The Hurrians of Bronze Age Mesopotamia

By the late Bronze Age, the Hurrians had been assimilated into surrounding cultures in the Near East. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Hurrians (aka Hurri or Khurri) were a Bronze Age people who flourished across the Near East from the 4th millennium BCE to the 1st millennium BCE. Hurrian is also the name of the[…]

Ancient Mesopotamia: Inventing and Reinventing Our World

Discussing the importance of these civilizations, and of how we can better assess and understand their legacy in modern times. In this interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Dr. Clemens Reichel, Associate Curator at the ROM, about the importance of these civilizations, and of how we can better assess and[…]

Design Principles of Early Stone Pagodas in Ancient Korean Architecture

The ancients constructed the pagodas complying with design principles based on the arithmetic and geometric proportional systems. By Dr. Juhwan Cha, Professor of Architecture, Tsinghua UniversityBy Dr. Young Jae Kim, Professor of Architecture, Korea National University of Cultural Heritage Abstract Ancient books on East Asian mathematics introduced to the Korean Peninsula enrich our understanding of[…]

Ancient Cilicia in Anatolia, from the Hittites to Armenia

Because of its geography and location, Cilicia was among the most important regions of the classical world. Introduction Cilicia is the ancient Roman name for the southeastern region of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). It is referenced in the biblical books of Acts and Galatians, was the birthplace of Saint Paul, and the site of his early evangelical missions. The territory was first[…]

Conflict and Celts: The Creation of Ancient Galatia

Galatia was situated in eastern Phrygia, a region now within modern-day Turkey. By Jeffrey KingHistorian Introduction Galatia was the most long-lasting and powerful Celtic settlement outside of Europe. It was the only kingdom of note to be forged during the Celtic invasions of the Mediterranean in the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE. From its foundation,[…]

What a Deer Tooth Necklace Says about Our Ice Age Ancestors

About 19,000 years ago in southwestern France at a site called Saint-Germain-La-Rivière, an adult woman dies and is prepared for burial by members of her society. Ice Age Europe, approximately 20,000-13,500 years ago; a period known as the Magdalenian. The climate is gradually ameliorating after glaciers and cold temperatures reached their height in the Last[…]

The Battle of Carhae: A Roman Catastrophe, 53 BCE

Carrhae proved to be a complete disaster from its beginning. Introduction The Battle of Carrhae in 53 BCE was one of the greatest military catastrophes in all of Roman history when a hero of the  Spartacus  campaign, Marcus Licinius Crassus (115-53 BCE), initiated an unprovoked invasion of Parthian territory (modern Iran). Most of the information concerning the battle and its aftermath[…]

Good Public Relations: What Ancient Persian Propaganda Tells Us about the ‘Nehemiah Memoir’

Inscriptions ranging from the first Persian king, Cyrus, through Artaxerxes reveal elements in common in both Babylonian and Egyptian texts. Stretching from Egypt to the Indus River, the Persian Empire was the largest empire yet seen in the ancient Near East. Typically, the Hebrew Bible depicts ancient Near Eastern empires as divine instruments of punishment.[…]

The King’s Feast: Power and Propaganda at the Neo-Assyrian Royal Table

The Assyrian king was the main promoter of big feasts and special events, during which he played the role of leader and benefactor of his country. Banqueting is a powerful means of communication. Throughout human history, men and women have always done their best to enjoy food as much as possible in social settings in[…]

The Theodosian Walls of Ancient Byzantium

The fortifications were the largest and strongest ever built in either the ancient or medieval worlds. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Theodosian Walls are the fortifications of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire, which were first built during the reign of Theodosius II (408-450 CE). Sometimes known as the Theodosian Long Walls, they built upon[…]

The Varangian Guard: The Byzantine Emperor’s Secret Service

The Varangians were probably as shocking a sight to Byzantine enemies as tanks would have been to WWI infantry. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The mercenary Varangian Guard was an elite Byzantine army corps and the personal bodyguard of emperors beginning with Basil II in c. 988 CE. The Viking unit was famous for the stature[…]

Agriculture in Ancient Rome

The great majority of the people ruled by Rome were engaged in agriculture. Introduction Roman Agriculture describes the farming practices of ancient Rome, an era that lasted 1000 years. From humble beginnings, the Roman Republic (509 BCE to 27 BCE) and empire (27 BCE to 476 CE) expanded to rule much of  Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East and thus comprised a large[…]

Agriculture in Ancient Greece

Agriculture was the foundation of the Ancient Greek economy. Nearly 80% of the population was involved in this activity.[1] Agricultural Products Farm During the early time of Greek history, as shown in the Odyssey, Greek agriculture – and diet – was based on cereals (sitos, though usually translated as wheat, could in fact designate any type of cereal grain). Even if the ancients were[…]

Ancient Manuscripts from the Desert Libraries of Timbuktu

These ancient manuscripts cover every aspect of human endeavor. Introduction Timbuktu, Mali, is the legendary city founded as a commercial center in West Africa nine hundred years ago. Today it is synonymous with the phrase “utterly remote,” but this was not always so. For more than six hundred years, Timbuktu was a significant religious, cultural,[…]

Ten Should-Be Famous Women of Early Christianity

Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Christianity has heard the term ‘Church Fathers’ but far less so ‘Church Mothers’. Introduction Women feature prominently in the gospels and Book of Acts of the Christian New Testament as supporters of Jesus’ ministry. The most famous of these is Mary Magdalene, most likely an upper-class woman of means instead[…]

Crime and Punishment in Ancient Surgery: An Examination of Assyrian and Egyptian Physicians

The history of surgery is a fascinating collection of knowledge from various civilizations dating back up to four thousand years. By Amana Ali and Johna SD Abstract The history of physicians’ roles in ancient Babylonia and Egypt has been studied and documented extensively, however, surgeons’ roles in these societies are somewhat less understood. Ancient Assyrian/Babylonian[…]

The Celtic Invasion of Ancient Greece

While in the Balkans, Celtic tribes managed to conquer several Greek, Illyrian, and Thracian armies, carving out territories in short order. By Jeffrey KingHistorian Introduction Between the 5th and 4th centuries BCE, Celtic tribes moved en masse into southern Europe, intent on seizing land and wealth to feed their swelling numbers. As these tribes began[…]

Ancient Greek Temples of Sicily

Greek temples are one of the earliest well-defined expressions of what we now recognize as the Western tradition in architecture. Introduction There are at least a thousand reasons to visit Sicily, the great island – indeed the largest in the Mediterranean – that forms the triangular football to the boot that is the Italian peninsula. They are all[…]

The Origins and Growth of Yazidism since the Ancient World

For thousands of years, Yazidism incorporated elements of Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Gnosticism, Christianity, and Islam. By Seth EislundStudentCarleton College Introduction Yazidism is a syncretic, monotheistic religion practiced by the Yazidis, an ethnoreligious group which resides primarily in northern Iraq, northern Syria, and southeastern Turkey. Yazidism is considered by its adherents to be the oldest religion in[…]

Santorini Volcano: Scientists Learn More about the Bronze Age Monster

Geophysicists use sound waves to build a picture of the magma and rock beneath this active volcano, most of which is underwater. It’s like CT scanning the Earth. Introduction The island of Santorini in the Mediterranean has attracted people for millennia. Today, it feels magical to watch the sun set from cliffs over the deep[…]

Exploring Western Crete’s Ancient Minoan Archaeological Treasures

Remainders of Crete’s extraordinary past are scattered all over the island. Introduction As the cradle of European Civilization and a meeting place of diverse cultures, Crete is a magical island that stands apart in the heart of the Mediterranean sea. Its prominent place in world history dates back to the mysterious and fascinating Bronze Age civilization of the Minoans, who were building lavish labyrinth-like[…]

Battle of the Granicus: Alexander the Great’s Opening Move on Persia

It was here, against all odds, that Alexander defeated the forces of the Persian satraps of Asia Minor. Introduction The Battle of the Granicus River in May 334 BC was the first of three major battles fought between Alexander the Great and the Persian Empire. Fought in northwestern Asia Minor, near the site of Troy,[…]

On the Pallava Trail in Kanchipuram

The creativity of the Pallavas did not diminish throughout their reign. By Anantha Krishnan Introduction The Pallavas ruled south-eastern India from the 3rd through the 9th centuries CE. Their empire covered what is today the Tamil Nadu state. Their origin is shrouded in mystery though historians believe their roots might have been from Andhra Pradesh[…]

How Modern Disputes Have Reshaped the Ancient Canaanite City of Banias

Banias was first settled by the Canaanites c.198 BCE and later renamed Caesarea Philippi by the Romans in 4 BCE. In the complex world of Middle Eastern boundary disputes, spare a thought for Banias, the ancient City of Pan. Straddling a strategic crossroads, it has for centuries seen masters come and go. Today’s tug-of-war is[…]

Archaeology and Religion in Late Bronze Age Canaan

Numerous excavations and a fairly large number of contemporary written documents give us a good picture of the religious system and cult practices in Canaan. Abstract Dozens of temples were excavated in the Canaanite city-states of the Late Bronze Age. These temples were the focal points for the Canaanites’ cultic activities, mainly sacrifices and ceremonial[…]

The Ancient Macedonian Conquest of Persia

The conquest of Persia was not preordained and those living within its vast empire could never foresee its fall. Introduction In the year 356 BC, the Persian Empire still stood strong and seemed as if it would last another hundred years. However, on the 20th of July a sign was sent that brought the men of[…]

The Strength and Structure of the Ancient Persian Army

The Persian Army became a multi-cultural force consisting of a fusion of soldiers from Persia or the Medes, as well as various warriors from all subject nations. By Michelle Chua Introduction No ruler can expand his territory without an army. The massive Persian army, reported by Greek historian, Herotodus, to be about 2,641,610 warriors strong[1] during the invasion of[…]

Celtic Warfare, from the Ancient Hallstatt to La Tene Cultures

Warfare was interwoven into Celtic social structures, art, religion, and lifestyle. By Jeffrey KingHistorian Introduction The Celts were a linguistic group which spanned across a wide geographic area and included numerous cultures and ethnicities. Because of this fact, the traditions, practices, and lifestyles of Celtic-speaking peoples varied considerably. The importance of warfare and the traditions surrounding war were one common thread of[…]

Topography and Prehistoric Britain

Britain’s prehistoric landscapes are depicted in prints and drawings across the British Library’s collections. The prehistoric monuments of Britain are strewn across the landscape but because their identity and purpose has been obscured, they have presented a challenge to topographers.  Of all of them, Stonehenge was too monumental to be ignored and its representation dominates[…]