Questions tagged [cultural-history]

Culture, from the Latin "to cultivate", references both the combined experience of a population and the works created by them. Thus culture is ultimately a combination of societal mores and taboos, historical memory, attitudes, and a people's contributions to literature, stagecraft, painting, sculpture, and other forms of art.

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155
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5answers
27k views

When did people decide that all caps means the writer is shouting?

Nowadays, writing in all caps tends to indicate that the writer is shouting. FOR EXAMPLE IF I TYPE LIKE THIS PEOPLE EQUATE THIS TO SHOUTING. My understanding from cursory googling is that letters ...
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How do historians and linguists know how to pronounce the names from non-phonetic scripts?

If we take hieroglyphic writings like the Egyptian one, an Egyptologist knows that this hieroglyph must be interpreted as Nefertiti. Or we can see in the following Sumerian cuneiform script that ...
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What is the origin of 3 meals a day?

Wondering if there is an origin of the "3 meals a day" concept. For example, in English we have specific words for them: Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. But we have a few more for other meals in the day (...
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Which culture used no personal names?

The blog post Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names – With Examples claims that: There was an isolated culture in which no one had names – they referred to everyone in relative terms, such ...
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What knowledge may have been lost at the Library of Alexandria?

Of course we'll never know for sure, but do historians have some reasonable ideas about what knowledge may have been lost at the Library of Serapeum of Alexandria, when it was destroyed by the Decree ...
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History of scientific regression [closed]

Throughout history, humans have made many subtle and many substantial scientific advancements. Humans have explored, examined, learned, applied and at times seemingly "forgotten" and/or were unable ...
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How do we know baroque art depicted obese ladies because of a different ideal of beauty?

I've often heard that the obesity of women in baroque art signs that such women were the ideal of beauty. How could we know that? And how could we know it wasn't just "cultural rationalization" of a ...
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What was the typical peasant's diet like in Europe during the High Middle Ages?

I know that wheat, barley, rye, onions, lettuce-like plants and turnips were common but how common were other things like meat or cheese? I've heard the "plowman's lunch" was a concoction of the dairy ...
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What is the origin of the stereotype that Polish people lack intelligence?

A quick glance at Wikipedia's list of Polish people demonstrates the stereotype as false. Poland has produced notable minds in such diverse areas of knowledge as Astronomy (Nicolaus Copernicus), ...
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When and why did having long hair become associated with women, and short hair with men?

It's obvious that having short or long hair is an identity sign for men and women respectively, more or less worldwide. I wonder why something like this happened, though. Maybe it was a way to ...
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Were Medieval Britons aware of the existence of the Roman Empire?

I would like to know if the medieval people in Britain, by around 800 AD, knew that there was an empire that ruled Britain several hundreds of years before. Otherwise, were there any myths, legends, ...
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Why didn't Europeans before Gutenberg print with woodblocks?

Before the invention of the printing press and movable type (and some related innovations) by Johannes Gutenberg, books in Europe were generally only reproduced if someone copied them by hand. In ...
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When did the term “Nationality” first come into use? How did ancient civilizations refer to themselves? By ethnicity?

When was the term "Nationality" first came into use? How did ancient civilizations refer to themselves? When we refer to Ancient Civilizations, did they consider themselves a nation in the modern ...
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Why does Romanian culture have Latin influences?

Romania is located between Bulgaria, Serbia on one side and Ukraine/many Slavic countries on the other. Romanian is however a Romance (Latin) language, and not Slavic. They don't use the Cyrillic ...
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Why was PTSD not written about as much before the 20th century?

As late as WW1 there was very little literature surrounding PTSD/'shellshock'. In fact, the term was not coined until the 1980's. Considering the fact that warfare has been a part of human life since ...
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When did challenging to a duel cease to be a practice in English culture?

In the Aubrey Maturin series of novels, there are at least two scenes where the protagonists are challenged to a duel: Post-Captain - Aubrey and Maturin about Aubrey's reputation with the Admiralty ...
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When and where did socks become common?

To be clear, I mean the socks you wear on your feet, to insulate you form your shoes/boots/other footwear. By common, I mean easily available to the masses, rather than just to the rich.
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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 ...
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Why do the Japanese sing Ode to Joy during the Japanese New Year?

During the New Years, the Japanese have a curious custom where they perform Beethoven's 9th symphony. This has produced some stunning sights on youtube But there's nothing particularly festive or New ...
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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 ...
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Gender Color Association: When did boys become blue and girls pink?

What historical evidence exists for the origin of the association of blue colors with boys, and pink colors with girls? I realize this is a cultural specific trait. An article "Beyond Pink and ...
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What cultures did, or do, perform human sacrifice on a regular basis?

Looking at the Area 51 commitment page, I realized that some of the questions that were originally suggested there never got asked here, so I thought I'd add some of them. Something else I would like ...
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Was touching your nose a greeting in second millenium Mesopotamia?

I ran across a curious sentence today, in a Mesopotamian prayer to a personal god (the grammar looked better in verse format): "Daily worship your god with offerings, prayers and appropriate ...
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Were Shakespeare's plays written for “high culture” or “entertain the bawdy masses” during his time?

Currently, the plays of William Shakespeare are viewed as great English literature, and viewed as "high culture". However I heard someone say that Shakespeare was writing "bawdy, violence filled plays ...
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How come every culture on the planet has a different calendar, yet follow the same system for a week?

I know it sounds a bit like a silly question. Every culture in the world follow a different Calendar, for instance: Christians follow a solar calendar following the birth of Jesus Christ (2014. AD ...
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When did the cats versus dogs rivalry begin in the US?

In the US people that own pets seem to be pegged as either dog people, or cat people. This cultural phenomenon is so prevalent that Hollywood even made a movie about it. My question is, when did this ...
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Is the swastika in The Great Gatsby anti-semitic?

In the Great Gatsby, in Chapter 9 Fitzgerald writes that Nick visited Meyer Wolfsheim and that he was in an office with a door marked "Swastika Holding Company." The Great Gatsby was written between ...
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Was there an ancient cult of worshiping one's own reflection?

Are there any sources about an ancient cultic worship of one's own reflection (in water)? Have historians found any evidence of such a phenomenon? The idea is found in some early Jewish commentaries: ...
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Why do Spaniards have their lunch and dinner so late?

I've been reading about it and many sites explain (unconvincingly, for me) that the reason why Spaniards currently have lunch around 2 and dinner around 9:30 is because during the 40s (after the civil ...
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1answer
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Any information about the photo with Army Uniforms

Found an old photo and want to identify which period does it belong to and where it could have been taken or which country are these soldiers from. Found word "Brattig" on the other side, maybe ...
16
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1answer
691 views

Did the Romans pour wine down wells for health purposes?

I've heard some kind of story that after the Romans would conquer a new village or city, they would pour wine (or other alcohol?) down the wells to kill the bacteria and make it safe for future ...
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When was the concept of “weekly day off” first introduced in Indian Subcontinent?

Did ancient & medieval indians have a weekly day off? Or was there even a generally recognized day as public holiday? Or did the concept get introduced with Arabs or Europeans?
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What were the origins of Etruscan Civilisation?

Given the differences between Etruscan civilisation and other Italian peoples of the same period, is the conclusion that Etruscan civilisation was autochthonous sensible?
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Viking culture: unhygienic use of water bowl

I am interested in understanding something which I have seen in the film 13th warrior where the Vikings all use the same bowl of water to clean themselves. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkcsLFSAS30 ...
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Have breasts been proudly and publicly uncovered, in any culture, without general disapproval?

Are there, or have there been, any cultures in which women uncover and treat their own breasts in much the same way that some men treat their own beards (either with pride, or as a display of ...
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What was the cultural background of Burgundians?

In the Middle Ages there was a big country in Europe between France and German kingdoms, Burgundy. What language did they speak there? Were they more German or French in origin?
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What did men wear at night in the Middle Ages in Europe?

The question: I'd like to know how did people, especially males, used to dress while sleeping in the Middle Ages in Europe. I suppose the nightwear changes both according to the exact time period ...
15
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1answer
886 views

What mistake did abbot [Jacques?] Delille make when eating an egg at the Court of Louis XVI?

Stendhal's Scarlet and Black has a curious passage where the main character observes that even the eating of a boiled egg "reveals the progress one has made in the godly life" To support this it ...
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1answer
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Why did people in some countries start to drive on the right?

Most people are right-handed and it seems natural that people used the left hand side of the road when riding horses or simply walking. In case of conflict a weapon could be easily put between you and ...
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Is every major culture in the same year?

In the Western world the current year is 2014, which is the number of years since the birth of the Christian messiah. Given that Christianity is not the dominant religion in every part of the world, I ...
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Was there a reason Hitler saluted differently to everyone else?

When people think of the nazi salute, the hand is generally out in front, around 45° palm down. Sometimes it would be lower, which I think reinforces that it's a "palm open and down" gesture: ...
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What are the reasons of the ethnical fragmentation of the Caucasus?

While investigating on Albania, I kept finding peoples I never heard of before. Notwithstanding my vast ignorance, this was systematic to the point that I started investigating. Take a look at this ...
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How Did the Mongol Empire Get So Big?

Undoubtedly, the largest empire in the existence of human history was the Mongol Empire, once a hodgepodge of warring nomadic tribes from Central Asia before banding together under the banner of ...
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Were major foreign films allowed in the USSR?

I'm thinking of really major films that came from Hollywood, like Star Wars, Back to the Future, Planet of the Apes, etc. Were these allowed to be shown in the USSR? Did they have to wait for ...
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What are the historical reasons for religious and political negative attitudes towards homosexuality?

First of all, let me say that I know this is a very delicate issue. In no way should my question be seen as an attempt to endorse negative attitudes towards the LGTB community. I am seeking objective, ...
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What cultures have had a lasting effect on Sicilian culture?

Considering that Sicily has been inhabited by multiple empires/peoples native Sicilians/Italians tribes and communes Greeks (partially) Carthaginians (partially) Romans Ostrogoths (very briefly) ...
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Has being a single mother been always stigmatized?

Being a single mother was obviously a big economic disadvantage. And in the times when the Christian church morality dominated every day life, being a single mother was obviously a proof of a sin. But ...
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1answer
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The diminishing role of the “family name” throughout the Byzantine Empire

Why did the use of the family name (Cognomen), as one's surname, diminish and nearly disappear entirely during the 4th - 11th centuries throughout the Eastern Roman Empire? Brief history of the early ...
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1answer
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What are the social preconditions for division of labour, when compared in different emerging civilizations?

I would like to know if historians/economists/sociologists agree on the preconditions required for division of labour in ancient and/or earlier societies. Are there any common preconditions and ...
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When did formal social dance fall out of favor in the US?

Up until about the 1950s, one can see instances of social dance (especially ballroom) dominating the social scene. This includes instances such as the tennis court scene with Humphrey Bogart and ...