A History of Dictatorship in the Ancient Roman Republic

Dictators were only supposed to be appointed so long as the Romans had to carry on wars in Italy and elsewhere. A dictator was an extraordinary magistrate at Rome. The name is of Latin origin, and the office probably existed in many Latin towns before it was introduced into Rome (Dionys. V.74). We find it in[…]

Parthian Culture: East Mixes with West in the Ancient World

Borrowing from the east and west, their culture and art was an amalgam easily identified as Parthian. Introduction Stretching between China and India in the east to the Mediterranean in the west, Parthia ruled over one of the widest expanses of empire in its time and Parthian culture flourished for 500 years (247 BCE – 224[…]

The François Vase: Story Book of Ancient Greek Mythology

The neat labels of Greek text that accompany and identify many of the characters on the vase still help us understand its imagery today. Introduction 270 figures run, fight, and dance across the surface of the François Vase. While the decoration seems dense and busy to our modern eyes, an ancient viewer would have known[…]

Meet an Ushabti, an Ancient Egyptian Statuette Made for the Afterlife

What we know about this figure discovered in Neferibresaneith’s tomb. What’s an Ushtabi? Ushabtis are figurines that were designed to be placed in someone’s tomb. Ushabtis look like human figures that have been mummified, usually with their arms crossed over their chest. Some, like the Getty’s ushabti, were very carefully made, with detailed features, while[…]

What Is the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead?

These texts developed from spells that were first inscribed on scarabs and coffins at the end of Egypt’s Middle Kingdom period. “Book of the Dead” is a modern term to describe a series of ancient Egyptian funerary spells that helped the deceased find their way to the afterlife in order to become united with the[…]

Were Women the True Artisans Behind Ancient Greek Ceramics?

A new paper makes the case that scholars have ignored the role of female ceramicists in Greece going back some 3,000 years. By Dr. Max G. Levy Painted over the enormous midsection of the Dipylon amphora—a nearly 2,800-year-old clay vase from Greece—silhouetted figures surround a corpse in a funeral scene. Intricate geometric patterns zig and[…]

Mount Nemrut: Ancient Meeting Place between East and West

Often referred to as the “Throne of the Gods”, few know of the history or function of this extraordinary site. Introduction Mount Nemrut is located at the heart of what was the Kingdom of Commagene, a small Hellenised Armenian kingdom that carved its place in history from the living rock. In 62 BCE, King Antiochus I (70-31[…]

Cleopatra: ‘Queen of the Nile’

As the last Ptolemaic heir of Alexander the Great, she remained committed to his policy of cultural fusion. Introduction Cleopatra VII Philopator (January, 69 B.C.E. – August 12, 30 B.C.E.) was queen of Ancient Egypt, the last member of the Macedonian Ptolemaic dynasty and hence the last Greek ruler of Egypt. Although many other Egyptian[…]

Citizenship in Ancient Rome

At the heart of Roman conceptions of citizenship was a covenant between the individual citizen and the res publica or Roman state. By Dr. Thomas SizgorichLate Professor of HistoryUniversity of California One of the most important tools at the ancient Roman state’s disposal was that of naturalized citizenship, an institution over time that helped to[…]

The Life and Works of Cassius Dio, Historian in Ancient Rome

Cassius Dio is best known for his 80-volume Roman History. Introduction Cassius Dio (c. 164 – c. 229/235 CE) was a Roman politician and historian. Although he held a number of political offices with distinction, he is best known for his 80-volume Roman History. The work took 22 years to complete, was written in Attic Greek, and follows Roman history[…]

The Forum Romanum and Archaeological Context

The city’s monuments (and their ruins) are cues for memory, discourse, and discovery. Views of Rome The Roman emperor Constantius II (the second son of Constantine the Great) visited Rome for the only time in his life in the year 357 C.E. His visit to the city included a tour of the usual monuments and[…]

Discoveries and Inventions in Ancient and Medieval China

Exploring discoveries and inventions made by the Chinese between about 200 and 1400 C.E. Introduction Over the centuries, Chinese scholars and scientists studied engineering, mathematics, science, and medicine, among other subjects. Their studies led to scientific and technological progress that was often far ahead of advances in the rest of the world. To understand the[…]

Out of the Ashes: The Enduring Stories of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’

Odysseus’s natural leadership, smarts, and cool head are exceptional, and he is entertainingly deceptive and tricky. Introduction The Homeric epics, which tell stories of war, heroism, and coming home, have endured for perhaps 3,500 years. From their start as performances by oral poets to the books we read today, the tales have been told and[…]

The Legacy of the Roman Empire

Rome’s influence lives on in many ways today – in art, architecture and engineering, language and writing, philosophy, law, and citizenship. Introduction “All roads lead to Rome,” boasted the ancient Romans. For 500 years, from about 27 B.C.E. to 476 C.E., the city of Rome was the capital of the greatest empire the world had[…]

Ancient Judaea as a Roman Province

Immediately following the deposition of Herod Archelaus in 6 CE as a client king, Judea was turned into a Roman province. Introduction The Roman province of Judea, sometimes spelled in its original Latin forms of Iudæa or Iudaea to distinguish it from the geographical region of Judea, incorporated the regions of Judea, Samaria and Idumea,[…]

A History of Ancient Israel and Judah

Following the installation of client kingdoms under the Herodian dynasty, the Province of Judea was wracked by civil disturbances. Introduction The Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah were related kingdoms from the Iron Age period of the ancient Levant. The Kingdom of Israel emerged as an important local power by the 10th century[…]

Myth and Epic in the Ancient World

Exploring believed what and the effect literal belief in myths had on given social orders. Introduction Anthropologists and literary critics tend to read even sacred ancient literature in the manner of Homer’s and Virgil’s epics, that is, as fiction with historical elements. They don’t, however, always follow up with the implications of that. Mesopotamian myths[…]

The Areopagite Constitution and the Reforms of Ephialtes in Ancient Athens

Ephialtes’ reforms are considered by Aristotle and modern scholars to mark the end of the Areopagite constitution. The Areopagite constitution is the modern name for a period in ancient Athens described by Aristotle in his Constitution of the Athenians. According to that work, the Athenian political scene was dominated, between the ostracism of Themistocles in[…]

The Draconian Constitution: The First Written Legal Code in Ancient Athens

The people of Athens commissioned Draco to devise a written law code and constitution, giving him the title of the first legislator of Athens. Introduction The Draconian constitution, or Draco’s code, was a written law code created by Draco near the end of the 7th century BC in response to the unjust interpretation and modification[…]

Early Concepts of Disease

For many centuries explanations for disease were based not on science, but on religion, superstition, and myth. Hunter-Gatherers Ten thousand years ago humans were hunter-gatherers. They had a short life span, but not because of epidemics; their primary problem was just finding enough food to eat. They lived and traveled in small groups and hunted[…]

Ancient Diseases: Traces of Suffering in the Bones

Diseases have often influenced historical events, but they are neglected in the documentation of these events. Human remains used to be considered a nuisance in archaeological excavations. Today they are considered a valuable source of information to understand the ways of life of prehistoric populations and their conditions. A short distance from what is now[…]

Stone and Concrete in Ancient Italo-Roman Building Techniques

The masonry techniques discussed here cover a broad chronological range from the second millennium B.C.E. to Late Antiquity. Introduction Building techniques represent an important means through which to study and understand ancient structures. The building technique chosen for a given project can indirectly provide a good deal of information about the building itself, in terms[…]

Comparing Egyptian and Incan Mummification Processes

Both the Egyptian and Inca cultures treated their deceased differently based on social hierarchy within the culture. By Emma J. Williams Abstract This two-year research project was carried out as part of SUNY Potsdam’s Presidential Scholars program which allows undergraduates to conduct independent research. The project employs controlled laboratory experiments to compare desiccation rates in[…]

The Art and Architecture of New Kingdom Egypt, c.1570-1069 BCE

Pillars of the Great Hypostyle Hall from the Precinct of Amun-Re / Photo by Kurohito, Wikimedia Commons The New Kingdom is known as the golden age of ancient Egyptian history. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 11.29.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Architecture Overview The golden age of the New Kingdom created huge prosperity for Egypt and allowed for[…]

The Art and Architecture of Middle Kingdom Egypt, c.2055-1650 BCE

The Temple of Isis at Philae, with pylonsand an enclosed court on the left and the inner building at right / Photo by Marc Ryckaert, Wikimedia Commons The Middle Kingdom (c. 2000-1650 BCE) was marked by the reunification of Egypt following a period of weak pharaonic power and civil war called the First Intermediate. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh /[…]

Towns and Houses in Middle and New Kingdom Egypt

A small number of sites, especially from the Middle and New Kingdoms, provide us with extraordinary amounts of evidence for the settlement archaeology of ancient Egypt. By Dr. Steven Snape Reader in Egyptian Archaeology University of Liverpool Middle Kingdom Introduction A small number of sites, especially from the Middle and New Kingdoms, provide us with extraordinary[…]