Horses for Spices: Trade Along the Silk Road

by Theodore Morrison, age 13

Have you ever heard of a road that wasn’t a road? If so, perhaps it was the Silk Road, which was not a single road but a series of routes.

The Silk Road stretched across Europe and Asia, and traders carried goods back and forth along its routes. Silk was often bought from China to dress European royalty and any patrons who had enough money to afford it. Jades, other precious jewels, porcelain, tea, and spices also were exchanged from Asia. From Europe came horses, textiles, and manufactured goods.

Trade along the Silk Road started around 130 BCE and continued until the Ottoman Empire closed the road for good in 1453 CE. The silk road stretched for 4000 miles across both the European and Asian continents. It crossed the Gobi Desert and the Pamir Mountain range, both of which were difficult to traverse due to their treacherous landscapes. The routes were not maintained so it was common for robbers to be lurking on the side of a route waiting to steal from travelers. To protect their goods, travelers moved in groups called caravans. [read more]

The Colosseum: Symbol of Roman Power

by Amalia Fung-Jenikins, age 12

The Colosseum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome with millions of people visiting each year. Also known as the Flavian Amphitheater, it has a very rich history dating back to the early A.D. 70’s when it was built as a gift to the Roman people.

Following the opening, the Colosseum went through many changes. Ultimately, it reached almost four stories high with measurements of approximately 620 feet by 513 feet. In terms of the design, it had the capacity for 50,000 spectators and there were a total of eighty entrances: 76 for the attendants of the events, two for the event participants, and another two for emperors only. The emperors regularly attended the gladiatorial games held in the Colosseum. During the first opening, the emperor Titus held a 100-day celebration for the gladiatorial games. The emperor Commodus was especially famous for performing in the arena during the games. In addition to the games, the Colosseum also held dramas, reenactments and public executions.

Eventually the Roman people lost interest in the games. After a number of earthquakes, the condition of the Colosseum began to disintegrate around the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century A.D. With almost two-thirds of the structure destroyed by the 20th century, restoration of the building began in the 1990’s. [read more]

Proposal to Rename 'Bloody Sunday' Civil Rights Landmark Garners a Half-Million Signatures

by Sandy Flores, age 14

Michael Starr Hopkins is currently circulating a petition he created to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. To date, over 500,000 have signed the petition.

The newly proposed namesake, John Lewis, was an American politician and civil-rights leader who served in the United States House of Representatives from Georgia. He recently passed away on July 17, 2020. He was known as one of the “big six” leaders who organized the 1963 march on Washington during which Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Lewis fulfilled many key roles in the civil rights movement, which fought to end legalized racial segregation in the United States.

The Pettus bridge was the scene of the infamous “Bloody Sunday” march for Civil Rights. On that Sunday, March 7th, 1965, many brothers and sisters came together to march along the 54-mile highway from Selma, Alabama to the state capitol of Montgomery. Many people were almost beaten to death while others suffered severe injuries. John Lewis had his skull fractured by police during the first of three scheduled marches from Selma to Montgomery. [read more]

The Last Pharaoh of Egypt: Cleopatra

by Jada Matson, age 13

Cleopatra VII ruled as co-regent of Egypt for almost three decades. She was the last in a dynasty of Macedonian rulers founded by Ptolemy, whose family ruled Egypt for 300 years. Cleopatra is best known for being the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.

Cleopatra was born in 69 BC to the Pharoah Ptolemy XII and an unknown mother. During her childhood, she was brought up in the palace of Alexandria in Egypt and received a Greek education, as her family was of Greek descent. But she knew quite a few different languages; some of them being, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Hebrew, and Arabic. Cleopatra's family can be traced back to the Macedonian house of the Ptolemies, who took the throne after the death of Alexander the Great.

When she was eighteen years old, Cleopatra's father passed away, leaving his throne to her and her youngest brother, Ptolemy XIII. Right away, Cleopatra and her ten-year-old brother were married and began to co-rule Egypt. Since Cleopatra was much older than her brother, she took control as the main ruler; but once Ptolemy XIII was older, he wanted more power. Soon, he kicked Cleopatra out of the palace and took over as Pharaoh. [read more]

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