History - what interests you?
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12-06-2011, 03:10 PM (This post was last modified: 12-06-2011 03:17 PM by ghostexorcist.)
History - what interests you?
I am extremely interested in history. I wanted to start this thread to see what kind of religious or secular history others on here might like to study. Just because we don't take stock in religion doesn't mean that it isn't an interesting historical phenomenon. I mainly focus on Asian and Judeo-Islamic history. I tend to meet in the middle with my fanatical study of the ancient Kaifeng Jewish community of China.

Here is a bit of info on the Jews for those who might of never heard of them. (Those interested in Christian hypocrisy might want to skip to the italicized paragraph.) Most scholars believe they arrived in China from Persia sometime before 1127 CE during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). The reason they are believed to have come from Persia is because their liturgical texts were written in Judeo-Persian, an offshoot of the New Persian language using Hebrew characters. Western Jesuit missionaries visiting the community during the 18th century noted they continued to speak a few recognizable words of Persian. As for the date, the notion that they arrived during the Song Dynasty comes from the first of four stone inscriptions erected by the community in 1489, 1512, 1663 (sides A and B), and 1679. The 1489 inscription has a rather ambiguous entry which reads: “They entered to bring a tribute of western cloth to the Song." No date is mentioned, nor the name of the Emperor who was given the tribute. A lot of sources quote 960 as the exact year they arrived, but, as I mentioned, there is no date provided. I believe the authors of these works use this date because this was the year the Song Dynasty was founded. The closest scholars can get is sometime before 1127 because this was the year the foreign Jurchen armies invaded China and drove the monarchy south. They believe that the Jews would not have settled in China during a time of war.

They were most likely merchants of some kind. Researchers believe the “western cloth” they brought as tribute was cotton. Some have made the bold statement that the Jews were cotton farmers who introduced the plant to China, but this is total conjecture. Others have stated cotton had not yet been cultivated in the Song Dynasty, which is not true. There is over 2,000 years of documented cotton cultivation in China. It was hard to produce, and hard to weave, so it never gained the popularity of silk during the first millennia of its cultivation. It wasn’t until the 12th or 13th century when a new form of cotton made its way to China via India, and new weaving techniques were created. Cotton was still rare during the Northern Song, so it would have been a good tribute item. The Jews probably dealt in more items than just textiles. A Judeo-Persian letter from the later 8th century found in Xinjiang mentions a Jew selling textiles, sheep, and possibly even slaves. The Radhinite Jews from Europe sold the Chinese everything from spices to swords during the 9th century. Selling more than one item would insure the Jews made maximum profit.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, religious scholars in Europe believed the original Hebrew version of the Old Testament appearing in the Bible had purposely been defaced by Jews because of their hatred for Christianity. They claimed the Jews had to have redacted the Old Testament since it did not specifically refer to the birth, ministry, crucifixion, and ascension to heaven of Jesus Christ. And because they could not find any pre-Christian versions of the Old Testament left untouched, they believed all Jews were involved in a conspiracy to either hide or destroy all traces of the incriminating evidence. When they learned about the Kaifeng Jews, they theorized the Jews were one of the "Lost 10 Tribes of Israel" that surely had uncorrupted, pre-Christian editions of the Old Testament. So they sent Church officials to China in order to acquire one of their holy books. The westerners ultimately planned to openly compare the two in front of Europe's Jews so they would see that their doubts about Jesus as the Messiah were wrong. This would cause all the Jews worldwide to mass convert to Christianity and bring about the Second Coming of Christ. However, when they compared the two, they were exactly the same. So the Jews did not redact the Old Testament like they claimed. This did not stop them, though, from sending wave after wave of Jesuits to Kaifeng in an attempt to convert the Jews to Christianity. That didn’t work either.

The Jews prospered during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as government officials, merchants, and soldiers. Just like their Chinese neighbors, many of the Jews studied the Confucian classics in order to pass the government examinations and advance their family’s social status. But this meant that these enterprising young men had to give up the study of Hebrew. More and more people did this until only a select few had knowledge of the language of their forefathers. In 1800, the last Rabbi died, leaving no one with knowledge of Hebrew. Following the Christian-based Taiping Rebellion and, later, the peasant Boxer Rebellion, the community was pretty much religiously extinct. It was also during this time that the last incarnation of their synagogue finally disappeared. The Jews were so poor at this point that they literally sold the synagogue piece-by-piece in order to make money. They even sold the very dirt on which the synagogue had once stood. Growing anti-foreign sentiment at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century forced the Jews to forsake the Jewish faith. Many of them became Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, etc.

I wrote a rather lengthy two-part article on the Jews' reason for coming to China. If you are interested, you can see it here.

I also love reading about the Crusades, the history of Chinese martial arts, and Alexander the Great.
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17-06-2011, 10:41 PM (This post was last modified: 17-06-2011 10:45 PM by DeepThought.)
RE: History - what interests you?
I never liked history at school. I found it one of the most boring subjects ever! That aside I found your breakdown of historical events following the Jews in China interesting.

I guess I wouldn't put effort into studying it and learning all the fine details but if it's made into an interesting story that describes what happened and how it affected people as you did it becomes interesting. I wouldn't have stumbled across that information of my own accord.

Thankyou Ghost Smile

EDIT: There are allot of interesting lessons to be learned from history. All about human nature and how we treat people with different cultures and practices. Allot of the stuff that happened back then still happens now - though in some places it's less extreme.

“Forget Jesus, the stars died so you could be born.” - Lawrence M. Krauss
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18-06-2011, 09:16 AM
RE: History - what interests you?
I like everything happening in the margin of WW I. The most important event in modern history. (some say that would be WW II but WW II is just a restart of WW I)

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Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
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18-06-2011, 07:36 PM
RE: History - what interests you?
I find all sorts of history very interesting but I can never remember anything I learn. My husband on the other hand is like a walking encyclopedia of all things historical. He teaches me lots of stuff which I promptly forget. I envy that he can remember all those things. Smile

My reason for being is to serve as a cat cushion. That is good enough for me. Wink
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18-06-2011, 08:18 PM
RE: History - what interests you?
My favorite tribe to read about is the Ainu, I like reading anthropological studies of tribes. I also enjoy most pre-gun warfare. I dislike the addition of guns. I haven't read into mythologies in a long time outside of within anthropological studies.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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19-06-2011, 03:23 AM (This post was last modified: 19-06-2011 03:27 AM by Thammuz.)
RE: History - what interests you?
(18-06-2011 08:18 PM)Lilith Pride Wrote:  My favorite tribe to read about is the Ainu, I like reading anthropological studies of tribes. I also enjoy most pre-gun warfare. I dislike the addition of guns. I haven't read into mythologies in a long time outside of within anthropological studies.

I find the addition of guns interesting. The first generation of firearms (not talking about cannons) was kind off clumsy and dangerous and still inferior to longbows in many ways (range and firerate). But it had the ability to pierce armour with ease, just like bigger crosbows, and it had a direct line of fire. Knights in shiny armour were easy targets with this, and their layers of protection wouldn't help alot. The armor got bigger, heavier and clumsier. Years of training would also become obsolete. It took years to become a knight or skilled bowman, but you could become proficient with a firearm in a matter of days.

When guns got a higher firerate, tactics didn't change alot. Warriors would still be dressed in flashy outfits or clumsy armor. And they still performed frontal charges. You can imagine the amount of casualties when you have troops running towards an MG08 that fired up to 500rounds/min.

[Image: german_maxim1.jpg]


I really like this last generation of real armour, used during WW1:

[Image: brewster-body-armor-1917-18.jpg]

It was only during the massacres in WW1 that commanders realized the frontal charges weren't the tactic of choice anymore. They should've tought of the effects during the American civil war to realize WW1 wasn't going to be a jolly and cheerful war. Except for the russians who continued with it during WW2, but they had enough manpower... and the Japanse Banzai charge, but that's another story.


Camouflage is another element that got introduced quite slowly. For some reason, people were reluctant to wear uniforms that blended with the environment, but with the increase of firerates, they slowly started to realize a pompous outfit meant being an easy target.

This is how the French entered WW1:

[Image: french_unifs_inf1914.jpg]

As you can see, those red pants make for a perfect bulls eye. They changed the uniform later on. The Germans already had their feldgrau (field gray) in 1910.

[Image: french_unifs_ay.JPG]
Picture: French camouflage


Back to body armour. It wasn't widespread anymore during WW2 and the later years, but now it's become standard equipment for every soldier in the line of fire (in modern armies at least). A nice development is the Dragon skin body armour.





And finally for camouflage; the next step might well be stealth armour. There are some prototypes, but a real combat suit hasn't been deployed yet to my knowledge. Some cool video's, though.






I know I let out some things, but if you're really interested, there's more than enough material. Enjoy!

"Infinitus est numerus stultorum." (The number of fools is infinite)
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19-06-2011, 06:17 AM (This post was last modified: 19-06-2011 06:23 AM by Lilith Pride.)
RE: History - what interests you?
I prefer the need of skill in the art of warfare. I like physical capabilities over just tactics alone. I also like for it to be hard for a war to decimate a group so completely. Guns have led to so many extremely one sided wars.

Woo invisibility cloak!!!!

Even the trebuchet had nowhere close to the destructive force of modern ballistics. Modern warfare is far more adept at destroying the terrain along with the enemy. Innovation can be cool, but modern warfare took men killing each other beyond that scope into men destroying land in order to kill each other.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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19-06-2011, 06:33 AM
RE: History - what interests you?
Quote:I prefer the need of skill in the art of warfare. I like physical capabilities over just tactics alone. I also like for it to be hard for a war to decimate a group so completely. Guns have led to so many extremely one sided wars.

So what would be your idea of world leaders settling their disputes in the boxing ring instead of sending their armies? Imagine Obama and Kim-Jung-Il beating the crap out of each other Big Grin

"Infinitus est numerus stultorum." (The number of fools is infinite)
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19-06-2011, 06:39 AM
RE: History - what interests you?
I love the duel as an answer to warfare. Nowadays you can even have a computer simulated war in which all the blood thirst can be dramatically shown without any of the huge repercussions. I would prefer an MMA style ring as many countries have perfected very unique fighting styles. Restricting it to boxing takes away from the diversity of the human body as a weapon.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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19-06-2011, 09:00 AM
RE: History - what interests you?
I am a huge history fan and my interests tend to vary. A few years ago I read an in-depth biography on Napoleon. Right now I'm reading a book called "Fighter Boys" which is ultimately about the pilots who fought the Battle of Britain vs. the Luftwaffe but also talks about the formation of the RAF and some of the pre-war politics around rearming England. History in general fascinates me and I am interested in all periods.

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