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Famous People

In this section, we shed light on some of the most famous and infamous people known throughout history, from powerful pharaohs, to emperors and empresses, acclaimed military leaders, or just regular civilians who’ve been thrown into the spotlight for great crimes or for heroic actions, leaving an indelible mark on the world.

Pliny the Elder

The Illustrious Life of Pliny the Elder, Ancient Historian and Roman Commander

Gaius Plinius Secundus, better known in history as Pliny the Elder, was an influential administrator, officer, and author during his life. Although he was only fifty-six years old at the time of his...
The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon, painting by Edward Poynter, 1890, Art Gallery of New South Wales

The Ethiopian Gold Mine that may have supplied the Queen of Sheba with her riches

Ever wondered where the Queen of Sheba got her gold from? Sudan and Ethiopia are both in the region of what was the kingdom of Sheba, and both have ancient mines. In fact, the Asosa zone of Ethiopia...
A depiction of Sextus Empiricus.

Sextus Empiricus: Suspending Judgement and Promoting a Skeptical Search for Truth

The following two quotes will help you gain a quick perspective on how the ancient philosopher Sextus Empiricus understood the world: Those who claim for themselves to judge the truth are bound to...
Detail of Qin Shi Huang's imperial tour across his empire. Depiction in an 18th century album.

How the Search for Immortality Killed the First Emperor of China

No man had ever risen as high as Qin Shi Huang. He was the first emperor of China - the first man to conquer its seven kingdoms and rule them all. There was only one threat left for him to overcome:...
Deriv. Image of Native American woman, believed to be Juana Maria, of the Nicoleño tribe

Juana Maria, the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island

Island of the Blue Dolphins is a book written by the American author Scott O’Dell about a girl stranded on an island in the Pacific. This popular children’s novel is based on a real story of a woman...
Kamehameha the Great

Secret and Safe: Hawaiian Royal Burials and the Missing Bones of Kamehameha the Great

The magical properties associated with the bones of Hawaiian kings were valuable to the ancient Hawaiians, and were even seen potentially dangerous. Great rites and elaborate ceremonies were...
Detail of a statue of Mahavira at Shri Mahavirji, Rajasthan.

Mahavira: Abandoning Luxury to Revive Jainism

“A living body is not merely an integration of limbs and flesh but it is the abode of the soul which potentially has perfect perception (Anant-darshana), perfect knowledge (Anant-jnana), perfect...
Death of Sardanapalus by Eugène Delacroix.

Did the Pleasure-Seeking Epicurus Really Prescribe Hedonistic Happiness?

Epicureanism is a philosophical system based on the teachings of Epicurus which is, in today’s world, often equated with hedonism. Whilst this may be true to some extent, it is an over-simplification...
Philosopher Plotinus with his disciple

Plotinus: Platonism with a Twist for Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Thinkers

Plotinus was an ancient Greek-speaking philosopher who lived during the 3rd century AD. He is generally considered to be the founder of Neoplatonism, though Plotinus may have actually considered...
Discovery of Brazil. Pedro Alvares Cabral sees the land that would later be known as Brazil for the first time

Pedro Alvares Cabral: The Lucky Lost Navigator Who Made Brazil Portuguese

Pedro Alvares Cabral was a Portuguese explorer and navigator who lived between the 15th and 16th centuries. He is generally given credit for being the first person from Europe to have ‘discovered’...
The body of Maria Adelaide.

The Minor Miracles of Maria Adelaide, Folk-Saint of Brides

Maria Adelaide was a Portuguese woman who lived and died during the 19th century. Although not officially recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church, she is popularly considered to be one by the...
Ching Shih – from Prostitute to Pirate Lord

Ching Shih – from Prostitute to Pirate Lord

Ching Shih (or Zheng Shi) was a Chinese prostitute who became a powerful female pirate, controlling the infamous Red Flag Fleet. The fleet grew under her command, with expanding reserves of loot, and...
Detail of a figure of a Xianbei warrior. (Editor at Large/CC BY SA 2.5) Background: Filial sons and virtuous women in Chinese history, a lacquer painting over a four-panel wooden folding screen; from the tomb of Sima Jinlong in Datong, Shanxi province, dated to the Northern Wei Dynasty (386–534 AD)

The Xianbei: A Chinese Dynasty Emerges from Nomadic Warriors of the Steppe

The Xianbei people … invade our frontiers so frequently that hardly a year goes by in peace, and it is only when the trading season arrives that they come forward in submission. But in so doing they...
Chinese temple on a lake

The Chinese Emperor Who Built A Lake of Wine and a Forest of Meat

The last ruler of China’s Shang Dynasty knew how to relax. When he and his Queen wanted to unwind, they would head to his pleasure palace and take a dip in their lake of wine. That wasn’t just a cute...
Abaqa On Horse, Arghun Standing, Ghazan As A Child. Mongol rulers Arghun and Abaqa were Buddhists. From the 14th century Universal History by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani.

Adapting Buddhism: Ancient Disciples of Siddhartha Gautama in Afghanistan and Iran

Buddhism, in the first few centuries following the death of the Buddha, spread from India mainly to China, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia. One place where its presence is less studied, in some ways...
Was Wang Mang a visionary, or a murderous villain – or both? (Wang Mang art italkcafe.com, The Analects of Confucius; Deriv)

The Emperor is Dead, Let Confucianism and Chaos Reign! The Rise and Fall of Wang Mang and the Xin Dynasty

Some saw Wang Mang as an evil usurper – others a selfless visionary. Either way, an emperor lay dead, and a learned Confucian scholar sought to bring peace and harmony, but the dynasty would descend...

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