Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Thursday, April 7, 2016
I was recently reading an article about a Victorian-era find of garbage, and what it revealed. It was mentioned that "rooting around in personal trash dumps allows license to excavate a narrative about a specific family. You can work out what sort of illnesses they had, what sorts of luxuries they enjoyed. You can match the objects to the people."
How true that it! So I decided to look into the 18th Century garbage can, as it were. Following Industrialization and urban growth, the buildup of waste in the cities and its management became more and more difficult to tend to. Streets, for instance in London, became choked with filth, with poor clearance regulations. Calls for the establishment of waste removal began in 1751 for the health and well-being of the citizens. It was proposed by Corbyn Morris that city cleaning would be put into one public management system, the waste conveyed to the Thames River.
The first occurrence of an organized system appeared, with waste collection established around the "dust yards", the "dust" being coal ash, which had a market value for brick-making and soil improver. Dust-contractors recovered 100% of the residual wastes remaining after readily saleable items and materials had been removed by the informal sector in the streets ('rag-and-bone men'). Kind of a recycle of product.
But cities were filled with horses and their waste material. Raw sewage ran through the streets. People threw waste out their windows from chamber pots, and fruits, vegetables, spoiled meats were left out in the street to rot. What a different picture, when we love to romanticize about a sweet little muse on a London square! Butcher stalls in the marketplace featured the "lovely" sight of entrails scattered on the pavement.
I read once account stating, "In 18th-century London, water was delivered to the city's residents through hollowed-out tree trunks running beneath the streets. Wealthier customers could buy spring water from private companies, but most residents used the sluggish, murky water of the Thames. Like many European rivers, the Thames was both the source of the city's drinking water and the repository of its discharge. It was also crowded with boats and barges, since it served as the city's main thoroughfare for commercial shipping. No attempt was made to filter the water or protect it from pollution until the middle of the 19th-century." No wonder a huge gin craze swept over London!
The sewers in London were designed to carry rainwater rather than sewage, and the pipes were poorly constructed at that!
Basically, it's not easy to find trash left behind considering the urban landscape, but at Fort Williams in Lochaber, Scotland, in 2007 a treasure trove of domestic waste was found, which included fragments of wine bottles, pottery, clay pipes and buttons! The pipes were generally long in shape, and allowed a cooler smoke, but broke more easily so they were often just thrown away after use. There are many to be found, equivalent to smoking a cigarette and tossing away the butt wherever. Nothing's changed here.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Monday, March 28, 2016
Alas, poor William, I knew him, Horatio......well, at least when he was alive and well and had a head on his shoulders!!
Recently a team of archaeologists were claiming that William Shakespeare's head was probably stolen from his grave, where he was buried in Stratford-upon-on, in England. They have stated that in 1794, supposedly, trophy hunters took the head as somewhat of a prize. Kind of interesting to have the head of a genius in one's possession. Though the story of his missing head was long ago discredited, new radar technological studies may prove the story needs further investigation.
Lead archaeologist Kevin Colls, of Staffordshire University, told The Guardian, British newspaper. "It was very obvious, within all the data we were getting, that there was something different going on at that particular spot. We have concluded it is signs of disturbance, of material being dug out and put back again."
Shakespeare, oddly enough, has an inscription on his grave that reads, "Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear, / To dig the dust enclosed here. / Blessed be the man that spares these stones, / And cursed be he that moves my bones." Who wants to play around with a threat like that? Look what happened with those who disturbed King Tut! The vicar of the Holy Trinity Church says that though he is not convinced of the grave robbery theory, church has no plans to allow an exhumation.
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Recently we have been appalled, or at least should be, at the lengths to which negative campaigning has gained momentum in this year's political campaigns, especially on the Grand Old Party's side. It's been likened to school yard bullying, with juvenile name-calling, i.e. big ears, sweating like a pig, peeing in his pants, and on and on. You would think we are trying to elect six-year-olds. Being a long-time conservative, I am beyond saddened.
But I looked into the name-calling phenomenon, and actually it goes way back, and it was just as ugly, though we have the benefit of social media and television to further it along. Monarchies have been bashed, but out own country, going as far back as Washington's time, the mudslinging was on full display, and the political elite were not beyond calling poor old John Adams, "His Rotundity". Today, we'd call that fat-shaming.
IN 1796 Alexander Hamilton, under the pen name "Phocion" (he didn't even use his real name), attacked Thomas Jefferson on the pages of the Gazette of the United States, a prominent Philadelphia Federalist-leaning newspaper. He resorted to the dirty politics of personal behavior, claiming that Jefferson was having an affair with one of his slaves. (Of course, it was true), but he went on to say that Jefferson was a "coward" and that "Mr. Hamilton was a pillar of virtue". Ahhh, remember bid Bill Clinton and his time under the Oval Office desk!
By Andrew Jackson's election, a bit later on, handbills accused Jackson of being a cannibal after the massacre of 500 Indians, “the blood thirsty Jackson began again to show his cannibal propensities, by ordering his Bowman to dress a dozen of these Indian bodies for his breakfast, which he devoured without leaving even a fragment.”
Don't get me wrong, it doesn't make any excuse for today's bad behavior. You would think we have gone beyond these tactics, but I guess not. That's why it's so easy to see why folks choose to stay home on election day, but that's not good either. It's our right, our privilege , our duty to have our say. We may not like the choice, but we do have it, even if we have to resort to writing in a name on our election day ballot!