Why did the Franks, Saxons, and others work so hard to copy Rome and to adopt chunks of Roman culture (as transmitted through the Christian church?) At first, they didn’t. The Franks of Charlemagne and the Franks that ran the last Romans out of what is now northern Germany and the Netherlands were 350 years apart and very different in some ways. In others, well, it took a great deal of unceasing, patient (and not so patient) work by people who still believed that the old ways were good, and that they had a mission to save the souls of the pagans, which also meant teaching them to read and write. And the pagans came to believe that the old ways could give them power and authority.There's an interesting question posed at the end, about the assimilation of modern immigrants into their host cultures. Very interesting reading.
Skeptical Eye has a video made by some Swedes who visited New York City in 1911. It's a little eerie watching it to see how much has changed - and how much hasn't.
I ran across a photographer named Steven Sklifas who has some amazing pictures of ancient sites around the Mediterranean. Like this one:
I lost rather a lot of time browsing his site which has not only pictures, but very nice descriptions of the locations as well. Recommended.