As seen in this clip of "Kingdom of Heaven", hundreds of years ago, without refrigerators, it would be a demonstration of power to serve your guest with ice, in the middle of the desert.
Hollywood aside, ancient engineers developed ways to keep ice all year, using a combination of evaporative cooling and proper selection/combination of materials.
"Yakhchāl (Persian: یخچال "ice pit"; yakh meaning "ice" and chāl meaning "pit") is an ancient type of ice house that functions as an evaporative cooler. Above ground, the structure had a domed shape, but had a subterranean storage space. It was often used to store ice, but sometimes was used to store food as well. The subterranean space coupled with the thick heat-resistant construction material insulated the storage space year round. These structures were mainly built and used in Persia. Many that were built hundreds of years ago remain standing. "
The yakhchāl is built of a unique water-resistant mortar called sarooj, composed of sand, clay, egg whites, lime, goat hair, and ash in specific proportions, that is resistant to heat transfer and is thought to be completely water-impenetrable. This material acts as an effective insulation all year round.
As one story goes, life as primitive hunter-gatherers was ‘nasty, brutish and short’ until the invention of the state allowed us to flourish. The other story says that in a childlike state of nature, humans were happy and free, and that it was only with the advent of civilisation that ‘they all ran headlong to their chains’.
These are two variants of the same myth because they both assume an unilinear historical trajectory, one that begins from simple egalitarian hunter-gatherer bands and ends with increasing social complexity and hierarchy. They also nurture a similar fatalistic perspective on the future: whether we go with Hobbes (the first) or Rousseau (the second), we are left with the idea that the most we can do to change our current predicament is, at best, a bit of modest political tinkering. Hierarchy and inequality are the inevitable price to pay for having truly come of age.
Both versions of the myth picture the human past as a primordial soup of small bands of hunter-gatherers, lacking in vision and critical thought, and where nothing much happened until we embarked on the process that, with the advent of agriculture and the birth of cities, culminated in the modern Enlightenment.
What makes Graeber and Wengrow’s The Dawn of Everything an instant classic is its comprehensive scientific demolition of this myth—what they call ‘the Myth of the Stupid Savage’. Not a shred of archaeological evidence tells us that the picture of the human past is remotely close to what the foundational myth suggests.
Instead, what the available evidence shows is that the trajectory of human history has been a good deal more diverse and exciting and less boring than we tend to assume because, in an important sense, it has never been a trajectory. We never permanently lived in tiny hunter-gatherer bands. We also were never permanently egalitarian. If there is a defining trait of our prehistorical condition it is its bewildering capacity of shifting, almost constantly, across a diverse array of social systems of all kinds of political, economic, and religious nature.
Stokesay Castle, constructed at the end of the 13th century, boasts a Great Hall "unchanged for 700 years." Hopefully it is cleaner, but that is none of my affair. Stokesay Castle is in Shropshire, near the Welsh border. (@whatstacydid IG)
i learned that the CIA recruited one of Fidel Castro's mistresses to kill him in 1960, giving her poison pills, but he found out. Handing her his gun, he dared her to shoot, but her nerves failed and they had sex instead (x)
It's time to thank our friendly crustaceans by telling them how much of a positive impact they had in our lives and how we'd be lost without them!
A folktale¹ from Yamashiro Town [山城町] (Kyōto) tells about a time when crabs saved a women. Once upon a time a daughter saved a crab from whatever its demise. The father saw a snake that was about to swallow a frog whole and pleaded to spare the frog in exchange of offering his own daughter (who was the one that saved the crab) as its wife. The snake agrees and lets go of the frog. That night, the snake transformed into a handsome young man and went to the father's house for his daughter. The father broke the promise and shuts the snake out. Pissed off, the snake tried to break in, but suddenly, the crab that the daughter saved during the day came back to rescue her tailing an army of other crabs and defeated the snake by cutting it into pieces. There's also an illustration for this story by Chikanobu Yōshū [楊洲 周延] (above).
Similar story ² is also accounted in Natori City [名取市] (Miyagi Prefecture) about the origin legend of Kaniōzan [蟹王山] near Chifuku Monastery [智福院]. There once was a servant who was kind to the crabs that lived in the little pond near the monastery and loved them dearly. One day, the servant was chased by a viper and ran into a small altar nearby the pond for refuge. Then suddenly, he saw a huge army of crabs ganging up on the viper and began chopping the creature into pieces thus, saving the servant. This monument of a crab in Kaniōzan seen above was erected for commemoration. However, their epic of heroism goes on.
A tale ³ from Iō Temple [医王寺] (Kawasaki City [川崎市], Kanagawa Prefecture) (below) tells how an army of crabs defended an important infrastructure from incineration. A fire broke out at the temple and the flame was just about to engulf the Buddhist bell tower. Then once again, the brave crabs raised an army and covered the tower entirely as they spat out bubbles to extinguish the incoming fire. By the morning, all the crabs were toast, but the bell tower remained unscathed. Since that day on, the crabs living inside the temple's pond are said to have become bright red as if they got scorched with fire.
i learned that in the late 1960s, airlines Air India commissioned famous artist Salvador Dali to design an ashtray for the airline. Dali agreed but asked for an elephant as payment. A 2-year-old baby elephant named "big baby" was flown from Bangalore to Cadaques, a small Catalonian town where Dali Lived (x)
The Arm Reliquary of Charlemagne, containing the right forearm of the medieval emperor, placed in 12 October 1481. It’s housed in the Aachen Cathedral, Germany, along with the rest of Charlemagne’s remains.
“I got to read an early copy of this magnificent book by Davids Graeber and Wenfrow, and The Dawn of Everything is the revision of nearly everything that historians and anthropologists and archeologists have assumed about early human societies, economies, and more. Especially the one-size-fits-all theories about hunter-gatherers, agrarians, hierarchies, etc.–the most constant theme is that human societies are really diverse and human beings are really creative. One part that is really riveting is about the huge influence people indigenous to the new world had on the political and ethical imagination of Europeans–an influence traveling in the opposite direction of what we were usually told. (You could say that to some limited extent, Native North, South, and Central Americans civilized Europeans.) They write: If human beings, through most of our history, have moved back and forth fluidly between different social arrangements, assembling and dismantling hierarchies on a regular basis, perhaps the question we should ask is: how did we get stuck? How did we lose that political self-consciousness, once so typical of our species? How did we come to treat eminence and subservience not as temporary expedients, or even the pomp and circumstance of some kind of grand seasonal theatre, but as inescapable elements of the human condition? In truth, this flexibility, and potential for political self-consciousness, was never entirely lost. Seasonality is still with us – even if it is a pale shadow of its former self. In the Christian world, for instance, there is still the midwinter “holiday season” in which values and forms of organisation do, to a limited degree, reverse themselves: the same media and advertisers who for most of the year peddle rabid consumerist individualism suddenly start announcing that social relations are what’s really important, and that to give is better than to receive. Among societies like the Inuit or the Kwakiutl of Canada’s Northwest Coast, times of seasonal congregation were also ritual seasons, almost entirely given over to dances, rites and dramas. Sometimes, these could involve creating temporary kings or even ritual police with real coercive powers. In other cases, they involved dissolving norms of hierarchy and propriety. In the European middle ages, saints’ days alternated between solemn pageants where all the elaborate ranks and hierarchies of feudal life were made manifest, and crazy carnivals in which everyone played at “turning the world upside down”. In carnival, women might rule over men and children be put in charge of government. Servants could demand work from their masters, ancestors could return from the dead, “carnival kings” could be crowned and then dethroned, giant monuments like wicker dragons built and set on fire, or all formal ranks might even disintegrate into one or other form of bacchanalian chaos. What’s important about such festivals is that they kept the old spark of political self-consciousness alive. They allowed people to imagine that other arrangements are feasible, even for society as a whole, since it was always possible to fantasise about carnival bursting its seams and becoming the new reality. May Day came to be chosen as the date for the international workers’ holiday largely because so many British peasant revolts had historically begun on that riotous festival. Villagers who played at “turning the world upside down” would periodically decide they actually preferred the world upside down, and took measures to keep it that way. Medieval peasants often found it much easier than medieval intellectuals to imagine a society of equals. Now, perhaps, we begin to understand why. Seasonal festivals may be a pale echo of older patterns of seasonal variation – but, for the last few thousand years of human history at least, they appear to have played much the same role in fostering political self-consciousness, and as laboratories of social possibility.” Rebecca Solnit
Cast gold alloy finger ring with feline head in relief flanked by two snakes.
Warwick Bray suggests that since related items are found all over the South of Mexico, it would be more appropriate to refer to this style as the 'South Mexico International Style', rather than Mixtec.