Podcast #128: We chat with Kent C Dodds about why he loves React and discuss what life was like in the dark days before Git. Listen now.
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History is fact littered with civilisations engaged in unsustainable practices. Some of the worst offenders have long since collapsed, but the ecological damage they caused or contributed to often still have reverberations today. Prior to the industrial revolution, agriculture dominated human life. Accordingly many examples of unsustainable ancient cultures ...


107

While the total encirclement might be the most impressive thing about Cannae, remember that it's just a special case of a pincer movement where the pincer goes all the way around the enemy. A pincer is itself just a special case of a flanking manuever in which both flanks are attacked simultaneously. The most important thing about Cannae was that Hannibal ...


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While the tactical factor (not being able to move units around) is important, the main issue is one of soldiers panicking. Remember that it does not matter what the numbers are actually; your soldiers cannot see the lines in the map and are victims of the fog of war. Soldiers in the battlefield do not get to see a nice map showing the position of the units, ...


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It is difficult to be completely sure because of the lack of written records, but some claim that the collapse at Easter Island was rather brutal. But it seems clear that: By that time [of the arrival of European explorers], 21 species of trees and all species of land birds became extinct through some combination of overharvesting/overhunting, rat ...


75

In the particular case of Eratosthenes measuring the radius of the earth, it was done by observing the length of shadows at midday on the summer solstice, in cities that were north-south aligned (to within a few degrees). It was known that the sun was directly overhead on the solstice in the city of Syene in Egypt. But further north in Alexandria on the ...


75

Xenia is a concept that represented the relationship between guests and hosts in Ancient Greece, and is a recurring theme in the Odyssey, Iliad, and other Greek works. Essentially, Penelope was fulfilling the expected cultural role of a generous host, whereas the suitors were breaking their role as courteous guests. For adhering to that culture's expectation ...


70

Most ancient agricultural practices deplete soil to some degree, but are just fine when population does not exceed certain limits. There are some examples of ancient cultures exhausting natural resources available to them - Pitcairn Island Polynesians, Ancient Puebloans (Anasazi). It's the cause of the semi-nomadic way of life of many early societies - your ...


64

Xenophon in his Hellenica (an account of the last yearsof the Peloponessian War and its aftermath) mentions several named ships, for example, "Paralus" and "Salaminia". Thus, we can infer that at least some of Greek ships were named in IV century BC, and maybe earlier. Also, Homer in his Iliad, which is dated to 8th century BC, does not give any names for ...


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This happened in Roman Times judging by two notes in Slaves doing business: the role of Roman law in the economy of a Roman household by Richard Gamauf (2009): A Roman slave could hold property which, despite the fact that it belonged to his master, he was allowed to use as if it were his own. All acquisitions based on such a peculium were automatically ...


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To sum it up: The costs simply outweighed the benefits. You have to consider that Germania at this time was essentially one huge forest, which was very, well empty. No cities to conquer, the first German cities were actually founded by the Romans, like e.g. Aachen, Cologne or Trier. The Germans were primitive tribesmen and had little to offer to the Roman ...


61

That's a good question. As far as we know, most ancient voyages didn't venture that far from land. Ships like the Bronze Age Uluburun and Cape Gelidonya shipwrcks are thought to have been coastal traders. They simply plied their trade around the coast of the Mediterranean, probably never getting far out of sight from the shore. This would mean that they ...


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Architecture: Roman Cement Concrete was widely used throughout antiquity by the Persians, Egyptians, Assyrians, and Romans. The Romans technique in creating concrete allowed them to build the Pantheon, Colosseum, aqueducts, and spectacular baths (big ones, awesome ones). Amazingly many structures built with this Roman Cement are still standing. The recipe ...


56

Based on what you've told us, your teacher is most likely thinking of the Proto-Indo-European people (Note: I am NOT saying it is accurate to call the PIE people "Proto-Ukrainians"). According to the most mainstream theory, the Kurgan hypothesis, these speakers of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language emerged from the Pontic-Caspian steppes some 6-8,000 ...


54

There are examples of slaves owning slaves from different historical periods and in different regions of the world, including: Ancient Near East Early Medieval Sunni Islam Late Medieval Mallorca 19th century Brazil and the West Indies Pre-colonial and colonial East and West Africa Ancient Near East During the Neo-Babylonian empire (at least) the answer ...


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The autobiography of Ahmose, son of Abana, a Egyptian soldier in the early Eighteenth Dynasty (1550-1600 BC), mentions the names of a few the ships he was on. "Wild Bull", "Northern" and "Rising in Memphis" according to this translation


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It is actually a bit of a myth that everyone believed the world to be flat until Columbus. It is true that a lot of ancient societies believed that as a matter of cultural mythology. This was true both for the ancient Greeks as well as the ancient Indians. However, any ancient navigator who looked to the horizon on the sea on a calm day could clearly see ...


48

Well, I suppose it's a matter of means plus motivation. If you're educated - read/speak Greek and Latin etc - then you'd be valuable, and only the psychopathic master would mistreat a valuable peice of property. And you'd need money to get away - some slaves were relatively wealthy, but stealing from your master would be dangerous, the penalties could ...


45

Prior to Phillip's time, the ancient Greek world was fragmented in (often warring) city states and kingdoms, and citizenship was considered far more important than nationality or ancestry. Pericles' reforms (451 BC) exemplify the distinction: From that point on Athenian citizens would lose their citizenship if they married non Athenians, regardless of their ...


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For the list, read Collapse by Jared Diamond. The short answer is that yes, premodern cultures definitely experienced man-made environmental disasters. Perhaps the number one cause of these was deforestation. For example, the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island cut down trees in order to build and manouevre the moai (which were huge stone statues with outsized ...


45

The only candidate apart from Catherine the Great would appear to be Tamar the Great of Georgia. Born in 1166, she ruled as sole monarch from 1184 to 1213 (or possibly 1210), having been made co-ruler by her father George III in 1178. However, her early years were not easy ones as nobles sought to restrict her authority: Powerful lords took advantage of ...


44

Italian author Lucio Russo in his book "Forgotten revolution" argues that a large part of the scientific knowledge of Hellenistic world has been lost. I find his arguments very convincing. Exact sciences in the modern sense of this word originated in Ptolemaic Egypt and other Hellenistic states, and reached very high degree of development. Few first class ...


44

Judaism is very old, but it was not originally monotheistic (see below). An earlier instance of monotheistic or monotheistic-esque worship occurred in the form of Atenism, the worship of the deified sun-disk Aten in Ancient Egypt. The Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (later Akhenaten), reigning around 1353/1351-1336/1334 B.C., promoted it as an arguably monotheistic ...


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Verse 3. After crossing a river, you should get far away from it. If the river is a barrier, you can be hemmed in against it. If your enemy is the one hemmed in, they also have a defense on at least one side, preventing you from surrounding them. Verse 4. When an invading force crosses a river in its onward march, do not advance to meet it in mid-...


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I suppose that the Neolithic Silbury Hill in Wiltshire, built about 2470 - 2350 BC, is probably a contender for any list of the tallest European structures from ancient times. At 39.3 metres (129 ft) high, I'm pretty sure it is the tallest prehistoric structure in Europe. Photo by Greg O'Beirne, CC BY-SA 3.0, unchanged


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Drugs are certainly not a new phenomenon. Two well-known examples are opiates and cannabis. A great deal has been written about the use of hashish by medieval Nizari Ismailis (which gave us the word "assassin", derived from the Arabic "Hashshashin"). When I was studying the archaeology of Cyprus at Birkbeck in the late 1990s I wrote a paper on opiate use in ...


43

There is a difference between abstract knowledge and "inventions". In the 17th century it was still widely believed that the ancient Greeks had discovered and formulated pretty much the sum total of abstract knowledge. Fermat put this in question. The authentic quote from Fermat (in French and in English translation) can be found here: Perhaps, posterity ...


43

One man's lock is another man's puzzle. Combination locks have been used since at least ancient Rome. Whether the lock uses numbers or letters (or other symbols), the combination to be entered may be set based on a riddle or some other piece of knowledge as a mnemonic. The lock is meant to be solved at some future time by someone who has the correct ...


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The biggest difference that I'm aware of is that the Classical Greek religion was much more the religion of myths that we all know, while the Classical Roman religion had fewer personifications and its gods were much more like numinous forces than like people. The Greek religion that we know was encapsulated by Homer who served in some respects like an Old ...


40

I'll put in the Hagia Sophia, which reached the height of 182ft (55.6 meters) in the year 562: ...The emperor ordered an immediate restoration. He entrusted it to Isidorus the Younger, nephew of Isidore of Miletus, who used lighter materials and elevated the dome by "30 feet"[18] (about 6.25 meters or 20.5 feet)[clarification needed] – giving the ...


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"Is there any evidence to suggest whether either polytheism or monotheism came first, as an established form of religion? Or do we even have any way of knowing?" The oldest written records we have that mention religion are all polytheistic. The writer will sometimes claim that his god rules over the others, but this tends to have a 'my dad can beat up your ...


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