20 thoughts on “Ick!

  1. I don’t see ick. I think if you’d go back to any traditional culture, you’d find that feeding multiple babies was common, and usually within the family. A village could need most women in the fields, and only one to mind the children.

  2. The statue pictured was of Ishtar, the Babylonian fertility goddess with boobs galore! It’s notable that the ancient Egyptian dynasties were traditionally insular to the point where incest was a common practice. Pharoahs were known to marry their own sisters in order to keep the royal bloodline “pure”. This extreme inbreeding was likely the reason both for the ultimate downfall of dynasties and for the known instances of physical deformities, such as Ikhnaton’s grotesqueness and Tutankhamen’s club foot. It’s no surprise at all, given that, that members of the royal family were nursed only by those possessing “royal milk”!

    • “This extreme inbreeding was likely the reason both for the ultimate downfall of dynasties and for the known instances of physical deformities, such as Ikhnaton’s grotesqueness and Tutankhamen’s club foot”

      I would submit that geography is the ultimate downfall of the Egyptian dynasties. Early in human history a compact strip of highly arable land connect by an easily navigable waterway and protected by vast deserts to the east and west made Egypt a natural “superpower”, given no civilization-ready population densities had formed in more natural seats of power further west or north.

      Once those populations did become denser, each passing generation weakened Egypt’s security (and vicariously, the associated dynasties) until ultimately Egypt would be a state perennially bouncing between direct vassal or indirectly compelled by a regional power or as it currently sits, luckily undisturbed as no major power wants to directly control the Suez.

      • One can only imagine what a tremendous shock it was to the Egyptians when, after little more threat than Nubian excursions to the south, the Hyksos charged in and conquered them. That conquest was short lived, but it seems to have put Egypt into an aggressive foreign mindset thereafter… until later dynasties fell into decadence and impotence. A parallel might be made with Rome after their defeat by Brennus the Gaul. His famous remark of “Woe to the conquered” proved their spur to be the conquerors themselves; doing unto others before they had a damn chance to do unto them!

      • It wasn’t just a matter of new power centres arising. Accessibility changed too, with new transport technologies, e.g. ships and, later, camels (the “ship of the desert”) and, even later, horses big enough for heavy cavalry rather than just drawing chariots or carrying scouts. The uneven arrival of the Iron Age mattered too (it started among the Hittites, in Asia Minor). It was not for nothing that the Egyptians recorded the arrival of the “sea peoples” and Israel was beset by Philistines (who probably arrived by sea and had iron earlier than others around them).

          • No. Neither the “sea peoples” nor the Philistines were examples of new power centres that had arisen then projecting that power. Rather, they were what previously minor peripheral groups did with those new resources, that as a consequence turned those groups into powerful ones – but not in other locations, in the places they went to. I was not redundantly bringing out examples of what you had already described but describing a further thing that was also at work, a thing in which the causality was different.

            Why are you so hostile to being given new information, so often meeting it with such anger and denial? The answer matters for you far more than for other people, so you should really consider the question.

        • The Hittites and their iron weapons came as an unpleasant surprise to a newly expansionist Egypt (now freed from Hyksos rule) under the rule of the young and energetic Ramses II. That’s why his close run victory at Kadesh was so important. Actually, the Hittites merely withdrew to a better location (after nearly wiping out Ramses’ rash chariot attack) and negociated a territorial settlement. That victory (which Ramses played to the hilt for political purposes) was instrumental in consolidating the power of his dynasty. Chariots continued to be the maneuver units of the battlefield until the invention of the stirrup.

          • The stirrup wasn’t the bottleneck, the larger breed of horse was. Until then, horses either had to draw chariots to get heavily armed men into action, or had to carry lightly armed men – who could cope without stirrups using a kind of saddle with protrusions that made knee gripping more effective. What the stirrup gave riders was the ability to remain mounted while wielding heavy weapons or receiving heavy blows (high pommels and cantles also helped with that), but a smaller horse couldn’t carry a rider equipped for all that.

            However, the chariot had been superseded by light cavalry even before larger horses arrived; Alexander the Great had further refined the necessary tactics and combination of arms (with infantry) needed to make it more widely effective than chariots, though still not very effective as a single arm. According to Kittow’s The Greeks, chariots were even more restricted than light cavalry to flat terrain that didn’t have heavy (muddy) going – but that still made chariots very useful, as they could attack lines of march (which large battles almost had to be on) and they could provide a rapid response to most raiders (who could only hit, loot and run on that kind of terrain as they had to be in and out quickly, terrain that also had the crops most needing defending). A chariot functioned as an APC to deliver a Bronze Age hero (the technical term for a heavily armed infantryman, who usually fought as an individual as most areas couldn’t support more than one until cheaper and more available iron arrived). After deploying the hero, the charioteer fought much like a ground support helicopter for him, with javelins as covering “fire” while offering a rapid evacuation option. Chariots were less flexible in battle, but still useful, particularly with the added refinements Caesar found among the Gauls and Britons.

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