The Price of Greed: Hannibal’s Betrayal by Carthage

Hannibal continued to fight for the people of Carthage, in spite of the poor treatment he received. Introduction Hannibal Barca (l. 247-183 BCE), the brilliant Carthaginian general of the Second Punic War (218-202 BCE), had the military talent, expertise, and skill to have won the conflict but was denied the resources by his government. The[…]

Eris: Chaos and Confusion in Ancient Greek Mythology

The most famous tale of Eris recounts her initiating the Trojan War by causing the Judgement of Paris. Introduction Eris is the Greek goddess of strife and discord. Her Roman equivalent is Discordia, which means “discord”. Eris’s Greek opposite is Harmonia, whose Roman counterpart is Concordia.[1] Homer equated her with the war-goddess Enyo, whose Roman[…]

Ancient and Medieval Religious Belief and Medicine

The spirits and gods were believed to make their presence known through disease. Introduction When people fall ill they inevitably ask: ‘Why am I ill?’ and ‘How do I get better?’ Throughout history, the answers have been sought and provided through a mixture of natural, spiritual and moral meanings. People have rarely understood illness through[…]

Ancient “Poop Sticks” Offer Clues to the Spread of Disease along the Silk Road

The parasites found within the 2,000-year-old-feces smeared on bamboo suggest more than commodities made the trip. By Jason Daley The Silk Road was a network of ancient commerce, connecting China with central Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It was established by the Han Dynasty in 130 B.C. and operated until 1453 when the Ottoman Empire[…]

Human Diseases May Have Contributed to the Fate of Neanderthals

Stomach ulcers, herpes, ringworm and other tropical diseases may have all contributed to the Neanderthal demise. By Jason Daley In the last decade, researchers have realized that the interactions between ancient humans and Neanderthals were much more complicated than previously believed. Not only did Homo sapiens compete with Neanderthals for resources, we extensively interbred with[…]

The Means of Ancient Communication

Since the art of writing was discovered, nearly every form of writing material has been used. By Grahame Johnstone Introduction The invention of writing and in particular of alphabetic writing marked a milestone in cultural development. It provided humanity with a new means of communication that literally inscribed in stone the spoken word. Communication could[…]

The Most Vulnerable Suffered when Ancient Greek City-States Purged during Times of Disease

The Greeks treated their city-states like bodies. To protect them from disasters, it was the poor that were often sacrificed. Introduction With the spread of the coronavirus, the world is becoming pointedly aware of the extent to which human beings are interconnected. The rapid spread of the virus has highlighted how much we are dependent[…]

An Ancient Roman Legacy in the Age-Old Art of Propaganda

Propaganda tactics are timeless. While the game has moved on since the time of Augustus, the rules remain the same. Until the reign of Augustus, no one in Rome had come close to creating a personality cult.  A striking image, a catchy phrase, shocking material – these are the bread and butter of propaganda. It[…]

Gossip: A Powerful Tool for the Powerless in Ancient Greece

Idle gossip or rumor is personified by the Ancient poets. At the heart of the greatest works of Ancient Greek literature are mighty acts of revenge. Revengers overcome their enemies through superior physical prowess, as when Achilles kills Hector in a single combat to avenge the death of his comrade Patroclus; or through their employment[…]

Menelaus of Alexandria and Science in Ancient Greece

Menelaus, and others like him, reduced the physical world to a purely geometric one. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Menelaus of Alexandria was a Greek astronomer, scientist, and mathematician who lived around 100 CE. Menelaus made a significant and lasting contribution to the fields of astronomy, geometry, and trigonometry. His major work, the Spherics survives and presents[…]

The Hippocratic Ideal: Health Care Practices in Ancient Greece

The Hippocratic philosophy on health care provision applied standards and ethical rules that are still valid today. By Dr. Chrisanthos SfakianakisProfessor, Nursing DepartmentTechnological Institute of Crete Abstract Asclepius and Hippocrates focused medical practice on the natural approach and treatment of diseases, highlighting the importance of understanding the patient’s health, independence of mind, and the need[…]

An Empire’s Epidemic: DNA Provides Answers to the Sixth-Century Plague

Disease-bearing mice from lower Egypt reached the harbor town of Pelusium in 540 CE. By Thomas H. Maugh IIStaff WriterLos Angeles Times Introduction By the middle of the 6th century, the Emperor Justinian had spread his Byzantine Empire around the rim of the Mediterranean and throughout Europe, laying the groundwork for what he hoped would[…]

The Antonine Plague in Second-Century Rome

The horrific death toll reduced the number of taxpayers, recruits for the army, candidates for public office, businessmen, and farmers. Introduction The Antonine Plague, sometimes referred to as the Plague of Galen, erupted in 165 CE, at the height of Roman power throughout the Mediterranean world during the reign of the last of the Five Good[…]

Ruling in Ancient Rome: Why Julius Caesar Refused to Be Crowned King

Mark Antony, one of the most powerful politicians in the Roman Republic, offered the nation’s elected leader, Julius Caesar, a crown. A Brief History of Rome According to legend, the Romans had banished their last king in 509 B.C., when they founded the republic and vowed never to be ruled by kings again. Instead, Roman[…]

Sculptor Hiram Powers and His Representation of Slavery in Ancient Greece

His work catapulted Powers to international fame in the 19th century. Introduction They say Ideal beauty cannot enter The house of anguish. On the threshold stands An alien Image with enshackled hands, Called the Greek Slave! as if the artist meant her (That passionless perfection which he lent her, Shadowed not darkened where the sill[…]

The History of Christianity from Its Emergence in the First Century CE

Christianity began in first century C.E. Jerusalem as a Jewish sect, but quickly spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. Introduction The history of Christianity concerns the history of the Christian religion and the Church, from Jesus and his Twelve Apostles and Seventy Disciples to contemporary times. Christianity is the monotheistic religion which considers itself[…]

The Dragon in Ancient China

Dragons were one of the earliest creatures to appear in the tales and legends of ancient China. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Dragons appear in the mythology of many ancient cultures but nowhere else in the world was the creature quite so revered as in China. There, in marked contrast to other world mythologies, the dragon[…]

A History of Chinese Art from the Ancient World to Today

The earliest surviving examples of Chinese painting are fragments of painting on silk, stone, and lacquer items. Introduction Chinese art traditions are the oldest continuous art traditions in the world. Early so-called “stone age art” in China, consisting mostly of simple pottery and sculptures, dates back to 10,000 B.C.E.. This early period was followed by[…]

The Philosophy on the Fear of Death by Lucretius in Ancient Rome

Lucretius was worried that our fear of death could lead to irrational beliefs and actions that could harm society. Introduction With the global spread of the new coronavirus, fears about illness and death weigh heavily on the minds of many. Such fears can often result in a disregard for the welfare of others. All over[…]

Plagues Follow Bad Leadership in Ancient Greek Tales

Plagues functioned as a setup for an even more crucial theme in ancient myth: a leader’s intelligence. Introduction In the fifth century B.C., the playwright Sophocles begins “Oedipus Tyrannos” with the title character struggling to identify the cause of a plague striking his city, Thebes. (Spoiler alert: It’s his own bad leadership.) As someone who[…]

Prehistoric Bird Skull Found in Amber Was Tiny Predator in Time of Giant Dinosaurs

The skull of Oculudentavis provides new clues into the transition from dinosaurs to birds and may be smallest of either ever found. Introduction In 2016, our colleague Xing Lida held up a small piece of polished, deeply yellow amber. As sunlight shone through the ancient resin, Lida saw the outline of a pristinely preserved, amazingly[…]

Phantasmagoria Dinosauria: An Overview of Earth’s Mesozoic Rulers

The taxon Dinosauria was formally named by the English palaeontologist Richard Owen in 1842. Introduction Dinosaurs are an extinct, diverse, largely terrestrial group of vertebrate animals of the Sauropsid orders Saurischia (lizard-hipped) and Ornithischia (bird-hipped) and were the dominant land reptiles for over 160 million years, during the Mesozoic era. Dinosaurs first appeared approximately 230[…]