The Julio-Claudians: First Dynasty of the Roman Empire

Romans obsessed on the concept of family lineage: the family was the most important thing in one’s life. Introduction The Julio-Claudians were the first dynasty to rule the Roman Empire. After the death of the dictator-for-life Julius Caesar in 44 BCE, his adopted son Octavian – later to become known as Augustus (r. 27 BCE[…]

Westcar Papyrus: The Art of the Story in Ancient Egypt

In the manuscript, each of Khufu’s sons speaks in turn, telling their own tale for their father’s entertainment. Introduction The ancient Egyptians enjoyed storytelling as one of their favorite pastimes. Inscriptions and images, as well as the number of stories produced, give evidence of a long history of the art of the story in Egypt[…]

The Neanderthal Diet—From Teeth to Guts

Some populations of Neanderthals were definitely more carnivorous than others. By Dr. Anna GoldfieldArchaeologist One of the more tenacious misconceptions about Neanderthals is that they were exclusively meat eaters. Sure, in some of the colder regions of Europe plant food would have been very seasonally limited, so meat was almost certainly a large part of[…]

Neanderthal Legs and Feet—Suited to Sprinting

Even genetics support the idea that Neanderthals were better sprinters than runners. By Dr. Anna GoldfieldArchaeologist If you’re like me, you view long-distance running as a somewhat unrealistic aspiration and see those people who do it well as remarkable creatures. The truth, though, is that Homo sapiens are well-designed for loping along for long distances[…]

Ancient China’s Terracotta Army Bronze Weapon Preservation

The good metal preservation probably results from the moderately alkaline pH, a very small particle size of the burial soil, and bronze composition. By Dr. Marcos Martinón-Torres, et.al.Pitt-Rivers Professor of Archaeological ScienceUniversity of Cambridge Abstract For forty years, there has been a widely held belief that over 2,000 years ago the Chinese Qin developed an[…]

Chariots in Ancient Hunting, Sports, and Warfare

Horses were not used for transport, ploughing, warfare or any other practical human activity until quite late in history, and the chariot was the first such application. By Rodrigo Quijada PlubinsHistorian Introduction The chariot was a light vehicle, usually on two wheels, drawn by one or more horses, often carrying two standing persons, a driver[…]

The Ancient Spartan Education

The apogee of one’s training was to comprehend the laws and to be a vital member of the Apella. By Antonios LoizidesHistorian According to the legend, the Spartan law was written by the great lawmaker (Greek : νομοθέτης, nomothetis) Lycurgus. Plutarch mentions that Lycurgus (literally “wolf-worker”) wrote the laws in order to make the city[…]

Visiting The Ruins of Lisbon’s Ancient and Medieval Past

Lisbon was the capital of the Portuguese Empire, a nation of explorers, seafarers and conquerors. By Wanda MarcussenHistorian Introduction Visiting the vibrant and colorful city of Lisbon, on the banks of the river Tagus and the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, what is most showcased is one episode of the city’s and country’s glorious past:[…]

The Impact of the Eruption of Thera on Ancient Minoan Decline

The cataclysmic eruption of Thera split the island of Santorini into three smaller ones. By Jenna Frawley Introduction During the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 1750-1450 BCE), the island of Crete emerged as a long-distance trading center. Modern scholarship characterizes this center as the Minoan civilization, which organized local production and trade in large regional structures[…]

The Storegga Slides of Prehistoric Norway

The three Storegga Slides of 6225-6170 BCE are considered to be amongst the largest known landslides. Introduction The three Storegga Slides are considered to be amongst the largest known submarine landslides. They occurred under water, at the edge of Norway’s continental shelf in the Norwegian Sea, approximately 6225–6170 BC. The collapse involved an estimated 290 km[…]

Prehistoric Bones of Women in Russian Cave Links to Modern Indigenous People

The bones show interbreeding Neanderthal and Denosivan humans. This article reprinted from RFE/RL. A piece of bone from a cave in Russia has yielded what may be the biggest archaeological find of the year, media reported on August 30. The bone belonged to an ancient human who had a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father.[…]

Scientists Wonder: Did Cave Women Wander?

Primitive women were more likely than their male counterparts to pack up and leave the cave. Primitive women were more likely than their male counterparts to pack up and leave the cave, eventually partnering with men from further afield, according to a study published in Nature magazine. By studying fossilised teeth from nearly 2 million years ago found[…]

2,000-Year-Old Street Built in Jerusalem by Pontius Pilate Discovered

The excavation revealed over 100 coins trapped beneath paving stones. An ancient walkway most likely used by pilgrims as they made their way to worship at the Temple Mount has been uncovered in the “City of David” in the Jerusalem Walls National Park. In a new study published in Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute[…]

Galatia: Gauls in Ancient Anatolia (Modern Turkey)

The Galatian Celts retained their culture at first, continuing to observe their ancient religious festivals and rituals. Introduction Galatia was a region in north-central Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) settled by the Celtic Gauls c. 278-277 BCE. The name comes from the Greek for “Gaul” which was repeated by Latin writers as Galli. The Celts were offered[…]

Ghosts in Ancient China

Ghost stories were the earliest form of literature in ancient China. By Emily MarkHistorian Introduction Ghost stories were the earliest form of literature in ancient China. They were almost certainly part of a very old oral tradition before  writing  developed during the Shang Dynasty (1600 – 1046 BCE) and they continue to be popular in China today. Ghosts were taken very[…]

Exploring Ancient Mosaics

We can see how the world once was and glimpse now lost landscapes, flora and fauna. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Mosaics, where designs and images are created using small pieces (tesserae) of stone or other materials, have been used to decorate floors, walls, ceilings, and precious objects since before written records began. Like pottery, mosaics have[…]

The Seleucid Empire of Hellenistic Mesopotamia, 312-63 BCE

Seleucus was arguably the most successful of Alexander’s successors with the creation of a multi-national empire. Introduction The Seleucid Empire (312-63 BCE) was the vast political entity established by Seleucus I Nicator (“Victor” or “Unconquered”, l. c. 358-281 BCE, r. 305-281 BCE), one of the generals of Alexander the Great, after Alexander’s death in 323[…]

Culture and Society in Classical Athens

Athenian prominence in the story of Classical Greece is no accident. Introduction As mentioned in the previous chapter, the prosperity and cultural achievements of Athens in the mid-fifth century B.C. have led to this period being called a Golden Age in the city-state’s history. The state of the surviving ancient evidence, which consistently comes more[…]

Religion in Ancient Greece

The religious practices of the Greeks extended beyond mainland Greece. Introduction Ancient Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs, rituals, and mythology originating in ancient Greece in the form of both popular public religion and cult practices. These groups varied enough for it to be possible to speak of Greek religions or “cults” in the[…]

Elephants in Hellenistic History and Art: Alexander to Hannibal and Back to India

Elephants were thought of as fierce and frightful monsters in antiquity, very real though rarely seen until the Hellenistic period. Introduction Elephants were thought of as fierce and frightful monsters in antiquity, very real though rarely seen until the Hellenistic period. They were deployed on the battlefield to strike terror into the enemy, however, since[…]

The Five Great Kings of Egypt’s Early Dynastic Period

The Early Dynastic Period is prehistoric, and it is difficult to determine who ruled when and what exactly their contributions were. Introduction Egypt’s Early Dynastic Period (3150-2613 BCE) lay the foundation of what would become one of the most impressive civilizations of the ancient world. The kings of this era, except for Narmer and Djoser,[…]

Galen: Greek Physician, Author, and Philosopher in Ancient Rome

Much of our knowledge of early medicine comes from Galen’s writings. Introduction Galen (129-216 CE) was a Greek physician, author, and philosopher, working in Rome, who influenced both medical theory and practice until the middle of the 17th century CE. Owning a large, personal library, he wrote hundreds of medical treatises including anatomical, physiological, pharmaceutical,[…]

Beer Archaeologists Are Reviving Ancient Ales — With Some Strange Results

The trouble with re-creating ancient brews is that it’s actually an impossible task. By Rae Ellen Bichell The closest that Travis Rupp came to getting fired from Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder, Colo., he says, was the time he tried to make chicha. The recipe for the Peruvian corn-based beer, cobbled together from bits of[…]

Herculaneum: Pompeii’s Sister City in Destruction

Herculaneum had a long, rich history before its fall to the Vesuvian blast. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Herculaneum, located on the Bay of Naples, was a Roman town which was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. Like its neighbour Pompeii, the town was perfectly preserved by a metres-thick layer of volcanic[…]

The Punic Wars and the Rise of Roman Imperial Ambition, 264-146 BCE

Victory over Carthage in these wars gave Rome a preeminent status it would retain until the division of the Roman Empire in 286 CE. Introduction The Punic Wars were a series of three wars fought between Rome and Carthage between 264 and 146 B.C.E.[1] They are known as the Punic Wars because the Latin term[…]