National Geographic : 1984 Apr
Members Forum Catalonia "Catalonia: Spain's Country Within a Country" (January 1984) was an excellent article, but there was one flaw. Catalonians are not descendants of Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, and Visigoths, but rather a mix of Iberians and Celts. The Greeks and Carthaginians did not leave any marks on the true Catalonians' physical makeup, and the Romans and Visigoths only added a few touches to their physical traits. Maria A. Sarasola Jackson Heights, New York Ourreference was more to culturalthan physical heritage. Although the Visigoths left little evi dence of their 300-year sway, the Greeks nur tured olive groves and vineyardsand established colonies. Barcelona traces its founding to the Carthaginians,and the Romans built roads, aq ueducts, and cities and supplied the Latin base for the Catalanlanguage. In your tale of the Catalonians, it seems unreal to read of Pablo Picasso, Joan Mir6, Salvador Dali, and Lluis Llach, while their number one expatri ate-Pablo Casals-is ignored. Paul M. Connelly Orchard Park, New York Byzantine Empire The article on the Byzantine Empire in the De cember issue was fascinating. Historians tell us, however, that it was Ivan the Terrible (1530-84), and not Ivan the Great (1440-1505), who first used the title of tsar. Elena B. Craver Penney Farms, Florida Although Ivan the Terrible was the first ruler of Muscovy to be officially crowned tsar,his grand father Ivan the Great occasionallyused the title duringhis reign. Regarding "the famous bronze horses now adorning the Cathedral of St. Mark," the present horses are copies of the originals. The real horses, suffering from air pollution and in danger of de struction, were removed, were treated for their "bronze disease," and permanently reside in the cathedral's Museo Marciano. Scott C. van Fossen San Francisco, California December's "Byzantine Empire" displayed a his torical map locating Laodicea in Syria, just below Antioch. This seventh city addressed in Revelations 2 and 3 has always been situated in ancient Anatolia, southeast of Ephesus. M. R. Kluender Martinez, California Several ancient towns were named Laodicea in honor of Seleucus I's mother. Laodicea ad Ly cum, the town referred to in Revelations, is in Anatolia. The Byzantine map shows Laodiceaad Mare, a port in northernSyria importantto both the Byzantines and the Crusaders. Europe Map Your highly interesting historical map of Europe states that "more than a million men fell dead or wounded in 1916's Battle of the Somme." This may be true for the battles of the Somme and of Verdun together. But the main battle of that year, and in terms of life the most costly, was at Verdun, where the French lost 380,000 dead and wounded and the Germans 330,000. The fight ing on the Somme was important, but the turning point, and most of the carnage, was at Verdun. Jean Herve Commugny, Switzerland Most references cite one million casualtiesat the Somme as a conservativeestimate. Britishlosses were estimated at more than400,000, the French at some 200,000, and the German between 400,000 and 500,000, an example of incredible suffering with no strategicsuccess. Low Country "Savannah to Charleston-A Good Life in the Low Country" (December 1983) brought to mind my first visit to Charleston after moving south some years ago. While there, much to the amuse ment of my Chinese-born husband, we learned that "Charlestonians are like the Chinese-they eat lots of rice and worship their ancestors!" Susan Wainwright Lai Savannah, Georgia As a native of the South Carolina Low Country and an architectural historian, I was quite inter ested in John J. Putman's article. However, I must take issue with the explanation of the Charleston single house. While the points men tioned are correct, they had only incidental impact on the single-house form. The single house is a direct response to a very humid, subtropical climate. The piazza shades the garden facade, providing a generous amount of sheltered outdoor space. The fireplaces and chimneys in the opposite wall provide excellent ventilation across the one-room-wide house with its large open central stairhall.