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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.

Scene from the movie, Troy, loosely based on Homer’s Iliad. (Troy)

Toxic Masculinity Fostered by Misreadings of the Classics

Homer’s Iliad has been used by some men to hail the virtues of traditional masculinity in the 21st century. Typically, the famous work of literature serves as a sort of manual of manliness . Scholars...
Detail from the outermost shrine of Tutankhamun showing a seated deity; design by Anand Balaji

KV62, Designed to Confound: Wealth of Mysteries in the Curious Tomb of Tutankhamun—Part II

Egyptological scholars are divided over whether a right-hand turn to the burial chamber in an Eighteenth Dynasty tomb signifies that it belonged to a female pharaoh. With this feature present in the...
The entrance to KV62, the tomb of Tutankhamun, in the Valley of the Kings; design by Anand Balaji

KV62, Designed to Confound: Was Tutankhamun’s Tomb built for a Female Pharaoh?—Part I

One of the greatest enigmas in all of Egyptology is the location of the final resting place of Queen Nefertiti, a powerful royal personage of the late Eighteenth Dynasty. Barring pieces of a votive...
Palmyrean triad: Baalshamin, master of the skies, the Moon-god Aglibol and the Sun-god Malakbel (Yarhibol). Cultual relief, limestone, first half of the 1st century AD, found in one of the routes to Palmyra. The stele bears religious inscriptions carved by passers-by.

Scholar Made the Ultimate Sacrifice to Save Ancient Palmyra Treasures from the Hands of ISIS

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose real name was Ibrahim al-Badri, was once a lecturer of Islamic studies and an Imam at mosques in Baghdad and Falluja. He also served as an officer in the army of Saddam...
Artist’s representation of Ragnar Lothbrok.

Ragnar Lothbrok: Legendary Hero or Historical Figure?

According to legend, Ragnar Lothbrok was a king of Denmark who succeeded Sigurd Hring in 804 AD. Some historians identify him with Reginherus, a Norse chieftain who was responsible for the siege of...
Bjorn Ironside as depicted in the TV series ‘Vikings.’

Bjorn Ironside: Viking Trickster and Founder of a House of Swedish Royalty

Bjorn Ironside was a famous Viking leader who legends say ruled Sweden as the first king from the House of Munsö. He lived during the 9th century AD and his father was the legendary Ragnar Lodbrok...
The character Hvitserk, probably a nickname for Halfdan Ragnarsson, in the series Vikings.

Halfdan Ragnarsson: Viking Commander and King of Dublin

Halfdan Ragnarsson was a Viking who lived during the 9th century. He is best remembered for being one of the commanders of the Great Heathen Army which invaded the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England...
The Great Heathen Army

The Great Heathen Army: Viking Coalition Becomes an Anglo-Saxon Nightmare

Viking raids may have been a common factor in the life of a 9th century Anglo Saxon, but there was something terrifyingly distinct when an army emerged seeking revenge. The Great Heathen Army would...
King Leonidas by David Baldo

After 300: The Posthumous Vengeance of King Leonidas of Sparta

Mythologically descended from the hero Herakles, the Agiad dynasty of ancient Sparta reigned alongside the Eurypontids almost since the beginning of the city-state. When war was on the borders of...
François Clouet - Dame au bain (Portrait of Diane de Poitiers)

A Mistress with the Midas Touch: Her Hunger for Gold Would Be the Death of Her

Diane de Poitiers was a French noblewoman and courtier who lived during the 16 th century. She is best remembered for being the mistress of Henry II, the King of France. This allowed Diane to wield...
Mosaic of the vault of the chapel of San Zeno (IX century).

Jesus’ Fashion Faux Pas: What Was He Wearing?

Joan Taylor / The Conversation Over the past few decades, the question of what Jesus looked like has cropped up again and again. Much has been made of a digital reconstruction of a Judaean man...
Detail of the Berlin bust of Nefertiti; and the latest 3D sculpture of the queen based on the mummy of the Younger Lady; design by Anand Balaji

Bust of Contention: Nefertiti’s sculpture raises issues of Race and Color—Part II

The recent attempt at reconstructing the face of the iconic beauty, Nefertiti, by basing her looks on the mummy of the Younger Lady found in KV35 has caused an enormous uproar among Egyptophiles all...
Limestone trial piece showing the head of Nefertiti; and detail of the mummy of the Younger Lady; design by Anand Balaji (Photo credit: Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin and G. Elliot Smith); Deriv.

Bust of Contention: Controversy erupts as the Younger Lady is dubbed Nefertiti—Part I

Few ancient Egyptian royals are capable of garnering as much attention, generating frenzy, and stoking controversy globally as the legendary beauty Queen Nefertiti can. Despite having been a powerful...
A shepherd (Jesus? Tammuz? Other?) with his flock.

Tammuz and Jesus: More Than a Distant Connection?

Christianity has its origins in a Middle Eastern religion, Judaism, so it is little surprise that there are some residual similarities between Christian theological thought and ancient Middle Eastern...
Scene from the decorated upper portion of the East wall in KV62 shows the mummified Tutankhamun lying supine within a tall, garland-bedecked shrine; design by Anand Balaji (Photo credit: Meretseger Books); Deriv.

Nefertiti and a Rush of Scans: Will the Beautiful One Arise in the King’s Valley? — Part II

After nearly a year of silence, the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings is once again back in focus thanks to the Ministry of Antiquities granting permission to a team of Italian experts...
Superimposed photo of Nefertiti’s bust on Tutankhamun’s mask; and artist’s rendering of the proposed rooms behind the KV62 burial chamber; design by Anand Balaji (Photo credit: Roy Lester Pond and Anand Balaji/Deposit Photos); Deriv.

Nefertiti and a Rush of Scans: Race to find Double Burial Gathers Steam—Part I

The world famous tomb of Tutankhamun was thrust into the spotlight like never before, ever since Dr Nicholas Reeves published a paper titled The Burial of Nefertiti? in August 2015. Based on ultra-...

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