Feasting in Ancient Rome

Ancient Roman cuisine enthusiasts answer your burning questions. If you were to sit down for a meal with ancient Romans, some of the food on your plate might leave you scratching your head. Dormouse and flamingo, anyone? Other dishes may appear surprisingly familiar, like bread, cheese, and wine—still the cornerstones of many a Mediterranean-inspired lunch[…]

The Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia in Ancient Roman Palestrina

The presence of wealthy Romans led to the expansion of the temple structure and its continuing decoration. Introduction The Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia at Palestrina (ancient Praeneste) in Italy was built in the 2nd century BCE to honor the goddess Isis and the goddess Fortuna. The massive site spans a mountainside, built with Roman cement or[…]

Bronze Age Ambition and Luxury: Marquis Yi of the Zeng State

How early burial customs and practices could not only reflect someone’s ambition, but also elevate their status. Introduction Imagine stumbling upon an undisturbed tomb filled with 15,000 items—from hundreds of jade and golden objects and enormous bronze wine vessels to massive lacquered coffins and a vast assortment of musical instruments. In 1978 in Leigudun, Suizhou,[…]

A History of Heresy in Ancient and Medieval Christianity

The study of heresy requires an understanding of the development of orthodoxy and the role of creeds in the definition of orthodox beliefs. Introduction, Etymology, Definition Heresy in Christianity denotes the formal denial or doubt of a core doctrine of the Christian faith[1] as defined by one or more of the Christian churches.[2] In Western[…]

Kratos: Brutal Tyrant of Ancient Greek Mythology

Kratos is characterized as brutal and merciless, advocating for the use of unnecessary violence. Introduction In Greek mythology, Kratos (or Cratos) is the divine personification of strength. He is the son of Pallas and Styx. Kratos and his siblings Nike (“Victory”), Bia (“Force”), and Zelus (“Zeal”) are all essentially personifications of a trait.[5] Kratos is[…]

Sisyphus: Deceitful Trickster God of Ancient Greek Mythology

As a punishment for his trickery, Hades made King Sisyphus roll a huge boulder endlessly up a steep hill. Introduction In Greek mythology Sisyphus, or Sisyphos, was the king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). He was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill[…]

Ancient Athens in the Hellenistic World

Apart from some futile attempts to recapture their freedom, for well over a century the Greeks remained under Macedonian rule. Introduction When we think about ancient Athens, it is almost always about the classical city. We think of such things as its numerous monuments (the Parthenon on the Acropolis for example), beautifying everywhere, the Agora swarming with people doing business, discussing current affairs,[…]

Minoans and Mycenaeans: Comparing Two Bronze Age Civilizations

These cultures are often examined separately, and thus the ample cross-cultural transmission between them is overlooked. By Kelly MacquireHistorian Introduction The Bronze Age Aegean in the eastern Mediterranean encompassed several powerful entities: the Minoans on Crete; the Mycenaeans on mainland Greece, and the Cypriots on Cyprus. These cultures are often examined separately, and thus the ample cross-cultural transmission between them is overlooked. Focussing on[…]

Art and Architecture in the Ancient Parthian Empire

The Parthians brought with them cultural influences from their Scythian cousins. By Patrick Scott Smith, M.A.Historian Introduction Parthian art flourished within the Eurasian cultural corridor from the late hundreds BCE to the early 1st and 2nd centuries CE. With the Parthian Empire (247 BCE – 224 CE) stretching from India and China in the east to[…]

Ancient Assyrian Reliefs Tell the Story of an Empire

Exploring tales of military might, myth, and court life as told through stone sculptures. Interview of Dr. Timothy PottsDirectorThe J. Paul Getty Museum “The reliefs show people being impaled on spikes and the enemy being decapitated and sometimes flayed alive. I mean it’s absolutely brutal, and it was intended to intimidate.” With a powerful empire[…]

The Romulean and Servian Tribes of Pre-Republican Ancient Rome

All Roman citizens were enrolled in one of these tribes, through which they were entitled to vote in certain elections. Introduction A tribus, or tribe, was a division of the Roman people, constituting the voting units of a legislative assembly of the Roman Republic.[1][2] The word is probably derived from tribuere, to divide or distribute;[…]

The Dorian Tribal Invasion of Ancient Greece

Intense tribalism in a pre-Hellenic world was deep and civilization itself would collapse in the region. Introduction The Ancient Greeks divided themselves into three tribes; the Aeolians, Ionians, and Dorians. The Mycenaeans (referred to as Argives, Achaeans, and Danaans by Homer in the Iliad) were Aeolians and Ionians. Sometime around 1100 BCE, the Dorians, who[…]

The Column of Trajan: Propaganda of Empire in Ancient Rome

Trajan expanded the Roman Empire to its greatest extent, celebrating his victories with this monumental column. The Triumph The Triumph was a riotous military ritual celebrated by the Romans over the course of centuries—whenever their commander had won a spectacular victory. On the appointed day (or days) the city would be overflowing with crowds, pageantry,[…]

Augustus of Primaporta: Propaganda for Ancient Rome’s First Emperor

Augustus invoked the power of imagery to communicate his ideology. Heading Today, politicians think very carefully about how they will be photographed. Think about all the campaign commercials and print ads we are bombarded with every election season. These images tell us a lot about the candidate, including what they stand for and what agendas[…]

Ancient Persia from the Achaemenids to the Sassanians

From their earliest days of the Achaemenid Empire, the Persians introduced a number of novel concepts in innovations and inventions. Introduction Ancient Persian culture exerted a powerful influence throughout the Near East, and beyond, for over a thousand years between c. 550 BCE – 651 CE and many aspects of their culture continued to influence[…]

Ancient Mesopotamia: A First of Many Firsts

Many of the most common aspects of daily life, as well as theological paradigms and political systems, developed first in Mesopotamia. Introduction Mesopotamia is the ancient Greek name (meaning “the land between two rivers”, the Tigris and Euphrates) for the region corresponding to modern-day Iraq and parts of Iran, Syria, and Turkey. It is considered[…]

The Fall of Constantinople in 1453

Constantinople had withstood many sieges and attacks over the centuries. Introduction The city of Constantinople (modern Istanbul) was founded by Roman emperor Constantine I in 324 CE and it acted as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantine Empire as it has later become known, for well over 1,000 years. Although the city[…]

The ‘Fall’ of Classical Athens?: Problems with Historical Periodization

“Hellenistic” Athens may not shine as brightly as Classical Athens, but it has lived unfairly in the shadow of its famous predecessor. Athens: the most powerful city in ancient Greece; the birthplace of democracy; home to the great tragedies of Aeschylus. Sophocles, and Euripides; philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; brimming with large monuments[…]

Medicus: The Doctor in Ancient Greece and Rome

Me’dicus (ἰατρός), the name given by the ancients to every professor of the healing art, whether physician or surgeon, and accordingly both divisions of the medical profession will here be included under that term. In Greece and Asia Minor physicians seem to have been held in high esteem; for, not to mention the apotheosis of[…]

Chirurgia: Surgery in Ancient Greece and Rome

The earliest remaining surgical writings are those of Hippocrates. The practice of surgery was, for a long time, considered by the ancients to be merely a part of a physician’s duty; but as it is now almost universally allowed to be a separate branch of the profession, it will perhaps be more convenient to treat[…]

Ancient DNA Reveals the Genetic Landscape of People Who First Settled East Asia

Scientists are starting to untangle how the region was populated. Introduction The very first human beings originally emerged in Africa before spreading across Eurasia about 60,000 years ago. After that, the story of humankind heads down many different paths, some more well-studied than others. Eastern regions of Eurasia are home to approximately 2.3 billion people[…]

Justinian I and a Failed Attempt to Reunite the Ancient Roman Empire

He is widely held as one of the greatest (and most controversial) late Roman/Byzantine emperors in history. By Will Wyeth Introduction Justinian I reigned as emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 527 to 565 CE. Born around 482 CE in Tauresium, a village in Illyria, his uncle Emperor Justin I was an imperial bodyguard who[…]

A Brief History of Boxing since the Ancient World

Humans have fought in sport hand-to-hand combat since the dawn of human history, the earliest evidence dating to the ancient Near East. Introduction Boxing is a combat sport in which two people, usually wearing protective gloves, throw punches at each other for a predetermined amount of time in a boxing ring. Amateur boxing is both[…]

Proscriptio: Stripping Political Opponents of Power in Ancient Rome

Many were declared enemies of the state, their property confiscated, and they were sent into exile (or worse). Introduction Proscription is, in current usage, a ’decree of condemnation to death or banishment’ (Oxford English Dictionary) and can be used in a political context to refer to state-approved murder or banishment. The term originated in Ancient[…]

The Hyphasis Mutiny: Alexander the Great Pushing the Troops too Far

The men reached a consensus; they did not want to follow Alexander further into Indian territory. By Philip MathewHistorian Introduction The so-called Hyphasis Mutiny was a conflict between Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE) and his army following their victory at the river Hydaspes in 326 BCE. Alexander voiced plans for further conquests in the Indian subcontinent, however, when[…]

A Page from the Sahib Din’s Mewar ‘Ramayana’ in the Seventeenth Century

By the time of Din’s work in 1650, the Ramayana had grown to twenty-four thousand verses that were organized into seven thematic books. By Dr. Arathi MenonHistorian of Art and Architecture What’s In a Story? In its simplest form, a story has a beginning, an end, and events that unfold in between. It has a[…]

An Introduction to Ancient Mycenaean Art

We know a lot about the Mycenaeans because they left written records which can be read. Introduction The ancient citadel (fortified city) at Mycenae is located on top of an isolated hill and provides truly spectacular views of the surrounding area, making it an ideal location for a defensive stronghold. Mycenaean culture dominated southern Greece,[…]

An Introduction to Ancient Minoan Art

The Bronze Age history of the island is one of development, increasing influence, and eventual destruction. Introduction The Bronze Age culture of Crete, called Minoan, after King Minos of Crete from Greek mythology, is one of the most vibrant and admired in all of European prehistory. According to the myth, the city of Athens was[…]

Exploring Ancient Minoan Knossos

Bronze Age Knossos is traditionally called a palace, a description used by its most famous excavator, Sir Arthur Evans. Introduction There aren’t many places in the world like Knossos. Situated 6km south of the sea, on the north central coast of Crete, several things make this archaeological site important: its great antiquity (it is 9,000[…]