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History

From the powerful civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Indus Valley, to the fearsome yet sophisticated society of the Vikings, the ancient world was a surprising and challenging place. Here we feature some of the most seminal and influential events and people throughout history, that have helped shape the world we know today.

Thousands of talatat blocks from Akhenaten's dismantled Aten temples lie in the precincts of Karnak complex; design by Anand Balaji

Akhenaten, the Savior of Karnak: Breaking Ties with “tainted” Amun - Part II

(Read Part I) Trouble brewed on the horizon when Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten in Regnal Year 5 in honor of his “father” the Aten, and abandoned Thebes (Waset) to occupy a desolate...
Enormous columns in the Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak Temple complex, modern-day Luxor; design by Anand Balaji

Akhenaten, the Savior of Karnak: Sun God Vs the Hidden One - Part I

The fifth year of Pharaoh Akhenaten’s reign was to prove a watershed moment in ancient Egyptian history. In a bid to break free from the shackles of the influential Amun-Ra priesthood, the ruler...
The Alchemist.

Spagyric Secrets of The Alchemists: Alchemy as Alternative Medicine

Even the best read of us sometimes come up against a word which needs a quick check in the dictionary, and Spagyric is one of those words. To discover the origins and magical meaning of this ancient...
The Desert Caravan by Edmund Berninger

Did Jesus of Nazareth Travel to the Far East?

It is a mistake to think there wasn’t international travel during Jesus’ time. As this map of ancient merchant routes shows, the known world was linked by land and sea. Perhaps with some helpful...
A fragment of a wall painting showing two lovers in bed from the House of L Caecilius Jucundus in Pompeii, now at Naples National Archaeological Museum.

The Erotic Art of Ancient Greece and Rome

Craig Barker / The Conversation Rarely does L.P. Hartley’s dictum that “the past is a foreign country” hold more firmly than in the area of sexuality in classical art. Erotic images and depictions of...
A Greek amphora showing athletes, 4th century BC. ©Trustees of the British Museum.

Mythbusting Ancient Rome: Did Christians Ban The Ancient Olympics?

Every two years, when the Winter or Summer Olympics comes around, we hear about how the games staged at Olympia in Greece since 776 BC came to a sudden end in the late fourth century AD. The finger...
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...
A damaged relief from his palace-cum-mortuary temple at Medinet Habu shows King Ramesses III making offerings to the gods; design by Anand Balaji

Enduring Mystery of the Screaming Mummy: Abominable Crime and a Disgraced Prince—Part II

The devious plot of the secondary wife, Queen Tiye, to murder King Ramesses III came-a-cropper. In no time the conspirators, who included palace staff and her own son, were apprehended, interrogated...
Close-up view of the “Screaming Mummy” with its horrific expression. It was discovered by Émile Brugsch in the Deir el-Bahri (DB320) cache in 1881; design by Anand Balaji (Photo credit: G. Elliot Smith); Deriv.

Enduring Mystery of the Screaming Mummy: Mortal Wounds and Divine Justice—Part I

The hideously contorted facial features of ‘Unknown Man E’ - also called the ‘Screaming Mummy’ - are unlike any we have witnessed in an ancient Egyptian mummy. It bears mute testimony to the gruesome...
A caricature of the crew of HMS Beagle painted off the coast of Argentina (at Bahía Blanca) around 24 September 1832, presumed painted by the shipboard artist Augustus Earle. Described by Sotheby’s as "one of the earliest depictions of Darwin, the only image of him on the Beagle, and an exceptionally rare image of him at work as a naturalist". By  Augustus Earle (1793 – 1838)

The Californian OOPArt versus Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

Archaeologists, anthropologists and geologists in the field sometimes discover objects in seemingly impossible contexts, which don’t immediately fit their models of evolution or history as we know it...
Skulls from the Andean Paracas (top left). (CC BY-SA 3.0); Paracas skull at Ica Museum(right). (CC BY 2.0); Child head shaping methods (bottom left).

Elongated Skulls Increased Kudos in Ancient Peru

Archaeologists dig them up all over the ancient world from Egypt to Peru, and now, these curious elongated skulls are believed to have been “status symbols,” according to a recent paper in Current...
Detail of ‘Solitude’ (circa 1890) by Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton.

Alone Need Not Be Lonely: What Joyous Solitude of Early Hermits Can Teach Us

Kim Haines-Eitzen / The Conversation In today’s world, loneliness seems to have reached epidemic proportions. Countless studies have highlighted the serious and negative impact that loneliness has on...
The Massacre of Glencoe James Hamilton (1853–1894)

Mapping A Massacre for Old Times Sake

Archaeologists in Scotland are to bring alive “the human story” of the Glencoe massacre, one of the most violent episodes in British history. Three former settlements in the magnificent Glencoe...
Arabian Nights by Jean-Joseph Benjamin Constant (1845 – 1902) (Public Domain)

Romance of the Beautiful Slave and the Rebellious Ruler: Al-Khayzuran and Al-Mahdi

Arabian Nights conjure up images of romantic love stories of slave girls’ rags to riches journeys of the heart. We celebrate Valentine’s Day with the real love story of such a slave girl. It was not...
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...

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