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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.

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...
Maria Reiche measuring the Nazca Lines.

Maria Reiche: The Governess of Nazca

Today, the birthday of the German lady who contributed greatly to our understanding of the famous Nazca Lines in Peru, is being marked by Google Doodle and others. Maria Reiche was a talented...
Tiberius as Jupiter – II.

Was Emperor Tiberius Simply Destined to Rule?

Tiberius was a Roman emperor who ruled the empire during the first half of the 1st century AD. As he was the successor of Augustus Caesar, his adoptive father, he was the second ruler of the Roman...
 A portrait painting of Emperor Gao of Han (Liu Bang), from an 18th-century Qing Dynasty album of Chinese emperors' portraits. (Public Domain) Background: ‘Entry of the First Emperor of the Han Dynasty into Guanzhong’ (early 12th century) by Zhao Boju.

The Rags to Riches Story of Liu Bang: Peasant, Rebel, Chinese Emperor

Liu Bang’s life is a rags to riches story. He was born into a peasant family but rose to become the emperor of China. In fact, Liu Bang (known also as Emperor Gaozu of Han) was the generally...
Zhuge Liang cartoon image.

The Legend of Zhuge Liang Seeking a Wife

By Epoch Times Zhuge Liang was a famous politician, military strategist, and inventor during China’s Three Kingdoms Period. There are several versions of how he met his wife, known as Lady Huang. The...
Famous Alexander Mosaic, showing Battle of Issus. Alexander is depicted mounted, on the left.

Why did Alexander the Great Really Invade the Persian Empire?

By Cam Rea/ Classical Wisdom Alexander of Macedon, more widely known as Alexander the Great, is one of history’s most famous conquerors. Many historians, poets, and writers have been mesmerized by...
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...

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