Saturday, October 15

The Bella Miquelina affair: The transatlantic slave trade, British suppression and one African’s quest for liberty in the Bay of All Saints, Salvador, Brazil in 1848

this was such a fascinating read. Yes, there was slavery in the UK but to its credit, it was perhaps the first to fight very hard against slavery as well. Here's a story of how the UK fought for ending slavery in Brazil.

In the late afternoon of Saturday 22 April 1848, the British cruiser H.M.S. Grecian gave chase to a suspicious-looking ship it encountered off the coast of Bahia, Brazil. By midnight, the Greciansucceeded in seizing the slave ship Bella Miquelina. One week later, the Bella Miquelina sailed into the Bay of All Saints at Salvador, Bahia, Brazil under the direction of a British prize crew. The appearance of this captured vessel with 517 Africans on board “set off alarms” all over the city. Many Bahians feared that disembarkation might cause the spread of disease and increase slave resistance in the city. As negotiations unfolded during the next 48 hours between Bahian authorities and British representatives, a group of 80 men attacked the Bella Miquelina in hopes of gaining control over the ship and taking the Africans. The British prize crew successfully held of this attack. In the midst of this turbulent milieu, a fugitive African slave named John Freeman rowed a small boat to the side of the Grecian and asked for assistance. Commander L.S. Tindal allowed Freeman to remain on board. Six weeks later, the Bella Miquelina returned to Sierra Leone and the Africans were freed by the British Vice-Admiralty Court at Freetown. One year later, Freeman returned to Sierra Leone on board H.M.S. Adventure as a free man. These events shed light on British strategies to suppress the slave trade to Brazil in 1848 as well as Brazilian and African responses.

Wednesday, September 28

Where Israel could have ended up if it didnt end up where it did

in the mid 1940's, there was a big debate about where the Land for the Jews could be, specially after the Holocaust. Palestine had a problem because the British royally screwed it up as usual and you can see the problems till date.

the United Kingdom proposed Uganda which wasnt taken up but I came across this poster where other places around the world were recommended for the New Israel.

I wonder what the world would have been like if number 10 was used on top of India?

Tuesday, September 27

Tomb Security in Ancient Egypt: How and Why Did the Egyptians Protect Their Tombs?

When I was young, i wanted to be an Egyptologist..well, I still do..and may well do it once I grow up...

but in the interim, this paper was a fascinating overview of how the egyptian tomb security system evolved to safeguard their contents. Didnt quite work, did it? as with walls and computer security defences, its a never ending fight.

Protecting the dead from abuse is an ancient human instinct but Egypt raised this concern to levels never seen before or since. Tomb robbery is well attested in Egypt from the earliest times and it becomes obvious when looking at the architecture of the Egyptian tomb that physical measures were soon taken to prevent it. This begs several questions: Why did the Egyptians expend such effort in defending their tombs? How did they protect them? And what influence did this have on the design of the tomb?

Sunday, September 25

“Godnapping” in the Ancient Near East

this was so fascinating, kings would kidnap the God Statues of the countries and kingdoms they conquered and took them back...

now this is something that India should have done as well, instead of breaking the idols and temples and mosques, you take it away to your own kingdom, eh? much better idea, no?

See the article here.

I captured the cities of TarbaŠĻ£u and Yaballu. I carried off 30,000 people, together with their possessions, their property, their goods, and their gods. I destroyed those cities, together with cities in their environs, making them like the tells after the Deluge. – Assyrian King Tiglath-pileser III (745-727 BCE)
When Mesopotamian polities went to war, the successful party gained more than just territory. Triumphant kings boast in their inscriptions that they carried off royal family members, deportees, and precious goods and treasures. Often nested in these lists is a more unusual type of loot: the gods of the losing king or polity were also moved into the victorious king’s homeland. This particular removal of gods, called “godnapping” by modern scholars, is attested over a long period of Mesopotamian history, from the start of the 2nd millennium through the 5th century BCE. But how can a mortal carry off a divine being against its will?
Ancient Near Eastern gods were represented on earth by cult images. Often anthropomorphic, the images were made from a wooden core with precious metals and stones as decoration. These statues would have stood in temples, locations that were thought of as the houses of the gods, and received offerings there. Because of the perishable nature of the core material, none of the original cult images have survived until today, but there are texts that describe the creation of these statues and the rituals that imbued them with the divine spirit. Reliefs also depict these divine images, as seen in an example from the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III’s palace reliefs in Nimrud, which features Assyrian soldiers carrying off an enemy’s gods. Most of the evidence for godnapping, however, comes from texts, including royal inscriptions, chronicles, and letters.

Friday, September 23

A beggar running alongside King George V's coach, 1920 - I will just leave this here

for more details, click here

Turns out the beggar is actually an old soldier. That is how kings and governments repay soldiers..hate hate hate war...rubbish.

Thursday, September 22

The Defining Moments in Bengal: 1920–1947

a very interesting book and its review is here.

I quote

The history of Bengal has been the focus of a great deal of recent scholarly attention. It has benefitted from waves of topical and methodological interest, but there has long been a need for a comprehensive book on the late colonial period that encompasses revisionist historical perspectives and their conclusions. Since most of the early Congress leaders came from Bengal, in histories written in the 1960s and 1970s that sought to study the clash between British colonialism and Indian nationalism, Bengal featured prominently. As the field of Indian history began to encompass provincial history in addition to nation-centric narratives, Bengal came to assert itself more eloquently by the end of 1970s. What followed were specific focuses on the theme of partition, the history of the subaltern groups, historical experience of women, peasant and working class struggles, communalism, and Hindu and Muslim nationalism. This multipronged approach enriched the area of study overall. Lacunas that remained were quickly corrected. For instance, in partition studies, Bengal was relegated to a backseat because of an overwhelming interest in Punjab, though Bengal was also partitioned. But subaltern studies in the 1980s rescued Bengal from this neglect by encouraging studies on the Bengali peoples’ experience of partition, particularly women and scheduled castes and tribes. No oversight prevailed for long. Now Sabyasachi Bhattacharya’s The Defining Moments in Bengal 1920-1947 offers a welcome broad history within the framework of the ‘constitutive elements of the life and mind of Bengal’ (p. vii), his argument for starting the book with 1920 being that the decade saw a ‘redefinition’ of Bengal’s identity and the birth of a “new ‘Bengali Patriotism’” (p. vii). 

Wednesday, September 21

so when and where can you see solar eclipses? Tintin Knows

this was such a mind boggling map

you would have expected the eclipse to be visible on so much more of the Earth's surface, at least I would, but not in this case!

read and wonder.

I am always reminded of Tintin in the Prisoners of the Sun whenever I hear Solar Eclipse, do you remember it?

Tuesday, September 20