Collections: That Dothraki Horde, Part II: Subsistence on the Hoof

This series is now available in audio format. You can find the playlist here. This is the second part of a four part (I, II, III, IV) look at the Dothraki, the fictional horse-borne nomads of the A Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones series. We're looking at, in particular, the degree … Continue reading Collections: That Dothraki Horde, Part II: Subsistence on the Hoof

Collections: Bread, How Did They Make It? Addendum: Rice!

Thanks to our helpful volunteer narrator, this entire post series is now also available in audio format! As an addendum on to our four-part look at the general structures of the farming of cereal grains (I, II, III, IV) this post is going to briefly discuss some of the key ways that the structures of … Continue reading Collections: Bread, How Did They Make It? Addendum: Rice!

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

Thanks to our helpful volunteer narrator, this entire post series is now also available in audio format! 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 … Continue reading Collections: Bread, How Did They Make It? Part I: Farmers!

Collections: The Battle of Helm’s Deep, Part I: Bargaining for Goods at Helm’s Gate

This is the long-awaited first part of a series (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII. VIII) taking a historian's look at the Battle of Helm's Deep from both J.R.R. Tolkien's The Two Towers (1954) and Peter Jackson's 2002 film of the same name. We're going to discuss how historically plausible each sequence of events … Continue reading Collections: The Battle of Helm’s Deep, Part I: Bargaining for Goods at Helm’s Gate

Collections: This. Isn’t. Sparta. Part VII: Spartan Ends

This is the seven (and last!) part of our seven part series (I, II, III, IV, V, VI) look at Sparta in popular memory and historical truth. Last time we talked about Sparta's battlefield record and came away noting that it was profoundly, disappointing average. Longer term readers will know, of course, that we can't … Continue reading Collections: This. Isn’t. Sparta. Part VII: Spartan Ends

Collections: War Elephants, Part II: Elephants against Wolves

Today, in Part II of our three part series on War Elephants, we're going to look at the drawbacks of war elephants. Last time (here), we discussed the factors that made war elephants so powerful on the battlefield. To recap: war elephants had a strong psychological element (they are very scary) and could drastically disrupt … Continue reading Collections: War Elephants, Part II: Elephants against Wolves

Collections: The Lonely City, Part II: Real Cities Have Curves

Last week, we looked at a model for what the countryside around an 'ideal city' might look like. Today we're going to introduce some complications to that model (you will recall, our ideal city existed in a perfectly flat plain of uniform fertility) and see how they change the patterns of land use which in … Continue reading Collections: The Lonely City, Part II: Real Cities Have Curves