Category: Culture

Griko Village in Calabria

The Griko of Calabria: The Italian Greek Holdouts from Antiquity

Cosmos Philly profiles the few surviving Griko communities of the southern Italian region of Calabria. The Griko (sometimes spelled Greko) are the last remnants of thousands of years of Greek presence in Italy, and their language is now critically endangered. Greeks first settled in Italy around the 9th century BC, when inhabitants of mainland Greece […]

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Procopius and the Sea

Procopius and Tales of the Sea in the Arabian Nights

The Late Antique Folklore blog has a post on Byzantine legends from the sea. The tales are from Procopius, a 6th-century court official in Constantinople who served under Justinian, and is the most important source for the period. Procopius liberally sprinkled his writings with anecdotes and observations, two of which LAF recounts. The first is a story […]

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Guinea Coast

The Gullah: African Roots

Between the Senegal River and modern Liberia lies a marshy, tropical coastline that is one of the most densely-populated in Africa.  Early Portuguese explorers noted its agricultural productivity, and the region came to be called the “Grain Coast” for its surplus of rice and millet.  The Portuguese quickly set up trade posts here to provision their expeditions further south, initiating regular contact between Europeans and Africans. (more…)

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Trade language & lingua francas

Trade Language & Lingua Franca

The merchant of centuries ago spent his life enduring monotony and hardship by turns.  Weeks might be spent in the saddle staring at an unchanging landscape, or on the deck of a ship with nothing but open water all around, only to be abruptly set upon by a ferocious storm or an avaricious pack of bandits.  The pendulum swings between boredom and misery were made worse by the constant loneliness of traveling in lands far from home.  Among people foreign in their customs and speech, even basic communication was difficult. (more…)

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Polo: The Game of Kings

Games are often compared to war, and words like “blitzkrieg” or “onslaught” are common clichés of sports journalism.  As far removed as modern sports are from real combat, they have always been seen to encourage the teamwork, discipline, and physical toughness necessary to make good soldiers.  One game still played today, though, was created specifically to fill army ranks with brave and skilled fighters.   (more…)

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