Ritual and Ritual Obligations: Perspectives on Normativity from Classical China

Handscroll, ink and color on silk, 24.4 x 343.8 cm / British Library Exploring some of the theories that arose in classical China  concerning the ways in which normativity could be construed in ritual terms. By Dr. Michael Pruett / 09.19.2015 Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History and Anthropology Harvard University Introduction The goal[…]

The Roman Senate: An ‘Assembly of Old Men’ Influential to the End

A fresco by Cesare Maccari (1840-1919 CE) depicting Roman senator Cicero (106-43 BCE) denouncing the conspirator Catiline in the Roman senate. (Palazzo Madama, Rome) / Wikimedia Commons The institution outlasted all emperors, and senators remained Rome’s most powerful political movers. By Mark Cartwright / 12.12.2016 Historian Introduction The Roman Senate functioned as an advisory body[…]

Humans Meet Metal: Copper from the Bronze Age to the Modern World

A Maitraka copper plate / Wikimedia Commons Archaeological evidence suggests that copper was first used between 8,000 and 5,000 BCE. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 09.21.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Between seven and ten thousand years ago, our early ancestors discovered that copper is malleable, holds a sharp edge, and could be fashioned into[…]

Iconoclasm across Cultures from Antiquity to Modernity

Desecrated Christian icons in Turkey / Photo by Georges Jansoone JoJan, Göreme Valley Open Air Museum, Cappadocia, Wikimedia Commons Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction of religious icons or monuments, usually for religious or political motives.  In common parlance, an iconoclast is a person who challenges cherished beliefs or traditional institutions as being based on error[…]

Genocide in the Ancient World

Brysa Hill ruins / Creative Commons Genocide is often viewed as a particular feature of our own current age.  Nothing could be further from the truth. By Gerard Mulligan / 01.27.2013 Introduction Genocide is often viewed as a particular feature of our own current age. This perception largely stems from the terrible events which took[…]

Evidence of a Prehistoric Massacre Extends the History of Warfare

Skeletal remains of a group of foragers massacred around 10,000 years ago on the shores of a lagoon is unique evidence of a violent encounter between clashing groups of ancient hunter-gatherers, and suggests the “presence of warfare” in late Stone Age foraging societies. The fossilised bones of a group of prehistoric hunter-gatherers who were massacred[…]

Ancient Alexandria and the Dawn of Medical Science

Alexandria – View of ruins of the Serapeum from Pompey’s Pillar / Photo by Daniel Mayer, Wikimedia Commons In a number of ways, ancient Egyptian knowledge was superior to the later Greek knowledge that would flourish in the first millennium BCE By Dr. Ismail Serageldin / 12.30.2013 Founding Director and Emeritus Librarian Bibliotheca Alexandrina The[…]

Aristotle’s Theory of Aging

Drunken Old Woman. Late 3rd century BCE. Hellenistic Sculpture / Photo by Evergreen State College, Creative Commons Remarkably little attention has been paid to Aristotle’s theory of aging, or gerontology. By Adam Woodcox PhD Student in Philosophy Rotman Institute of Philosophy University of Western Ontario Introduction Aristotle was the originator of the scientific study of[…]

Bayesian Analysis and Free Market Trade within the Roman Empire

Mosaic of amphorae being unloaded from a ship, Ostia / Southampton University, Creative Commons The trade networks of the Roman Empire are among the most intensively researched large-scale market systems in antiquity,       By (left-to-right) Dr. Xavier Rubio-Campillo, María Coto-Sarmiento, Jordi Pérez-Gonzalez, and Dr. José Remesal Rodríguez Rubio-Campillo: Lecturer in Archaeology; Computational Archaeology, The[…]

Italian Theater Basement Yields Hundreds of Ancient Roman Gold Coins

Hundreds of ancient gold coins were unearthed in the basement of a demolished theater in northern Italy. Archaeologists are calling it an “exceptional discovery.” / Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities  By Shannon Van Sant / 09.10.2018 Hundreds of ancient gold coins were found last week in the basement of a former theater in northern[…]

Buried by the Ash of Vesuvius: Pompeii Scrolls Being Read for the First Time

The charred papyrus scroll recovered from Herculaneum is preserved in 12 trays mounted under glass. Here is PHerc.118 in tray 8. The scroll was physically unrolled in 1883-84, causing irreparable damage. (Henrik Knudsen) A revolutionary American scientist is using subatomic physics to decipher 2,000-year-old texts from the early days of Western civilization. By Jo Marchant[…]

‘Know Thyself’ and 147 Other Apophthegmata from Ancient Delphi

The Temple of Apollo at Delphi / Photo by tamara semina, Wikimedia Commons The fact that the great majority of maxims on the list can still serve us today is itself worth further reflection. By Dr. Charlie Huenemann / 09.07.2018 Professor of Philosophy Utah State University We all know the most famous bit of ancient advice inscribed[…]

The Art of Citizenship: Roman Cultural Identity in Cicero’s Pro Archia Poeta

Cicero Denounces Catiline, fresco by Cesare Maccari, 1882-1888 / Wikimedia Commons Examining Cicero’s views on the construction of Roman identity. By Fisher Wallace Pressman This paper examines Cicero’s Pro Archia Poeta Oratio and the author’s implicit and explicit views on how Roman cultural identity is construct ed. While the speech itself is the legal defense[…]

Ancient Greece: Not a Single Civilization

This ancient Greek fresco, known as The Toreador, was found on the Greek island of Crete. The ancient Greeks produced beautiful art and architecture. The Greeks were proud of the independence and individuality of their city-states. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 09.12.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Many people believe that the greatest of all[…]

Procopius of Caesarea: A Case Study in Imperial Criticism

Procopius of Caesarea, Creative Commons It has been a subject of much debate what Procopius actually thought of the events that he narrates. By James Michael Gilmer Cardiff University Edward Gibbon once said of Procopius that the man “successively composed the history, the panegyric, and the satire of his own times.”[1] Consequently, it has been[…]

The Hijras of Ancient to Modern India

The uniqueness of Hijras lies not only in their existence beyond social structure but also in Indian society’s historical acceptance of that position. By Sibsankar Mal / 03.29.2018 PhD Candidate in Population Studies Sukumar Sengupta Mahavidyalaya (Keshpur) College Introduction A hijra named Geetu, dancing at a hair shaving ceremony in Delhi / Photo by Whitney[…]

How an Archaeological Experiment Revealed California’s Ancient Past

The Nicoleños, an Indigenous group that lived on San Nicolas Island, used a multistep process to fashion striking abalone-shell fishhooks such as this one. / Photo by Kevin Smith San Nicolas Island was home to Indigenous populations as early as 6,000 years ago. By Dr. Anna Goldfield / 08.14.2018 Archaeologist San Nicolas Island, the most[…]

Economic Thought in Ancient Greece

The Greeks failed miserably to see the need for the development of a discipline, economic science, devoted to the study of the spontaneous processes of social cooperation that comprise the market. By Dr. Jesús Huerta de Soto / 09.15.2010 Professor of Political Economy Rey Juan Carlos University, Madrid Introduction The intellectual odyssey that laid the[…]

The Concept of Ethical Business in Ancient Athens

Athens agora / Photo by Andreas Trepte, Wikimedia Commons Ethics was a function of being and, as the guiding principle for dealings with others, it naturally applied as well to the sensitive areas of money and commerce. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 09.11.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief It would be hard to overstate the influence[…]

The Bacchanalia: Ancient Soteriology in Motion

Bacchanalia (cut), on a frieze / Photo by Roland zh, Wikimedia Commons Practices intimately tied to the soteriological aspirations of their adherents. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 09.10.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction The Bacchanal by Peter Paul Rubens / Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Wikimedia Commons The term Bacchanalia describes the initiatory and celebratory[…]

Festivals in Ancient Egypt

The Seven Hathors, Temple of Hathor at Dendera / Creative Commons Ancient Egyptians set a premium on celebrations enjoying life, and there were many of them throughout the year. By Dr. Joshua J. Mark / 03.17.2017 Professor of Philosophy Marist College Introduction The gods of the ancient Egyptians were always apparent to the people through[…]

Augustus to Justinian: General Themes in the Corruption of the Roman Principate

The Roman Forum / Photo by Bert Kaufmann, Wikimedia Commons The best intentions often end in the most spectacular falls. By Zachary Scott Rupley / 05.2009 Adjunct Professor of History East Tennessee State University Conception and Temperament of Emperors; State of the World   [LEFT]: Augustus of Prima Porta, 1st century / Vatican Museums, Wikimedia[…]

Knowledge, Art, and Education in Plato’s Republic

Plato surrounded by students in his Academy in Athens. Mosaic (detail) from the Villa of T. Siminius Stephanus, Pompeii, 1st century B.C. Roman National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. No. 124545. Source: Wikimedia Commons Investigating the relationship between art, education, and politics in Plato’s Republic and how gnoseological assumptions can clear tensions in this relationship   By[…]