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History

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maya

I love discoveries like these. It amazes me every time we discover something new about past civilizations. Archaeologists recently discovered more than 150 Maya artifacts in a series of caves Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

Archaeologists hunting for a sacred well beneath the ancient Maya city of Chichén Itzá on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula have accidentally discovered a trove of more than 150 ritual objects—untouched for more than a thousand years—in a series of cave chambers that may hold clues to the rise and fall of the ancient Maya. The discovery of the cave system, known as Balamku or “Jaguar God,” was announced by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History

Balamku was first discovered by farmers in 1966 but remained sealed for more than 50 years until it was reopened in 2018. Incense burners, vases, decorated plates, and other objects were found. Check out the full story at National Geographic.

Image credit: Karla Ortega

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Baseball season is just around the corner so it seems fitting to talk about baseball. More specifically, a mediocre baseball player that was known as the “brainiest guy in baseball.” A guy that graduated from Princeton and Columbia Law. A guy that went on to become a spy for the US government in Word War II. I’m talking about Morris “Moe” Berg.

more berg

It wasn’t until the last year or so that I heard about Moe Berg. Actually, it was when I was browsing the IMDB credits of actor Paul Rudd that first brought Berg to my attention (more on that later). If I’m only looking at his baseball career, there’s really no reason for me to know him. He was an average player that played at the beginning of the 20th century and never played for any St. Louis teams. It’s his post-baseball life that I’m surprised never caught my attention.

Berg joined the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. By this point, his baseball career was over, both as a player and a coach. Berg was seen as an asset due two previous trips to Japan with other ball players. He then went on to join the Office of Strategic Services, and the branch within the OSS called Secret Intelligence. He helped evaluate various resistance groups in Eastern Europe to determine who was the best suited to resist the Nazis.

evolution of the alphabet

I don’t know how I missed this last year, especially since this is right up my alley, but Matt Baker at UsefulCharts published a chart on the evolution of the alphabet. Several times per week, if not per day, I wonder the origin of a word or phrase or food. I’m constantly curious as to how something came about. This chart, and corresponding video below, scratch an itch of learning new about history that I often get since leaving college. A history nerd is always a history nerd.

st. louis
Before there was a Hot in Herre, there was Highway Farty and carn on the cob. No, I’m not having a stroke, I’m referring to the dialect that I heard as a child growing up in St. Louis. Citylab recently had a post explaining the St. Louis accent.

The most stereotypical St. Louis pronunciation is “farty” for “forty.” St. Louisans swap an “ar” for an “or” sound, so they eat “carn on the cob” and wish each other “good marning.” This is unique to St. Louis, but the city has other features in common with the Midlands. Older St. Louisans say “worsh” for “wash,” “wants off” for “wants to get off,” and “I waited on him” instead of “I waited for him.”

The whole article is pretty fascinating. Go and give it a read.

Cahokia Mounds

Growing up in St. Louis, I learned about Cahokia Mounds in school. It’s fascinating how little we know about the settlement that was once North America’s largest city. If you grew up outside Missouri or Illinois, you probably never heard about it at all.

A thousand years ago, huge pyramids and earthen mounds stood where East St. Louis sprawls today in Southern Illinois. This majestic urban architecture towered over the swampy Mississippi River floodplains, blotting out the region’s tiny villages. Beginning in the late 900s, word about the city spread throughout the southeast. Thousands of people visited for feasts and rituals, lured by the promise of a new kind of civilization. Many decided to stay.

They didn’t stay long though. By 1400, the city was abandoned and no one knows why. A group of archaeologists are attempting to unlock the mysteries of the Mississippian people. Check out the coverage on Ars Technica.