This mask worn by boys during initiation rituals in Papua New Guinea is made of painted bark cloth and canvas stretched over a cane frame. The long fiber fringe adds movement to the mask, which is worn during dances and other secret rituals that that comprise boyhood initiation rites. These rituals often involve disguises, as initiates endure trials, receive food and drink from villagers, and... Read More »
Historians use coins to find evidence of change over time. This dinar coined in 697 or 698 was minted in Damascus by the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn. Compared to a coin minted by the same state only a few years earlier we notice an interesting difference. Whereas the earlier coin features an image of the... Read More »
Childhood is an ever-changing concept that varies from culture to culture across time and space, yet people often think of childhood as universal. Teaching students about children in the past is often a challenging endeavor for this very reason. I have developed an exercise that uses the material culture designed for children's care and use—diapers, baby food, clothing, toys—in order to... Read More »
These intricate figurines, made by skilled West African smiths, were measuring instruments central to world flows of capital and commerce through medieval and early modern times.
West Africa was one of the world’s main sources of gold from antiquity onwards. Keeping the location of the region’s gold-fields secret, the great empires of ancient Ghana (6th - 13th century), Mali (c. 1240-... Read More »
The modules in Methods present case studies that demonstrate how scholars interpret different kinds of historical evidence in world history. This module developed by historian Daniel Waugh explores how historians interpret material objects to better understand the past. Examples of objects include Turkish water jugs and Byzantine coins among others. Waugh introduces the kinds of questions... Read More »
This small (5.5 inches high) terracotta sculpture was made in Greek southern Italy in the late fourth century BCE. It depicts two adolescent girls playing the game of "knucklebones" (astragaloi in Greek). The game was usually played like the modern game of "jacks": one threw the knucklebones in the air and attempted to catch as many as possible. They were also used like modern "dice." Each of... Read More »