Category Cultural Issues

The Hidden Christians of Japan

In 1549 three Catholic missionaries landed in Kagoshima, Japan intent on spreading the word of God to this new land. They were Francis Xavier (later made a saint), Cosme de Torres and Father John Fernandes. They would meet with great success and at its height the number of converts would number 300,000 including members of […]

The Shaman Queen of Yamatai

Quick note: My Japanese is not very good and my written Japanese is even worse and so please forgive any mistakes made in spelling and meanings of various names. Japan has an ancient history which is intimately connected with the time when gods inhabited the Earth. The line of Emperors to this day is considered […]

Ota Benga: The African Mbuti man displayed in the Bronx Zoo

Figure 1  Ota Benga  at the Bronx Zoo, 1906 On September 8th 1906, there were queues at the Bronx Zoo in New York to see the new exhibit in the monkey house.  Here was to be displayed, within the cage and with the apes, a living cannibal surrounded by scatterings of bones.  His teeth were […]

The Last Cathar

Catharism was a Gnostic sect of Christianity which thrived in southern France until the 13th century. Although essentially Christian the Cathar’s beliefs differed somewhat from the Church. Principally they did not believe in Jesus as the son of God but rather that he was an angel in human form; they believed that those who lead […]

A review of Uttermost Part of the Earth by E. Lucas Bridges: the southernmost indigenous peoples of the planet and their fate at Tiera del Fuego.

Yamana group, Tierra del Fuego This is  a review of a most amazing book called ‘Uttermost Part of the Earth: a history of Tierra del Fuego and the Fuegians’ (1948) by E. Lucas Bridges. I have been studying hunter-gatherers as part of my MSc, but I came upon this book by chance a year ago.  […]

The Arabic Speaking Christians of Spain

The world “Mozarab” comes from the Arabic “must’arab” meaning “arabized”. This came to generally describe the Christians living under Muslim rule in Spain. Originally they were the descendents of the Hispano-Gothic Christians living in Spain at the time that the Muslims took Iberia from the Visigoths in 711. Over time the community grew to included […]

Yazidis, at risk minority in Mesopotamia and their extraordinary culture.

In northern Iraq in what is perhaps the most dangerous region in the world, Mosul, lives the majority of the tribal culture of Yazidis. Amongst the sectarian strife between Sunni and Shiite, political divisions between Baathist and Kurd, the Yazidis maintain their ancient religion and practices. The roots of Yazadinism are mysterious as with all […]

Grapes of Wrath: The Lycurgus Cup

The British Museum is home to some of the most important and impressive artifacts from the ancient world. The Rosetta stone from Egypt allowed us to decipher the hieroglyphs of Ancient Egypt, the panels from the walls of the Assyrian royal palace at Nimrud show allow us deep insights into Assyrian culture and gives us glimpses of […]

Christianity’s Forgotten Rival

The history of Christianity, as we are often told, is a story of suppression, persecution and then finally acceptance by the ruling elite. Since the death of Jesus Christ, the story goes that this new offshoot of Judaism was proselytized and spread by the Apostles. Originally seen as a sect of Judaism by the Roman Empire, the […]

The Forgotten Blackbird

Abu Hasan Ali Ibn Nafi was born near Baghdad circa 789. The son of a freed Ethiopian slave and a Kurd would become one of the most influential men in history, a paragon of the culture of the Empire of Islam, and yet he is almost completely unknown in the Western world. In the histories […]