Book being read: R. Waterfield, Xenophon’s retreat: Greece, Persia and the end of the Golden Age, 2006
I have just come back from Istanbul, a.k.a. Byzantium, a.k.a. New Rome and had an amazing time, as one would expect. Whilst there we stumbled across a museum which is not yet fully functioning, but is open! The History of Science and Technology in Islam has apparently been open for 4 years but has the feel of a work in progress. That being said everyone should go, if they can! It brings to light how different cultures have approached the same problems and have come to their own conclusions at their own pace. Don’t be confused, our culture has been rather slow compared to Islam’s own.
The perfect example comes from Ibn al-Haitham (what do you mean you’ve never heard of him! . . . Neither had I) who in the 10th-11th century expounded ideals which were not truly replicated by west European thought until the Enlightenment period (18th century). A quote I wanted to pass on, perhaps because of new historical directions I am undertaking at the moment, goes as follows:
“Whosoever seeks the truth will not proceed by studying the writings of his predecessors and by simply accepting his own good opinion of them. Rather the truth-seeker will mistrust his established opinion. He will rely solely on his understanding of the texts by following the criteria of logic rather than the statements of authors who are, after all, human, with the errors and faults which this normally involves.”
This is something I am thinking a lot about at the moment, especially as I have put my PhD on hold and explore the possibility that maybe, just maybe, there is another way of doing this. That, contrary to what we are told in academia you do not have to have a doctorate to be a success, and that popular history does not have to be ill-informed drivel spouted by old bigots wearing tweed. Maybe a happy medium can be struck? Maybe.
Well I am testing that theory in this first half of the year, 6 months which will see 2 popular history articles come out, a research trip through south Wales and the Republic of Ireland (more to follow in later blogs!! But for a brief synopsis see below), and a secondary research trip for an article on the battle of Bryn Glas. There are exciting times ahead it seems.
As of the beginning of May, an archaeologist friend of mine Ali and I are doing a long trip tracing the evolution of castles from South Wales as they crossed into Ireland with the Normans. It will be the largest, and most likely the most unofficial, exploration of Irish Castles ever! and that is not a joke. It taps into a deep seated controversy in Ireland (ultimately it was the beginning of ‘English’ control in the land), combined with the fact that Ali and I very rarely agree . . . on anything . . . ever, it should be an interesting diversion from work at least. The aim is for this to become a book, and look out over the next year in Medieval Warfare Magazine as a serialisation agreement is almost complete! It will also all be here on the blog . . . I may have to make a new section, where’s that manual? Oh well.
So stay tuned.