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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.

Face of the coffin in which the mummy of Ramesses II was found. (Credit: Petra Lether, designed by Anand Balaji)

Living God in a Wooden Box: In Whose Coffin was Ramesses II Buried?

Usermaatre Setepenre Ramesses II, the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty, was one of ancient Egypt’s longest-reigning monarchs. In an astonishing sixty-seven regnal years – the glory days of...
King Arthur monument in Tintagel, Cornwall.(left), Excalibur in Brocéliande Forest, Brittany, France.(right)

Has the King Arthur Gene Been Traced?

If stories of King Arthur and his knights are based on real people their DNA markers should still be with us today. New DNA research has perhaps found the King Arthur gene. The Genetic Lead R1b-L513...
Detail of a Fresco from the North wall of the Tomb of the Diver in Paestum, Italy depicting Pederastic couples at a symposium.

Assassins in Ancient Athens: The Tyrannicides, Harmodius and Aristogeiton

Harmodius and Aristogeiton: the citizens of Athens knew the names of these lovers all too well in the 6th century BC. But it isn’t their love story that captured attention. These two men are...
Illustrations to Dante's "Divine Comedy" - "Minos" by William Blake.

In Search of the Mythical King Minos, Did the Legendary Ruler Really Exist?

When we think of Minos, two images immediately come to mind: (1) the legendary and cruel tyrant of Crete who demanded the tribute of Athenian youths to feed to the Minotaur in the Labyrinth and (2) a...
The Alchymist, in Search of the Philosopher's Stone by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1771.

Lord Kelvin’s Lost Alchemical Chamber of Secrets

In the world of historical investigation and detection, luck, is a universal component that often leads one to otherwise hidden realms. That is precisely what happened to me in 2009 while undertaking...
Statue of Saint Isidore of Seville.

St. Isidore of Seville: Patron Saint of …. The Internet?!

The Catholic tradition of assigning the patronage of saints to certain places, careers, or activities is usually obvious. For example, St. Luke was a physician and he’s one of the patrons of doctors...
Bust of Aeschylus, Zappeion, Athens. (Tilemachos Efthimiadis/CC BY SA 2.0) Illustration of the death of Aeschylus.

Eagle Mistakes Bald Head for a Rock: The Bizarre Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Aeschylus

Aeschylus, widely regarded as the “Father of Tragedy,” was one of the first of classical Athens’ great dramatists. He raised the emerging art of tragedy to new heights of poetry and theatrical power...
Gladiators fighting.

The Gladiators Priscus and Verus: Equal they Fought, Equal they Yielded

“As Priscus and Verus each drew out the contest and the struggle between the pair long stood equal, shouts loud and often sought discharge for the combatants. But Titus obeyed his own law (the law...
Aristotle's School, a painting from the 1880s by Gustav Adolph Spangenberg.

The Nicomachean Ethics: How to Approach the Ethical Musings of Aristotle

Aristotle spoke thoughtfully as he strolled along the natural pathways of the Lyceum and his companions were entranced by their teacher’s words. His philosophical musings seemed to intertwine...
2nd century AD copy of a 4th cent. BC sculpture of Aristotle, which Alexander the Great commissioned from the sculptor Lysippus.

Aristotle: The Man Who Needs No Introduction

Before embarking on our journey to character and (self) leadership, we should briefly discuss the life and work of Aristotle, the man and the philosopher - he who needs no introduction. Aristotle’s...
Exhibit in the Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

Saint Brendan and His Epic Voyage: Was the Irish Saint the First European in the New World?

Saint Brendan (also referred to by his various epithets ‘the Navigator’, ‘the Voyager’, ‘the Anchorite’, and ‘the Bold’) was an Irish saint who lived between the 5th and 6th centuries AD known for...
Detail of ‘Man eating noodles’ (1656) by Jan Vermeer van Utrecht.

A Deadly Bite: The Plight of the Ancient Food Taster

Poison was a potent weapon that could be used by would-be assassins to get rid of their targets. This was especially useful when the target was a person in power and was surrounded by bodyguards. One...
An illustration of François l’Olonnais.

François l’Olonnais: Cunning and Cruel Pirate and Flail of the Spanish

François l’Olonnais was a notorious French buccaneer who lived during the 17th century. l’Olonnais’ career as a pirate lasted about 10 years, from 1660 till his death in 1668/9. During this period,...
A typical depiction of a pirate

French Pirate Olivier Levasseur Left Behind a Curious Cryptogram – Does it Lead to his Long-Lost Treasure?

Olivier Levasseur (known also by his nicknames ‘La Buse’, meaning ‘the Buzzard’, or ‘La Bouche’, meaning ‘the Mouth’) was a French pirate who was active during the 1st half of the 18th century...
Taking of Jerusalem by the Crusaders, 15th July 1099, Emile Signol

Why the Crusades Were Not a ‘Clash of Civilizations’

Ask pretty much anyone – whether terrorists, politicians (of all camps), dinner party guests, or religious leaders – and the one thing that they will say with confidence about the Crusades is that...
Depiction of the hanging of Elizabeth Wilson, with William Wilson coming with the pardon (from a later edition of The Pennsylvania Hermit).

The Pennsylvania Hermit: The Woeful Tale of a Grieving Brother’s Broken-hearted Hermitage

William “Amos” Wilson, who is known also as the Pennsylvania Hermit, is a figure in the folklore of Pennsylvania, more specifically of its south-eastern and south-central regions. William lived...

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