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Culture & Literature
National Geographic History

National Geographic History September/October 2019

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Country:
United States
Language:
English
Publisher:
National Geographic Society
Frequency:
Bimonthly
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6 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
from the editor

Tawny-haired and tough, Boudica nearly drove Rome from Britain in the first century a.d., but if it weren’t for historians Tacitus and Dio Cassius, we wouldn’t know much about her. Women were rarely the focus in Roman works, but Boudica was too big to ignore. Both Tacitus and Dio Cassius wrote vibrantly, describing her appearance, her deeds, and—most notably—her words. However, their depictions were meant to shock Roman audiences with her “unwomanly” behavior. In the classical world, men, not women, were the talkers: Historian Mary Beard wrote in 2017’s Women and Power: A Manifesto, “[P]ublic speaking and oratory were not merely things that ancient women didn’t do: they were exclusive practices and skills that defined masculinity as a gender … Public speech was a—if not the—defining attribute of maleness.” Romans would have…

2 min.
a dog’s life in stone age scotland

Historians in Scotland have reconstructed the face of a 4,500-year-old dog, an animal they believe helped define the identity of a unique Stone Age community. Based on skulls found over a century ago in a Neolithic chamber on Scotland’s Orkney Islands, researchers used modeling techniques to produce a realistic depiction of the dog who may have warmed the hearts and hearths of North Atlantic islanders around 2500 B.C. Pet Cemetery The windswept Orkney archipelago was home to a remarkable Stone Age civilization located across numerous sites. In 1901 a mysterious mound at Orkney’s Cuween Hill was excavated and identified as a Neolithic tomb. Built between 3000 and 2400 b.c., it contains four cells adjoining a central chamber. Along with five human skulls, 24 dog skulls were found inside the complex. Noted for its especially…

1 min.
where eagles dared

CUWEEN HILL is not the only site in the Orkney Islands where numerous animal remains have been found. On the Island of Rousay, a chambered cairn named the Knowe of Yarso contains the remains of 36 deer deposited alongside human bones. South of Cuween Hill, on the Island of South Ronaldsay, lies the Isbister Chambered Cairn, more commonly known as the Tomb of the Eagles. It was discovered in the 1950s by a local farmer, who stumbled on a small stone chamber in the cliff bordering his fields. On entering the chamber, he discovered, to his astonishment, that it contained about 30 human skulls. Further exploration of the site revealed that among the human remains were the bones of 14 white sea eagles. The birds have been dated to around…

1 min.
the story of their lives

1785 Jacob Grimm is born in Hanau, near what is today Frankfurt, Germany. His brother Wilhelm is born a year later. 1807 Brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm begin compiling German lore and folktales. 1812 The brothers Grimm publish the first of seven editions of their collection of folktales, Children’s and Household Tales. 1837 Jacob and Wilhelm are fired from their positions as professors at the University of Göttingen for criticizing King Ernest Augustus of Hanover. 1859 Wilhelm Grimm dies in Berlin. Four years later, Jacob dies in the same city.…

6 min.
the brothers grimm: fathers of fairy tales

Folktales are as old as human civilization itself. A synthesis of the spoken and the scripted, a fusion of different accounts of the same story. The story of Cinderella, for example, appeared in ancient China and in ancient Egypt. Details in the telling change depending on the storyteller’s cultural origins. In Egypt, her slippers are red leather, while in the West Indies, breadfruit, not a pumpkin, is the transformative object. The story of Cinderella that appears in Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s collection of German folktales, first published in 1812, might shock those familiar with today’s version of a scullery maid turned princess. In the brothers Grimm telling, the heroine is called Aschenputtel, and her wishes come true not from the wave of a fairy godmother’s wand but from a hazel tree…

1 min.
for love of country

IN 1829 the Grimms acquired teaching positions at the University of Göttingen. But in 1837 they sacrificed their academic posts for a political cause. When the new king of Hanover, Ernest Augustus, announced that he would abolish the constitutional regime established four years earlier, the Grimms, along with other intellectuals, signed a letter of protest. They and five other professors were thus exiled from Hanover. During the German revolutions of 1848-49, Jacob was elected to the Frankfurt National Assembly, which sought to unify Germany.…