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Northern Europe's Late Development as Argument Against Race Differences in IQ
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I’ll use this example of N.N. Taleb reaching muh African Einsteins levels of wokeness here to answer a common counter to critics of race differences in IQ.

North European backwardness was a function of late demographic development; in those regions, intensive agriculture became technologically possible relatively late:

Michael Mitterauer, “Why Europe?

White identifies agrarian technology as key to the social-dynamic shift in question. He lists the heavy plow, the use of horses in farming (because of the horse collar and the horseshoe), and the three-field system—the rotation of winter planting, summer planting, and fallow fields—as the crucial agrarian innovations. He ranks the cultivation of recently imported crops lower. A comparison with other cultures, however, shows that the cultivation of introduced crops is the decisive factor in agricultural revolutions. This is clearly evident in the transformations in agriculture simultaneously underway in China and Islamic countries.

Janet Martin, “Medieval Russia, 980-1584

Peasants maximized their chances for reaping sufficiently large crops by planting twice a year. Archeological evidence suggests that as early as the eleventh and twelfth centuries northern communities were planting both winter and spring crops. Winter rye was typically sown late in the year. The seeds were protected over the winter by an insulating layer of snow and sprouted as the snows melted in the spring. Spring crops were planted after the danger of winter frosts had passed.

Low agricultural yields resulted in generally low urbanization – barring trade entrepots like Low Countries – and consequently, lower literacy until around the midpoint of the second millennium.

***

Yet despite climatic challenges, and the challenges stemming from that, it’s worth noting that European cultural achievements seem to have been considerable – maybe even superlative – in the deep past.

Does Sub-Saharan Africa have anything contemporaneously comparable to… the Shigir Idol, possibly humanity’s earliest example of proto-literacy?

Lithic wonders such as Stonehenge or Newgrange?

The hitherto unprecedented explosion of artistic talent observed in cave paintings and Venus statues, which only appeared in Europe and nowhere else?

Or even intricate bone armor of Siberian hunter-gatherers 3,900 years ago?

In contrast, the only genuinely S.S. African pre-colonial cultural artifacts that I found to be genuinely impressive by was Benin metalwork. (There is a good collection at The British Museum).

But exceptions proves the rule. Benin was a coastal civilization with significant demographic resources, and it created those masterpieces within the past millennium.

Meanwhile, Sub-Saharan African literacy rates outside Ethiopia and areas where Africans interacted with Arabs were at flat zero percent (no indigenous writing systems or even quasi-writing systems like quipu) until 19th century. The sole exception was Nsibidi, an ideographic script developed a millennium ago. It originated from south-east Nigeria, in an area densely packed with Igbo – an ethnicity that seems to have substantially higher IQs than the Sub-Saharan African average. Incidentally, that also happens to be the approximate location of the origin of Sub-Saharan African iron metalworking.

 
• Category: History • Tags: Africa, Development, Europe, Race and Iq 
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  1. LondonBob says:

    Vikings were running riot from the Eastern Mediterranean to North America, the great cathedrals, the Venerable Bede, the great castles or even managing to sustain a military campaign in the form of the crusades in far off lands.

    • Replies: @anon
  2. anonymous[754] • Disclaimer says:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laas_Geel

    Cave paintings in Somalia

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
  3. @anonymous

    TIL and interesting, but: 1) Much later than Lascaux; 2) Simpler than Lascaux.

    • Agree: Dieter Kief
  4. melanf says:

    The Paleolithic hunters of Europe were not Europids, And Paleolithic Africans-were not Negroids

    Here is an example that is difficult to explain based on the priority of the hereditary factor: in the ancient era, Greece is the absolute champion in the field of science/art, and Italy (with the same climate) is almost an intellectual desert. In the middle ages Italy is an absolute champion in science / art, but Greece is an intellectual desert.

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  5. Taleb, in common with many other foes of Northern Europeans, also incorrectly dates the takeoff of Northwestern Europe to AD 1600.

    England and the Low Countries in fact began their takeoff by the year 1200, and perhaps even earlier. Contemporary observers of pre-Norman England described the country as the wealthiest country in Western Europe.

    This is despite the fact that England suffered from Viking depredations much longer than France did. While France was centralized into a modern kingdom and undergoing the Carolingian Renaissance, every single Anglo-Saxon kingdom was overrun by Vikings and destroyed. It was down to Alfred the Great and a few dozen retainers hiding out in a swamp at Wareham while Guthrum hunted him with the intent to murder him. And it didn’t end there–England went on to suffer devastating Viking invasions for another two centuries (while France turned them into Normans) that were only finally ended with the defeated of Harald Hardrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066.

    The Vikings themselves are also an argument for, and not against, the special qualities of Northern Europeans. Lightly-populated Scandinavia with only the most rudimentary agriculture practiced in appalling conditions and having only priestly literacy (if that) created technological maritime masterpieces and successfully navigated the North Atlantic.

    And the Anglo-Saxons themselves came from the same genetic and cultural milieu that the Vikings did. They originated in Schleswig-Holstein, Old Saxony, and Frisia. They spoke related languages, worshiped the same Gods, and had both similar art and social organization.

    Prior to Taleb’s sally against IQ he occasionally ranted about “Nordicists”. Being a REAL ROMAN he ought to have been aware of the fact that Roman Britain went onto become one of the wealthier parts of the Empire by Late Antiquity. His assault on IQ may be motivated less by the desire to remain handshakeworthy than by the primeval rage of the underman.

    Of course if present trends persist the Eternal Med may yet have his revenge.

  6. In the middle ages Italy is an absolute champion in science / art, but Greece is an intellectual desert.

    I don’t think this is accurate. As far as I understand, medieval Byzantine culture was much more developed than that of medieval Western Europe, and it was Greek intellectuals fleeing the fall of the Byzantine empire that sparked the Renaissance in Italy. See for example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_scholars_in_the_Renaissance.

    Nonetheless, your general point is worth considering.

    By the way, what is the correct way to insert hyperlinks? <a title=”…” href=… didn’t work.

    AK: Like this:

    [a href=””]Link[a] except replace [] with the arrow things.

    I did actually make a suggestion to Ron to add an automatic link generator, because even I am often too lazy to type that all out, so many people don’t and the result is unaesthetic raw links all over the place. However, he explained that it will require quite a bit of work – much more than I expected, because the code for the text box comment field is all custom.

  7. neutral says:

    Taleb is simply saying the same stuff that was said 2000 years ago, that the Mediterranean races were superior than the Northern “barbarian” races (Aryans). It was however Germania that Rome could never conquer and the Germans that brought down this empire, so it was they who are superior. The fact that they did not exist in squalid stinky cities with a massive of slave population somehow makes them barbarians for some reason.

  8. @Thorfinnsson

    While France was centralized into a modern kingdom and undergoing the Carolingian Renaissance, every single Anglo-Saxon kingdom was overrun by Vikings and destroyed

    France wasn’t centralized into a modern kingdom in Carolingian times. That only happened much later in the late 12th/13th centuries under monarchs like Philip Augustus. What actually happened in the West Frankish kingdom/France after the final breakup of the Carolingian empire in 888 was a precipitous decline of royal power, the emergence of quasi-independent principalities and/or political fragmentation to an almost local level, with endemic low-level warfare (which was the background to the Treuga Dei peace movement in the 11th century).
    The power of the West Frankish/French king was very weak in those centuries, basically he was restricted to crown lands in the Île-de-France and limited to battling local castellans, slowly re-building royal power.
    England by contrast never suffered such political fragmentation after the creation of the English state by Alfred and his successors, with royal power always remaining important for the administration of justice in the localities, e.g. sheriffs were officials appointed by the king, and their office never became hereditary property of noble families like happened with counts on the continent. With some justification England can be seen as the oldest nation state in Western Europe.

    Roman Britain went onto become one of the wealthier parts of the Empire by Late Antiquity

    I doubt that though, Roman Britain was quite peripheral to the empire (iirc it didn’t even produce a single senator unlike Gaul).

    • Agree: Epigon
  9. @The Big Red Scary

    As far as I understand, medieval Byzantine culture was much more developed than that of medieval Western Europe

    I don’t think it was more developed than Northern Italian cities (which were very innovative in both economics and politics, even producing a sort of proto-republicanism) by the 12th century, probably much less so.

    • Replies: @The Big Red Scary
  10. melanf says:
    @The Big Red Scary

    As far as I understand, medieval Byzantine culture was much more developed than that of medieval Western Europe

    This is true for the early middle ages, and in comparison Byzantium with Northern Europe but not with Italy. However, the high level of Byzantium was explained by the preserved (partially) ancient heritage, but not by the achievements of Byzantium (such achievements were practically absent). If we compare independent achievements, Byzantium is a hopeless outsider.

    Here is the Cathedral of Pisa founded in 1063 – already here you can see a huge superiority over the ugly churches of Byzantium.

    For Greece, Christianity was a disaster. If in the Western half of the Roman Empire, the “dark ages” were replaced by a new dawn, but the Greece lost (along with paganism ) brilliant civilization, received nothing in return.

    • Disagree: Swarthy Greek
    • Replies: @German_reader
    , @Dmitry
  11. @melanf

    For Greece, Christianity was a disaster.

    imo Christianity did have a negative impact in some areas (e.g. on philosophy and other intellectual endeavours, with Justinian closing down the academy), but the real disasters must have been the hugely destructive Byzantine-Persian war of the early 7th century and the Islamic conquests which followed afterwards and forced Byzantium in a long struggle for survival. This destroyed much of what had remained of late antique city culture.

    • Agree: Mr. Hack
  12. LondonBob says:

    Greece just got surpassed, only a US based Orthodox zealot could disagree with that.

    • LOL: Anatoly Karlin
  13. songbird says:

    I never watch that “Finding Your Roots” show, for several reasons including the host “Skippy” Gates, who was the reason for Obama’s beer summit. Still, I ‘d definitely watch it if Taleb were on it. Molyneux would be interesting to have on the same episode.

    Speaking of crop introduction, I think it would be a fascinating alternative history scenario, if the potato was introduced to Europe in Roman times or earlier. I’m not even talking about contact with the Americas – I just mean tossing a few potatoes around.

  14. songbird says:
    @The Big Red Scary

    I think Ron should just include a button, or a FAQ. Maybe, he has a reason for not doing it though.

  15. Some even concluded that Benin knowledge of metallurgy came from the Portuguese traders who were in contact with Benin in the early modern period

    The Benin Bronzes: A Tragic Story

    The Benin Bronzes consist of several thousand commemorative plaques and sculptures

    many of the Benin Bronzes were created between the 15th and 16th centuries.

    The Benin Bronzes were seized by British forces during the Benin Expedition of 1897

    The Human Cost of the Bronzes

    The metal required for the production of the Benin Bronzes was … a form of money in the shape of bracelets… . These were brought to the Benin Empire by European traders, and were usually exchanged for slaves.

    Several thousand commemorative plaques for the royalty, no tools or weapons. No metalworking industry outside of the capitol. When the capitol was sacked, the civilization’s *entire* inventory of brass artifacts was taken.

    • Replies: @szopen
  16. I think you make a good argument but to take a contrary but still complimentary position here, I don’t see what it matters group A was historically behind group B when commenting group A is currently ahead. Things change. (And yes, they can change again).

    But if northern euros were backward cretinous hillbillies 4000 years ago and China was much more advanced, what’s the problem? This is in regards to a comment about Sub Saharan Africa not building autonomous vehicles. Well they are not. They are currently way behind.

    So he says “look what happened in 1600”. Well maybe things changed in 1600. The fact they shot ahead in 1600 doesn’t mean they weren’t way behind before 1600. It could be biological, biology changes. Just because they realized a potential in 1600 doesn’t mean that potential was there 2000 years earlier.

    If they argument is “in another 800 years maybe SSA’s will shoot ahead and build flying cars”, well maybe they will. It seems non-sequitur. Doesn’t change present realities.

    If you see some people who are 4’6″, you say they cannot play basketball and that’s biological. Then down the line, if some parents who are 4’6″ have a kid who ends up 6’8″ and he starts playing basketball, this does not prove short 4’6″ people can play basketball too because hey look what happened. “Pygmies are just as good at basketball because one of them stopped being a pygmy at some point” is not a real good argument.

    • Replies: @iffen
  17. @The Big Red Scary

    I’m guessing you already figured this out since you did it, but to hyperlink you don’t do anything, just post the URL and it automatically hyperlinks.

  18. ulysses says:

    Does anyone actually have a number for the average Igbo IQ? Found that they outperform British white on standardized tests in the UK, but so do Indians, and the average IQ of India is nowhere near 100. If I had to guess, i’d say high 80’s-90 would explain all the observable phenomena. By far the best of sub-Saharan Africa and capable of boasting a 100+ elite while still not quite being clever enough to raise Nigeria to level of Anglo-Boer South Africa

  19. inertial says:

    The creators of Shigir Idol, Stonehenge, Lascaux painting, etc. either left no descendants or contributed only to a tiny part of the modern Northern ancestry.

  20. @German_reader

    I don’t think it was more developed than Northern Italian cities

    That’s fair. Venice alone was sometimes able to give Byzantium a run for its money.

  21. szopen says:
    @Hippopotamusdrome

    But there were metalworks much older further to the north. It’s a pity there is no Jayman here, he would give you the links.

  22. @melanf

    Here is an example that is difficult to explain based on the priority of the hereditary factor: in the ancient era, Greece is the absolute champion in the field of science/art, and Italy (with the same climate) is almost an intellectual desert.

    Romans inherited the Round Arch and Vault from the Etruscans. All other civilizations had used trabeate forms, including the Greeks. Roman achievements in Engineering and Architecture – from their Roads to Concrete Domes ( The Pantheon ) to Docks like Ostia ( the concrete of which was) designed to set underwater – were absolutely outstanding. They were not surpassed until the 19th Century.
    Roman Law is the basis even today for most Western Legal Systems. Scientists and Naturalists like Pliny the Elder continued to be produced. And it was the Romans who discovered that Conception – a Roman not a Greek word – is necessary for life. All those Ancient Greek physicians thought that sperm embedded in the womb was the origin of new life !
    In the arts, Rome produced great poets ( eg Virgil, Ovid, Catullus etc ), dramatists, Historians ( Tacitus etc ) and so on. It is however true that Rome was overwhelmingly a literary culture. Visual artists did not enjoy high social status – they were only craftsmen at best. Many, especially those producing reproductions, were probably slaves or freedmen. So we know the names of very few Roman artists. This contrasts very much with Ancient Greece and Renascence Italy. However, this should not detract from the very considerable achievements of Roman realist sculpture, mosaic and fresco work or silverware.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
    , @melanf
    , @Seraphim
  23. @German_reader

    imo Christianity did have a negative impact in some areas (e.g. on philosophy and other intellectual endeavours, with Justinian closing down the academy)

    Could you elaborate a little? I’d like to understand better this point of view. My impression is that the Academy at the time was mostly concerned with neo-Platonic metaphysics, which from a modern materialistic point of view seems more or less interchangeable with Orthodox metaphysics. What does seem to be true is that most of the well-known astronomers and mathematicians of the Byzantine period were neo-Platonists or even neo-pagans, and that in my opinion suggests some fundamental deficiency in Byzantine Christian culture.

  24. Dmitry says:
    @The Big Red Scary

    It reminds of Nietzsche’s famous quote: “Christianity is Plato for stupid people”.

  25. Dmitry says:
    @Verymuchalive

    It’s mainly in the intellectual field, that Romans are almost a complete desert compared to the Greeks.

    Just positing possible explanations – I wonder if the was even partially linguistic?

    • Replies: @songbird
  26. @Dmitry

    Onanism, both physical and philosophical, are frowned upon in Christianity.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  27. @The Big Red Scary

    “Could you elaborate a little?”

    Not really, because my knowledge about those issues is rather limited (I’m not a Byzantinist and have almost completely forgotten the Greek I learned at school). It’s more of a general observation that Christianity imposed severe limits on intellectual endeavour, because philosophy was reduced to a handmaiden of theology and always had to be reconciled with (an often quite literal reading of) the holy scriptures.
    (of course the same was true in Western Christendom when there was some intellectual diversity in the High Middle ages again, e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condemnations_of_1210%E2%80%931277#Condemnation_of_1277 ).

    One book in German which I found very interesting is Winfried Schröder, Athen und Jerusalem: die philosophische Kritik am Christentum in Antike und Neuzeit, which argues that the friction between ancient philosophy and Christianity has been underestimated and papered over, in an attempt to provide a harmonious occidental foundation narrative. It’s rather negative about some of the ancient Christians, basically arguing that they were an anti-intellectual subculture whose arguments were justly ridiculed even by many contemporaries. It also mentions the “Christian humanism” of bishops like Basil of Caesarea though who tried to adapt elements of pagan culture to Christian purposes; the irrational elements in the thought of Neoplatonists are also considered (there’s some funny stuff about levitation).
    So imo it’s not just an anti-Christian polemic, but I admit I’m biased, believers like yourself may come to other conclusions.

    The Cambridge companion to the age of Justinian also contains a decent chapter about philosophy in the 6th century.
    Much of the rest of that book was somewhat boring imo (too much about monasticism and theological controversies…). It has some very nice pictures of Byzantine art though; e.g. some really striking silverwork which depicted biblical heroes like David in the artistic conventions established in depictions of Heracles and other pagan figures. So there was some artistic continuity with pagan times, and works of very high quality were even produced in the 6th century. This must have been destroyed by the deplorable expansion of Islam.

    • Replies: @iffen
    , @Anonymous
  28. songbird says:
    @Dmitry

    I rather like “The Aeneid.” Sure, it has its flaws, but even in the way it is derivative , it is brilliant. IMO, it is easily the best piece of literature of the ancient world. The way it begins in hubris and defeat. The symbology of Aeneas carrying his father out of burning Troy is so powerful. It is the ultimate bootstrap, underdog story. Then there is the prose – quite good.

  29. melanf says:
    @German_reader

    but the real disasters must have been the hugely destructive Byzantine-Persian war of the early 7th century and the Islamic conquests which followed afterwards and forced Byzantium in a long struggle for survival. This destroyed much of what had remained of late antique city culture.

    Spain and southern Italy were also conquered by Muslims, but were able to rise again.
    But the Eastern half of the Roman Empire (the cradle of European civilization) – alas. Here is the evolution of painting from the 3rd century to the 14th, in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire.

    Such monstrous fall of art cannot be explained by wars. Analogue of Giotto in Greece did not appear (and probably could not appear)

    • Replies: @Epigon
  30. melanf says:
    @Verymuchalive

    Romans inherited…

    The colossal superiority of the Greeks over the Romans in the intellectual sphere, it is an indisputable fact, which is not disputed (among scientists) even by ardent patriots of Rome (like Theodore Momzen).
    the Romans had undoubted achievements in architecture and literature, but in comparison with the achievements of the Greeks it is almost nothing. Romans themselves well understood this fact.

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  31. Dmitry says:
    @melanf

    Greece lost (along with paganism ) brilliant civilization,

    It’s correctly written.

    But the flourishing of classical Greece had ended centuries earlier, and Greece had already declined in the time of the Roman Empire, to a slightly pathetic”Disneyland”, “intellectual safari park” or “living museum”.

    Moreover, by time Christianity was created itself by Jewish radicals – the Jews had been (sometimes controversially to themselves) saturated with Greek culture, and were to some degree just recycling ideas of Greek philosophy in their religious speculations.

    In view of Nietzsche, Christianity was the “Plato for stupid people”. And for Nietzsche, by time of Socrates, Greek civilization had already reached peak, and its decline was inevitable.

    So for Nietzsche Christianity was a populist version of Greek ideas, and those Greek ideas already represented the beginning a decline of Greek civilization.

    This is to say, the new culture was somewhat endogenous to the old one (the inferior new culture was somewhat endogenous product of the brilliant civilization that had preceded it).

    By the way, in some support of Nietzsche’s view of Christianity as an endogenous byproduct of Greek civilization, just adulterated “for the masses”.

    Below are photos I took personally when I visited Israel a year ago of ancient elite house floor.

    These are houses of ruling Jewish elite (who were clients of the Romans), constructed a short time before Jesus was born and 20 kilometers from his hometown.

    It’s like looking at the houses of oligarchs and politicians in the neighbouring town to where Jesus was growing up – you can see what was the prestigious culture of the time of Jesus.

    I could see with my eyes, that Greek culture and language, was the elite’s cargo cult in the place and time where Christianity was born.

    • Replies: @melanf
    , @utu
  32. Okechukwu says:

    A pile of rocks like Stonehenge pleads for the relative backwardness of its creators when compared to what their contemporaries were doing elsewhere. The other artifacts you cite are just as unimpressive.

    Take heart, Karlin, societal development and cultural sophistication are actuated by a range of factors independent of human intelligence. So even though Northern Europe was a barbaric backwater for most of human history, that doesn’t necessarily speak to the intelligence of those people, or the lack of same.

    Just a few hundred years ago, the “healthcare” practiced by Northern Europeans was less sophisticated than that which was practiced by Australopithecus africanus that lived 3 million years ago. Now they are on the cutting edge in health science. That demonstrates that all humans have dormant potential that requires a lot or a little to actualize, subject to circumstances, influences, location, culture, etc.

    • Troll: EldnahYm
  33. syonredux says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    Yeah, Taleb’s notions about pre-1600 Northern Europe being comparable to Black Africa are simply silly. One assumes that he’s simply never heard of Geoffrey Chaucer, William of Ockham, Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Peter Abelard (Taleb doesn’t count Atlantic France as part of the Med-World), ……

    Then there are the great Gothic Cathedrals…..

    • Replies: @Okechukwu
    , @Dmitry
  34. melanf says:
    @Dmitry

    But the flourishing of classical Greece had ended centuries earlier

    flourishing was over, but civilization itself existed. Architecture and painting were at a high level (see Fayum portraits), there were such authors as Plutarch, Amian Marcelin, Diophantus. If the Chinese civilization (which appeared simultaneously with the Greek civilization) exists to this day (experiencing multiple periods of flourishing and decline), then I think the Hellenic civilization could also potentially survive.

    the Jews had been (sometimes controversially to themselves) saturated with Greek culture

    • Replies: @Dmitry
    , @utu
  35. The hitherto unprecedented explosion of artistic talent observed in cave paintings and Venus statues, which only appeared in Europe and nowhere else?

    San rock paintings are very respectable in quality and age:

    https://africanrockart.org/rock-art-gallery/south-africa/

    https://www.wits.ac.za/rockart/about-rock-art/rock-art-of-southern-africa/

    • Agree: Okechukwu
  36. iffen says:
    @Lars Porsena

    this does not prove short 4’6″ people can play basketball too

    I bet they could if we dropped the rim about two feet. Say, I bet a pygmy basketball league would be a real money maker. I know my peeps love midget wrestling. Speaking of my peeps, could you not use hillbilly in a disparaging manner? It can be quite hurtful. I’m okay with it because I have the skin of a rhino, but some of my peeps are insecure snowflakey types.

  37. Okechukwu says:
    @syonredux

    One assumes that he’s simply never heard of Geoffrey Chaucer, William of Ockham, Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Peter Abelard

    None of them bathed, Africans did. And when they got sick their “doctors” killed them rather than healed them. Africans had sophisticated medical practices relative to Europeans.

    Besides, you are making a supposition that Africa lacked personages of equal or superior weight and gravity. You wouldn’t know of any of the aforementioned individuals if writing wasn’t introduced to Europe. Just like the Africans, the exceptional pre-literate Europeans are unknown to history. It’s not by accident that most of what we know about ancient Norse culture, mythology and folklore isn’t from the Vikings themselves, but from Anglo-Saxon scribes who were earlier adopters of writing.

  38. iffen says:
    @German_reader

    deplorable expansion of Islam.

    Muslims are included in the deplorables now? Well, this is gonna cause a lot of confusion.

  39. iffen says:
    @Okechukwu

    all humans have dormant potential

    True, but some are more dormant than others.

  40. Dmitry says:
    @syonredux

    In the High Middle Ages, there is a real cultural flourishing, and of course encompassed parts of Northern Europe (what about Oxford and Cambridge University?).

  41. songbird says:
    @Okechukwu

    I suppose Africans must have taken baths, when their canoes capsized in the rapids, or showers during monsoon season, but most people wouldn’t choose African doctors to this day.

    You must of never heard of Snorri Sturluson, since his name is not easy to forget. BTW, he had a hot, outdoor bath. A bit easier in Iceland.

  42. syonredux says:
    @Okechukwu

    None of them bathed, Africans did.

    Which Africans? Africa is a big place, full of many different races…..

    As for bathing….

    http://www.medievalists.net/2013/04/did-people-in-the-middle-ages-take-baths/

    And when they got sick their “doctors” killed them rather than healed them. Africans had sophisticated medical practices relative to Europeans.

    Again, which Africans? And I’ll take post-1900 European medicine for the win….

    Besides, you are making a supposition that Africa lacked personages of equal or superior weight and gravity. You wouldn’t know of any of the aforementioned individuals if writing wasn’t introduced to Europe. Just like the Africans, the exceptional pre-literate Europeans are unknown to history.

    Black Africa was full of “mute, inglorious Miltons,” eh? Maybe…..But I wouldn’t bet on it…

    It’s not by accident that most of what we know about ancient Norse culture, mythology and folklore isn’t from the Vikings themselves, but from Anglo-Saxon scribes who were earlier adopters of writing.

    I guess that you haven’t heard of Snorri Sturluson or the Poetic Edda….

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
    , @Okechukwu
  43. Dmitry says:
    @melanf

    Salome…

    And her family was living in amazing Greek palaces (with all “hi tech” running water systems and swimming pools, Greek culture), and which were much more beautiful and large than any houses that exist in modern Israel or Palestine thousands of years later.

  44. Tulip says:

    IQ is not nothing, but world history witnesses increased social complexity (and a decline in social complexity) at different geographic times and locations. If it was all about IQ, you should see linear increases in social complexity at different rates based on IQ, and it is unclear how you address decline.

    Moreover, IQ is not strictly about heredity, and the lower the social development, the less impact any genetic factors are going to drive IQ. You can’t just compare the IQ scores of illiterate goat herders on the brink of starvation with IQ scores of children in Sweden. The Flynn effect is real, and nutrition, child abuse, etc. can all have serious impacts on IQ.

    Who knows what sub-Saharan Africa is capable of? Clearly, not a lot of human capital today, but in 200 years, who knows. Taleb has taken a pretty silly position on IQ, but Molyneux silly tweet makes for a contrast gainer. Maybe a general rule of thumb is it is impossible to NOT to sound like an idiot making continent-wide generalizations based IQ in tweets.

    • Replies: @EldnahYm
  45. EldnahYm says:
    @Tulip

    “Who knows what sub-Saharan Africa is capable of? Clearly, not a lot of human capital today, but in 200 years, who knows.”

    Sub-Saharan Africans have been in the Americas and the Caribbean for over 200 years. What great things have they done in that time?

    • Replies: @Tulip
  46. Bill says:
    @Okechukwu

    Actually, it demonstrates that Northern Europeans had dormant potentials.

  47. @Okechukwu

    A pile of rocks like Stonehenge pleads for the relative backwardness of its creators when compared to what their contemporaries were doing elsewhere. The other artifacts you cite are just as unimpressive.

    Stonehenge was built four to five thousand years ago. Obviously inferior to what the Egyptians and Mesopotamians were doing at the same time, but little else from that time which survives today is superior. Of course, England’s mild climate is no doubt a major reason why.

    Just a few hundred years ago, the “healthcare” practiced by Northern Europeans was less sophisticated than that which was practiced by Australopithecus africanus that lived 3 million years ago. Now they are on the cutting edge in health science. That demonstrates that all humans have dormant potential that requires a lot or a little to actualize, subject to circumstances, influences, location, culture, etc.

    Recently crows began using Japanese automobile traffic to crush nuts. This demonstrates that all crows have dormant potential that requires a lot or a little to actualize, subject to circumstances, influences, location, culture, etc.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
  48. Seraphim says:
    @The Big Red Scary

    And it is well known that Nietzsche was a ‘confirmed masturbator’. He and his ‘philosophy’ clearly show why Christianity frowned upon masturbation. Onanism is not exactly the same thing as masturbation, although they overlap.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  49. critical mass probably explains a lot of this stuff. how many humans you need in a continuously populated area over hundreds or thousands of years before they start doing stuff recognizable as civilization and not just tribes and nomads and raids and small time stupid stuff.

    humans got to the nile river area first, so that’s where stuff started to happen first. then it reached it’s ceiling, and would not progress much further from there. so we have to hear about egypt did this, egypt did that, 3000 years ago. yeah, and that was their ceiling. they got there first, reached their ceiling, and that was it. like a jock who peaks in high school. what does egypt do today? about the same as their ceiling which they reached thousands of years ago.

    so a combination of how smart the average guy is, plus how many guys are there. not much different than the smart fraction idea.

    and there’s pretty good evidence than western europeans steadily got smarter over time, so in combination with their numbers going up in a place where it’s harder to live, they got more intelligent, so this world beating population emerged, starting around the time of rome.

    you also get modern populations who are capable of things, like finland, but there’s just not enough people, to move the needle. you need more than 5 million people, even if they’re smart. how many people do you need to start making your own cars? sweden level of people, probably. 10 million people, so that you have that few hundred guys who are capable enough to launch and sustain such an industry. and so on for lots of human endeavor. simply not enough people in the small nations. but once you get a netherlands sized nation, you got enough really smart guys do to a few industries at the world level. with switzerland probably being the most capable small nation there.

  50. @Okechukwu

    Public bath houses were (re)established in England in the reign of Henry II. I don’t know whether any of those particular English historical figures themselves bathed, but the facilities were available.

    And presumably the rural population routinely washed in rivers, streams, lakes, etc. in Medieval Europe just as rural people do everywhere and have always done, including Africa. The unpleasantness of being covered in dirt isn’t a discovery.

    As for medical practices, I have the distinct impression that institutionalized quackery as a form of “medicine” is an unfortunate side effect of civilization. One that continues to this day in fact, even if there have been great strides since the 19th century.

  51. Tulip says:

    Since we are dissing Sub-Saharan Africa, it is interesting that they went from the Stone Age to the Iron Age without any intervening period of development.

    But notwithstanding the Greeks, China was way ahead of the “West” until about 1600.

    • Replies: @syonredux
    , @Unzerker
  52. Dmitry says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    crows began using Japanese automobile traffic to crush nuts. This demonstrates that all crows have dormant potential that requires a lot or a little to actualize, subject to circumstances, influences, location, culture, etc.

    Well, corvidae are one of the most intelligent animals, as was already clear to the Greeks.

  53. @syonredux

    I guess that you haven’t heard of Snorri Sturluson or the Poetic Edda….

    This doesn’t undermine Okechukwu’s point. Snorri Sturluson did his work in 13th century Christian Iceland.

    The pagan vikings did leave some written records in the form of rune stones, but hadn’t yet acquired the cultural practice of recording records on portable media. Hence, as Okechukwu pointed out, the written records we have of them come largely from contemporary Christians.

    And their alphabet itself was not an indigenous development, nor were any known European alphabets.

    • Agree: Okechukwu
    • Replies: @syonredux
  54. Tulip says:
    @EldnahYm

    You can check out Chanda Chisala’s article at Unz:

    http://www.unz.com/article/the-iq-gap-is-no-longer-a-black-and-white-issue/

    It does seem like there are some substantial differences between the AA’s (or straight up AA’s) and the West Indian Blacks in terms of cognitive abilities.

    Plus, if you bother to look at David Reich’s book, Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the more heterogeneous genetic make-ups (as compared to AA’s, which have pretty homogeneous genetics). People mention the Igbo’s, but they are just one genetically distinct ethnicity. What open-minded person actually knows?

    Plus, India’s pretty low IQ on the whole, but again, highly genetically stratified population, and they seemed to do okay civilization-wise with the high IQ castes on top.

    I’m not saying don’t write off Sub-Saharan Africa today, its not the next Japan, but who knows in 200 years.

  55. Seraphim says:
    @Verymuchalive

    That’s why we cannot describe the classical civilization of ‘Europe’ but as the ‘Greco-Roman’ civilization. It was that civilization which adopted Christianity.

  56. Hail says: • Website

    Surprised no one has mentioned that common “go-to” in such discussions:

    Great Zimbabwe.

    “Who built Great Zimbabwe” is so racially-politicized a question that I don’t know what to believe.

  57. syonredux says:
    @Tulip

    But notwithstanding the Greeks, China was way ahead of the “West” until about 1600.

    That’s a pretty big “notwithstanding”…..

  58. syonredux says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    I guess that you haven’t heard of Snorri Sturluson or the Poetic Edda….

    This doesn’t undermine Okechukwu’s point. Snorri Sturluson did his work in 13th century Christian Iceland.

    Actually, it does undermine his point, as he seems to think that our knowledge of the pagan Norse derives from the Anglo-Saxons:

    It’s not by accident that most of what we know about ancient Norse culture, mythology and folklore isn’t from the Vikings themselves, but from Anglo-Saxon scribes who were earlier adopters of writing.

    Snorri was a Christian, but he wasn’t Anglo-Saxon.And The Poetic Edda contains poems that go back to the Viking Age.

  59. Okechukwu says:
    @syonredux

    Which Africans? Africa is a big place, full of many different races…..

    It wasn’t just Africans. Everybody, with the exception of Europeans, bathed. It was only Europeans that failed to make the connection between hygiene and disease control. In fact they inverted the concept, with a belief that cleanliness induced disease.

    [European]Medical theories disapproved of bathing for hundreds of years because they considered it harmful, even dangerous. If disease was spread by bad air, and water opened the skin to air, it was clear that people should not wash often and certainly should not submerge their whole bodies in water. A layer of dirt on the body was sometimes considered a prudent protection against disease.

    http://exhibits.hsl.virginia.edu/hands/western/

    Again, which Africans? And I’ll take post-1900 European medicine for the win….

    Although post-1900 European medicine is not without its detractors, all in all Western medicine has been superior post-1900.

    Black Africa was full of “mute, inglorious Miltons,” eh? Maybe…..But I wouldn’t bet on it…

    Without writing nobody would’ve ever heard of Milton. He would’ve lived out his life in illiterate obscurity. As would Shakespeare, Chaucer, Wordsworth, Dr. Johnson, etc. Consider that Homer, Sophocles, Herodotus, Plato, and many other ancient writers predate the aforementioned British writers by thousands of years. It wasn’t because the Britons lacked the requisite intellectual faculties. Rather, they lacked literacy.

    I guess that you haven’t heard of Snorri Sturluson or the Poetic Edda….

    I actually have heard of Snorri Sturluson and the Poetic Edda. But bear in mind, the Viking raids on England began in the late 8th century, about 400 years before Sturluson was born and by which time most of Scandinavia had Christianized. The Norse oral histories in the form of the sagas are replete with myth and legend and are therefore unreliable. Hence the Anglo-Saxon chronicles, though often biased and of questionable historicity, are the only extant written primary sources from this period.

    • Replies: @syonredux
  60. syonredux says:
    @Okechukwu

    Which Africans? Africa is a big place, full of many different races…..

    It wasn’t just Africans. Everybody, with the exception of Europeans, bathed.

    Parody or silliness? I’m not sure…The decline in cleanliness that you describe was a late Medieval-Renaissance development…..

    Black Africa was full of “mute, inglorious Miltons,” eh? Maybe…..But I wouldn’t bet on it…

    Without writing nobody would’ve ever heard of Milton. He would’ve lived out his life in illiterate obscurity. As would Shakespeare, Chaucer, Wordsworth, Dr. Johnson, etc. Consider that Homer, Sophocles, Herodotus, Plato, and many other ancient writers predate the aforementioned British writers by thousands of years. It wasn’t because the Britons lacked the requisite intellectual faculties. Rather, they lacked literacy.

    Maybe there was a Newton or Archimedes in the Congo two thousand years ago…..But I wouldn’t bet the farm on it…..

    I guess that you haven’t heard of Snorri Sturluson or the Poetic Edda….

    I actually have heard of Snorri Sturluson and the Poetic Edda. But bear in mind, the Viking raids on England began in the late 8th century, about 400 years before Sturluson was born and by which time most of Scandinavia had Christianized. The Norse oral histories in the form of the sagas are replete with myth and legend and are therefore unreliable. Hence the Anglo-Saxon chronicles, though often biased and of questionable historicity, are the only extant written primary sources from this period.

    And they tell us very little about Viking society, its myths and legends, how it was organized, etc

    Again, as I pointed out upthread, Scandinavian sources (Snorri, the Poetic Edda, the sagas) are our main sources for that kind of information, not the Anglo-Saxons

    • Replies: @Okechukwu
    , @Seraphim
  61. Seraphim says:
    @The Big Red Scary

    Much too much was made of the closure of the Athens neo-platonic school. The real motives were political, the School being a hub of brazenly anti-Christian thought and in cahoots with all heretic enemies of the Empire. The imperial decree was ordering that “no one should teach philosophy nor astrology and outlawed divination with dice”. It was directed at the ‘Samaritans’ [Jews] and pagans in general, if not in the first place. Drawing the Emperor’s horoscope was a crime of lese-majesty, and indication of political conspiracy. In fact it said that: ” Thus, since they have had such an ill effect, they should have no influence nor enjoy any dignity, nor, acting as teachers of any subjects, should they drag the minds of the simple to their errors and, in this way, turn the more ignorant among them against the pure and true orthodox faith; so we permit only those who are of the orthodox faith to teach and accept a public stipend”. No other schools where ‘philosophy’ was taught (Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople) have been touched. Justinian did not even stop pagan philosophers from writing and publishing, (f.e. the works of Damascius, the last head of the Athenian academy, and a large corpus by Simplicius, its leading light, survive to this day). The fact that the decree was issued in the middle of one of the endemic Roman-Persian wars and that seven philosophers of the Athenian school sought refuge at the Persian court, strongly suggests that it was also a suspicion of collusion with the enemy. Nevertheless, the peace treaty concluded by Chosroes with Justinian c. 533 stipulated that the philosophers (bitterly disappointed by the Persians and desperate to return home) should be allowed to return without risk and to practise their rites, after which they returned.
    The study of ‘philosophy’ continued unabetted at the “University” of the Palace Hall of Magnaura (Greek: Πανδιδακτήριον τῆς Μαγναύρας) in Constantinople, founded by Emperor Theodosius II in 425 AD, with 31 chairs for law, philosophy, medicine, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music, rhetoric and other subjects, 15 to Latin and 16 to Greek. The university existed until the 15th century. It maintained an active philosophical tradition of ‘Platonism’ and ‘Aristotelianism’, being the longest unbroken Platonic school. It had a period of eclipse during the Iconoclast persecution, but it was reopened to its former glory once Iconoclasm was finally defeated. It started to decline with the Latin conquest of 1204 and its persecution of the Orthodox. It continued under the management of the Church until Mehmet II re-established it as a Madrasa.

    That the closure of Athene’s school represents “the official end of pagan philosophy and the last light to be put out in Europe as the Dark Ages (brought in by Christianity) closed in” is a myth of the Enlightenment in its fight against the ‘infamous’, the Church..

  62. Okechukwu says:
    @syonredux

    Parody or silliness? I’m not sure…The decline in cleanliness that you describe was a late Medieval-Renaissance development…..

    You’re certainly welcome to believe that if it makes you feel better. But the facts are what they are.

    The Ancient Romans did, of course, bathe regularly. But they weren’t European back then and they certainly wouldn’t identify with what they considered savage European barbarians.

    Maybe there was a Newton or Archimedes in the Congo two thousand years ago…..But I wouldn’t bet the farm on it…..

    Well, speaking of the Congo, I refer you to Marlow in Heart of Darkness, who allegorizes the Congo to pre-Roman Britain. It would have seemed inconceivable at that time that those mud-hut dwelling British tribesmen would one day create an empire that spanned the globe.

    In any event, Karlin’s article is about Northern Europeans. I understand you’re trying to introduce Greco-Roman figures in order to appropriate their civilizational attainment on behalf of the barbarian hordes of Northern Europe. But that won’t do.

    Ask yourself this? Why did it take so long for great scientists like Newton to emerge in Northern Europe? There had been many other great scientists, thinkers and writers going back thousands of years prior to the Enlightenment in Europe.

    Africa is undergoing the same process as Britain but at an exhilarated pace. For example, it took over 1000 years after the introduction of writing to the British Isles for great writers to emerge there. Conversely, after just a few decades of exposure to English, Africa produced great English language writers like Chinua Achebe and Nobel Prize for Literature winner Wole Soyinka.

    And they tell us very little about Viking society, its myths and legends, how it was organized, etc

    You do understand that Vikings didn’t always just go home after raiding, right? Many settled in conquered territories or territories bequeath to them as protection payments. Rollo or Ivar the Boneless are well-chronicled figures and through them and other Vikings the way of life of the Norsemen was well known. Things only become murky and ahistorical when we rely on Viking sagas. The historicity of Ragnar Lothbrok, for example, is subject to dispute because he’s primarily a character from Norse oral traditions.

    • Replies: @syonredux
  63. What’s the point to this arguing? Africans may one day, maybe, perhaps achieve something in two centuries (under the Benevolent Guidance of their Chinese comrade-brothers), so therefore you should let in Okechukwuyusha’s parents and their ilk in right now so they can give birth to Okechukwuyusha and other twits full of ressentiment?

    • Replies: @songbird
  64. Anonymous[232] • Disclaimer says:
    @German_reader

    I’m not sure about it, it seems typical bad history produced by Protestants, after all Pandidakterion existed, and i never heard anything about Justinian closing it???

    Main issues in ERE were that they had their mini dark age after Islamic invasion, and elites having small families, that could possibly led them into dysgenic circle.

  65. anonymous[324] • Disclaimer says:
    @Okechukwu

    Calling Stonehenge “a pile of rocks” makes me think that you don’t understand their significance and don’t appreciate the fact that the bluestones were transported from 140 miles away. The design of Stonehenge shows a sophisticated understanding of Astronomy and transporting these heavy blocks 140 miles would’ve been a massive undertaking for even the Romans.

  66. songbird says:
    @Hyperborean

    Modern Nigeria has a population of about 192 million. That is what? Something like Song China and the whole of Europe during the Renaissance combined. Something greater than the population of whites in America, when it went to the moon.

    Now it is on a path to 750 million or more, multiples of that. And Okechukwu apparently doesn’t want to be on the exciting path of Nigerian singularity. He wants to observe the path from this side of the ocean. All that ceaseless growth, and he doesn’t want to take advantage of the opportunities it provides.

  67. @melanf

    Roman Civilisation was a middle-aged one. By 400 AD, Ancient Greece was 800-900 years in the past. The Egyptian New Kingdom was over 1500 years in the past. Modern Western Civilisation is an old age one, and may shortly die of senility.
    Roman Engineering and Architecture arose to meet the needs of a complex society in a way completely surpassing the primitive adobe houses of Ancient Athens. Likewise, Roman Law met similar needs in a universal fashion previously unknown.
    Granted, the achievements of Ancient Greek Philosophy were remarkable. But they didn’t formulate the Empirical Theory of Logic, the basis of Modern Science. Greek Society was brittle and fractious. Even after Alexander, Greek states were breaking up. Greek Civilisation may have collapsed, but for Roman intervention.
    Roman Civilisation not only preserved its own unique and remarkable civilisation, but also that of Ancient Greece as well. Without Roman Civilisation, knowledge of Ancient Greece might be very limited indeed.
    PS I know that your knowledge of German is limited, but it’s Mommsen.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
    , @Seraphim
  68. Seraphim says:
    @German_reader

    Certainly it was not Christianity which had a ‘negative impact’, as the received anti-Christian ‘wisdom’ of the malignant Gibbonian ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ (which remains the Bible of all sophomoric ‘Brexiter’ Anglo-centric Protestant ‘historians’ of the ‘West’ vs the ‘Rest’) would have it, but plainly the relentless destructive external assaults against ‘Byzantium’ from all cardinal points by the sworn enemies of the Christian Roman Empire (misnamed ‘Byzantium’), coupled with the relentless intellectual subversion of it by the pseudo-Platonic Kabbalistic ‘philosophy’ which goes by the name of ‘neo-platonism’.

    • Replies: @German_reader
    , @melanf
  69. Anon[350] • Disclaimer says:

    Nordics were backward. The Nordic Bronze Age happened much later than in the rest of Eurasia, for example. Nordics were late to adopt the Bronze Age explorer cultural toolkit, and much of it came from Minoa and possibly Mycenae.

    Having said that, Taleb’s argument is obviously retarded. Nordics were not backward like black Africans are.

  70. @Seraphim

    Yeah, whatever, I’m not going to argue about it, it’s not like it still matters given the current trajectory of the world. If you’re right, Christ will judge heathen like me anyway.
    I’ll go back to my commenting hiatus.

  71. utu says:
    @melanf

    Pls, tell me where is this painting from and by whom.

    • Replies: @AP
  72. Asagirian says: • Website

    Just because a people made or invented something doesn’t mean they will be best at it.

    Europeans inventing boxing, but blacks are best at it. Japanese invented judo, but whites and blacks often beat Japanese. American whites invented basketball, but blacks dominate. Goy whites invented modern science, but Jews have often excelled at it over whites. Blacks invented early rock and roll, but whites and Jews(esp Dylan) turned it into rock and took it to new heights. Italians invented the rudiments of classical music and opera, but Beethoven and Wagner reached even higher.

    So, it doesn’t matter if the Near East came up with stuff first. Obviously, it had advantages vis-a-vis the North. Nicer climate. Today, even people in cold climates have heating, but back in them days, people in cold places had to focus on survival 24/7. Also today, due to mass communication, all parts of the world can gain access to science and technology. But in those days, a people had to be in direct contact with other peoples to borrow ideas from them. Near East was between Europe, Asia, and Africa, and thus could draw ideas from all places. But that doesn’t mean they were naturally smarter.

    • Replies: @AP
  73. AP says:
    @utu

    Salome, painted by Denis Gordeev

    • Replies: @utu
  74. utu says:
    @Dmitry

    ” the Jews had been (sometimes controversially to themselves) saturated with Greek culture, and were to some degree just recycling ideas of Greek philosophy in their religious speculations.”

    This even lead to “anti-semitic” feelings among some Greeks that Jewish imitation and plagiarism of Greek literary works was not of good quality.

    https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/lazare-bernard/1894/antisemitism/ch02.htm
    Not less than the Stoics did the Sophists detest the Jews. But the causes of their hatred were not religious, but, I should say, rather literary. From Ptolemy Philadelphus, until the middle of the third century, the Alexandrian Jews, with the intent of sustaining and strengthening their propaganda, gave themselves to forging all texts which were capable of lending support to their cause. The verses of Aeschylus, of Sophocles, of Euripides, the pretended oracles of Orpheus, preserved in Aristobulus and the Stromata of Clement of Alexandria were thus made to glorify the one God and the Sabbath. Historians were falsified or credited with the authorship of books they had never written. It is thus that a History of the Jews was published under the name of Hecataeus of Abdera. The most important of these inventions was the Sibylline oracles, a fabrication of the Alexandrian Jews, which prophesied the future advent of the reign of the one God.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
  75. AP says:
    @Asagirian

    Europeans inventing boxing, but blacks are best at it.

    Slavs have been the best at it lately:

    https://www.worldboxingnews.net/2018/07/12/full-list-of-current-world-boxing-champions-july-2018/

  76. Seraphim says:
    @syonredux

    One passes too, if at all (for PC reasons, no doubt) lightly over a major cause, if not THE major cause of African ‘retardation’. Namely the demographic depletion caused by the multi secular slave trade of Africans carried on by Islam, which was going on for 1000 years before the ‘Whites’ started to buy the Black slaves captured or kidnapped by the Arabs in almost genocidal raids, for transport to the Americas for productive work, and despite the racial prejudices, for integration in the Christian society, which was not the case in the Islamic society, far more racist than the Christian one and where slaves were treated with far greater contempt. Males were systematically castrated.
    Rough estimates put the numbers of African slaves traded by the Arabs at 20 million, of which 17 million sold on the Muslim markets (for 1300 years). It was estimated that for the capture of 500,000 people, nearly two million were ‘collateral casualties’ and entire regions devastated. Without counting the corruption of the comprador African leaders who transformed their societies in head hunting economies.
    And anyhow, Islam is not really conducive to intellectual achievements. Add to that the fact that it severed for centuries the contacts with the European civilization. Conversion of the Blacks to Islam certainly contributed to the lowering of their IQ.

  77. Seraphim says:
    @Verymuchalive

    To quote ‘Momzen’ instead of Mommsen shows not only that his knowledge of German is limited, but his knowledge in general. Is knowledge after the ear. He only repeats something he had heard, but not really understood.

    • Replies: @for-the-record
  78. Seraphim says:
    @German_reader

    Christ will judge everyone, living and dead. Some will inherit the Kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world, some will go into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels. And they will not be judged for their architectural or ‘republican’ achievements or their boxing abilities.

  79. syonredux says:
    @Okechukwu

    Parody or silliness? I’m not sure…The decline in cleanliness that you describe was a late Medieval-Renaissance development…..

    You’re certainly welcome to believe that if it makes you feel better. But the facts are what they are.

    Yeah, and the facts are that medical notions about the dangers associated with opening the pores were a late Medieval-early Renaissance product.

    The Ancient Romans did, of course, bathe regularly. But they weren’t European back then and they certainly wouldn’t identify with what they considered savage European barbarians.

    MMMM, might want to look at a map…

    Maybe there was a Newton or Archimedes in the Congo two thousand years ago…..But I wouldn’t bet the farm on it…..

    Well, speaking of the Congo, I refer you to Marlow in Heart of Darkness, who allegorizes the Congo to pre-Roman Britain. It would have seemed inconceivable at that time that those mud-hut dwelling British tribesmen would one day create an empire that spanned the globe.

    Shame that we won’t be around two thousand years from now….You know, to see how it all turns out….

    Africa is undergoing the same process as Britain but at an exhilarated pace. For example, it took over 1000 years after the introduction of writing to the British Isles for great writers to emerge there.

    Beowulf’s pretty good…..

    Conversely, after just a few decades of exposure to English, Africa produced great English language writers like Chinua Achebe and Nobel Prize for Literature winner Wole Soyinka.

    Affirmative Action picks.

    And they tell us very little about Viking society, its myths and legends, how it was organized, etc

    You do understand that Vikings didn’t always just go home after raiding, right? Many settled in conquered territories or territories bequeath to them as protection payments. Rollo or Ivar the Boneless are well-chronicled figures and through them and other Vikings the way of life of the Norsemen was well known.

    Have you ever read anything about pagan Scandinavia? Pretty much everything that we know about pagan Norse mythology and customs derives from stuff like the Poetic Edda. The only other really significant sources are people like Adam of Bremen and Saxo Grammaticus.You could also toss in Ibn Fadlan….but one can’t be sure about the degree to which the Norsemen that he encountered were Slavicized….

    Things only become murky and ahistorical when we rely on Viking sagas. The historicity of Ragnar Lothbrok, for example, is subject to dispute because he’s primarily a character from Norse oral traditions.

    And those traditions tell us about Norse culture and mythology….

    • Replies: @Okechukwu
  80. utu says:
    @AP

    Thanks. I did not know this painting.

  81. Seraphim says:
    @Verymuchalive

    For the Greeks Logic was the ‘modus scientarum’, the principle, the method of any science or doctrine, a guide from the known to the unknown. ‘Modern’ science is ‘based’ on the same Logic.

  82. @Seraphim

    it is well known that Nietzsche was a ‘confirmed masturbator’.

    Almost all healthy males will masturbate when they have no access to women.

    In the case of Nietzsche it is well known that Wagner speculated to Nietzsche’s doctor about it, and since all doctors at the time were obsessed with the topic, the doctor diagnosed masturbation as the root cause of Nietzsche’s problems, based on the fact that he didn’t have a wife or mistress.

    What we can be sure of, however, is that his syphilis was not caused by masturbation.

  83. melanf says:
    @Seraphim

    anti-Christian ‘wisdom’ of the malignant Gibbonian ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’

    n medieval Russian Chronicles (which were written by Orthodox monks), the Byzantines were considered, by definition, treacherous, deceitful bastards.
    “The Byzantines are liars to this day,” etc.

    So Gibbon was preceded by a long history of Byzantine phobia

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  84. “Out of Africa” is a lie.

    Humanity came from Europe. Probably somewhere from the south-eastern part; Anatolia, maybe.

    Humans in Africa
    a) are very recent arrivals, and
    b) come from a pretty inbred stock.

    So a lack of African achievement is obvious. Maybe in another 1000 years of eugenic family formation the Africans could catch up to those who started earlier.

    P.S. Same deal with China and East Asia. Despite the hysterical Chinese blustering, when you actually compare the timelines you see that civilization in China appeared 3000-4000 years later compared to Europe. It took a long time for people to actually settle the globe. Parts of it still aren’t settled. (E.g., northern Russia.)

  85. @German_reader

    I’ll go back to my commenting hiatus.

    Please don’t!

  86. @Seraphim

    To quote ‘Momzen’ instead of Mommsen shows not only that his knowledge of German is limited, but his knowledge in general. Is knowledge after the ear.

    The “limited knowledge in general” is yours, it would seem. Mommsen in Russian is Моммзен so that it is quite natural that a Russian would transcribe this in Latin characters as Mommzen or Momzen.

  87. Unzerker says:
    @The Big Red Scary

    it was Greek intellectuals fleeing the fall of the Byzantine empire that sparked the Renaissance in Italy.

    This nonsense again. By 1450 Constantinople was only a very pale reflection of its former self with a small population. Its intellectuals had never sparked any renaissance anywhere before and their knowledge had already been extracted by the West in the centuries before.

    What did spark the Renaissance was the invention of the printing press. It was an information revolution comparable to the invention of the Internet.

  88. Unzerker says:
    @Tulip

    China was way ahead of the “West” until about 1600

    Based on what?

    By 1100 Western Europe was building the highest most advanced buildings in the world. It was also the most mechanized part of the world, making heavy use of water, wind and animal powered machines.
    By 1200 every new invention came from Europe.

    Even when an invention like gunpowder hadn’t reached them yet, when they did get it, they quickly start making the most advanced cannons in the world. This, thanks to their superior metallurgy, based on centuries of bell-making.

    In my opinion Western Europe had reached parity with China between 1100 and 1300.

    • Replies: @Tulip
  89. Tulip says:
    @Unzerker

    Sure, we are talking about historical judgment calls, but if you look at Zheng He’s expedition, the sophistication of the navigation and topographical knowledge versus Europe, you really are talking about civilization versus savages. . . and, of course, gun powder.

    Nor do I want to fight about Confucius versus the Cross, but I am not sure the Cross added as much to Europe as Confucianism did to China–the best thing the Cross ever did is preserve a portion of pagan Classical antiquity. Without the Germanic pre-Christian element, I’m not sure Western Europe would have amounted to anything.

  90. @Tulip

    Prince Henry the Navigator was only 23 years older than Zhenge He. Madeira and the Azores were discovered by the Portuguese while Zheng He still lived, and the Portuguese were navigating in the middle of the open ocean by the middle of the 15th century.

    Zheng He’s voyages are impressive on account of their massive scale, showing what vast resources the Ming Empire could deploy. Europeans first put together fleets of that size at the Battle of Lepanto (as, to their credit, did the Ottomans), which of course is also an impressive political achievement as it involved complex coalition building.

    It’s also worth noting that very large fleets were assembled in the Mediterranean in Classical Antiquity (of course now we’re talking purely about Meds). In fact by crew and ship numbers some were larger than Lepanto. The Hellenistic empires also built some of the largest wooden ships ever constructed.

    An interesting question is the technical characteristics of the Ming treasure ships as compared to European ships of the Age of Discovery. Unfortunately the exact details of these ships is lost to history. We do know they were very large, but not how large. Then there are other questions such as maneuverability, speed, seaworthiness, etc.

    • Replies: @Twinkie
  91. Dmitry says:
    @utu

    Americans today at least have financial consolation when foreigners eat McDonalds and drink Coca Cola – there was no patent law for Doric columns and chitons when foreigners imitated Greeks across ancient Mediterranean.

    And it’s usually a most superficial part of any culture which is imitated passionately. E.g. Coca Cola, Nike and hamburgers, not William James.

    But to return to an irony of the Jews’ imitation of the noble Greeks – which is really a cosmic irony, as subsequently the world would imitate a most radical and derivative sect created by the Jewish peasantry, and yet the Jews suffered the worst consequences of being imitated.

    The winner in history can be the one who imitates, not the one who is imitated.

    Elite Jews were imagining themselves as Greeks. A few kilometers away, there was created by a rabble of Jewish radicals, a millenarian sect of Judaism with Jesus as its inspiration.

    Half the non-Jewish world would imitate this new (although partly derivative) Jewish millenarian sect, and as result believe themselves to be more authentic inheritors of Ancient Israelites, than actual half-Hellenized, Roman occupied descendants of the Israelites who were being imitated.

    Here is King Herod, client of Romans, who imitates Greek civilization:
    Here his amphitheater next to his beach houses, constructed short time before the birth of Jesus.

    At this amphitheater, a bit more than 2000 years ago, Herod has performed the imported works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides. At least, his actions indicate he believed the foreign culture was greater than his own. (He could not imagine, that the foreign cultures he admired, would eventually imitate the lower class components of his own culture).

    Infancy of Jesus is allegedly placed in danger by the same Hellenizing king.

    According to mythology, during Jesus’s infancy, Herod commands massacre of innocent children (Giotto via Wikipedia).

    To escape the king, family of Jesus escape to Egypt (again Giotto via Wikipedia).

    Well, mythology that Herod threatened Jesus or not, people who were alive then died 2000 years ago. But Herod’s amphitheatre is still in Israel, almost unchanged.

    But no beautiful Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, in Herod’s theatre today. Within a few centuries, the Greeks themselves would be converted to millenarian sect created by Herod’s peasants, and the miracle of Greece would become a half forgotten memory.

    Today, are American Christians singing about Jesus among the Greek columns, built by the king who had allegedly threatened infant Jesus 2000 years ago

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  92. Okechukwu says:
    @syonredux

    Yeah, and the facts are that medical notions about the dangers associated with opening the pores were a late Medieval-early Renaissance product.

    Do you even know when the medieval period ends and the Renaissance begins? Louis XIV of France was a post-Renaissance monarch and he didn’t bathe.

    King Louis XIV (1638-1715) was terrified of bathing; he’s said to have taken only three baths in his life. That fear was shared by the nobility in the 17th Century – it was thought that water spread disease (so the less you bathed, the less vulnerable you were).

    https://perfumesociety.org/history/louis-xiv-the-sweetest-smelling-king-of-all/

    Far from ending at around the early Renaissance, this disgusting unhygienic practice would endure well into the 19th century.

    MMMM, might want to look at a map…

    They had different maps back then, bruh. Maps are a social construct.

    Beowulf’s pretty good…..

    Yes, it is. But it was written about a thousand years after the Romans brought writing to Britain.

    Affirmative Action picks.

    You’re an idiot. Africans are perfectly able to communicate in English as well as anyone, often as a second, third or even fourth language. Do I have a reduced capacity in English relative to you?

    The two Nigerian authors I cited are among the most important writers of the 20th century. Wole Soyinka’s works can stand against any other writer’s from any era. As a poet, he is mesmerizing, authentic and special. His language skills are unsurpassed. Look up In the Wee Hours and Dedication, just to name a few.

    The late Chinua Achebe was a world-renowned novelist and poet. His first novel Things Fall Apart is considered a masterpiece of literature. He is revered throughout the world. His works are translated into different languages and taught in parts of the world that have never heard of Affirmative Action.

    Have you ever read anything about pagan Scandinavia? Pretty much everything that we know about pagan Norse mythology and customs derives from stuff like the Poetic Edda.

    Dude, my initial reference was to primary sources. Get it? For many hundreds of years there were no primary sources among the Scandinavians because they couldn’t read or write. As a matter fact, they strenuously resisted literacy, associating it with Christendom and a betrayal of their own cosmology.

    • Replies: @syonredux
  93. Seraphim says:
    @melanf

    The Chronicle couldn’t possibly have ‘Byzantines’ because the term did not exist then. It was ‘the Greeks’.
    The term ‘Byzantine Empire’ was introduced in the 16th century by the German-Protestant humanist Hieronymus Wolf with the special purpose to avoid the title of Roman in the official name of the ‘Eastern’ Empire. It was nothing new, the West claiming the exclusivity of the title Roman for itself since the usurpation of Charlemagne, proclaiming the ‘Greek’ illegitimate, heretic, full of deceit, schismatic, asiatic, which should be brought to heel. Byzantinophobia was/is the ideological basis of ‘Europe’.
    Anyhow, it is at least strange that Russians could be accused of ‘Byzantine’ phobia, them who are the successors of ‘Byzance’ and the target of the western ‘byzantinophobia’.

    • Replies: @melanf
  94. Seraphim says:
    @Tulip

    It is doubtful that the ‘Germanic pre-Christian element’ would have amounted to anything without Christianity.

  95. dfordoom says: • Website
    @German_reader

    I’ll go back to my commenting hiatus.

    I hope you don’t. You’re one of the more interesting commenters here.

    • Agree: reiner Tor
  96. Seraphim says:
    @Dmitry

    Dmitry,

    Your nickname would suggest that you are Greek or Russian, therefore one can expect you to be more knowledgeable of Orthodoxy. The Church is ‘neither Jew nor Hellen (nobody spoke of Greeks yet)’. Anyhow, the Church grows from the culture medium of the ‘Hellenists’ and not of the ‘millenarian sect’ (the ‘Fourth Philosophy’ as Josephus called it) of the Zealots.
    BTW, Herodes was not a Jew. And that he mass murdered his political opponents, the Pharisees, only on rumors that they ‘prophesied’ that God has decreed that his government would be taken from him and his descendants and killed everyone of his own house who had allied themselves to the talk of the Pharisees, is reported by Josephus Flavius.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
  97. syonredux says:
    @Okechukwu

    Yeah, and the facts are that medical notions about the dangers associated with opening the pores were a late Medieval-early Renaissance product.

    Do you even know when the medieval period ends and the Renaissance begins? Louis XIV of France was a post-Renaissance monarch and he didn’t bathe.

    Yeah, that’s why I said “product.”

    MMMM, might want to look at a map…

    They had different maps back then, bruh. Maps are a social construct.

    I wouldn’t put too much faith in a map that places, say, Italy in the Gobi….

    Beowulf’s pretty good…..

    Yes, it is. But it was written about a thousand years after the Romans brought writing to Britain.

    ……But the Anglo-Saxons didn’t start arriving in Britain until the 5th century….

    Affirmative Action picks.

    You’re an idiot. Africans are perfectly able to communicate in English as well as anyone,

    Not talking about mere communication, dear fellow. We’re talking about high-order literary achievement….

    often as a second, third or even fourth language. Do I have a reduced capacity in English relative to you?

    Dunno. What’s your GRE Verbal?

    The two Nigerian authors I cited are among the most important writers of the 20th century.

    For Blacks, sure.

    Wole Soyinka’s works can stand against any other writer’s from any era. As a poet, he is mesmerizing, authentic and special. His language skills are unsurpassed. Look up In the Wee Hours and Dedication, just to name a few.

    Whatever floats your boat…

    The late Chinua Achebe was a world-renowned novelist and poet. His first novel Things Fall Apart is considered a masterpiece of literature. He is revered throughout the world. His works are translated into different languages and taught in parts of the world that have never heard of Affirmative Action.

    Had to read it in Grad school. Pretty mediocre. Far inferior to Nabokov, Joyce, Faulkner, Proust, James, etc

    Have you ever read anything about pagan Scandinavia? Pretty much everything that we know about pagan Norse mythology and customs derives from stuff like the Poetic Edda.

    Dude, my initial reference was to primary sources. Get it? For many hundreds of years there were no primary sources among the Scandinavians because they couldn’t read or write. As a matter fact, they strenuously resisted literacy, associating it with Christendom and a betrayal of their own cosmology.

    Dear fellow, the Poetic Edda is our chief primary source for Norse mythology….

    • Troll: Okechukwu
  98. @Tulip

    the Germanic pre-Christian element

    What’s that? Sacrificing captives to the blood god and howling at the moon? No thanks, keep that “element” to yourself.

    • Replies: @Tulip
  99. Twinkie says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    We do know they were very large, but not how large. Then there are other questions such as maneuverability, speed, seaworthiness, etc.

    One big advantage the Chinese ships had in terms of seaworthiness was sealed bulkheads, which existed definitively by 12th century. It was not widespread in Europe until quite late, 18th-19th centuries.

    • Replies: @Sam Coulton
  100. Dmitry says:
    @Seraphim

    Herodes was not a Jew. A

    This is how Josephus was describing “slander” of the preceding, rival king who did not want Romans to have Herod in the throne.

    By any way the Jewish religion was understood in the ancient world, Herod is Jewish (son of Jew and following a Jewish religion).

    And that he mass murdered his political opponents, the Pharisees, only on rumors that they

    Sure, but the story of infant Jesus and his holy family escaping from Herod to Egypt, is an apocryphal.

    This doesn’t to me reduce the historical irony of American evangelical rock musicians singing about Jesus in Herod’s beach house amphitheatre, which he had built 2000 years ago to import Sophocles and Euripides.

    It would be fun to imagine what counterpurposes our building will be used for in 2000 years in the future (but it is doubtful any of our modern buildings would not collapse long before then).

    This is really use of the place where Herod was watching Greek plays.

    Anyhow, the Church grows from the culture medium of the ‘Hellenists’ and not of the ‘millenarian sect’ (the ‘Fourth Philosophy’ as Josephus called it) of the Zealots.

    It’s not talking about the position of the church which is a later and much more complicated history, but the nature of the early Christianity (and of the Judaism) in the time of writing the gospels and revelation.

    Bible full of what can obviously appear, to the neutral or objective reader, – the classical features of millennialism. How this is interpreted is a different topic – and needless to say it has been interpreted in many possible directions, both by a maturing churches, as well as the insurrections against them.

    The millennialism itself is quite universal in our psychology and even follows society during secularization – the “rational” doctrines of Marxism were probably the most pure and extreme form of millennialism.

    Within Marxism, millennialism and prophecy is the source of a religious ecstasy, but it is also a more simple consolation.

    Even in the late Soviet times, the passion for reading about always improving production figures for so many things, is linked to the consoling sense all this was linked to the Marxist eschatology, in which the eventual winner is guaranteed.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  101. Tulip says:
    @anonymous coward

    I suppose some prefer the YHWH-sanctioned ethnic cleansing of infidels like in the good old days of the Judges, sprinkled with the blood of children. Much more civilized.

  102. melanf says:
    @Seraphim

    The Chronicle couldn’t possibly have ‘Byzantines’ because the term did not exist then. It was ‘the Greeks’.

    Of course in the Chronicles it is written “the Greeks” but the implication was not ethnicity, but “citizenship” of the Byzantine Empire. On this correctly translate ” Byzantines.”

    it is at least strange that Russians could be accused of ‘Byzantine’ phobia

    What’s strange about that? In Russia, a strong and stable’ Byzantinephobia exist from the 11th century at least. It is very easy to see in art – the Byzantines in Russian books and movies (if they appear at all), it always freaks and scoundrels. The very words Byzantine and Byzantium in Russian are offensive words (like “nigger” in English)

    On the contrary, ancient Greece in Russian culture is always an ideal of beauty and harmony.

  103. melanf says:
    @melanf

    Here Pushkin talks about the Byzantine Empire:

    You say that the source from where we got Christianity was unclean, that Byzantium was despicable and despised, and so on. Ah, my friend, wasn’t Jesus Christ himself born a Jew, and wasn’t Jerusalem a byword? The gospel of this is less amazing? We took the gospel and traditions from the Greeks, but not their spirit of childish pettiness and senseless (religious) disputes. The manners of the Byzantine Empire was never the manners of Kiev.
    https://th3.livejournal.com/585414.html
    This is a typical attitude towards the Byzantine Empire for centuries

  104. @melanf

    The very words Byzantine and Byzantium in Russian are offensive words (like “nigger” in English)

    This is obviously a wild exaggeration.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
    , @melanf
  105. Seraphim says:
    @Dmitry

    I always wonder what psychological mechanisms make people to consider themselves ‘neutral’ and ‘objective’ when contesting the traditional interpretation of the Scriptures by the Church. Yours is neither neutral nor objective and of course selective. It is the expected Marxist ‘Bezbozhnik’ one taught in Soviet schools. Had you been acquainted in any way with Orthodoxy, you would have understood that “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation”, but as Saint Peter said:
    “16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (1 Peter 1:16-21).
    But we know that: “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

    And that falsifies their take on history as well. E.g. Gibbon’s false history of the Roman Empire.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
  106. Dmitry says:
    @Seraphim

    Why are you writing about Orthodoxy. My comment you are responding to was about Jesus and his disciples, not the later church interpretation established centuries later.

    For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (1 Peter 1:16-21).

    Here he is not arguing against prophecy. He is saying the prophecy comes from god, not from men.

    It is the expected Marxist ‘Bezbozhnik’ one taught in Soviet schools.

    Marxism is a millennialism religion, cleverly adapted and redressed for the 19th century, educated minds.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  107. Dmitry says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Melanf is describing just a conventional bias in the education.

    I am not knowledgeable of the history. But I thought this negative connotation to Byzantine emerged much more through the 18th century, and then was continuing development in the 19th century.

    So for example Chaadaev’s view on Byzantine, was perhaps seeming symptomatic of an educated attitude of that epoch. It would seem to be like that, just in the way Pushkin accepts the negative view without argument, but argues that our Christianity was always different to their one.

    It’s interesting in the draft version of the letter Pushkin melanf quotes, had actually written that “religion is foreign to our [Russian] thoughts and habits, luckily.” But then he has self-censored himself.

    https://rvb.ru/pushkin/01text/10letters/1831_37/03edit/1989_740.htm

    • Replies: @melanf
  108. Seraphim says:
    @Dmitry

    I was talking about Orthodoxy, because your comments about Jesus and his disciples are at variance with the true teaching and history of the Church transmitted by the Apostles (the tradition, paradosis, predanie) eyewitnesses of Christ’s majesty and kept faithfully by her. This is the meaning of Orthodoxy, true opinion (orthos-right, true, doxa-opinion).
    Your preferred interpretations have been established later and are exactly that: fables, invented stories to suit different purposes..
    Saint Peter does not argue whether prophecy comes from God or from men, but about their interpretation, that should not come from men, but from the appointed by the Christ interpreters of prophecy (which Saint Peter and the Apostles were as recipients of the Holy Spirit who “will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have told you”).

  109. Seraphim says:
    @melanf

    The use of ‘byzantine’ for what has always been called Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων/Basileia tōn Rhōmaiōn/Romania, the Empire of the Romans, is deliberately misleading.
    That there was a ‘byzantinophobia’ in Russia, especially among the ‘Westernizers’ (Chaadae, Soloviov), some ‘Slavophiles’ and heretical Old Believers, is undeniable.

  110. melanf says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    The very words Byzantine and Byzantium in Russian are offensive words (like “nigger” in English)

    This is obviously a wild exaggeration.

    This is no exaggeration.
    Here is the dictionary:

    the word “Byzantine” in the Russian language has the following meaning:
    1) Byzantine
    2) cruel
    3) hypocritical,
    4) cunning

    That is, in the Russian language “Byzantinians” (византиец) is a cruel, hypocritical, cunning (as well as treacherous and flattering) bastard. If the person was called “”Byzantinians”” it is an insult. Gibbon is not to blame – this attitude was established in the middle ages
    When the Clericals are trying to whitewash Byzantium of course this is not cause anything but mockery.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  111. melanf says:
    @Dmitry

    I am not knowledgeable of the history. But I thought this negative connotation to Byzantine emerged much more through the 18th century, and then was continuing development in the 19th century.

    No, negative attitude to the Byzantines appeared in the early middle ages, and has not changed since.

    Here is an example in 1164 Archbishop Anthony, swore allegiance to the heirs of Chernigov Prince Svyatoslav: “That’s why I testify before you – God is my witness and the mother of God that I will not create any treachery..I will not destroy my soul and I will not be traitors like Judas.
    After that, Anthony immediately became a traitor (like Judas).
    The author of the chronicle (Orthodox monk of the 12th century) is absolutely not surprised: “the reason for this “evil crime,” the chronicler explains simply: “ he (Anthony) harbored deception because he was born Greek“. For the old Russian reader, this was indeed enough — reverence for Greek scholarship …. coexisted with confidence in the universal treachery of the Greeks.”

    In this case, the “Greeks” correctly translates as ” Byzantines”

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  112. @Twinkie

    China also had repeating crossbows and lots of gunpowder. That didn’t stop them from getting enslaved by the Jurchens, Mongols, and Manchu for nearly 1000 years.

    • Replies: @Twinkie
  113. Seraphim says:
    @melanf

    Are you sure that vizantiskii (with all its negative connotations) is not a quite recent neologism of western origin in Russian?
    Chronicles don’t talk of Byzantium. That Greeks are depicted as cunning is clearly an old stereotype.

    • Replies: @melanf
  114. melanf says:
    @Seraphim

    Are you sure that vizantiskii (with all its negative connotations) is not a quite recent neologism of western origin in Russian?

    A Byzantine with negative connotations is a word of recent origin. But before that the Byzantines were called Greeks-with the same negative connotations.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  115. Twinkie says:
    @Sam Coulton

    China also had repeating crossbows and lots of gunpowder.

    Both Chinese crossbows and gunpowder weapons of the era of the steppe nomads were underpowered and, in any case, equipped foot soldiers who were operationally no match for the horse-archers that reigned supreme on the plains (which is the predominant terrain of North China).

    That didn’t stop them from getting enslaved by the Jurchens, Mongols, and Manchu for nearly 1000 years.

    Which is precisely why the agrarians Mandarins wanted to discontinue the ocean voyages that took resources away from the existential threat that the pastoralists posed.

    • Replies: @Sam Coulton
  116. Seraphim says:
    @melanf

    How difficult is to ‘unlearn’ deep seated prejudices.
    The ‘Byzantines’ (with or without negative connotations) is a concept invented in the 16th century by the ‘Latin West’ which claimed that only Latins and Latin speakers were THE Romans, to designate the Greek speaking parts of the Roman Empire and deny them the ‘pretensions’ to be Romans. Really ‘new-speak’. Before that the Latins called them Greeks, with all the negative connotations inherited from the Latin past and reinforced both by the Roman-Catholic and Reformed schisms.

  117. @Twinkie

    Both Chinese crossbows and gunpowder weapons of the era of the steppe nomads were underpowered and, in any case, equipped foot soldiers who were operationally no match for the horse-archers that reigned supreme on the plains (which is the predominant terrain of North China).

    China had horses and horse cavalry since before the time of Christ.

    Terracotta chariot, 210 B.C.

    China had better wagons, better bows, more horses, better fed horses, numerical superiority, repeating crossbows that had been perfected a thousand years before, and so much more than the Mogolian Steppe nomads.

    Technological advantage = meaningless.
    Civilization = meaningless.

    • Replies: @Twinkie
  118. Seraphim says:

    What would be then “meaningful”? 4000 years of continuous ‘civilization’ which nowadays moves to become a world civilization, or few hundred years when the nomad barbarians from the West (from the Steppes or from remote islands) succeeded to plunder China and arrest its ‘meaningless’ technological advance, until they have been either assimilated or expelled?

  119. Seraphim says:
    @melanf

    Were not all the primates of the ‘Russian’ Church appointed by Constantinople (therefore ‘Greeks’) from its inception up to 1448? 460 years of uncontested ‘Greek’ dominance. Was not recognition by the ‘Greek’ Emperor necessary for the claim of primacy among the Russian princes?
    Does not today the ‘Ukrainian’ church justify its ‘autocephaly’ because it was the most faithful dependence of the ‘Mother Church’ in Constantinople against the ‘pretensions’ of the Moskal Church which severed its relations with the ‘Greeks’?

    • Replies: @melanf
  120. melanf says:
    @Seraphim

    Was not recognition by the ‘Greek’ Emperor necessary for the claim of primacy among the Russian princes?

    No. Church hierarchs were appointed by Constantinople. Princes-never. Recognition of religious primacy coexisted (in medieval Russia) with antipathy to the population of the Byzantine Empire. Very similar to the situation in medieval Catholic Europe (where there was a similar ambivalent attitude to Byzantium – recognition of the high status of the Byzantine Emperor and at the same time contempt)

  121. Seraphim says:

    What about Saint Vladimir? Vladimir Monomakh? Andrey Bogoliubski?

    • Replies: @melanf
  122. melanf says:
    @Seraphim

    What about Saint Vladimir? Vladimir Monomakh? Andrey Bogoliubski?

    These princes were not “appointed” by the Byzantine Emperor, they received power by right of inheritance (Vladimir the Saint-thanks to the murder of his brother)

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  123. Seraphim says:
    @melanf

    You attack a straw-man. I never said that Russian Grand-Princes were ‘appointed’, but ‘recognized’, which is a difference.
    Vladimir certainly was not ‘appointed’ by the Emperor, neither was his ‘right of inheritance’ too clear (he was an illegitimate son of Sviatoslav) and he killed his brother, the rightful inheritor. That might be a cause of his conversion through which Russia relations with the Empire are profoundly changed as well as the rules of succession to the throne. A persistent legend claims that Vladimir was conferred the title of ‘Caesar’ after his marriage to the Empror’s sister, therefore becoming a member of the imperial family. He was hailed as a ‘New Constantine’ and with his grand-mother Olga ‘equals to the Apostles’. That for sure enhanced enormously his prestige. The title Caesar was originally designating a subordinate co-emperor or the heir apparent. The rulers of Russia, albeit independent in fact, recognized that the Emperor, as the head of the Orthodox Christian community, possessed by divine right a ‘meta-political’ jurisdiction over Russia.
    Vladimir Monomakh was the son of the Anastasia, daughter of the Emperor Constantine Monomachos. He was the father or Yury Dolgoruky and grand father of Andrey Bogoliubsky.

    • Replies: @melanf
  124. Twinkie says:
    @Sam Coulton

    China had horses and horse cavalry since before the time of Christ.

    Which were transmitted to them by the steppe nomads.

    China had better wagons, better bows, more horses, better fed horses, numerical superiority, repeating crossbows that had been perfected a thousand years before, and so much more than the Mogolian Steppe nomads.

    Better bows? I don’t think so. Mongol composite bow had no equal in its day. More horses? Also, no. Do you understand the meaning of the term “pastoralists”? Numerical superiority? Mass peasant conscripts aren’t very useful in mobile engagements on the plains where the horse-archer reigns supreme.

    Before the gunpowder era, pastoralists always had significant advantages and made far better soldiery material – better health/nutrition, hardier, more inured to the extremes of heat and cold, and with greater hunting/raiding/warring skills derived from constant life on horseback.

    Technological advantage = meaningless.
    Civilization = meaningless.

    I don’t know what silly thing you are imputing here, but until the gunpowder era, history was essentially that of conflict between pastoralists and agriculturalists, with the former usually beating the latter and becoming the elites of the latter through conquest.

    You might want to educate yourself by reading a book or two instead of looking up bits and pieces of facts to support your assertions on the Internet.

    Start here: http://elibrary.bsu.az/books_400/N_23.pdf

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1026412.The_Empire_of_the_Steppes

    • Agree: Johann Ricke
  125. melanf says:
    @Seraphim

    I never said that Russian Grand-Princes were ‘appointed’ (by Byzantine emperor), but ‘recognized’

    Russian princes did not need any “recognition” from Byzantium. If (hypothetically) the Byzantine Emperor had not recognized any of the princes, it would have caused only ridicule.

    The rulers of Russia, albeit independent in fact, recognized that the Emperor, as the head of the Orthodox Christian community, possessed by divine right a ‘meta-political’ jurisdiction over Russia.

    Russian princes never recognized the power of Byzantium over Russia .

  126. melanf says:

    Vladimir Monomakh was the son of the Anastasia, daughter of the Emperor Constantine Monomachos. He was the father or Yury Dolgoruky and grand father of Andrey Bogoliubsky.

    Vladimir Monomakh wrote autobiography. From the autobiography it is clear that the origin of the mother meant almost nothing to Vladimir (he does not mention this origin at all). For the inheritance rights among the Rurik family the relationship with the Emperor had zero value (Andrei Bogolyubsky was the son of a Kipchak Princess – it did not prevent him from being a Grand prince)

    • Replies: @melanf
  127. melanf says:
    @melanf

    Vladimir Monomakh wrote autobiography. From the autobiography it is clear that the origin of the mother meant almost nothing to Vladimir (he does not mention this origin at all).

    Clarification: Vladimir does not mention the origin of his mother from the Emperor. Here is how Vladimir calls himself: “I, named at baptism by the name of Basil by the my glorious grandfather Yaroslav, called the Russian name Vladimir, by beloved father and by mother from Monomakh genus”

    (Я, смиренный, дедом своим Ярославом, благословенным, славным, нареченный в крещении Василием, русским именем Владимир, отцом возлюбленным и матерью своею из рода Мономахов)

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  128. Lot says:

    Nothing to add, but great post and mostly great comments all around.

    Maybe the one quibble about the post is not addressing large scale ag in pre-Roman Gaul and the Alpine valleys. Probably could have supported some great pre-Roman cities under different and more centralized political systems.

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  130. Seraphim says:
    @melanf

    It is commendable that one corrects sweeping affirmations after checking the sources. It should be better, of course, to check the sources before making those affirmations.
    Not only that Vladimir Monomakh actually mentions the origin of his mother, he boasts about it. The text lacks four lines immediately after the ‘iz roda Monomakhov’, which most likely had the indication that the ‘genus of Monomakh’ was the family of the Emperor Constantin IX Monomachos, who repelled the last ‘rebellion of the Rhos’, the naval attack of 1043. It is to be noted that the usual translations suppress the term ‘rod’, giving a false impression: “named at baptism Basil, and with the Russian name Vladimir, surnamed Monomakh by my beloved father and mother…. ”
    The claim of the Vladimir/Moscow Grand Princes that Constantin presented the ‘Monomakh cap’, the symbol-crown of the Russian autocracy, to his grand son Vladimir was not a late invention. The fact that in 1045 the Hungarian King Andrew I married Anastasia of Kiev, the daughter of Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise, whose brother Vsevolod I had been married to the daughter of Constantine IX since 1046 (there is some confusion as to the name of the daughter, Anastasia or Irene/Maria) and the Emperor presented the Hungarian king with a crown, strongly suggest more than a symbolic gesture.
    What is sure is that the title of Grand Prince was bestowed on the Princes of Suzdal by the Emperor, either on Andrey Bogolyubsky or on Vsevolod the Big Nest, by the Emperor Manuel Comnen, the most likely during the expedition of Manuel against Hungary through Russia, in the presence of Byzantine armies in Russia. Vsevolod was himself the son of a Comnen Princess and spent his youth at the court of Manuel.
    Later ‘Byzantine’ sources affirm that the ‘king of Rhos’ bore the title of ‘stolnik’ of his Sacred Majesty’. The stolnik was in Russia, Poland, Lithuania and in the Romanian Principalities, the dignitary responsible for serving the royal table, then an honorary court title and a district office. It was, along with the cupbearer, the closest to the person of the Emperor or King, testing the food to make sure that it was not poisoned.
    Ivan III, the ‘”gatherer of the Russian lands”, justified his preeminence over ‘All Rus’ by his marriage with Sophia/Zoe Paleologue, the niece of the last Emperor of ‘Byzance’ Constantin XI, at a time when orthodox canonists were inclined to regard the Grand Princes of Moscow, where the Orthodox Metropolitan of Kiev moved in 1325 after the Mongol Invasions, as the successors of the Byzantine emperors. She was the grand mother of Ivan IV, the first ‘tsar’.
    So, the Vladimir/Moscow Princes have been at all times ‘pro-Byzantines’. The ‘anti-byzantine’ attitudes were displayed by the lesser princes pretenders for the title, like the upstart Galician princes, who eventually sided with the Papacy and ended absorbed in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

    • Replies: @melanf
  131. melanf says:
    @Seraphim

    Not only that Vladimir Monomakh actually mentions the origin of his mother, he boasts about it. The text lacks four lines immediately after the ‘iz roda Monomakhov’, which most likely had the indication that the ‘genus of Monomakh’ was the family of the Emperor Constantin IX Monomachos,

    It’s guessing. In known sources Vladimir never spoke about his grandfather-Emperor. Descendants Monomakh in numerous wars with other princes, never tried to justify their claims (on power) their origin from Emperor. Ie it’s origin had almost zero importance for Russia of that era.

    What is sure is that the title of Grand Prince was bestowed on the Princes of Suzdal by the Emperor, either on Andrey Bogolyubsky or on Vsevolod the Big Nest, by the Emperor Manuel Comnen

    Where is it mentioned in the Russian Chronicles? Here is a modern historian
    https://www.litmir.me/br/?b=187208&p=17
    Vsevolod The big Nest became, the first from Russians of princes, whom consistently titled “Grand Prince.” But the epithet “great” in its relation meant supremacy not in all Russia, and within the Suzdal earth. The main thing in Russia continued to be considered the Prince of Kiev, who had the right to be called “Prince of all Russia” (although it was not an official title at the time ).

    About the Emperor – not a single word

    Ivan III, the ‘”gatherer of the Russian lands”, justified his preeminence over ‘All Rus’ by his marriage with Sophia/Zoe Paleologue

    It’s nonsense. Ivan justified his power by the fact that he was a descendant of Rurik, and the Grand Dukes of the Rurik family. Sophia Paleologue was completely irrelevant.

    at a time when orthodox canonists were inclined to regard the Grand Princes of Moscowas the successors of the Byzantine emperors.

    Ivan did not seek a marriage with Sophia and was not its initiator. To a much greater extent, the initiative came from the Pope, at whose court Sofia Palaeologus was brought up. The marriage was concocted by two crafty Levantine — Greek Yuri Trajaneum and Italian Jan Baptiste de La Volpe. They both misled the Pope and the Grand Prince ….Of rights (on the Byzantine throne), Ivan thought. When, the following year after his marriage, the Senate of the Republic of Venice wrote to him that the power over the Eastern Empire, captured by the Turks, in the event of the termination of the male offspring of the paleologists belongs to him …”the Grand Duke was completely indifferent to this. And even greater indifference shown later, when… brother Sophia (Andrew Palaeologus) expressed his intention to sell on a similar foam their rights to the Byzantine throne. Ivan did not want to spend a penny on this case, so Andrew had to sell these rights to the Catholic — French king Charles VIII…. After. ..the disappearance of all of the offspring of Palaeologus, Ivan did not have the slightest temptation to remind his wife Sophia as the sole heir of Constantinople to the crown .

    No more interest in (Byzantine heritage) is observed in his son Vasily III. Pope Leo x sought in every way to seduce Vasily with the prospect of accession to Constantinople. … The return Embassy of Basil III thanked the Pope, not abandoning in principle the Union with him, but completely deviated from specific negotiations about this Union. As for the question of the Constantinople heritage, the Muscovites did not utter a word about them. So did the Embassy of Dmitry Gerasimov, sent to Rome in 1524 in response to the new papal Embassy.

    But perhaps the brightest defined his attitude to the idea of the Eastern Empire Ivan IV. When the papal legate Anthony Possevin began to paint it all the same picture of the expulsion of the Turks from Constantinople and reign on the throne of the Eastern Caesars, Ivan IV put a stop to these conversations, refusing “a greater state want”. “In the future we perception small want— he said,— and the local States of all universes do not want that will to sin aggression.” To decide the fate of the former Byzantine lands, he did not thought possible: “the Land of the Lord which he will give to whom he wills will be.”

    http://alternatio.org/articles/item/3584-%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%BC%D0%BF%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BA%D1%81-%D1%84%D0%B8%D0%BB%D0%BE%D1%84%D0%B5%D1%8F?tmpl=component&print=1

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  132. Seraphim says:
    @melanf

    For a less stalinist and more nuanced view:

    A.A. Vasiliev, ” Was Old Russia a Vassal State of Byzantium?
    in ‘Speculum’ Vol. 7, No. 3 (Jul., 1932), pp. 350-360

    Dimitry Obolenski, “The Byzantine Commonwealth: Eastern Europe, 500-1453”, 1971 (numerous reprints).

    • Replies: @melanf
  133. melanf says:
    @Seraphim

    http://oldru.com/vernadsky/ver02/88.htm
    the Emperor, apparently, began to consider Yaroslav (the wise) his vassal, and when in 1043 started a war between Russia and Empire, the Byzantine historian Psellos treated it as a “Russian revolt”. Although the Byzantine doctrine of the Emperor’s suzerainty over other Christian rulers was never accepted by Yaroslav’s successors in Kiev, the Prince of Galicia formally recognized himself as a vassal (hypospondos) of the Emperor in the middle of the twelfth century. However, speaking in General, Kievan Rus can not be considered a vassal state of Byzantium. … even in the Church sphere, the Russians twice attempted to free themselves (from Byzantine interference): under Metropolitan Hilarion in the eleventh century and Clement in the twelfth….In 1130. the princes of Polotsk with their wives and children were exiled Mstislav I “in Greece, because they broke the oath.” According to Vasiliev, ” this can be explained by the fact that the small princes who rebelled against their ruler were called to account not only by the Russian Prince, but also by the suzerain of Russia – the Byzantine Emperor. They were exiled as dangerous and undesirable not only for the Russian Prince, but also for the Emperor.” This interpretation seems unconvincing to me. First of all, as already discussed, there is no evidence that the Russian princes, with the exception of Prince Galician, recognized the Byzantine Emperor as their suzerain. Secondly, there is no evidence that the princes exiled to Byzantium appeared before the court of the Emperor; one way or another they were granted asylum. It was in the tradition of the Byzantine emperors to show hospitality to the exiled rulers of other countries

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  134. Seraphim says:
    @melanf

    What I said (and it was not from me) was that:
    “The rulers of Russia, albeit independent in fact, recognized that the Emperor, as the head of the Orthodox Christian community, possessed by divine right a ‘meta-political’ jurisdiction over Russia”. They were members of the ‘family of kings’, the form by which the Empire integrated its allies.

    Vernadsky offers more examples of dynastic relations between Russian Princes and the Imperial families than I did. It is obvious that the relations have been increasingly lax after the Fourth Crusade.
    Ironically it was the Galician Prince who ‘recognized’ the emperor as his ‘suzerain’.

    • Replies: @melanf
  135. melanf says:
    @Seraphim

    recognized that the Emperor, as the head of the Orthodox Christian community, possessed by divine right a ‘meta-political’ jurisdiction over Russia

    “there is no evidence that the Russian princes, with the exception of Prince Galician, recognized the Byzantine Emperor as their suzerain”

    Empire integrated its allies

    Russian principalities (except Galicia) have never been allies of Byzantium.

  136. Epigon says:
    @melanf

    Has it ever occured to you that the best artistic accomplishments of Byzantine period have been destroyed, stolen, looted, appropriated?

    The first Arab onslaught reached Constantinople.
    Seljuks engulfed Asia Minor, Rum rule over it, and Ottomans finalized the downfall.

    All those churches and once-majestic imperial cities and their culture, treasures – destroyed.

    But more importantly, you have overlooked the sack of Constantinople by Crusaders, when churches, tombs were ransacked, even holy relics desecrated.
    Statues and crosses were melted down for scrap metal, Venetians looted paintings and sculptures, books were burned and destroyed.

    Northern Italy was safe and protected in the middle of Christendom, and part of the HRE. Byzantines meanwhile were faced with continuous foreign invasions, backstabbing Roman Catholics and a dwindling demographic and economic base.

    The “ugly” religious style of icons and paintings in Orthodoxy was due to artists trying to replicate older, existing ones and not deviating from their style.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  137. Twinkie says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    Roman Britain went onto become one of the wealthier parts of the Empire by Late Antiquity.

    This is incorrect. By far the greatest wealth-generating region of the Roman Empire was Egypt. Not only did its grains feed Rome, this one province through its Indian and African trade generated up to third of ALL Roman state budget and military upkeep annually at its peak (foreign imports were taxed at quarter rate while domestic at 1/40). The other wealth-producing regions were almost all in the east, with the only exception being North Africa (esp. the province of Africa around Carthage), which was rich and dotted with large latifundia with absentee landowners in Italy.

    Western provinces were almost all net negative revenue producers for the Romans and were only garrisoned for prestige reasons or security/military concerns. For a time, a few regions were valuable due to mining (Iberia, Illyria, even Dacia), but these were temporary. Britain in particular was a big loss maker for the Romans.

  138. anon[393] • Disclaimer says:
    @LondonBob

    you picts love to larp your being conquered by vikings like its something to brag about the dna shows youre still mostly celt talk about occupied minds and this pride of submission seems to have been passed on to other whites while celts slavs southern etc euros still wont submit to vikings musims or you pict shits

  139. Seraphim says:
    @Epigon

    One may ask whether the economic development of Western Europe in the 13th Century has no relation with the influx of precious metal resulted from the plundering of Constantinople, the wealthiest city in the world, by the Crusaders, the mercenaries of Venice, the city in Northern Italy, which was plundering the the ‘east’ even before the Crusades?
    The meme of the ‘ugliness’ of icons translates the deep seated iconoclastic mentality of the Protestant ‘West’ and the deep seated hatred for the Mother of God and in fact for the Christ (it is not by chance that the icon selected by that commentator to illustrate the “monstrous fall of art” produced by Orthodoxy, is the Hodigitria, the first icon painted by the Apostle Luke). It is why the same commentator deny so strenuously any alliance between Tsargrad and Russia. The fact that icons of the Mother of God sent from the City protected by the Mother of God have been always venerated as protectors of Russia cannot enter the brainwashed heads of bezbozhnik sovoks.

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