Category Archives: History

Refugees and Vandals

Today I write about Vandals.

Not the ones who break windows and tag walls.

The original Vandals. The Germanic tribe who left Scandinavia around 200BC. Their name has been connected to Vendel, a province in Uppland, Sweden [1]

There is no agreed historical reason for them to have left although the adventurer/archaeologist Thor Heyerdhal had an interesting theory on the origins of today’s Scandanavians. Norwegian mythology tells that the Scandinavian god-king Odin moved with his people to Norway from a land called Aser, in order to avoid Roman occupation. A 13th-century historian’s description of Aser’s origination matches that of Azerbaijan: east of the Caucasus mountains and the Black Sea. [2] Other than a 300 year time difference, it is an interesting and ironic possibility. The Vandals moved on by a tribal army from Eastern Europe which was fleeing the Romans.

Click on this map to make it readable.

Click on this map to make it readable.

What is more certain is that those Vandals created much more of a stir across Europe than can be imagined.

Firstly they moved to the South and East, across the Danube into what had been the Roman Province of Dacia. [3] We now know much of that area as Romania with its wonderful Transylvanian mountains, forests and legends.

Here they found a settled group of tribes recovering from Roman rule but also being pressured in the North East by another famous group of travellers, the Goths, both Ostro and Visi. This conflict between the two groups occurred around the time of the Emperor Constantine. He granted the Vandals land in Pannonia, an ancient province of the Roman Empire bounded north and east by the Danube over the territory of the present-day western Hungary, eastern Austria, northern Croatia, north-western Serbia, northern Slovenia, western Slovakia and northern Bosnia and Herzegovina. [4]

Somewhat like the present-day Kurds who live in an area divided between southeastern Turkey, western Iran, northern Iraq, and northern Syria. [5]gallacia

Around 400CE the Vandals were pushed westwards again, this time by the Huns. Crossing the Rhine into Gaul along with other tribes in 406 and on December 31st, 409, the Vandals crossed the Pyrenees into the Iberian Peninsula, where their main groups, the Hasdingi and the Silingi, settled in Gallaecia (from Baeticawhere the dispossessed Gaels sailed north to conquer Ireland) and Baetica (now mostly Andelusia) respectively. [1]

The Silingi branch of the Vandals had been accompanied by the Alans, Iranians who had fled the Goths who had invaded their homeland east of the Caspian Sea.

It is worth remembering that in all of these migrations, people were left behind. Invading refugee women married into local families and stayed. Invading refugee men married local women and became new rulers, farmers or artisans.

The migrations of the Alans during the 4th–5th centuries AD, from their homeland in the North Caucasus. Major settlement areas are shown in yellow, Alan civilian emigration in red, and military campaigns in yellow.

The migrations of the Alans during the 4th–5th centuries AD, from their homeland in the North Caucasus. Major settlement areas are shown in yellow, Alan civilian emigration in red, and military campaigns in yellow.

The Alans, together with the Silingi Vandals, chose to move further south across the Straits of Gibraltar into Northern Africa. From where they invaded what was to become known millenia later, as “The Soft Underbelly of Europe”. Their travels and destinations are shown here as well. [6]

Italicised Paranthetical Note

Something I have just noticed is that so many of these invaders cum refugees originated in Scandinavia. The Vandals, the Goths, the Huns, the Vikings. All around 2000 – 1500 years ago. I wonder if there was some sort of climate change which forced so many groups from their homes.




WHERE NOW YOU ASK, “So what has all that got to do with the price of eggs in China?”


Except that those Vandals and the Alans and even the Goths were all refugees. Fleeing for their lives from the threat of death, the threat of invasion. The threat of dispossession. The Domino Theory of the 1960’s in a different part of the world not only happened in Europe but it continues today! The “Eurozone” is simply a way of sweeping history under the carpet to avoid yet another Eurowar.

So what has all this to do with today’s mass refugee movements from the Middle East and Africa?

Not a lot.

Unless you have some Irish ancestry in which case those ancestors were refugees from the Vandals.

Unless your ancestor were from Southern or Northern Spain, in which case they originated in Scandinavia or Iran and were refugees from the Romans and the Goths.

Unless you are of Italian or Greek descent. The mixture is unbelievable there but includes both the Vandals and the Alans. In fact the Vandals and the Alans arrived twice. Once from Northern Italy into the Po valley and secondly from Africa into Sicily, Sardinia, Malta and central Italy. Probably into Corsica as well. *hat tip to the ‘little Corporal‘*

Unless you are proud of your Viking forebears. Those Azerbaijani who fled Rome and moved to Scandinavia, in the process creating the refugee Vandals from their own refugeeship.

Unless you are a simple Anglo-Saxon whose ancestral tribe fled those pesky Franks who were on their way to Paris. Or a Norman who was merely a land-going Viking who had moved to France.

The lesson is that we are all descendants of refugees. We are proud of a host of different refugees we only know of as victors in their assorted battles. We conveniently ignore just why those battles were fought.

Just how poor would our civilisation be without the admixture of all those refugees?

Now we have another refugee crisis.

Our future depends on all the small and smaller nations* finding a way to humanely treat the current groups of fleeing humanity. For most of them are from the places our ancestors originated.

If we treat them humanely we will be enriched and en-nobled. If not, we will be reduced to the barbaric habits and attitudes which motivated our ancestors.

Our choice is to accommodate or to exterminate these people.

  • yes, I include Great Britain, Germany and France here.

The Burrup Desecration

ISIL and Colin Barnett

YES, there IS a connection.

Earlier this year we were horrified to learn that ISIL, in its barbarous rampage across parts of the Middle East had destroyed the ancient cities of Ninevah and Nimrud. They burnt the library at Mosul which contained 8,000 irreplaceable ancient manuscripts. The UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova called the destructions in Mosul a violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2199, and the destruction of Nimrud a war crime.

Now Colin Barnett, Premier of Western Australia, has decided that the Burrup Peninsula Rock Art should no longer be afforded the protection of being a Sacred Site. “Burrup Peninsula ‘deregistered’ as sacred site“. The first step in degrading and destroying this irreplaceable site of world-wide importance. All in the name of Industrial Development.  Once the thin edge of the wedge is allowed in, there will be gradual encroachment onto wider areas, destructive vandalism and many “Mia Culpas” from those who should be caring for this site. Yet a million mia culpas will not restore damaged art works to their pristine condition!

Colin Barnett is Australia’s ISIL!

What is “the Burrup”?

The “Burrup” is an ancient site, possibly six or eight times the age of Ninevah. A place where indigenous people recorded the world around them. It is still unknown whether this work was done as a religious duty, a record for future generations or simply for the joy of creating something as simple as ancient graffiti.

MurujugaKnown by the local indigenous peoples as “Murujuga” it is a petroglyph or rock engraving art gallery which dates back to before the last Ice Age. To a time when the living was relatively easy because there was time to spare from survival which was spent creating these labour-intensive works. To a time which included a period when the coastline was many kilometres to the West.

To comprehend how long ago that was, the Noongar peoples of South-West Australia have important oral tales of the Nyitting Times which means ‘cold,’ ‘cold time’ or ‘ancestral times.’ Noongar people know it as the Creation time. Tales dating back to the last Ice Age which ended some 13,000 years ago when there was good hunting on the land between the current coast and Rottnest Island.

The Australian Geographic reported in 2013, “One group of petroglyphs showing land-based animals, is thought to date from a time during the last ice age, when sepetroglyphsa levels were lower and the area was far inland. “

By measuring levels of Berylllium 10, a radioactive isotope that accumulates in the surfaces of rocks because of radiation from space and indicates how long they have been exposed to the elements, (results) support the idea that some of the rock art predates the last ice age, which occurred around 22,000 years ago, says Dr Ken Mulvaney, an archaeologist with Rio Tinto who produced the most recent age estimates based on the style of the art and weathering patterns.

The erosion “is such a slow process that the petroglyphs could remain visible for 60,000 years,” says Ken, who adds that neither he nor Brad (Professor Brad Pillans) think the rock art actually is that old.  Based on current evidence people only arrived in this part of Australia sometime between 35,000 and 42,000 years ago”, he says.


There have been a number of efforts to preserve the Burrup for posterity.

  •  2002; The National Trust of Australia (WA) and the Hon. Robin Chapple MLC nominated the Burrup Peninsula to the National Trust Endangered Places List
  •  2003; the World Monuments Fund added it to its list of Most Endangered Places-the first time an Australian place had been included.
  • 2004; the National Trust, the Native Title Claimants and Robert Bednarik, President of the International Federation of Rock Art Organisations, nominated the Dampier Archipelago to the National Heritage list, under the new Commonwealth heritage legislation.
  • 2007; Australian National Heritage listing. (in 2009, Jenny Gregory wrote
  • 2009 ;  This cultural landscape continues to be threatened by industrial development. Rock art on the eastern side of the archipelago, on the Burrup Peninsula, was relocated following the discovery of adjacent off-shore gas reserves so that a major gas plant could be constructed. Work has now begun on the construction of a second major gas plant nearby.) So much for National Heritage!
  • 2012; the 2012 Report by the Australian Heritage Council, reported that the The Dampier Peninsula meets UNESCO Outstanding Universal Values criteria for World Heritage listing.


This Burrup petroglyph may be one of the oldest carved faces in the world. (Credit: Ken Mulvaney)

This Burrup petroglyph may be one of the oldest carved faces in the world. (Credit: Ken Mulvaney)




Claims have been made that since 1963, 24.4 percent of the rock art on Murujuga has been destroyed to make way for industrial development. (Robert G. Bednarik, Dampier Fact Sheet, October 2006)   The Western Australian government, responding to a question in parliament, has argued for a much lower figure, suggesting that approximately 4 percent of sites, representing approximately 7.2 percent of petroglyphs, have been destroyed since 1972. . Hon. John Ford, answer to question on notice, Western Australia Legislative Council Hansard, 16 August 2005.
A classic apples and oranges response.

Still, as the Western Australian government has noted, there is no complete inventory of rock art in the region,(WA Department of Industry and Resources, Burrup Peninsula, Frequently Asked Questions,) making assessments of current and future impacts on the site a challenging task.  (How convenient)   Even more interesting is the fact that none of the online references used in the above quote from Wikipedia is still online. Cue deserved conspiracy theory!


Western Australia has a culture of tearing down its history. Whenever a city building is old enough, it is torn down and replaced with a modern concrete and glass monstrosity and pristine bushlands are cleared for industrial sites.

This does not bode well for a site which is in the way of short-term industrialisation.

There is no financial benefit to having those petroglyphs. Certainly not in a time of the dumbing down of Australia. Some may well be placed in museums around the country. the rest will be moved, rearranged, graffitied and any excess will be dumped,destroyed or reused as building fill!

On the East Coast we are seeing the ISIL-like destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.

On the West Coast we will see the ISIL-like destruction of the Great Burrup Art Gallery.



Remembrance Day

A detail from the Australian War Memorial

Poppies are found there all year round

For the sacrifices were not just a one day thing.



My much younger Dad in the second world war

In a jungle and sucking on a straw

While he couldn’t survive the peace,

He survived the war at least.

Wish I could have known you better.


Money is Diseased Barter

I used the title to this post in a tweet and was asked to explain myself. So here goes.

From the start I will say that I am not an economist and I am not a political scientist. I am, however am amateur social historian. So don’t expect to many sources. Just opinions gained from a study of mankind.

In the beginning, as all second-rate tales start, there were hunters and gatherers. The only way they could survive was to act as a group. Everything was shared. the only sin was doing something which would harm the group. Traditionally men hunted, often unsuccessfully for meat while women gathered, luckily with much more success, fruits, roots, garin and any little critters which could give a mouthful of protein to a hungry tribe.

Then women discovered that settling down and cultivating plant foods gave a much better return. So the first villages were developed. The first known was around 12,000 years ago at M’lefaat in Iraq

The range of skills needed to live in a village grew as did the available food.. There had to be house builders, and potters. Yet all produce was still shared. As the nomadic hunter gatherers of the region began to see how well these strange “villagers” lived, they decided to drop in and take a share. They became the first conquerors and took over the running of the settlement. And took a share of the produce in return for their role as “Protectors”. The first criminals and the first taxation. and the first cells of the money cancer grew on the barter system

Over the millenia, villages grew into cities and the idea of communal

Many ancient Egyptian writings were accounts of "gifts" to the Pharaoh

Many ancient Egyptian writings were accounts of “gifts” to the Pharaoh

sharing disappeared into a golden age of myth. Instead there were kings who took a share of the produce to redistribute it to the non-producing protectors. Somewhere along the line shamans became important and used their persuasive powers to convince the common people that they had to support their King who was a representative of the God who provided the water and the good crops the city depended on.

What has happened now is that a producer; grain, fruit, animal or manufacture, had to present a proportion of their production to the Rulers, both temporal and spiritual. It meant that differeing values were put on different items. One gazelle might be worth ten baskets of wheat. A basket may be two baskets of wheat. A basket of chick peas may be two baskets of wheat.

money3The beginning of the end, the end we are seeing now, was when traders began to move goods between cities. They would take a small part of the proceeds as payment. A form of currency had to be invented to allow the new system to work. Kings loved the idea. they no longer needed large buildings to house their tax gatherings. Traders loved it because they could skim off a little more than they needed to live and so build themselves a bigger house or keep a second wife.

Some smart nomads discovered they could make a very good living by ambushing trading parties and taking their currency. Bandits were an important step in the growth of the money cancer. The created a need for secure movement of money from one city to another. Since there were money movements each way and they more or less balanced out, a smart group of people started to keep accounts instead of moving physical money. They became the first bankers. By  now barter was forgotten and everything had a money value. The bankers were able to skim small percentages off each transaction and so created quite large holdings of ready money. So much they were able to lend to Kings who wanted to make expensive war.money2

Bankers became the defacto rulers and in the past couple of centuries have set about gathering more and more of the available money. They now own the  Governments and Churches. The cancer keeps on growing. Those bankers are almost a hereditary group of hidden families who are the true rulers of the Earth. Their reason for existence has become the gathering in of more and more of the wealth created by the “little people”. They now fund both sides of wars, take a high proportion of money meant for disaster relief and tell Governments how much they can spend.

The removal of the “Gold Standard” in the 1930’s took away the last connection money had with reality and the end became inescapable. Even the Bankers have forgotten that money is but a repressentaion of the value of a real thing.

With computerisation, it has become ever easier for the bankers to accumulate more. And there is no longer anything real about money. It is just electrons in a mainframe.  This leaves ever less for the vast mass of humanity. Some of those “little people” have been deluded into thinking that running a gold mine or an iron ore mine means that they are important and rich. They do money1not see that their few billions are small change to the bankers trillions.

The money cancer has almost completely taken over human society and the sickness can only result in the death of that society. Only a world-wide revolution and a massive thinning of humanities numbers will allow a healthy society to return.

It will be brutal and many will be lost but it is now inevitable.

Money is diseased barter and must be cut out if we, as a species, are to return to a healthy way of interacting. When we again become hunters and gatherers.


The Very First F-Bomb

How good is this?

An image is spotted on FaceBook and a little research finds so much more.

So, where did it all begin and where does that image come from?

The sources quoted are worth reading in full!

The first recorded use

The first instance of use of the word “fuck,” came from a satirical poem, written in Latin, in the year 1500. The line is referring to a group of friars, and runs like this: “Non sunt in coeli, quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk.” If it suddenly starts looking like Kryptonian instead of Latin after the word quia, it’s because it had to be written in code. Each letter of the word was swapped out for the letter following it in the alphabet. Remember that the alphabet was in a different order back then, and that Latin conjugates verbs differently, but gxddbov translates as “fuccant.” The overall line states, “They are not in Heaven, since they fuck the wives of Ely.” That is one racy poem!

Those early scibes were a clever lot. We learn to read and write but how many of our modern educated people could code like this, knowing that others would know how to decode. We stoop to “fxck” using the “x” because “v” and “w” are too close to the substituted letter.

The image below is of a page transcribed by a monk in 1528.

The transcription was of  “De Officiis” (On Duties or On Obligations), an essay written by Marcus Tullius Cicero during October and November 44 BC. This was Cicero’s last year alive, and he was 62 years of age. The work is divided into three books, in which Cicero expounds his conception of the best way to live, behave, and observe moral obligations. It was considered so important during the 1400’s and 1500’s that it was the second book to be printed on Gutenberg’s Press, after the Bible.




It is difficult to know whether the annotator intended “fucking” to mean “having sex,” as in “that guy is doing too much fucking for someone who is supposed to be celibate,” or whether he used it as an intensifier, to convey his extreme dismay; if the latter, it anticipates the first recorded use by more than three hundred years. Either is possible, really—John Burton, the abbot in question, was a man of questionable monastic morals.

John Burton was Abbott of Burton Abbey from 1305 too his death in 1316. There were several other “John”s as Abbot.

John de Stafford from 1260 to 1281
John of Ibestock from 1347 to 1366
John de Sudbury from 1400 to 1424

In 1528 the Abbott was William Beyne. He held office 1501-1531. He was followed by John Beaton who was Abbott from 1532-1533, just before the Reformation.

The Abbey appears to have had a lot of moral and financial problems over the centuries and certainly from the mid 1200’s onwards there were rumours of immorality amongst its leaders and the monks.

If the Scribe was referring to John de Burton, then he was doing so from legend and passed down tales within the Monastery. If he was referring to John Beaton, formerly prior of Burton, then perhaps he was anticipating a future promotion. Or perhaps there is a slight error in the timing of the above image.


I make no comment on the possibility that this scribe was clairvoyant; seeing the future of a Great South Land and the depths to which it could tumble.


War Is Not My Language

I posted these thoughts just over two years ago.

At a time much of the Western World was rejoicing at the death of a single, hated man.


I am drawn to repost them because I see a once great nation making the same mistake for the umpteeth time.

And its Citizens wonder why so many hate them.

Just because one man or nation kills other men in a particularly gruesome way, nothing is gained by revenge killing.


Consider the words of some of the wisest men to have lived on our planet.


“Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper
darkness to a night already devoid of stars.” Martin Luther King

“Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate.”
Martin Luther King

“I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.” Abraham Lincoln

“The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good
intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack
understanding.” Albert Camus

“Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.
Albert Einstein

“After victory, you have more enemies.” Cicero

“Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself.” Lao Tzu

“The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.” William Shakespeare

Finally, to put me into context, from the bizarre blog of the very sensible Raincoaster:-

War is not my language

الحـرب ليســـت لغتـي

מלחמה היא לא השפה שלי

Moved By A Morning Of Memories

The gathering had begun well before I arrived at 4:15am.

The first thousand were quietly walking towards the half-lit finger of granite which is our State War Memorial. The memorial where all who left this State and died for Australia are recorded. Just one of hundreds of memorials and lists of names scattered around Western Australia.

The Flame of Remembrance was bright in the darkness.


I counted five big screens around the area so more could see what was about to happen on the steps of the Memorial.


Quiet and still. The growing crowd created only a small, low break in the pre-dawn silence. Hushed greetings between friends, generations and races.

A voice began speaking, talking of the building of the Burma Railway. That horrific event during World War Two. Leaving the past, he told us of what was to come. The Ode, the wreath-layings, the Last Post, the minute of silence and the Rouse. He requested silence of the silent, standing crowd during the formalities.

The Ode was shown on the screen and many recited it in their hearts yet only one voice spoke.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.

The Wreath-laying began. We had been warned that it would take time and it did.
The silence continued. In a football stadium sized crowd which had swelled to over 40,000 the silence was intense, tangible. Not even the babies complained. Close on a hundred wreaths were laid.

The Last Post was finally sounded and the still silent crowd straightened their backs just a little. Old men and women with walking sticks and in wheel-chairs, younger men and women along with their children all stood that little taller.

There were tears. Quiet, restrained but real as people remembered those they had lost or those they had never known.

The Rouse, Australia’s version of Reveille, was bugled and as the last note hung in the air, a lone magpie warbled. For even the birds had been silent during the service. A RAAF aircraft flew overhead.

A final speech was given, speaking of the silence. The silence we all know before we attempt something dangerous or difficult. The silence before the dawn.

And the sky continued to brighten.

As we slowly moved away still-quiet conversations were interrupted by a flight of six bi-planes which flew over.


With so many people all trying to leave I knew the traffic would be gridlocked for some time. So I went looking for the tree-plaque which honours my Great Uncle Ted. I found it and discovered that the tree which accompanies the plaque had been replaced. This is the third tree on this spot which has grown in his memory.



Every year all the plaques are decorated by a flower and a flag. The fallen are remembered.

I eventually drove out of Kings Park about an hour and a half after the Service had ended. It was only then that I realised that it had been a totally secular gathering. No prayers, hymns or sermons.

Just remembering what we have all lost.