Monthly Archives: July 2016

Humans cause lots of wars

Chimpanzees have been known to fight in groups and kill each other and mostly the reason is territorial disputes. Recent logging in Gabon resulted in chimpanzee warfare that resulted in the deaths of 20,000 chimpanzees.

(The Great Courses – War and World History)

Not a storybook ending but probably more true

It is an almost absolute certainty that Cleopatra did not kill herself with an asp. The most likely cause of death was another type of poison with which she would have been very familiar and which was quicker and less painful. This poison killed her and her two women companions. It has been believed that Octavian wanted her alive so that he could parade her in Rome but some recent theories suggest that he allowed her to have to poison so that he didn’t have to deal with her. When her sister was paraded in Rome many years earlier there was sympathy actually created in the crowd. Once he captured her alive and got his hands on her treasures she may have been just a burden.

(Book – Cleopatra – Stacy Schiff)

The beverage was an ancient ‘sports drink’

In 2014 Austrian forensic anthropologists conducted tests on the bones of gladiators in a mass gladiator graveyard in Ephesus and discovered that gladiators were almost entirely vegetarians. They lived basically on barley and beans with a beverage concoction of vinegar and ash.

(Magazine – Smithsonian – July/Aug 2016

The Early Years

General Douglas MacArthur graduated first in his class at West Point. He was decorated nine times for heroism in WWI while actively participating in the fighting. He refused to wear a gas mask and he was the victim of gas warfare. After WWI he became the superintendent at West Point. In 1930 he became Army Chief of Staff. He retired from the US Army in 1937 and was working for the provisional Philippine government as the head of the Philippine defenses just before WWII broke out.

(Book – American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur – William Manchester)

Dr. Livingston, I presume?

Dr. David Livingston was a famous British explorer in the mid 1800’s. He was the first European to walk across the continent of Africa. In the 1860’s there were competing theories about the source of the Nile and the RGS (Royal Geography Society) got Dr. Livingston to go back to Africa to discover the true source. While he was there periodic supplies were supposed to be sent to him by caravan. After a couple years he ran out of supplies and Livingston, who was a also a Christian missionary and vehemently anti slavery had to rely on Arab slave traders to survive. Questions about whether Livingston needed to be rescued or even if he was still alive were rampant in England. Eventually the editor of the New York Herald newspaper James Gordon Bennett hired American reporter Henry Morton Stanley to find Livingston and use the entire adventure to sell his papers and scoop the British. Stanley was actually a British citizen who was born John Rowlands and given up as an orphan. He eventually sailed on a ship to New Orleans and took the name of a man who treated him like a son. Stanley fought for the South in the American Civil War until he was captured. Then he eventually changed sides and fought for the North. After the war he eventually became a free lance reporter. When Stanley finally found Livingston (and it is incredible that both men stayed alive up to this point) Livingston had no supplies and was barely alive due to local villagers. Stanley was able to bring him the supplies necessary to continue his journey and they became fast friends. Stanley stayed with Livingston for a couple months before finally leaving to go back to Europe and America and to tell his story about finding Dr. Livingston. Livingston was never able to find the source of the Nile and died in Africa several years later. An African mummified his body and carried it back to Zanzibar were it was transported back to England and he was buried in Westminster Abbey. His heart was buried in Africa. Stanley became famous and rich for his adventure and long after Dr. Livingston died he kept a promise to Livingston and went back to Africa and became a famous explorer as was his hero Dr. Livingston. It was only a hundred years later that satellite photos have shown that the source of the Nile is the bubbling up of water in African highlands between Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika.

(Book – Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingston – Martin Dugard)

They couldn’t even wait a few months

In ancient Roman law a widow had to wait ten months before remarrying to allow for the birth of any progeny. The Roman Senate passed an exemption for Octavian’s (prior to his being named Augustus Caesar) recently widowed sister Octavia to marry Mark Antony to help the stability of the empire.

(Book – Cleopatra: A Life – Stacy Schiff)

War, what is it good for…

The earliest spear we have is from around 40,000 BCE. The earliest machine is a bow from about 9000 BCE. The earliest potential direct evidence of human warfare is a site in Egypt around 10,000 BCE with a grave of 50 individuals with evidence of violent and lethal wounds.

(The Great Courses – War and World History)