Category Archives: History and Culture

Jefferson Dollar Coin Released

WASHINGTON (August 16, 2007) – The Nation is getting a new coin today – the Thomas Jefferson $1 Coin – the third coin in the United States Mint’s new Presidential $1 Coin series.
Thomas Jefferson $1 Coins are available at most banks and financial institutions throughout the country, starting today. The golden-colored Thomas Jefferson $1 Coins may also be purchased in collector bags and rolls on the United States Mint’s Web site,, at noon ET.

New Seven Wonders of the World?!

The New7Wonders organization is happy to announce the following 7 candidates have been elected to represent global heritage throughout history. The listing is in random order, as announced at the Declaration Ceremony on 07.07.07. All the New 7 Wonders are equal and are presented as a group without any ranking.
The Great Wall, China
Petra, Jordan
Christ Redeemer, Brazil
Machu Picchu, Peru
Chichén Itzá, Mexico
The Roman Colosseum, Italy
The Taj Mahal, India
Any list of Seven Wonders of the World that lacks the Pyramids at Giza isn’t worth having, even if they were a “finalist”. Bah!

Battle of Hadrianople

Peter Heather, a leading light on Imperial Rome and its relationship with the “barbarians” has an illuminating article on the Oxford University Press Blog about the Battle of Hadrianople.
The battle, a debacle for the Eastern Roman Empire, was one of the turning points in the history of Rome and Byzantium, helping to usher in the end of the Western Roman Empire (and very nearly the Eastern, too) in the process, even if many subsequent battles were far less catastrophic. It was a severe shock to the Roman Empire, especially given the size of the army wiped out, the loss of the Emperor Valens.
In a way, I see the Battle of Hadrianople being a parallel to the Battle in the Teutoborg Forest in 9 AD, where Augustus lost Varus and his Legions. That battle, too, marked a turning point, too–Rome would never attempt to add what is now Germany to the Roman Empire again.
And if you haven’t read it before, the Oxford University Press blog is a fairly erudite, interesting blog full of stuff (its a group blog with a number of subjects and authors). I came across it thanks to Minnesota Public Radio, since a wordsmith from Oxford University who likes to delve into the origins of words occasionally stops by to discuss words and language. On his last visit,he plugged the blog and I added it to my newsfeeds.

Virtual Museum on Islamic Art

Cairo, 20 April (AKI) – What’s being billed as the first virtual museum of Islamic art “opened” officially on Friday providing a window on some of the traces of Islamic culture that are scattered across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The project, which makes accessible online the marvels of ancient Islamic culture, involves 17 museums in 14 countries.
More than 850 artefacts, 385 monuments and archaeological sites, covering 1280 years of history are accessible at the click of a button. From 634 AD when for the first time the Islamic army penetrated the Levante to the fall of the Ottoman empire to the start of the 20th century.
The creation of this museum, whose themed exhibitions involve Algeria, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and Great Britain, seeks to boost understanding of the historic ties between Europe and North Africa and the Middle East.
The site is available in eight languages. “It can be used by tourists who want to decide on the route of their journeys based on the things that they want to see, or history buffs and even young people who have to do research in class on ancient times” explained Mohammed Abbas Selim, project spokesman in Cairo.
Sponsored by the European Union and by the Euromed Heritage programme, “Discover Islamic Art” (, cost 3.2 million euros and is part of the wider “Museum Without Borders”, a non profit organisation founded in 1994 in Vienna by Eva Schubert, who has dedicated her career to the development of multicultural projects at an international level.

Roman-style column bolsters Han Dynasty tomb

People’s Daily Online — Roman-style column bolsters Han Dynasty tomb
A recently found tomb dating back to the Han Dynasty, roughly 200 BC to 200 AD, has been found with a Roman-style column.
Very un-Chinese like.
Was there contact between Rome and China? Indirectly, to be sure and there were a few travelers that made the entire length of the journey. And then there was the Roman Legion captured by the Persians in this period, who might have been shipped east as slaves…

Parallels between Rome and the Modern US

NPR : Drawing Parallels Between Ancient Rome and the U.S. Today
Novelist Robert Harris draws some parallels between Ancient Rome and the modern US, with some eerie recapitulations of language in the way the pirate attack on Ostia in 68 BC was handled by those in power in Rome, as well as the reaction of its citizenry.
Harris made this point in a NY Times article that I saw back at the end of September, which will soon be going beyond the pay wall.
In the NPR segment, though, he also makes the parallel between a massive natural disaster early in the Roman Empire and a modern day natural disaster.
Katrina is our own modern rendition of the destruction of Pompeii at the hands of Vesuvius in 79 AD.
Anyway, as a fan of things Roman, I found the parallels,once highlighted, interesting.

Mut Precinct Archaeological Dig Site

Brooklyn Museum: Mut Precinct
People who have been to New York or live in the area know that NYC has *two* world class Museum collections devoted to Egypt. One is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The other one is in the Brooklyn Museum. I admit, years ago, I was skeptical when I first went to the Brooklyn Museum, having been spoiled on the MET. The Brooklyn one, though, does hold up.
I discovered tonight that the Brooklyn Museum has a website, and a flickr photostream devoted to their ongoing archaeological digs in Egypt.