Tuesday, March 26, 2019

TopTenz taking on Historical Myths ... Mostly Good

On seven out of ten, I had no major quibble here:

Top 10 HUGE Historical MYTHS
TopTenz | 5.X.2016

Here are the 3 of 10 on which I had such:

"9. Marriages Were Between the Young Back in the Day"

"Lives were shorter" you said?

Not all that much. - If you survived childhood, that is.

Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Governors of Indiana, 25 = 2*12

I count such governors of Indiana as were born up to 1840's as having spent at least childhood and youth in what were in America pre-modern or pre-industrial times.

Confer also links to the stats from Middle Ages in the second last paragraph.

"Plus we assume that people from days past wouldn't have the psychological sophistication we do now to pressure people that aren't fully matured"

  • 1) If you are past puberty, you are fully matured.
  • 2) Judging from my own teens, I wouldn't have needed pressure to get married, had it been possible. Same obviously true for lots of others.

"In France and Italy during those centuries, the average age of women during their first marriage was around 20, for men it was around 30"

If this is true for commoners, it was partly due to poverty.

It was at least in France very much not true for royalty and high nobility.

Ladies gave:
Median 16, lower quartile 15, upper quartile 19.

Gentlemen gave:
Median 23/24, lower quartile 20, upper quartile 29. A longer count with 47 men instead gave Median 23, lower quartile 20, upper quartile 29.

Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Age at first marriage : a rough estimate

The estimate is based on statistics detailed in the earlier parts of the blog post series, as is the age at death one:

Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Age at death

"A relatively "old" twenty-three, not far shy of middle age at the time."

You don't normally count someone as middle aged because he is half the age that is life expectancy at birth.

While life expectancy at birth, for Middles Ages, could be c. 45, the normal age at death for non-infant mortality and non-youth mortality would have a fairly large span with a median varying between 55 for royalties and 65 for people with calmer occupations (including peasants).

Sorry, that "normal" would be not for any young, but for those who became ancestors or worked in a profession, the overall median if you came past puberty was in fact like 45 for men.

43 for women.

It is higher quartiles which correspond to ancestor bias and professional bias.

58 for women and 57 for men.

But here I have counted death occurring as early as 12 for ladies and 14 for gentlemen.

If we limit ourselves to those occurring after 20 ....

I'd get for men, lower quartile 33 inseatd of 31, median 48 indtead of 45 and higher quartile 57.

And cutting away the ladies dead before 20 as youth mortality, I get lower quartile 32, median 45 and higher quartile 59.

Ah, if we count from 25 ... lower quartile 36, median 48 for ladies, higher quartile 60.

Dito for men, lower quartile 37, median 49, higher quartile 58.

"3. Jewish Slaves Built the Pyramids"

"doubts on the biblical assertion that slaves taken from Judea were involved in building the wonders in Ancient Egypt"

This is heavily strawmanning the Bible.

  • 1) Hebrews were not "taken from Judea" in the sense of having been a population in Judea and then taken away as slaves to Egypt.

    They were a group of families in Hebron, went to Egypt as honourable guests, as their relative Joseph had risen to power (Imhotep would be his name in Egyptian annals).

    They then were enslaved after an attempt at genocide, after they had been seen as troublesome immigrants (you can compare to the St Brice' day massacre, which also failed).

  • 2) The Bible does not state they were building any pyramids.

    [8] In the mean time there arose a new king over Egypt, that knew not Joseph: [9] And he said to his people: Behold the people of the children of Israel are numerous and stronger than we. [10] Come, let us wisely oppress them, lest they multiply: and if any war shall rise against us, join with our enemies, and having overcome us, depart out of the land. [11] Therefore he set over them masters of the works, to afflict them with burdens, and they built for Pharao cities of tabernacles, Phithom and Ramesses

    Storehouses are not pyramids.

"Even Jewish scholars agree, that there's almost no evidence of all inhabitants being taken on the journey voluntarily or in bondage."


The Hebrews who started out as a group of about 70 peoples, were not at all even near all the population of what later became Judea. They were clustering in Hebron in a few tents. When they left, they were easily replaced by other people.

They grew to a nation in Egypt.

"There's not been so much as a shard of pottery, and no records from the area around Judea of a mass movement like this."

Why would pottery have been different among the small kernel group of Hebrews from what it was among their Canaanean neighbours? Since it was not, pottery can tell no story.

As to "records" the time of Joseph is in real history c. 1700 BC, but in carbon dates it is 2600 BC (carbon 14 ratio being lower back then, still rising toward present equilibrium), as that is the date of Djoser, who was pharao of Imhotep, that is of Joseph.

Now, records, earliest ones are Eblaite tablets, and these begin c. carbon dated 2400 BC, which is after Hebrews arrived to Egypt.

Also, records were more concerned with treaties and alliances than with demographics.

As to Hebrew slave labour, it was not concerned with pyramids anyway, so records of pyramid workers having been paid and contracted are no refutation.

Also, Egyptian records do not form a continuous history, not like Anglo-Saxon chronicle or overlapping Medieval historians do.

If the Exodus came to pass just before Hyksos invasion, the Ipuwer papyrus records both a memory of the plagues and a much worse outcome than departure of Hebrews, namely arrival of Amalekites, also known as Hyksos.

There is no actual continuity between Xenophanes and Feuerbach ... they are as far apart as Primitive Church and Mormons claiming to restore it, except, Mormons had a Catholic Church between earliest Catholics and themselves, while Feuerbach had no atheistic society bringing him Xenophanes' position as a tradition.

Enlightenment (both Deism and Atheism) might owe something to Mencius, but he was more of a Deist, and the other one quoted was less standard and less well known by Europeans.

Early Hindoo versions of Materialism as well as certain African tribes were clearly not the beginnings of the Atheistic movement which involves men like Hume or Feuerbach or Dawkins.

You could nearly as well cite Theravada Buddhism, which arguably is a form of Atheism.

While it has beliefs you would class as "supernatural" they would not make that distinction.

They are much closer to believing the spooky than the divine.

Update, this one was less good:

Top 10 Ways The Past Was WAY MORE AWFUL Than You Think
TopTenz | 30.IV.2016

4:24 Would that 1847 story of horrid psychiatry perhaps be from the Puritan New England area? (Or Old England?)

8:14 As you mentioned Victorian London, it my be noted, this is after industrialism.

Same goes for earlier mentioned size of NYC with so many horse carriages and so much horse manure.

For your category one, the most precise ones were both recent and both involving non-West European and capitalist items : 19th C Russia and 19th C British Empire.

Few famines would have equalled the potato famine on Ireland or the Holodomor in Ukraine with neighbouring regions, both brought about by strongmen, Capitalist ones in Ireland (who forbade farmers to eat the wheat they had grown, preferring to sell it in England) and a huge Communist one for Ukraine, known as Stalin.

Overall, you are (or were back in 2016) a bit into lumping "the past" together.

For anaesthetics, often getting drunk on wine was used.

If field surgeons wanted to cut your leg or operate a leg, you were regularly offered to get soak drunk, and the Catholic theologians considered this as one licit occasion for this (as opposed to getting soak drunk for pure fun), while some heroic men did do without it.

Certain psychiatric abuses which were heavily sexist came about in 19th C. and would have been unthinkable one century earlier.

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