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Jul
16
comment How was life in the Iron Age different from life in the Middle Ages?
You will also find that Celts even had harvesters (Pliny book 18) + archaeological finds. Pliny's surprise shows that Romans still harvested manually. Also, have a look at Strabo Geography 4.1.2 "The whole of the Narbonnaise produces the same fruits as Italy [...] as you proceed northward, [...] entire of the remaining country produces in abundance corn, millet, acorns, and mast of all kinds. No part of it lies waste except that which is taken up in marshes and woods, and even this is inhabited."
Jul
16
comment How was life in the Iron Age different from life in the Middle Ages?
@Bryce, I'd like to mention though that Celtic agriculture was quite advanced. Celts are credited with many improvement to the plough (wheels, ploughshare). BTW: most Latin vehicle names come from Gaulish (Celt): carrus (4 wheel wagon => car, Irih carr, whence to charge carrico and to discharge dicarrico), carpentum (covered 2 wheeled cart usually for women => carpenter), cisium (cabriolet), benna (4 wheels cart => A tempting alternative etymology of companion: who sits next to you in the benna is your combenno, => "accompany"), reda (also a 4 wheel cart, a cognate of to ride).
Jul
11
comment Extent of the Roman empire after Trajan?
Hadrian abandoned today's Irak to the Parthians IIRC.
Jul
11
comment How accurately could ancient astronomers find latitude and longitude?
@Joe, I don't have enough info to compose a full answer but I'd like to bring up the case of Pytheas who is unfortunately known to us only by second hand relations (as is Himilco). One of the most interesting references on Pytheas is Barry Cunliffe's book (0140297847) and there is a fairly detailed discussion of latitude determination - and some evaluation of its precision - in wikipedia's article here‌​.
Jul
10
comment How accurately could ancient astronomers find latitude and longitude?
... log file ;-)
Jul
10
comment How accurately could ancient astronomers find latitude and longitude?
@T.E.D. You might know that the earliest known Greek traveler to the English Isles is supposed to be Pytheas (it is as you may know the etymology of Britain, which suggests that Celts were probably as tattooed as the Picts themselves). Pytheas seems to have gone much further Northwards than Britain actually, was apparently enrolled for his mathematics skills and, more to the point - that was around 330/300 BC - had developed several ways to calculate latitude. Regarding the hunk of wood: that's the etymology of our...
Jun
24
comment What were the origins of Etruscan Civilisation?
@T.E.D. The romantic in you might wish to read this short study by Robert Beekes a professor of pre-greek at Leyden. His theory is well received and as he somewhat provocatively puts it in his introduction "Nowadays most scholars are convinced that they came from Asia Minor; only in Italy does a large number of scholars deny or doubt this". There are also a few authors who seem to believe that the Aeneid is an Etruscan Uhrheimat myth imported into Roman mythology.
Jun
24
comment Where, when and why did the practice of proxy marriage originate?
... to not mark such an event (the union of the only heir of the Medici dynasty which had given 3 popes and one queen of France already) with the lavish ceremonies they organised on the occasion. I can't answer the OP's question but it seems to me that the alliances between powerful, and inevitably geographically remote, dynasties would have entailed lengthy (and costly) travels and that was simply not practical especially in turbulent periods (another example is Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette).
Jun
24
comment Where, when and why did the practice of proxy marriage originate?
@T.E.D. in another contemporary (1600) wedding,that of Maria de Medici with Henri IV of France, the proxy wedding was celebrated in Florence. One of the canvases of Rubens' Maria de Medici cycle depicts the event. The proxy was Maria's uncle the Grand Duke Ferdinand of Tuscany and he dutifully put his (naked?) leg on top of his niece's leg to symbolically consume the union. I guess it was not practical for Henry to go all the way to Florence and the Medici were too proud ...
Jun
10
awarded  Commentator
Jun
10
comment Did the Latins see the Etruscans as a plague?
Probably because their legendary(?) first kings were Etruscans. This is also why royalty was loathed. Roman nationalism and faith in the res publica seems to be founded among other things on a myth of virtuous early Romans rising to freedom by overthrowing the Etruscan royal yoke (see Livy).
May
5
comment What were the origins of Etruscan Civilisation?
@T.E.D. incidentally linguistics and genetics very often corroborate. In the case of Etruscan, they do if you take into account theories linking Etruscan with Caucasian languages.
Mar
31
comment Why are many African nations poor?
+1 for bringing up Jared Diamond. One thing though that I did not find reflected in your answer is that JD also argues that Eurasia being an "horizontal" continent, agricultural innovations made in one of its parts can easily be imported in another one. This is not true for Africa with a clear distinction between sub-Saharan and North Africa for instance. IIRC he cites (in this book or may be in another, I read that a long time ago) the Bantu expansion as being more localised than say the European neolithic revolution.
Mar
10
comment What incentives are in place for American soldiers to go fight in Iraq?
-1. Patriotism is not the main reason for joining the US Army. Otherwise you would find more young people coming from the political elite (e.g. lawmakers) whereas there are virtually none (add to this some well known cases of dodging conscription). Another supporting evidence is the well known proportion of recruit from non WASP background (i.e. who have rather less reason to be "patriotic"). The hard truth is that if you put yourself in the firing line, there has to be some incentive. If the incentive is less than appealing for middle class, then only under-privileged youth will go for it.
Jan
31
comment Are there ancient historical sources which have been permanently lost?
>"if you could crash at his house for a couple of weeks while you copied it out by hand". Very true!! The fact is that large works have seldom come down to us complete. Take Polybius for instance: only the first five of the original 40 books in his "Histories" are complete, the rest is only known through fragments. And they nearly didn't make it: they are all known to come from one single source (same spelling mistakes) - a manuscript from Constantinople Imperial Library. The same holds true for Livy: his "History of Rome" counted 142 books of which we don't have even half.
Nov
16
awarded  Teacher
Nov
15
answered Are there ancient historical sources which have been permanently lost?
Oct
25
comment Who were the pre-Celtic inhabitants of Western Europe?
@Noldorin, to which you can add the linguistic theories of Theo Vennemann (cf "Europa Vasconica") and the genetic evidence from mitochondrial DNA haplogroups ("V" Toroni 1996, 1998, 2001, "H" Alessandro Achilli 2004). However the Cro-Magnon culture (Haplogroup N) seems to be only a remote ancestor of haplogroups V,H...
Oct
16
comment What was “Greek fire”?
+1 for excellent book reference.
Oct
13
comment Language of Franks vs later French
@Noldorin, Of course it is OK. I'm afraid this book has not been translated. I own 4 books of this author, only one of which in English: "French Inside Out. The French Language Past and Present" (see my email in my elu profile). Yes I've read most of it. Very informative and incredibly dense. Highly Recommended, for both English Francophiles and French Anglophiles.