A New Viking Discovery in Canada

The potential discovery of another Viking settlement in Newfoundland is thrilling, especially because the site was found from space. It also doesn’t surprise me. The Vinland Sagas end around the year 1000. However, from other sources, such as the writings of Adam of Bremen, we know the Vikings’ activities in Vinland continued into the 13th-centuryContinue reading “A New Viking Discovery in Canada”

The Symbolism of Old Flags

My next-door neighbor has affixed a Gadsden Flag to his minivan. It could be worse, I suppose. Ten years ago I’d have looked at the Gadsden Flag or the Pine Tree Flag (a white flag with a pine tree and the words “An Appeal to Heaven”) and thought the person was a history junkie. TodayContinue reading “The Symbolism of Old Flags”

Remembering Grover’s Mill

Today’s episode of Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac begins thusly: “It was on this day in 1938 that a cylindrical Martian spaceship landed in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, and began incinerating onlookers with an alien heat ray, an event that was covered by the Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations, and that caused widespreadContinue reading “Remembering Grover’s Mill”

The Death of Christopher Marlowe

Yesterday at work, when writing catalog copy and assembling order forms and organizing name badges for the Retailer Summit, I listened to a several hours’ worth of BBC Radio dramas. Besides the first two episodes of “A Place of Greater Safety,” an adaptation of the novel about the French Revolution by Wolf Hall‘s Hilary Mantel,Continue reading “The Death of Christopher Marlowe”

An Ancient Qur’an and Early Islam

Putting on my historian hat for the moment. In Birmingham, fragments of a Qur’an dating to the 7th century have been discovered in a collection at the university there, making this one of the oldest known Qur’ans in existence. (The headline says “oldest,” but the article is not as definitive.) The Carbon-14 dating may putContinue reading “An Ancient Qur’an and Early Islam”

The Confederacy and Maryland’s State Flag

In the wake of the Charleston shootings, the Baltimore Sun has an article today about removing Confederate symbols from Maryland’s license plates (which is now possible thanks to a Supreme Court ruling last week that allowed Texas to ban it) and renaming Robert E. Lee Park in Baltimore. The article doesn’t address the most prominentContinue reading “The Confederacy and Maryland’s State Flag”

Uncovering the Story of a Lost Church

There’s a website (and Twitter feed) that I like to follow called Ghosts of DC. It posts articles and pictures of Washington, DC as it was decades ago, from the wood etchings era of the early 1800s to the dawn of photography a few decades later to color photography in the 1950s. It’s fascinating toContinue reading “Uncovering the Story of a Lost Church”

Gallipoli, an Historical Blunder

This afternoon I listened to a BBC World Service podcast, part of their “War that Changed the World” series on World War I, about the Australian experience at Gallipoli. Gallipoli, for those who don’t know a great deal about World War I, was Britain’s attempt to open a second front by capturing the Dardanelles, theContinue reading “Gallipoli, an Historical Blunder”

The USS Independence and Atomic Bomb Testing

Friday afternoon I spent at least half an hour looking at pictures of Operation Crossroads, the first two atomic bomb tests in Bikini Atoll. Why? Because one of the ships used was found — the USS Independence — and was virtually intact. This quote about the state of the Independence by NOAA’s James Delgado staysContinue reading “The USS Independence and Atomic Bomb Testing”