Tag Archives | Roman Empire

Happy Saturnalia To All!

SaturnaliaA celebration dear to the hearts of the Disinformation team at this time of year is Saturnalia, one of the most popular Roman festivals. It was marked by tomfoolery and reversal of social roles, in which slaves and masters ostensibly switched places, with expectantly humorous results. Saturnalia was introduced around 217 BC to raise citizen morale after a crushing military defeat. Originally celebrated for a day, on December 17th, its popularity saw it grow until it became a week-long extravaganza, ending on the 23rd.

Our favorite exposition of Saturnalia has long been the Electric Sheep comic strip, no longer easily available on the web, but we dug in the crates and are pleased to bring it to you. We did find it here and in a video created from the original website posted to Funny or Die:

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More Strange Objects Unearthed From Famed Roman Shipwreck

Via USA TODAY, the ancient underwater wreckage which housed a 2,000-year-old quasi-computer that cannot be explained likely contains more devices:

Marine archaeologists report they have uncovered new secrets of an ancient Roman shipwreck famed for yielding an amazingly sophisticated astronomical calculator. An international survey team says the ship is twice as long as originally thought and contains many more calcified objects amid the ship’s lost cargo that hint at new discoveries.

The wreck is best known for yielding a bronze astronomical calculator, the “Antikythera Mechanism” widely seen as the most complex device known from antiquity. The mechanism apparently used 37 gear wheels, a technology reinvented a millennium later, to create a lunar calendar and predict the motion of the planets, which was important knowledge for casting horoscopes and planning festivals in the superstitious ancient world.

Along with vase-like amphora vessels, pottery shards and roof tiles, the wreck appears to have “dozens” of calcified objects resembling compacted boulders made out of hardened sand resting atop the amphorae on the sea bottom.

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Human Devolution, Israel & Palestine: A History of Occupation

On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin talks to RT Producer Adriana Usero, about human beings becoming dumber and if the US Government using political tactics of the Roman empire to distract from current events. Abby then takes a look back at the historical events that have shaped the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as we know it today. BTS wraps up the show with an in depth interview with Phyllis Bennis, Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, about the current escalation of violence in Gaza, and factors that play a role in the conflict.

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The Myth About Marriage

Wedding At CanaVery interesting perspective from Garry Wills in the New York Review of Books given the current media circus regarding President Obama’s personal support of same-sex marriage:

Why do some people who would recognize gay civil unions oppose gay marriage? Certain religious groups want to deny gays the sacredeness of what they take to be a sacrament. But marriage is no sacrament.

Some of my fellow Catholics even think that “true marriage” was instituted by Christ. It wasn’t. Marriage is prescribed in Eden by YHWH (Yahweh) at Genesis 2.24: man and wife shall “become one flesh.” When Jesus is asked about marriage, he simply quotes that passage from Genesis (Mark 10.8). He nowhere claims to be laying a new foundation for a “Christian marriage” to replace the Yahwist institution.

Some try to make the wedding at Cana (John 1.1–11) somehow sacramental because Jesus worked his first miracle there. But that was clearly a Jewish wedding, like any other Jesus might have attended, and the miracle, by its superabundance of wine, is meant to show the disciples that the Messianic time has come.

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The Godfather of Christianity

ConstantineThe Roman emperor Constantine is one of the great heroes of Christian history. As legend would have it, he singlehandedly put an end to religious persecution and became the first Christian emperor. His impact was nothing short of miraculous, and this is why his name is often adorned with superlatives: he is Constantine “the Great,” or as some branches of Christianity regard him “Saint” Constantine. More than any other figure, he is the true Godfather of Christianity, who helped it turn from a small troubled sect into the dominant religion of the empire.

But the word godfather applies to Constantine in more ways than one. Think Don Vito Corleone kind of Godfather (actually, I like Don Vito Corleone, so more like Michael Corleone). The historical reality is that Constantine was a brutal dictator who used Christianity for his own self-aggrandizing means and probably never even converted (some say he converted on his death bed, while others say he never did).… Read the rest

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How the Ancient Romans Made MSG

Fall Of Roman EmpireSome researchers contend this food habit helped influence the decline the Roman Empire. Here’s a balanced look at MSG from Esther Inglis-Arkell on io9.com:

Monosodium glutamate is a food additive that enhances flavor. Although it’s frowned upon today, the ancient Romans loved it and ate it with almost every meal.

There’s been some debate over what exactly monosodium glutamate does to people. Some people say it gives them severe headaches, numbness, weakness, and even heart palpitations. Scientists could confirm that it does give some people short-lived reactions, but no tests showed that it had long-term health effects. Some say that it’s an addictive substance which causes people to crave it repeatedly if they try it too often. Others say it’s just a flavor enhancer, and people crave it because it makes things taste better.

The chemical is listed as ‘safe’ by the FDA, although they do require it to be clearly listed as an additive in any food product that uses it.

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Descendants Of ‘Lost Legion’ Of Roman Soldiers Found In China

china_1769024cGreen- and blue-eyed villagers in a remote part of China may be the descendants of a fairy-tale-ish “lost legion” of ancient Roman soldiers, writes the Telegraph:

A local man, Cai Junnian, is nicknamed by his friends and relatives Cai Luoma, or Cai the Roman, and is one of many villagers convinced that he is descended from the lost legion.

Archeologists plan to conduct digs in the region, along the ancient Silk Route, to search for remains of forts or other structures built by the fabled army.

“We hope to prove the legend by digging and discovering more evidence of China’s early contacts with the Roman Empire,” Yuan Honggeng, the head of a newly-established Italian Studies Centre at Lanzhou University in Gansu province, told the China Daily newspaper.

The genetic tests have leant weight to the theory that Roman legionaries settled in the area in the first century BC after fleeing a disastrous battle.

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The Roman Army Knife Predates the Swiss Army One by 1,800 Years

Via the Daily Mail:

The world’s first Swiss Army knife’ has been revealed — made 1,800 years before its modern counterpart. An intricately designed Roman implement, which dates back to 200 AD, it is made from silver but has an iron blade. It features a spoon, fork as well as a retractable spike, spatula and small tooth-pick.

Experts believe the spike may have been used by the Romans to extract meat from snails. The Roman army pen knife It is thought the spatula would have offered a means of poking cooking sauce out of narrow-necked bottles.

The 3 in x 6 in (8 cm x 15 cm) knife was excavated from the Mediterranean area more than 20 years ago and was obtained by the museum in 1991. The unique item is among dozens of artefacts exhibited in a newly refurbished Greek and Roman antiquities gallery at the Fitzwilliam Museum, in Cambridge.… Read the rest

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