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marnixR
Post  Post subject: true causes in history  |  Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:15 pm
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what set me thinking about history and how often we seem to give credit for significant changes to kings and queens rather than other causes was my visit to Petra, and how the brochure merely mentioned that in the end the caravans no longer visited the place, and that was that ...

pretty unsatisfactory as an explanation, especially when i heard Iain Stewart in the BBC series Earth: The Power of the Planet mention that tectonic movements gradually restricted Petra's water supply until there was none left, after which it would obviously no longer be a stopping place for caravans intent on stocking up on water to get across the desert

that made me think of how unsatisfactory historical explanations were at the time when i went to school (maybe things are different now, but somehow i doubt it) : why did whole crowds migrate ? granted that tribes moved out of the way when the Huns invaded, but what made the Huns leave their homeland to start with ? was it a combination of population growth during a benign climatic period followed by hard times when they were not ?

is it because historians are usually not well versed in climatology and geology that they overlook the initial causes for why things happen, and instead frame all their explanations in terms of kings wanting to conquer stuff ?

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tridimity
Post  Post subject: Re: true causes in history  |  Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:00 pm

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Good point Marnix. My best guess would be that there is insufficient information at historians' disposal to reach such conclusions. Historians can only work with the sources that they have available, and even then there is frequently doubt as to the origin, nature and purpose of the source including personal motives tjat have been obscured in the passing of time and that could only really be fully appreciated if one were emersed in the political, social and economic context of the era in question. Personally I find history fascinating but oftwntimed frustrating due to the near impossibility of establishing certainties. Of course it is also impossible to verify or nullify theories in History owing to the inability to recapitulate past events in order to test hypotheses.

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Pong
Post  Post subject: Re: true causes in history  |  Posted: Sat May 28, 2016 5:48 am
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Historians have done this forever. Gilgamesh is said to have personally clearcut a forest and hauled the logs to build the walls of Uruk. What a guy.


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Lynx_Fox
Post  Post subject: Re: true causes in history  |  Posted: Sat May 28, 2016 6:23 am

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My understanding is it failed mostly from cutting an existing forest and than overgrazing of the bush/scrub remains. It's a similar pattern seen all over the Middle East from Yemen's mountains, to Iraq's Sinjar, to the Thar Thar mostly dry but once inhabited year round river basin. The overuse feedbacks coupled to regional climate changes makes a lot more sense and has a more consistent timescale than Tectonic changes to explain the eventual demise of Petra.


Last edited by Lynx_Fox on Sat May 28, 2016 6:26 am, edited 1 time in total.


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Robittybob1
Post  Post subject: Re: true causes in history  |  Posted: Sat May 28, 2016 6:25 am

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Pong wrote:
Historians have done this forever. Gilgamesh is said to have personally clearcut a forest and hauled the logs to build the walls of Uruk. What a guy.
Reminds me of Trump. Building the wall between US and Mexico without lifting a hand. He'll be a modern day legend if that comes to pass!


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exchemist
Post  Post subject: Re: true causes in history  |  Posted: Tue May 31, 2016 9:06 pm

Joined: Tue May 03, 2016 4:17 pm
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marnixR wrote:
what set me thinking about history and how often we seem to give credit for significant changes to kings and queens rather than other causes was my visit to Petra, and how the brochure merely mentioned that in the end the caravans no longer visited the place, and that was that ...

pretty unsatisfactory as an explanation, especially when i heard Iain Stewart in the BBC series Earth: The Power of the Planet mention that tectonic movements gradually restricted Petra's water supply until there was none left, after which it would obviously no longer be a stopping place for caravans intent on stocking up on water to get across the desert

that made me think of how unsatisfactory historical explanations were at the time when i went to school (maybe things are different now, but somehow i doubt it) : why did whole crowds migrate ? granted that tribes moved out of the way when the Huns invaded, but what made the Huns leave their homeland to start with ? was it a combination of population growth during a benign climatic period followed by hard times when they were not ?

is it because historians are usually not well versed in climatology and geology that they overlook the initial causes for why things happen, and instead frame all their explanations in terms of kings wanting to conquer stuff ?


The Wiki explanation seems to mention a mix of factors: an earthquake, which disrupted the water supply (THAT sort of "tectonic" factor of course can make itself felt in the space of a few minutes!), the shift of the trade routes from land to sea and finally the Arab conquest in the 600s.


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