History

The Last Samurai Tom Cruise movie backdrop

On Decipher History: The Last Samurai w/ Isaac Meyer

A small taste of our new episode of Decipher History to remind you to subscribe to the new show. This week featuring our new friend Isaac Meyer from The History of Japan Podcast!

New episode: The Last Samurai: Bushido, European influence, and howizters w/ Isaac Meyer

Subscribe!: Decipher History

300: professional soldiers, the Spartan Mirage, and expert poking w/ Josh Effengee

Featuring guest co-host
Josh from LSG Media headshotJosh from LSG Media

This film

Zach Snyder’s strengths in creating comic book panels on film. Slo-mo blood spatter. Abs and glistening man-meat.

Western civilization

Ancient Greece and “western civilization.” The birth of “democracy” in nearby Athens. Juxtaposing your historical culture with the “other.” Like George Washington crossing the Delaware but with way less man-meat. And 100% less codpieces.

Sparta

The dawn on the Spartan state. The nature of the Helot slave class. “Land-bonded” slavery vs chattel. Ancient Greek and Spartan combat methods. Heavy infantry. Training by doing crunches all.day.long. Ancient combat analogues with early UFC.

The Persian Invasions

Greece as a poor backwater on the edge of the Persian Empire. The Ionian Revolt, The Battle of Marathon, The Battle of Thermopylae, Battle of Plataea.

Professional soldiering

The incredible change that was the development of the professional standing army. Modern soldiers and modern combat compared and contrasted with ancient. Dying gloriously. Army sizes at Thermopylae as recorded closer to the time vs modern estimates.

Modern understanding of Sparta

Ancient sources and the lack of writing from the actual place and time. “The Spartan Mirage,” and the crafting of the Spartan image. Any training as a unit is better than none.

Phalanx

The universality of shield walls and spear hedges, aka the “spiky steamroller.” Strategically busting out in individual slow motion. Spear-length evolution. Learning whether “dragoons” are at all related to dragons.

Links:

Josh’s shows on LSG Media: The X-Files Podcast (always) | Science Fiction Film Podcast (sometimes)
300: iTunes | Amazon
Hardcore History – King of Kings, by Dan Carlin: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield: iTunes | Amazon

Apocalyptomovie backdrop mayan man in front of stepped pyramid

Apocalypto: sacrificial practices, temples, and Mayan writing and math

Criticisms and controversy

So yeah, Mel Gibson is bad. But then the movies are… really good? Trying to get past his framing. The tug of war between historical accuracy and entertainment. Anthropological criticism.

Deciphering history

The problem with burning nearly the entire written history of a people. Deciphering scant ancient texts. The remaining resources: art, stelae. Mayan hieroglyphic writing.

Periods

The Maya pre-classic, classic, and post-cassic periods. The scale of the height of Mayan civilization. The abruptness of its fall. The period in which the film takes place and the ways in which it is not actually entirely apparent. Classic-period pyramids in the post-classic era.

Science and math

The mixing of astronomy and astrology in the Mayan tracking of the heavenly bodies for religious purposes. The Mayan written mathematical system. “Inventing” zero. Extensive calendaring and that whole 2012 kerfuffle.

Civilizational decline

The factors that may have contributed to the Mayan collapse. Plaster and mortar production. Deforestation for fuel.

Aztec/Maya

The possibility for cultural confusion in the film. Aztec and Maya sacrificial practices.

Links

The Case Study of Apocalypto by Richard D Hansen: ResearchGate
Apocalypto by History Buffs: YouTube