KIDS’ BLOG! Rain, Rain Go Away: Ancient Weather, Modern Predictions

hurricane

Update! This post was originally published on June 25, 2013. Hurricane season 2014 has been pretty quiet so far, but you never know when a tiny little storm system can gain momentum and become a full-fledged hurricane. Ancient civilizations had to face threats from weather just like we do today, but they didn’t have the amazing technology we have that can track and predict storms. Read our post and learn more about ancient weather and take advantage of our all new activities after the post!

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It’s summertime and that means lazy days, trips to the beach and no school! It also means Hurricane Season 2013 has arrived. From June to November every year meteorologists pay close attention to areas where severe weather might develop. People who live in states where storms are common like Florida, Louisiana and Texas gather supplies and prepare just in case a major hurricane comes their way.  Last year, however, a major storm hit an area that is not used to having hurricanes. Hurricane Sandy made landfall in the Northeast United States including New York City and caused a lot of damage.  So, how do we know how many hurricanes there will be this year and where they might land?  Scientists gather information from many sources and make predictions based on what they learn.  Some of this information comes from the ancient past.

Paleotempestology is the study of past storm activity using geology and documentary records.  We can look at the land and see where big storms hit areas in the ancient past and actually changed the way the land appears today. In 2004, one researcher in Australia realized that it could help predict storms we might have missed. Dr. Jonathan Nott from the Centre for Disaster Studies at James Cook University reviewed the geological evidence of storms from up to 5500 years ago in Western Australia, Queensland and the U.S. and predicted that “major cyclones bigger than any ever recorded in Australia will hit in the future.”[1]  Just as we use weather patterns such as El Nino to make predictions, there are weather patterns from the ancient past that can tell us more about how the weather behaves over hundreds and even thousands of years.  Perhaps most importantly, it allows us to see how human beings are potentially affecting our weather patterns and helping to produce a climate in which bigger storms are more common.

Did you know that ancient people lived through hurricanes just as we live through today?  In fact, Native Americans living along the Atlantic coast during the Middle Ages probably experienced hurricanes similar to our 2005 season.  In 2009, Michael Mann, director of the Earth Systems Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, authored a study finding evidence that conditions at the time were perfect for hurricanes. In fact, there is evidence that several hit the coast. His team studied medieval sediments, or soil samples, taken from lagoons between Massachusetts and Puerto Rico and concluded “it was probably a lot like the 2005 season, which was the busiest hurricane season in the Atlantic in recorded history.”[2]  They may have even seen a storm just like Hurricane Katrina!

odyssey stormUnfortunately, no one in antiquity wrote about these big storms in their diaries so we don’t know exactly what they went through, but we can tell from ancient stories and other writings that they definitely knew all about bad weather.  Ancient myths are full of tempests and authors were always trying to write about the biggest and baddest storms.  For example, the Greek ships returning from Troy were famously destroyed by a sudden storm that shipwrecked nearly the entire fleet.  And then there are the terrible floods written about in texts throughout the world. “Many ancient cultures, the Babylonians, the Mesopotamians, the Sumerians, had stories that involve a great flood sent by a deity, indicating to historians that there was perhaps a (or several) great flood(s) and these myths rose around to explain it (them).”[3]  The ancient Greeks tried to explain all weather by assigning each element to a specific god. There was a god in charge of the sun, one for the wind, one for floods and so on.  As long as that particular god was happy, the weather would remain fair.  If the skies opened up with lightening, thunder, rain or wind, it could all be explained by an angry god.

Today, we know that this hurricane season won’t be caused by a grumpy god and no amount of sacrificing to Zeus, Notos or Poseidon will keep the winds, waves and rain away.  However, we can rely on the lessons we’ve learned from the ancient past in order to predict and prepare for the storms of the future. So make sure your parents have plenty of fresh water, know your evacuation route and check out the National Hurricane Center’s “Hurricane Preparedness” website for all the info you need to stay safe!

Activities

Create-a-Cane

Use this fantastic online program to create your very own virtual hurricane! This activity is courtesy of the National Hurricane Center. Click here to get started!

Track a Hurricane or Storm System

Download these printable hurricane tracking charts and use the National Hurricane Center’s website to track storm systems as they travel the map.


1.Catchpole, Heather, “Ancient Storms Show “Big One” to Come”, March 8, 2004, http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2004/03/08/1057251.htm#.Uaz-okCcGk9

2. Hamilton, Jon, “Recent Hurricanes Not Matched Since the Middle Ages”, NPRAugust 12, 2009, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111809658

3. Tuthill, Samantha-Rae. “Weather and Ancient Religion: Greek Mythology”, August 20, 2012, http://www.accuweather.com/en/features/trend/weather-and-ancient-religion-g/70378

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Ancient Chicken Curry in a Hurry

Image credit: kspoddar

Image credit: kspoddar

Curry.  It’s a spiced dish with a definition that continues to change and expand as new chefs and even new regions of the world explore its flavorful possibilities. Today, curry is enjoyed in a multitude of forms. This week we’re bringing you the recipe for Chicken Curry in a Hurry so you can enjoy this dish even when you have a million other tasks vying for your time. And we’re also going to provide you with a quick history behind this ancient food so you can learn while you cook! Continue reading

Exploring LegacyQuest 2014! Dancing Through the Ages

LegacyQuest large logo blue borderWe’ve reached the final week of our Exploring LegacyQuest series and our featured video is another amazing Honorable Mention from the Morganton Day School in North Carolina. These students danced their way to success with a film that explores the origins of dance and the various styles that have emerged throughout the ages. This lively entry was produced by middle school students Edgar, Caitie, Delaney, Annie Grace and Harrison with the helping hand of their inspirational teacher, Britta Gramer. Continue reading

AntiquityNOW Celebrates Shark Week!

Strong, agile, mysterious, beautiful, ancient. Sharks have embodied our terrors and captured our imaginations for thousands of years. Today we celebrate and study sharks, even dedicating an entire week of television and social media to these denizens of the deep. Before popular culture caught on to the shark frenzy, however, ancient civilizations revered, respected, feared and even worshipped the shark. Below you’ll find a collection of images showing how some long ago cultures represented this iconic creature.

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Bon Appetit Shark Week! Eat Like the Ancient Shark Callers with Papua New Guinea’s Chicken Pot

Grey Reef Shark off Papua New Guinea. Image courtesy of Marc Tarlock.

Grey Reef Shark off Papua New Guinea. Image courtesy of Marc Tarlock.

In honor of Shark Week we’re bringing you a recipe from the island of Papua New Guinea where people continue to practice the ancient practice of shark calling. The Chicken Pot is a simple dish imbued with the flavors of the islands and reminiscent of the meals the ancient villagers would have eaten. All of the ingredients can be found on the islands and are still eaten today. Before we dig in to a delicious meal, let’s learn more about the shark callers of Papua New Guinea. Continue reading

Exploring LegacyQuest 2014! A Modern Retelling of Pandora’s Box

LegacyQuest large logo blue borderThis week we’re featuring another Honorable Mention from The Baldwin School in Pennsylvania. With an in depth retelling of the story of Pandora’s Box and an insightful Q&A to reveal its modern connections, the viewer is treated to a new view of a classic mythological tale. The illuminating film was created by middle school students Rebecca, Menal, Alex, Katrina and Theresa with the help and inspiration of their teacher, Preston Bannard. Continue reading

A Brief History of the Timeless Dilemma of Censorship and America’s Response

Image courtesy of Tyler Menezes on Flickr.

Image courtesy of Tyler Menezes on Flickr.

The life of Socrates is in the hands of 500 reticent jurors. He stands trial for poisoning the minds of Athenian youth and inspiring rebellion with anti-democratic teachings. Silently, the jurors cast their ballots into one of two urns that represent guilt or innocence…

Socrates was found guilty and sentenced to death. Shielding the public from dangerous ideas outweighed one man’s right to free expression on the scales of Athenian justice. Throughout history, society’s weighing of public good against individual rights has shaped the history of censorship. It’s a dilemma both ancient and familiar. Continue reading

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Baking with the Ancient Inca Berry

Uchuva_2005Recently, a remarkable little fruit has been making its way into previously untapped markets. Already popular around the world under various names, the Inca berry is finally popping up on North American shelves. The tiny ancient fruit has been called a superfood and it certainly has the history to prove it. This berry has been providing nutrition to people for centuries. This week’s recipe celebrates the newest name for the Inca berry, the pichuberry, a name meant to conjure up images of Machu Picchu. Read about the history of this wondrous fruit and enjoy a batch of Pichuberry Raspberry Coconut Muffins full of fresh-baked goodness and potent antioxidants! Continue reading

Kids’ Blog! Seeing Ancient Invisible Ink Through Modern Eyes

Image by Noel Hidalgo Tan, Antiquity Publications.

Image by Noel Hidalgo Tan, Antiquity Publications.

Invisible ink, such a simple and yet crafty way to keep secrets. You may know that it was used in wars such as the American Civil War, the American Revolutionary War and both World Wars, but did you know it was being used thousands of years ago by ancient civilizations? In the first century AD, Pliny the Elder wrote in his Natural History, an early encyclopedia, about how the milk of the tithymallus plant could be adapted as an invisible ink. Ovid spoke about secret ink in his Art of Love. Ahmed Qalqashandi, a medieval Egyptian writer and mathematician, described several types of invisible ink.[1] And recently an article published in LiveScience explored a startling new discovery at Cambodia’s famous Angkor Wat temple regarding invisible ink.[2] Ancient invisible ink didn’t always start out as invisible and in this case the ancient artists probably had no idea that their stunning works would one day be hidden to the naked eye. Continue reading