How Easy It Is to Be Wrong about Early History on the Internet

Or: Some History behind Ostrich Riding, Part 1 of 7

Background: I ran into two historical images from California with ostriches used as transportation. That got me wondering about the history of ostrich riding. And that lead me down quite a rabbit hole.

I’ve divided my findings into separate posts (find them with the ostrich riding tag). Warning: serious early history and language nerdery ahead in Serious Academic Voice.

TL;DR – Tracing ostrich riding to a 3rd century BCE tomb find from Egypt is rubbish, but the concept is, indeed, ancient.

Below is the long story.

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History for Writers: Introduction

640px-Herodotus_plate_in_Volissos_entranceWriters of fiction and writers of history have long had a kinship with each other.

It is a telling fact that Herodotus, founding father of western historiography, saw himself as carrying on the work of Homer, the great epic poet. Herodotus himself has often been accused of being better at spinning a yarn than at getting his facts right, and Homer tells us quite a lot about the real warlords and merchants of his day through his stories of epic battles and heroic wanderings. Fiction and history have always sat at the same table. As a professional historian and an amateur writer, I’ve spent plenty of time thinking about how the two go together.

Writing fiction means imagining people and worlds that do not exist. That, in its essence, is also what the study of history is about. Now, historians must keep our imaginations grounded in testable evidence and rational argument, but all those facts add up to nothing without imagination. We will never shadow the emperor’s agents as they crept the back streets of Rome sniffing out agitators, or break bread with a gang of workers in the shadow of a half-built pyramid and listen in to their work-camp gossip, or watch over Confucius’ shoulder as one petty, corrupt, minor official after another slowly drove him to consider whether there could be a better way to live. Those people and the times they lived in are gone, and if we are to make any sense of the evidence they left behind we must try to imagine the worlds in which they lived.

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Why Co-Geeking?

We’re Eppu and Erik Jensen, your hosts at Co-Geeking. Welcome.

It all started with a t-shirt.

Many years ago, in a small Irish pub, the two of us struck up a conversation over a t-shirt decorated with Viking-age art. For some reason, the topic of role-playing games came up and we found out that we’re both gamers. We knew then that we had so much more to talk about and we discovered a lot of shared interests: history, language, fantasy and sci-fi, games, and more. We’ve been together, and geeking together, ever since.

There’s nothing like living with someone who will hum along when you start singing “Far over the Misty Mountains Cold” or who knows exactly what you mean when you say: “Ugh, Neelix is the Jar-Jar Binks of Star Trek.” Being a geek is so much more fun when you have someone to geek with you: a co-geek, if you will.

This blog is a joint project all about those things that we share a passion for. We’re here to talk about things like history, design, art, stories, characters, language, and why they all matter to us.