Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Webfoot Wednesday: A Comparative Moment

Thirteen hundred years ago...

* the Venerable Bede was alive and writing his history of England
* Charlemagne was just coming to power
* the Umayyad Dynasty was undergoing power struggles in its Middle Eastern heartland and tremendous expansion abroad, including in Spain
* the Chinese were inventing gunpowder
* the Tibetans were preparing an invasion of China (questionably advised, considering the previous piece of information?)
* Kyoto was founded

And in Oregon, the spectacular Newberry Crater complex of volcanoes was erupting:

Also, of course, various Native American tribes dwelled in the region, establishing, among other things, trading networks that extended from the rich Columbia River Basin hundreds or even thousands of miles in most directions.

When we read on a placard that a volcano erupted "1300 years ago" it can be hard to gain much perspective. We have no written records of what was happening in the Northwest in 700 AD, although we do know civilizations flourished. The far West can seem so removed from the rest of "civilization" that it becomes obscured as a place of mythic size and proportion, with similarly shadowy history. Once we place such significant events in global context, though, the picture becomes more clear. Our dramatic landscape tells stories as one part of an interconnected globe. Hence the value of comparative history!

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