A Guided Tour of the Largest Handmade Model of Imperial Rome: Discover the 20x20 Meter Model Created During the 1930s

At the moment, you can’t see the largest, most detailed hand­made mod­el of Impe­r­i­al Rome for your­self. That’s because the Museo del­la Civiltà Romana, the insti­tu­tion that hous­es it, has been closed for ren­o­va­tions since 2014. But you can get a guid­ed tour of “Il Plas­ti­co,” as this grand Rome-in-minia­ture is known, through the new Ancient Rome Live video above. “The archae­ol­o­gist and archi­tect Ita­lo Gis­mon­di cre­at­ed this amaz­ing mod­el,” explains host Dar­ius Arya, pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture for his tour of Pom­peii. Work­ing at a 1:250 scale, Gis­mon­di built most of Il Plas­ti­co between 1933 and 1937, with lat­er expan­sions after its instal­la­tion in the Museo del­la Civiltà Romana.

Archae­ol­o­gists and oth­er schol­ars have, of course, learned more about the Eter­nal City over the past nine decades, knowl­edge reflect­ed in reg­u­lar­ly updat­ed dig­i­tal mod­els like Rome Reborn. But none have showed Gis­mondi’s ded­i­ca­tion to painstak­ing man­u­al labor, which allowed him to craft prac­ti­cal­ly every then-known archi­tec­tur­al and infra­struc­tur­al fea­ture with­in the walls of Rome in the Con­stan­tin­ian age, from 306 to 337 AD.

Arya points out rec­og­niz­able land­marks like the Colos­se­um, the Forum, and the Pyra­mid of Ces­tius as well as bridges, riv­er for­ti­fi­ca­tions, aque­ducts, and even land­scap­ing details down to the lev­el of indi­vid­ual trees.

Even when the cam­era zooms way in, Gis­mondi’s Rome looks prac­ti­cal­ly hab­it­able (and indeed, it may appeal to some view­ers more than do the mod­ern Euro­pean cities that are its descen­dants). It’s no won­der that Rid­ley Scott, a direc­tor famous­ly sen­si­tive to visu­al impact, would use the mod­el in Glad­i­a­tor. And while a video tour like Arya’s pro­vides a clos­er-up view of many sec­tions of Il Plas­ti­co than one can get in per­son, the only way to ful­ly appre­ci­ate the sheer scale of the achieve­ment is to behold its phys­i­cal real­i­ty. Luck­i­ly, you should be able to do just that next year, when the Museo del­la Civiltà Romana is sched­uled to reopen at long last. But then, no more could Rome be built in a day than its muse­um could be ren­o­vat­ed in a mere decade.

Relat­ed con­tent:

A Huge Scale Mod­el Show­ing Ancient Rome at Its Archi­tec­tur­al Peak (Built Between 1933 and 1937)

Rome Reborn: A New 3D Vir­tu­al Mod­el Lets You Fly Over the Great Mon­u­ments of Ancient Rome

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Humans First Started Enjoying Cannabis in China Circa 2800 BC

Judg­ing by how cer­tain Amer­i­can cities smell these days, you’d think cannabis was invent­ed last week. But that spike in enthu­si­asm, as well as in pub­lic indul­gence, comes as only a recent chap­ter in that sub­stance’s very long his­to­ry. In fact, says the pre­sen­ter of the PBS Eons video above, human­i­ty began cul­ti­vat­ing it “in what’s now Chi­na around 12,000 years ago. This makes cannabis one of the sin­gle old­est known plants we domes­ti­cate,” even ear­li­er than “sta­ples like wheat, corn, and pota­toes.” By that time scale, it was­n’t so long ago — four mil­len­nia or so — that the lin­eages used for hemp and for drugs genet­i­cal­ly sep­a­rat­ed from each oth­er.

The old­est evi­dence of cannabis smok­ing as we know it, also explored in the Sci­ence mag­a­zine video below, dates back 2,500 years. “The first known smok­ers were pos­si­bly Zoroas­tri­an mourn­ers along the ancient Silk Road who burned pot dur­ing funer­al rit­u­als,” a propo­si­tion sup­port­ed by the analy­sis of the remains of ancient bra­ziers found at the Jirzankal ceme­tery, at the foot of the Pamir moun­tains in west­ern Chi­na. “Tests revealed chem­i­cal com­pounds from cannabis, includ­ing the non-psy­choac­tive cannabid­i­ol, also known as CBD” — itself rein­vent­ed in our time as a thor­ough­ly mod­ern prod­uct — and traces of a THC byprod­uct called cannabi­nol “more intense than in oth­er ancient sam­ples.”

What made the Jirzankal ceme­tery’s stash pack such a punch? “The region’s high alti­tude could have stressed the cannabis, cre­at­ing plants nat­u­ral­ly high in THC,” writes Sci­ence’s Andrew Lawler. “But humans may also have inter­vened to breed a more wicked weed.” As cannabis-users of the six­ties and sev­en­ties who return to the fold today find out, the weed has grown wicked indeed over the past few decades. But even mil­len­nia ago and half a world away, civ­i­liza­tions that had incor­po­rat­ed it for rit­u­al­is­tic use — or as a med­ical treat­ment — may already have been agri­cul­tur­al­ly guid­ing it toward greater poten­cy. Your neigh­bor­hood dis­pen­sary may not be the most sub­lime place on Earth, but at least, when next you pay it a vis­it, you’ll have a sound his­tor­i­cal rea­son to cast your mind to the Cen­tral Asian steppe.

Relat­ed con­tent:

The Drugs Used by the Ancient Greeks and Romans

Alger­ian Cave Paint­ings Sug­gest Humans Did Mag­ic Mush­rooms 9,000 Years Ago

Pipes with Cannabis Traces Found in Shakespeare’s Gar­den, Sug­gest­ing the Bard Enjoyed a “Not­ed Weed”

Reefer Mad­ness, 1936’s Most Unin­ten­tion­al­ly Hilar­i­ous “Anti-Drug” Exploita­tion Film, Free Online

Carl Sagan on the Virtues of Mar­i­jua­na (1969)

Watch High Main­te­nance: A Crit­i­cal­ly-Acclaimed Web Series About Life & Cannabis

The New Nor­mal: Spike Jonze Cre­ates a Very Short Film About America’s Com­plex His­to­ry with Cannabis

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Beautifully-Preserved Frescoes with Figures from the Trojan War Discovered in a Lavish Pompeii Home

Image via  Pom­peii Archae­o­log­i­cal Park

Imag­ine vis­it­ing the home of a promi­nent, wealthy fig­ure, and at the evening’s end find­ing your­self in a room ded­i­cat­ed to late-night enter­tain­ing, paint­ed entire­ly black except for a few scenes from antiq­ui­ty. Per­haps this would­n’t sound entire­ly implau­si­ble in, say, twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry Sil­i­con Val­ley. But such places also exist­ed in antiq­ui­ty itself: or at least one of them did, as recent­ly dis­cov­ered in Pom­peii. Pre­served for near­ly two mil­len­nia now by the ash of Mount Vesu­vius, the ruins of that city give us the clear­est and most detailed archae­o­log­i­cal insights we have into life at the height of the Roman Empire — but even today, a third of the site has yet to be exca­vat­ed.

That archae­o­log­i­cal dig con­tin­ues apace, and its lat­est dis­cov­ery — more recent than the Pom­pei­ian “snack bar” and “piz­za” pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture — is “a spec­tac­u­lar ban­quet­ing room with ele­gant black walls, dec­o­rat­ed with mytho­log­i­cal char­ac­ters and sub­jects inspired by the Tro­jan War,” includ­ing such mytho­log­i­cal char­ac­ters as Helen, Paris, Cas­san­dra, and Apol­lo.

“It pro­vid­ed a refined set­ting for enter­tain­ment dur­ing con­vivial moments, whether ban­quets or con­ver­sa­tions, with the clear aim of pur­su­ing an ele­gant lifestyle, reflect­ed by the size of the space, the pres­ence of fres­coes and mosaics dat­ing to the Third Style.”

Fres­coes in that Roman Third Style, explains Hyper­al­ler­gic’s Rhea Nay­yar, fea­ture “small, fine­ly paint­ed fig­ures and sub­jects that seem to float with­in mono­chro­mat­ic fields,” designed “to mim­ic framed works of art or altars through illu­sions resem­bling carved beams, shad­ed pil­lars, and shin­ing can­de­labras — all of which were paint­ed on flat walls.”

The col­or of those walls, in this case, seems to have been cho­sen to hide the car­bon deposits left by oil lamps burn­ing all night long. As report­ed by BBC Sci­ence News, the com­mis­sion­er of this room, and indeed of the lav­ish house in which it’s locat­ed, may have been Aulus Rustius Verus, a “super-rich” local politi­cian who — assum­ing deci­sive archae­o­log­i­cal evi­dence emerges in his favor — also knew how to par­ty.

via Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed con­tent:

A New­ly-Dis­cov­ered Fres­co in Pom­peii Reveals a Pre­cur­sor to Piz­za

Take a High Def, Guid­ed Tour of Pom­peii

Archae­ol­o­gists Dis­cov­er an Ancient Roman Snack Bar in the Ruins of Pom­peii

Behold 3D Recre­ations of Pompeii’s Lav­ish Homes — as They Exist­ed Before the Erup­tion of Mount Vesu­vius

Watch the Destruc­tion of Pom­peii by Mount Vesu­vius, Re-Cre­at­ed with Com­put­er Ani­ma­tion (79 AD)

Pom­peii Rebuilt: A Tour of the Ancient City Before It Was Entombed by Mount Vesu­vius

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

An Archive of Vividly Illustrated Japanese Schoolbooks, from the 1800s to World War II

If you want to appre­ci­ate Japan­ese books, it helps to be able to read Japan­ese books. It helps, but it’s not 100 per­cent nec­es­sary: even if you’ve nev­er learned a sin­gle kan­ji char­ac­ter, you’ve prob­a­bly mar­veled at one time or anoth­er at the aes­thet­ics of Japan’s print cul­ture. Maybe you’ve even done so here at Open Cul­ture, where we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured archives of Japan­ese books going back to the sev­en­teenth cen­tu­ry, a col­lec­tion of Japan­ese wave and rip­ple designs from 1980, a Japan­ese edi­tion of Aesop’s Fables from 1925, and even a fan­tas­ti­cal his­to­ry of Amer­i­ca from 1861 — all of which dis­play a height­ened design sen­si­bil­i­ty not as eas­i­ly found in oth­er lands.

The same even holds true for Japan­ese school­books and oth­er edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als, a dig­i­tal archive of which you can explore on the web site of Japan’s Nation­al Insti­tute for Edu­ca­tion­al Pol­i­cy Research. “Rang­ing from brush paint­ing guides to ele­men­tary read­ers to the geog­ra­phy of Koshi Province — now the Hokuriku region — hun­dreds of dig­i­tal scans reveal what stu­dents were learn­ing in school more than 100 years ago,” writes Colos­sal’s Kate Moth­es.

Cer­tain pub­li­ca­tions, like the epis­to­lary 冨士野往来 (“Mount Fuji Com­ings and Goings”) from 1674, date back much fur­ther. But only a cou­ple of cen­turies lat­er did Japan­ese books start inte­grat­ing the col­or­ful art­work that still looks so vivid to us today. You’ll find par­tic­u­lar­ly rich exam­ples of such books in the sec­tions of the archive ded­i­cat­ed to edu­ca­tion­al pic­tures, wall charts, and sug­oroku, a kind of tra­di­tion­al board game.

Orig­i­nal­ly pro­duced, for the most part, in the mid-to-late nine­teenth cen­tu­ry (though with some items as recent as the time of World War II), these pro­vide a look at the world­view that Japan pre­sent­ed to its young stu­dents dur­ing a peri­od when, not long emerged from more than 200 years of delib­er­ate iso­la­tion, the coun­try was tak­ing in for­eign influ­ence — and espe­cial­ly West­ern influ­ence — at a break­neck pace.

But despite a vari­ety of pro­posed dra­mat­ic lan­guage reforms (which would lat­er include the whole­sale adop­tion of Eng­lish), Japan would con­tin­ue almost exclu­sive­ly to speak and read Japan­ese. If you’re inter­est­ed in learn­ing it your­self, the read­ing mate­ri­als in this archive will sure­ly work as well for you as they did for the stu­dents of the eigh­teen-nineties. And even if you’re not, they’re still time­less object lessons in edu­ca­tion­al illus­tra­tion and design. Enter the col­lec­tion here.

via Colos­sal/Present & Cor­rect

Relat­ed con­tent:

1,000+ His­toric Japan­ese Illus­trat­ed Books Dig­i­tized & Put Online by the Smith­son­ian: From the Edo & Meji Eras (1600–1912)

A Japan­ese Illus­trat­ed His­to­ry of Amer­i­ca (1861): Fea­tures George Wash­ing­ton Punch­ing Tigers, John Adams Slay­ing Snakes & Oth­er Fan­tas­tic Scenes

Behold A Gram­mar of Japan­ese Orna­ment and Design: The 19th Cen­tu­ry Book That Intro­duced West­ern Audi­ences to Japan­ese Art (1880)

Down­load Clas­sic Japan­ese Wave and Rip­ple Designs: A Go-to Guide for Japan­ese Artists from 1903

The Japan­ese Fairy Tale Series: The Illus­trat­ed Books That Intro­duced West­ern Read­ers to Japan­ese Tales (1885–1922)

A Won­der­ful­ly Illus­trat­ed 1925 Japan­ese Edi­tion of Aesop’s Fables by Leg­endary Children’s Book Illus­tra­tor Takeo Takei

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

How the Berlin Wall Worked: The Engineering & Structural Design of the Wall That Formidably Divided East & West

More than thir­ty years after the for­mal dis­so­lu­tion of the Union of Sovi­et Social­ist Republics, few around the world have a clear under­stand­ing of how life actu­al­ly worked there. That holds less for the larg­er polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic ques­tions than it does for the rou­tine mechan­ics of day-to-day exis­tence. These had a way of being even more com­plex in the regions where the USSR came up against the rest of the world. Take the Ger­man cap­i­tal of Berlin, which, as every­one knows, was for­mer­ly divid­ed into East and West along with the coun­try itself — but which, as not every­one knows, but as clar­i­fied in a nine­teen-eight­ies infor­ma­tion­al video pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture, was entire­ly sur­round­ed by East Ger­many.

You can learn much else about life on the edges of the Fed­er­al Repub­lic of Ger­many and the Ger­man Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic from the new neo video above, “How the Berlin Wall Worked.” The first thing to clar­i­fy is that, even after the divi­sion of Ger­many, the Berlin Wall was­n’t always there; for a time the nar­ra­tor explains, with “social­ism and cap­i­tal­ism, two dif­fer­ent nations, and even two dif­fer­ent cur­ren­cies, were sep­a­rat­ed only by streets.”

Many “lived in one part of the city but worked in the oth­er: East Berlin­ers took jobs in the West in order to ben­e­fit from the stronger cur­ren­cy, while West Berlin­ers got their hair­cuts in the East at prices that were much cheap­er to them.” Kur­fürs­ten­damm’s shop win­dows dis­played the pur­chasable glo­ries of cap­i­tal­ism; just a few streets away, Stali­nallee swelled with proud­ly social­ist archi­tec­ture.

But on August 13th, 1961, “Berlin woke up to a divid­ed city.” The GDR imme­di­ate­ly began on a wall between East and West “made out of con­crete and topped off with barbed wire,” though it could­n’t com­mand the resources to build its whole length quite so solid­ly right away. Over time, how­ev­er, the wall was “con­sis­tent­ly upgrad­ed with more and more increas­ing secu­ri­ty fea­tures.” By 1975, it had become the struc­ture we remem­ber, con­sist­ing of not just one but two con­crete walls, and between them a barbed-wire sig­nal fence, tank traps, mats of steel nee­dles known as “Stal­in’s grass,” and watch­tow­ers manned by armed guards. “Vir­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble to cross” in its day, the for­mi­da­ble Berlin Wall now exists pri­mar­i­ly as a cul­tur­al phe­nom­e­non: a mem­o­ry, a series of tourist sites, a some­times-mis­used cul­tur­al ref­er­ence. Liv­ing in South Korea, I can’t help but ask myself if the same will ever be said of the DMZ.

Relat­ed con­tent:

See Berlin Before and After World War II in Star­tling Col­or Video

Google Revis­its the Fall of the Iron Cur­tain in New Online Exhi­bi­tion

The Dos & Don’ts of Dri­ving to West Berlin Dur­ing the Cold War: A Weird Piece of Ephemera from the 1980s

Louis Arm­strong Plays His­toric Cold War Con­certs in East Berlin & Budapest (1965)

Bruce Spring­steen Plays East Berlin in 1988: I’m Not Here For Any Gov­ern­ment. I’ve Come to Play Rock

Watch Samuel Beck­ett Walk the Streets of Berlin Like a Boss, 1969

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

How the Year 2440 Was Imagined in a 1771 French Sci-Fi Novel

Many Amer­i­cans might think of Rip Van Win­kle as the first man to nod off and wake up in the dis­tant future. But as often seems to have been the case in the sev­en­teenth and eigh­teenth cen­turies, the French got there first. Almost 50 years before Wash­ing­ton Irv­ing’s short sto­ry, Louis-Sébastien Merci­er’s utopi­an nov­el L’An 2440, rêve s’il en fut jamais (1771) sent its sleep­ing pro­tag­o­nist six and a half cen­turies for­ward in time. Read today, as it is in the new Kings and Things video above, the book appears in rough­ly equal parts uncan­ni­ly prophet­ic and hope­less­ly root­ed in its time — set­ting the prece­dent, you could say, for much of the yet-to-be-invent­ed genre of sci­ence fic­tion.

Pub­lished in Eng­lish as Mem­oirs of the Year Two Thou­sand Five Hun­dred (of which both Thomas Jef­fer­son and George Wash­ing­ton owned copies), Mercier’s nov­el envi­sions “a world where some tech­no­log­i­cal progress has been made, but the indus­tri­al rev­o­lu­tion nev­er hap­pened. It’s a world where an agrar­i­an soci­ety has invent­ed some­thing resem­bling holo­gram tech­nol­o­gy, where Penn­syl­va­nia is ruled by an Aztec emper­or, and drink­ing cof­fee is a crim­i­nal offense.” Its set­ting, Paris, “has been com­plete­ly reor­ga­nized. The chaot­ic medieval fab­ric has made way for grand and beau­ti­ful streets built in straight lines, sim­i­lar to what actu­al­ly hap­pened in Hauss­man­n’s ren­o­va­tion a bit under a cen­tu­ry after the book was pub­lished.”

Merci­er could­n’t have known about that ambi­tious work of urban renew­al avant la let­tre any more than he could have known about the rev­o­lu­tion that was to come in just eigh­teen years. Yet he wrote with cer­tain­ty that “the Bastille has been torn down, although not by a rev­o­lu­tion, but by a king.” Mercier’s twen­ty-fifth-cen­tu­ry France remains a monar­chy, but it has become a benev­o­lent, enlight­ened one whose cit­i­zens rejoice at the chance to pay tax beyond the amount they owe. More real­is­ti­cal­ly, if less ambi­tious­ly, the book’s unstuck-in-time hero also mar­vels at the fact that traf­fic trav­el­ing in one direc­tion uses one side of the street, and traf­fic trav­el­ing in the oth­er direc­tion uses the oth­er, hav­ing come from a time when roads were more of a free-for-all.

L’An 2440, rêve s’il en fut jamais offers the rare exam­ple of a far-future utopia with­out high tech­nol­o­gy. “If any­thing, France is more agrar­i­an than in the past,” with no inter­est even in devel­op­ing the abil­i­ty to grow cher­ries in the win­ter­time. Many of the inven­tions that would have struck Mercier’s con­tem­po­rary read­ers as fan­tas­ti­cal, such as an elab­o­rate device for repli­cat­ing the human voice, seem mun­dane today. Nev­er­the­less, it all reflects the spir­it of progress that was sweep­ing Europe in the late eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry. Merci­er was reformer enough to have his coun­try aban­don slav­ery and colo­nial­ism, but French enough to feel cer­tain that la mis­sion civil­isatrice would con­tin­ue apace, to the point of imag­in­ing that the French lan­guage would be wide­ly spo­ken in Chi­na. These days, a sci-fi nov­el­ist would sure­ly put it the oth­er way around.

Relat­ed con­tent:

The Old­est Voic­es That We Can Still Hear: Hear Audio Record­ings of Ghost­ly Voic­es from the 1800s

Jules Verne Accu­rate­ly Pre­dicts What the 20th Cen­tu­ry Will Look Like in His Lost Nov­el, Paris in the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry (1863)

In 1896, a French Car­toon­ist Pre­dict­ed Our Social­ly-Dis­tanced Zoom Hol­i­day Gath­er­ings

How French Artists in 1899 Envi­sioned What Life Would Look Like in the Year 2000

1902 French Trad­ing Cards Imag­ine “Women of the Future”

A 1947 French Film Accu­rate­ly Pre­dict­ed Our 21st-Cen­tu­ry Addic­tion to Smart­phones

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

How Photos Were Transmitted by Wire in 1937: The Innovative Technology of a Century Ago

When did you last send some­one a pho­to? That ques­tion may sound odd, owing to the sheer com­mon­ness of the act in ques­tion; in the twen­ty-twen­ties, we take pho­tographs and share them world­wide with­out giv­ing it a sec­ond thought. But in the nine­teen-thir­ties, almost every­one who sent a pho­to did so through the mail, if they did it at all. Not that there weren’t more effi­cient means of trans­mis­sion, at least to pro­fes­sion­als in the cut­ting-edge news­pa­per indus­try: as dra­ma­tized in the short 1937 doc­u­men­tary above, the visu­al accom­pa­ni­ment to a suf­fi­cient­ly impor­tant scoop could also be sent in mere min­utes through the mir­a­cle of wire.

“Trav­el­ing almost as fast as the tele­phone sto­ry, wired pho­tos now go across the con­ti­nent with the speed of light,” declares the nar­ra­tor in breath­less news­reel-announc­er style. “It’s not a mat­ter of send­ing the whole pic­ture at once, but of sep­a­rat­ing the pic­ture into fine lines, send­ing those lines over a wire, and assem­bling them at the oth­er end.”

Illus­trat­ing this process is a clever mechan­i­cal prop involv­ing two spin­dles on a hand crank, and a length of rope print­ed with the image of a car that unwinds from one spin­dle onto the oth­er. To ensure the view­er’s com­plete under­stand­ing, ani­mat­ed dia­grams also reveal the inner work­ings of the actu­al scan­ning, send­ing, and receiv­ing appa­ra­tus.

This process may now seem impos­si­bly cum­ber­some, but at the time it rep­re­sent­ed a leap for­ward for mass visu­al media. In the decades after the Sec­ond World War, the same basic prin­ci­ple — that of dis­as­sem­bling an image into lines at one point in order to reassem­ble it at anoth­er — would be employed in the homes and offices of ordi­nary Amer­i­cans by devices such as the tele­vi­sion set and fax machine. We know, as the view­ers of 1937 did­n’t, just how those ana­log tech­nolo­gies would change the char­ac­ter of life and work in the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. As for what their dig­i­tal descen­dants will do to the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry, as they con­tin­ue to break down all exis­tence into not lines but bits, we’ve only just begun to find out.

via Kids Should See This

Relat­ed con­tent:

The His­to­ry of Pho­tog­ra­phy in Five Ani­mat­ed Min­utes: From Cam­era Obscu­ra to Cam­era Phone

Watch a Local TV Sta­tion Switch From Black & White to Col­or for First Time (1967)

Cre­ative Uses of the Fax Machine: From Iggy Pop’s Bile to Stephen Hawking’s Snark

The His­to­ry of Amer­i­can News­pa­pers Has Been Dig­i­tized: Explore 114 Years of Edi­tor & Pub­lish­er, “the Bible of the News­pa­per Indus­try”

From the Annals of Opti­mism: The News­pa­per Indus­try in 1981 Imag­ines its Dig­i­tal Future

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

How Was the Great Pyramid Built?; What Did the Ancient Egyptian Language Sound Like?; Were There Bars in Ancient Egypt?: An Egyptologist Answers These Questions & More from Internet Users

What did ancient Egyp­tians sound like? What did they eat and drink? What ancient Egypt­ian med­i­cine and tools do we still use in mod­ern times? Why did they prac­tice mum­mi­fi­ca­tion? Above, Lau­rel Bestock, a pro­fes­sor from Brown Uni­ver­si­ty, dis­cuss­es every­thing you ever want­ed to know about Ancient Egypt. Not a stranger to pop­u­lar media productions—Bestock appears in a recent Nation­al Geo­graph­ic pro­duc­tion, Egyp­t’s Lost Won­ders—the pro­fes­sor fields every ques­tion that comes her way, no mat­ter how big or small. All along, she gives “out­stand­ing and very down-to-earth expla­na­tions,” notes a fel­low pro­fes­sor in the YouTube com­ments. For my mon­ey, the best part comes at the 10:40 mark when she deci­phers and reads hiero­glyphs. Enjoy.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent 

How to Read Ancient Egypt­ian Hiero­glyphs: A British Muse­um Cura­tor Explains

An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to the Roset­ta Stone, and How It Unlocked Our Under­stand­ing of Egypt­ian Hiero­glyphs

What the Great Pyra­mid of Giza Would’ve Looked Like When First Built: It Was Gleam­ing, Reflec­tive White

Who Built the Egypt­ian Pyra­mids & How Did They Do It?: New Arche­o­log­i­cal Evi­dence Busts Ancient Myths

« Go BackMore in this category... »
Quantcast
Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.