I’ve always had a fascination with archaeology and ancient civilizations, and hopefully I’m not alone! It’s a subject area that I enjoy reading about, and there’s always something to learn. Do you also have a fascination with the past? Are there any time periods that especially interest you? Today, let’s have a quick look at the Bronze Age.
In an ever-more interconnected world, what lessons can we learn from the past? I recently re-read Eric H. Cline’s 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed, which examines why a number of civilizations collapsed in the Late Bronze Age using archaeological research. One thing is clear – the interconnectedness of these civilizations meant that if one of them experienced natural disasters, warfare, or another factor that negatively affected them, then others would also become affected. Cline provides interesting information about these societies, based on current research, and includes the Egyptians, Hittites, Mycenaeans, Assyrians, and others, who interacted and relied upon one another.
I’ve been exploring Norse mythology and Viking history off and on for the past year or so, and I thought I would share some of the items we have in the collection that I found interesting. Let’s set sail and travel through Viking history and lore:
Northmen: The Viking Saga, AD 793-1241 by John Haywood – This book is a good one to start with if you’re looking for an overview about the Viking Era. It also demonstrates how far their travels took them – from Europe, to Asia, and of course, North America. It’s informative and well-researched, and I found it really interesting with enough detail and examination to satisfy my curiosity. I also really liked how the author chose to organize the material based on geographical area. If you have a particular interest in English history, follow Northmen with The Norman Conquest: The Battle of Hastings and the Fall of Anglo-Saxon England by Marc Morris which explores what led to the Battle of Hastings and its aftermath. For those of you interested in North American history, try Graeme Davis’ Vikings in America. Although I believe some of Davis’ claims require more proof, and would have liked more information about the artifacts discovered, it may have identified some questions which could lead to further research into the extent of Viking expeditions to North America. Continue reading
Have you ever wondered about where the drive to create came from? Where did we begin our artistic explorations? I recently read The Oldest Enigma of Humanity: The Key to the Mystery of the Paleolithic Cave Paintings by Bertrand David, which describes his theory about how the paintings were created and the experiments he did to support his theory. It was a quick read, so if you have any interest in cave paintings this book may interest you.
David’s theory revolves around the idea of shadows. The paintings themselves are found deep within caves with no light. He believes that these early creations were tracings of shadows created using firelight and sculptures, because it is an easily taught skill and may explain why this art form lasted so long. Although his theory seems to make sense and is supported by his experiments, we may never have a definitive answer as to how the paintings were created or the reasons why.
However, it did make me think about the reasons why we create, and whether or not this creative drive is ingrained in our very beings or is a learned desire. Why does anyone want to create things? Is it to communicate something or part of the simple desire to bring to life something that did not exist before its creation?