Are there any Major or semi- major generally accepted historic events that we only know about due to secondary sources?

I seem to remember that there were from my history classes but it's been a very long time since those classes, so I'll ask the experts.

2 Answers 2022-12-31

Were Roman curse tablets mass produced? If so how?

I saw a meme saying there was evidence that Roman curse tablets were mass produced then a joke about a Roman waking up to go to their shift at the curse factory. Obviously that’s a joke but we’re they mass produced? If so, how?

1 Answers 2022-12-31

Native American Book Recommendations?

Hi! I'm on the hunt for more book recommendations about pre-Columbian history for my dad. He's long been fascinated by Native American history (in particular Mississippian, and more specifically the Arkansan area. The Plum Bayou Mound Archaeological State Park, for example, is on his "want to go to" list). He has never really had the means to learn more, due to time and monetary constraints. I aim to remedy that for him.

I bought him 1491 a couple years ago, and for Christmas this year, I got him Life and Death at Windover by Rachel k. Wentz. I have Maize for the Gods, and Timothy Pauketat's Cahokia on my "To Gift Dad" list, which I got from the Ask Historians reading list. Besides more of Mr. Pauketat's books, who are some other authors that are exceptional? On top of factual books, specific to our area (Arkansas) Native American spirituality/myth recommendations would also be appreciated.

He likes factual stuff, and he's a pretty logical person. He's a really slow, methodical reader (but apparently devoured 1491! I'd never seen him read a book that fast before). He's enjoying the Windover book currently.

I appreciate any assistance! Thanks so much!

1 Answers 2022-12-31

What exactly is a “sin-eater”?

I heard this term on a podcast. They described it as someone who could absolve others of their sins by eating bread off their chests, after they die. It also portrayed sin-eaters as totally shunned from society, despite doing a job that is highly valued. They described that it was a Protestant way of doing Catholic last rites and that it sometimes included witchy incantations and things. I tried to look into it further, which just raised more questions than answers. Did this practice start in the 17th century, medieval times, or earlier?Was this a profession people took on because they thought it was noble, or because they were already outcast from society? Did gender play a role in sin-eating? It seems to be a very popular concept in literature over the centuries, but I’m wondering how popular this role was in real life. Was it usually just bread that sin-eaters ate or were there other foods? Does this practice have any actual connection to “soul food?” Why and when did this fall out of practice? Any information about this profession/practice would be appreciated.

1 Answers 2022-12-31

Why is New Years Day January 1st (for most of the West)? Has it always been like this?

I was wondering when the practice of a new year starting on January 1st became the common fact

1 Answers 2022-12-31

Pompeii - gods' punishment?


I've read somewhere that many Romans considered the tragedy in Pompeii a punishment from the gods because of the city's vices (luxury and sexual behaviors). Can this be the case? Can we call Pompeii "a city punished by the gods"?


1 Answers 2022-12-31

What was the real reason democracy did not flourish in Russia after the Soviet Union collapsed?

1 Answers 2022-12-31

2022 In Reading: Share Your Reading List from the Past Year, and Plans for the Next One!

As is tradition, with the end of one year, and the beginning of another, its time for our little yearly celebration of books! You (probably?) aren't subscribed here if reading is your least favorite thing to do, and I'm sure I'm far from the only one who plows through a large stack of literature over the past year - whether history, other non-fiction, or just a good story.

So, everyone, what did you read last year!? What did you enjoy the most? What was the biggest stinker? What would you recommend to everyone else?

And of course, what is on your reading list for 2023!?

11 Answers 2022-12-31

Red flags for pseudo-history?

Let’s say I find a history book at the store. It looks interesting. I read it, it has extensive citations and references. Being an amateur with not enough time to check the citations or references fully, are there any red flags or trends to look out for when reading a book to know it’s hogwash?

15 Answers 2022-12-31

I'm trying too find 2 specific German soldiers or their families is there a way too do so?

Not sure if it's the right place to ask about that but does any of you know of any way to track down 2 specific German soldiers or their families.

My late Grandma, was Polish and saved by two German soldiers during WW2 in Poland. My Grandma and other local children were pulling pranks on Germans stationed in her village and one time they were caught, the officer wanted to hold public execution for sabotage but two of his soldiers stood up to him and convinced him not to shoot the local children. My Grandma always spoke about how they were sneaking out rations to help locals and were very open that they were mobilised, want to go back to their families and mean no harm to anyone. All I know about them besides these stories is that they were moved to frontlines during USSR advance through the region in 1944.

My Grandma long forgotten their names and as I mentioned died recently but I would very much like to thank those men or their families more likely as they would be over 100 years old by this time I imagine. If you guys know of any way to find them or records of their service of any sorts I would be grateful.

3 Answers 2022-12-31

Some people say that modern western society is built on theft: expansion & enclosure through war & law. How justifiable is this?

1 Answers 2022-12-31

Why is history so male oriented?

So much of history seems to be about men, written by men, and consumed by men. (I am a guy as well). Why is that?

Why do men have a need to be remembered after they die? Is it because men do not bear children, and therefore do not automatically have a lineage? Do women not strive for "greatness" or to be remembered for their accomplishments because they have created life through children? Is it because women who take credit vs. who are collaborative are punished by other women? Is it because women have not been permitted to take on real roles of responsibilities (i.e. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the first women political/governmental figures to have died, because of the utter lack of women in political/governmental roles)?

Is history, the exercise of studying past events, primarily a male-oriented exercise with a focus on achievements 99% of which were done by men? History disproportionately focuses on wars, military leaders, and exercises of dominance and power, however, history is the study of past "events", why not focus on events such as the empowerment of marginalized groups, the advances of health/science? Traditional history studied in high schools/universities tend to ignore the creation of life that women are largely responsible for. How would a female dominated history differ from a traditional "history book"? Would there be a greater focus on relationships between actors (i.e. something more akin to sociology) rather than who won what war or how many men died at what battle?

Just throwing it out there.

1 Answers 2022-12-31

How quickly could a medieval European town transform into a bustling urban center?

In “A Game of Thrones,” it is suggested that King’s Landing went from a small fishing village to one of the largest and most beautiful cities in the world in less than 300 years. I know this is fictional, but it made me curious how such a timeline would compare to the speed at which cities were built in the real medieval Europe. If there are no examples of a large city being built this quickly, are there any similar examples of a city being rebuilt in a quick manner after an event like a natural disaster or being razed by an army?

1 Answers 2022-12-31

At what point in history were nations expected to "know better". I'm no history buff. Just from the Greeks, to Mongolians, and even during the Viking age. In my ignorance colonialism appears to have existed then. So when did society as a whole start deeming a superpowers conquest as unjust?

I'm actually seeking the exact timeframe or transition of perception from when conquering nations once considered "powerful/great" started to be realized as "oppressive/tyrannical". Essentially when was it that society as a whole started to scrutinize nations and hold them accountable instead of glorifying their despotism.

1 Answers 2022-12-31

Is it just a coincidence that Christmas and New Year's Day are so close to each other?

The two holidays are almost integrally linked in Western culture. Is it a coincidence that they're so close, or was there some kind of effort to put them next to each other?

1 Answers 2022-12-31

How big were defensice harbour chains in the medieval period?

How big were the chain links for harbour protecting chains? (You know, those links in lenghs of chains they would use to block ships from entering a harbour during sieges)

So, I know people hate this but I really don't have a more specific timeframe to give than "medieval" though I suspect it didn't vary too much. If it helps, my inspiration for the question was the Golden Horn of Constantinople but isn't limited to it specifically.

Google really doesn't much to help answer this question. I can't see what we would percieve as a regular modern day chain doing much to stop a ship such as a galley from entering (though maybe I'm wrong?) and too heavy of a chain would have been unrealistic (I assume).

How big of a chain would have been used?

So in the title that is "Defensive" since I'm not allowed to correct it.

1 Answers 2022-12-31

How and why is it that throughout much of human history, China and Iran have always consistently stood out as one of the world's top nations?

In China you had Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui, Tang, Yuan, Ming, Qing dynasties and modern China today while in Iran you had the Akkadian, Elam, Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian , Urartu, Achaemenid, Parthian, Sassanid empires and arguably modern Iran today. Even when they weren't at the very top, they were still relevant to other global powers and were kinda always feared that they might "take over".

1 Answers 2022-12-31

If "Dark Ages" is a dubious term to use historically, shouldn't "Classical" be too?

Both imply a value judgment of a vast and diverse period, but it seems only one is opposed for being negative, while the positive goes unremarked. I know the meaning of "classic" originates from antiquity - but doesn't referring to the whole period as classical, rather than specific works of art or literature from it, likewise generalize a huge timeframe and imply ancient Greece and Rome in particular are superior to other cultures and periods?

1 Answers 2022-12-31

Stories like "Indiana Jones" and "Tomb Raider" always feature ruins where a mechanical trap is triggered by stepping on a button on the ground. Was a mechanism like this ever used in real life?

1 Answers 2022-12-31

Was the Titanic being marketed as unsinkable unique for the era, or were other ships (besides her sister ships) talked about in similar ways?

We all know the story of Titanic being billed as unsinkable, which was obviously embarrassing when she sank on her maiden voyage. I was curious if that was a common marketing term used for numerous ships of the era featuring increased safety measures and advanced technology, or if views of the Titanic really were how we imagine them today.

Relatedly, did the public at the time believe Titanic to be a revolutionary new ship that would forever transform shipbuilding, or was she seen more as just another luxury ocean liner, albeit it an ornate one?

1 Answers 2022-12-30

Why didnt the Nazis in WW2 invade the UK from the north?

I always thought why couldnt they because they owned norway. they could have landed troops in scotland pushed down south towards london. I doubt that the british were excepting that they would land in scotland and push down.

1 Answers 2022-12-30

Is it possible to form a history thesis around art or literature without making it an art history or English thesis?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about getting a doctorate in history and spending some time trying to understand the process. I decided when I went to college to major in education both for my bachelor and master degrees. Convincing myself that as a first generation college student in my family that a job in a public school was a more realistic and achievable goal. I don’t regret my decision and enjoy teaching high school world history but recently the thought of getting my doctorate has been weighing on me. I always told myself that if I ever settled on a thesis or topic I’d enjoy researching, I’d go back to school, but after ten years I still haven’t settled on anything. So I’ve been trying to narrow down the topics and eras I enjoy the most and decided I appreciate 18th and 19th c. European / British history the most, in particular the Belle Epoque/Gilded Age/ Late Victorian era. The topics I most enjoy during this time focus on art and literature and I’m struggling to focus those interests into a History thesis rather than an English or Art History thesis. Can anyone help give me some guidance or suggestions?

Side note. One of my other questions was if anyone had book suggestions and there is already an awesome list curated here. Very much appreciate that and plan on getting started reading a few of them and give myself a head start to comprehensive exams.

1 Answers 2022-12-30

What kind of scientific methods you use to analyse and research historic phenomena?

A very broad question, and perhaps a bit vague. Essentially, I am curious about how one does do historical research?

I am familiar with scientific methods (in social sciences) like hermeneutics, positivism, phenomenology, etc., but I am wondering if it differs for historians.

Apologies for a not so 'precise question'

1 Answers 2022-12-30

Why do so many letters exchanged between platonic male friends in the 18th and 19th centuries read as extremely homoerotic in the modern day?

Before I get an influx of comments reminding me that gay people have always existed, I’m not talking about men who are suspected to have been secret lovers. From what I have seen, even between guys who were almost certainly nothing more than friends, their correspondences almost sound like love letters. Why did they talk to each other like that and when did it become unacceptable for straight men to be so affectionate with each other?

Edit: to build off this, based on what little I do know (or at least what I have been told), for much of history, sexuality in general was something that you did, not really something that you innately were. So after more thinking, I am wondering if these concepts are connected somehow (ie. not worrying about accusations of “being gay” because “gay” isn’t something that you “are”)

1 Answers 2022-12-30

Did the Iroquois really use the “Seventh Generation Principle”?

It’s claimed that the Iroquois maintained a principle of considering the effects of present decisions on the next seven generations.

The name of the company Seventh Generation is derived from this claim:

At Seventh Generation, we made a promise the moment we named our brand. It’s a promise that is inspired by The Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy – that in our every deliberation we consider the impact on the next seven generations.

The document they cite does exhort Iroquois leaders to consider future generations, but no number is specified:

Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground—the unborn of the future Nation.

The number seven does appear in the document, but in an unrelated statement:

The thickness of your skin shall be seven spans—which is to say that you shall be proof against anger, offensive actions and criticism.

The obvious interpretation would seem to be that these two statements got mixed up somewhere along the way.

But I’m curious—is there any evidence of when this blending occurred? Did it occur early enough that the Iroquois could still be said to have had a seventh generation principle? Or did it happen much more recently, meaning that they did not?

1 Answers 2022-12-30

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