Ask Mike

For almost two years now, while my other responsibilities have prevented me from updating the main blog as I would wish to, I’ve been adding material to this site on a new page, “Ask Mike,” which you can access via the menu above.

This page contains material I’ve contributed to AskHistorians, the world’s biggest and busiest public history site. The contents are slightly less rigorously researched and written than the material on the main site – which is why I’ve been able to keep up some sort of contribution to AskHistorians – but the questions I’ve tackled are very much in line with the sort of content you’d expect to find on A Blast from the Past.

I’ll be getting back to more regular posting here in 2019, but for now there’s somewhere in excess of 80,000 words of fascinating history posted on the Ask Mike page, and I hope that it will help to keep you going during the main blog’s hiatus. You can access more answers I’ve posted to the AskHistorians site here as well.

See you soon.

3 thoughts on “Ask Mike

  1. Hi Mike – loved your Macassan article but would like to know your source for the Chinese trader quoted as saying he visited a place where the people were – “very black, large and robust, unclothed, unarmed, with long wooly hair.” Cheers, Michael

    • The quote was supplied by the Dutch resident at Timor, who wrote in 1751 to the governor-general at Batavia to report a conversation he had had with a Chinese trader who had set out from the island to see if he could reach “the large sand-plate beyond Rotti, to search for turtle-horn.” This letter is referred to by both Regina Ganter, “China and the beginning of Australian history,” The Great Circle 25, no.1, (2003), p.11 and MacKnight, The Voyage to Marege’, p.95. However, the original, which comes from “Extract from a letter of the resident of Timor, Daniel van den Bergh, to the Governor General Jac. Mossel and the councillors of the East Indies,” 20 September 1751, is printed (in Dutch) by Willem Robert, The Dutch Explorations, 1605-1756, of the North and Northwest Coast of Australia (Amsterdam 1973), p.146. The Dutch text of the passage you are interested in reads: “dat zoo man als vrouwen gantsch naakt en ongewapent waren… menschen van een bovengemeene grootte en robustheid, zeer zwart en het haar kroes, doch tamelijk lang…”

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