The Two Ronnies, Open University Lecture

I just saw this video, which ties in with the previous video about the Beatles, from a future archaeologist’s perspective.  An oldie but goodie, not an example of an anachronism, but hilarious nonetheless.  From “The Two Ronnies,” a British comedy program that aired in the 1980s, this one shows Ronnie Barker as an archaeologist, giving a lecture on what he found in South America.  Try to keep a straight face while watching it!

The Beatles, 1,000 Years From Now

I have said in the past that my favorite kind of humor is probably anachronisms, jokes about stuff in the wrong time or place.  Examples include the Capital One commercials where barbarians are trying to find new lines of work:

I posted other examples of anachronisms in my messages dated February 18, 2007 and May 2, 2008.

A variation of those jokes is the idea of archaeologists in the distant future digging up artifacts from our civilization; you know they’re not going to get all the details about us right.  In The Genesis Chronicles, for instance, I mentioned that if they find DVDs of Sex In The City, they might think their discovery shows the typical lifestyle of the late 20th-early 21st century, when for most of us The Honeymooners would be more accurate.  I mentioned another in a footnote from Appendix 1 of my history textbook.  Quote:

The way ancient history can be mangled by well-meaning historians was demonstrated by Otto F. Reiss in the July 1967 issue of Art and Archaeology Newsletter.  In a note entitled “A Forward Look Backward,” he imagines what would happen if future archaeologists interpret our stories of World War II the same way our liberal scholars interpret the Bible.  Obviously World War II must have been caused by competition between two primitive technologies, since on one side we have an Eisen Hower or “Hewer of Iron,” while on the other side was a Messer Schmidt, or “Forger of Daggers.”  France was involved, but the original name of its hero was forgotten, for he is simply called “de Gaulle,” and we all know that Gaul was the ancient name of France.  There would be some confusion over “Hitler” and “Himmler,” which apparently are two different spellings of the same person’s name.  The future archaeologist’s conclusion?  “It adds up to the struggle between true man and death, or between good and evil.  A great allegory, to be sure.  But historical fact?  Certainly not!”

Now here is a video showing the results, when archaeologists from the year 3000 try to reconstruct the legacy of the Beatles.  What a hoot!  You’ll probably spot some of the hilarious errors the archaeologists make, even if you only know a little bit about this legendary band.

Uh-oh.  After watching the part about reconstructed Beatles music, I’m wondering about an album I have in my collection, The Imperial Bells of China.  In 1978, the 2,400-year-old tomb of a minor Chinese ruler was discovered, and he was buried with enough musical instruments to equip an orchestra; the album is an attempt to reconstruct the kind of music those instruments played.  Now I’m wondering if somebody transported through time from the Eastern Zhou dynasty would laugh at my album, too.

Snow Is Coming!

That has been the main talk of the day.  The ice storm that started in Oklahoma yesterday, and blew through Arkansas and Tennessee, is now headed our way.  In fact, it was supposed to be here by now.  The weatherman said first that it would arrive this morning, then at 7 PM; three inches of snow are expected to accumulate here by tomorrow afternoon.  Now it’s almost 10 PM as I write this, and the temperature outside is a bone-chilling 20 degrees (I have to wear two jackets indoors!), but no snow yet.

It’s very unusual for a winter storm to hit us from the south instead of the north; normally we expect warmer stuff to come from that direction.  The result is that it will dump most of its ice and snow before it gets here.  However, that also means three states that aren’t used to having a lot of snow are getting it now.  In Knoxville, for instance, the folks have been warned to expect up to ten inches of snow, and one inch of ice.  Look out!  The good news is that the longer the storm takes to reach us, the less it will have to drop, so what we experience shouldn’t be worse than what we had earlier this month.  Stay tuned!

Being Number 1 Was Fun While It Lasted

I’m talking about the University of Kentucky Wildcats, in case you didn’t read my previous message.  Just one day after they were declared the top college basketball team in the nation, they suffered their first defeat; in last night’s game, the South Carolina Gamecocks won 68-62.  Anywhere else, I wouldn’t believe a story about chickens beating cats (LOL).  Hopefully UK will keep its #1 status, even if it is no longer undefeated.  And President Obama called the team before the game, to congratulate them both on their success and on the recent fund-raiser for Haiti; read about that phone call in the link below.

Obama Chats With ‘Cats Before Game

Just When I Thought the Rest of January Would Be Mild

The past week hasn’t been too bad for winter conditions:  daytime temperatures in the 40s and 50s, rain instead of snow, etc.  Leive even stepped out of the house a few times.  There was a lot of rain on Sunday, though; I hope the puddles it left don’t freeze, now.

Yesterday, however, the temperature started falling again.  We didn’t even reach the forecast high of 40 degrees, and we had one of those bizarre situations where the highest temperature comes before dawn.  Snow flurries, too, though they didn’t last.  The rest of the week is forecast to be below freezing, except for tomorrow during the day, with lows in the 20s or teens and a chance of more snow at least half the time.

Of course, the hype is starting to build around town for the Superbowl, now that we know which teams are going to it.  The best local news, however, is that the University of Kentucky Wildcats are now the #1 college basketball team in the country.  Yesterday they were given that honor because they are the only team left with an undefeated record, more than halfway through the season (19-0, the last time I counted).  Go Cats!

Chapter 3: The Early Iron Age, 930 to 627 B.C.

After working on and off for the past year, Chapter 3 of my Middle Eastern history series has finally been rewritten and uploaded.  Enough new material was added that I felt compelled to divide the chapter between two webpages, like I did with Chapter 2, to save wear on eyes and browsers.  I also changed the chapter title, from “The Assyrian Conquests” to “The Early Iron Age.”  Finally, because I changed the time period covered in Chapter 2, I changed it here as well.  Now the narrative goes from 930 to 627 B.C., or from the death of Solomon to the death of Ashurbanipal.

Anyway, here are the topics covered on each page.

In Part I ( ):

  • The Phoenicians
  • Israel vs. Judah vs. Aram (Syria)
  • The Hittites Fade Out
  • Troy, the City With Nine Lives
  • The Sea Peoples
  • The House of Omri
  • Assyria: The Calah Period

In Part II ( ):

  • Israel’s Indian Summer
  • Urartu
  • Phrygia
  • The Mannaeans
  • The New Assyrian Empire
  • The Rise of Lydia
  • Josiah the Righteous
  • Assyria Triumphant

Read and enjoy!

Josiah the Righteous

This will probably be the last new section I create for Chapter 3 of my Middle Eastern history series.

Josiah the Righteous

Hindsight tells us that it would have been better for Judah if Hezekiah had not recovered from his illness. As the prophet Isaiah predicted, he lived fifteen years after he got better, and during that time, his son Manasseh was conceived and born, for Manasseh was only twelve years old when he got his turn to wear the crown. At fifty-five years, Manasseh enjoyed the longest reign of any king in Israel or Judah, but he was as evil as his father had been good. He rebuilt all the altars and holy places to foreign gods that Hezekiah had torn down, set up an idol of Baal in Solomon’s Temple, and even offered up a son as a burnt sacrifice to Moloch. The prophets warned that God would allow Judah to suffer the same fate as Israel, and Manasseh killed many of them in a wave of persecution; Jewish tradition asserts that one of the victims was Isaiah, who was placed in a hollow log and sawn in two.

Eventually Manasseh got to be so bad that the Assyrians didn’t want him around anymore, and when you’ve been bad enough that the Assyrians don’t want you around anymore, you’ve been bad! Anyway, the Assyrians took Manasseh away and threw him in a Babylonian prison, where he repented of his wicked ways and was eventually allowed to return to Jerusalem. The Bible does not say whether Esarhaddon or Ashurbanipal was the Assyrian king who hauled him off, or if they did it because of any anti-Assyrian activities on Manasseh’s part. One thing we know for sure: Manasseh must have been at least pro-Egyptian, because his son and successor was blatantly named Amon, after the chief Egyptian god (also spelled Amen or Amun).

Amon followed the evil pattern that Manasseh practiced in his youth. Unlike Manasseh, though, he did not get a chance to reform; after ruling for only two years, he was assassinated by his servants. However, the people of Jerusalem wanted nothing to do with the assassins, killed them in the riot that followed, and installed Amon’s eight-year-old son, Josiah, as the next king.

Josiah (639-608 B.C.) was Judah’s last good king. From the start, the only god that interested him was the God of his ancestor David and his great-grandfather Hezekiah. He couldn’t act on his beliefs until he grew up, but once he came of age he banned idol worship, destroying all images, pagan altars, sacred poles, and even the graves of the priests who served gods other than the One True God. The high point of his reign came in his eighteenth year, when the Temple was being repaired and the high priest Hilkiah found a scroll in the wall, which he described as a “book of the law of the lord”; we believe it was a copy of the Book of Deuteronomy. The king’s scribe read the book to Josiah, and when he realized how many of the laws in the book were broken, he tore his clothes, called all the people of Jerusalem to the Temple, and read them the book from there. Those who heard it were moved as well, and after Josiah finished, everyone agreed to make a new covenant with God. The Bible tells us that the next Passover celebration was the greatest observed since the time of the prophet Samuel, four centuries earlier. But all their supplication could not stop God’s judgment upon Jerusalem; all they could do was postpone it beyond Josiah’s lifetime.