the pages. A volume from Higgin’s collection has one of its blank pages covered in recipes for various remedies and medicines, including ‘a drink for divers deseses’ and ‘a medissine for all kind of griefes’. Similarly, the ‘medecyne for the ague’ recorded on the blank page at the front of a book in the Trigge Library seems to have been considered important (or effective) enough to note down for repeated use.

Surviving marginalia is thus a central piece of evidence for the importance of early modern books, both as textual items whose messages were read, understood, interpreted, and applied, but also as material objects that held personal and familial significance as heirlooms and repositories of more general information.

Jessica G. Purdy is Associate Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of St Andrews.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.24: 2022:

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BRITISH HISTORY: Life & Death of Frank Hornby Who Created Meccano & Model Railways

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#AceHistoryDesk – Death of Frank Hornby: The genius who created Meccano, Hornby model railways and Dinky toys and died a millionaire at the age of 73 was born in Liverpool in 1863.

Frank Hornby
History Today: Frank Hornby

Frank Hornby’s father worked in the wholesale provision trade, the family straddled the divide between the upper working class and lower middle class, and Frank spoke with a Scouse accent all his life. He disliked school, often played truant, and left at 16.

Years later he recalled that he had read Self-Help by Samuel Smiles over and over again and it inspired him, but for the moment he made little progress and after various clerking jobs he became a bookkeeper at a Liverpool meat importing firm run by a man named David Elliott.

By the late 1890s, Hornby was married with two small sons. He made toys for his boys at home in his garden shed, building metal models of bridges, cranes, and lorries.

An inspired moment came when he thought of making them out of identical parts that could be fastened together with screws and nuts to assemble whichever model was wanted. The separate parts were metal strips half an inch wide with holes for the fastenings at regular half-inch intervals. They came in three standard lengths. The only tools a boy needed to assemble the models were spanners and a screwdriver.

Early in 1901 Hornby took out a patent after borrowing £5 from his boss for the fee. David Elliott saw the possibilities and backed Hornby.

They set up a separate business and in 1902 the first ‘Mechanics Made Easy’ sets went on sale at 7s 6d (equivalent to £30 or more today), each with an instruction leaflet explaining how to make 12 models. They began to sell and in 1906 the enterprise made a profit for the first time.

The toys were educational as well as enjoyable and the business went from strength to strength.

The ‘Meccano’ trademark was registered in 1907 and in 1908 Meccano Ltd itself was formed. Elliot was a sleeping partner, leaving Hornby in command. Meccano sets were exported to numerous countries and offices were opened in Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, and the United States. Hornby had never imagined for a moment that girls would be interested in Meccano and the product was aimed entirely at boys.

In later developments, the firm introduced the monthly Meccano Magazine in 1916, Hornby clockwork model trains in 1920 (by 1930 they were outselling Meccano), and Dinky Toy cars, lorries, and buses in 1933.

A rich man in his later years, Hornby owned a grand mansion in Maghull outside Liverpool. He was also Conservative MP for Everton in the 1930s, but his greatest impact was on the generations of children who loved his toys.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.24: 2022:

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HISTORY TODAY: Ancient shipwreck reveals the tenacity of traders and a lost age of Mediterranean trade

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#AceHistoryDesk – A surprise storm? An inexperienced captain?

Whatever the reason, the merchant ship made of fir and walnut trees, and fresh from far-off lands, sank in shallow waters off modern-day Israel more than 1,200 years ago.

At the time the largely Christian Byzantine Empire was losing its grip on this area of the eastern Mediterranean, and Islamic rule was extending its reach.

But this newly-discovered shipwreck, dated to the seventh or eighth century AD, is evidence trade continued with the rest of the Mediterranean during that period according to Professor Deborah Cvikel, a nautical archaeologist at the University of Haifa and director of the dig.

a diver takiong notes on a clipboard underwater with the timber wreck of a ship around them
The 25-metre cargo ship is from the seventh or eighth century AD.(Reuters: Alexandros Sotiriou)none

” The history books, they usually tell us that … commerce almost stopped,’ she said.

“There was no international commerce in the Mediterranean. We had mainly smaller vessels sailing along the coast doing cabotage.”

But this no longer seems to be the case.

“Here we have a large shipwreck, which we think the original ship was around 25 metres long, and … laden with cargo from all over the Mediterranean.”

Artefacts on deck show the ship had docked in Cyprus, Egypt, maybe Turkey and perhaps as far away as the North African coast.

The excavation is backed by the Israel Science Foundation, Honor Frost Foundation and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University.

The Israeli coast is home to many ships that sank over the millennia.Vessels were found with Mediterranean ingredients, like olives, dates, and figs, still inside. (Reuters: Amir Yurman)none

The wrecks are more accessible to study than elsewhere in the Mediterranean because the sea is shallow and the sandy bottom preserves artefacts.

A storm might shift the sands and expose a relic, which is what happened with this new discovery at the Israeli coastal community of Maagan Michael.

Two amateur divers spotted a piece of wood sticking out from the bottom and reported it to authorities.

Ancient ingredients

Eight excavation seasons later, Professor Cvikel’s team has mapped out much of the 20-metre-long, five-metre-wide wooden skeleton that remains.The ship is thought to have sunk more than 1,200 years ago. (Reuters: Rony Levinson)none

Using underwater vacuums to clear out 1.5 metres of sand, they found more than 200 amphoras which still held Mediterranean ingredients like fish sauce, and a variety of olives, dates and figs.

There were also ropes and wooden combs, as well as animals, including the remains of beetles and six rats.

“You have to be very attentive because some of the remains, like fish bones, or rat bones, or olive pits, they are so tiny that it could be lost in a split second,” Professor Cvikel said.

Some of the cargo bore symbols of the Christian Byzantine church and others had writing in Arabic.

Researchers hope to find a hall to display the ship in its entirety to the public, otherwise they will cover it with sand and leave it at the sea bottom with the other wrecks.

Reuters

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.24: 2022:

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#OTD 1922: Ex-Kaiser to Marry Princess Hermineof Schönaich-Caroiath née Princess Ruess

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#AceHistoryDesk – Wilhelm II, who abdicated as emperor of Germany in the midst of defeat in World War I, had become a widower in 1921.

Sept. 20, 2022, 8:12 a.m. ET: By The International Herald Tribune

International Herald Tribune

DOORN, Tuesday. — The Kaiser has officially contracted an engagement of marriage with Princess Hermine of Schönaich-Caroiath née Princess Ruess.

The first official news of the former Kaiser’s engagement reached Paris yesterday in the above telegram to The New York Herald direct from Doorn. Princess Hermine, younger daughter of the late reigning Prince Heinrich XXII of the elder line of the House of Ruess, married Prince Johann, a cadet of the Prussian princely family of Carolath-Beuthen in 1907, and became a widow in 1920. She has three sons and two daughters.

According to a message from Berlin, the marriage will probably take place in November. The ex-Kaiser originally intended to announce his engagement towards the end of October, but changed his mind and made the present announcement owing to information published in America. 

Princess Hermine visited the ex-Kaiser at Doorn last spring and stayed about a week at the castle. Since then she has been in constant correspondence with him. The marriage project has encountered strong opposition from members of the Hohenzollern family and in Monarchist circles of Germany. A deputation, headed by Herr von Oldenburg-Januscha, even went to Doorn to press objections, but met with a warm reply from the former monarch.

The “Deutsche Tages Zeitung” indicates that the news of the engagement made a disagreeable impression on the ex-Kaiser’s sons, but that the unpleasantness has been glossed over, and they will be represented at the wedding by the former Crown Prince.

— The New York Herald, European Edition, Sept. 20, 1922.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.20: 2022:

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HISTORY TODAY: Beginning & the End: As Easy As ABC Through the Ages

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#AceHistoryDesk – Few technologies are as important to our daily lives as the alphabet. But, as Johanna Drucker argues, we rarely give its history any thought at all.

A fragment of text inscribed on the Mesha Stele, c.840 BC. Louvre/Wiki Commons.
A fragment of text inscribed on the Mesha Stele, c.840 BC. Louvre/Wiki Commons.

Despite its title, her book is not about the invention of the alphabet per se, but about how people have thought about its invention. The alphabet has been continually reinvented by each generation of thinkers in a story that meanders from Herodotus to the present day, via Jewish mystics, Arabic scholars, early modern typographers and 18th-century antiquarians.

As Drucker writes, the idea that the Greeks invented the alphabet is deeply ingrained in modern thought. But this is the opposite of what the Greeks themselves thought; they were clear that it was borrowed. From the Greek perspective, the alphabet was invented either by the Phoenicians and given to the Greeks by Cadmus (this is the account given to us by Herodotus) or invented by the Egyptian god Thoth (as in the account of Plato). Other Greek descriptions tend to riff on either or both of these basic narratives. For most of the 19th and 20th centuries scholarship lauded the ‘genius’ of the Greeks for adding vowels to the existing consonantal alphabet used by the Phoenicians. Only recently has it begun to describe the birth of the Greek alphabet as a process of cultural contact, borrowing and collaboration.

Inventing the Alphabet raises all of the questions that have vexed historians. The Bible presents insoluble problems.

If God wrote the Ten Commandments for Moses, what language were they in? What alphabet? If it was the first ever written text, how did Moses know how to read it? These questions led early modern thinkers to develop an intense interest in Hebrew and other Semitic languages. But Drucker also shows how incomplete each generation’s information was. Knowledge of inscriptions and coins was very limited in the early modern period, which meant that the Hebrew alphabet known in Europe was the elegant ‘square’ script rather than the Palaeo-Hebrew script used in the earliest part of antiquity. This was, therefore, how they imagined Hebrew to have been written in the distant past as well.

It is only as we move closer to the present day that Drucker turns to studies of the alphabet based on inscriptions rather than historical narratives.

The 18th century saw a flourishing of interest, not just in Greek, Roman and Hebrew writing, but also northern European writing systems such as runes. It also saw a change in how information was organised – from the specimen alphabets produced for early printing, to the analytical tables that compared alphabets letter by letter. New sources of information and new ways of organising that information on the page made profound differences to how people understood the links between different alphabets.

Drucker does not shy away from the effects of politics – and, particularly, imperialism and colonialism – on how understanding of the alphabet developed.

The episode of the Mesha Stele (or Moabite Stone) shows this profoundly. Dating from around 840 BC, it was a hugely significant Canaanite inscription written in a version of the Phoenician script found in a near-perfect state of preservation in Dibon (now in Jordan). But the jostling and competition between the western European scholars determined to publish it indirectly led to its destruction, as the local Bani Hamida people tried to prevent the Ottoman Empire from benefiting from its sale. Our knowledge is not just contingent on what has survived antiquity, but also on shifting political climates.

The book is dense in places and technical terms are not always adequately explained.

Readers are left to their own devices with matres lectionis (literally ‘mothers of reading’, but also a term for the diacritical marks used to indicate vowels in some writing systems which do not have them). The organisation of the material is not always intuitive; it is only about three-quarters of the way into the book that we get an explanation of how the alphabet was first created. But the reader’s effort is repaid in the depth and breadth of information provided. Inventing the Alphabet shines in the sections on the early modern period and the 18th century, where the world of antiquarianism and the Grand Tour comes alive. There are some small factual errors on the ancient side – describing Persian as a Semitic language, when it is Indo-European, for example.

Drucker takes us on a journey through centuries of intellectual history, from the musings of the first historians to the scientific methods of modern archaeologists and linguists.

At the heart of it all is the alphabet: an invention that is both ubiquitously banal and world-changingly innovative.

HISTORY TODAY: Inventing the Alphabet: The Origins of Letters from Antiquity to the Present Johanna Drucker & Katherine McDonald is Assistant Professor in Classics at the University of Durham.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.10:  2022:

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BRITISH HISTORY: New Amsterdam surrendered to the English that began in 1609

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#AceHistoryDesk – A plan of New Amsterdam, 1661: New York City started its glittering history in a modest way as the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam.

A plan of New Amsterdam, 1661

The story begins in 1609 when Henry Hudson, an English sea captain working for Dutch merchants, was trying to find a north-west passage to Asia.

Exploring along the Atlantic seaboard of North America, he came to the island of Manhattan and then sailed north for 150 miles or so up the river later named after him. Returning to Europe, he reported that there was a good prospect of profitable trading in furs there and in 1614 the Dutch established a trading post called Fort Nassau, later Fort Orange, near today’s city of Albany.

The post had only a tiny Dutch population of some 50 traders and soldiers, but Dutch ships sailed regularly up the Hudson to collect furs and more Dutch expeditions explored the area, which became the colony of New Netherland, run by the Dutch West India Company.

In 1625 the company founded New Amsterdam at the southern tip of Manhattan Island as the colony’s capital and seat of government, with a fort to protect it and guard the harbour and the precious fur cargoes against English or French raids. Peter Minuit of the Dutch West India Company, who was in charge from 1626, decided to buy Manhattan Island from a group of local Indians for goods worth 60 Dutch guilders, which later legend valued at US$24. It has been rated the best real estate deal in history.

As well as Dutch families, in time Jews, French Huguenots and other Europeans settled in New Amsterdam, which became a busy trading centre between North America, the Caribbean and Europe.

Settlers started farming Manhattan Island, imported black Africans as slave labourers and began farming further up the Hudson Valley, on Long Island and across the river in today’s New Jersey.

A new colonial governor, Peter Stuyvesant, arrived to take charge in New Amsterdam in 1647.

A former army officer and a commanding figure, he had previously governed the Caribbean island of Curaçao, where he lost his right leg to an enemy cannonball and had to limp about on a wooden leg for the rest of his life. The story goes that if anyone opposed him he would angrily stamp his wooden leg and bellow at them. He was a convinced Calvinist, hostile to Quakers, Lutherans and all other species of Protestants, and tried to have Jews and those who did not belong to the Dutch Reformed Church banned from the colony, but the company persistently overruled him. His arrogant ways did not make him popular, as time would tell.

The English had been building up their own trade with the New World, founding their own colonies in Virginia and New England.

Some English from New England had infiltrated onto Long Island. Charles II decided to seize New Netherland, take over the valuable fur trade and give the colony to his younger brother James, Duke of York and Albany (the future James II). The details vary from one account to another, but on August 27th, 1664 three or perhaps four English warships carrying 300 or maybe 450 English soldiers arrived at New Amsterdam. Their commander was Richard Nicolls, who had been a cavalry commander on the Royalist side in the English Civil Wars and was now a trusted subordinate of the Duke of York. He sent a letter to Stuyvesant demanding New Amsterdam’s surrender and promising to protect the lives, property and freedom of all who accepted English rule. Stuyvesant tore the letter to shreds and ordered preparations for resistance, but it soon became all too clear that few of the city’s inhabitants had any intention of risking life and limb against the English and, indeed, the New English in Long Island were getting ready to fight on the English side.

Stuyvesant accepted the situation and early in September surrendered New Amsterdam to the English and swore allegiance to the Crown. Nicolls took over as governor-general of New Netherland and handled matters tactfully, shrewdly and to the general satisfaction of the colony’s people.

New Amsterdam was renamed New York City and New Netherland became New York State. Stuyvesant went to the Netherlands to report in 1665 and then returned to New York City, where he spent his remaining years quietly at his farm, which was called the Bouwerij and left its name to the street now called the Bowery. When he died in 1672 he was buried there, at St Mark’s Church. The bust of him in the church was presented by Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands in 1912. The nearby Stuyvesant Street, Stuyvesant Square and the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn bear his name.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.09: 2022:

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BRITISH HISTORY TODAY: How did ‘ Downing Street ‘ get its name ?

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#AceHistoryDesk – Crafty & Fawning’: Downing of Downing Street

Sir George Downing
HISTORY TODAY: Sir George Downing (detail), by Thomas Smith, c.1675-90. Havard Art Museums.

Synonymous with the heart of British government, ‘Downing Street’ is one of those oddities of English history which, like ‘beefeaters’, the woolsack, or the quaintly-named ‘Chancellor of the Exchequer’, baffle foreigners and defy easy or even rational explanation.

In most countries it is customary to name important thoroughfares after national heroes, but who (we seldom ask, and rarely know) was the man who gave his name to this dingy but distinguished backwater?

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.07: 2022:

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BRITAINS HISTORY TODAY: London’s Last Bartholomew Fair Dating Back to 1133

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#AceHistoryDesk – The fair went all the way back to 1133, when Henry I issued the licence for it to a former court entertainer, Rahere, founder of the priory at Smithfield which eventually became St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

Bartholomew Fair as illustrated in 1808
HISTORY TODAY: Bartholomew Fair as illustrated in 1808

Prior Rahere liked to go to the fair himself and do some juggling, and his foundation drew useful income from it. Held on the open space of Smithfield, just outside the city walls, starting on the eve of the feast day of St Bartholomew in August, it grew into the country’s largest cloth fair and London’s biggest annual jamboree. From 1604 it was controlled by the City of London and opened every year by the Lord Mayor.

By that time, the fair had become far more of a carnival than a business function. Puppet-shows, wrestlers, fire-eaters, dwarfs, dancing bears, performing monkeys and caged tigers vied for attention with contortionists and tight-rope walkers. Astrologers cast horoscopes and miraculous medicines were hawked. Proprietors of food and drink, beer and tobacco, bellowed for custom amid a miasma of roast pork. There were plentiful supplies of toys, gingerbread and mousetraps, puppies, purses and singing birds in a general bedlam of shouts, fiddles, drums and rattles. The fair was one of the year’s great opportunities for pickpockets, naturally, and also for prostitutes, who might be found in tents coyly labelled ‘soiled doves’ or in a nearby street appropriately named Cock Lane.

A man who visited Smithfield in 1614 left an admiring account of a conjuror putting on a show with three yards of ribbon, while attractions in the 1700s included boat-swings and the Whirligig ferris wheel.

The change of calendar shifted the fair’s date into September. It continued full tilt through the eighteenth century. Attractions when Wordsworth went in 1815 included albinos and Red Indians, ventriloquists, waxworks, and a learned pig which, blindfolded, could tell the time to the minute and pick out any specified card in a pack. Among things William Hone enjoyed in 1825 were the living skeleton, an elephant which uncorked bottles, a glass-blower in a glass wig blowing tea-cups for threepence apiece and baby crocodiles being hatched from eggs by steam. The fair’s loutishness, drunkenness and vulgarity, however, aroused growing middle-class disapproval. It was attracting too many thieves and muggers, and the City imposed increasingly stringent restrictions. By the 1840s it was a shadow of its old self and it made its last bow in 1855.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.06: 2022:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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HISTORY TODAY: St Kilda’s Isle at Edge of the World Poet Called Broken on the Wheel

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#AceHistoryDesk – The small archipelago of St Kilda, 50 miles west of Harris, has long attracted romantic attention for its remoteness, with the sense of strangeness and difference such isolation implies.

Derelict cottages in Village Street, Hirta,  St Kilda. Vincent Lowe/Alamy.
Derelict cottages in Village Street, Hirta, St Kilda. Vincent Lowe/Alamy.

It is the last and outmost isle, on the edge of the world: a place whose way of life, in the words of Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie, was broken on the wheel of the modern world.

Inhabited in prehistoric times and subject to both Irish and Viking incursion, it first emerges into written history with a passing reference in the early 13th-century Icelandic Prests Saga. There are brief mentions in the Scottish chronicles of John Fordun and Hector Boethius. But it isn’t until 1697 that we get a first-hand account in A Late Voyage to St Kilda by Skye native Martin Martin.

Its population – only Hirta, the largest island, was inhabited – has never topped the 180 that Martin encountered.

But it rarely broke 100 after an outbreak of smallpox in 1727 reduced it to 42. Aside from disease, the importance of fowling to livelihoods – all those seabirds nesting on the sheer 1,000-foot cliffs – made life perilous. The islanders’ euphemism for death came from the trade: they’ve gone over it, people said, when someone died.

The population grew again through immigration, but a third emigrated to Australia in 1852.

One of them, Ewan Gillies, epitomises the restless soul: he left Australia for New Zealand, before arriving in the US in time to fight in the Civil War. He returned to St Kilda twice – after two further spells in Australia – before ending his days in Canada. The islanders called him ‘California’.

Modern scholarship stresses St Kilda’s connectedness, its place in the wider context of Hebridean history and the North Atlantic sea roads.

Even Martin reported Harris islanders coming to one of Hirta’s wells for its healing powers. Remoteness and isolation are ultimately questions of perspective.

There is a Gaelic phrase – Nach du bha’n a Hirst – ‘I wish you were on Hirta.’

It isn’t a compliment. The last islanders, 36 of them, were evacuated on 29 August 1930. One former resident denounced it, writing ‘the whole business … has been the work of despairing Sassenachs’. But no one went back.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Aug.30: 2022:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com