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National Geographic History

National Geographic History November/December 2019

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United States
National Geographic Society
6 Issues

in this issue

1 min
stories from africatown

AFTER THE UNION VICTORY in the Civil War, slavery came to an end in the United States, and the captives of the Clotilda were free. More than 30 of them who had lived and worked near Mobile, Alabama, purchased their own tracts of land in an area north of the city. Several communities developed: Plateau, Lewis Quarters, Magazine, Prichard, Happy Hills, and Kelly Hills, which became collectively known as Africatown. Drawing on their African heritage, residents built homes and businesses, grew crops and tended livestock, and founded churches and schools. Africatown flourished, reaching a population of 12,000 in the 1960s. Industrialization and blight have since hurt the community, whose population has dropped to fewer than 2,000. The wreck of the Clotilda has become a beacon of hope for Africatown. Not…

1 min
unwrapping the toga

Only citizens had the right to wear the toga, the quintessential Roman garment that was placed over the tunic and covered the body and shoulders. Large, woolen, and oval-shaped, the toga was time-consuming to put on, and left one arm immobilized under its complex folds. For anyone engaging in physical work, the toga was restrictive and impractical, so by the late republic, it had become unpopular as everyday clothing. As the only outward sign of Roman citizenship, it still played a powerful ceremonial and ritual role. After puberty, boys swapped the purple trimmed toga praetexta for the plain toga virilis of a man. The white toga (toga candida) was the most distinctive of the various styles and was worn by those aspiring to political office as an indication of the…

1 min
journey’s beginning

THE “SLAVE COAST” was the European name coined for a portion of West Africa that became a primary supplier of enslaved labor between the 17th and 19th centuries. One of the main ports was the city of Ouidah (Whydah), part of the kingdom of Dahomey after 1727. The leaders of Dahomey would conduct campaigns to seize people from other African states. These captives would be sold as slaves to Portuguese, French, and British merchants, who shipped them to nations in the Americas, particularly Brazil. The Clotilda’s captives in 1860 began the Middle Passage in Ouidah. Historians estimate that more than one million people were trafficked through this city alone before the trans-Atlantic slave trade ended in the late 19th century.…

1 min
from the editor

Pilgrimage, taking a journey to be close to the sacred, is a very old tradition that still thrives today in many of the world’s faiths. Buddhists visit Lumbini in Nepal to pay homage at the birthplace of Buddha. The holiest city of Islam—Mecca, Saudi Arabia—is the goal for Muslim pilgrims embarking on the annual hajj. Millions of devout Hindus bathe in river waters considered holy during the Kumbh Mela, a festival often held on the banks of the Ganges. In the Middle Ages Christian pilgrims in Europe crisscrossed the continent to visit holy sites. Chief among them was Santiago de Compostela, the Romanesque cathedral where the bones of St. James were kept, according to tradition. Several different routes, all dubbed the “Way of St. James,” led pilgrims to northwest Spain, where…

1 min
the lost pharaohs

IN 1881 a hidden tomb of royal mummies was discovered at Deir el Bahri in the Theban Necropolis. The site known as the Royal Cache (or tomb DB320) was found to contain the remains of many powerful 18th- and 19th-dynasty pharaohs, including Thutmose III, Seti I, and Ramses II. Egyptologists believed they were transferred to this cache for safekeeping sometime during the 21st dynasty (11th and 10th centuries B.C.) in a successful attempt to elude looters.…

1 min
examining ancient egypt’s dead

1698 Benoît de Maillet, the French consul in Egypt, unwraps a mummy in Cairo in front of a group of Europeans. He will later publish his findings. 1716 The German apothecary Christian Hertzog unrolls a headless mummy and finds 74 amulets among its wrappings. 1834 The London physician Thomas Pettigrew publishes a foundational work on the study of mummies: A History of Egyptian Mummies. 1881 A cache of royal mummies from the New Kingdom (second millennium b.c.) is found, including that of Thutmose III and Seti I. 1912 Grafton Elliot Smith writes the Catalogue of the Royal Mummies in the Museum of Cairo, and is the first to successfully x-ray a mummy.…