Nero: Unstable ‘Mad Emperor’ of Ancient Rome

He is traditionally viewed as the second of the so-called “Mad Emperors,” the first being Caligula. Introduction Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (December 15, 37 C.E. – June 9, 68 C.E.), born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, also called Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus, was the fifth and last Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty (54 C.E. –[…]

Cyrus the Great and Religious Tolerance in Achaemenid Persia

Cyrus was far different from other kings of his time in the ways he chose to rule. “Whenever you can, act as a liberator. Freedom, dignity, wealth–these three together constitute the greatest happiness of humanity. If you bequeath all three to your people, their love for you will never die.”[1] Vision and Motivation In 550[…]

Aristotle’s ‘Constitution of the Athenians’

Ancient accounts of Aristotle credit him with 170 Constitutions of various states. Introduction The Constitution of the Athenians is a work by Aristotle or one of his students. The work describes the constitution of Classical Athens, commonly called the Areopagite constitution. It was preserved on two leaves of a papyrus codex discovered at Oxyrhynchus, Egypt[…]

The “Success” of the Yellow Turban Rebellion

They wanted to create a utopian state different from the current Confucian form of government. By Ryann Cervantes The Han dynasty in China lasted from 206 BCE to 220 CE and was ultimately brought down by the conflict that came from the Yellow Turban Rebellion and dynasty’s own inability to keep control of its territory.[…]

The Mandate of Heaven and the Yellow Turban Rebellion in Ancient China

A dynasty was considered just and worthy to rule only as long as it upheld divine will, determined by how well the government cared for the people. Introduction Throughout history, in order for a government to be respected and obeyed, it must possess some form of legitimacy recognized by the governed. Governmental systems have relied[…]

Ancient Roman Censors: Moral Monitors, Population Counters, Tax Collectors

Censors were elected every four or five years by the comitia centuriata, the assembly of Rome with a wealth qualification for members. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction A censor was one of two senior magistrates in the city of ancient Rome who supervised public morals, maintained the list of citizens and their tax obligations known as[…]

Ancient Athens, Pericles, and the Alcmeonids

The career of Pericles and of the extension of Athenian democracy that took shape under his direction. Introduction In 432 B.C. , just prior to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, the Spartans escalated their diplomatic offensive against the Athenians by reminding them that their leader Pericles was polluted by a curse, and they demanded[…]

The Pre- and Post-Kievan East Slavs

By 600 CE, the Slavs had split linguistically into southern, western, and eastern branches. Introduction The East Slavs are Slavic peoples speaking the East Slavic languages. Formerly the main population of the loose medieval Kievan Rus federation state[2], by the seventeenth century they evolved into the Belarusian, Russian, Rusyn and Ukrainian[3] people. Sources Researchers know[…]

The Ancient Jutland Cimbri during the Roman Empire

Their annihilation on the Raudian plain was not the last time they would clash arms with Rome. By Ludwig Heinrich DyckHistorian Introduction The Cimbri were a tribe who lived in northern Jutland during the Roman era. Their ethnicity is enigmatic; scholars generally believe that the Cimbri were Germans, though others maintain that they were Celts.[…]

Chavín de Huántar, Temple of Ancient Peru

Over the course of 700 years, the site drew many worshipers to its temple. Chavín de Huántar is an archaeological and cultural site in the Andean highlands of Peru. Once thought to be the birthplace of an ancient “mother culture,” the modern understanding is more nuanced. The cultural expressions found at Chavín most likely did[…]

Darius I: Revising the Administrative System of Ancient Persia

Darius thoroughly revised the Persian system of administration and also the legal code. Introduction Darius the Great (Darayawush I) (ca. 549 B.C.E. – 485/486 B.C.E.; Old Persian Dārayawuš: “He Who Holds Firm the Good”), was the son of Hystaspes and Persian Emperor from 522 B.C.E. to 485/486 B.C.E. His name in Modern Persian is Dariush,[…]

Social, Political, and Environmental Characteristics of Early Civilizations

Complex societies took the forms of larger agricultural villages, cities, city-states, and states, which shared many features. A New Social Order About 12,000 years ago, human communities started to function very differently than in the past. Rather than relying primarily on hunting or gathering food, many societies created systems for producing food. By about 10,000[…]

Primate Activity with Stones Hints at How Human Tool Use Evolved

Studying animal tooling can provide clues to the mysteries of human evolution. Human beings used to be defined as “the tool-maker” species. But the uniqueness of this description was challenged in the 1960s when Dr. Jane Goodall discovered that chimpanzees will pick and modify grass stems to use to collect termites. Her observations called into[…]

Zorvanism: Zorastrian Sect in the Ancient Persian Achaemenid Empire

It is often referenced as a Zoroastrian heresy because it departed significantly from central Zoroastrian beliefs. Introduction Zorvanism (also given as Zuvanism, Zurvanism) was a sect of the Persian religion Zoroastrianism which emerged in the late Achaemenid Empire (c. 550-330 BCE) and flourished during the Sassanian Empire (224-651 CE). It is often referenced as a[…]

Avesta: Scripture of Zoroastrianism

It was developed from an oral tradition founded by the prophet Zoroaster sometime between c. 1500-1000 BCE. Introduction The Avesta is the scripture of Zoroastrianism which developed from an oral tradition founded by the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathustra, Zartosht) sometime between c. 1500-1000 BCE. The title is generally accepted as meaning “praise”, though this interpretation is[…]

Zoroastrianism: Monotheism in Ancient Persia

Zoroastrianism was adopted by the Achaemenid Empire, the Parthian Empire, and found its fullest expression under the Sassanian Empire. Introduction Zoroastrianism is the monotheistic faith established by the Persian prophet Zoroaster (also given as Zarathustra, Zartosht) between c. 1500-1000 BCE. It holds that there is one supreme deity, Ahura Mazda (Lord of Wisdom), creator and[…]

Zarathustra: Zoroaster By Any Other Name

Introduction Zoroaster (also known as Zarathustra) was an important religious figure in ancient Persia (present-day Iran and surrounding areas), whose teachings became the foundation of a religious movement named Zoroastrianism, a tradition that would largely dominate Persia until the mid-7th century CE, when Islam gained ascendancy in the region after the fall of the Sasanian[…]

Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Persia

Ancient Persia had the same interest in what happens after death as any culture in the present day. Introduction A vision of the afterlife is articulated by every culture, ancient or modern, in an effort to answer the question of what happens after death, and this was as true for the ancient Persian view of[…]

Ancient Persian Mythology

The ancient Persian religious tradition was passed down orally, and the only written texts relating to it come from after the prophet Zoroaster. Introduction The mythology of ancient Persia originally developed in the region known as Greater Iran (the Caucasus, Central Asia, South Asia, and West Asia). The Persians were initially part of a migratory[…]

Iran’s History and Culture from the Ancient World to Today

Developments here had a decisive impact on the progress of human history. Introduction Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and formerly known as “Persia” in the West, is one of the world’s oldest continuous major civilizations, and is one of the few states that comprise the Cradle of Humanity. The history of Iran covers[…]

Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Jerusalem

Jerusalem has been an urban center for approximately 5,000 years. Introduction Jerusalem is the capital of the modern nation of Israel and a major holy city for the three Western traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It sits on spurs of bedrock between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea area. To the north and west, it[…]

The Dodekaschoinos: Lower Nubian “Twelve Cities” under Ptolemaic Rule in Ancient Egypt

The beginning of Ptolemaic influence in Nubia began when Ptolemy II led a campaign against the kingdom of Meroe c. 275 BCE. By Arienne King Introduction The Dodekaschoinos (literally “Twelve Cities” in Greek) was the name of a region in Lower Nubia that became an important province of the Ptolemaic Kingdom after it was annexed from Meroitic Nubia[…]

Ancient ‘Gum’ Reveals 5,000-Year-Old DNA

Researchers have extracted a complete ancient human genome from birch pitch, a 5,700-year-old type of ancient “chewing gum”. By Cecelie Krabbe Introduction The researchers believe it marks the first time that anyone has extracted an entire ancient human genome from anything other than human bones. “It is amazing to have gotten a complete ancient human[…]

The Ancient Roots and Modern Forms of Traditional Persian Music

Iran’s traditional music carries messages of beauty, joy, sorrow and love to the world. Introduction Weaving through the rooms of my Brisbane childhood home, carried on the languid, humid, sub-tropical air, was the sound of an Iranian tenor singing 800-year old Persian poems of love. I was in primary school, playing cricket in the streets,[…]

Ancient Persian Silk Spinning Still Practiced in Iran

There are silk makers in different parts of Iran who still practice the trade their ancestors did some 3,000 years ago. For more than three millennia, silk thread produced in Iran has been used to make clothing fabric and for weaving Persian rugs. In many of these small villages along the Iran-Afghanistan border, families receive[…]

The Armored Body as Trophy in Shakespeare’s Roman Plays

The treatment of the military subject in Shakespeare’s Roman plays complicates early modern cultural understandings of the material aspects of militant nostalgia. Remembering Rome, performing Rome… Introduction At the end of Book 12 of Virgil’s Aeneid, Aeneas is described as “stetit acer in armis” or “ferocious in his armor,” a colossal and threatening force, a[…]