Greatest conquerors in history

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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by eldin raigmore » Thu 26 Apr 2012, 17:30

DanH34 wrote:I came across her via the ever-wonderful Flashman, who should be required reading for all humans. Seriously, I can't recommend the series enough.
I second the recommendation. [:D]

DanH34 wrote:On what evidence do you base this summation?
...
Despite the fact that David and Soloman's 'empire' has absolutely no attestation in the historical record?
....
What makes you say that?
Despite the fact that this source isn't neutral, I think they show a more fact-based and scientific reasoning than the article they're trying to refute.

This source is even less neutral, but some of its sources are reliable even to skeptics.

Same applies to this.

(It also points out that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.)

I can't tell how neutral this source (also found here) is. But it says something I agree with (and maybe you don't):
You probably know that there is no "smoking gun" evidence for David, Solomon or their kingdoms as described in the Bible. .... Yet the archaeological data and historical material is so strong and compelling that I hesitate to classify it as simply indirect evidence.
I don't believe that "Biblical Minimalism" is actually an appropriate application of Occam's Razor.

This source presents the opposite point of view. Little in that article can be disproven, IMO.

Like most questions in history, there will never be any definitive proof. If history books consisted only of things that no-one could reasonably deny, or for which there was incontrovertible proof, they would all be extremely slim; and anyone who has developed their upper-body strength by lifting history textbooks knows they are not slim.

The Wikipedia article seems even-handed enough.

I agree with what Byers says Finkelstein said, about parts of the "history" books:
http://biblicalarcheology.net/?p=69 wrote:Israeli archaeologist Israel Finkelstein, head of the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University and co-director of the ongoing excavation at Megiddo, .... believes the core historical books of the Old Testament were written in the late seventh century BC (the days of king Josiah) as political propaganda to support his reforms .... Thus for Finkelstein, a Biblical writer was not actually describing the period about which he was writing, instead he was inventing history about that period.
First of all I think anywhere a conversation with God is recorded, there's a solid chance it didn't really happen exactly that way (for one thing, I'm an atheist), though possibly at least one participant may have thought it did.
Second, the actual words of any conversation of which no witness or participant survived to report it, has to be regarded as "fictionalized"; and "fictionalization" must be regarded a distinct possibility, if only one witness or participant survived to report it. The historical part of the tale would be that "those people did have some sort or other of conversation, with the following results".

Nevertheless I think most of the stories were originally written by people who were either alive at the time they (presumably) took place, or were able to interview people who were alive at that time. I don't think there's enough (maybe not any) reason to believe they were all fiction; the most that can be said is there's not enough reason to be certain they probably
Edit: were weren't
fiction. They may indeed have been dusted off and re-published for propaganda purposes; propaganda doesn't have to be false, either.
Edit: And history doesn't have to be accurate.
I took courses on religion, on history, on the Bible, and so on, in college. Most published scholars at that time thought that even (most of) Genesis was at least legendary if not historical. (Of course none of them believed all of Genesis was historical, or even legendary; some of it, especially the first several chapters, is "obviously" pure myth (in their opinion).) Job, Jonah, and Esther, and other "trito-canonical" books, were fiction (so they thought); they were preserved in the Hebrew Bible for the same reason English libraries usually include the works of Shakespeare and Jane Austen. (Some deutero-canonical books were also considered in that light.)

So the main reason I think II Samuel, I and II Kings, and I and II Chronicles, are "history", is that the majority of scholars who ought to know all the evidence and arguments for and against it, regard "yes, it's probably mostly history" as the most reasonable working-hypothesis. I know that's not evidence; I'm not well-enough-versed in it all to make a judgement based on the evidence; I have to rely on those who are.

I doubt I've convinced you; I wasn't even trying to, because I never thought it possible. But I think I may have shown you that it's probably more trouble than it would be worth to try to convince me [;)] , and that my "working hypothesis" isn't just a symptom of disordered reason.
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by Solarius » Thu 26 Apr 2012, 18:58

I nominate Ashoka. I also nominate Gudit.
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by eldin raigmore » Thu 26 Apr 2012, 19:24

Solarius wrote:I nominate Ashoka.
Before his conversion to Buddhism, certainly.

Solarius wrote:I also nominate Gudit.
Another one new to me! Yes, I agree she belongs on the list. Thanks for bringing her to my attention!
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by Solarius » Thu 26 Apr 2012, 19:27

eldin raigmore wrote:
Solarius wrote:I nominate Ashoka.
Before his conversion to Buddhism, certainly.
Yes, absolutely!
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by cybrxkhan » Thu 26 Apr 2012, 20:52

Just remembered - thoughts on Tamerlame? I always thought of him as the eviler version of Genghis Khan.


Side note on the David/Solomon thing: I just figured I'd say I sort of agree with Eldin on this one. David and Solomon may not have existed, they may have, but I don't think the entire history was just BSed by a couple of random dudes. Personally, I do think it is a lot of political and cultural propaganda, but as Eldin suggests, that doesn't mean it's 100% BS either. I don't think the issue is that historians should or shouldn't be using the Bible - it's whether they are relying on it too much as opposed to other sources.
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by eldin raigmore » Fri 27 Apr 2012, 19:24

cybrxkhan wrote:Just remembered - thoughts on Tamerlame? I always thought of him as the eviler version of Genghis Khan.
I think maybe it's just that Tamerlane had the scarier advanced PR. The things Genghis actually did, but didn't advertise ahead of time, might have been worse FAIK.

cybrxkhan wrote:Side note on the David/Solomon thing: I just figured I'd say I sort of agree with Eldin on this one. David and Solomon may not have existed, they may have, but I don't think the entire history was just BSed by a couple of random dudes. Personally, I do think it is a lot of political and cultural propaganda, but as Eldin suggests, that doesn't mean it's 100% BS either. I don't think the issue is that historians should or shouldn't be using the Bible - it's whether they are relying on it too much as opposed to other sources.
Thanks! It's more concise and IMO clearer the way you just said it.

One thing, though:
cybrxkhan wrote:.... David and Solomon may not have existed, they may have, ....
As I understand it, the controversy is not over whether those two people existed; it's instead over whether their "empire", their "united kingdom", existed. Apparently some people think David, in particular, was more of a bandit chief than a king, and never made Jerusalem his capital/capitol. Some others (and some of the same) think Solomon's kingdom was nowhere near as magnificent as is portrayed in the Bible. And unless I misunderstand them, some think Judah and Israel were never united into one kingdom in O.T. times. But (again unless I misunderstand) most of them -- or, at least, DanH34 -- don't deny, nor really doubt, that the men themselves existed; it's only their empire whose historicity these people question.
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by cybrxkhan » Fri 27 Apr 2012, 19:34

eldin raigmore wrote:
cybrxkhan wrote:Just remembered - thoughts on Tamerlame? I always thought of him as the eviler version of Genghis Khan.
I think maybe it's just that Tamerlane had the scarier advanced PR. The things Genghis actually did, but didn't advertise ahead of time, might have been worse FAIK.
Personally I like to view Genghis as more machiavellan and practical in conquest, while Tamerlame was a bit more bloodthirsty and... well, bloody (relatively speaking). But maybe I'm just more sympathetic to the former.

eldin raigmore wrote:
cybrxkhan wrote:.... David and Solomon may not have existed, they may have, ....
As I understand it, the controversy is not over whether those two people existed; it's instead over whether their "empire", their "united kingdom", existed. Apparently some people think David, in particular, was more of a bandit chief than a king, and never made Jerusalem his capital/capitol. Some others (and some of the same) think Solomon's kingdom was nowhere near as magnificent as is portrayed in the Bible. And unless I misunderstand them, some think Judah and Israel were never united into one kingdom in O.T. times. But (again unless I misunderstand) most of them -- or, at least, DanH34 -- don't deny, nor really doubt, that the men themselves existed; it's only their empire whose historicity these people question.
True, true, that makes sense. Personally I don't believe the kingdoms were anywhere near regional powers, but I can see why people would argue otherwise. Certainly it's difficult the further and further back you go into history, not to mention that, personally, I think for too long have (Western) historians been relying on solely the Bible as a source for that period of time.
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by Zontas » Fri 27 Apr 2012, 22:50

Genghis Khan or Nebukhanazzar
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by eldin raigmore » Sun 29 Apr 2012, 21:00

cybrxkhan wrote:Personally I like to view Genghis as more machiavellan and practical in conquest, while Tamerlame was a bit more bloodthirsty and... well, bloody (relatively speaking). But maybe I'm just more sympathetic to the former.
Tamerlane mostly just re-conquered Genghis's empire (at least at first), on the excuse that the people he was conquering had strayed from the correct Mongolic class path. (This is typical; later Islamic conquerors tended to re-conquer Islamic states, for instance.) Tamerlane, and all post-Genghis's-successors Mongol conquerors, always kept a descendant of Genghis with them, like Japanese shoguns keeping the Emperor with them.

However, Tamerlane did conquer enough of Valerian's eastern Roman empire to keep Valerian in an iron cage. (Tamerlane had originally been generous in victory, but Valerian turned out to be a lightning-rod for trouble.) (No, that was Shapur; wrong time-period.)
Tamurlane's wars were often against fellow Mongols and/or fellow Muslims.
He did expand the Mongol empire, by adding parts of the Turkish and Muslim empires to it.


Also, Tamerlane established the Pax Mongolica; I'm not sure he just re-established it, I think it had never previously covered the entire Mongol empire.
Edit: No, the Pax Mongolica seems to have begun its decline around the time Tamerlane died. Tamerlane probably re-established it after a succession crisis.
I think Tamerlane is "one of the Great Conquerors of History", and so are Genghis and Alexander; but I'm not sure how to compare them.

Helios wrote:Genghis Khan or Nebukhanazzar
(1) Wouldn't that be "Nebuchadnezzar"?
(2) Tell us what, who, and where he conquered, when, and how?
(3) Do you mean I, II, III, or IV?
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by cybrxkhan » Sun 29 Apr 2012, 22:52

eldin raigmore wrote:Tamerlane mostly just re-conquered Genghis's empire (at least at first), on the excuse that the people he was conquering had strayed from the correct Mongolic class. (This is typical; later Islamic conquerors tended to re-conquer Islamic states, for instance.) Tamerlane, and all post-Genghis's-successors Mongol conquerors, always kept a descendant of Genghis with them, like Japanese shoguns keeping the Emperor with them.

However, Tamerlane did conquer enough of Valerian's eastern Roman empire to keep Valerian in an iron cage. (Tamerlane had originally been generous in victory, but Valerian turned out to be a lightning-rod for trouble.) (No, that was Shapur; wrong time-period.)
Tamurlane's wars were often against fellow Mongols and/or fellow Muslims.
He did expand the Mongol empire, by adding parts of the Turkish and Muslim empires to it.


Also, Tamerlane established the Pax Mongolica; I'm not sure he just re-established it, I think it had never previously covered the entire Mongol empire.
Edit: No, the Pax Mongolica seems to have begun its decline around the time Tamerlane died. Tamerlane probably re-established it after a succession crisis.
I think Tamerlane is "one of the Great Conquerors of History", and so are Genghis and Alexander; but I'm not sure how to compare them.

Yeah, Tamerlane just plagiarizing Genghis. I'd say he was just a poser. Everybody who followed Genghis and tried do stuff in his image was just a poser. Tamerlane, poser. Babur, poser. Manchus, posers. Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, poser. Akbar, poser. Actually I think Akbar was pretty cool. Religious tolerance and all that stuff, which Genghis followed. Except in Genghis' case I think it was just 99% practicality, while Akbar sort of was pretty into it, going as far as attempting to found some proto-New Age fusional religion thing.

In all seriousness, anyhow, true, it is difficult to compare all of them, since they were from different periods and thus different historical contexts. Alexander was the culmination of Greek resentment towards the Persians, yet all he really did was simply replace one Persian dynasty with another, in a sense (the Persian Empire was kept mostly intact, and he even got Persianized to a degree anyways); Genghis was essentially the ultimate boss-level extreme-difficulty-level monster spawning from Central Asia after the Chinese had been playing lesser groups against each other; and Tamerlane was just attempting to recreate Genghis' glory with an Islamic flavor. Or something. That said, in terms of personality, I'd probably prefer Genghis the most. My chances of survival would probably be the best - Alexander's kind of out of it, Tamerlane wasn't too nice either, but Genghis will spare you if you either 1) don't piss him off, 2) have some skill in something, or 3) fought bravely and valiantly as his enemy, and he doesn't really give a crap about your beliefs as long as you don't get in his way.
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by Yačay256 » Fri 24 May 2013, 01:22

Solarius wrote:I nominate Ashoka.
+1 after his conversion to Buddhism. I also nominate Cyrus the Great.

@eldin raigmore: To be fair, concerning your "working hypothesis", by which I am referring to the historacity of Joab, he could have existed, but, given that there are no other sources than the regularly unreliable Old Testement of the Bible, I find his historacity dubious at best. David, however, probably existed, if only because a few other sources of his life have survived, along with, apparently, what may be his grave.

Furthermore, the problem with all the sources you linked to, except Wikipedia and even then only arguably, is not that they are biased but that they are not reliable: Answers in Genesis believes the world is less than a ten thousand years old: That is abusurd and is not up for debate in the same way no other creation myth is up for debate (well, at least in science). Paul L. Maier of Equip.org is a biblical literalist: My previous point about Genesis by definition invalidates his beliefs.

I obviously cannot make you change any of your beliefs, nor can you make me change any of mine but, while your "working hypothesis" about Joab may indeed be reasonable, Biblical literalism which, again, by definition demands a rigid acceptance of Genesis as fact in spite of overwhelming evidence, and not just scientific evidence but mathematical proof as well, is not.
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by Xonen » Fri 24 May 2013, 14:59

Yačay256 wrote:I obviously cannot make you change any of your beliefs, nor can you make me change any of mine but, while your "working hypothesis" about Joab may indeed be reasonable, Biblical literalism which, again, by definition demands a rigid acceptance of Genesis as fact in spite of overwhelming evidence, and not just scientific evidence but mathematical proof as well, is not.
I'm an atheist myself, but that particular argument has always struck me as pure sophistry and quibbling with semantics rather than "mathematical proof". :roll: But be that as it may, let's not turn this into a religious debate! First of all, the person you're addressing already pointed out himself that he doesn't consider the Old Testament a 100% reliable source, so debating the merits of Biblical literalism is pretty irrelevant here. Second, this thread had been dead for over a year, and reviving a thread to discuss something at best tangentially related to its original topic is treading uncomfortably close to the dark art of thread necromancy.

But most importantly, Aszev just doesn't want that stuff on his board:
The House Rules wrote:7. Avoid religious topics. Unless you're discussing conreligions and similar, please do not initiate discussions or debates abour real world religious matters. We've had bad experience with this in the past.
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by Yačay256 » Fri 24 May 2013, 17:51

Xonen wrote:
Yačay256 wrote:I obviously cannot make you change any of your beliefs, nor can you make me change any of mine but, while your "working hypothesis" about Joab may indeed be reasonable, Biblical literalism which, again, by definition demands a rigid acceptance of Genesis as fact in spite of overwhelming evidence, and not just scientific evidence but mathematical proof as well, is not.
I'm an atheist myself, but that particular argument has always struck me as pure sophistry and quibbling with semantics rather than "mathematical proof". :roll: But be that as it may, let's not turn this into a religious debate! First of all, the person you're addressing already pointed out himself that he doesn't consider the Old Testament a 100% reliable source, so debating the merits of Biblical literalism is pretty irrelevant here. Second, this thread had been dead for over a year, and reviving a thread to discuss something at best tangentially related to its original topic is treading uncomfortably close to the dark art of thread necromancy.

But most importantly, Aszev just doesn't want that stuff on his board:
The House Rules wrote:7. Avoid religious topics. Unless you're discussing conreligions and similar, please do not initiate discussions or debates abour real world religious matters. We've had bad experience with this in the past.
Oh: I am deeply sorry for my unintentional infraction of that rule and understand the importance of it, now. I just saw other threads and people about religion and assumed it was okay (not that that is an excuse for improper conduct), so I assumed acceptable for me to post about the topic. It has been so long since I on this board that I had forgotten the rules, Xonen.
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by Xonen » Fri 24 May 2013, 20:36

Yačay256 wrote:
Xonen wrote:
Yačay256 wrote:I obviously cannot make you change any of your beliefs, nor can you make me change any of mine but, while your "working hypothesis" about Joab may indeed be reasonable, Biblical literalism which, again, by definition demands a rigid acceptance of Genesis as fact in spite of overwhelming evidence, and not just scientific evidence but mathematical proof as well, is not.
I'm an atheist myself, but that particular argument has always struck me as pure sophistry and quibbling with semantics rather than "mathematical proof". :roll: But be that as it may, let's not turn this into a religious debate! First of all, the person you're addressing already pointed out himself that he doesn't consider the Old Testament a 100% reliable source, so debating the merits of Biblical literalism is pretty irrelevant here. Second, this thread had been dead for over a year, and reviving a thread to discuss something at best tangentially related to its original topic is treading uncomfortably close to the dark art of thread necromancy.

But most importantly, Aszev just doesn't want that stuff on his board:
The House Rules wrote:7. Avoid religious topics. Unless you're discussing conreligions and similar, please do not initiate discussions or debates abour real world religious matters. We've had bad experience with this in the past.
Oh: I am deeply sorry for my unintentional infraction of that rule and understand the importance of it, now. I just saw other threads and people about religion and assumed it was okay (not that that is an excuse for improper conduct), so I assumed acceptable for me to post about the topic. It has been so long since I on this board that I had forgotten the rules, Xonen.
Eh, no real harm done yet. [:)] We've just seen a few too many discussions that begin like this turn ugly real fast, so I considered it best to stop it before it even gets started.

Concerning posting about religion, that's kind of a grey area. There's no absolute ban on it; on a board like this (and especially a forum titled Anthropology, Culture & History), the subject is pretty much bound to be relevant to the discussion occasionally. What we really want to avoid is debates about religion. A rule of thumb might be to bring up religion only if it's directly relevant to some other topic, and then to keep your comments as neutral as possible. No direct challenges to anyone's beliefs if you can avoid them; those are likely to prompt defensive reactions, and that's how debates (or pointless arguing, which is what these tend to devolve into) get started. And if you do for some reason consider it necessary to state that you disagree with someone's beliefs, then just do that - there's no reason to post arguments for why you think those beliefs are false. Something along the lines of "well, I personally do not consider the OT to be a reliable historical document, but if you do, then we'll have to agree to disagree" should do.
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by eldin raigmore » Fri 24 May 2013, 22:01

Lodhas wrote:Though as conqerers go, many lesser names much closer to home have affected me to a greater extent. A certain William is eponymous with the concept of taking other people's stuff.
Then there's Caesar (not exactly a 'lesser name')
and Plautius, whose contact with Britain seem to be key links in the chain of events that lead to English being so... 'odd'.
And there's Cromwell too, of course.
(emphasis added by eldin raigmore)

Tell me what Aulus Plautius had to do with the British being so 'odd'? (If that's the Plautius you had in mind.)
I don't remember having heard of him before the above post.
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by Ànradh » Sat 25 May 2013, 06:33

eldin raigmore wrote:Tell me what Aulus Plautius had to do with the British being so 'odd'? (If that's the Plautius you had in mind.)
I don't remember having heard of him before the above post.
I mean the language itself, rather than the inhabitants England.
Well, my thinking is that since Plautius started the Roman invasions of Britain, which eventually led to the Germanic mercenary tribes being brought in to help, he's indirectly responsible for the Saxon, Jute and Frisian languages coming to Britain, which eventually became Old English, and thus for it being the language that adopted the features of the Norman aristocracy's French, some Latin, some Celtic etc.
It's tenuous, I grant you, but imagine how different things might have gone had he not led an army to (what became) England?
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by Lambuzhao » Sat 25 May 2013, 17:29

I nominate Bubonic Plague, Syphilis and Yellow Fever. Chickenpox/Anthrax, too.
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by CatDoom » Sun 20 Oct 2013, 18:16

In defense of Alexander, it's worth noting that when he defeated the Persians, the Achaemenid Empire may have reigned over something like 40% of the people alive on Earth at the time. Much of Genghis' was very sparsely populated, though his successes in China and the Muslim World were certainly no mean feats.

Speaking of which, I'll second Ashoka as one of the greats, at the very least. The Mauryan Empire unified more of the Indian cultural sphere than any other indigenous polity before or since, and in the 2nd century BCE ruled over close to half the population of the earth.

Plus, you've got to respect a guy who was tremendously successful in war, but nevertheless became disgusted with the brutality of it. It's extremely probable that his conversion to and promotion of Buddhism was at least partly politically motivated, but how many conquerors in history have expressed remorse over the death and destruction their victories caused?
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by eldin raigmore » Sun 20 Oct 2013, 19:58

Lambuzhao wrote:I nominate Bubonic Plague, Syphilis and Yellow Fever. Chickenpox/Anthrax, too.
"Common Cold" beats out all of those IMO.
Else "Old Age".
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Re: Greatest conquerors in history

Post by CatDoom » Sun 20 Oct 2013, 22:14

eldin raigmore wrote:Else "Old Age".
Only in relatively recent times. For most of history a lot more people probably died as infants than as geriatrics.

Then again, epidemic disease didn't really become a major problem until the most recent 5% of the history of the human species. Before that, some combination of accidents, predation, and violence probably accounted for most deaths.
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