Civilization and Nature: A Reading of Ancient Texts

Wen Li Teng

University of California, Los Angeles


Detail of the Code of Hammurabi (Wiki)


The Code of Hammurabi was a comprehensive set of 282 laws enacted by the Babylonian ruler Hammurabi (r. 1792–1750 BCE), which included provisions for contract, criminal, family, transactional and even military law; The Book of Exodus tells how Yahweh led the Israelites out of Egypt through the prophet Moses; the Egyptian Book of the Dead was a New Kingdom funerary text used from 1550 BCE to 50 BCE. These texts appear markedly different: a law code, a religious narrative, and a book of spells to help the dead in the afterlife. Yet all three texts reveal the close relationship between these societies and the natural environments in which they lived. Insofar as themes of water, land, and fauna are present in these various texts, this paper aims to determine the extent to which the Code of Hammurabi, Exodus, and the Book of the Dead differ in their depictions of nature.

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Emporia and the Roots of Market Mercantilism in the Early Middle Ages

Lee Morrison

Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL)



Quentovic and surrounding trade routes (Wiki)

Throughout the early Middle Ages, the decline of the Roman world was in full motion as various tribes assumed local power in the former provinces.  Many aspects of classical life changed, including trade, which shifted from a large-scale global system to a compartmentalized, regional economy.  The Roman system of high imports and sea trade gave way to the manorial economy, a regional system of agriculture and manufacture.  However, the development of a North Sea Economic Zone and the rise and fall of the emporia created a global trade market in Northern Europe.  This market flourished from the Merovingian period into the Viking age as demand for luxury and commodity goods resulted in development of more emporia, as well as smaller subsidiary locations and local trade fairs.  These trade cities began as instruments of a ruler’s political reach, but soon evolved into more independent areas of commerce that defined the economic zone around them.  By the end of the ninth century the emporia were well into their decline, but modern archaeological research has brought about a valuable change in perspective on these strange trade cities.  Gridded streets and permanent housing for craftsmen allowed emporia to combine elements of long-distance trade, monopolistic regional production, and urbanization.  In the early Middle Ages, the roots of capitalist production took shape in the planning, production, and function of the emporia.

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Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics

queerQueer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics by Timothy Stewart-Winter is an invigorating history of how queer people developed political power in post-WWII America. Using Chicago as his case study, Stewart-Winter traces how the city’s queer community managed to move “from the closet to the corridors of power” (1). While tracing LGBTQ+ people’s political significance in Chicago, Stewart-Winter argues that the queer community mobilized to gain political influence in response to police brutality, economic discrimination, and social prejudice. To gain power, gay and lesbian people consciously chose to draw upon other social justice movements. Stewart-Winter credits anti-racist movements—mostly developed within the African American community—as a strong influence on queer activism. Queer Clout thus forwards that Chicago’s gay rights movement both focused on ending discriminations unique to queer people and developed connections to post-WWII identity-based movements.

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“Savannah as a History Classroom” An Interview with Lydia Moreton, the Curator of Collections for the Coastal Heritage Society

Editorial introduction

ethan interviewLydia Moreton, the Curator of Collections for the Coastal Heritage Society, is an Armstrong graduate, who earned her Masters in Public History in 1999. During the fall semester of 2016 she began her first adventure in teaching, spearheading a museums study class for both graduate and undergraduate students. During this time, she agreed to be interviewed for our journal. A range of topics were discussed, from how she hoped her students would benefit from her class to her current job and the many responsibilities that come with it. What follows are excerpts from this discussion, the first taking place on a park bench in Chippewa Square on September 27, 2016 and the second, a month later, just outside City Hall on October 27, 2016.

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Res Publica Restituta? Republic and Princeps in the Early Roman Empire

Zachary Brown

Stanford University



Augustus as Pontifex Maximus. Source: durand-digitalgallery

According to early second century Roman historian Suetonius, Augustus, on his deathbed in 14 C.E., remarked, “Since well I’ve played my part, all clap your hands And from the stage dismiss me with applause.”[1] Augustus’s final words were symbolic of his career and historical legacy. Under the Augustan political settlement the Princeps, the title of the Roman Emperors, only exceeded his peers in “auctoritas.” However, in reality, the Emperor was Dominus in all but name. This illusion maintained by the Emperors, was the rhetorical heart of the first phase of imperial history, the Principate. Augustus, while creating a despotic regime, had to portray himself as the ‘restorer of res publica.’ This is clear in the rhetoric used by Augustus himself. In the immediate transition between republican and despotic government, the Augustan regime made extensive use of rhetorical appeals to the Roman Republic, specifically the old senatorial order, in the form of Res Publica Restituta. However, Continue reading

Inside and Outside the Purple: How Armenians Made Byzantium

Michael Goodyear

University of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)


Heraclius returns the True Cross to Jerusalem. Painting from 15th cen. Spain. Wiki

In the past few decades, there has been an increasing academic and popular focus on ethnic minorities, even turning minority studies into a viable academic field.  In this new trend, however, minority studies are primarily focused on the present and recent past.  This ignores the importance of historical minorities, especially ones that impacted states to such a degree as the Armenians impacted the Byzantine Empire. In addition to their own national history and culture, ethnic Armenians were also a highly important minority inside the Byzantine Empire.[1]  During the middle centuries of Byzantium, from 610 to 1071, the Armenian populace served as an important source of manpower, and individuals of Armenian descent rose to the highest dignities in the Byzantine Empire as generals, politicians, patriarchs, intellectuals, and even emperors.  Some of the most famous and important Byzantines in history had Armenian blood, including Emperor Heraclius (r. 610-641), who saved Byzantium from the perilous Persian onslaught in the seventh century, and Photios (r. 858-867, 877-886), the most famous medieval Patriarch of Constantinople.[2]  Armenian immigrants and Byzantines of Armenian descent constituted one of the key factors behind the longevity of the Byzantine Empire, positively impacting Byzantium in the fields of demographics, the military, imperial rule, economics, intellectualism, and religion.

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Musui’s Story or Mafia’s Story: A Different Reading of Musui’s Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai

Fred Smithberg

Armstrong State University (Savannah, Georgia)


m1Contemporary Japan is often advertised as one of the safest and crime free countries on earth. The number of inmates in Japanese prisons today is an uncomfortable subject for the Japanese.  However, crime does exist in Japan, but is well organized and controlled by organized crime networks. The streets are safe in Japanese cities as a result of its organized crime, not in spite of it. In 2001, there were 84,000 registered crime family Continue reading