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Big History History

Congratulations! It’s… Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a holiday celebrated worldwide to celebrate motherhood. In the modern form, it originated in the United States and is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. Many other countries also mark this day as the celebration of Mother’s Day while some countries mark its observance at other times of the year. The American incarnation of Mother’s Day was established by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official holiday in 1914.  In 2021, Mother’s Day landed on May 9th, the second Sunday of the month.

The Great Greek Goddess, Rhea.

However, the origin of Mother’s Day dates back to ancient times when festivals were held to honor mother goddesses. For example, the Greeks held a festival to honor their great goddess Rhea, while the Phrygians held a ceremony for Cybele, The Great Mother of Gods. Some cultures still continue to host such festivals, for example, Durga-pooja in India is still celebrated to honor the great goddess Durja. Thus the history of Mother’s Day stems from these historic practices from thousands of years ago.

The Indian Goddess, Durja, who is still celebrated through Durja-pooja.
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Big History History

The Real Story Behind Let Them Eat Cake!

“Let them eat cake” is a phrase famously attributed to Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France during the French Revolution. At some point in 1789, after being told that the French population was facing a bread shortage, because of the poor crop harvest and the rodents, and as a result, was starving, Marie Antoinette replied with “let them eat cake!” Cake, obviously being a more expensive item than bread just went on to show how out of touch she was with her subjects. With this callous remark, the Queen became a hated symbol of the monarchy which fueled the French revolution and ultimately led to her (literally) losing her head a few years later.

However, the question still remains: did the much-beloved French monarch actually occur those words? For starters the literal translation of the phrase from French to English is inaccurate. Marie Antoinette is said to have said “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” which literally translates to let them eat Brioche. While Brioche is a buttery, sweet french breakfast bread much more expensive than a basic Baguette, it is no multi icing layered gateaux one imagines.  However, this still doesn’t change the fact that it showed how arrogant and out-of-touch the French Queen was from her subjects. Now the matter of whether Marie Antoinette actually occurred those words come to question. Well according to historians she did not! Lady Antonia Fraser, the author of a biography of the French queen, believes the quote would have been highly uncharacteristic of Marie-Antoinette. She states Marie Antoinette was a sensible woman who despite her lavish lifestyle showed sensitivity to her subjects. But keeping that aside, this quote has been circulating since before 1789 and was told in a slightly different form about Marie-Thérèse, the Spanish princess who married King Louis XIV in 1660. She allegedly said that the French people eat la croûte de pâté” (or the crust of the pâté). This story first appeared in philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau “Confessions” in 1766, when Marie Antoinette was just 10 years old! Thus, whoever occurred those words was definitely not Marie Antoinette.

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Big History History

The Spread and Symptoms of The Black Death

The bubonic plague- later known as the black death- was considered to be one of the most fatal pandemics that ever affected mankind. It spread throughout the mid-1300s and resulted in the deaths of 75-200 million people in Eurasia and North Africa. 

Firstly, trading ships played a large role in the spread of the plague in Europe. But, before these “death ships” pulled onto the port at Messina in Italy, many Europeans had already heard of the dreaded bubonic plague. This was due to the fact that in the early 1340s, the disease was already spreading through China, India, Persia, Syria, and Egypt. It is said that the plague originated in Asia over 2000 years ago and spread to Europe through trading ships, later referred to as “death ships.” However, recent research suggests that the pathogen responsible for the Black Death may have existed in Europe as early as 3000 BC. The Black Death was caused by an infection of the bacterium Yersinia pestis which was transmitted from rodents to humans through the bite of infected fleas. The plague spread through Asia and entered Europe through the rats present on the Genoese trading ships, which sailed from the Black Sea to Italy. 

Citizens present at the docks of Messina were met with a horrifying surprise. The majority of the sailors aboard the ship were dead and those who were still surviving were extremely ill with their bodies covered in black boils that ooze blood and pus. The bubonic plague came to be known as the Black Death due to the very reason that it could turn the skin and sores black. The Italian poet, Giovanni Boccaccio wrote, “at the beginning of the malady, certain swellings, either on the groin or under the armpits…waxed to the bigness of a common apple, others to the size of an egg, some more and some less, and these the vulgar named plague-boils.” These boils were one of the many symptoms of the horrifying plague. Other symptoms included acute fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, aches, and pains which ultimately led to death. 

After seeing the sailors in such a terrifying state, the Sicilian authorities ordered the fleet of the “death ships” out of the harbor; however, it was too late. Over the next five years, the Black Death would kill more than 20 million people in Europe – sending the continent back by 150 years.

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Big History History Adventures Learning Materials News

TOP 10 Best History Apps And Books That Will Make Learning History Interactive

If you are craving to find out more about the past, History is definitely the perfect subject for you. However, studying history is not only important because it allows us to understand our past, but it also helps us make more sense of the current world.

However, who wants to study history from a boring or difficult book?

Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of the most engaging and interesting history books and apps that are suitable both for educational purposes and for general interest. So, whether you’re a high school student, a business owner or a retired person, we are absolutely sure that you will enjoy all of the items listed here.

  1. History Adventures, World of Characters, (1750-1900)
    History Adventures Banner
    The first item on our list falls under the book category, but it’s much more than a standard history book, it’s much more than that! Developed by Spencer Striker, History Adventures is taking world history learning to a whole new level with 3D experiences, data visualizations, sound effects, and amazing graphics. Moreover, you will also be able to test your comprehension by taking a quiz by the end of each topic.

    But the best part is that it is absolutely free to download. But hurry up! It’s only free for the next few weeks.

    Download History Adventures now on iTunes.

  2. BBC History Magazine
    The UK’s best-selling history magazine is now available on iTunes!

    Every month the app publishers assemble leading specialists to explore a variety of historical topics – from ancient civilizations to the two world wars. Every issue includes an extensive reviews section, interesting ideas for cultural trips and breaking history news.

  3. History In Pictures

    This interactive guide formed from the latest pictures of historical events from around the globe is now available for Android users.

    You will be able to browse hundreds of historical photos including People, Wars, Events, and Creative moments from world history, that have been uploaded to the app in the last 24 hours.

  4. Civilisations AR
    Yes, another product created by BBC, but this is their first Augmented Reality app. Explore over 30 astonishing artifacts from around the world at the convenience of your home or office.

    This free AR app comes from a major collaboration between the BBC, Nexus Studios and over 30 museums from across the UK, and it is now available for both iOS and Android users.

  5. The Civil War Today
    The Civil War Today is an award-winning app created exclusively for the iPad 150 years after the start of the American Civil War. The users can explore the war as it unfolded, one day at a time, with daily updates that let you re-live the events in real-time.

    You will also be able to browse thousands of original documents, maps, photos, and newspaper broadsheets.

  6. The Book of Kells

    The Book of Kells is one of the most remarkable illustrated manuscripts and the most complex manuscript of its kind to survive from the early Middle Ages. Currently, it is on display in the Library of Trinity College Dublin.

    The app helps users explore the most exquisite details of 21 of the 9th-century manuscript’s best pages at up to 6 times their initial size.

  7. cdli tablet
    Developed by the University of California, “cdli tablet” is exclusively an iPad app that covers the cultural heritage of ancient Mesopotamia. The app includes text and images of ancient Mesopotamia that span 3500 years of human activity and describe the origins of trade, astronomy, and mathematics in ancient times.

    The best part – entries are updated daily.

  8. TimeTours: Uxmal
    TimeTours is a time travel guidebook that will take you on a virtual trip to the past using modern 3D reconstructions. Its ‘Now and Then’ time windows let users experience what the cities looked like in the ancient world.

    The app costs $5.49 and is available in English, German, Spanish. By the way, it is also currently used in the Cambridge Friends School iPad pilot program.

  9. The Presidents – Flash Cards

    If you’re looking for the fastest and easiest way to learn the Presidents, the Presidents app will definitely have you covered! It contains gorgeous flashcards for all forty-five Presidents of the United States – from George Washington to Donald Trump.

    And you will also be able to test your knowledge by turning the information off in the “Tap to Reveal” mode.

  10. Kings & Queens: 1,000 Years of British Royalty
    This easy to use iTunes app contains both magnificent digital portraits of Britain’s royal family and comprehensive descriptions of their characters and accomplishments.

    Telling the story of the British monarchy from William the Conqueror to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, this is a perfect starting point for anyone with an interest in the Royal Family.

With these apps and books, you will definitely have an endless supply of historical facts and stories. In particular, at History Adventures, we go the extra mile to take your history learning to the next level.

In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments which app or book you’ve enjoyed most. 

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Big History Characters History Adventures News

Our official launch trailer!

History Adventures, World of Characters, Book 3, (1750-1900).

A fresh approach to history education, designed for today’s digital generation.

This interactive, multimodal learning experience combines the latest in mobile entertainment with the power of narrative design—bringing the pages of history to life.

History Adventures foregrounds the power of story, narrativizing the experiences of people who lived in past centuries—in different epochs and locations around the globe. Students will witness the very real moments these very real people lived through, as if they were there. And via the empathy inspired by quality storytelling, students will feel the life or death stakes of decisions made in the moment.

The January 2020 release of History Adventures covers the Period from 1750-1900 through the lens of 5 amazing people living through complex flash-points in time.

Book 3 Features

  1. Agent 355, (a slave… and an American Revolutionary War spy)
  2. Jiemba, (an indigenous Australian at Botany Bay when the British convict ships arrived)
  3. Fei Hong, (a Chinese family man, surviving the Opium Wars)
  4. Khari, (a native rebel resisting Belgian oppression during the (so-called) Congo Free State)
  5. Thomas Brown, (a muckraking reporter, working to expose the malpractice of the Chicago Meatpacking Industry).

History Adventures, World of Characters, Book 3 (1750-1900), will go live on iTunes, January of 2020, available for download around the world!

History Adventures: The Stories of People in Time, Connected by Eternity..

Created by Spencer Striker, PhD

#history #digitallearning #historyeducation #digitaldesign #learningdesign #illustration #americanrevolution #congofreestate #peopleshistory #bighistory #mobilelearning #multimodality #interactivelearning #powerofstory #narrativedesign #historicalfiction #characterdesign #washingtonsspies #opiumwars #revolution #rebellion #Imperialism #exploration #clashofcivilizations #muckrakers #botanybay #gunboatdiplomacy #indigenous #chicagomeatpackers #historyadventures

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Big History History Adventures News Publication

History Adventures Now Live on the iBooks Store!

Download from iBooks Today!

After years in development, our team is proud to announce that History Adventures, Ch. III Conscribo, is now live on iBooks around the world and available to download to any iOS device! Download and experience our enhanced history learning experience today!

History Adventures enhanced history learning experience now live on iBooks!
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Big History Conferences History Adventures News Spencer Striker PhD

EduTECH Middle East 2017 Presentation; Case Study: A New Digital Learning Experience with Big History Adventures

Dr. Spencer Striker presents Big History Adventures at EduTECH Middle East, November 2017

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Big History History Adventures News Presentations Spencer Striker PhD

Big History Adventures – AUD professor presents new App

AUD Assistant Professor of Digital Media Dr. Spencer Striker presented a new digital learning prototype, called Big History Adventures, being developed in collaboration with key members of the International Big History Association.

Big History, an emerging academic discipline that examines history from the Big Bang to the present was discussed at AUD recently by Dr. Jonathan Markley, of Cal State Fullerton, who presented an engaging overview of Big History’s cutting-edge innovation in visual educational multimedia.[1]

Championed by such thought leaders as Bill Gates, who finances the Big History Project, this cutting-edge, macro-level, interdisciplinary approach to world history curricula is increasingly influential around the world.

About Big History Adventures – by Dr. Spencer Striker
Building a digital learning experience to be produced in association with the International Big History Association. Featuring contributions by leading scholars of world history, the app will tell the Little Big History of Human Collective Learning from the origins of spoken language on the plains of Africa to the paintings of the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave; from the invention of cuneiform in Mesopotamia to the audio-visual revolution of the 20th century; and beyond.

Leveraging my original research and expertise in mobile app development, the project will demonstrate how data visualization, big data, interactive maps of time, musical scoring, sound design, branching paths, game-based assessments, and embedded documentary can bring the pages of history to life. [2]

Promotional Poster for Dr. Spencer Striker’s Big History Adventures FX Demo at AUD


About Big History
Big History examines long time frames using a multidisciplinary approach based on combining numerous disciplines from science and the humanities and explores human existence in the context of this bigger picture. It integrates studies of the cosmos, Earth, life, and humanity.

Big History examines the past using numerous time scales, from the Big Bang to modernity. If conventional history focuses on human civilization with humankind at the center, Big History focuses on the universe and shows how humankind fits within this framework, and places human history in the wider context of the universe’s history.

Big History draws on the latest findings from biology, astronomy, geology, climatology, prehistory, archaeology, anthropology, evolutionary biology, chemistry, psychology, hydrology, geography, paleontology, ancient history, physics, economics, cosmology, natural history, and population and environmental studies as well as standard history, to draw an unprecedentedly complete portrait of the human story in the universe as we know it.

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Big History News Presentations

Visual Cultures Forum – Jonathan Markley – Big History: Innovating Visual Educational Multimedia

The Department of Visual Communication hosted a Visual Cultures Forum with Jonathan Markley titled “Big History: Innovating Visual Educational Multimedia.”

Jonathan Markley a New Zealander by birth, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Auckland. After that, he taught history for four years in Hong Kong, before moving to Sydney, Australia, where he earned his Ph.D. at Macquarie University in ancient Chinese history. His first book (published by Brepols) is called “Peace and Peril. Sima Qian’s Portrayal of Han-Xiongnu Relations.” He moved from Australia to California to take up his position in the History Department at CSUF in 2006. He was granted tenure and promotion to associate professor in 2011.

He has been involved with the Big History movement since his time at Macquarie, and he featured in many of the episodes of the History Channel’s 2013 series “Big History.” Other TV appearances include an episode of “America’s Secret Slang” (Lower the Boom), “Ten Things you didn’t know” (Caligula), and “History of the World in Two Hours.”

Promotional Poster for Dr. Markley’s popular talk on AUD campus

He was appointed to the board of the International Big History Association (IBHA) in 2014. He is working on a book about the Big History of Grass, a species of plant that includes wheat, barley, rice, corn, sugar cane, and bamboo. He is also the host of an exclusive 3-part documentary that provides insight into the links between astronomy, deep time geological events, and human civilization, called Deep Time, running on Curiosity Stream.

Dr. Markley’s talk connected the fascinating world of Big History with cutting-edge innovation in educational multimedia.