Daily Life - History

Daily Life - History

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Daily Life - History

The Life of Jesus in Harmony
D aily Life in the Time of Jesus

T he Common People

During the time of Jesus the majority of the people were very poor, the streets were narrow, their houses were small, the roads were dirty and rough, and there was lots of mud in the winter and dirt and dust in the summer. People worked hard with their hands, they were artisans, hard workers, laborers, farmers, metalsmith's, makers of pottery, and men of all sorts of occupations who were well aware that they would be taxed very high while the wealthy would buy their way out of these problems.

The wealthy lived out on the outskirts, with big houses, lush gardens and baths with villas and walled enclosures. Their lifestyles were entirely different, even the water supply came to them abundantly whether it be aqueducts, cisterns or nearby springs.

The religious came in all kinds, and they were also among the wealthy class. There were the Pharisees, and the Sadducees, the Scribes And Teachers of the Law, and the priestly elite were masters at appearing righteous and leaving the common person with a sort of guilty feeling like they are not being blessed and they are not living up to God's standards.

Yet the Lord always had his eye on the poor people and the common people, and when Jesus showed up he was not afraid to speak out against the hypocrisy, and to uplift those who are trusting in God. The comon people were quick to flock to Jesus and many of them had been waiting for God's great promises to come to pass.

Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia

Daily life in ancient Mesopotamia cannot be described in the same way one would describe life in ancient Rome or Greece. Mesopotamia was never a single, unified civilization, not even under the Akkadian Empire of Sargon the Great. Generally speaking, though, from the rise of the cities in c. 4500 BCE to the downfall of Sumer in 1750 BCE, the people of the regions of Mesopotamia did live their lives in similar ways. The civilizations of Mesopotamia placed a great value on the written word. Once writing was invented, c. 3500-3000 BCE, the scribes seem almost obsessed with recording every facet of their cities lives and, because of this, archaeologists and scholars in the present day have a fairly clear understanding of how the people lived and worked. The American author Thornton Wilder once wrote, “Babylon once had two million people in it, and all we know about `em is the names of the kings and some copies of wheat contracts and the sales of slaves” (Our Town). Wilder was writing fiction, of course, not history, and there was much about Mesopotamian history still unknown at the time he wrote his play still he was wrong about what the modern world, even the world of his day, knew about the people of Mesopotamia. We actually know a good deal more than just the names of kings and the sales of slaves.

Population & Social Classes

The population of ancient Mesopotamian cities varied greatly. In c. 2300 BCE Uruk had a population of 50,000 while Mari, to the north, had 10,000 and Akkad 36,000 (Modelski, 6). The populations of these cities were divided into social classes which, like societies in every civilization throughout history, were hierarchical. These classes were: The King and Nobility, The Priests and Priestesses, The Upper Class, the Lower Class, and The Slaves.


The king of a city, region, or empire was thought to have a special relationship with the gods and to be an intermediary between the world of the divine and the earthly realm. The depth of a king's relationship with his gods, and the god's pleasure with his rule, was gauged by the success of the territory he ruled over. A great king would enlarge his kingdom and make the land prosperous and, by doing so, show that the gods favored him. Although many of the regions of Mesopotamia rebelled repeatedly against the rule of Sargon of Akkad (2334-2279 BCE) and the dynasty he founded, he still became a legendary figure because of his successful military conquests and the expanse of his empire. These accomplishments would have meant that, however an individual human being or community felt about Sargon's rule, he was favored by the gods he served (in his case, Inanna).


The priests and priestesses presided over the sacred aspects of daily life and officiated at religious services. They were literate and considered adept at interpreting signs and omens. They also served as healers. The first doctors and dentists of Mesopotamia were priestesses who attended to people in the outer court of the temple. Among the most famous priestesses was Enheduanna (2285-2250 BCE), daughter of Sargon of Akkad, who served as High Priestess at Ur and is also the world's first author known by name. Enheduanna would not have served as a healer her day would have been spent in taking care of the business of the temple and that of the surrounding complex, as well as officiating at ceremonies.

The upper class included merchants who owned their own companies, scribes, private tutors, and, in time, high-ranking military men. Other occupations of the upper class were accountants, architects, astrologers (who were usually priests), and shipwrights. The merchant who owned his own company, and did not need to travel, was a man of leisure who could enjoy the best beer in the city in the company of his friends while attended by slaves. Scribes were highly respected and served at court, in the temple, and in the schools. Every teacher was a scribe, and one of the most important disciplines taught in every Mesopotamian school was writing. Only boys attended school. While women did enjoy almost equal rights, they were still not considered intelligent enough to be able to master literacy. This paradigm remained in place even after the notable career of Enheduanna. Private tutors were also held in high regard and were paid well by the wealthy families of the cities to help their sons excel at their school work. Private tutors not in the employ of a school (which was often run by the temple) were considered men of exceptional intelligence, virtue, and character. They devoted themselves completely to the student, or students, under their tutelage and, if they had a client of high means, lived almost as well as he did.

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The lower class was made up of those occupations which kept the city or region actually operating: farmers, artists, musicians, construction workers, canal builders, bakers, basket makers, butchers, fishermen, cup bearers, brick makers, brewers, tavern owners, prostitutes, metallurgists, carpenters, perfume makers, potters, jewelry makers, goldsmiths, cart and, later, chariot drivers, soldiers, sailors, and merchants who worked for another man's company. Of those listed above, prostitutes, perfume makers, jewelry makers, and goldsmiths could also be considered upper class professions under the right circumstances (such as exceptional skill or finding favor in a wealthy patron or the king). Any member of the lower class could, however, climb the social ladder. The Assyriologist Jean Bottero notes that, "the town of Kish was ruled not by a king but by an energetic queen called Ku-baba, a former tavern keeper, about whom we know nothing else" (125). For the most part, women were relegated to the lower class jobs but, clearly, could hold the same esteemed positions as males. Women were the first brewers and tavern keepers and also the first doctors and dentists in ancient Mesopotamia before those occupations proved lucrative and were taken over by men.

The lowest social order was the slaves. One could become a slave in a number of ways: being captured in war, selling oneself into slavery to pay off a debt, being sold as punishment for a crime, being kidnapped and sold into slavery in another region, or being sold by a family member to relieve a debt. Slaves had no single ethnicity nor were they solely employed for manual labor. Slaves kept house, managed large estates, tutored young children, tended horses, served as accountants and skilled jewelry makers, and could be employed in whatever capacity their master saw they had a talent in. A slave who worked diligently for his or her master could eventually buy their freedom.


Homes & Furnishings

The king and his court, of course, lived in the palace and the palace complex. In the cities, homes were built out from the center of the settlement, which was the temple with its ziggurat. The wealthiest and highest on the social ladder lived closest to the center. The homes of the affluent were built of sun-dried bricks while those of people of lesser means would have been constructed from reeds. It should be noted, however, that these buildings were still considered houses and were not the `huts' so often imagined. The historian Bertman describes the construction of these homes, writing:

To build a simple house, tall marsh plants would be uprooted, gathered together, and tied into tight bundles. After holes were dug in the ground, the bundles of reeds would be inserted, one bundle per hole. After the holes were filled in and firmly packed, pairs of bundles that faced each other would be bent over and tied together at the top, forming an archway. The remaining bundles would then be joined together in similar fashion…Reed mats would then be draped over the top to cover the roof, or hung from a wall opening to make a door (285).

Bertman continues that, to construct a home of brick,

Clay from the riverbanks would be mixed with straw for reinforcement and packed into small brick-shaped wooden molds, which would then be lifted off so the mud bricks could dry on the ground in the hot sun…Sun-dried brick was notoriously impermanent, especially as a consequence of yearly downpours. The alternative, oven-baked brick, was expensive, however, because of the fuel and skilled labor required for its manufacture. As a result, it tended to be used for the houses of kings and gods rather than the homes of ordinary people. (285-286).

Light in the home was provided by small lamps fueled by sesame seed oil and sometimes by windows (in more expensive homes). Windows were constructed of wooden grill work and, as wood was a rare commodity, windowed homes were uncommon. The exterior of brick homes was whitewashed (“a further defense against the radiant heat”, as Bertman notes) and “there would be only one exterior door, its frame painted bright red to keep out evil spirits” (286). The historian Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat notes that, “the purpose of a house in southern Iraq was to provide shelter from the twelve hours of unrelenting heat – the climate from May to September” (121). After September came the rainy season of cooler weather when homes would be heated by burning palm fronds or palm wood.

Palaces, temples, and upper-class homes had ornate braziers for heating the rooms, while the lower classes made use of a shallow pit lined with hardened clay. Indoor plumbing was in wide use by at least the 3rd millennium BCE with toilets in separate rooms of upper class homes, palaces, and temples. Tiled drains, built at a slant, would carry waste from the building to a cesspool or a sewer system of clay pipes that would transport it to the river. All homes in the region of Sumer, whether of the rich or poor, needed the blessing of the brother-gods Kabta and Mushdamma (deities who presided over foundations, buildings, construction, and bricks) before any building project could begin and, upon completion, offerings were made to the god of completed construction, Arazu, in gratitude. Every region of Mesopotamia had some form of these same gods. Their blessing, however, did always guarantee a secure home. Nemet-Nejet writes:


Ancient houses, particularly those made of sun dried brick, often collapsed. The Laws of Hammurabi devoted five sections to this problem, noting in particular the builder's responsibility: `If a builder constructs a house for a man, but does not make his work sound, and the house that he constructs collapses and causes the death of the householder, that builder shall be killed. If it should cause the death of a son of the householder, they shall kill a son of that builder' (121).

Homes were furnished in much the same way they are today with chairs (which had legs, backs, and, in wealthier homes, arms), tables, beds, and kitchen ware. In affluent homes, beds were made from a wooden frame, crisscrossed with rope or reeds, covered by a mattress stuffed with wool or goat hair, and had linen sheets. These beds were often intricately carved and, by the third millennium, were sometimes “overlaid with gold, silver, or copper” and “had legs that often terminated with an ox foot or claw” (Nemet-Nejet, 125). The lower classes, of course, could not afford such luxury and slept on mats of woven straw or reeds which were laid on the floor. Tables were constructed in the same way they still are today (the more prosperous homes had linen tablecloths and napkins), and families gathered at the table for the evening meal in the same way many still do presently

Family & Leisure

The family was constituted as it is in the modern day with a mother, father, children, and extended family. Both men and women worked while the children's lives were directed according to their sex and social status. Male children of the upper classes were sent to school, while their sisters remained at home and learned the domestic arts sons of the lower classes followed their fathers into the fields or whatever line of work they pursued, while the daughters, as with the upper classes, emulated their mother's role in her job. The toys these children played with were, likewise, similar to toys in the present day such as toy trucks and dolls. Bertman writes:

For infants and toddlers there were terra-cotta rattles, filled with pellets and pinched at the edges like piecrust, with a small hole for a string. For boys, dreaming of hunting or soldiering, there were slingshots and little bows and arrows and boomerangs to throw. For girls, hoping to raise their own children someday, there were dolls and miniature pieces of furniture (tables, stools, and beds) for playing house. Meanwhile, handheld ships and chariots, and tiny draught animals and wagons, let the young travel through the world of their imagination. For more amusement there were also balls and hoops and a game of jump rope named curiously for the love goddess Ishtar (298-299).

Families also enjoyed board games (the most popular being much like the game of Parcheesi) and games of dice. Images depict families at leisure in much the same way family photographs do today. Sports seem to primarily have involved males, and the most popular were wrestling and boxing among the lower classes and hunting among the nobility. The family meal, as noted, was similar to that in the present day with the major difference being the forms of entertainment during and after the dinner. Storytelling was an important aspect of an evening meal as was music. In poorer homes, a family member would play an instrument or sing, or tell a story, after dinner the wealthy had slaves for this purpose or professional entertainers. These people played instruments familiar to anyone in the modern day.


The Mesopotamians had singers, of course, and also percussion (drums, bells, castinets, sistrums, and rattles), wind instruments (recorders, flutes, horns, and panpipes), and stringed instruments (the lyre and the harp). Images throughout Mesopotamia attest to the people's great love of music and Bertman writes, “So great, in fact, was a queen of Ur's love of music, she could not bear the thought of being in the afterworld without it so, with the help of a sleeping potion in the tomb, she took her royal musicians with her into the beyond” (295). Inscriptions and images also depict Mesopotamians listening to music while drinking beer or reading or relaxing in their home or garden. Bertman notes that “music was an integral part of ancient Mesopotamian life. The images on inlaid plaques, carved seal-stones, and sculpted reliefs transport us back to a world of sound. We watch a shepherd playing his flute as his dog sits and attentively listens” (294). Music was also, at least for the wealthier citizens, an integral part of the banquet and even private meals.

Food & Clothing

The chief grain crop in Mesopotamia was barley, and so it is no wonder that they were the first to invent beer. The goddess of beer was Ninkasi whose famous hymn from c. 1800 BCE is also the world's oldest beer recipe. Beer is thought to have originated from fermented barley bread. The Mesopotamians also enjoyed a diet of fruits and vegetables (apples, cherries, figs, melons, apricots, pears, plums, and dates as well as lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, beans, peas, beets, cabbage, and turnips) as well as fish from the streams and rivers, and livestock from their pens (mostly goats, pigs, and sheep, since cows were expensive to keep and were too precious to be slaughtered for beef). They would have augmented this diet through hunting game such as deer and gazelle and birds. The people also kept domesticated geese and ducks for eggs. The historian Jean Bottero notes that the Mesopotamians had “an impressive inventory of goods” which made up their daily meals and flavored their food with oils and mineral products (sesame oil and salt, for example) and further notes that “all these indigenous ingredients were so varied that, as far as we know, the Mesopotamians never imported from abroad, so to speak, in spite of the intensity and geographical extent of their trade” (45-46). Along with beer (which was so greatly valued it was used to pay workers' wages) the people drank strong wine or water. Beer, however, was the most popular beverage in ancient Mesopotamia and, because of its nutrients and thickness, often served as the largest part of the mid-day meal.

Mesopotamians would wash and dress for the evening meal. Before eating anything, prayers of gratitude would be offered to the gods who had provided the food. Religion was an integral part of the lives of all Mesopotamians and, since it was centered on a human being as co-worker with the gods, the deities of the Mesopotamian pantheon were a part of one's daily existence. The gods provided the people with all their needs and, in return, the people labored in the service of the gods. Bottero writes, “Not only were these gods the originators of the universe and mankind, but they remained their supreme masters and guided their existence and evolution from day to day. For that reason, they were regarded as the promoters and guarantors of all the infinite obligations – positive and negative – that govern human life” (248). All aspects of Mesopotamian existence were imbued with a sense of the divine at work, even the clothes that they wore

Clothing in Mesopotamia, like everything else, was dictated by, and reflected, one's social standing. Bertman notes that

archaeologists confirm that textiles were among the first of human inventions. Plant fibers may have been twisted, sewn, and plaited [to make clothing] as far back as the Old Stone Age, some 25,000 years ago [but] wool seems to have been Mesopotamia's most common kind of cloth, along with linen, which was reserved for more expensive garments. Cotton wasn't introduced until the days of the Assyrians, who imported the plant from Egypt and the Sudan around 700 BCE and silk, perhaps not until the days of the Romans, who imported it from China (289).

Men generally wore either a long robe or pleated skirts of goatskin or sheepskin, and women dressed in one-piece tunics of either wool or linen. Soldiers are distinctive in the ancient depictions in that they always wore hooded capes over their uniforms. Older men are always seen in one-piece robes which fall to their ankles, while younger men seem to have worn either the robe or the skirt. Women are always depicted wearing the robe but these robes were not uniformly mono-colored. Many different patterns and designs are seen in the dress of Mesopotamian women, while the men, except for kings and soldiers and, sometimes, scribes, are routinely seen in monotone robes. Shawls, hooded capes, and wraps were used in bad weather and these were often embroidered and tassled. Girls dressed like their mothers and boys like their father,s and everyone wore sandals of greater or more modest design. Women's sandals, generally, were more likely to be ornamented than those of men.

Women and men both wore cosmetics and, as Bertman writes, “the desire to enhance one's natural beauty and allure through the use of cosmetics and perfume is attested as far back as Sumerian times” (291). Men and women would outline their eyes with an early form of mascara, much as the Egyptians are famous for doing, and perfumes were used by both sexes after bathing. Perfumes were made by “steeping aromatic plants in water and blending their essence with oil” (Bertman, 291), and some of these recipes became so popular that were closely guarded, since they could raise a perfume maker from a lower class worker to almost the level of nobility.


The daily life of the ancient Mesopotamians was not so different from the lives of those who live in that area today. Like those of the modern world, the people of the ancient regions of Mesopotamia loved their families, worked their jobs, and enjoyed their leisure time. Advances in technology give one the impression today that we are much wiser and vastly different from those who lived thousands of years before us, but the archaeological records tells a different story. Human beings have never been very different, in both good and bad ways, than we are today and the basic needs and desires, as well as the daily lives, of the people of ancient Mesopotamia adhere to a pattern that is easily recognizable.

The arts

Mongolian literature evolved from a wealth of traditional oral genres: heroic epics, legends, tales, yörööl (the poetry of good wishes), and magtaal (the poetry of praise), as well as a host of proverbial sayings. These genres are infused with what Mongols regard as a national characteristic—a good-humoured love of life, with particular fondness for witty sayings and jokes. From the 17th to the 19th century, Dalan Khuldalchi (literally, “Innumerable Liar” or “Multifibber”) was the source of humorous folktales, such as, “How to Make Felt from Fly’s Wool.” There are stories about the badarchin, wily mendicant monks, while khuurchins—bards—carried down the oral epics and ballads. The religious mysteries, tsam and maidari, banned in the 1930s under the antireligious policies of the socialist regime, are being revived in the monasteries, the participating lamas dressed and masked as the gods of Tibetan Buddhism. Episodes of these are staged by actors for tourists.

The most important Mongol literary work, the Nuuts Tovchoo (known in English as The Secret History of the Mongols)—a partly historical, partly legendary, and almost contemporary account of the life and times of Genghis Khan—was virtually unknown until a copy of it was found by a Russian Orthodox monk in Beijing in the late 19th century. It was written in Chinese characters, transcribing the medieval Mongol language, which made identification difficult and led to misunderstandings about its authenticity. The Secret History has since been published in many versions, including the old Mongol script and modern Mongol in Mongol Cyrillic, and it has been translated into English and other foreign languages. Specialists are still studying it as a historical source, as well as a key to the development of the Mongol language.

In literature, the poems and short stories written by Dashdorjiin Natsagdorj in the 1930s were taken up by the communist authorities as examples of Mongolian “socialist realism.” His best-known poem, “My Home” (“Minii Nutag”), praises the natural beauty of Mongolia. He also wrote an opera about the revolution known as Uchirtai gurvan tolgoi (“Three Sad Hills”), which is still performed today. Natsagdorj died an early death in 1937 shortly after being released from a short period of imprisonment (on false charges). There is a memorial dedicated to him near the Choijin Lama temple. On the other hand, scholar and writer Byambiin Rinchin, a contemporary of Natsagdorj, was attacked for his novels because they were considered “feudal and nationalistic.” Rinchin was also imprisoned, but he survived the purges of the late 1930s and died in 1977. He became one of the most influential writers of the historical novel genre, which emerged in the 1950s.

Among other notable Mongolian literary figures are writer and journalist Tsendiin Damdinsüren and poet Ochirbatyn Dashbalbar. Damdinsüren (1908–88), a translator of Russian novels and also at one time accused of “bourgeois nationalism,” wrote the words of the Mongolian national anthem and produced a three-volume commentary on Mongolian literature. Dashbalbar (1957–99), who attended and graduated from a literary institute in Moscow, made his name as a member of the Mongolian parliament (served 1996–99). A line from one of his poems, “In your lives love one another, my people!” was his epitaph.

The State Academic Drama Theatre (founded 1931) and the State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet (1963), both in Ulaanbaatar, (Ulan Bator) perform both Mongolian and Western classical works. There also is a puppet theatre in the capital. The country’s circus troupes were once popular both within Mongolia and internationally, but the fate of the remaining ensemble is uncertain, and its circus arena is in disrepair. Folksinging, music, and dance companies perform in national dress with traditional Mongolian musical instruments, such as the morin khuur (horse-head fiddle) and yatga (a kind of zither). The Mongolkino film studio has made an increasing impact at international festivals with its wide-screen epics, notably about Genghis Khan. On the other hand, films about closely observed country life have included internationally acclaimed gems such as Story of the Weeping Camel (2003).

Folk arts include the making of shirdeg, embroidered quilted felt for floor coverings and saddle blankets for camels gutal, ornamented Mongolian boots with turned-up toes and a variety of other leather goods. Chessmen and miniatures of Mongolian animals and birds are carved from stone or wood. Craft workers also make traditional compound bows and arrows, musical instruments, and interlinking wooden puzzles. Metalworkers craft beautiful silver drinking bowls and elegant copper jugs.

Selden Automobile Patent Model, 1879

George B. Selden based his claim to be the “father of the automobile” on this conceptual model of a combustion-engine vehicle, which he designed in 1879 and patented in 1895.

No individual can be credited exclusively with inventing the automobile its design and production were shaped by many different innovations. But for fifteen years, the U.S. courts upheld Selden’s claim to be the first, and other automobile manufacturers paid for the rights to use his “invention.” In 1911, a lawsuit brought by Henry Ford invalidated Selden’s claim.

“Heil Hitler!”: Lessons of Daily Life

In 1938, writer Erika Mann published a book called School for Barbarians: Education Under the Nazis (See reading, The Birthday Party, for another excerpt from Mann’s book). Mann had emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1937. Her book criticized the Nazis’ efforts to shape young people’s ideas and feelings. In it, she describes how daily life in Germany was a kind of “school” that educated children in accordance with Nazi ideals:

Every child says “Heil Hitler!” from 50 to 150 times a day, immeasurably more often than the old neutral greetings. The formula is required by law if you meet a friend on the way to school, you say it study periods are opened and closed with “Heil Hitler!” “Heil Hitler!” says the postman, the street-car conductor, the girl who sells you notebooks at the stationery store and if your parents’ first words when you come home for lunch are not “Heil Hitler!” they have been guilty of a punishable offense and can be denounced. “Heil Hitler!” they shout in the Jungvolk and Hitler Youth. “Heil Hitler!” cry the girls in the League of German Girls. Your evening prayers must close with “Heil Hitler!” if you take your devotions seriously.

Officially—when you say hello to your superiors in school or in a group—the words are accompanied by the act of throwing the right arm high but an unofficial greeting among equals requires only a comparatively lax lifting of the forearm, with the fingers closed and pointing forward. This Hitler greeting, this “German” greeting, repeated countless times from morning to bedtime, stamps the whole day.

Heil really means salvation, and used to be applied to relations between man and his God one would speak of ewiges Heil (eternal salvation), and the adjective “holy” derives from the noun. But now there is the new usage. . . .

You leave the house in the morning, “Heil Hitler” on your lips and on the stairs of your apartment house you meet the Blockwart [block warden]. A person of great importance and some danger, the Blockwart has been installed by the government as a Nazi guardian. He controls the block, reporting on it regularly, checking up on the behavior of its residents. It’s worth it to face right about, military style, and to give him the “big” Hitler salute, with the right arm as high as it will go. All the way down the street, the flags are waving, every window colored with red banners, and the black swastika in the middle of each. You don’t stop to ask why it’s bound to be some national event. Not a week passes without an occasion on which families are given one reason or another to hang out the swastika. Only the Jews are exempted under the strict regulation. Jews are not Germans they do not belong to the “Nation,” they can have no “national events.”

You meet the uniforms on the way to school, the black [uniformed] S.S. men, the men of the Volunteer Labor Service, and the Reichswehr soldiers [German army]. And if some of the streets are closed, you know that an official is driving through town. Nobody has ever told you the high officials of other countries pass without the precautions of closed streets.

And here, where a building is going up, the workmen are gone—probably because of the “national event.” But the sign is on the scaffolding. “We have our Führer to thank that we are working here today. Heil Hitler!” The familiar sign, seen everywhere with men at work, on roads, barracks, sports fields. What does it mean to you? Do you think of a world outside with workers who need not thank a Führer for their jobs? Certainly not—what you have imprinted on your mind is the sentence, deep and accepted as an old melody.

There are more placards as you continue past hotels, restaurants, indoor swimming pools, to school. They read “No Jews allowed”—“Jews not desired here”—“Not for Jews.” And what do you feel? Agreement? Pleasure? Disgust? Opposition? You don’t feel any of these. You don’t feel anything, you’ve seen these placards for almost five years. This is a habit, it is all perfectly natural, of course Jews aren’t allowed here. Five years in the life of a child of nine—that’s his life, after four years of infancy, his whole personal, conscious existence.

Through the Nazi street walks the Nazi child. There is nothing to disturb him, nothing to attract his attention or criticism. The stands sell Nazi newspapers almost exclusively all German papers are Nazi foreign newspapers are forbidden, if they do not please the men at the top. The child won’t be surprised at their huge headlines: “UNHEARD-OF ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST GERMANY IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA!” “JEWISH GANGSTERS RULE AMERICA!” “THE COMMUNIST TERROR IN SPAIN SUPPORTED BY THE POPE!” “150 MORE PRIESTS UNMASKED AS SEXUAL CRIMINALS!”

“That’s how it is in the world,” the child thinks. “What luck we’re in, to have a Führer. He’ll tell the whole bunch—Czechs, Jews, Americans, Communists, and priests—where to get off!”

There are no doubts, no suspicion at the coarse and hysterical tone of the dispatches, no hint that they may be inexact or false. No, these things are part of the everyday world of the Nazis, like the Blockwart, the swastika, the signs reading “No Jews allowed.” They add up to an atmosphere that is torture, a fuming poison for a free-born human being.

The German child breathes this air. There is no other condition wherever Nazis are in power and here in Germany they do rule everywhere, and their supremacy over the German child, as he learns and eats, marches, grows up, breathes, is complete. 1


  • 1 : Erika Mann, School for Barbarians: Education Under the Nazis (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1938), 21–24. Reproduced by permission from Dover Publications.

Audio Version

The Hitler Youth Movement was an essential part of the Nazi Party's ideology and plan for the future. By the start of World War II in 1939, about 90% of "Aryan" children- girls and boys- in Germany belonged to Nazi youth groups. This audio reading explains through the eyes of Erika Mann, a German opposed to the Nazis, how the Hitler Youth groups operated.


Everyday life is a key concept in cultural studies and is a specialized subject in the field of sociology. Some argue that, motivated by capitalism and industrialism's degrading effects on human existence and perception, writers and artists of the 19th century turned more towards self-reflection and the portrayal of everyday life represented in their writings and art to a noticeably greater degree than in past works, for example Renaissance literature's interest in hagiography and politics. [1] Other theorists dispute this argument based on a long history of writings about daily life which can be seen in works from Ancient Greece, medieval Christianity and the Age of Enlightenment. [2] [3]

In the study of everyday life gender has been an important factor in its conceptions. Some theorists regard women as the quintessential representatives and victims of everyday life. [2]

The connotation of everyday life is often negative and is distinctively separated from exceptional moments by its lack of distinction and differentiation, ultimately defined as the essential, taken-for-granted continuum of mundane activity that outlines forays into more esoteric experiences. It is the non-negotiable reality that exists amongst all social groupings without discrimination and is an unavoidable basis for which all human endeavor exists. [1]

Much of everyday life is automatic in that it is driven by current environmental features as mediated by automatic cognitive processing of those features, and without any mediation by conscious choice, according to social psychologist John A. Bargh. [4] Daily life is also studied by sociologists to investigate how it is organised and given meaning. A sociological journal called the Journal of Mundane Behavior, published 2000 - 2004, studied these everyday actions.

Daily entertainment once consisted mainly of telling stories in the evening. This custom developed into the theatre of ancient Greece and other professional entertainments. Reading later became less a mysterious specialty of scholars, and more a common pleasure for people who could afford books. During the 20th century mass media became prevalent in rich countries, creating among other things a daily prime time to consume fiction and other professionally produced works.

Different media forms serve different purposes in different individuals' everyday lives—which give people the opportunities to make choices about what media form(s)--watching television, using the Internet, listening to the radio, or reading newspapers or magazines—most effectively help them to accomplish their tasks. [5] Many people have steadily increased their daily use of the Internet, over all other media forms. Fearing changes promoted by mass entertainment, social conservatives have long censored books and films, called television a vast wasteland, and predicted that social media and other Internet sites would distract people from good personal relationships or valuable interactions. These concerns did not prevent the progressively wider popularity of these innovations.

People's everyday lives are shaped through language and communication. They choose what to do with their time based on opinions and ideals formed through the discourse they are exposed to. [6] Much of the dialogue people are subject to comes from the mass media, which is an important factor in what shapes human experience. [7] The media uses language to make an impact on one’s everyday life, whether that be as small as helping to decide where to eat or as big as choosing a representative in government.

To improve people's everyday life, Phaedra Pezzullo, professor in the Department of Communication and Culture at Indiana University Bloomington, says people should seek to understand the rhetoric that so often and unnoticeably changes their lives. She writes that “. rhetoric enables us to make connections. It's about understanding how we engage with the world.” [8]

Activities of daily living (ADL) is a term used in healthcare to refer to daily self care activities within an individual's place of residence, in outdoor environments, or both. Health professionals routinely refer to the ability or inability to perform ADLs as a measurement of the functional status of a person, particularly in regard to people with disabilities and the elderly. [9] ADLs are defined as "the things we normally do. such as feeding ourselves, bathing, dressing, grooming, work, homemaking, and leisure." [10] The ability and the extent to which the elderly can perform these activities is at the focus of gerontology and understandings of later life. [11] In an 'active society' which sees mobility as an important norm, constant physical activity has replaced the striving towards personal growth in later life. [12] When you are getting into the routine of daily life, you can lose value and joy in everyday things. Routine is no longer there to keep you sane, but it takes the joy out of your life. Spontaneity and a break from routine can offer more relief from the hardships of day-to-day life. People need to live a life of fulfillment to enjoy and savor their life. When we focus on the hardships of life, we never see pass the negativity. [13] Reflection and acknowledgment of positive life experiences are important to daily life. Daily routine has us so caught up in a cycle, we never leave room for change or improvement. We stick to what we know and feel safe. The routine causes us to focus on the negative things in life. For example, another bill, bad health, money trouble, and toxic relationships. A break from routine allows us to self-evaluate and focus on positivity. Exploring hobbies or talents can bring more joy and exciting elements into our lives. We can alter daily habits and routines simply by add more change rather than the menial tasks we do daily can affect how we see life and progress “Habits are powerful but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness or can be deliberately designed. They often occur without our permission but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realize—they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.” [14]

The arts

Romanian culture offers a variety of forms of folk art that have survived years of outside interference and domination. Wood carvings, brightly ornamented costumes, skillfully woven carpets, pottery, and other elements of traditional Romanian culture remain popular and, with the growth of tourism, have become known internationally. Folk art is characterized by abstract or geometric designs and stylized representations of plants and animals. In embroidery and textiles, designs and colour schemes can be associated with particular regions of the country. Special folk arts of Romania include the decoration of highly ornamental Easter eggs and painting on glass, which sometimes includes religious icons.

Music remains an especially vibrant medium of expression in Romania. Major instruments are the cobza (a stringed instrument resembling a lute), the tambal (a hammered dulcimer), and the flaut (flute), which is the most common folk instrument. Other musical instruments played in Romania are the alphorn, bagpipes, a pear-shaped lute, and nai (panpipes). Energetic Roma songs are closely associated with this area of eastern Europe, and folksinging and dance festivals are popular throughout the country. Folk music includes dance music, laments known as doinas (which are unique to Romania), ballads, and pastoral music. Folk melodies are preserved in the music of modern Romanian composers such as Georges Enesco.

By the beginning of the second half of the 19th century, Romanian artists who were attracting international attention included poets Mihail Eminescu and Tudor Arghezi, storyteller Ion Creanga, painter Nicolae Grigorescu, and playwright Ion Luca Caragiale.

During and after World War II, many leading Romanian artists and intellectuals emigrated to elsewhere in Europe and to North America to escape oppression. Among them were playwright Eugène Ionesco poet, essayist, and commentator Andrei Codrescu philosopher Emil Cioran writer and film director Petru Popescu sculptor Constantin Brancusi and historian of religion Mircea Eliade. Tristan Tzara, a Romanian-born French poet and essayist, is known as a founder of Dada and wrote many of the first Dada texts.

Eminescu was the driving force behind a school of poetry that influenced Romanian writers in the 19th and 20th centuries. Ionesco, who gained fame while working in France, inaugurated the Theatre of the Absurd with his one-act “anti-play,” The Bald Soprano, which features his recurrent themes of self-estrangement and the difficulty of communication. Many literary works were based on Romanian ballads and folklore. Perhaps the best-known of these revolved around the vampire myth captured in the Bram Stoker novel Dracula (1897) and several later films on the subject. The character Count Dracula was based on Prince Vlad III (Vlad Țepeș [“the Impaler”]), who was the ruler of Walachia and built the fortress of Bucharest in the 13th century.

Romanian filmmaking dates to the turn of the 20th century, and the country’s first feature film, Independence of Romania, was made in 1912. The National Cinematographic Office was set up in the 1930s. Following World War II and the nationalization of the industry, three large studios were constructed (one for making feature films, one for documentaries, and another for animation), and in the following decades Romania produced many films. Several prominent Romanian directors, including Liviu Ciulei, Lucian Pintilie, and Andrei Serban, moved effortlessly between film and theatre. The expense involved in film production and the limited amount of government support after 1989, however, significantly reduced Romania’s film output in the 1990s.

In the early 21st century, filmmaking in Romania underwent a resurgence. Foreign productions began to make use of the extensive facilities developed at Castle Film Studios near Bucharest, and, following the international success of director Cristi Puiu’s The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005), critics began trumpeting the “Romanian New Wave” in filmmaking. Other films by Romanian directors that were widely praised include Cătălin Mitulescu’s The Way I Spent the End of the World (2006), Corneliu Porumboiu’s 12:08 East of Bucharest (2006), and Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) and Beyond the Hills (2012).

In the early years of the communist period, strident Socialist Realism was mandated for all the arts in Romania. By 1965 communist authorities had lifted certain restrictions, but no work that unabashedly criticized the regime was allowed those who wished to enjoy full honours and privileges of citizenship rendered homage to the communist state and its leaders.

Romanian architecture stagnated during the communist period its most famous structures were stale reproductions of the Soviet style referred to as “wedding cake,” or Stalinist Gothic. The best-known of these were the Casa Scînteii (“House of the Free Press,” constructed 1952–57) and the Palatul Parlamentului (“Palace of Parliament,” 1984–89), longtime communist ruler Nicolae Ceaușescu’s creation and one of the largest buildings in the world, requiring the clearing of large areas of downtown Bucharest.

By adopting the Soviet style, the Romanian government turned its back on two quite distinctive native Romanian architectural traditions. The first was a national style associated with the late 19th- and early 20th-century architects Ion Mincu and brothers Grigore Cerchez and Cristofi Cerchez, who modernized the 17th-century Brâncoveanu style, with its characteristic floral motifs and stone sculptures. The second tradition was that of interwar modernism, which flourished particularly in Bucharest and drew attention to the accomplishments of such architects as George Matei Cantacuzino, Horia Creanga, and Marcel Jancu. Buildings in this style include the Library of the Romanian Academy and the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bucharest, along with the Hotel Bellona in Eforie.

Following the revolution of 1989, the Romanian state made no demands on its artists, but the confusion of the past and the difficulties of transition turned the attention of many intellectuals and artists away from the humanities and fine arts and toward history, journalism, economics, and political science.

Daily Life in the Ancient World

A statue of Herodotus, in the Austrian Parliament, who is considered as one of the first to show interest in the others or the daily life of the ancient world.
(Image: TasfotoNl/Shutterstock)

Herodotus, the First Ethnographer

Herodotus, the Greek historian, has been called both “the father of history” and “the father of lies”, but he was also the father of anthropology and ethnography.

In other words, of the writers whose works have come down to us, he’s the first one to show an interest in what historians and anthropologists call “ the other ” . He was fascinated by how different peoples lived and how they observed different customs.

Herodotus demonstrated his deep respect for cultural differences in an anecdote involving the Persian king Darius. Darius asked some Greeks, who traditionally cremated their dead, what he would have to pay them to eat the corpses of their dead fathers. “Ye gods!” they exclaimed, utterly gobsmacked. “Don’t even mention such a thing.”

Next, he turned to some people from India who piously consumed the flesh of their deceased relatives and asked them what he would have to pay them to burn the corpses of their dead fathers. “Ye gods!” they exclaimed, equally gobsmacked. “Don’t even mention such a thing.” Which all goes to prove, as Herodotus concluded that, “Custom—or as we might call it ‘culture’—is king of all.”

This is a transcript from the video series The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World. Watch it now, Wondrium.

The Effect of Environment in Determining Daily Lives and Civilizations

As we look into the lives and livelihoods of men and women who never made headline news, we’ll notice several themes that recur again and again. First, we’ll discover that environment heavily influences the quality and potential of human life, and by extension, the quality and potential of human society. We will see how rivers, a mountainous landscape surrounded by the sea, a peninsula, and finally an island have given shape to the lives of those who lived in such environments. And in some cases they did more than just giving shape to life, they enabled humans to prosper and to flourish.

Egypt would not have produced the world’s first civilization were it not for the regularity and the beneficence of the annual flooding of the Nile, which, for those who settled beside its banks, gave life some predictability for the first time in human history.

Human Life in the Ancient World

It goes without saying that human life was very fragile in the ancient and medieval worlds. Famine, disease, and warfare were much more prevalent throughout the period than they are today in the West and were experienced by people at all levels of society.

Attic funerary stele, from 350/330 B.C., showing a seated woman dying during childbirth. (Giovanni Dall’Orto/CC BY-SA 3.0/Public domain)

Imagine having to dispose of your loved one—say, your parent, or your wife, or your child—at the time of the Black Death by dumping the body out of a second-floor window onto a cart already heaped with corpses. It wasn’t that you were disrespectful. You had no alternative. You lived at the edge. In fact, what you had to do was made so much worse by the fact that you were deeply religious. Or imagine being a child whose family has been wiped out by that terrible scourge, having to beg in the streets for scraps thrown at you from a distance to keep you at bay.

Add to this the fact that infant mortality in all of the societies we shall be talking about was perhaps as high as 25–30 percent. This means that every woman went into labor knowing that the life of the child she carried was at grave risk, and further that she herself stood a very good chance of dying in childbirth.

Correspondingly, life expectancy was much lower for the vast majority of people in every pre-industrial society. The men and women we’ll be talking about typically could expect to live to the age of 35–40. A consequence of this is that people tended to age much more quickly than we do today and also that they became afflicted by debilitating physiological conditions much earlier in life.

We will also discover that the subjugation of one group to another is a constant feature in all periods of human history. Prisoners of war, as well as debtors, were enslaved. People were born into slavery. The disenfranchised, like the medieval peasantry, were forced to serve in the army and pay crippling taxes. Entire peoples like the Jews were passed from one imperial power to another. The scale of human subjugation and degradation throughout history is barely imaginable, as is the depth of misery that it produced.

It’s estimated, for instance, that Julius Caesar in his conquest of Gaul enslaved nearly half a million people. Half a million! And each one of them was an individual. It’s probably fair to state that there were as many enslaved people living in the Roman Empire as there were free people.

And what the Romans did was no different, other than in scale, from what the Mesopotamians, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and others did.

The remains of slaves left behind when Vesuvius erupted, showing us the glimpses of the often less covered side of daily life in the ancient world. (Image: Travelling2Bprecise/Shutterstock)

And yet, despite all the turmoil and discontinuities at all periods of history, it has rarely been the case that one civilization has completely obliterated another or—to use a modern phrase—bombed it back into the Stone Age. Rather, there has been some degree of assimilation and acculturation on both sides—that of oppressor and oppressed. For instance, the many invasions that Britain experienced, each one of which did not obliterate but transformed, even enhanced, the one before it.

That’s an important fact. First because when we talk about the invasion of one country by a different set of people, for instance, we should bear in mind that not everyone’s life is turned upside down. But also because there is an indomitability to the routines of daily life—to the ways people prepare food, dress, entertain themselves, or think about their gods. So daily life itself tends to become richer as time passes, because ordinary people cling to and pass along their preferences and routines, as well as acquiring new ones along the way.

The Effects of Mentalité in Daily Lives and Civilizations

It’s what French historians called mentalité, a people’s mindset and the harsh facts of their existence help shape what their daily life is like. In the modern West, our actions are guided by a mindset that includes such values as respect for individual liberty, equality between men and women, and human rights for all.

That mindset has a dramatic effect on our daily lives. It influences the way that we dress, how we speak to each other, raise our children, choose our politicians. Needless to say, our particular mindset would not have been shared even remotely by the ancient Greeks, whom we often revere as the founders of democracy, since the Greeks judged women to be politically and legally incompetent. And their democracy was made possible both by slavery and—in the case of the Athenians, generally the most admired Greeks of all—by the subjection of other Greeks, whom they forced to pay tribute.

Common Questions about Daily Life in the Ancient World

For the ancient world or historical era, 3000 B.C. is taken as the beginning, the period for which we have written evidence. The period before the historical era is called the prehistoric era.

Ancient history generally covers all continents and regions inhabited by humans from the 3000 B.C.–A.D. 500 period.

History helps us understand what really happened in the world before our birth. It also helps us explain why things are the way they are.

History offers a repository of information regarding how people and societies behave . History’s purpose is to help us analyze the present with an eye on the past to not repeat the same mistakes.

Roman Army and Government

The Roman Army Large illustrated sections on Roman army life and structure
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Roman Army Illustrated pages of formations, daily life, fort and much more information on the Ancient Roman Legions.
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The Roman Legions Very complete site on Roman Military including explanations and timelines of major campaigns, pictures of armor, and much more.
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Equipment of Roman Legions,Armor, 1, 2, 3 and Centurion Page Well illustrated page of equipment for Roman soldiers
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Large Weapons of Rome Ballista, Catapulta and Trebuchet
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Roman Technology One page essay on aqueducts and Roman sewers
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Roman Government Three essays on Roman government development
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Twelve Tables Bases of early Roman law
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The value of history cannot be underestimated. The study of history is not irrelevant as some people project it to be. We don’t have to live in the past, but we can definitely do better by learning from it and using the lessons learnt to lead more meaningful lives.

History plays a critical role in promoting one’s intellectual growth and development. Let’s learn to embrace our history, learn from the mistakes our ancestors made, appreciate their achievements and have fun while discovering more.

Watch the video: PODTRŽENO Petrem Charvátem: Každodenní život v 10. století (October 2022).

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