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Liu Xiu, Emperor Guangwu of Han, Liu Heng, Emperor Wen of Han, or Cao Pi, King of Wei. (Public Domain) Background: Dahuting tomb banquet scene, mural detail, Eastern Han Dynasty. (Public Domain)

Part II: The End Comes Slowly - The Last Han Dynasty Emperors

Read Part I Here Wang Mang’s usurpation of the throne and the establishment of the Xin Dynasty brought the Han Dynasty to a temporary end. Displeasure with the Xin Dynasty, however, caused rebellions...
A portrait painting of Emperor Gao of Han (Liu Bang), from an 18th-century Qing Dynasty album of Chinese emperors' portraits. (Public Domain) Background: A tomb painting of a late Eastern-Han period lively banquet.

A Golden Age of China, Part I: Early Han Dynasty Emperors

The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty in Chinese history. This dynasty was a long one – it was established during the 3rd century BC and lasted all the way until the 3rd century AD. It was...
Detail of Stela 1, Fragment 1, front. La Corona, Guatemala.

Maya Snake King Dynasty Used Local Gods to Gain Authority in Rural Guatemala

Taking political control is often a violent affair, but tactics, knowledge of local customs and beliefs, and trickery can also be used to get an ambitious leader’s foot in the door. New research on...
 The broken top and bottom sections of the Assyrian stele.

British Museum Decided Against Uniting a Cursed Assyrian Stele and Bad Luck Fell to the Police

“Whoever discards this image from the presence of Salmanu puts it into another place, whether he throws it into water or covers it with earth or brings and places it into a taboo house where it is...
Aztec Avenue of the Dead stretches out before pyramids and shops of Mexico.

Did Spanish Spin Doctors Change the Name of Teotihuacan to Sabotage the City?

The famous archaeological site of Teotihuacan may have served a different purpose for the Aztecs to what Spanish chroniclers claimed. A possibly deliberate change of the city’s name suggests that it...
Bust of Nefertiti (ca. 1370 BC – ca. 1330 BC), the Great Royal Wife (chief consort) of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten.

Lady of Interest: Nefertiti Was no Pharaoh, Says Renowned Egyptologist

The bust of Nefertiti is one of the most iconic artifacts from ancient Egypt and the lady herself probably ranks second only to Cleopatra among the most famous queens of the Nile. As such she is...
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...
Liao Dynasty (907-1125) tomb mural by unknown painter in Inner Mongolia. Scene of everyday life. Men and boys have distinctive Khitan hairstyle. (Public Domain) Insert: A famous Liao Dynasty Sancai Luohan, Circa 1000

An Intriguing Empire: The Lasting Impression of the Nomadic Liao Dynasty on Chinese Culture

Well-represented in artifacts found in museums and private collections, the Liao Dynasty rose and expanded as the Tang Dynasty dwindled in power. This was the first state to control all of Manchuria...
A stone cup in the center of burial 80 surrounded by bones during excavation. And the jade mask found in the burial, painted red with cinnabar paint

Oldest Royal Tomb of the Classic Maya Centipede Dynasty is Unearthed in Guatemala

The Ministry of Culture and Sports of Guatemala has declared the excavation of a royal tomb pertaining to a mature man at the Classic Maya city of Waka' as the oldest royal tomb to be discovered at...
King Herihor and Queen Nodjmet adoring the god Osiris in the afterlife. (Photo credits: Trustees of the British Museum (Wikimedia Commons)); Deriv.

The Hunt for Herihor: Waning Pharaonic Power and Advent of Priest-kings–Part I

Early in the Twenty-First Dynasty, a High Priest of Amun-Re, Herihor, declared himself ruler. The custodians of the cult of the state god finally got what they had always yearned for—overtly and...
Representational image of a pharaoh from ‘Pharaoh Notes the Importance of the Jewish People,’ by James Jacques Joseph Tissot.

A King’s Seal? Was Pharaoh Apophis Originally King of the Mythical Kushites?

“A race divided, whom the sloping rays; the rising and the setting sun surveys…” Most researchers assume that the ancient assertion of Kushites ruling the Middle East from Phoenicia to Syria is pure...
Medieval miniature of Æthelflæd in Genealogical roll of the kings of England. 14th century

Æthelflæd: The Anglo-Saxon Iron Lady Who Showed the Vikings No Fear

The UK now has a female prime minister and Elizabeth II has been queen for more than six decades, but few would associate Anglo-Saxon England with powerful women. Nearly 1,100 years ago, however,...
A miniature from the Rashid al-Din’s Jami‘ al-Tawarikh showing Mahmud of Ghazni receiving a richly decorated robe of honour form the Abbasid caliph in 1000 AD.

Mahmud of Ghazni: Merciless Tyrant Obliterated Hindu Temples and Conquered Territories Through Plunder and Slaughter

God be merciful to both father and son! Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country [India], and performed wonderful exploits, by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all...
Pyramid of Pepi II with smaller pyramids for the queens Neith, Iput II and Udjebten.

Documenting 6th Dynasty Pharaohs: The Significant Inscription on the South Saqqara Stone

The sands of Egypt still cover many secrets. One such example was unearthed in the desert in Saqqara, which is now a part of Cairo. The stories of the people who lived there more than 5000 years ago...
Aerial view of the El Palenque royal palace location. This is the oldest palace uncovered to date in this area of Mexico. Insert: King K'inich Kan Balam II of Palenque, Temple XVII panel. Detail.

Evidence of A 2,300-Year-Old Mesoamerican State Society? Immense Palace Complex May Rewrite Mexican History

The remains of an ancient royal palace in have been unearthed in southern Mexico. It is considered to be the oldest royal structure ever excavated in the area – dating back 2,300 years – providing...
Urraca I of Leon by Jose Maria Rodrigues de Losada (deriv.)

Urraca the Reckless: How Did a Child Bride Unify a Kingdom?

Feminine, inspiring, and powerful – these three words could be sufficient to describe the queen whose rule transformed the position of women in medieval courts. Her original stamp on society is felt...

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