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History of the World in 100 Objects, “North American otter pipe”

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The Chimor kingdom was established around 900 CE and it was the last Peruvian kingdom to resist the Incas, defeated by the Inca emperor Topa Inca Yupanqui in 1470.  The kingdom of Chimor was not located in the highlands of Peru but instead in the narrow strip of coastland, much of it desert, along the Pacific Ocean. Chimor society was sharply hierarchical and divided into four social classes. People survived thanks to fishing and thanks to the irrigation systems they built which made agriculture possible. They worshiped the moon, not the sun, like the Incas. The Chimor kingdom has left remnants in the form of black ceramics, are known for their exquisite metalwork and for the textiles spun from alpaca wool. The capital of Chan Chan was a great center for artisans and craftsmen.

Slavery is indigenous to African societies and not something the Europeans brought to Africa. On the contrary, it is because there was slavery in Africa that it was easy for the Europeans to get slaves. The Europeans simply tapped into a trade in slaves, with slave markets, which already had existed for a long time. The Europeans became the best customers for the goods the Africans were selling.

As we have seen, both Benin and the Asante Confederacy owned and traded in slaves. Indeed slaves, together with gold, were the main sources of wealth for both empires. Land, by contrast, was not considered as a form of private property. Land had no value since there quite simply was far too much of it. Instead it was what the land produced, and those who could be forced to work on it, which were considered as property. Thus a man would count his wealth in the number of slaves he owned, and throughout West Africa taxes were levied on slaves and paid in terms of slaves. In addition, enslavement was a punishment which could be meted out against those who violated the law or were unable to settle their debts. Slaves were also given as tributary gifts by a subordinate state or by a neighboring state which sought to avoid occupation. In general there was a strong connection between warfare and slavery, and prisoners of war were usually enslaved. In a sense, slavery was a continuation of war by other means. By enslaving the people who had been defeated, their inferiority and humiliation were made manifest to all. But slaves were of course a commodity too, and it was as a commodity that they were traded across West Africa and along the caravan routes crossing the Sahara. The revenue derived from the slave trade across the Atlantic Ocean, which began in the sixteenth-century, was more than anything what helped make both Benin and the Asante into powerful empires. They did not suffer from the slave trade, that is, but on the contrary they benefited greatly from it.

How some 12 million people were traded.

Triangular trade.

Indeed, it was even possible to offer oneself as a slave, seeking the protection that a master could provide.

Interresting how it necessarily will mean something different in a society where no one works for a wage.

It all came to an end in 1807 when the slave trade was abolished within the British empire. The Asante state loses tax revenue and power. Traders along the coast start to engage with the British. The British Gold Coast is created and then the entire Astante kingdom is taken over.

The very meaning of “slave” in the African context is markedly different from popular conceptions, and to grasp the nature of slavery, you must erase images of shackles and disregard the notion of slave as a commodity lacking status. In this vein some Africanists have gone as far as to employ phrases such as “adopted dependent”, “captive”, or “surf” to distinguish African slavery from other types. Enslavement here was typically not perpetual, as the enslaved could often be ransomed back to their kin through a slave merchant, and the status of slave was not passed down from generation to generation. Customs also prohibited separating families of slaves, and it was not uncommon for subsequent generations of slaves to become free members of the kinship group they once served. Slaves enjoyed ownership of some of the crops they produced. In West Africa more broadly, records indicate that slaves worked in a variety of areas, mostly alongside their owners as administrators, soldiers, royal advisors, farmers, household guards, and trade assistants. Beyond this, slaves enjoyed free movement and were permitted to cultivate any open land. By and large slaves held a distinct social status within society – a class of loyal, dependent assistants.

Delta blues is one of the earliest-known styles of blues music. It originated in the Mississippi Delta, a region of the United States stretching from Memphis, Tennessee, in the north to Vicksburg, Mississippi, in the south and from Helena, Arkansas, in the west to the Yazoo River in the east. The Mississippi Delta is famous for its fertile soil and for its poverty. Delta blues is regarded as a regional variant of country blues. Guitar and harmonica are its dominant instruments; slide guitar (usually played on a steel guitar) is a hallmark of the style. Vocal styles in Delta blues range from introspective and soulful to passionate and fiery.

Although Delta blues certainly existed in some form or another at the turn of the 20th century, it was first recorded in the late 1920s, when record companies realized the potential African-American market for “race records“. The major labels produced the earliest recordings, consisting mostly of one person singing and playing an instrument. Live performances, however, more commonly involved a group of musicians. Current belief is that Freddie Spruell is the first Delta blues artist to have been recorded; his “Milk Cow Blues” was recorded in Chicago in June 1926.[1] Record company talent scouts made some of the early recordings on field trips to the South, and some performers were invited to travel to northern cities to record. According to Dixon and Godrich (1981), Tommy Johnson and Ishmon Bracey were recorded by Victor on that company’s second field trip to Memphis, in 1928. Robert Wilkins was first recorded by Victor in Memphis in 1928, and Big Joe Williams and Garfield Akers by Brunswick/Vocalion, also in Memphis, in 1929.

Son House first recorded in Grafton, Wisconsin, in 1930 for Paramount Records. Charley Patton also recorded for Paramount in Grafton, in June 1929 and May 1930. He also traveled to New York City for recording sessions in January and February 1934. Robert Johnson recorded his only sessions, for ARC, in San Antonio in 1936 and Dallas in 1937.

Subsequently, the early Delta blues (as well as other genres) were extensively recorded by John Lomax and his son Alan Lomax, who crisscrossed the southern United States recording music played and sung by ordinary people, helping establish the canon of genres we know today as American folk music. Their recordings, numbering in the thousands, now reside in the Smithsonian Institution. According to Dixon and Godrich (1981) and Leadbitter and Slaven (1968), Alan Lomax and the Library of Congress researchers did not record any Delta bluesmen or women prior to 1941, when he recorded Son House and Willie Brown near Lake Cormorant, Mississippi, and Muddy Waters at Stovall, Mississippi. However, this claim has been disputed, as John and Alan Lomax had recorded Bukka White in 1939, Lead Belly in 1933 and most likely others.

Scholars disagree as to whether there is a substantial musicological difference between blues that originated in the Mississippi Delta and blues from other parts of the country. The defining characteristics of Delta blues are instrumentation and an emphasis on rhythm and “bottleneck” slide guitar;[citation needed] the basic harmonic structure is not substantially different from that of blues performed elsewhere. Delta blues is a style as much as a geographical form: Skip James and Elmore James, who were not born in the Delta, are considered Delta blues musicians. Performers traveled throughout the Mississippi Delta, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Tennessee. Eventually, Delta blues spread out across the country, giving rise to a host of regional variations, including Chicago blues and Detroit blues.

Delta blues songs are typically expressed in the first person and often concern love, sex, the traveling lifestyle and its tribulations, sin, salvation and death. Several blues musicians were imprisoned in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman Farm, which is referred to in songs such as Bukka White‘s “Parchman Farm Blues” and the folk song “Midnight Special“.

In big-city blues, women singers such as Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith and Mamie Smith dominated the recordings of the 1920s.[2] However, women rarely recorded Delta blues and other rural or folk-style blues. In Delta blues female performers often had some romantic connection to more notable male performers: Geeshie Wiley was reportedly linked with Papa Charlie McCoy, whose brother Kansas Joe McCoy was married to Memphis Minnie, and the seminal Charlie Patton sometimes played and recorded with his wife, Bertha Lee. It was not until late in the 1960s that women began to be heard in recorded performances at the level they had previously enjoyed. It was then that Janis Joplin arrived as the first female performer to achieve both accolades from her peers as a blues performer and crossover commercial success, reaching diverse audiences with a powerful and emotive vocal delivery. Other women influenced by Delta blues, who learned from some of the most notable of the original artists still living, include Bonnie Raitt, Rory Block, and Susan Tedeschi.

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The Khazars were a semi-nomadic Turkic people who created a powerful kingdom, Khazaria, 618-1048 CE, on the steppes of southern Russia, extending from the Crimean peninsula to Caucasus and northward to the foothills of the Urals. During the seventh- and eighth-centuries the Khazars allied themselves with Byzantium and fought a series of wars with the Umayyads and the Abbasids, but they always managed to maintain their independence. Nicely positioned at the crossroads of several important trade routes, Khazaria was one of greatest trading emporia of the medieval world. Many Khazars were pastoralists while others made good use of the abundance of fish in the Volga river or traded in sable skins, squirrel pelt, swords and honey. Another important commodity were slaves who were exported to the Arab caliphates. The Khazars had a centralized administration, a standing army, and exacted tribute from some thirty different tribes. The king was recruited from among the nobility in a ceremony in which he was asked how many years he wished to reign while simultaneously being throttled almost to death. At the end of his requested reign the king was killed.

Beginning in the eighth-century CE, the Khazar kings converted to Judaism while a majority of the population remained Tengrist, Christian or Muslims.[Read more: Tengrism] Some Jews who suffered from persecution elsewhere took their refuge in Khazaria and the kings saw themselves as defenders of Jews living outside of their own borders too. It could be that conversion to Judaism was a way to retain Khazar independence both from the Muslim caliphates and the Christians in Byzantium.

In the nineteenth-century, a few European scholars began arguing that the Jewish population of Europe are descendants of Khazarian Jews who had emigrated after the fall of their kingdom rather than descendants of Jews who originated in Palestine itself. The thesis which became widely known through Arthur Koestler’s book The Thirteenth Tribe, 1976, has been used in antisemitic propaganda and in order to undermine Israel’s claim to statehood. Yet the theory cannot possibly be true since not a sufficiently large portion of the Khazar population converted to Judaism and since not that many Khazars proceeded to emigrate to Europe.

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Nestorius, the fifth-century patriarch of Constantinople who was condemned as a heretic by the council of Ephesus in 431. among the Assyrian beliefs that Rubruck held to be heretical was that the virgin Mary was the mother of Christ, but not the mother of god. They also differed from Catholics in their steadfast refusal to portray Christ on the cross as a violation of the Mongol taboos on depicting death or blood.