Collections: Iron, How Did They Make It? Part I, Mining

This week we are starting a four-part look at pre-modern iron and steel production. As with our series on farming, we are going to follow the train of iron production from the mine to a finished object, be that a tool, a piece of armor, a simple nail, a weapon or some other object. And … Continue reading Collections: Iron, How Did They Make It? Part I, Mining

Collections: Bread, How Did they Make it? Part III: Actually Farming

As the third part (I, II, III, IV, A) of our look at the basic structure of food production in the pre-modern world (particularly farming grain to make bread) we're going to finally look at how one actually farms grain to make bread. Now that we have all of our farmers in place, both the … Continue reading Collections: Bread, How Did they Make it? Part III: Actually Farming

Collections: Bread, How Did They Make It? Part II: Big Farms

This is the second part (I, II, III, IV, A) of our look at the basic structure of food production (particularly grains to make bread) in the pre-modern world. Last week, we began by looking at the great majority of our rural population, the little farmers. Now I know everyone is eager to get to … Continue reading Collections: Bread, How Did They Make It? Part II: Big Farms

Collections: Bread, How Did They Make It? Part I: Farmers!

This essay will hopefully be the first post in a series (II, III, IV, A) covering some of the basics of how things in the past, particularly in the ancient world, were made. This isn't a how-to guide (we're not going to go into that much depth) but instead intended as a window into the … Continue reading Collections: Bread, How Did They Make It? Part I: Farmers!

Collections: The Battle of Helm’s Deep, Part VII: Hanging by a Thread

This is is the seventh part of a series taking a historian’s look at the Battle of Helm’s Deep (I, II, III, IV, V, VI) from both J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers (1954) and Peter Jackson’s 2002 film of the same name. Last time, we looked at the weapons and armor of the film sequence … Continue reading Collections: The Battle of Helm’s Deep, Part VII: Hanging by a Thread

Collections: The Battle of Helm’s Deep, Part VI: Is This a Good Sword?

This is is the sixth part of a series taking a historian’s look at the Battle of Helm’s Deep (I, II, III, IV, V) from both J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers (1954) and Peter Jackson’s 2002 film of the same name. Last time, we looked at Saruman's siege tactics and found them badly wanting. Even … Continue reading Collections: The Battle of Helm’s Deep, Part VI: Is This a Good Sword?

Collections: The Fremen Mirage Part IIIa: …by the Princess Irulan

This is Part IIIa of our four-part series (I, II) looking at what I've termed the 'Fremen Mirage.' We defined the core tenets of this pop-historical notion in more detail in the first post, that hard times and hard lands lead to moral purity and combat effectiveness, while good times, wealth and luxury lead to … Continue reading Collections: The Fremen Mirage Part IIIa: …by the Princess Irulan

Collections: The Fremen Mirage, Part II: Water Spilled on the Sand

This is part II of our four-part series (I, IIIa, IIIb, interlude, IV) looking at what I've termed 'the Fremen mirage,' after the fiction people from the science fiction novel Dune. If you are just tuning in, we defined the core tenants of the Fremen Mirage back in more detail in the first post: The … Continue reading Collections: The Fremen Mirage, Part II: Water Spilled on the Sand

Collections: This. Isn’t. Sparta. Part II: Spartan Equality

This is Part II of our seven part look at Sparta (I, III, IV, V, VI, VII). Last week we took a look at our sources for Sparta and then examined the Spartan child-training system, the agoge. We found that our sources look nothing like the grizzled veterans who narrate films like 300, being instead … Continue reading Collections: This. Isn’t. Sparta. Part II: Spartan Equality

Collections: This. Isn’t. Sparta. Part I: Spartan School

This is Part I of a seven part series (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII) comparing the popular legacy of Sparta (embodied in films like 300) with the historical ancient state. Today, we're going to start by looking at the sources of our information on Sparta, and then begin at the beginning: the Spartan … Continue reading Collections: This. Isn’t. Sparta. Part I: Spartan School