Good morning, we’re going to look at Europe in the Middle Ages. The first episode covers knights and tournaments. The run time for this episode is 52:30.
The Middle Ages were often considered a dark and dreary time. Four estates lived during this time: knights, monks, peasants, and beggars. This series follows the lives of people from each level of society. You will see the Middle Ages through their eyes. What was the reality of that? However, it is a time when the modern age was born. So what can we discover about the Middle Ages through these groups? Was the Middle Ages all that dark?
The first episode of this series covers the night. One knight on horseback was worth eighty men on foot. They were the military elite and inspired ideas of chivalry, manners, and courtesy. They were well-armed and went to war as vassals of their lords. They risked their lives in tournaments to gain honor. This episode explores the life of a knight. He is a man who has no land or serfs. His father’s lands will pass to his older brother. The knight has to find his way. He leaves his family in Portugal and goes north. He is joining up with the Teutonic Knights to fight against the remaining heathens in Europe.
In 1335, you were never far away from the castle. It was the symbol of Medieval Power. A knight could be assured of hospitality and shelter. This is when the documentary talks about the Guedelon Castle. This is a historical rebuild of a castle. The plan is to build a castle using 14th Century Techniques. The foundation stone was established in 1997. Over 50 craftsmen have been working on the castle. Florian Renucci is overseeing the construction and he speaks about the progress of the castle for this documentary. The workers on the castle had to learn and rediscover historical methods. There is a good discussion on the tools that were used, what materials were used, and the techniques that were rediscovered. There was a discussion as to the workers developing the five-day work week. (To learn more about this historical experiment watch Secrets of the Castle! By 2023 the Castle should be finished.)
The knight continues to travel with his page. The page aspires to be a knight and the knight demonstrates what could happen if the page did not keep up with his watch or his training. They continue to travel the countryside, experiencing castle after castle. The Castle was the greatest status symbol a knight could possess. Archeologist Mathew Johnson has examined many castles and could give a picture of their military value. Johnson examines Bergen Castle and points out that it was not built for military purposes.
The knight then enters his first tournament in Flanders. He was thrilled with entering the tournament. Every novice had to enter as many tournaments as he could to raise his status among his peers. John the King of Bohemia was hosting the tournament. He had to declare his colors and show that he had the required noble ancestors. The melee was the first tournament event. Knights were not supposed to be killed in the melee, instead, the knights were to be taken prisoner; it was used as a practice for war. Will our knight get past this first test?
Tournament books describe the events and the rules of the tournament. The knights also competed for the praise of beautiful ladies. The ladies gave out the prizes. The knight in the story participates in the joust. He challenged the King of Bohemia. In this section, there is a discussion of the risks that the knight would have faced in the joust. The test involves a crash test dummy fighting with a lance under tournament conditions. Will the knight be victorious? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out more.
This documentary reminds me of the Storm Over Europe series I had done earlier in the year. In that series, we followed the story of an individual from a tribe who watched the fall of Rome. That was an excellent series, and this series is starting off strong as well. I would use this episode in a middle school history class.
Wait, there is a third episode about cracking the Shakespeare Code? Peter Amundsen and Robert Crumpton conclude their quest to crack the Shakespeare Code. In this final chapter, the code reveals a treasure map and where mythical objects are hidden. The run time for this episode is 52:36. So the twists and turns conclude with this final episode.
Peter and Robert begin the episode by looking at blow-up versions of the Earth and Sky. The latitude and longitude on the earth correspond with points on the sky map. They talk about constellations and masons. They talk about Neville and the colonization of the New World. Peter talks about how the stars are not accurate and that the stars move over time. Additionally, he talks about how longitude was not measured accurately.
The Tempest was the last play Shakespeare wrote. It is about a man who was abandoned on an island. Eventually, Peter shifts the discussion to Oak Island, and he believes that it was a treasure island. It would share the same latitude as one of the stars Danub, mentioned in the Shakespeare code. It would have been known as Gloucester Island. This island would have been named for the Duke of Gloucester, who was a patron of the masons. He was buried in the St. Albans Cathedral and when his body was found it was perfectly preserved.
Robert talks about Oak Island and how people searched the island for treasure hidden. As early as 1795 people have been digging on the island for treasure. Six people have died on the island looking for the treasure and legend has it that a seventh person must die before the treasure is revealed. Peter talks about the challenges of getting to the underground tunnels. Sea water prevents people from getting to the tunnels. There were pieces of paper found on the island the paper was preserved using mercury. Then there was a discussion on Nolan’s Cross which was found on the island. It would have matched the Swan Constellation. It was at this section that I was expecting the Lagina brothers to show up. I wonder if Peter reached them with his theory about Oak Island.
Peter went out to Oak Island to test his theory about the “Tree of Life.” He talks about seven points on Oak Island that provide a guide to where the treasure will be. He was given permission to dig at two points. On this expedition, he discovered half a stone that was flat on onside. Peter then had a backhoe dig further around the stone in search of the other half. He then went to another part of the island o find another stone. Peter has an idea as to where to access the treasure.
It was at this point, Peter and Robert turn back to the Tempest. This time they look at the epilogue of the Tempest. This epilogue would have been Shakespeare’s “swan song,” before his requirement. Peter points out the word “Mercy” in the epilogue and believes it would correspond to “mercy point” on Oak Island. However, there is a problem, mercy point is in the middle of a swamp. It is at this point; Peter brings out the History of Henry II and talks about the picture in this book. Peter brings out another picture, featuring Sir Francis Bacon pointing to a pond. Peter and Robert head out to Oak Island to examine Mercy point. They take a boat out to the swamp and discover a flat, hard rock in the swamp. What else does the Shakespeare code reveal? Was there a treasure on Oak Island? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out.
I have to give Robert some made respect for giving the code a chance and not laughing at Peter’s theory. That said, this is one episode to skip for showing in the classroom.
I had to check out to see if Peter contacted the Lagina brothers with his theories and discovered that he had and took part in their show about Oak Island. Later, Robert mentioned that the swamp had been drained to prove Peter’s theory. It feels like there was a catch-up section in this episode.
Good morning we are continuing our exploration of William Shakespeare and the codes found in his work. Did William Shakespeare exist? Amundsen and Crumpton continue their exploration into the Shakespeare Code. This time, a third character is introduced to being a possible author of Shakespeare’s plays. This is the second episode in the series. The run time for this episode is 53:41.
Amundsen and Crumpton meet again. A sticking point in Crumpton’s mind is that the plays were written with such feeling, they could not have been written by the analytical mind of Sir. Francis Bacon. However, Amundsen points out that the potential second author: is Neville. Perhaps, he could have written with the feeling Bacon had lacked. Amundsen found codes connected to Neville and based his theories on the book The Truth Will Out by Brenda James. Amundsen then turned to Shakespeare’s Sonnets and turned to the introduction to the book of sonnets.
At first, Amundsen could not understand James’ methods, however, he eventually found a way to understand her method. Both he and Amundsen talks about understanding codes and how codes are open to interpretation. They talk about Henry Neville. He died at the same time Shakespeare died, it was at the same time that there were no more Shakespeare plays. Amundsen believes that since Henry Neville died, there would be no more plays. Amundsen continues to offer more codes, and he pulls out the letter written by another contemporary poet.
Crumpton visits Shakespeare’s grave with Amundsen. It is visited by people from all around the world. The inscription on the grave is intriguing. There is no name on the gravestone, instead, a short poem is written on it. It contains a curse against opening the tomb. The poem in general is considered of poor quality. There was an older stone on the headstone that had been moved. The inscription on the tomb was written in what was called the Bacon cipher. This is a code that had not been broken. Together Crumpton and Amundsen examine the text and notice that both William Shakespeare and Francis Bacon are found in the code.
Amundsen believes that Bacon paid Shakespeare off to act as the frontman for the plays. Writers in the background would be the ones writing the plays. They then turn to a wall above the tomb. It is a memorial dedicated to William Shakespeare. It was put up a few years after his death and compares him to the ancient writers. Amundsen points out the codes in the plaque. He points out that the age mentioned in the plaque could be wrong as well as points out that Bacon and Neville are in mentioned in the plaque. Amundsen believes that Bacon wrote the epitaph on the Shakespeare memorial.
Crumpton then takes his time to learn more about Henry Neville. They stop at the Neville family home and look at a portrait of the man. He notes that he looks like Henry Neville. Crumpton also examines the bust of Shakespeare that was on the memorial plaque. The bust was put on the memorial a few years after his death. There was an image of the bust published in the 1700s. however, the picture does not match was is on the memorial. Crumpton thinks it could have been a bad job or the picture was a fanciful interpretation. Amundsen believes that the original bust was a masonic symbol and this puts Dr. Crumpton on a new path in exploring Shakespeare and the code. So what was happening? Is Crumpton falling into the coding trap? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out more about the Shakespeare Code.
You have to give Dr. Crumpton credit for pursuing this quest. I know I would think that the guy was nuts and would just walk away. He was patient and was willing to give the argument a chance. At times I struggled to follow Amundsen’s logic, so I have to give major props to Dr. Crumpton for attempting to follow the logic. This would be something to show in an English literature class to spark debate.
Heads up for this episode, there seemed to have been blips in the upload that made it choppy at times.
Let’s shift gears for the next few blogs and explore William Shakespeare and his writing. Is there a secret code hidden in William Shakespeare’s writing? The run time for this documentary episode is 49:22. The documentary series is called the Seven Steps to Mercy: Cracking the Shakespeare Code.
Petter Amundsen is a Norwegian organist who believed he found a secret code hidden in Shakespeare’s first folio. This code reveals a treasure map where mythical objects are hidden. Dr. Robert Crumpton investigates this code. Together, they come to investigate the codes in Shakespeare’s writings as well as the man himself. Who was the real William Shakespeare? Did he even exist? If he did not exist who wrote all his plays?
The first character introduced in this series is Robert Crumpton, he is a historian who is skeptical of the code. The other is Petter Amundsen and he has a nose for codes despite not having a Ph.D. in history. Then there is a discussion on William Shakespeare, the debate over whether or not he existed. What the historical record said and the monuments dedicated to him. He is the most important figure in English literature and he created many characters over the years. His works still make people weep and cheer.
However, that said, Crumpton was intrigued by Amundsen’s theories. So he goes out on a search to discover the Shakespeare Code. Amundsen’s works lead him to believe that Shakespeare’s works have been written by Sir Francis Bacon and a second mysterious author. There have been plenty of people looking for codes in Shakespeare’s work, however, they were debunked. Crumpton goes out and meets Amundsen. They go over what Amundsen had collected and researched over the years. Amundsen brings out a book of Shakespeare’s first folio. This work was completed after his death by Shakespeare’s fellow actors.
On the first page, there is a poem written by Ben Johnson, who may have posted a code in the poem. Amundsen and Crumpton look for a number that is on the page. Crumpton discusses the strict conventions governing publishing poetry. They turn to pay and then continue with their exploration to two. Amundsen continues with this explanation using the first folio. He points to a name in one of the plays: Francis Bacon.
Francis Bacon was assumed to be William Shakespeare. He was a scholar and the greatest English essayist of the age. He was fascinated by codes. Most scholars reject that the plays in the first folio were written by Bacon. Crumpton then transitions to the scene between Miranda and Prospero and this is recreated by two actors. The pair debate over the codes that were discovered in the book.
Crumpton explores more about Francis Bacon and talks about Bacon’s style. He could be clever, but could he switch from the high language of the upper class to the lower classes? Could he write verses easily as if like water? Crumpton concludes no that he did not have the skills to write prose nor did Bacon have the imagination. Amundsen suggests that there were two authors behind Shakespeare. If Bacon was not writing on his own, who else was helping with the writing? Crumpton and Amundsen continue to explore the writings.
One of the other writers put forward is Henry Neville. He was Francis Bacon’s nephew and a distant cousin to Shakespeare. He walked the same corridors of power as Bacon. They were contemporaries. So did they come together and write these works? Amundsen continued his demonstration for Crumpton. What other codes are found in Shakespeare’s work? What is significant about the number two and other numbers in the code? Was Shakespeare a real person or a figment of the imagination of two men? Tune into the rest of the episode to find out.
I was enjoying Crumpton’s healthy dose of skepticism when he approached this mission. It was thoroughly enjoyable to learn about the other theories behind William Shakespeare. It surprised me to hear that Queen Elizabeth I was offered as a potential author. I could foresee a good discussion in English class regarding this debate. This would be a good documentary to show in an English Literature or general literature classroom.
The War of 1812
Today we are looking at the War of 1812. This is a longer documentary with a run time of 1:53:16 and was produced by Buffalo Toronto Public Media.
In June 1812, the young United States declared war on Great Britain. This war lasted for two years and the United States fought against the British, the Canadians, and the indigenous populations. This is a war that is largely forgotten in both the United States and Britain. However, there is one place where the war is remembered: Canada. Legends grew up after the war. 1812 was a tiny war by the world’s standards and yet it has a big impact on a continent.
There was a long prelude to the start of the War of 1812. The British were in a struggle against Napoleon. The only way Britain could defeat Napoleon was by cutting off supplies to his shoulders. The United States was neutral during this war, making money off of both sides. The British had enough, announcing to the world that any neutral ships would have to stop in Britain and pay a duty before being allowed to move on. Eventually, impressment became the policy meaning that the British started taking British-sounding people and forcing them to serve in the Royal Navy. Eventually, they started seizing sailors off the shores of the United States. However, war was not declared at this time, feeding American resentment. A new generation of Americans was not going to stand by and let this happen.
In the meantime, William Harry Harrison was purchasing land from the indigenous people. He would come to loggerheads with Tecumseh, an indigenous leader who wanted to form a confederation of First Nations. Harrison would eventually lead an attack on Tecumseh’s home base in Prophet’s town. However, the Indigenous people fought back, surprising Harrison’s army. Harrison reported back to Washington a great victory. His troops discovered that the Tecumseh’s men had British-made weapons. This angered the American people and caused a headache for President James Madison. President Madison was a man at home with his books, while his wife Dolly Madison was a sociable and politically astute woman.
President Madison put forth his arguments for war and Congress voted for it. For Britain the news of war was unwelcomed. They were busy with Napoleon. King George III was insane. A British Prime Minister was assassinated. Canadians did not want a war. In the United States, the west was thrilled with the war. While people in New England were less than enthused. They were busy making money off of British trade.
The American Army was not prepared for the war. Yet they were ordered to invade Canada from three positions. There were no real roads into Canada, transportation was done best by water, and there was a lack of communication between the three American armies. There was additional discussion on the generals who were in charge of both armies. The war would commence and the documentary does reenactments of the war.
The war was starting off to be a debacle. There were many losses along the way and the British were blockading American shores. Trade and the economic system were closing up. In 1813, the Canadians were marching into Ohio. However, the Americans were prepared for this invasion. Fort Meigs was established and it was ready to undergo a fight. Harrison established the fort and was not going to surrender.
As the war progressed the Americans continued to suffer defeats. There were naval battles on the Great Lakes. The British wanted to keep control of Lake Erie. If they could keep control of Lake Erie, they could control the flow of supplies. The Americans and the British went on a furious ship-building spree on Lake Erie. It was on Lake Erie that the British would suffer defeat and every single British Ship would be surrendered to the Americans. The Americans seized control of Lake Erie and the Canadians would retreat. To learn more about the War of 1812, continue to watch this documentary.
This is a surprisingly well-produced documentary about the War of 1812. It had a really good flow to it and the tidbits about the British being more worried about Napoleon were good. I got a kick out of the “incompetent officers” lines from time to time. Overall, this would be a good documentary to show in an American history classroom.
Empire of Time - Episode 2
Good morning, we are looking at the Empire of Time series. Matteo Ricci was the first European allowed to be in the Forbidden City. He was going to convert the Chinese through science and mathematics to Christianity. After his death, a second Jesuit priest, Schall von Bell continued his work. He began drafting a new calendar. Who would claim the mandate of heaven and rule the empire? The run time for episode two is 49:09.
The episode opens with the writings of Schall von Bell. He is writing about his time in China and the Emperor. In 1644, the Ming Emperor died and Schall von Bell lost everything. The only thing he had left was his calendar. His house was surrounded by men, what these men wanted from him he did not know. He would defend his house and his life. The rebellion was finally crushed so Schall von Bell could live in peace, at least for the time being.
A new group was on the scene and they were looking to seize power. This group expelled many residents from their homes. However, Schall von Bell was looking to get an introduction to the new court by providing the new leaders with a book on Astronomy. The residents would still have to vacate their homes to house soldiers. In his petition, he told the new rulers that he was an astronomer and that if he was expelled from his home, all his work would be lost. His work could be of use to the new dynasty.
Bell’s petition was heard, and he found an ally in the Grand Secretary to the new emperor. He was allowed to keep his house and he would use the opportunity to revive the Jesuit’s fortunes in China. A solar eclipse would be his way back into the Imperial Court. The Emperor eventually gave him permission to participate in the Astronomy Bureau’s work. Bell’s prediction for the eclipse was put into competition with the other Imperial Astrologists. An army official was allowed to supervise the contest. Bell won the contest and showed that the European model for predicting the stars was more accurate.
He would soon be in charge of creating the calendar. Once the calendar was printed it was sent out to many households in China. Bell was soon in charge of the Astronomer Bureau. It gave Bell direct access to his colleagues and was a position of power. He introduced the western calendar system and worked to improve the civil astronomy system. He oversaw a major transformation of the bureau, expelling many senior officials and giving examinations. A number of new converts became members of the Astronomer Bureau.
The Manchus had conquered the Han Chinese. The Han did not like being conquered. On top of that, a foreigner was in charge of the Astronomy Bureau implementing new ideas. The conflict was going to happen. Bell was clear that his method was right and was keen on implementing the method in the Imperial Court. He was close to the Manchu Emperor Shunzhi.
Eventually, Bell would ask for a replacement sent to China. However, the church was undergoing a change that would challenge the Vatican’s beliefs. What event was taking place during this time? A further challenge during these times was an outbreak of smallpox in the Forbidden City. Would bell get his replacement? Would the Han fight back over the changes Bell was making? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out more.
Wow, the introduction was really disjointed. I was not clear as to what was happening, and if I could not understand what was happening, how could a student? The producers should have made it clear that the Emperor had died and that there was a rebellion before a new emperor rose to take his place. The producers did not make clear who was rebelling and who did the conquering, at least until the middle of the documentary. Just based on the production value of this documentary this would be one documentary I would skip showing the classroom. It was way too choppy, the information was presented out of order, and did not have a good flow to it. Overall, it was a disappointing watch.
Empire of Time - Episode 1
Good morning, we are now going to shift gears and learn about China in the documentary series: Empire of Time. This first episode explores astronomy. The run time is 48:48. I will admit that I am a little bit skeptical about writing a review about this series, but I will give it a shot.
Matteo Ricci was a Jesuit priest who entered China. He was the first European to enter China at the end of the 16th Century. He would look to convert the Emperor and eventually all of China to Catholicism. He was a man who was trained in geometry and algebra. He would use his learning to convert the people. He noted that Astronomy was important to the Chinese. After him, the Jesuits remained in China for three generations looking to convert the Emperor and eventually all of China.
During the Ming Dynasty, the Emperor was the center of a vast empire. He was considered the son of heaven and his power was based on how he mastered heaven and time. The story begins with the Emperor celebrating and praying at the temple of heaven. The second scene cuts to a man journeying through China. He is looking at the stars and admiring the night sky. He is a Jesuit priest and is about to enter the Forbidden City.
Time had a deep significance to the Chinese people. They wanted to do things at the right time. They felt that time should go with the flow of nature. To establish his legitimacy to rule, the Emperor adopted the term the Son of Heaven. He was the representative of the people before heaven and vice versa. He was between Heaven and Earth. The Emperor had to convince the people that he had a divine mandate to rule.
The Forbidden City leaned to this air. It was the most important place and like the Polar Star. The Polar Star was known as the “Star of the Emperor.” It was here where time was announced. Eventually, as society developed, there was a need for a more accurate measurement of time. For generations, people tried to calculate time. Eventually, two systems of time developed: one that followed the rotation of the earth and the other that followed the rotation of the atom. Timekeeping was an activity controlled by the state during the Chinese empire. Astronomers were civil servants. They were a major part of the Chinese bureaucracy.
There were three departments in this department of astronomy. One department was in charge of observation. The second department was responsible for establishing the calendar. The last department was to change the water out of the water clock. Time was measured according to the height of the water. Everything had to be carefully measured and controlled, otherwise, it would show that the Emperor had problems ruling his country. Punishments were severe for inaccurate information.
At the same time during this 1601 period, Pope Gregory was working to reform the calendar. This is where the Jesuit Priest Matteo Ricci. He was trained under a famous Jesuit Priest Christopher Clavius. He was the man who settled the debate on when to celebrate Easter. He also institutes mathematics as a separate subject in school. Matteo Ricci would make his way to China, he was going as a Jesuit Missionary. He would have traveled from Lisbon, Portugal, and would travel to India before making his way to Macau, China. He would eventually learn Chinese. He would meet up with a Jesuit Priest, Father Ruggieri and together they would study. The wrote the first Chinese-Portuguese dictionary. He did not go straight to Beijing but would explore the countryside. He would eventually visit an observatory and what he found in this observatory surprised him. What did he find in China? Would he make his way to the Forbidden City? To learn more about what Matteo Ricci did in China, continue to watch this series.
There were places where I found myself drifting, particularly the long (and I mean long) discussion on time. It was really slow-moving and disjointed at times. The recreations were fascinating. I am not impressed so far. I hope that it gets better, but I have my doubts. So far I am leaning that this documentary would not be a good fit for the classroom.
Good morning, we are winding down 1491: Before Columbus with an episode about indigenous architecture and urban design. After this there is one last episode, bringing the full series to eight episodes. I have concluded that the number downside of this series is that it was way too short. Yes, I am saying that eight episodes is too short for this series. It was a high-production series and very well done. On top of that, I am an incredibly curious person, so I would want to know more. So more documentaries on 1491: Before Columbus, please. The run time for this episode is 47:23.
The architecture and urban design reflected the indigenous environment, culture, needs of the nation, and purpose. Each place had a unique design. In the Arctic, you had ice houses. In the Southwest, you had pueblo buildings. There were tepees in the Plains. The designs had endured. Throughout the Americas, there were temples, markets, and central plazas. Architecture adapted to a changing environment and changing population.
The first stop on this architectural journey walks about the Pueblo and the pit houses. These were warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Eventually, maize was grown, leading to the Pueblo setting down into villages. The indigenous people of the American Southwest lived communally. The population grew and eventually more houses were needed. Everyone participated in building these structures. Multistory apartment buildings were eventually built into cliffs and housed hundreds of people. For 400 years these centers thrived, however, change was coming. What would happen to these centers? What would happen to the people who built these structures?
The next civilization is the Inka civilization and the first discussion about the Inka’s roads. The roads were there before the Inka were there so they expanded on these roads. This road system connected thousands of people. These highways were designed to connect the people of the four regions of the Inka Empire. These highways covered a vast number of ecosystems and extended from Ecuador to Argentina. This highway was essential for armies, information, and goods. The engineers who had worked through mountains and rivers. It was a massive system that served the political, social, and economic needs of the rulers. This road created the largest empires in the world. Parts of the road are still in use.
Caral was one of the largest and most sophisticated urban centers built in America. It was the most prominent city in the region. It consisted of pyramids, sunken courtyards, and temples. The people used quarried stone and sand. They transported this stone in reed bags. The area is prone to earthquakes and the engineer kept this in mind, carefully designing the walls to prevent walls from collapsing. Then there is a discussion on the Inuit people and their ice houses. This design was used for thousands of years.
Additionally, there was a discussion of the Aztec civilization. Their civilization started off on an Island, this island was sacred to the Aztecs. This island was in the middle of a lake, and this lake had no outlet to it. The Aztecs had to manage the water in the lake. There was a large temple complex on this island and there were four causeways on this island. There was a large marketplace where people could buy and sell. There are artisan shops where craftspeople would do their work. How else did the indigenous people adapt their architecture? What can indigenous architecture tell us about the people? What about urban planning? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out more.
The first little blip talks about the movement of people and trade goods through the empire. The civilization discussed include the Chinese, Roman, and Inka Road systems. The second little blip talks about the building of pyramids. Discussed in this section are the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, and Caral.
This still continues to be an excellent series and one I would show in the classroom. I wish this series was longer because there were some civilizations that deserved their own episode. It left me thirsty for more knowledge about the indigenous civilizations before 1491. I am sure if I was left thirsty for more, the students will be left thirsty for more.
Good morning we are continuing to explore 1491: Before Columbus. This time we are going to look at the history of science and medicine. The run time for this documentary is 48:04.
Indigenous people developed a complex writing system, an advanced calendar, and a calculating system. Plants were used for medicine. Brain surgery and the number “0” were concepts unheard of at the time. The first section discusses traditional medicine. Thousands of species of plants were used for a variety of purposes including sedatives, pain relief, and healing. They had a botanical repertoire at their fingertips. The indigenous people had a deep knowledge of how different plants interacted with each other.
Each plant had different properties and could be used for different purposes. The Yarro Plant was good for healing and is good for blood clotting. Sweet grasses were used in ceremonies. Many modern pharmaceuticals can trace their development to Indigenous medicine. Salic acid comes from willow bark and it is used to treat headaches. A manuscript talks about the plants that were used by the Aztecs for healing.
The indigenous people practice brain surgery. Thousands of skulls have been found with evidence of treatment. The operations were highly successful. Over 10,000 skulls were found and the evidence was clear that over 70% of the people survived. The skulls show evidence of healing, particularly from blunt force trauma. The Inka Emperor had six physicians carry his litter. They were all trained in skull surgery. The Aztecs performed surgery on compound fractures. How was this accomplished?
The indigenous people used the skies to time their hunts. They had a great deal of knowledge of stars and the night sky. Lunar calendars were devised. There is a good discussion on how the indigenous people used the skies to plan out their year. They could travel and navigate their world by the stars. Star lore was created which gave the indigenous people a warning as to when not to travel. The Inuit people studied the stars carefully to determine day from night, this was important during periods when there was no sun.
The Mayans developed the most advanced calendars. It first originated with the Olmecs and the Mayans refined it. They were able to calculate the number of days within a year to 365.2 days. They also had the Venus-based calendar, the sacred almanac, and the solar year. Each system was calibrated carefully. Venus played an important role in the Mayan culture. It was known as the “Wasp Star,” and was associated with war. The Mayans were also the first civilization to use the number 0. The 0 allowed them to create numbers that extended beyond the millions and into the billions.
The Aztecs developed their dual calendar, there the lunar calendar and the solar calendar. These calendars determined when to plant for the people. The Indigenous people were able to plan for the future using these calendars.
The Mayans had developed a writing system and it was recorded using different hieroglyphs. The North American indigenous people recorded their history verbally and passed it down through the generations. Mayan writing was written down on bark paper. They talked about battles, conquests, and day-to-day life. The Mayans wanted to preserve their history for future generations. It took time, but the Mayan hieroglyphs have finally been translated.
In South America, a system of record-keeping was developed. The recording method was a combination of knots on a string. The Inka Empire used this system. An empire as big as the Inka would have needed to keep track of the population and production numbers of the empire. So what else was developed by the indigenous people? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out more.
The first little blip talks about traditional medicines. The first country discussed is China and there is a discussion on herbal medicines used in treatment. South Africa talked about traditional healing as well. Plants and trees were used in North America. The second little blip talks about the development of writing systems. The Chinese, Egyptians, and the civilizations in Mesopotamia developed their own writing systems.
This is still an excellent documentary series and would be something I would show in the classroom. So far the downside of this series is that there were too few episodes.
Good morning, we are continuing our exploration in 1491: Before Columbus. This is episode seven in this series. Today we will explore the art and culture of the native communities. The run time for this episode is 46:40.
Creativity flowed through the generations, as did the stories. They worked with metal, ceramic, and wood. They have been creating art from bronze, silver, and gold. Some of their metal work was the most advanced in the world. The Inka is credited with developing metalworking in South America. They were the dominant society in South America. However, one thousand years before, there seems to be hints of metalworking technology.
Gold objects were a status symbol. It was reserved for the elite; however, commoners were permitted to wear gold during religious ceremonies. The Inka were the most advanced creators in metallurgy. Skilled artists were conscripted from all over the empire and had to move to the Inka capital. Gold was identified with the sun, while silver was identified with the moon. There were a variety of techniques to develop combined metals. They also had access to mercury. To remove the impurities from the metal you needed mercury. The natives created platinum and did gold plating.
The Inka had an efficient road system and trading took place over this vast road system. The Great Inka Road was a 40,000-kilometer highway that crisscrossed mountains, deserts, and forests. There was a messenger system that employed runners transporting messages and other goods to different cities. One recreating in this section shows a messenger running the roads. He runs to a house where the next messenger is waiting to continue on with this journey. They are transporting feathers to a craftsman for a headdress. Will the feathers get to the craftsman in time? Will the craftsman be able to create a headdress for their leader in time?
Oral storytelling was also an art form that the First Nations passed along the generations. The stories were the memories of the people. It preserved First Nation cultures for generations. You could understand where you came from and where you would go. You could dream about these stories at night and see the characters from the story in your dreams. These stories also talk about how to care for the young, the old, and the environment. Each nation had its own creation story. In Haida culture, a crow discovered the people coming from a clamshell on the beach. A second group has stories about the killer whale.
The Inuit had lived in the Arctic for thousands of years and they have one of the richest storytelling traditions. They were nomads, but they all share a common language with the peoples of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. There are stories of a stone man that was part of the Inuit tradition and may have been part of Finnish Tradition.
Rock art is one of the oldest art forms in the world. The First Nations were able to carve stone and create petroglyphs. Why were these sites chosen for the petroglyphs? What was the purpose of those petroglyphs? There are petrographs all over the Western Hemisphere that offer a look into the world of the First Nations. Pictographs were also an art form that was used in art as well. In Argentina, there is a cave site that is covered with hundreds and hundreds of hand prints. The First Nations used ochre to create their pictographs. *Side note, you are probably very familiar with the use of ochre in Ancient Egypt!* These pictographs provide insight into the mind of the people who created them. How else did the First Nations express themselves through art and storytelling? Tune into the rest of the episode to find out more.
One of the little blips featured metalworking, particularly working gold. The earliest manufactured gold in the world had come from the shores of the Black Sea. Egypt was the first civilization to mine and craft gold. The first evidence of metal art in South America came from Lake Titicaca. The second blip talks about rock art.
This was a good episode discussing First Nations and their artwork. I enjoyed the section on storytelling, perhaps they could have had a separate episode on that aspect of First Nations art. So far, I will still recommend showing this episode to a history class. This particular episode because of the focus on art could have the potential for an art class. The discussion on storytelling could make this episode fit in an English class.
I'm a librarian with an active imagination who likes to create. Genealogist and Researcher.
My Teachers Pay Teachers Store! Worksheets available as a Word Document.
I am also on Lulu! If you're interested in genealogy I have several books available!
HistoryDocTube will not collect any personal information and will not sell any personal information to a third party. We will not request any personal information.
The purpose of this blog is to share information on what can be used in a classroom, private school, or home school setting as well as serve as a portfolio of my personal and professional work.
The reviews are my opinions and should be treated as such. I just want to provide a tool for teachers to select documentaries for their classrooms.