Use our images
Download images for
personal or educational
use for £2.99/US$5 each
All of these articles and images are available for licensing: click on an image to see further details and licensing options; contact us about licensing textual content.
Posted in Anthropology, Boats, Bravery, Historical articles, History, Travel on Thursday, 23 May 2013
This edited article about Kon-Tiki originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 263 published on 28 January 1967.
Until 1947, no one could say with any certainty where the brown-skinned people who lived on the tiny islands in the South Pacific had come from.
A Norwegian named Thor Heyerdahl believed that they must have drifted there from Peru in South America, and to prove his theory he decided to build a raft like those used by the Pacific islanders and, making use of the prevailing winds and currents, sail it from Peru. With the assistance of the British, American and Peruvian governments, Heyerdahl was able to put his plan into action.
The raft which he had constructed consisted of nine logs of balsa wood, each 18 feet long by 1 foot in diameter. Above the logs, lashed with hemp, was a deck of split bamboo. A cabin of split bamboo and banana leaves was built upon this. To the mangrove-wood masts was fixed a large square sail with the face of the Inca god, Kon-Tiki, after whom the raft was named, painted on it.
On 28th April, 1947, the frail craft, which was to brave rough seas and danger from dolphins, whales and sharks, was towed out to sea from the naval dockyard at Callao.
After months at sea, Thor Heyerdahl and his five companions finally sighted land more than 4,000 miles from Peru, but their decision to continue sailing westwards almost led to disaster. As they approached the next island, their raft ran hard on to a reef, but was swept safely into a lagoon. At last, on 21st July, 1947, they had reached a Pacific island after months of danger at sea, with Thor’s theory finally proved.
Posted in Animals, Anthropology, Art, Historical articles, History, Prehistory, Weapons on Wednesday, 8 May 2013
This edited article about Primitive Man originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 247 published on 8 October 1966.
The cave was dark and bitterly cold as the hunters tramped in silence for nearly a mile through its shadowy, damp gloom.
At last there was light ahead, from the glow of a dozen small stone lamps. The cave ended in a circular chamber, and at the far end was a stone bench on which sat the hunters’ chief.
The chief was wearing a great head-dress of reindeer horns, a heavy fur cloak, necklaces and armlets. Beside him stood a musician, blowing a final summons on his carved bone pipe.
The walls of the chamber were covered with paintings of animals. A huge bison, on a curving piece of rock, was startlingly rounded, shining and lifelike. Scattered on the floor were fragments of stone on which the artists had made trial sketches, horns in which they kept pieces of red and brown ochre and manganese for paint, and stone palettes.
The chief exhorted the hunters to be brave and tireless. Then he rose, picked up a superbly carved spear of mammoth ivory, stepped forward and pointed his spear at each of the paintings in turn. As he did so he incanted a magic spell, so that each of the depicted animals should quickly succumb to the hunters’ weapons.
The hunters set forth across cold, windswept tundra. After many hours they reached a wide plain. Spring was giving way to summer and it was along this plain that the herds of reindeer moved on their way northwards to new pastures. The hunters pitched their camp on the side of a tributary valley.
They did not have many days to wait. Within a week one of them spotted the leaders of the reindeer herds only a mile away, coming up the main valley from the south. As they drew close, some of the hunters drove them into the side valley, where the others awaited them. Soon the valley was crowded with hundreds of jostling, terrified animals and the entrance was barred . . .
The slaughter of reindeer went on all day and, as the sun set, the tribe rejoiced at their spoils, for they had acquired enough food, skins, horns and bones to keep them well fed, warm and busy for months.
These people, like the Aurignacians, were members of the Cro-Magnon race. They were Magdalenians, the last of the Old Stone Age people of Europe, and they are thought to have lived from about 70,000 to 50,000 years ago.
The Ice Age was drawing to a close, but during the 20,000 years that the Magdalenians were flourishing, the climate was still extremely cold.
The Magdalenians were skilled at making flint and stone implements, though these were never so fine as those of the Solutreans, a race of people who came into Europe in late Aurignacian times and may have been descended from the lost Neanderthals. The Magdalenians preferred weapons and tools of bone and ivory and, like the Aurignacians, they were brilliant artists.
The Solutreans disappeared from Europe with the period of cold which came at the end of the Ice Age, but the Magdalenians lived through it, and it was when Europe at last began to grow as warm as today, and the arctic animals retreated northwards, that the Magdalenians, unable to adapt themselves to changing conditions, gradually faded out of existence.
Posted in Anthropology, Historical articles, History, Prehistory on Tuesday, 7 May 2013
This edited article about the Abbevillians originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 244 published on 17 September 1966.
He lay sprawling on his stomach, by the edge of a gently rippling stream. The deep-set eyes in his heavy face, with its beetling brows and chinless jaw, stared into the water. He eased his naked, hairy body across the rock which overhung the water, for he knew that a speckled, brown trout was underneath it.
A hippopotamus came swimming lazily downstream. It reached a small, rocky island and heaved itself out of the water to bask in the early sun. On the opposite bank, shaded by palm trees, was a dense thicket of bamboo. Suddenly there was a sharp snap. The man glanced up. With a squeal, a huge, hairy elephant crashed through the bamboos, ears outspread as it reached for the shoots and bit them off with its powerful jaws.
The man waited patiently. The breeze was blowing against him and the elephant did not catch his scent. He leant slowly forward again. The trout was still there. His fingers closed round it, just below the gills, and in one swift movement he swept it out of the water.
He shambled back to his camp a few yards upstream, to join his two children and their mother. The woman was digging up roots for their morning meal with a rough wooden stick. The elder boy sat in a fig tree, throwing fruit down to his younger brother.
The man picked some flints from the river bed which the running water and tumbling rocks had worn away, leaving useful cutting edges. These the boys used as hand-axes to cut down firewood.
The family spoke very little to each other, for their brains were small and they had not yet learned to express themselves and exchange thoughts: and in their strange, lonely world they hardly ever met other human creatures, for there were, as yet, very few of them in existence.
These people, known as the Abbevillians, were the first human creatures to inhabit Europe. They used wooden and stone tools; they could make fire; they lived on fruit and roots, fish and, perhaps, occasionally the flesh of animals. They camped by the sides of the rivers. This is all we yet know about them.
They lived during the European Ice Age, which lasted half a million years. This Ice Age was not one continuous cold spell, but four icy periods with three warm spells in between – and the Abbevillians lived during the first of the warm periods, when the climate of Europe was much as it had been before the first ice, as warm as the tropics are today, with similar trees, plants and animals.
All we have yet found of the Abbevillians was discovered near Heidelberg, in the upper Rhine valley, and consisted of a human jaw bone with, close by, a few bones of elephants, rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses. But elsewhere in Europe, flints of the same geological age have been discovered, some made by hands, others so primitive that it is difficult to say whether they were formed by nature or by man.
The ice and snow of the second phase of the Ice Age began slowly to creep down from the north over Europe. Gradually the animals wandered south, towards the warmer latitudes of Africa and Asia. Did Abbevillian man go with them, or did he stay behind to die of cold or starvation? We do not know, for we have never found later traces of him, and the next human beings did not appear in Europe till the second warm spell of the Ice Age arrived, thousands of years later.
Posted in Ancient History, Anthropology, Archaeology, Bible, Historical articles, History, War on Tuesday, 30 April 2013
This edited article about the Hittites originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 236 published on 23 July 1966.
Hattusas, the mountain stronghold of the warlike Hittites by Ron Embleton
A mountain-top in Turkey seems a more fitting site for the castle of a robber chieftain than the capital of a great empire. But it was here that archaeologists discovered the ruins of the chief city of the Hittites, a powerful race which the Bible mentions several times as the rulers of an empire somewhere in Asia.
The discovery of the heart of this lost empire of the Hittites had no one dramatic moment. Instead the work was carried on by experts over many years.
Scholars concerned with records of ancient Egypt had found many references to a warlike people called Hatti, with whom even the mighty Pharaohs dealt carefully. These people used chariots in war, were able to put thousands of soldiers in the field, and had built up a complex series of alliances with neighbouring kings. In a great battle in 1288 B.C., they and the Egyptians fought to a standstill and thereafter treated each other with respect.
Meanwhile, other scholars in Turkey and the Middle East discovered that statues, ruins and inscriptions of an unknown race were to be found over a wide area. Certain links seemed to connect the Hatti of the Egyptian annals and the Hittites of the Bible with this mysterious race.
The information picked up in Egypt and Turkey was assembled together in Europe by other experts, until gradually a picture was built up of a people who had ruled their empire from the mountains of Turkey. Expeditions were sent out to try to locate the nerve-centre of this empire.
In 1906, systematic excavations began among strange ruins on a mountain-top near the Turkish village of Boghazkoy, and it was here that the archaeologists found what they were looking for. The ruins at Boghazkoy turned out to be the remains of Hattusas, the long-sought Hittite capital.
Read the rest of this article »
Posted in Ancient History, Anthropology, Archaeology, Architecture, Historical articles, History on Monday, 29 April 2013
This edited article about the Mayas originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 235 published on 16 July 1966.
The ancient civilization of Central America is one of the most mysterious in the world, for the people who lived there were unknown to the rest of the world until the 16th century.
Even now, no one knows where they came from. Some believe that they migrated via the Arctic circle, or by boat or raft across the oceans. There are even claims that, originally, they came from the legendary lost continent of Atlantis.
All that can be said with certainty is that these people – the Aztecs, Toltecs and Mayas – were related to each other and created a civilization equal to any in the world.
About the year A.D. 300 the Mayas, for some unknown reason, abandoned their cities in the south and moved northward. Their migration lasted for many years, but they came at length to an area now known as Yucatan, a province of Mexico, and there built cities exactly resembling those they had so mysteriously abandoned.
One of the 18 clans into which the Mayas were divided chose a curious area to found their capital, Chichen-itza. Most cities are founded near rivers, but there are none in this arid district of Mexico, although rainfall is heavy. The rainwater simply percolates through the local limestone and collects in pools underground.
The builders of the city knew this and therefore constructed enormous reservoirs, hundreds of feet below ground, where the water remained cool and sweet.
Like the civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia, the Mayas depended upon a complex system of irrigation. The land was thus made fertile at places like Chichen-itza and remained so for hundreds of years – until the coming of the Spaniards in the 16th century.
Read the rest of this article »
Posted in America, Anthropology, English Literature, Historical articles, History, Literature on Thursday, 21 February 2013
This edited article about James Fenimore Cooper originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 147 published on 7 November 1964.
A scene from The Last of the Mohicans
by D C Eyles
In a dark, book-lined study at Yale University, a young undergraduate waited uneasily as the Dean of his college paced the room, hands clasped beneath his black academic gown. Finally he came to a halt, and peered at the student over his pince-nez.
“I very much regret the step which I am obliged to take,” he barked. “However, I see no alternative. Your insubordination is such that it can no longer be tolerated here. You may return to your home in New York immediately. There is no further place for you at Yale.”
The youth, whose name was James Fenimore Cooper, bowed ironically. As he left the room, the Dean, staring after him, little knew that he had just dismissed the boy who was to become one of America’s literary giants of the nineteenth century.
James Cooper promptly joined the merchant navy, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a midshipman in 1808. Three years later, however, he retired to the family estate. He showed no particular inclination to write until one day in 1819, when, throwing down a novel in disgust, he exclaimed, “I could write a better book myself!”
Cooper’s wife dared him to try. At that time almost all the books being read in America were English – the “American novel” was scarcely thought of. James Cooper changed the situation almost overnight. His first novel – Precaution – was a dismal failure, but this only spurred him on to greater efforts. The Spy, produced a year later in 1821, was an instant success.
But the best works of all were those which had as their subject the early American pioneers, and in this category falls The Last of the Mohicans, which we begin today. From this great tale of adventure you will see that James Fenimore Cooper was indeed the father of the American novel.
Posted in America, Anthropology, Historical articles, History, War on Wednesday, 6 February 2013
This edited article about Hiawatha originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 119 published on 25 April 1964.
Perched on a rock high above the valley, the Red Indian boy shaded his eyes from the slanting rays of the sun and stared in anguish at the stricken hamlet below him.
In it the bark-walled homes were aflame. The terrified shrieks of women and children rose shrilly above the warwhoops of invading red-skinned warriors.
White Eagle, grown now nearly to manhood, watched helplessly. He saw the copper-hued braves, their bodies striped in warpaint, ride rampant around the hamlet, tomahawks flashing.
“It is Tododaho again,” the boy said to himself. Tododaho the Terrible, chief of the Onondaga tribe, was punishing his neighbours, the Oneidas. And in the hamlet, trapped and maybe dead, was White Eagle’s own half brother, O-te-ti-ani, who had been visiting friends.
To go into the hamlet now would mean death. White Eagle decided to return to his own village of Te-ah-la-oga (Where Two Streams Come Together), and wait for nightfall.
White Eagle’s news of the massacre spread rapidly through his own village, which was situated just inside Mohawk territory. Braves sprang to their feet, calling for war. Soon they were donning full regalia – white-feathered headdress, bright sash, embroidered moccasins, warpaint – transforming themselves into frightening monsters with huge, red-rimmed eyes and grimacing mouths. The war drums began to throb.
Read the rest of this article »
Posted in America, Animals, Anthropology, Literature, Myth, Wildlife on Wednesday, 30 January 2013
This edited article about the racoon originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 113 published on 14 March 1964.
Although the true racoon is native only to North America, it is one of the best-known wild animals in the world because of its appearance again and again in the Brer Rabbit stories of Uncle Remus. Indeed, Brer Coon is just as famous as Brer Rabbit himself.
The racoon belongs to a group of carnivorous (flesh eating) animals called by zoologists procyonidae. It is a close relative of the bear, but is much smaller and, unlike the bear, has a respectable tail.
An adult racoon is about three feet long (including a ten-inch tail). It was once the commonest of animals in America and was found over an area from Canada to Mexico. Then the froutiersmen relentlessly hunted it for its fur, which was made into the famous Davy Crockett hats.
Until quite recently the racoon was the most important for-bearing animal of North America. Less than a century ago much of the buying and selling in the Mississippi valley was done by using racoon skins as money.
The racoon is an animal of the night and is seldom seen by day except in cloudy weather. There is a saying among American farmers that if you catch a glimpse of Brer Coon in the daytime rain cannot be far away.
Read the rest of this article »
Posted in Anthropology, Australia, Historical articles, History, Sport, Weapons on Tuesday, 8 January 2013
This edited article about the boomerang originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 809 published on 16th July 1977.
Aborigine boy, boomerang in hand, with a dingo, by Eric Tansley
Take a piece of wood, pick it up and hurl it. Apart, perhaps, from momentarily interesting a passing dog, you can be sure that your action will arouse very little interest from nearby humans. Some of them might even shake their heads sadly if you persist in your activity.
Though it may seem an odd thing to do, a small and dedicated group of enthusiasts get together quite regularly to throw a piece of wood. However, in this case, the wood is rather special – it is a boomerang. People watching this sport do sometimes shake their heads, but in amazement, not sadness. Amazement at the speed of the boomerang and its trajectory. Now you see it; now you don’t; now you see it again. Nearby dogs, used to chasing sticks, have been known to get dizzy trying to find where the boomerang landed.
The boomerangs prized by enthusiasts are usually hand-carved. If you could hear them talking, you would find these sportsmen using such phrases as “dingle arm”, “gyroscopic precession”, “King Billy Hook”, “laying down characteristics”, and so on. These are technical expressions which refer to a boomerang’s performance.
It is vital for a thrower to be aware of these for, once the boomerang has been launched, the thrower has no control over its course whatsoever. But if he has given it the right momentum, the right spin, thrown it at the right angle and allowed for any slight wind, the boomerang could come back and hover over his head or land at his feet.
Boomerangs have been around since the Stone Age. Recent archaeological diggings in an Australian swamp have unearthed boomerangs 25,000 years old. Boomerangs or similar devices have been used in India, North America, Europe and Egypt in the past. Even King Tutankhamen had some of his favourite boomerangs buried with him.
Read the rest of this article »
Posted in Anthropology, Geography on Wednesday, 2 January 2013
This edited article about the Kurelu originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 802 published on 28th May 1977.
At the foot of the Snow Mountains in the heart of New Guinea are to be found the Kurelu, on whom, at long last, the modern world is closing in fast.
These stone age warriors have now become Indonesian subjects, ever since their valley was handed over to independent Indonesia by the Dutch colonialists. But even now they continue to live their tribal life which includes being constantly at war with their ancient foe, the Wittaia.
Because of this constant tribal warfare, pain and death has come to mean very little for the Kurelu warrior. Most of them have suffered countless wounds while fighting the Wittaia, but rather oddly there is very little real hatred between them.
The Kurelu women play a more sedate role in tribal society. They look after the valuable pigs and also work in the sweet potato fields. The men toil like demons when a new field is cleared, but for all that it is their privilege to sleep late, because before all, they are warriors. Protected as they were by their very location, the stone age warriors were startled in 1938 by the sudden appearance of an aeroplane. What could they have thought at the time of this huge noisy bird that swept down between their mountains? But whatever they thought is perhaps of no importance. What is important is that they had made their first contact with civilization without choice.
Now that they are strictly Indonesian subjects the situation could change. But in the meantime, they will carry on their primitive life as they have done for centuries in the past.