Category Archives: History

Archaeologist says he’s found Aristotle’s tomb


That’s the claim.

Don’t expect any body to turn, since the Greek philosopher was cremated when he died in 322 BC at the ripe old age [in those days] of 62, and it’s his ashes that are supposed to lie beneath the marble floor on the Chalcidice peninsula of northwestern Greece.

From To Vima:

A domed building and altar that was discovered in the ancient city of Stagira in 1996 is likely to be the tomb and monument of ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. A report in the Kathimerini newspaper, the official announcements will be made on Thursday, at the international conference on Aristotle.

Archeologist Kostas Sismanidis, who was worked on the dig in ancient Stagira, where the philosopher was born in 384 BC, explained that while there is no proof that the tomb belonged to Aristotle, there are very strong indications to support such a claim.

According to Sismanidis the location, view and other construction details strongly indicate that the building was used as a tomb for the great philosopher.

Greek Reporter has a video with a reconstruction of the temple:

Aristotle’s Tomb Found in Greece

More from Greek Reporter:

“I have no hard proof, but strong indications lead me to an almost certainty,” said archaeologist Kostas Sismanidis who made the claim of finding Aristotle’s tomb.

In his extensive research, Sismanidis first established that the tomb belongs to an important person, one who deserves to have such a lavish and respected tomb.

Then, based on three different biographies and other written testimonies and analyses, written at different time periods and by authors of different origin, he comes to the conclusion that the remains of Aristotle were transferred from Chalkis, where he died, to Stagira.

Here is an excerpt from Sismanidis’ report citing an Aristotle biography written in latin by Leonardo Azetino: “Stagira, had been destroyed by Philip, and Aristotle managed to convince the King to reconstruct the city and wrote the laws and the government system himself… His fellow citizens honored him for his actions and established annual celebrations and festivals after his name while he was still alive.”

We leave the last word to Keep Talking Greece:

The grave is inside a complex of divergent buildings dated form the Archaic period over the Byzantine and modern times. The location is on the slope of the northern tip of Stagira.

Apart from the buildings remains and walls, there are numerous findings “ of good quality, unpainted or painted pottery, which is represented by shells, plates, goblets [and other small items.] More than 50 coins with Alexander the Third, cut in Amphipolis and Thessaloniki as well as cons of his descendants.”

According to findings and research, “an altar was in the middle of the building where Aristotle’s grave was found.”

A fascinating conversation with Oliver Stone


Few American filmmakers arouse more controversy than Oliver Stone, both from his eclectic choice of subject matter to the content of the films themselves.

In his 1986 film Salvador, he explores a repressive regime through the eyes of a U.S. photojournalist drawn to Latin America in hopes resurrecting his fading career. In the much more financially successful Platoon, released in the same year, he captures the deep systemic corruption of a war that would tear two nations apart through the eyes of a naive young solider. In JFK he captures the dark uncertainty at the heart of an epochal event still shrouded in uncertainty.

Most of his other films are similar dissections of the American psyche and the contemporary Zeitgeist, ranging from with two Wall Street films, to Nixon, W, Natural Born Killers, The Doors, Any Given Sunday, and Talk Radio.

His newest film, slated for release 16 Star, is Snowden, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the title role.

In this, the latest episode of Conversations with History, Harry Kreisler, Executive Director of UC Berkeley’s Institute of International Studies, conducts a fascinating conversation with the director, with the topics ranging form Stone’s approach to the cinematic arts to his own views of the American system.

It’s well worth your time.

From University of California Television:

Movies, Politics and History with Oliver Stone — Conversations with History

Program notes:

Published on May 23, 2016

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes filmmaker Oliver Stone for a discussion of his career as director, screenwriter, and producer. Stone describes formative experiences, talks about different aspects of the filmmaking process including working with actors, writing screenplays, and postproduction. He focuses on the themes that have drawn him, and emphasizes the distinction between a historian and dramatist who works with historical materials. He concludes with a discussion of recent works including Alexander and the 10-part documentary on The Untold History of the United States.

Bigoted Hispanic studies book pushed in Texas


With all the anti-immigrant hysteria in the air, it should come as no surprise that Texas has proposed the adoption of a new Hispanic studies textbook perfectly in tune with these Trumpian times.

From NBC News in Dallas-Fort Worth:

A textbook proposed to help teach the cultural history of Mexican-Americans in Texas public schools is under scrutiny by scholars, some of whom decry the effort as racist and not a reflection of serious academic study.

The textbook, titled “Mexican American Heritage,” describes Mexican-Americans as people who “adopted a revolutionary narrative that opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this society.” It also links Mexican-Americans to undocumented immigrants, saying illegal immigration has “caused a number of economic and security problems” in the U.S. that include “poverty, drugs, crime, non-assimilation, and exploitation”

The State Board of Education voted to include textbooks on Mexican-American studies after activists last year demanded the subject be formally included in state curriculum. “Mexican American Heritage” is the first textbook on the subject included in a list of proposed instructional materials.

“Paradoxically, we pressed for the board to include texts on Mexican-American studies, and we achieved it, but not in the way we were expecting,” Tony Diaz, host of Nuestra Palabra (Our Word) radio program in Houston and director of Intercultural Initiatives at Lone Star College-North Harris, told the Houston Chronicle. “Instead of a text that is respectful of the Mexican-American history, we have a book poorly written, racist, and prepared by non-experts.”

More from the Associated Press:

Texans have until September to submit comments on the proposed instructional materials, said TEA spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson. She also said the proposed textbooks will undergo review by a committee that includes teachers and administrators and that committee will make recommendations to the board.

Ultimately, books adopted by the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education in November become part of the recommended instructional materials for statewide curriculums, but school districts aren’t required to embrace them. Individual districts can use their state money to buy whatever textbooks they wish.

The book “is not a text that we have recommended nor we will be recommending,” says Douglas Torres-Edwards, coordinator of a TEA-approved Mexican-American studies course that has been implemented in some Houston Independent School District schools. “Frankly, that author is not recognized as someone who is part of the Mexican-American studies scholarship and most individuals engaged in scholarship will not recognize her as an author.”

Patrick Michels of the Texas Observer broke the story earlier this month, though it was largely ignored by most media until this week.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Quote of the day: A case of genocide in California


From a Los Angeles Times op-ed by UCLA historian and genocide scholar Benjamin Madley, author of the just-published An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873:

California’s Legislature first convened in 1850, and one of its initial orders of business was banning all Indians from voting, barring those with “one-half of Indian blood” or more from giving evidence for or against whites in criminal cases, and denying Indians the right to serve as jurors. California legislators later banned Indians from serving as attorneys. In combination, these laws largely shut Indians out of participation in and protection by the state legal system. This amounted to a virtual grant of impunity to those who attacked them.

That same year, state legislators endorsed unfree Indian labor by legalizing white custody of Indian minors and Indian prisoner leasing. In 1860, they extended the 1850 act to legalize “indenture” of “any Indian.” These laws triggered a boom in violent kidnappings while separating men and women during peak reproductive years, both of which accelerated the decline of the California Indian population. Some Indians were treated as disposable laborers. One lawyer recalled: “Los Angeles had its slave mart [and] thousands of honest, useful people were absolutely destroyed in this way.” Between 1850 and 1870, L.A.’s Indian population fell from 3,693 to 219.

The U.S. Army and their auxiliaries also killed at least 1,680 California Indians between 1846 and 1873. Meanwhile, in 1852, state politicians and U.S. senators stopped the establishment of permanent federal reservations in California, thus denying California Indians land while exposing them to danger.

State endorsement of genocide was only thinly veiled. In 1851, California Gov. Peter Burnett declared that “a war of extermination will continue to be waged … until the Indian race becomes extinct.” In 1852, U.S. Sen. John Weller — who became California’s governor in 1858 — went further. He told his colleagues in the Senate that California Indians “will be exterminated before the onward march of the white man,” arguing that “the interest of the white man demands their extinction.”

Maps of the day: Organized labor’s U.S. collapse


Two maps from NPR tell the sad story:

UNION MEMBERSHIP IN 1964

BLOG Labor 1964

UNION MEMBERSHIP IN 20012

BLOG Labor 2012

The Empire Files: Turning troops into lab rats


In the latest episode of The Empire Files, Abby Martin turns her critical gaze to aother national shame: The exploitation of America’s military as experimental subjects of testing on everything from nerve gasses and biological warfare agents to mind-altering drugs and nuclear weapons.

Not only does America’s military brass treat soldiers as experimental animals; they also deny what they’ve done and refuse to pay the medical treatments needed to alleviate the miseries they’ve induced.

And they’ve been doing it for more than a century, as she searingly documents.

What marks this episode as particularly notable is the dramatic change of format, evidence of Martin’s skills as a visual artist [you can see some of her painting and photography here]. The result is a new fusion, and, we hope, a measure of things to come.

From teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: Used & Betrayed – 100 Years of US Troops as Lab Rats

Program notes:

On Memorial Day, politicians will speak at ceremonies all over the country and repeat their favorite mantra: “Support the troops.”

This pledge is hammered into the American psyche at every turn. But there is a hidden, dark history that shows that the politicians are in fact no friend to service members–but their greatest enemy.

An easy way to prove this truth is to look at how they so quickly betray and abandon their soldiers after purposely ruining their lives, and even after using them as literal lab rats.

In this disturbing chapter of The Empire Files, Abby Martin documents decades of experimentation on US troops—from nuclear tests to psychotropic drugs—as well as knowingly exposing them to deadly poisons, from sarin gas to Agent Orange.

Most damning is that the hundreds of thousands of veterans seeking help from the government for the side-effects are always met with lies and denial.

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Original music by Anahedron

Quote of the day: Mere anarchy is loosed. . .


And with apologies to William Butler Yeats for our headline.

From Adam Curtis, brilliant documentary filmmaker and cultural critics, writing at his BBC blog:

Politicians used to have the confidence to tell us stories that made sense of the chaos of world events.

But now there are no big stories and politicians react randomly to every new crisis — leaving us bewildered and disorientated.

And journalism — that used to tell a grand, unfurling narrative — now also just relays disjointed and often wildly contradictory fragments of information.

Events come and go like waves of a fever. We — and the journalists — live in a state of continual delirium, constantly waiting for the next news event to loom out of the fog — and then disappear again, unexplained.

And the formats — in news and documentaries — have become so rigid and repetitive that the audiences never really look at them.

In the face of this people retreat from journalism and politics. They turn away into their own worlds, and the stories they and their friends tell each other.

I think this is wrong, sad, and bad for democracy — because it means the politicians become more and more unaccountable.