John L. Sullivan Fights America

“John L. Sullivan, champion pugilist of the world” – an E.W. Kemble from 1883, the year that Sullivan began his tour of America / Library of Congress In 1883, the Irish-American heavy-weight boxing champion John L. Sullivan embarked on an unprecedented coast-to-coast tour of the United States offering a prize to any person who could[…]

The Americas, Europe, and Africa before 1492

Overview of Pueblo Bonito / Photo by John Wiley, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. P. Scott Corbett, et.al.  Professor of History Ventura College Introduction In Europe supported by Africa and America (1796), artist William Blake, who was an abolitionist, depicts the interdependence of the three continents in the Atlantic World; however, he places gold armbands on the[…]

Dynastic Marriage in Early Modern Europe

Catherine the Great / Public Domain By Dr. Heinz Duchhardt / 08.04.2011 Professor of History Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz Abstract The often-quoted “family of princes” was at no time a truly pan-European network, but represented rather a collection of various marriage circles defined first by – among others – geography, and following[…]

Ancient Athens and the Art of Exiling One’s Political Enemies

Ostraka from classical Athens nominating the persons of Kallias and Megakles. Cycladic Art Museum, Athens, Greece/Wikimedia Commons For the first time in recent memory the possibility of imprisoning political rivals has entered the political discourse of a modern western election. But ostracism is an ancient democratic tradition that offers an alternative approach. By Dr. Chris Mackie / 11.22.2016 Professor of Classics La Trobe University Throwing one’s political opponent in jail has[…]

Alexandria, Egypt: The Legacy of Its Great Founder

By Dr. Joshua J. Mark / 03.07.2018 Professor of Philosophy Marist College Alexandria is a port city located on the Mediterranean Sea in northern Egypt founded in 331 BCE by Alexander the Great. It is most famous in antiquity as the site of the Pharos, the great lighthouse, considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, for the Temple of Serapis, the Serapion,[…]

The Frivolous, Ridiculous, and Extreme History of Shoes

Evening shoe, beaded silk and leather, Roger Vivier (1907–98) for Christian Dior. 1958-60. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London A walk through some of the more extreme examples of historical shoes. By Dr. Naomi Braithwaite / 06.09.2015 Research Fellow Nottingham Trent University Shoes long ago eclipsed their primary function – to protect feet. For thousands of years shoes have elicited extremes of both pain and[…]

What Did Hannah Arendt Really Mean by the ‘Banality of Evil’?

Adolf Eichmann at his 1961 trial. / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Thomas White / 04.23.2018 Visiting Professor in Philosophy and Economics Mount Holyoke College Can one do evil without being evil? This was the puzzling question that the philosopher Hannah Arendt grappled with when she reported for The New Yorker in 1961 on the war crimes trial of Adolph Eichmann, the[…]

The Mystery of Britain’s Bronze Age Mummies

Tom Booth, Author provided Turns out the Egyptians weren’t the only ones who mummified their dead. By Dr. Tom Booth / 11.24.2015 Wellcome Post-Doctoral Research Associate Natural History Museum Whenever mummies are mentioned, our imaginations stray to the dusty tombs and gilded relics of ancient Egyptian burial sites. With their eerily lifelike repose, the preserved bodies of ancient Pharaohs like Hatshepsut and[…]

Languages Being Revived in Native Language Schools

In the 19th century, federal policy shifted from a policy of extermination and displacement to assimilation. The passage of the Civilization Fund Act in 1819 allocated federal funds directly to education for the purpose of assimilation, and that led to the formation of many government-run boarding schools. / Photo by Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images. More than a century ago, the last[…]

Bringing a Dying Language Back to Life

Harvard instructor Sunn m’Cheaux worked with 30 Vassal Lane Upper School seventh-graders, teaching them the origin of the Gullah language as part of Harvard’s Project Teach program. / Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer Harvard instructor introduces seventh-graders to the world of Gullah By Brigid O’Rourke / 04.16.2018 It’s unlikely that many of his grade-school classmates would have[…]

What Medieval Sources Reveal about the True Nature of the Vikings

Image via Shutterstock Much of what the English know about the Vikings comes from the court of King Alfred – who didn’t like them much. By Dr. Clare Downham / 04.26.2017 Senior Lecturer in Irish Studies University of Liverpool We’ve seen it all in documentaries and dramas. The Viking Age begins as hordes of Vikings leap ashore from their long-ships, in a lightening raid against defenceless clerics and lay[…]

What Does the Word ‘Viking’ Really Mean?

Late Viking Age Swedish rune-stone commemorating a man called Víkingr. Swedish National Heritage Board, Photo Bengt A. Lundberg, CC BY What the Old Norse for Viking can tell us about the Scandinavian explorers. By Dr. Judith Jesch / 04.05.2017 Professor of Viking Studies University of Nottingham We all know about the Vikings. Those hairy warriors from Scandinavia who raided and pillaged,[…]

Ancient Roman Tondo at Getty Inspires New Research of “Shield Portraiture”

Left: Tondo with the Bust of a Man, A.D. 300–400, Roman. Marble, 22 5/8 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 73.AA.113. Right: Gallery shot of tondo. Photo: Nicole Budrovich The return of an unusual marble bust to the Getty Villa galleries sparks new research and discoveries. By Nicole Budrovich / 02.17.2018 Curatorial Assistant, Department of[…]

Bronze Patinas, Noble and Vile

Torso of a Youth (“The Vani Torso”) (detail), Colchian, 100–200 B.C. Bronze, 41 3/4 in. high. Georgian National Museum, Vani Archaeological Museum-Reserve. Photo: Rob Harrell, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution The surfaces of ancient bronze sculptures have a lot to say about where they’ve spent the last 2,000 years.[…]

Gallipoli, the Beautiful City

Strange as it may seem, many participants at Gallipoli took the time out to ponder the beauty of the landscape. Mattia Notari – Foto If you do a historical study of the Gallipoli battlefields, or even if you are just a passing visitor to the sites, one of the first things to strike you is all the different names. By Dr. Chris Mackie / 07.31.2014 Professor[…]

The Ottoman History of South-East Europe

Armenians marched by Ottoman soldiers / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Markus Koller / 01.10.2012 Professor of History Ruhr-Universität Bochum Introduction The era of Ottoman Rule, which began in the fourteenth century, is among the most controversial chapters of South-East European history. Over several stages of conquest, some of them several decades long, large parts of[…]

Cusco: Center of the Incan Empire

The modern city of Cusco, overlooking the Plaza de Armas, Peru (photo: Michael and Kristine Senchyshyn, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) By Dr. Sarahh Scher / 08.09.2015 Visiting Lecturer in Art History Salem State University At the breath-taking elevation of 11,200 feet (roughly 3,400 m), the city of Cusco was not just the capital of Tawantinsuyu (“Land of the[…]

An Introduction to Peru’s Indigenous Moche Culture

Sculptural ceramic ceremonial vessel that represents a dog, c. 100-800 C.E., Moche, Peru, 180 mm high (Museo Larco). This spotted dog is represented in several scenes of Moche art accompanying Ai Apaec, the Moche mythological hero. By Dr. Sarahh Scher / 08.27.2016 Visiting Lecturer in Art History Salem State University A Complex Culture Moche architects and artists[…]

Picking Sides, or Not, with Alcibiades

Drunken Alcibiades interrupting the Symposium, by Pietra Testa, 1648 / Wikimedia Commons By Mark Cartwright / 02.08.2013 Alcibiades (or Alkibiades) was a gifted and flamboyant Athenian statesman and general whose shifting of sides during the Peloponnesian War in the 5th century BCE earned him a reputation for cunning and treachery. Good looking and rich, he was also notorious for his extravagant lifestyle[…]

The Ancient Greek Lament: From Paganism to Christianity

The Homeric Multitext, Creative Commons By Dr. Margaret Alexiou George Seferis Professor of Modern Greek Studies Professor of Comparative Literature Emerita Harvard University Introduction The function and purpose of the lament changed in accordance with the historical developments of antiquity. What was the impact of the economic, social and religious upheavals which accompanied the decline of[…]

What Ancient Cultures Teach Us about Grief, Mourning, and Continuity of Life

Day of the dead at a Mexican cemetery. © Tomas Castelazo, www.tomascastelazo.com / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA Many in the Western world lack the explicit mourning rituals that help people deal with loss. Two scholars describe ancient mourning practices.    By Dr. Daniel Wojcik (left) and Dr. Robert Dobler (right) / 11.01.2017 Wojcik: Professor of English and Folklore Studies, University of[…]

The Evolving Judeo-Christian Concept of “Hell” from the Ancient World to Today

The abyss of hell. Sandro Botticelli The meaning of hell might have changed over the centuries, but for devout Christians it remains a core part of their faith. By Dr. Joanne M. Pierce / 04.18.2018 Professor of Religious Studies College of the Holy Cross The recent dispute over whether Pope Francis denied the existence of hell[…]

An Overview and History of Zoroastrianism, One of the World’s Oldest Religions

Plaque with a Priest from the Oxus Treasure, 500–330 B.C., Achaemenid. Gold, 5 7/8 x 2 15/16 in. The British Museum. Image courtesy of and © The Trustees of the British Museum (2013). All rights reserved Looking closely at the objects displayed with the Cyrus Cylinder to find symbols of the ancient religion of Persia—Zoroastrianism.[…]

Made in Taiwan? How a Frenchman Fooled 18th-Century London

Detail from depiction of a Formosan funeral, featured in George Psalmanazar’s An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa (1704) — Internet Archive The remarkable story of George Psalmanazar, the mysterious Frenchman who successfully posed as a native of Formosa (now modern Taiwan) and gave birth to a meticulously fabricated culture with bizarre customs, exotic fashions, and its own[…]

King Harold the Great: What Might Have Been if the English Had Won at Hastings

The end of an era: the death of Harold, according to the Bayeux Tapestry. Wikimedia Commons 1066 was a close-run thing and Harold almost cemented his reputation as a military mastermind. An English victory may not have benefited the country, though.    By Dr. Charles West and Alyxandra Mattison / 10.11.2016 West: Reader in Medieval History Mattison: Independent Researcher and PhD Candidate in Medieval[…]