Thursday, November 30, 2017

The United States Government Experimented With Camels In The 19th Century

George H. Crosman is credited as the first man to suggest that camels could be a valuable asset if utilized by the U. S. military in dry, desert regions of the United States. He first brought up this point in 1836, when he was a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He claimed that camels would be unaffected by America’s most arid climates, and would also require less feed or water than the horses and mules already used by the government. Despite these fair points, Lt. Crosman’s ideas were rejected and shelved by the United States for more than a decade.

In 1847, after Crosman achieved the rank of Major, he once again brought up the idea of caravans of camels traveling westward, through the plains and deserts of the new lands claimed or conquered by the United States in North America. This time, Crosman fully convinced Major Henry C. Wayne, who conveniently worked in the Quartermaster Department. Maj. Wayne forwarded the idea to the War Department and to Congress, where it fell on the sympathetic ears of Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis, the future president of the rebellious Confederate States of America. At the time, Davis did not yet have enough clout to bring Crosman’s dream to reality, but the senator did not forget the suggestion.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Dwarves Made Most Of The Amazing Items Used By The Gods Of Norse Mythology

Interestingly, the gods of Norse mythology often had little-to-no innate power when compared to the divinities of other mythologies. At times, the band of deities led by the High One, Odin, seemed to be merely equivalents to Greek or Roman demigods. A prime example is that the immortality of the Norse gods did not occur naturally—to stay alive, the gods were said to eat magical apples of youth, tended by the goddess, Idunn. Also, the gods of Norse mythology were some of the most vulnerable and mortal deities ever worshipped; almost all of the major Norse gods were prophesied to die at Ragnarok. Yet, despite all of their handicaps and vulnerabilities, the Norse gods did become incredibly powerful. Curiously, however, the brilliant workmanship of the dwarves played a huge part in making this happen.

In Norse mythology, the dwarves were the go-to craftsmen for the gods. The great Icelandic chronicler of Norse mythology, Snorri Sturlusson (1179-1241), wrote about several of the magnificent items that the dwarves created for the gods. From tools, to weapons, to livestock, the dwarves could create it.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Dualistic Reign of Ghazan Khan Of The Ilkhanate

The Mongolian-descended Mahmud Ghazan was born around 1271 and was raised by his grandfather (Abagha Khan, r. 1265-1282) and his father (Arghun Khan, r. 1284-1291) to be a follower of the Buddhist faith. When Abagha Khan died, his son, Teguder, became the new khan of the Ilkhanate. Yet, Teguder’s brother, Arghun successfully raised a large faction against the khan, with one of the main complaints being that Teguder had forsaken Buddhism for Islam. Arghun managed to overthrow Teguder and continued Buddhist dominance over the Mongolian-ruled Ilkhanate.

(Abaqa on horse, Arghun standing, Ghazan as a child in his arms, in Rachid al-Din, Djami al-Tawarikh, 14th century. Reproduction in "Ghengis Khan et l'Empire Mongol", Jean-Paul Roux [Public Domain] via Creative Commons)

In 1284, Arghun Khan named his teenage son, Mahmud Ghazan, as the new viceroy or governor in charge of the Ilkhanate’s lands around the region of Persia. Ghazan remained in this post for about ten years, during the reigns of both his father, Arghun Khan, and his uncle, Gaykatu Khan (r. 1291-1295). During his post in Persia, Ghazan battled against a rival faction of Mongolians, known as the Chagatai Mongols, and also defeated a rebellion led by an officer named Nawruz. Even though the revolt was finally crushed in 1294, Nawruz’s life was spared. Interestingly, the rebel leader would play a significant role in Ghazan’s later rise to power.