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An adept writer with a passion for history and storytelling. Inquiries -> grantapiper.com

An eye for an eye, a nation for a nation

Abba Kovner pictured right, was the mastermind of the Nakam movement (Public domain)

In 1945, Abba Kovner visited the site of the Ponary Massacre. He would stare down into the pit where 100,000 people had been brutally murdered and dumped and begin to feel a pulsating rage that would go on to define him for years to come. After seeing evidence of the massacre, he visited the concentration at Majdanek.

Following the surrender of Germany in May, rumors began to abound of a terrible crime. There were whispers that thousands, perhaps millions, had been murdered in cold, calculated death camps and that the victims were mostly Jews. Kovner decided he had to see…


Everyone talks about reduced buying power and skyrocketing costs but these things are problematic as well

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

The economy is a tangled mess as COVID-19, and the response continues to restrict the flow of goods and services. Supply lines have been stretched to their breaking point due to international travel restrictions and a shortage of critical workers such as truck drivers. This has shown up in big and small ways, including a global shortage of microchips and the inability to find fiberglass doors. These supply issues have driven up prices across the board. Gas is up, lumber was historically high for a period, and food prices are climbing.

The result is that the United States briefly saw…


People have lived in this spot for thousands and thousands of years

A modern view of the city (Daniel Case / CC BY-SA 3.0)

In the Bible, the walls of Jericho are a big deal. That is because, according to archeological data, Jericho has the oldest stone fortifications in the world. Cities back then did not have the kinds of walls that Jericho sported. That is because Jericho is old. Very, very old. When other cities were toying with the idea of building stone fortifications to protect themselves, Jericho had already done it hundreds of years before.

The oldest parts of Jericho also had some of the first stone towers ever built by humans that predate even the impressive walls that would later follow.


Everyone used to count their years differently

Prague Astronomical Clock face (Public domain)

What year is it? Asking for the year is a question often posed to people who have recently suffered a concussion or one that comes out of the mouth of unwilling time travelers in science fiction literature. That is because, in the current era, years are universally known and universally tracked. The world primarily uses the Anno Domini system, which is Latin for “the Year of the Lord,” and that year is based on the Gregorian calendar. It has been like this for hundreds of years.

But how did people keep track of the years before the acceptance of Anno…


And the legacy the two nations share

Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

The early months of 1861 were uncertain for the United States. The country was split in two by a rash of secessions from southern states leaving new president Abraham Lincoln in a precarious position. By May of 1861, the news of the country’s plight had circled the globe, and a state of open conflict seemed inevitable between the Union and the Confederacy.

The situation in North America reached the sympathetic ears of an Italian city-state who drafted up a proposal and reached out to Abraham Lincoln.

Enter San Marino

San Marino bills itself as the world’s oldest continuously functioning republic. In 1861, there…


People like the sword fights but rarely think about the aftermath

Battle of Zama (Public domain)

Ancient warfare is romanticized in modern culture with large cinematic battles that rage on our televisions and popular novels that take place in Medieval times. The sword and longbow are venerated, chain mail and plate armor are coveted, and the actuality of ancient warfare is left far behind in the rearview mirror. Ancient warfare was terrible. It was brutal. It was largely inhumane.

To appreciate the battles from history that took place before the gunpowder age, you have to appreciate how awful these fights were. All war is hell, but ancient war was particularly hellish.

A multitude of sharp objects


A collection of photos from a place few Westerners have heard of

Tian Shan mountains (Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Kyrgyzstan is a country in Central Asia that is bordered by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China. It is home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world and a rich cultural history that bridges east and west over a span of hundreds of years. Nestled between some of the most remote countries of Central Asia, few Westerners have heard of Kyrgyzstan and fewer still know about its stunning vistas.

Kyrgyzstan is home to Asian steppes, bitter cold mountain rivers, high lakes, and soaring peaks. The Tian Shan mountains divide Kyrgyzstan from neighboring China and have peaks that pierce…


How BC transitions to AD

Johannes von Gmunden Calendar (Public domain)

The world counts years with the Anno Domini (AD) system in which the current era is counted from the birth of Jesus Christ. Scholars and secular students have started using Common Era (CE) to replace AD but the numbering is exactly the same. Prior to AD we have Before Christ (BC) or Before Common Era (BCE) which denotes the years leading up to the birth of Christ.

This system begs the question about a year zero. How do we transition from BC to AD?

Year zero AD

At first glance, it would make sense for there to be a year zero in our…


Nowhere was safe from the globe spanning conflict

Allied troops patrolling in neutral San Marino (Public domain)

San Marino is an independent enclave near Rimini, Italy. It is the fifth smallest nation in the world and has had independence for hundreds of years. It is one of the last remaining city-states and free enclaves in the world. San Marino has retained its independence through various tumultuous periods in history, including World War II.

In 1923, San Marino elected a fascist government that ruled the nation for twenty years. …


How this ancient enclave continues to survive even after the model went extinct

Fortress of Guaita (Max Ryazanov / CC BY-SA 3.0)

San Marino is the fifth smallest country in the world consisting of an area that is just 61km2. It is an enclave that is surrounded on all sides by Italy. On the map it is an aberration. There are very few city-states left in the world and even fewer enclaves. San Marino is a remnant of a bygone era. This country is so fascinating because it is left over from a time period when most nations were similar in size and shape to San Marino. It is a leftover city-state from Medieval Europe that continues to exist today.

The people…

Grant Piper

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