By and large, then, ancient Greeks probably looked generally like darker versions of modern Greeks (which, incidentally, sheds interesting light on Homer’s ‘black-skinned’ Odysseus and Eurybates). They were, of course, shorter too: the average height of the owners of surviving ancient Greek skeletons was around 5ft 4in (163 cm) for men and 5ft (153 cm) for women. Also, at the time that the Iliad and the Odyssey were written, there is likely to have been a greater variation at the individual level than at the time of the study, because of the extent of Greek reach across the Mediterranean and into north Africa, and the likelihood of immigration and intermarriage. In brief: the Greek warriors that Homer imagined probably did not look much like David Gyasi (Achilles in the BBC show), but nor did they look like Brad Pitt (Achilles in the Hollywood movie Troy).
Matthew Nimetz wants to make something clear – he has not spent every waking moment of the past 23 years thinking about one word: “Macedonia”.
“I have probably thought about it more than anyone else – including in the country,” says the 78-year-old US diplomat. “But I have to disappoint anyone that thinks it’s my full-time job.”
Since 1994, Nimetz has been trying to negotiate an end to arguably the world’s strangest international dispute, in which Greece is objecting to Macedonia’s name and refusing to let it join either Nato or the EU until it’s changed.
Greece says the name “Macedonia” suggests that the country has territorial ambitions over Greece’s own Macedonia – a province in the north of the country – and is a blatant attempt to lay claim to Greece’s national heritage.
When you look at it on a map, you can appreciate the potential confusion:
Even when a nation has a fixed, agreed name, people call it different things. See this Quora answer to the question “Why is the word Germany different in different languages?”:
Basically, because there were Germans before there was a Germany. Each of the Germans’ neighbors came up with their own name for them, long before there was a German state that people might want to refer to uniformly.
And spare a thought for Guinea. Which one though?
Guinea. Equatorial Guinea. Guinea-Bissau. Papua New Guinea. The Gulf of Guinea. Guinea, Virginia. Guinea, Nova Scotia. The world has more Guineas than a pirate’s treasure chest. What explains the prevalence of the name?
It started with them thinning the deer population, and the resulting chain reaction saw a huge increase in biodiversity and even unexpected changes in physical geography. The wolves changed the rivers!
The Mississippi River is impressive on its own, but when you consider all the other rivers that feed it on its way to the Gulf of Mexico, it seems all the mightier. The Mississippi’s massive watershed stretches from the Rocky Mountains in the west to the Appalachian Mountains in the east. It covers all or part of 31 states and reaches into two Canadian provinces. It drains nearly 40 percent of the contiguous United States—1.2 million square miles in total.
The article contains an excellent animation showing how the rivers feed into the Mississippi, and examples of these 19th century comparative charts:
The Lowlands of Old Tiilaal pic.twitter.com/Wx7hdSYhzw
— Uncharted Atlas (@unchartedatlas) August 15, 2016
The Plains of Tepmehmum pic.twitter.com/P4ubr6h8wF
— Uncharted Atlas (@unchartedatlas) August 10, 2016
Here’s a bit of background on how the bot does its thing.
See also @emojiatlas: