Currently viewing the tag: "history"

The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California. The news of gold brought some 300,000 people to California from the rest of the United States and abroad… The Gold Rush initiated the California Genocide, with 100,000 Native Californians dying between 1848 and 1868. By the time it ended, California had gone from a thinly populated ex-Mexican territory to the home state of the first nominee for the Republican Party…

The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), and Latin America, and they were the first to start flocking to the state in late 1848. Of the 300,000 people who came to America during the Gold Rush, approximately half arrived by sea and half came overland on the California Trail and the Gila River trail; forty-niners often faced substantial hardships on the trip. While most of the newly arrived were Americans, the Gold Rush attracted tens of thousands from Latin America, Europe, Australia, and China. Agriculture and ranching expanded throughout the state to meet the needs of the settlers. San Francisco grew from a small settlement of about 200 residents in 1846 to a boomtown of about 36,000 by 1852. Roads, churches, schools and other towns were built throughout California…

At the beginning of the Gold Rush, there was no law regarding property rights in the goldfields and a system of “staking claims” was developed. Prospectors retrieved the gold from streams and riverbeds using simple techniques, such as panning. Although the mining caused environmental harm, more sophisticated methods of gold recovery were developed and later adopted around the world. New methods of transportation developed as steamships came into regular service. By 1869 railroads were built across the country from California to the eastern United States. At its peak, technological advances reached a point where significant financing was required, increasing the proportion of gold companies to individual miners. Gold worth tens of billions of today’s dollars was recovered, which led to great wealth for a few. However, many returned home with little more than they had started with. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story set during the California Gold Rush.

Journaling Prompt: Write about the craziest thing you ever did trying to make money.

Art Prompt: California Gold Rush

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about how the California Gold Rush changed the US.

Photo Credit: Panning on the Mokelumne on Wikimedia


The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilisation (3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1900 BCE) mainly in the northwestern regions of South Asia, extending from what today is northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India. Along with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia it was one of three early civilisations of the Old World, and of the three, the most widespread. It flourished in the basins of the Indus River, which flows through the length of Pakistan, and along a system of perennial, mostly monsoon-fed rivers that once coursed in the vicinity of the seasonal Ghaggar-Hakra river in northwest India and eastern Pakistan. Aridification of this region during the 3rd millennium BCE may have been the initial spur for the urbanisation associated with the civilisation, but eventually also reduced the water supply enough to cause the civilisation’s demise, and to scatter its population eastward.

At its peak, the Indus Civilisation may have had a population of more than five million people. Inhabitants of the ancient Indus river valley developed new techniques in handicraft (carnelian products, seal carving) and metallurgy (copper, bronze, lead, and tin). The Indus cities are noted for their urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, and clusters of large non-residential buildings. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story set in this area and time.

Journaling Prompt: If you could travel in time and space, would you like to visit the Bronze Age civilization in the Indus Valley? Why or why not?

Art Prompt: Indus Valley Civilization

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the Bronze Age civilization in the Indus Valley.

Photo Credit: Indus Valley Major Sites on Wikimedia


Cryptanalysis (from the Greek kryptós, “hidden”, and analýein, “to loosen” or “to untie”) is the study of analyzing information systems in order to study the hidden aspects of the systems.[1] Cryptanalysis is used to breach cryptographic security systems and gain access to the contents of encrypted messages, even if the cryptographic key is unknown.

In addition to mathematical analysis of cryptographic algorithms, cryptanalysis includes the study of side-channel attacks that do not target weaknesses in the cryptographic algorithms themselves, but instead exploit weaknesses in their implementation.

Even though the goal has been the same, the methods and techniques of cryptanalysis have changed drastically through the history of cryptography, adapting to increasing cryptographic complexity, ranging from the pen-and-paper methods of the past, through machines like the British Bombes and Colossus computers at Bletchley Park in World War II, to the mathematically advanced computerized schemes of the present. Methods for breaking modern cryptosystems often involve solving carefully constructed problems in pure mathematics, the best-known being integer factorization. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or poem that involves breaking a code.

Journaling Prompt: What is the toughest personal mystery you have had to solve?

Art Prompt: Cryptanalysis

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the story of the code breakers that changed history.

Photo Credit: National Cryptologic Museum on Wikimedia


Chariot racing (Greek: ἁρματοδρομία harmatodromia, Latin: ludi circenses) was one of the most popular ancient Greek,Roman, and Byzantine sports. Chariot racing often was dangerous to both driver and horse as they frequently suffered serious injury and even death, but generated strong spectator enthusiasm.
Chariot races could be watched by women, while women were barred from watching many other sports. In the ancient Olympic Games, as well as the other Panathenaic Games, the sport was one of the main events. Each chariot was pulled by four horses.
In the Roman form of chariot racing, teams represented different groups of financial backers and sometimes competed for the services of particularly skilled drivers. These teams became the focus of intense support among spectators, and occasional disturbances broke out between followers of different factions. The conflicts sometimes became politicized, as the sport began to transcend the races themselves and started to affect society overall. This helps explain why Roman and later Byzantine emperors took control of the teams and appointed many officials to oversee them.

The sport faded in importance after the fall of Rome in the West, surviving only for a time in the Byzantine Empire, where the traditional Roman factions continued to play a prominent role for some time, gaining influence in political matters. Their rivalry culminated in the Nika riots, which marked the gradual decline of the sport. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about chariot racing.

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel about politics in sports? Does it matter to you or not?

Art Prompt: Chariot racing

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the history of chariot racing and compare to a modern sport involving racing.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Siege of Paris by the Vikings

The Siege of Paris and the Sack of Paris of 845 was the culmination of a Viking invasion of the kingdom of theWest Franks. The Viking forces were led by a Norse chieftain named “Reginherus”, or Ragnar, who traditionally has been identified with the legendary saga character Ragnar Lodbrok. Ragnar’s fleet of 120 Viking ships, carrying thousands of men, entered the Seine in March and proceeded to sail up the river. The West Frankish king Charles the Bald assembled a smaller army in response, but as the Vikings defeated one division, comprising half of the army, the remaining forces retreated. The Vikings reached Paris at the end of the month, during Easter. After plundering and occupying the city, the Vikings finally withdrew after receiving a ransom payment of 7,000 French livres (2,570 kilograms or 5,670 pounds) of silver and gold from Charles the Bald. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story that takes place during a siege.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you felt under siege. How did you cope?

Art Prompt: Under siege

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about siege mentality and how they can combat it.

Photo Credit: Der Spiegel Geschichte on Wikimedia


For more than 1,000 years, the inhabitants of Oxyrhynchus dumped garbage at a series of sites out in the desert sands beyond the town limits. The fact that the town was built on a canal rather than on the Nile itself was important, because this meant that the area did not flood every year with the rising of the river, as did the districts along the riverbank. When the canals dried up, the water table fell and never rose again. The area west of the Nile has virtually no rain, so the garbage dumps of Oxyrhynchus were gradually covered with sand and were forgotten for another 1,000 years.
Because Egyptian society under the Greeks and Romans was governed bureaucratically, and because Oxyrhynchus was the capital of the 19th nome, the material at the Oxyrhynchus dumps included vast amounts of paper. Accounts, tax returns, census material, invoices, receipts, correspondence on administrative, military, religious, economic, and political matters, certificates and licenses of all kinds—all these were periodically cleaned out of government offices, put in wicker baskets, and dumped out in the desert. Private citizens added their own piles of unwanted paper. Because papyrus was expensive, paper was often reused: a document might have farm accounts on one side, and a student’s text of Homer on the other. The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, therefore, contained a complete record of the life of the town, and of the civilizations and empires of which the town was a part. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story inspired by the Oxyrhynchus Papyri.

Journaling Prompt: What is the most revealing thing an archaeologist would find in your trash?

Art Prompt: Oxyrhynchus Papyri

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the Oxyrhynchus Papyri and what we’ve learned from it.

Photo Credit: amysh on Flickr

Amazon Tomb at Kütahya Museum of Archaeology

Amazons, the female warriors who fought Heracles and other heroes in Greek myth, were long assumed to be an imaginative Greek invention. But Amazon-like women were real–although of course the myths were made up. Archaeological discoveries of battle- scarred female skeletons buried with weapons prove that warlike women really did exist among nomads of the Scythian steppes of Eurasia. So Amazons were Scythian women–and the Greeks understood this long before modern archaeology. –author

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene involving ancient female warriors.

Journaling Prompt: Imagine yourself in ancient times. What role would you play?

Art Prompt: Warrior women

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your readers an historical tale about ancient female warriors.

Photo Credit: on Flickr

Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales, p. 63

If we wish to know the true history of a people, to understand the causes of its sorrows and its joys, to estimate its worth, and to know how to rule it wisely and well, let us read such old-world tales carefully, and ponder them well. Even if prejudice or ignorance should induce us to undervalue their worth as authentic records of its ancient history, let us remember the undeniable fact, that they are authentic records of its deepest national feelings, and let them, at least, have their weight as such in our schemes of social economy, for the present and the future. –An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800 by Mary Frances Cusack

Fiction Writing Prompt: Add to your character sketch. What tales did your protagonist grow up hearing? How did they affect him or her.

Journaling Prompt: What was your favorite folk tale or fairy tale when you were growing up? What lessons did it teach you?

Art Prompt: Folk tale

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a folk tale from your culture and share what it has taught you.

Photo Credit: plaisanter~ on Flickr

As the King’s affairs became daily more complicated, and his position more perilous, he saw the necessity for peace with his Irish subjects, and for allying himself with them, if possible. Had he treated them with more consideration, or rather with common justice and humanity, at the commencement of his reign, England might have been saved the guilt of regicide and Cromwell’s iron rule. –An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800 by Mary Frances Cusack

Fiction Writing Prompt: Pick a historical figure and write an alternative history – they make a different decision than what is in the history books. Where does it take the world?

Journaling Prompt: Write about a decision you wish you could go back and change.

Art Prompt: What if?

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about the significance of seemingly insignificant decisions in your life.

Photo Credit: DAVID HOLT on Flickr

Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum_MG_9364

Kill-devil was bought from Dutch shippers, who procured it from Brazilian plantations, where it was brewed using wastes from their sugar-works. The Portuguese there employed it as a cheap tonic to rout the “devil” thought to possess African slaves at the end of a long day and render them sluggish. It retailed handily as a beverage in the English settlements of the Ameri­cas, however, sometimes being marketed under the more dig­nified name of “rumbullion,” or “rum.” –Caribbee by Thomas Hoover

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story in which alcohol is used as a means of control.

Journaling Prompt: How often do you drink? What is your motivation when you drink? How does it make you feel?

Art Prompt: Kill-Devil

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a humorous story about a time you or a friend drank too much OR write an informative piece about the history of rum.

Photo Credit: katsrcool on Flickr