Under the Hill

so tired…

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Using CBR/CBZ in the Humanities

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cropFor quite a while now I have been bothered by the tendency of pages making available handwritten documents online, to scatter the pages of those said documents all across their websites. While it is nice and quite wonderful that those things are online at all, and while those things certainly help a lot in accessing at least facsimiles of original documents and manuscripts, the act of organizing those said pages are getting quite painful. Especially when having to deal with loads of different pages, as one often does when examining handwritten letters in greater detail.

Until now I have been neatly organizing those manuscripts that I needed to take a look at into folders and subfolders. At least I have been trying to. It is a kind of tedious process that always seemed a bit too bothersome to me to be taken for granted. Still, there seemed to be no alternative to that problem lately, while I always figured that reading those letters in one single file might be a bt more comfortable, the most obvious of alternatives to the bunch of multiple .jpgs  would have been the everpresent .pdf file format. A wonderful format in my opinion, only very unpleasant to use for larger series of pictures: When used as a way to present facsimiles of graphics and pictures pdfs tend to become uneccessary large and bulky, lose the ability to interact with the pictures inside more directly (like cutting and copying parts of pictures) and are very limited to navigate. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by G. Neuner

11. June 2009 at 4:43 pm

Revisiting Ye Olde Airship Scare

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NSRW_Dirigible_BalloonThe whole idea of what seems to be postblogging appeared to me a few times before, and Ihad some ideas of how to do it and some ideas of what to blog, yet I realized in the end that none of them were really feasible. None of these ideas though were as interesting as Brett Holman’s take on the phenomenon of Scareships, phantom airships appearing over Britain in the early 20th century. Brett is blogging appearances of those airships over Britain in 1909 on his blog Airminded in chronological order.[1]

A fascinating concept and something one might keep in mind for other historical events. As I said it has been done by others before, like Holman’s own description of the Sudeten Crisis in that form, David Silbey from The Edge of the American West describing the Boxer Uprising day-to-day or Ross Mahoney taking on the battle of the Mareth Line. I suppose history is full with stuff one could use to that effect.

So, what could be the use of blogging stuff that is long gone? Isn’t that stuff in history books anyway?

Yeah it is, but (aside from the fact that historians need to look at the sources anyway to make sure everything the books say is correct): It actually might give a whole different view on the subject than any history book or other media could convey. Breaking down the course of events in daily or maybe weekly parts, whenever the news would have appeared back then, we could have better insights into the point of view contemporaries might have had.

I think if used right one could use this idea as quite a good tool to teach and research certain historic topics. I wonder if I could maybe do something similar in this blog as well… The problem would be the topics I woul choose for that. As I am a medieval historian I would be more interested in developments from the Middle Ages. Only back then there was no such reliable source of information as the newspaper turned out to be in the 19th/20th century.

[1] he also has a whole subblog only on scareships complete with sources and maps of their occurrences

Written by G. Neuner

10. June 2009 at 3:15 pm

Resources III

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The Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts actually cares about a problem which I have found to be quite serious in digital scholarship: Loads of manuscripts are digitized and available on the net, yet if you don’t know they are there you also can’t work with them. A problem which I have encountered rather often lately when thinking about actually working with the original sources. I just can’t afford a short trip to London just to look up a 10-page apocalypse in the library there… as much as I want to. So having a way of FINDING any of those documents available on the net is like a gift from heaven.

Not really something historical, but fascinating noneteheless… a Russian artist made medieval looking woodcuts of various fantasy and science fiction movies. Oddly fascinating to look at, even though I can’t read a word of what is written there. Makes me wish he actually made a book of these things. Or maybe illustrate one.

People interested in photography and addicted to caffeine (or anyone with the lack of funds for digicams and a professional photolab) might be interested in the fact that one actually can develop films using freshly brewed coffee and a dash of fresh orange juice. Only black and white (even with color film), but the pictures still look fantastic.

If one might not be that interested in photography but rather, let’s say, fashion, coffee obviously also can get used to dye clothes, for example to give jeans a nice vintage look; although of course the REAL jeans affectionado would never actually do that: there is  a trend of wearing dry/raw denim in by just wearing it. Raw denim means jeans which never have been treated (stonewashed or otherwise altered) before being sold. And people try to fade them naturally themselves, meaning they wear them down themselves to make them look good and wear comfortably by only having the natural wear and tear of daily use have an effect on their trousers. This includes in some cases wearing them for half a year, maybe a year, without ever washing them (some of them actually have a phobia of ruining their effort by that). Which just might be a bit too much if the only reason for that is to get a jeans that fits and suits only it’s owner. But then… they have their own forums in whih they actually post pictures of the progress they are making, and some of them look, well, pretty fantastic

Sometimes I wonder if there is really a fetish for everything, and on other days I just believe there is.

Written by G. Neuner

24. March 2009 at 7:47 pm

A Fairyland in Avalon and the Power of Cod

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yonge_map_580I came across this a few days ago in my preparation of a short presentation on colonial settlements. When looking through the available literature on the matter (not much on this side of the Atlantic), I found the archaeological record of an excavation in one particular English settlement in Newfoundland, which I deemed appropriate enough for my topic to present. I could have done something like Jamestown or St. Augustine, but somehow this one looked a bit better, especially as the latter ones are “the firsts” in many cases and I wanted something more ordinary. Also there are many accounts on the history of the colony available and the whole settlement was destroyed after about 80 years in a documented attack. Sometimes I wonder how the destruction of a community can be seen as a good thing at all, but for archaeologists it is actually a godsend,  as it means there is an undisturbed record of settlement available in this area, up to a rather precisely dated point in time. In this case: from the start of the settlement in 1621 to it’s destruction in 1696

So when going through all the records on the settlement and trying to put them into a reasonable presentation I almost didn’t notice one tiny detail about it: It was called Ferryland and set in the colony of Avalon.

A Fairyland? (putting all the changes in ortography aside for a second)

In Avalon? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by G. Neuner

11. January 2009 at 9:56 pm

Genuine U1fb3rht Sw0rds! Really Cheap!

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maciejowski_bibleRoughly a millenium ago a sword from the Frankish manufacturies of Ulfbhert gave the warrior wielding it a similar status as a car from Porsche, or maybe a clock from Glashaus, might give a person nowadays. It was a brand, and one well-known for it’s quality as well. The steel used for these swords was imported from Afghanistan and Iran into Scandinavia. It was a high-quality easy-to-use masterpiece of weaponery.It was bleeding edge (so to say) weapon technology. Authorities even tried to ban the export of these swords, as they could be used by others (i.e. Vikings) against the Franks themself.

Now, what happens nowadays when we have a brand well-known everywehere for it’s quality?

It gets copied of course! Copied by people who want to make some easy money with cheap fakes of good quality products. Buyers nowadays are often people who think that it mostly is the brand that matters and not the functionality. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by G. Neuner

1. January 2009 at 5:55 pm

Posted in History

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Chromatic Photographs from World War I

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hans-hildenbrand-trenches1The first forays into what later would be called “embedded journalism” were made in World War I, when some photographers were commissioned to travel and work with certain platoons on both sides. Interestingly enough, even in this time there were some of them who were using chromatic photography, which leads to a far more plastic look into the reality of this war.

As with all the b/w photos of this war we nevertheless have to take this perceived realism with a grain of salt. Photography was a far more tedious process than it is today,  so all the colored photos which are available from this time were staged. Otherwise the photographer would not even have been able to capture the scene, as the film needed a longershutter time than those of today.

That said,  even other photos and movies from the war often were staged for similar reasons. It was a war after all, and it was hard to make photos and films when there were bullets whistling all around you and you had to move all your bulky equipment around.

German news magazine Spiegel has a fascinating gallery about that on it’s English-language page, as well as a longer article at it’s historical subpage einestages:

Photos on spiegel.de [link], Article (in German) on einestages.de [link]

Written by G. Neuner

29. December 2008 at 2:42 pm

Posted in History

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