20
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2answers
3k views

What is the name of the theory that says an early discovery can stop technological development?

Some time ago I read a claim that an early discovery can lead to a great scientific stagnation. The example given was the Chinese porcelain, that resolved all the known problems, and stopped the ...
20
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6answers
1k views

Japan is known for being isolationist, so what cultivated its history of interventionism in the 20th century?

For much of its history, Japan was a very isolationistic country, and in fact, even in modern Japan, there is still a strong isolationist attitude among the Japanese people in some ways. During the ...
20
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3answers
3k views

How would slaves have addressed their masters in Ancient Greece?

In Ancient Rome, slaves addressed their masters as Dominus or Domina (male or female, respectively). Would the slaves (or servants) of Ancient Greece have used a similar title, or would they have ...
20
votes
3answers
4k views

What was the internal Soviet reaction to the moon landing?

The Soviet Union was a famously restrictive place when it came to news and ideological spin, and obviously their attitude toward the United States was less than supportive and warm. The Space Race ...
20
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7answers
13k views

Why were Albanians the only nation in the Balkans who converted to Islam during the Ottoman occupation?

The Ottoman Empire conquered the Balkans and occupied it for half a millennium. They managed to convert most of the Albanians to Islam, however, all the other nations in the area remained Christian. ...
20
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4answers
2k views

What was the reason for Soviet troops to withdraw from Yugoslavia in World War II?

For all these countries that the Red Army entered (Poland, Romania, part of Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary), the procedure was straightforward. Once the Soviets beat the Germans they become de facto ...
20
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6answers
1k views

How did Islam and Hinduism thrive together in Medieval India?

In countries in the Middle East, Indonesia and many North African countries, the onset of Islamic rulers spread Islam in a rapid manner, eventually wiping off the local religion. However in spite of ...
20
votes
1answer
2k views

What is this household object from early 1900s rural Russia?

At the Kalashnikov museum in Izhevsk, one of the exhibits includes this item: It is a yoke-shaped square bar of light, unvarnished wood, roughly 100 cm long, with rounded corners. There is a hole ...
20
votes
2answers
587 views

Which lost historical documents, when uncovered, led to the most substantial revisions in historiography?

I have this romantic idea about the lost writings of Epicurus that perhaps somewhere at the bottom of the Aegean Sea there still lies a ship sunken in Ancient Greek times with copies of the ...
20
votes
5answers
436 views

How to research controversial history?

I wouldn't be naming the specific examples as that might (will) needlessly divert the attention away from the question itself. Let us say I am trying to research about historical events in a region. ...
20
votes
3answers
5k views

When and why was the samurai class abolished?

I am aware the Emperor Meiji abolished the Samurai class during the reformation. Why did he do so? How was it enforced?
20
votes
2answers
962 views

When did the Knights Templar dissolve and why?

The Knights Templar were a medieval chivalric organization within the Roman Catholic Church. When did they dissolve, and what ultimately led to the dissolution of the Templars?
20
votes
3answers
782 views

First evidence for replacement of barter trade by local abstract currency?

What were the first local currency systems in history we have detailed information on? I dont think it was gold/silver or other hard to produce materials. Probably these became more important ...
20
votes
1answer
701 views

Did anyone predict the existence of the Americas?

According to the answer of this question, Columbus was pretty much unique in his belief that the world was small enough and Asia was big enough to make sailing west to Asia possible. Everyone else ...
20
votes
1answer
1k views

Why did Meiji consider switching from Japanese to English?

During the Meiji restoration, the Emperor sought to switch Japan's national language from Japanese to English. Why was that? Why, ultimately, was it unsuccessful? The Role of English and Other ...
20
votes
2answers
1k views

Where did Hannibal cross the Pyrenees?

Hannibal's passage through the Alps has been extensively studied, regarding the route chosen and logistics involved in passing a large army through difficult terrain. Before that, Hannibal would have ...
20
votes
7answers
3k views

What is the earliest evidence of contact between Ireland and Egypt?

There is a folk tale of an Egyptian princess in Ireland around 1700 BC. Is there credible evidence of early contact between the two places?
20
votes
3answers
2k views

What was the legal framework in Ancient India?

We all know the immense contribution ancient Roman, medieval Roman (or Byzantine), and pre-modern HRE cannon law has made to the modern world. These empires relied on a written constitution (or code) ...
20
votes
1answer
896 views

What is the meaning of people “looking elsewhere” on medieval paintings?

Looking at some medieval paintings I noticed that there are sometimes people "looking elsewhere" even though they take part in an important event and would be expected to pay attention: Is ...
20
votes
2answers
784 views

What was the structure of religious beliefs among the Arabic peoples before conversion to Islam?

Other questions on this topic has addressed the pre-Islamic religious beliefs in broad detail, including the conversion of near-Arab cultures. What was the specific nature of the pre-Islamic ...
20
votes
1answer
669 views

What was the scale of eroticism in Byzantine theater?

When reading the texts of saint John the Chrysostome i found a very severe criticism of theater because of 'nude harlots' that could be seen there. I have also read some fragments of Procopius' Secret ...
20
votes
2answers
748 views

What were the demographics and economics of South-East Asian islands around year 1400?

Background: Prior to the arrival of the Europeans on the scene, the island chains in South-East Asia, specifically in the area of today's Indonesia, Philippines and neighbouring states, housed a ...
19
votes
8answers
7k views

Why weren't aircraft carriers utilized during D-day?

Why were aircraft carriers not used during and following D-Day? They could have added a great deal of range to the air support operations.
19
votes
5answers
2k views

Has Taiwan always been a part of China?

Since young, I am informed that Taiwan is always a part of China and should not seek independence, and that the Chinese Communist Party will not hesitate to use force to stop the Taiwanese from ...
19
votes
7answers
17k views

What were the post World War 2 effects on Germany?

What where the impacts of WW2 on Germany? Obviously the war meant that a lot of resources where spent and that the youth population was significantly reduced. How did this affect Germany's post war ...
19
votes
3answers
4k views

Why do land mines seem to be a more serious problem in the Balkans than the Alps?

The last war in the Balkans finished around 2000. Until today, land mines are a big problem, especially in Bosnia. There are huge regions where you shouldn't leave paved terrain. Since I love hiking, ...
19
votes
6answers
6k views

What prevented the Mongolian Empire from expanding into Europe?

The Mongolian Empire reached quite a vast extent according to the map below and leaders such as Genghis Khan seemed to defeat all their enemies consistently. Yet, the empire never extended into Europe,...
19
votes
5answers
861 views

Recognition of Palestine?

What was Palestine before, if not a country? Could you give me some history on this? Also, the recent recognition of Palestine as a country in the UN could have far reaching implications. Are there ...
19
votes
3answers
2k views

Why was the Western Front so static in World War I?

Once the German advance was halted, neither side could seriously advance for two years. This seems like an extraordinarily long time. Why didn't anyone succeed at going around the trenches or striking ...
19
votes
3answers
10k views

Who is the earliest recorded person?

Who is the earliest person recorded in history? Whose fame has survived the greatest amount of time to come down to us today?
19
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4answers
2k views

Did Churchill and Roosevelt know about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, or the following secret pacts between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union?

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was the non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany prior to, and during WWII. It seems that the actions of the two countries after the invasion of Poland ...
19
votes
3answers
3k views

Why was the shape of German states pre-WWII (especially Prussia) so complicated?

The shapes of the Länder territories in Germany were very complicated. There was hundreds exclaves and enclaves all over the place to the point it became ridiculous. Notably the shape of Prussia, ...
19
votes
4answers
12k views

What is the difference between the Middle Ages and the Dark Ages?

Is there any difference between the "Middle Ages" and the "Dark Ages"?
19
votes
1answer
3k views

Does a reputation for cruelty to PoWs give a tactical advantage?

Among warring factions, some groups throughout history have sought to strike fear into their adversaries by 'making examples' of any members of the opposing force(s) that they capture alive, by means ...
19
votes
3answers
3k views

Why was Newton's observation of the falling apple significant?

As described in this article at Wikipedia, in 1666, Newton was in a garden when he noticed an apple falling. Surely, Newton could not have been the first person to notice that things fell when dropped....
19
votes
7answers
3k views

Why did Austronesian/Polynesian people not colonize Australia?

Australia hosted aboriginal populations since prehistory. However technologically advanced civilizations (in comparison) lived nearby, in Indonesia, Polynesia and New Guinea. Why was it not colonized ...
19
votes
5answers
776 views

Were there any conquests that Ancient Rome undertook explicitly to gain control of a natural resource?

Was there ever a case when Rome conquered a territory solely for the purpose of gaining control of a specific resource (spice, ore, timber, etc....)? I'm looking for something backed up by historical ...
19
votes
2answers
13k views

Did the Germans purposefully arrange to send Lenin to Russia to start a revolution?

A recent documentary, The World Wars, on the History Channel suggested, strongly, that the Imperial German government secretly arranged safe-passage for Vladimir Lenin to return to Moscow from ...
19
votes
6answers
6k views

Why do so many national flags contain the color red?

I was doing some riddles with my daughter today and mentioned some nations. She had to 'calculate' how many of those nations' flags had the color red in them. As it happened, all of them did. In ...
19
votes
4answers
3k views

Was the Italian campaign a strategic mistake?

Background In September 1943, the Allied forces invaded Southern Italy in combined amphibious operations in Reggio di Calabria (Operation Baytown), Salerno (Operation Avalanche) and Taranto (...
19
votes
2answers
5k views

What was the significance of changing the name of “Persia” to “Iran”?

As best as I understand it, the founding of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 was when Persia became Iran. What was the motivation for changing the name?
19
votes
3answers
3k views

Which cultures did *not* produce alcohol?

I've been reading Harold McGee's fascinating On Food and Cooking, and the chapter on alcohol has some interesting historical notes. He describes the widely varied and creative methods used in various ...
19
votes
4answers
7k views

How did the gold of the new world cause the Spanish Empire to collapse?

There are some arguments that Spain over-exploited the precious metal deposits of the new world, leading to wide-scale inflation. This, coupled with their expulsion of Jewish money lenders, caused ...
19
votes
3answers
11k views

In the Medieval period, how long would an average swordsmith need to forge an average sword?

Based on this question over in RPG, I'm trying to figure out how long it took to forge a sword in the Medieval/Renaissance smith to make swords. I am recalling a figure of about 9-12 months per sword,...
19
votes
7answers
26k views

Are modern Greeks related to the ancient Greeks?

Greece has been subject to many many invasions since the 7th century and there must have been a serious mixing of peoples. In a similar situation, we do not usually consider the French or the Germans ...
19
votes
2answers
578 views

Was slavery in the United States legally limited to blacks?

Was slavery legally exclusive to race? That is, could blacks and only blacks in the United States be considered slaves under the law? As an example, if an owner were to import into the United States ...
19
votes
2answers
427 views

What is the basis for the argument that the true believers in Juche died in the N. Korean famine?

I have just read an article (in Russian) about the most recent weird news from N.Korea: women are (again) not allowed to ride bicycles. After you've finished splitting your sides with laughter, allow ...
19
votes
1answer
424 views

Farming societies without calendars

Were there ever any farming societies without a calendar? For example, the Egyptians had a calendar to help them know when to plant and when to harvest. The ancient Greeks had a calendar, as did the ...
19
votes
3answers
8k views

Why wasn't San Marino unified with Italy?

Why wasn't San Marino unified with the Kindom of Italy during the unification process? Were there plans or efforts at the time to unify the two states? Did either government at any time try to annex ...
19
votes
3answers
859 views

Why didn't the Persians make and use ballistas and other kinds of artillery?

In 1980 E.P.Thompson published an interesting paper called *Barbarian Invaders and Roman Collaborators *. Among other subjects he consdiers there the leakage from Rome to its enemies of technical ...

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