Think Everyone Died Young in Ancient Societies? Think Again.

Anglo-Saxon burial site at the Barrow Clump, Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire. / Photo by Rexfeatures What is the source of the myth that those in the past must have died young? By Christine Cave / 07.09.2018 PhD Candidate in Archaeology Australian National University You might have seen the cartoon: two cavemen sitting outside their cave knapping stone[…]

Early Human Migration

Image via learnerlog.org, Creative Commons Out of Africa and gradually stretching around the globe. By Emma Groeneveld / 05.15.2017 Historian Disregarding the extremely inhospitable spots even the most stubborn of us have enough common sense to avoid, humans have managed to cover an extraordinary amount of territory on this earth. Go back 200,000 years, however,[…]

Food in the Roman World

A view of the millstones and oven of a bakery (Pistrinium) in the Roman town of Pompeii which was buried in volcanic ash following the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE. The millstones have square sockets in which wooden beams would have been placed and harnessed to mules in order to turn the stones and so grind the grain[…]

Food and Agriculture in Ancient Greece

Olive trees on the Greek island of Anaxos. Cereals / Wikimedia Commons The prosperity of the majority of Greek city-states was based on agriculture and the ability to produce the necessary surplus. By Mark Cartwright / 07.25.2016 Historian The prosperity of the majority of Greek city-states was based on agriculture and the ability to produce the necessary surplus which[…]

Feasting Rituals: A Crucial Step Toward Civilization

Coming together for a solstice feast in ancient Peru. Robert Gutierrez, Author provided How did civilization emerge from small groups of hunter-gatherers? Some archaeologists focus on cooperation as the vital ingredient – and find evidence for it in the form of feast-related artifacts. By Dr. Charles Stanish / 07.03.2018 Professor of Anthropology University of South Florida “The Epic of Gilgamesh” is one of the earliest texts known in[…]

Ancient Egyptian Law: Seeking Peace with Oneself, One’s Community, and the Gods

Polychrome relief of Kagemni in his own mastaba, Saqqara, Egypt. Kagemni was a vizier of pharaohs Djedkare Isesi and Unas (5th dynasty), and Teti (6th dynasty), 24th century BCE. / Photo by Sémhur, Wikimedia Commons Ancient Egyptian culture flourished through adherence to tradition and their legal system By Dr. Joshua J. Mark / 10.02.2017 Professor of Philosophy Marist College[…]

The Aegean in the Ancient World

A map of the political structure of Greece in the Archaic Age (ca. 750 – 490 BC). / Photo by Megistias, Wikimedia Commons The Aegean Sea contains over 2,000 islands which were settled by the ancient Greeks. By Dr. Joshua J. Mark / 04.28.2011 Professor of Philosophy Marist College The Aegean Sea lies between the coast of Greece and Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). It[…]

The Rise and Fall of the Akkadian Empire

The first civilizations formed in river valleys, and were characterized by a caste system and a strong government that controlled water access and resources. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 06.19.2018 Historian Breminate Editor-in-Chief River Valley Civilizations The First Civilizations The Nile River and Delta: Most of the Ancient Egyptian settlements occurred along the northern part[…]

East of the Zagros: The Achaemenid Empire

Map of the Persian Achaemenid Empire at its greatest extent under the reigns of Darius the Great and Xerxes.  Inspired by Historical Atlas of Georges Duby (p.11, map D), this map was made by Fabienkhan the 24th of August 2006, using Inkscape and GIMP. Arad translated the map to help. These were the Iranian peoples. By Peter Davidson / 02.11.2011 East of the[…]

What Did Byzantine Food Taste Like?

Portrait of Alexios III Komnenos in The Romance of Alexander the Great, 1300s, made in Trebizond, Turkey. Tempera, gold, and ink, 12 5/8 x 9 7/16 in. Image courtesy of the Hellenic Institute of Byzantine and Postbyzantine Studies, Venice, cod. gr. 5 An art historian embraces her foodie side to uncover the tastes of the Byzantine Empire.[…]

How Genetics Helped Crack the History of Human Migration

A family migrating to western US in 1886. Marion Doss/Flickr, Creative Commons Humans evolved in Africa, spread across the world, and then it gets messy. Luckily advances in genetic sequencing have helped us track the complex history of human migration. By Dr. George Busby / 01.12.2016 Post-Doctoral Research Associate Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics Oxford University Over the past 25 years, scientists have supported the view[…]

Elephants in Ancient Indian Warfare

This war scene shown in a temple frieze in the Kailashanatha Temple depicts the use of chariots and elephants in warfare during the period of the imperial Rashtrakutas (eighth to tenth centuries CE). Location: Ellora Caves, Aurangabad, Maharashtra. / Photo by Sengai Podhuvan, Wikimedia Commons Ancient Indians continued to believe in their efficacy even when the ground results showed otherwise. By Dr.[…]

`Bharata’: A History of Ancient India

Map of the Indo-Saka – Indo-Scythian Kingdoms / Image by World Imaging, Wikimedia Commons Homonid activity in the Indian sub-continent stretches back over 250,000 years and it is, therefore, one of the oldest inhabited regions on the planet. By Dr. Joshua J. Mark / 11.12.2012 Professor of Philosophy Marist College India is a country in South Asia whose[…]

The Burning of the Library of Alexandria

By Preston Chesser The loss of the ancient world’s single greatest archive of knowledge, the Library of Alexandria, has been lamented for ages. But how and why it was lost is still a mystery. The mystery exists not for lack of suspects but from an excess of them. Alexandria was founded in Egypt by Alexander[…]

The Ancient Greek Achaean League: Aligned for the Common Defense

The Achaean League was a Hellenistic period confederation of Greek city states on the northern and central Peloponnese between 280 BCE and 146 BCE. / Image by Raymond Palmer, Wikimedia Commons A combined political representation and land army. By Mark Cartwright / 03.07.2016 The Achaean League (or Achaian Confederacy) was a federation of Greek city-states in the north and central parts of the Peloponnese in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE.[…]

Farming Left Us Better Fed but Not Necessarily Better Led – How Despots Arose with Agriculture

Give a man a ploughshare, and he’ll turn it into a sword. Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH An elite class began to monopolise resources and were able to command the labour of others to do things. By Dr. Simon Powers / 08.06.2014 Postdoctoral Researcher Université de Lausanne For hundreds of thousands of years humans lived in hunter-gatherer societies,[…]

How the Discovery of Julius Caesar’s First Landing Point in Britain Could Change History

Wellcome Trust/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA At Ebbsfleet, in northeast Kent, archaeologists have finally uncovered the site where JuliusCaesar’s fleet landed in 54 BCE By Dr. Andrew Fitzpatrick / 11.29.2017 Research Associate University of Leicester During the nine-year-long Battle for Gaul, Julius Caesar fought his way across northwest Europe. He invaded Britain twice; in 55BC, and again in 54BC. But while archaeologists have found evidence of the[…]

Why Did Some Early Human Societies Practice Violent Human Sacrifice?

Illustration of ritualised human sacrifice in traditional Hawaiian culture, as documented by the French explorer and artists Jaques Arago in 1819.Arago, Jacques. (1822). Promenade autour du monde: pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820, sur les corvettes du roi l’Uranie et la Physicienne, commandées par M. Freycinet Human sacrifice seems horrifying and costly. But there[…]

African Tools Push Back the Origin of Human Technological Innovation

By about 320,000 years ago, humans in Kenya began using color pigments and manufacturing more sophisticated tools. Human Origins Program, Smithsonian Scientists have discovered sophisticated tools in Kenya that are much older than expected.    By Dr. Patrick Randolph-Quinney (left) and Dr. Anthony Sinclair (right) / 03.15.2018 Randolph-Quinney: Reader/Associate Professor in Biological and Forensic Anthropology, University of Central Lancashire Sinclair: Professor of Archaeological[…]

Ancient DNA Reveals How Europeans Developed Light Skin and Lactose Intolerance

Slurp and thank the Yamnaya. Samantha Jade Royds/Flickr, CC BY-SA Shedding light on how have traits that were rare in African ancestors became common in Europe. By Dr. Daniel Zadik / 07.10.2015 Postdoctoral Researcher in Genetics University of Leicester Food intolerance is often dismissed as a modern invention and a “first-world problem”. However, a study analysing the genomes of 101 Bronze-Age Eurasians reveals[…]

Ancient DNA Sheds Light on the Origin of Europeans

Ancient DNA can tell you a lot more than skull shape about the origins of the first Europeans. Flickr/Sebastian Dooris , CC BY Capturing ancient genomes gives us valuable information.    By Dr. David Lambert (left) and Dr. Micheal Westaway (right) / 11.15.2014 Lambert: Dean Research Griffith Sciences and Professor of Evolutionary Biology Westaway: Senior Research Fellow Griffith University Much[…]