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When Histories Collide

When Histories Collide

I was reading a blog this morning and one thing led to another – as it often does. I was soon on a research page reading about the Holodomor.

If you’re like me, you’re going what? What’s the Holodomor?

The word means to kill by starvation. Holodomor was a famine that killed between 7 – 12 million people in the Ukraine region of what was then Soviet Russia.

The famine could have been brought about because of incompetent bureaucracy: at the time Ukranian farmers were forced to abandon their farms or give them back to a collective that would manage all the farms. The farmers would then be paid wages. Unfortunately, for all those millions of people, the collective was so badly managed that only half of the expected crop was harvested. Some people believe that the famine was deliberately orchestrated to crush any hint of Ukranian independence.

I knew about the horrors of World War II and how, during the siege of Leningrad, a million people starved. Nazi Germany also had something called a “Hunger Plan” by which people would be starved into submission. All in all, between the Germans and the Japanese, 20 million people starved during World War II.

But the Holodomor occurred during 1932-1933, a decade before the war.

My first husband’s family was Ukranian. Very proudly Ukranian. My mother-in-law only spoke Ukranian. All her children spoke it as well.

They would freeze you out in a millisecond if you ever called them Russian. At the time I thought it was a pride of place thing. Sort of like me saying, “Hey, I’m a Texan. I’m not from New Mexico.” 

Uh, no.  

Today the Ukraine is a sovereign state, but the discord between them and Russia continues. Memories are long. Twelve million souls long.

 (If you’re wondering why this post appeared then disappeared, it’s user error. I had edited the post, but when I published it, the previous version appeared. I’m still learning this new theme and all its wonkiness.)


Archeological Wonders

Archeological Wonders

Isn’t this amazing? It’s the picture of a Greek trading vessel thought to be the oldest intact shipwreck in the world. It’s at the bottom of the Black Sea and will be left where it is. Here’s the article from The Guardian.

This cuneiform tablet is thought to be a 4,000 year old customer service complaint. Here’s the article. (It’s worth reading the whole complaint in its entirety.)

Cheese found in an Egyptian tomb. Seriously, isn’t that amazing? Crackers anyone? Here’s the BBC article. (It’s the first time they’ve found cheese.)

A Mystery in Alexandria

A Mystery in Alexandria

Archeologists discovered a black granite sarcophagus in Alexandria, Egypt that hasn’t been opened in 2000 years. Nobody knows what could be inside, from a mummy to artifacts.

The sarcophagus is currently being guarded while plans are being made to open it. Regardless of what’s inside I hope they publicize the results.

Here’s a link to read about the discovery.

I think I’m a frustrated archeologist because I love stories like this.

Was King Arthur Real?

Was King Arthur Real?

The story of King Arthur has fascinated people for centuries. I think it has everything, power, romance, magic, and tragedy.

Tintagel Castle has been associated with the legend of King Arthur, ever since Geoffrey of Monmouth helped popularize the myth of the king in his Historia Regnum Britanniae written in the 12th century.

Archaeologists recently discovered an inscription of Latin and Christian symbols at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, England. The discovery suggests that a royal court like King Arthur’s existed at that site.

From English Heritage:

Inscribed writing from the early Middle Ages rarely survives so this new discovery is particularly unusual. The 1300 year-old letters, words and symbols appear to be the work of someone practising writing a text. They indicate that this person was familiar with both the informal style of writing used for documents and the formal script used in the illuminated Gospel books of the period. This lends further weight to the theory that Tintagel was a royal site with a literate Christian culture, and a network of connections stretching from Atlantic Europe to the eastern Mediterranean.

What if King Arthur and his court really existed? Stranger things have happened.

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

I stumbled onto this story the other day about a Viking who turned out not to be a manly man, but a woman. One who was obviously a leader from the items buried with her.

I know that it’s popular to think that women have always been subjugated and not released from bondage until a bunch of laws were passed, but history proves that’s just not the case. If someone builds a wall, you either tunnel under it or go around it. Lots of women did just that.

I want to know more about this Viking leader and my imagination is furnishing a picture of her. She might have acquired her knowledge of warfare from her husband who was killed in battle. Enraged, she took up arms to avenge him. She died young, so I imagine it was with thoughts of Valhalla and being reunited with the man she loved. Or she could have been trained from birth to take the place of the son her father never had, refusing romantic entanglements because it would have interfered with her leadership. Or she could have taken up arms because her family was killed on a raid and she had nothing left to lose.

We’ll never know, of course, which is part of the mystery of studying the past. But we can certainly imagine.