Taxonomy term

history

On the trail of Hannibal's army - and elephants - in the Alps

In the third century B.C., during the Second Punic War between the Romans and Carthaginians, Carthaginian general Hannibal led a massive army over the Alps to invade Italy from the supposedly impenetrable north. It is one of the most famously brazen moves in military history, but the exact route that Hannibal’s army — which included tens of thousands of foot soldiers and cavalrymen, thousands of horses and nearly 40 elephants — took through the mountains has long been a mystery. Now, a team has found microbial evidence that a large number of horses crossed the Alps from France into Italy over the 3,000-meter Col de la Traversette pass around 218 B.C. But not everybody is convinced that the Traversette pass route matches detailed historical accounts of Hannibal’s journey.

24 Jul 2016

Illustrating Geology: Great images that transformed the field

“The Map” is perhaps the single-most recognized depiction within geology, but it is just one of many historically transformative images in a field that relies heavily on illustration and visualization to help convey information and shape our understanding of the natural world.

17 Jul 2016

Geology shaped outcomes of Civil War battles

About 10 years ago, Scott Hippensteel decided to trace the footsteps of an ancestor who fought in the Civil War at the Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Md. His relative, William H. Tritt, fought with the Union in the 130th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, which, on Sept. 17, 1862, attacked Confederate soldiers entrenched in the infamous Sunken Road, a wagon-worn dirt road atop an embankment that farmers used to bypass the town. As Hippensteel walked the rolling topography himself, he quickly realized the tactical advantage the landscape afforded: The Union men became visible to their enemies only in the last 150 meters or so of their approach. Because of the single-shot rifle technology of the time, each Confederate soldier would have only had time to fire a few shots at their attackers, facilitating a more vigorous assault by the Union. The Union forces suffered heavy losses in driving the Confederates from the Sunken Road, but their ultimate success pierced the middle of the Confederate line at Antietam and led to the roadway being renamed “Bloody Lane.”

01 Jul 2016

Benchmarks: June 4, 1783: The era of aviation launches with the first balloon flight

In the small French town of Gonesse in August 1783, a large, spherical and nebulous object painted with red and yellow stripes fell from the sky and began fluttering about on the ground. The town’s peasants, fearful, attacked the object with pitchforks, and then tied it to a horse’s tail to be dragged through the streets.

04 Jun 2016

Radar reveals unmarked graves

The occasional excursion to Death Valley or mineralogical study of bloodstone notwithstanding, geoscientists don’t often delve into the macabre in the course of their work. But when the administrators of two cemeteries in western New York came calling in 2014, researchers from Buffalo State College ended up using their geophysical field skills to hunt for centuries-old graves.

23 May 2016

Geologic Column: A Jurassic romance

What do "Jane Eyre," Bevin Boys and icthyosaur-hunting paleontologists have in common? Reader, I’ll tell you.

12 Feb 2016

Geologic Column: September 26, 1774: The man, the myth, the legend of Johnny Appleseed is born

Little is known about the early life of John Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed, except that he was born in Massachusetts on Sept. 26, 1774. But he went on to become an orchardist and nurseryman and eventually a folk hero, helping tame the wilderness by planting apple orchards. 
14 Sep 2015

Down to Earth With: Industrial Archaeologist Fred Quivik

Fred Quivik is no ordinary historian. Though he likes dusty books and archives to be sure, Quivik looks at history through objects, specifically the equipment, buildings and landscapes of industrial sites. He’s an industrial archaeologist, digging into the past of former mine sites, factories and other environmentally degraded places to see how they are connected to people and companies today. Quivik has done this sleuthing as a historic preservation consultant and as an expert witness in lawsuits dealing with Superfund sites. He has looked at sites across the U.S., focusing especially on the West, and now teaches at Michigan Tech University in Houghton, Mich. 
 
18 Jul 2015

Rome's hidden water trade led to glory, maybe ruin

Crumbling aqueducts crisscross the lands that once belonged to Rome, relics of a water system that sustained an empire. But now, research suggests that much of the water that flowed into Roman cities did not come gurgling down a conduit — it came in copious quantities of grain, imported to feed a growing population.

 
12 Apr 2015

Geologic Column: Lighting out for the territory

The author contemplates the history of westward expansion into arid lands and wonders if our unwise use of resources in places like the U.S. Southwest will eventually return the land "to the process of geology."

27 Feb 2015

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