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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.

‘The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra’, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

Searching for the Lost Tomb of Antony and Cleopatra

Mark Antony and Cleopatra are among the most famous pairs of lovers from the ancient world. Following their defeat at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, their final refuge from the victorious Octavian...
Daniel del Valle, Moctezuma II Museo Nacional De Arte

Moctezuma II, The Emperor who Lost an Empire

Moctezuma II was the 9 th ruler of the Aztec Empire, whose unfortunate reign coincided with the arrival of the Spanish under the conquistador Hernan Cortez (Hernán Cortés). Moctezuma is remembered...
A painting depicting a debate between Socrates and Aspasia, by Nicolas André Monsiaux, circa 1800.

Elite Companions, Flute Girls and Child Slaves: Sex Work in Ancient Athens

Marguerite Johnson / The Conversation In this sexual histories series, authors explore changing sexual mores from antiquity to today. When the Athenian politician Pericles delivered his famous...
Representation of Cuauhtémoc, the last tlatoani

Aztec Leaders: Rulers, Supreme Ruler and the Voice of the People

A tlatoani sat at the top of the Aztec city-state hierarchical structure. He was the ruler or king of his people and was thought to speak for them. Whilst each Aztec city-state had its own tlatoani,...
Chinese concubines

The Ming Dynasty Concubines: A Life of Abuse, Torture and Murder for Thousands of Women

The Chinese Ming Dynasty lasted for 276 years (1368 – 1644 AD), and has been described as “one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history.” This dynasty became a...
Detail of a painting representing Krishnadevaraya.

Krishnadevaraya: The Kingly Diplomat, Patron of the Arts and a Military Force

Krishnadevaraya ruled ancient India’s Vijayanagara Empire for only about two decades, however his power, skills, and personality were made known in that short amount of time and so it seemed much...
Samson and Delilah by Jose Etxenagusia, 1887.

Were Samson’s Superhuman Abilities Really That Far-fetched?

The story of Samson is one of the more far-fetched stories in the Bible. It’s like an ancient Superhero story; the story of a man whose magical hair gives such superhuman strength that he could kill...
Sunset behind Buddha Image at Wat Phasornkaew

Ancient Indian Sages Who Held Advanced Knowledge on Science and Technology

Many modern-day scientists see themselves as the first to create all the technological advancements we use today. Yet many of the so-called discoveries are nothing more than re-inventions created by...
Pliny the Elder

The Illustrious Life of Pliny the Elder, Ancient Historian and Roman Commander

Gaius Plinius Secundus, better known in history as Pliny the Elder, was an influential administrator, officer, and author during his life. Although he was only fifty-six years old at the time of his...
The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon, painting by Edward Poynter, 1890, Art Gallery of New South Wales

The Ethiopian Gold Mine that may have supplied the Queen of Sheba with her riches

Ever wondered where the Queen of Sheba got her gold from? Sudan and Ethiopia are both in the region of what was the kingdom of Sheba, and both have ancient mines. In fact, the Asosa zone of Ethiopia...
A depiction of Sextus Empiricus.

Sextus Empiricus: Suspending Judgement and Promoting a Skeptical Search for Truth

The following two quotes will help you gain a quick perspective on how the ancient philosopher Sextus Empiricus understood the world: Those who claim for themselves to judge the truth are bound to...
Detail of Qin Shi Huang's imperial tour across his empire. Depiction in an 18th century album.

How the Search for Immortality Killed the First Emperor of China

No man had ever risen as high as Qin Shi Huang. He was the first emperor of China - the first man to conquer its seven kingdoms and rule them all. There was only one threat left for him to overcome:...
Deriv. Image of Native American woman, believed to be Juana Maria, of the Nicoleño tribe

Juana Maria, the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island

Island of the Blue Dolphins is a book written by the American author Scott O’Dell about a girl stranded on an island in the Pacific. This popular children’s novel is based on a real story of a woman...
Kamehameha the Great

Secret and Safe: Hawaiian Royal Burials and the Missing Bones of Kamehameha the Great

The magical properties associated with the bones of Hawaiian kings were valuable to the ancient Hawaiians, and were even seen potentially dangerous. Great rites and elaborate ceremonies were...
Detail of a statue of Mahavira at Shri Mahavirji, Rajasthan.

Mahavira: Abandoning Luxury to Revive Jainism

“A living body is not merely an integration of limbs and flesh but it is the abode of the soul which potentially has perfect perception (Anant-darshana), perfect knowledge (Anant-jnana), perfect...
Death of Sardanapalus by Eugène Delacroix.

Did the Pleasure-Seeking Epicurus Really Prescribe Hedonistic Happiness?

Epicureanism is a philosophical system based on the teachings of Epicurus which is, in today’s world, often equated with hedonism. Whilst this may be true to some extent, it is an over-simplification...

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