People just fall prey to attractive images carrying false information on Facebook and other social media. They, in turn, copy those images and become accessories to propagating the untruths.
For example, the above image I came across on Facebook today. The caption in Tamil says:
“The amount of pesticides in the soft drinks you consume.“
I have my doubts about this post. I don’t think these soft drinks have pesticide in them as depicted in the image.
But some soft drinks do have harmful chemicals that may impair our health.
Within the European Union and Switzerland, substances used as food additives are coded with E numbers. The “E” stands for “Europe”. The E numbers on food labels are common throughout the European Union.
Benzoic acid and sodium benzoate
Benzoic acid and sodium benzoate are widely used as food preservatives, with E numbers E210 and E211 respectively.
Benzoic acid (E210) has the chemical Formula C7H6O2 (or C6H5COOH). It is a simple aromatic carboxylic acid. It is a colorless crystalline solid and occurs in nature at low levels in apples, cinnamon, ripe cloves, cranberries, greengage plums, and prunes.
Sodium benzoate (E211) has the chemical formula NaC7H5O2. It is the sodium salt of benzoic acid and exists in this form when dissolved in water.
Most soft drinks have added sodium benzoate in permissible amounts that act as a preservative which are in most cases harmless.
However, it is advisable to drop from your diet all benzoates if you have any health problems, especially if you are suffering from: any Cancer, any autoimmune disease or disorder, skin diseases & disorders like: psoriasis, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, acne, folliculitis, KP, any Intestinal disorders like Ulcerative Colitis, constipation, Crohns Disease, IBD, IBS, Candida, SIBO, body odour, Allergies, Asthma, etc.
Acids in soft drinks
All citrus flavoured and grape flavoured soft drinks have organic acids found in nature to provide the characteristic fruity tang. The citrus flavoured soft drinks contain citric acid (E330) and grape flavoured soft drinks have tartaric acid (E334)..
According to many studies, what is harmful is phosphoric acid added to cola drinks.
It is true that Phosphorus-containing substances occur (0.1%-0.5%) in foods such as milk, meat, poultry, fish, nuts, and egg yolks. But phosphoric acid per se is harmful.
Phosphoric acid is a mineral (inorganic) acid having the chemical formula H3PO4. It is also known as E338, orthophosphoric acid, and phosphoric (V) acid. It is a clear, colorless, odorless liquid with a syrupy consistency.
Food-grade phosphoric acid is a mass-produced chemical. It is available in large quantities at a low price.
Studies on phosphoric acid
Due to the use of phosphoric acid, cola is actually more acidic than lemon juice or vinegar! The vast amount of sugar acts to mask and balance the acidity.
In some epidemiological studies, phosphoric acid, used in many cola drinks has been linked to chronic kidney disease and lower bone density. A study by the Epidemiology Branch of the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, concludes that drinking two or more colas per day doubled the risk of chronic kidney disease.
Between 1996 and 2001, a total of 1672 women and 1148 men took part in a study using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. To collect dietary information, the study used a food frequency questionnaire with specific questions about the number of servings of cola and other carbonated beverages. It also differentiated between regular, caffeine-free, and diet drinks.
The results, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition provide evidence to support the theory that women who consume cola daily have lower bone density. Though the total phosphorus intake was not significantly higher in daily cola consumers than in nonconsumers, the calcium-to-phosphorus ratios were lower.
However, in 1998, a study titled “Increased incidence of fractures in middle-aged and elderly men with low intakes of phosphorus and zinc” published in Osteoporosis international: a journal established as result of cooperation between the European Foundation for Osteoporosis and the National Osteoporosis Foundation of the USA 8 (4): 333–340, suggests that insufficient intake of phosphorus leads to lower bone density. The study does not examine the effect of phosphoric acid, which binds with magnesium and calcium in the digestive tract to form salts that are not absorbed, but rather studies general phosphorus intake.
In 2001, a study by R. P. Heaney and K. Rafferty titled “Carbonated beverages and urinary calcium excretion” published in The American journal of clinical nutrition 74 (3): 343–347 states that using calcium-balance methods they found no impact of carbonated soft drinks containing phosphoric acid on calcium excretion.
The authors conducted their study among 20 to 40-year-old women who drank three or more cups (680 ml) of a carbonated soft drink per day. The effect of various soft drinks (with caffeine and without; with phosphoric acid and with citric acid), water, and milk on the calcium balance was compared in the study.
Heaney and Rafferty found that, relative to water, only milk and the two caffeine-containing soft drinks increased urinary calcium. The calcium loss associated with the consumption of caffeinated soft drinks was about equal to that found previously for caffeine alone. Phosphoric acid without caffeine had no impact on urine calcium, and did not increase the loss of urinary calcium related to caffeine.
Because studies have shown that the effect of caffeine is compensated for by reduced calcium losses later in the day, the authors concluded that the net effect of carbonated beverages—including those with caffeine and phosphoric acid—is negligible, and that the skeletal effects of carbonated soft drink consumption are likely due to dietary milk displacement.
Other chemicals such as caffeine (also a significant component of popular common cola drinks) were also suspected as possible contributors to low bone density, due to the known effect of caffeine on calciuria.
Remove rust with phosphoric acid
By the way, phosphoric acid can be used to remove rust from articles.
The following video shows a person removing rust using Coca-Cola. Many prefer the Diet Coke instead of regular Coke because the former is not sticky like the latter.
In the ancient days to convey their viewpoint across to their listeners orators used metaphors, similes, and analogies. Now, to explain complex ideas we use simple and humorous images and share them using the internet.
The various anecdotes that start with the saying “You have two cows …” refer to a form of political satire. They involve variations of a scenario, where eponymous cows are used to demonstrate the functioning of some political systems.
A column titled “The Class in Political Isms” in The Chicago Daily Tribune of December 3, 1938, attributes a version involving socialism, communism, fascism and New Dealism to an address by Silas Strawn to the Economic Club of Chicago on November 29, 1935.
A Canadian writer and journalist Bill Sherk mentions that such satirical snippets circulated throughout the United States since around 1936 under the title “Parable of the Isms”.
In the collection of humour in “Vox Lycei 1939-1940” compiled by the Lisgar Alumni Association the following snippet appears on page 71 :
FORMS OF GOVERNMENT
Socialism: You have two cows. You give one to your neighbour.
Communism: You have two cows. You give both cows to the Government which lets you buy part of it back.
American New Deal: You have two cows. The Government shoots one cow, buys the milk from the other cow and pours it down the sewer.
Nazism: You have two cows. The Government shoots you and takes the cows and sells the milk.
Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.
Social Credit: You ‘shoot the bull’.
As early as 1944, the humour of this type attracted the attention of scholars in the United States. An article in The Modern Language Journal lists the following classical ones some of which are similar to those in “Vox Lycei 1939-1940” :
Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbour.
Communism: You have two cows. You give them to the government, and the government then gives you some milk.
Fascism: You have two cows. You give them to the government, and the government then sells you some milk.
Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.
In the late 1960s, comedian Pat Paulsen on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour appended this comment to capitalism: “…Then put both of them in your wife’s name and declare bankruptcy.” Later on, he used this material as an element of his satirical US presidential campaign in 1968 and was included it on his 1968 comedy album “Pat Paulsen for President“.
Nazism: You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.
Grownups can sometimes be so thick, it is not easy to explain some facts to them.
In this video, this little girl Olivia Kendall (played by Raven-Symoné) is having a hard time trying to explain to the doctor for women (Bill Cosby) how babies are born.
This is How Babies are Born!
Doctor: And this is my office
Olivia: What do you do?
Doctor: I am a doctor for women.
Olivia: What do you do with them?
Doctor: I deliver their babies.
Doctor: When the woman has the baby inside of her, then I go in and I take it out.
Olivia: No you don’t. Everybody knows that the stork brings the baby.
Doctor: Who, who told you that?
Olivia: My daddy.
Doctor: Okay. Well, the stork puts the baby inside of the mother… and then I go in and I take it out.
Olivia: Ah, aah. The stork brings the baby to the hospital, drops it in the bassinet.
Doctor: So you’re saying that the baby is not inside the mummy? Then why is it that the mother gets real big?
Olivia: Because she eats a lot of food.
Doctor: Now let me get this straight. You say that the stork carries over, puts the baby in the bassinet, and the mother is real big because she eats a lot of food?
Olivia: You got it!
Doctor: I see. Well, then why is it that the mother has to go to the hospital?
Olivia: The stork brings the baby to the hospital, drops it in the bassinet. The mummy goes to the hospital and gets it.
Doctor: If the stork does all that, why doesn’t the stork just bring it to the mummy’s house?
Olivia: Because it’s too far. His wings will get tired.
Doctor: Where does the stork get the babies from?
Doctor: Okay. There is a zillion skillion babies in Heaven. How does the stork know what baby goes with what mother?
Olivia: They are in a line. You know, like you go to the baker and get a number.
Doctor: Why when I put my hand on the mother I can feel things moving all around?
Olivia: That’s not a baby.
Doctor: What is it?
Doctor: Well, thank you for explaining it to me.
Olivia: You’re welcome, but you still didn’t tell me what you do.
Doctor: I’m in charge of gas.
William Henry “Bill” Cosby Jr. (born July 12, 1937) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, author, and activist. Cosby’s start in stand-up comedy began at the hungry i, originally a nightclub in North Beach, San Francisco. It was followed by a starring role in the 1960s television show I Spy. Beginning in the 1980s, Cosby produced and starred in The Cosby Show, a television sitcom, which aired from 1984 to 1992. It was rated as the number one show in America for five years, 1984 through 1989. The sitcom highlighted the experiences and growth of an affluent African-American family.
Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman (born December 10, 1985) is an American actress, comedian, model, singer, songwriter, dancer, television producer and a talk-show host. She first appeared on television in 1989 on The Cosby Show as Olivia Kendall.
In early December 2014, I wrote a six-part series of articles titled “To Bathe, or Not to Bathe“. Then, I was not aware of the existence of R. David Whitlock, a chemical engineer and a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who had not showered in the past 12 years.
Whitlock claims that he has not taken a shower in over 12 years because soap and bath gels affect and deplete the natural balance of the skin microbiome.
Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford, regards the human body as “an elaborate vessel optimized for the growth and spread of our microbial inhabitants.”
According to Published research for every one human gene, there are 100 associated genes within our microbiome. And so, more than 100 trillion microorganisms live in and on our body. They live in our mouths, tongues, guts, mucosal surfaces and on the surface of our skin.
These microbes perform various beneficial functions relevant to supporting life. They help to digest food, prevent disease-causing pathogens from invading the body, and synthesize essential nutrients and vitamins.
Changes in the microbiome can trigger changes in human cellular activities, resulting in disease or contribute to its progression.
Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB)
In the late 1990s, when David Whitlock went on a date with a young woman, she asked him why her horse liked to roll in the dirt.
Unable to answer her, Whitlock read books on biology. He gathered soil samples and grew bacteria in his basement. After reading hundreds of papers, he concluded that it must be important for the horses to roll in the dirt.
He learned that sweat of the horse is abrasive to its skin and causes equine acne that starts as a small, oily black plugs in the skin and may develop into red, itchy inflamed bumps.
He found ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in the soil. He realized that ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in the soil must be helping the horse to clean itself by converting urea and ammonia found in sweat into nitrite and nitric oxide.
Nitrite fights most bad bacteria while nitric oxide has anti-inflammatory properties.
In the following video, Dr. Larry Weiss, MD, a Key Member and Chief Medical Officer of AOBiome LLC talks about AOB.
From his study of the behavior of the horses, Whitlock concluded that useful bacteria once colonized on human skins too, and with the advent of knowledge in Chemistry and modern hygiene, humans eradicated them by sterilizing their bodies with soaps, lotions, and antiseptics, leaving our skin more susceptible to challenge.
Whitlock believed that by restoring the appropriate AOB levels, a range of human health conditions could be impacted.
In 2000, to test his hypothesis, Whitlock began adding AOB to water and dousing himself daily. He avoided using soaps because they kill the microbes. For the past 12 years, Whitlock did not shower. He found that the bacteria kept him clean and odor-free. His skin looks fresh, and he smells nice.
Though Dave Whitlock does not shower, he takes an occasional sponge bath to clean off the accumulated grime on his skin.
On August 10, 2001, Dave Whitlock presented his application papers for obtaining a patent for compositions, including ammonia oxidizing bacteria to increase production of nitric oxide and nitric oxide precursors and methods of using same. He obtained the patent US7820420 for same on October 26, 2010.
A method of enhancing health through the generation in close proximity of a surface of a subject, nitric oxide and nitric oxide precursors using bacteria adapted to oxidize ammonia and urea derived from perspiration is described. Local and systemic effects are described including a reduction in vascular disease, enhancement of sexual function, improved skin health, and reduced transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.
NitroCell BioSciences LLC
In 2012, Dave Whitlock co-founded NitroCell BioSciences LLC as a pharmaceutical company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The company focused on getting U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for bacteria-based prescription therapies for acne, eczema, rosacea, wound healing, and more.
In March 2013, NitroCell BioSciences LLC changed its name to AOBiome, LLC.
Now, AOBiome, LLC develops skin products based on ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB). The company’s products are used to restore the natural balance of skin microbes that have been lost due to modern living practices, including the use of soaps and shampoos. It also develops AO+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist, a cosmetic product to improve the look and feel of skin.
According to Jasmina Aganovic, an MIT graduate and AOBiome’s general manager for consumer products, as humans, we need to reconnect with our environment. “We’ve confused clean with sterile. … We’ve taken the dirt out of our lives. We don’t spend as much time outdoors as we used to — even as little children.”
So, AOBiome, LLC has created and launched “Mother Dirt” to add a little dirt back into our lives. AOBiome is the first cosmetics company to market a product that contains live bacteria. The company claims their products do not cause illness, even if ingested.
The Mother Dirt products set themselves apart from all other scientific skincare items that have flooded the market in recent times.
The Mother Dirt AO+ mist specifically contains live ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) that’s sprayed on the skin twice a day. It has no odor and feels like water. There’s aMother Dirt shampoo and cleanser that doesn’t contain bacteria, but Jasmina Aganovic says it won’t interfere with it either.
Though Dave Whitlock still doesn’t shower, he uses Mother Dirt every day and hopes the rest of the world will join him. He said: “I would like a billion people a day to use this.”
Aobiome officials believe in the health benefits of these live bacteria. They are not making any scientific claims right now, but they will soon begin clinical trials on inflammatory skin conditions like acne.
Yes. They call themselves Muslims, adherents of Islam wherein religious concepts and practices that include the Five Pillars of Islam, the five basic concepts and acts of worship – the foundation of Muslim life – are obligatory!
The third Pillar “Zakāt” or alms-giving is the practice of charitable giving based on accumulated wealth.
The word zakāt can be defined as purification and growth because it allows an individual to achieve balance and encourages new growth. The principle of knowing that all things belong to God is essential to purification and growth.
Zakāt is obligatory for all Muslims who are able to do so. It is the personal responsibility of each Muslim to ease the economic hardship of others and to strive towards eliminating inequality.
Zakāt consists of spending a portion of one’s wealth for the benefit of the poor or needy, like debtors or travelers.
A Muslim may also donate more as an act of voluntary charity (sadaqah), rather than to achieve additional divine reward.
The centuries-old Hindu, Buddhist and Jain scriptures trace the use of footwear in India way back to 200 BC. Coins of the Kushan period (130 BC to 185 AD) and the Gupta period (320 to 550 AD) feature kings wearing boots.
From ancient times, wearing leather footwear was taboo in India because the Hindus consider the cow as sacred; and so, the use of sandals made of wood, plant fibres, and metals was in vogue.
In the 11th century Sun temple at Modhera, Gujarat, the sun god wears a distinctive West Asian belt and lengthy footwear. And, in the 13th century Dakshinaarka temple at Gaya in the state of Bihar in India, the presiding deity Dakshinaarka, the Sun God wears a jacket, a waist girdle and high boots in the Iranian tradition.
The term paduka is a compound word made up of two Sanskrit words Namely, “pada” (foot) and “ka“, a diminutive ending literally meaning “small”.
The paduka has a sole with a post and knob. The wearer of the paduka grips the post and knob between their big and second toe to keep the foot in place.
Since the paduka do not have straps of any kind to keep them adhered to the feet, it must have been difficult to walk wearing them. The wearers would have dragged their feet along the ground accompanied by funny movements of their hips.
Fine teak, ebony and sandalwood went into the making of the paduka for the affluent embellished with leather and fur. Large floral and leaf motifs were carved and embedded or inlaid with beads, stones, crystals, ivory, and metals such as copper, bronze and iron.
The paduka took on a variety of forms such as the actual shape of feet, or of fish (a symbol of fertility and plenty in India), or animals.
In ancient times, decorated and expensive paduka formed a part of an Indian bride’s trousseau.
Some commoners too wore paduka, but of a simpler design.
Even today, a few Hindu and Jain ascetics and mendicants wear the paduka.
Some masochistic Hindu ascetics wore spiked paduka for inflicting pain on themselves as an aid to performing penance.
Paduka in Hindu mythology
On certain occasions, the paduka became the object of veneration in Hindu mythology. It is significant in the epic Ramayana.
Queen Kaikeyi, mother of Bharata, at the behest of Manthara, the ugly hunchbacked, antagonistic maid, beseeched her husband, King Dasaratha to exile her step son Rama, whom she loved dearly, for 14 years and crown her own son Bharata as prince-regent.
Prince Rama, his consort princess Sita, and his step-brother, prince Laksmana went into a forest to spend their period of exile. But the good prince Bharata, who loved his older step-brother Rama, did not want to become the prince-regent. So, he met Rama on his way to the deep forest and entreated him to return to Ayodhya. When Rama told Bharata that he will return only after completing his fourteen years in the forest, Bharata requested Rama to give him his paduka to serve as an object of veneration for the subjects of the kingdom.
Bharata carried Rama’s pair of paduka with great reverence by placing them on his head as a mark of respect and obedience to his elder brother. Bharata installed Rama’s pair of paduka on the throne and ruled the kingdom of Kosala as Rama’s proxy.
High-heeled footwear now known as platforms did not come into our lives in the 1970’s. Our ancestors wore them in India several centuries before.
At the archaeological site at Chandraketugarh, about 35 km north-east of Kolkata, footwear with raised heel and floral motifs used around 200 BC were found.
The sculpture at the Ramappa Temple in Warangal
The Ramalingeswara temple also known as Ramappa gudi is located 77 km from Warangal and 157 km from Hyderabad. Here one can find 850 years old sculptures.
The above sculpture in the Ramappa Temple exemplifies the fact that fashionable ladies in India wore high-heeled paduka.
The elevated paduka must have helped the ladies to give the illusion that they were much taller than what they were!
Again, there could have been a more practical reason – to keep their feet and clothing clean!
The elevated paduka must have helped the ladies to give the illusion that they were much taller than what they were!
Again, there could have been a more practical reason; maybe to keep their feet and clothing clean!
By the way, from ancient times, Sudras, the low caste people in India, were not allowed to wear any type of footwear on public roads. They had to carry them in their hands. One can see this phenomenon even now in many villages in India.
Lepakshi is a small village in the Anantapur District in Andhra Pradesh, India. It is about 9 miles (15 km) east of Hindupur and about 75 miles (120 km) north of Bangalore.
This village is historically and archaeologically significant. It has three shrines dedicated to the Hindu gods Shiva, Vishnu and Veerabhadra built during the period of Vijayanagara Kings (1336–1646).
The famous 16th-century Veerabhadra stone temple constructed in Vijayanagar style has about 70 pillars, but only one of these pillars is best known as the Aakaasa Sthambha (Hanging Column). It is a tribute to the engineering genius of the temple builders of medieval India. The pillar does not rest on the ground fully.
A cloth can slide smoothly underneath this Hanging pillar.
During the British era, a British engineer tried to move it to uncover the secret of its support. His attempt was unsuccessful and the pillar got slightly dislodged from its original position.
In the 13th century, the Mongols invaded Europe. General Subutai, a Mongolian general, and the primary military strategist of Genghis Khan and Ögedei Khan was the mastermind behind the invasion. Batu Khan and Kadan, both grandsons of Genghis Khan, the first Khagan of the Mongol Empire commanded the Mongolian forces.
The Mongol invasion caused the severe and rampant destruction of East Slavic principalities and major cities, such as Kiev and Vladimir. The invasion also affected Central Europe. The Battle of Legnica on April 9, 1241 that caused the fragmentation of Poland and the Battle of Mohi on April 11, 1241, in the Kingdom of Hungary threatened to cast European Christendom under the rule of Ögedei Khan, the 2nd Khagan of the Mongol Empire.
Realizing they had to cooperate in the face of the Mongol invasion, warring princes of central Europe suspended local wars and conflicts until the Mongols left their lands.
The myth of Prester John
The early missionaries to the East and Far East countries were inspired by the myth of Prester John (Latin: Presbyter Johannes). The popular European chronicles and traditions from the 12th through the 17th century abound with various accounts about this mythical personage.
One such account depicts him as a Christian patriarch, a descendant of the Three Magi, ruling a kingdom full of riches, marvels, and strange creatures.
According to some early chronicles, Prester John, a Patriarch of the Saint Thomas Christians, resided in India. But after the Mongol invasion of eastern Europe, some accounts said he ruled a “Nestorian“ (Church of the East) Christian nation somewhere amid the Muslims and pagans of the Orient in Central Asia. The authors of these chronicles must have assumed so from works like the Acts of Thomas, one of the apocrypha of The New Testament. This apocryphal work has documented the tales about Thomas the Apostle’s subcontinental travels and the evangelistic success of the Nestorian Christians. The Acts of Thomas inculcated in the minds of the Europeans an image of India as an exotic country. It described the earliest account of Saint Thomas establishing a Christian sect called the “Saint Thomas Christians“. These motifs were instrumental for the later accounts of Prester John.
It was a time when ethnic and inter-religious tension prevailed. The European Christians saw Prester John as a symbol of the Church’s universality, transcending culture and geographical bounds to encompass all humanity.
Thus, the kingdom of Prester John fired the imagination of generations of adventurers and became the object of a quest that remained out of reach.
Portuguese explorers of the time thought that they had found the king in Ethiopia, which had been a Christian kingdom since the 4th century.
Alberic de Trois-Fontaines, a 13th-century chronicler, recorded that in 1165 several European rulers, such as Manuel I Comnenus (1143 – 1180), the Byzantine emperor, and Frederick I Barbarossa (1122 – 1190), the Holy Roman emperor received a letter sent by Prester John.
The Letter had a tale of wonder about the richness of the Nestorian Kingdom. The contents of the letter suggest that the author was aware of the Romance of Alexander and the apocryphal Acts of Thomas. The many marvels of the richness of the Nestorian kingdom captured the imagination of Europeans.
For centuries, the letter translated into many languages circulated accruing more embellishments with each copy. Today, more than a hundred examples of the letter still exist. The invention of printing perpetuated the letter’s popularity during the Age of Discovery. The essence of the letter was that a lost kingdom of Nestorian Christians still existed somewhere in Central Asia. It is presumed the author of the Letter was a European though the purpose served by the letter remains unclear.
The credence given to the reports about Prester John was such that on September 27, 1177, Pope Alexander III sent his physician Philip to Prester John with a letter. The physician never returned with a reply from the mythical Prester John, who never existed!
Friar Giovanni da Pian del Carpine
While some scholars argue the Age of Discovery began in 1492, others point toward earlier dates. I would place the Age of Discoveryto the mid 13th century, when the 65-year-old Friar Giovanni da Pian del Carpine led the first formal Papal mission to the Mongols in April 1245 after the Mongol invasion of eastern Europe took place
With the dread of the Mongols still on the mind of the people in eastern Europe, Pope Innocent IV, sent the first formal Papal mission to the Mongols. The Pope chose 65-year-old Friar Giovanni da Pian del Carpine to head this mission. The aim of this mission was in part to protest against the invasion of the Christian lands by the Mongols, and also to gather trustworthy information about Mongol armies and their future intentions.
The mission left Lyon on Easter day April 16, 1245. Friar Giovanni bore a letter “Cum non solum” dated March 13, 1245, from the Pope to Ögedei Khan, the Mongol Emperor. Another friar, Stephen of Bohemia, accompanied Giovanni, broke down at Kaniv near Kiev. Another Minorite, Benedykt Polak, appointed to act as interpreter joined Giovanni at Wrocław.
After their perilous journey the Papal legate wrote that they were, “so ill that we could scarcely sit a horse; and throughout all that Lent our food had been nought but millet with salt and water, and with only snow melted in a kettle for drink.“
Friar Giovanni and his companions rode an estimated 3000 miles in 106 days. Only when they reached their destination, they came to know that Emperor Ögedei Khan had died nearly four years before they undertook their journey.
On August 24, 1246, Friar Giovanni and his companions witnessed the formal enthronement of Güyük Khan as the Third Khagan of the Mongol Empire. The new emperor refused the invitation to become a Christian, but demanded that the Pope and rulers of Europe should come to him and swear their allegiance to him.
When Güyük Khan dismissed the expedition in November 1246, he gave them a letter to the Pope, written in Mongol, Arabic, and Latin. It was a brief imperious assertion of the Mongol emperor’s office as the “scourge of God.”
Later on, other Catholic emissaries followed. In the 1250s, William of Rubruck, traveled east on a quest to convert the Mongols to Christianity.
Archeologists and Historians use the term “Old World” in the context of, and to contrast with, the “New World” (North and South America). The Old World, also known as Afro-Eurasia, consists of Africa, Europe, and Asia. Most countries of the Old World in the area of the Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, Persian plateau, India, and China are in the temperate zone, roughly between the 45th and 25th parallels.
Herein emerged the cultural, philosophical and religious developments that produced the Western (Hellenism, “classical”), Eastern (Zoroastrian and Abrahamic) and Far Eastern (Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism) religious and cultural spheres.
The Qin Empire
Qin was an ancient state in China during the Zhou dynasty. On May 7, 247 BC, Ying Zheng assumed the throne of the Qin state at age 9. Upon his ascension, Zheng became known as the King of Qin or King Zheng of Qin.
The Qin state had a large, efficient army and capable generals. They utilized the newest developments in weaponry and transportation and had a superior military power than the other six warring states. By the 3rd century BC, the Qin state under King Zheng of Qin emerged as one of the dominant powers of the Seven Warring States.
Instead of maintaining the title of king borne by the Shang and Zhou rulers, Ying Zheng created a new title of “huángdì” (emperor) for himself. This new title combined two titles – huáng of the mythical Three Sovereigns (三皇, Sān Huáng) and the dì of the legendary Five Emperors (五帝, Wŭ Dì) of Chinese prehistory.
Ying Zheng ruled from 220 to 210 BC as the First Emperor of the Qin dynasty bearing the name Qin Shi Huangdi.
After the death of Qin Shi Huang in 210 BC, the Qin empire became unstable. Though the Qin empire was short-lived, it had a great influence over Chinese history.
The Han dynasty
Within four years after the death of Qin Shi Huangdi, the Qin dynasty’s authority collapsed. In the face of rebellion, the empire fissured into 18 kingdoms. Two rebel leaders, Xiang Yu of Chu and Liu Bang of Han, engaged in a war to decide who would become the next person to exercise hegemony in China. Each of the 18 fissured kingdoms claimed allegiance to either Xiang Yu or Liu Bang. In 202 BC, Liu Bang defeated Xiang Yu at the Battle of Gaixia.
Liu Bang assumed the title “emperor” (Huangdi), known as Emperor Gaozu after his death. Thus, Emperor Gaozu found the Han dynasty, the second imperial dynasty of China. He chose Chang’an as the new capital of the reunified empire under Han.
Spanning over four centuries, the Han period was a golden age in Chinese history. To this day, China’s majority ethnic group refers to itself as the “Han people” and the Chinese script as “Han characters”.
To the north of China, the nomadic Xiongnu chieftain Modu Chanyu conquered various tribes inhabiting the eastern part of the Eurasian Steppe. Towards the end of his reign, the Xiongnu chieftain controlled Manchuria, Mongolia, and the Tarim Basin, subjugating over twenty states east of Samarkand.
Chinese merchants sold iron weapons to the Xiongnu along the northern borders. Emperor Gaozu imposed a trade embargo to stop the illicit sale of arms. Although the embargo was in place, the Xiongnu found Chinese traders willing to supply their needs. Chinese forces then mounted surprise attacks against the Xiongnu who traded at the border markets. The Xiongnu retaliated by invading what is now Shanxi province and defeated the Han forces at Baideng in 200 BC. After negotiations, the heqin (“peace marriage”) agreement in 198 BC held the leaders of the Xiongnu and the Han as equal partners in a royal marriage alliance. Yet, the Han was forced to send large amounts of items such as silk clothes, food, and wine as a tribute to the Xiongnu.
Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han (June 30, 156 BC – March 29, 87 BC), born Liu Che, was the seventh emperor of the Han dynasty of China. He reigned 54 years from 141 BC to 87 BC. His reign resulted in the vast territorial expansion. By reorganizing the government, he developed a strong and centralized state. He promoted Confucian doctrines. Emperor Wu, known for his religious innovations was a patron of poetic and musical arts. During his reign, cultural contact with western Eurasia increased.
As a military campaigner, Emperor Wu led Han China through its greatest expansion. At its height, the Empire’s borders spanned from modern Kyrgyzstan in the west to Korea in the east, and to northern Vietnam in the south.
In 133 BC, Emperor Wu launched a series of massive military invasions into Xiongnu territory and captured one stronghold after another. The Chinese assault ended in 119 BC at the Battle of Mobei. The Han commanders Wei Qing (the half-brother of Emperor Wu’s favorite concubine) and Wei’s nephew, Huo Qubing expelled the Xiongnu from the Ordos Desert and Qilian Mountains and forced them to flee north of the Gobi Desert and then out of the Gobi Desert.
The Silk Road.
Zhang Qian was an imperial envoy to the world outside China under Emperor Wu of Han. He played an important pioneering role in the Chinese colonization and conquest of the region now known as Xinjiang. He was the first official diplomat to bring back reliable information to the Chinese imperial court about Central Asia. This helped the Han sovereignty in territorial acquisitions and expansion into the Tarim basin of Central Asia. Today, the Chinese revered and consider Zhang Qian as a national hero for the key role he played in opening China to the world of commercial trade.
The Han sovereignty established the vast trade network known as the Silk Road or Silk Route, which reached as far as the Mediterranean Sea. The Silk Road or connected the various regions of the Old World. Extending 4,000 miles (6,437 kilometers), the Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative trade in Chinese silk carried out by Chinese merchants along its routes during the rule of the Han dynasty.
Around 114 BC, the Central Asian sections of the Silk Road routes were expanded. The Chinese took great interest in the safety of their merchants and their products. To ensure the protection of the trade route, Emperor Wu reinforced this strategic asset by establishing five commanderies and constructing a length of fortified wall along the border of the Hexi Corridor, colonizing the area with 700,000 Chinese soldier-settlers.
The Silk Road helped establish political and economic relations between the various nations. Besides economic trade, the Silk Road served as a major factor in the development of the civilizations of China, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Arabia, the Horn of Africa, and Europe and carrying out cultural exchanges among the nations along its network.
The main traders during antiquity were the Chinese, Persians, Somalis, Greeks, Syrians, Romans, Armenians, Indians, and Bactrians. From the 5th to the 8th century the Sogdians joined the bandwagon. After the emergence of Islam, Arab traders became prominent users of the Silk Routes.