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Reading Roundup: Seafaring, War & Textiles

Micro-reviews from my recently-read pile: anthropology in the Eastern Eurasian plains, neolithic navigation tricks, & ways to source yarn.

Eleanor Konik
Written by Eleanor Konik

I teach (& research) ancient civilizations, then write stories & articles inspired by all eras of history... which involves a fair amount of notetaking ;)

3 min read.

I like to keep track of and reflect on the various things that I’ve read over the course of a month. Here's some neat stuff I read this month that didn't make it into a themed research overview.

Textiles

  • Spindle Whorls of British Columbia I learned that the indigenous peoples of British Columbia used to make yarn and string out of nettle before they gained access to animal wool.
  • This delightful infographic explaining the differences between Alpacas & Llamas via r/BOLIVIA is a good reminder that successful herding cultures can make do without guard dogs: llama make a good example. Guard geese are surprisingly effective at protecting flocks of chickens, especially from threats like weasels and rodents.

War

Seafaring

  • This ELI5 thread explains why “red skies at morning” mean it’s going to storm later in the day. It has a lot of useful information about navigation and how weather and atmospheric conditions allow for useful predictions even with neolithic technology.
  • When philosopher met king: on Plato’s Italian voyages via Aeon Essays was an absolutely fascinating article I found while trying to learn more about how Plato blamed academics for the evils of democracy. Plato was so obsessed with the idea of helping foster a “philosopher king” that he sailed to Tyrant-run Syracuse, but despite repeated attempts to teach the local Tyrant to be a better king, it turns out that second-generation spoiled autocrats don’t always like being lectured to by old philosophers.
  • What it’s like to kayak the most dangerous Great Lake focused on kayaking in dangerous waters— it describes Lake Superior as a “saltless sea.” It’s a neat place to do boat-focused travel since you can actually camp on the islands and get the full experience, but I don’t think I would ever feel safe doing it via human-powered kayak or canoe.

Anthropology

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I mostly don't create these kinds of collections anymore, because I have a new method of organizing my reading notes that leverages my research newsletter. If you want to see more examples of how I maintain a habit of reflecting on what I read each month, check out the Iceberg, where I write about the obscure history & weird science that underlies my fantasy fiction.

Note: There are a couple of affiliate links & codes scattered around, but these always come from links I was already recommending and usually I share them because they benefit you too (i.e. getting you extra time on trials).