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Ancient Cultures?

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  • Ancient Cultures?

    Hi guys!

    Just wondering what Ancient Cultures fascinate you all!

    I find the cultures of Meso-America really interesting. Mostly the Aztecs and their history/culture. Especially after reading Gary Jennings book
    "Aztec", although i was interested in Meso American culture (which lives on with the local populace to some degree). It highlighted many themes from the poetry, religion, state, music, litterature.

    It was a really interesting book that had a stark realism to it. As i believe historical fiction should be drawn out to the reader. Although it had a great amount of sex and gore, it really made it more interesting as it gave answers to some questions that one has about why it was going on in the first place. And the protagonist trekked all around Mexico and Guatemala as a trader and got to see alotta different cultures of that
    part of the Pre-Columbian world. Aswell as the spanish conquest in the end.

    A B Daniels tried to make their books as interesting as Jennings with the INCA series. They failed miserably as they showed only the romantic and dumbfounded ideas people have about them as a culture. And it sidetracked the human sacrifice issue stupidly. And it had a crummy romance between a spaniard and a whiteskinned(?) Inca girl.

  • #2
    ive always loved reading viking myths.
    some egyptian and asian history has piqued my interest also.

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    • #3
      Hellenic Greece for me.

      Lacedaemon (Sparta), Athens, Leonidas at Thermopylae, Salamis, Plato/Socrates, Sophocles, Aristophanes, the battle at Illios, Heracles - there are so many intertwining tales, there is so much richness of culture and literature - I don't have enough time to write it all. I love it!
      When they had advanced together to meet on common
      ground, then there was the clash of shields, of spears
      and the fury of men cased in bronze; bossed shields met
      each other and the din rose loud. Then there were
      mingled the groaning and the crowing of men killed and
      killing, and the ground ran with blood.

      Homer, The Illiad

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      • #4
        i used to also try to find alot of greek myths too, but that interest has fallen off over the few years since my childhood. ;)

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        • #5
          Although I have 100% greek blood running through me, I find African culture to be amazingly overlooked and lied about. The philosophical and mathematical advancements that took place in Africa was not only way ahead of ancient greece, but was a main influence on them too.

          P.S.= Native American and Celtic cultures are also a must in my library
          P.P.S.= If any of this makes sense, hooza, because I am half-a-sleep

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          • #6
            I was a total archeology buff during my youth. Sumerian culture in particular.
            I could decipher simpler texts in cuneiform and stuff at 14! Hadn't a certain academy accepted me as student of something completely different , I might have studied archeology.
            I find that it is even more fun reading Moorcock's books if you have a certain insight into several other cultures, including ancient ones, because most of his works are so rich with elements and myths from all over.
            L'E

            Oh, and Theocrat, last year I discovered the thrilling history of your Swedish island of Gotland (early settlers, Goths, Vikings, ferocious Danes, German traders, peasant culture versus city dwellers, Russians etc) when I visited relatives there.
            Google ergo sum

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            • #7
              Originally posted by VonWeiner
              Hellenic Greece for me.

              Lacedaemon (Sparta), Athens, Leonidas at Thermopylae, Salamis, Plato/Socrates, Sophocles, Aristophanes, the battle at Illios, Heracles - there are so many intertwining tales, there is so much richness of culture and literature - I don't have enough time to write it all. I love it!
              I was in greece almost 2 years ago. We stayed at a house in Aegina in my parents knew the other occupants.

              I saw alotta ruins mainly acropolis. We had a guide with us to acropolis. She told about the statue and how the triad shoned for miles around to help seamen navigate to port. And i mentioned the gold tip of the apex of the khufu pyramid at giza, and that it might have worked in similar ways for traders or other. I think that pissed her of in some way, which was not my intention. My brother said "that was a nice one! *giggle*". I think that helped to show that their culture was not all that supreme to any other, and i think thats what pissed her of, i don't see any culture like that at all. Looking around more i found various other elements lifted or imported into the hellenic world from Egypt and babylon, the same was true the otherway around. Mainly elements of art and some small amounts of architecture. I don't read much greek litterature since i feel that ancient greek mythology has had a centrestage here in Europe for far too long. It's time to show in schools the overall Culture/mythology of the world. Like the many other cultures like Ancient India, Sumer/Babylon, Egypt, Aztec/Maya, Africa, Southeast Asia. One culture a day in school would help integration i think. Or at least help kids understand how they work and how similar and different they are in someway. But Ancient Greek litterature is fascinating, i'll give you that! :)

              I find sparta fascinating as well. Because of it's weird oligarchy and social militant structure.

              BTW i never try to see cultures as individual original inventors of said area. What matters is who kept it alive and added to it. In that way we are all guilty of keeping the inventive fire alive.

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              • #8
                The culture of the Celts who dwelled all over Europe is also vastly interesting. (BEWARE however there are a number of Celtic-freaks who idealise this race in a quasi-fascist manner, perhaps to prove the "superiority" of the Northern Races).
                Very little accurate knowledge is in the genaral public awareness about the Celts, because a) they left no written sources -
                but b) because their rivals, the Romans did! And to them the Celts were the main enemy which is why nearly all Roman sources were propaganda texts. (If only the cold-war period texts of Russia on our western society were to survive for future generations they'd get an enormously distorted idea, right?) Exactly this is what happened with the Celts. They were either depicted as primitive savages (some of their practices and their superstitions were surely appalling) or they were idealised later in 18th and 19th century texts as "noble Nordic clansmen" both on the British Isles as in Germany and Scandinavia. No word of their huge merchantile networks, their fine artisanship with gold and other metals, their social constructions and so forth.
                Google ergo sum

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                • #9
                  Yeah the celts are interesting aswell! :)

                  It had a wonderful mythology surrounding nature.

                  I never really read any of those accounts by Romans ( never thoroughly anyway). Since they idealized their state so much. it is sometimes hard to discern whats true or not on their accounts of many other cultures surrounding them at the time.

                  One thing that annoys me is that people in general never make the distinction between the celts and highlanders. Although they are a remnant of the celts they are not at all the same culture.

                  Alas... The race issue pops up now and again concerning ancient cultures.
                  Every country has some of these crackpots, and unfortunately the fenomenon seems to be growing again in the uneducated populace.

                  I like the thing where they found a buddha statue (who found it's way via trade) in old viking territory. That should prove a more stronger argument for diversity in cultures. That to me is more romantic than any "Noble Race" issue. One culture can never stand alone in this small and fantastic world (or it becomes sick and twisted). They work as nature itself i guess, as a group of interdependent beings. Thats what i think should be pointed out in schools. Just saying nazis are bad or racism is bad wont help to quell these idioms.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Wormwalk
                    Although I have 100% greek blood running through me, I find African culture to be amazingly overlooked and lied about. The philosophical and mathematical advancements that took place in Africa was not only way ahead of ancient greece, but was a main influence on them too.

                    P.S.= Native American and Celtic cultures are also a must in my library
                    P.P.S.= If any of this makes sense, hooza, because I am half-a-sleep
                    Agreed on Africa. I remember studying some literature on this subject and some found it was just as hard for modern day Africans to understand their rich past as it was for Europeans/Americans. It is sad.

                    I am also fond of Native American culture. I find their understanding of mathematics and astronomy fascinating as it rivals our own in modern times.

                    Ah, where are those Atlanteans when you need em? :lol:
                    When they had advanced together to meet on common
                    ground, then there was the clash of shields, of spears
                    and the fury of men cased in bronze; bossed shields met
                    each other and the din rose loud. Then there were
                    mingled the groaning and the crowing of men killed and
                    killing, and the ground ran with blood.

                    Homer, The Illiad

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      All of them! :D

                      or nearly so, for some reason the only Native American cultures that interest me are the plains and eastern cultures. And few of the aboriginal african cultures pique my interest, but that could be because I know very little about them.

                      The Celts were the first ones to really draw my interest. Of coruse the Egyptians have always fascinated me as well. Lately though I've been on an almost total german fling. From the Goths and Vandals, to the Nordics peoples and of course the Anglo-Saxons. Well, interest in the Nordic cultures and the Vikings is practically a must when your last name is Magnuson and you live in a town that has a 35ft viking statue in the middle of down town, not to mention dozens of viking artifacts that were discovered the area.

                      I would love the learn more about the Slavic people and other eastern Europeans, and the Finns, Hungarians (Magyar, not Hun), and Latvians are curious because they are little pockets of Uralic culture surrounded by Indo-Europeans. Of course, I'm biased toward the Hungarians, because I'm partially decended from them and raised with more Hungarian tradition than the dominant German of my bood.

                      And where it's not really an ancient culture, the Japanese have always interested me.
                      "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
                      --Thomas a Kempis

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                      • #12
                        Everking, I have Hungarian blood in me as well, and find it fascinating.

                        There is a good book called "Noah's Flood", written by two Columbia University researchers that talks about how cultures, at least in Europe and Asia are far more closely related than people think. Also, there is an article, and all I can tell you is that it appeared in Discover Magazine in either May, June, or July of 2002 that discusses how, on a DNA level, there is actually much less diversity than the individual races and cultures would make you think.

                        Personally, for me, I like anything "old", primarily structures (i.e., castles, pyramids, settlements, etc.) as opposed to art and artifacts. I know this is horrible and ridiculous and against the better wisdom of science, but seeing so much throw-away stuff pawned off as "art" today, I can't help thinking that much of the art we find in ancient civilizations could be bogus.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I haven't read the article in Discover, but I read something similiar elsewhere, although I have no idea where any more. Basically it was saying that, on a genetic level, Europeans are all more or less the same...within a very narrow scope of genetic difference. Africans, on the other hand, have a very broad genetic diverisity. Scientists tend to think this is a result of isolation. Apparently, and this makes sense to me, isolated people develop their own genetic identity because of the lack of inter-breeding with other tribes and what not. So, if you compare an aboriginal tribe of say Kenya, to one of say Ethiopea they could actually have less in common than either could potentially have with a Greek. On the other side, we have europeans...who throughout history have inter-bred so much there is very little genetic change from one region to the next.

                          I mean in europe the first dominant people of recorded history were the Celts, then came the Latins (Romans) and later the Germans. Especially the germans. In the dark ages they settled nearly every part of europe. The Franks had france; the Visigoths had Spain; the Anglos, Saxons, and Jutes had most of England...the list goes on. I mean, the swedes even took what is today Russia! In all these areas, they intermingled with the previous settlers or natives, merging blood, language, and culture. Of course there isn't going to be as much genetic diversity in a place where there is so much sharing of DNA. Pretty mind boggling when you really think about it though.
                          "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
                          --Thomas a Kempis

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I've often returned to the pages of Nabokov's Pale Fire to refresh myself with the tales of King Charles the Beloved and the ancient folklore of Zembla.

                            He he he he.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by EverKing
                              I haven't read the article in Discover, but I read something similiar elsewhere, although I have no idea where any more. Basically it was saying that, on a genetic level, Europeans are all more or less the same...within a very narrow scope of genetic difference. Africans, on the other hand, have a very broad genetic diverisity. Scientists tend to think this is a result of isolation. Apparently, and this makes sense to me, isolated people develop their own genetic identity because of the lack of inter-breeding with other tribes and what not. So, if you compare an aboriginal tribe of say Kenya, to one of say Ethiopea they could actually have less in common than either could potentially have with a Greek. On the other side, we have europeans...who throughout history have inter-bred so much there is very little genetic change from one region to the next.
                              I think you might mean the other way 'round Everking. When a group is in isolation, that's a condition for in-breeding, where there is little or no genetic variation in the successive generations-- where the occurence of genetic disorders increases. This is explained in biology via "genetic bottlenecks" (group isolated due to geography-- ie. a group living in a valley but don't come into contact with any other groups because the valley is isolated by a large mountain range, for example) and "founder effect" (group which arose from an original male/ female mating which can occur from the pair reaching an isolated island they migrated to).
                              "Europeans" have less diversity in their genomes because they have been the isolated groups over the evolutionary time-scale (millions of years). Why? I will try to explain...
                              I believe (because I've studied genetics extensively) the greatest genetic diversity in a population is achieved by inter-breeding in a fairly random manner. It is the randomness or non-randomness of mating that determines how diverse or not the genome (of the population) is. This would be my guess as to how Africans have a more "diverse genome"-- meaning the DNA contains many different types of the same genes (or in a single word, "alleles")-- than caucasians.
                              **slight aside: We, by nature, are designed to be genetically diverse becasue we are diploid organisms-- meaning we have two copies of each chromosome; one comes from mom, the other from dad.**
                              If it is true that Africans are more genetically diverse, then they have (historically) mated in a random manner compared to caucasians. Random mating is often not the case in humans in recent history though because we, to a large extent, do not mate randomly. We select mates for a variety of reasons-- ie. cultural beliefs, looks, religious beliefs, etc. These reasons can possibly explain why European DNA is less genetically diverse in this era. In evolutionary history, I would use Greenland and Iceland-- even though they might not considered European (?)-- as examples. They are more or less islands (Yes?) where isolation occured, especially when boats and ships did not exist. I would guess most "races" were in isolation before the invention of the wheel, sails, and navigation though. Thus, Caucasians are white, Asians are brown or "yellow," Hispanics are brown, and Blacks are brown or black. Because of isolation, these charactaristics were naturally selected for (for details, look up Natural Selection).
                              There's an important theory in Population Genetics that serves as the dogma for all the mating stuff I'm mentioning, called Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium Theory. It can be looked up in any general biology textbook. (Not easy for anyone and everyone to understand though, especially if you're not good at a little math.) I'm not preaching and saying that biology is the absolute truth about things, but I'm trying to adequately explain the current view scientists have at this point.

                              As racism erodes, inter-breeding should shift towards a more random manner since skin color won't be as much a determinant in picking a mate, and the human genome will, on average, be more diverse. This is a good thing in that there will be less genetic disorders, due to the diversity of alleles. A diversity of alleles protects an organism-- ie. a human-- from deleterious effects of "defective" genes-- ie. sickle-cell anemia genes, schizophrenia genes, or fibromyalgia genes. Because we are diploid-- schizophrenia genes from your dad, will not have an affect as long as the matching genes from your mom are not defective, but instead normal. I don't know if this is the absolute truth for schizophrenia, but it is a good example, I think, for basic understanding of genetics.

                              Interracial breeding is scary for some people because a lot of caucasian alleles (genes that determine light (ie. blonde) hair color, light skin color, eye color, etc...) for the most part are not dominant (please refer to Medelian Genetics) and thus are masked (not seen) when random assortment occurs with non-caucasian genes (code for dark, hair, eyes, skin), resulting in a non-caucasian phenotype. The rap group Public Enemy addressed this in "Fear of a Black Planet," which I believe is intended to be somewhat humorous although covering a serious, touchy issue.
                              My friend here at work also came up with a good point. Slavery. The people of Africa, as slaves, were brought to different areas all over the world. And we know that many people, like Thomas Jefferson for example, mated with them. Thus African genes are more widely dispersed than many would guess or believe.
                              Ok, I think I've done my best to explain my scientific point of view without getting too barmy. Wow, I didn't even mention "mutation." (Mutation is the main source of genetic diversity. It is directly related to Natural Selection.) Now that shows that I didn't get into depth at all! I don't know where to go next, so I'll stop here :)
                              Any questions? (I am no genetics expert, but I have the basic understanding.)

                              If anyone thinks I'm completely barmy, I'd say take another biology class or just read a bio textbook. MJR can back me on all this! ;)
                              \"Bush\'s army of barmy bigots is the worst thing that\'s happened to the US in some years...\"
                              Michael Moorcock - 3am Magazine Interview

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