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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.

Illustration of The last of the Charrúas (1833), Delaunois

The Last of the Charrua: The Honored Warrior Tribe of Uruguay

Uruguay is said to be the only Latin American country without an indigenous population. However, they did have a fearsome warrior tribe living in the country for thousands of years. Believed to be...
Dramatic painting portraying gladiators in the arena. Jean-Léon Gérôme's 1872.

The Real Lives of the Gladiators of Rome – The Unfathomable Sport of Life and Death

Roman gladiators are some of the most iconic characters in history and have defined how we think of entertainment in ancient Rome. Their portrayal in films and stories has turned them into archetypal...
The Ruins Lagoon located in the Royal Towers, home to over 20,000 deep reef and pelagic fish.

Dark Mysteries of the Deep: Ancient Divers and their Dangerous Journeys

It is not known who first braved cold, dark waters and held their breath to explore, or gather rare treasures or food, but divers have been retrieving items from beneath the water’s surface since the...
The dramatic eruption of a volcano – eyewitness accounts, ancient chronicles, and mythical tales have surrounded this terrifying and astounding natural phenomenon since the dawn of man. Vesuvius erupting, painting by Johan Christian Dahl.

Deadly Volcanoes: The Eruptions that Reshaped the World and Became Legends - Part II

Read part 1 . The ancients witnessed the awesome and raw power of erupting volcanos, and sent out warnings through time in the form of religion lessons, myths, legends and chronicles. These amazing,...
The dramatic eruption of Mt Vesuvius.

Deadly Volcanoes: The Eruptions that Reshaped the World and Became Legends – Part I

When man grows overconfident and full of hubris in his accomplishments and importance, mother nature, or the gods, remind mankind who is really in charge. Or so it may have seemed to the ancients,...
The Mummy of Nedjmet, Cairo, Egypt

The Discovery of Nedjmet and the Secret Cache of Mummies

The mummy of Nedjmet (or Nodjmet) was one of the mummies found in the Deir el-Bahri mummy cache, which was discovered during the 19 th century. In the 1880s, the location of a hidden tomb was...
Funerary mask, Sican culture, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, USA

Grave Goods and Human Sacrifices: Social Differentiation in Sican Culture Reflected in Unique Burials

The Sican culture, also known as the Lambayeque culture for the region they once inhabited, was one of the many cultures that existed in Peru prior to the coming of the Incas. The Sicans inhabited...
A red lake. Representational image only.

Lake of Blood: The dark history of Laguna Yahuarcocha, Ecuador

Laguna Yahuarcocha, meaning blood lake in the Kichwa language, is a sacred lake of Ecuador. Looking across the still water in the picturesque region of Ibarra, it is hard to imagine that it was once...
Reconstruction drawing of the communal latrines at Housesteads Roman fort (Vercovicium) on Hadrian's Wall. This site is now in the care of English Heritage (2010).

Money Does Not Stink: The Urine Tax of Ancient Rome

The ancient Romans have passed many traditions on to modern day society, but they certainly had a different perspective on urine. It was seen as much more useful than today. They used it as a...
During the sack of Rome by the Vandals in the 5th century AD, the Vandals took hostages include Roman Emperor Petronius Maximus’ wife.

The Strategic Use of Hostages in the Ancient World

The practice of taking hostages is not a new phenomenon but has existed since ancient times, and was a strategic tool employed by various civilizations around the world, particularly during times of...
Meeting Between Cambyses II and Psammetichus III, as imaginatively recreated by the French painter Adrien Guignet

The Battle of Pelusium: Psychological warfare leads Persians to victory

The Battle of Pelusium is an historically important battle that took place in the 6th century BC, in which the Egyptians were decisively defeated by the Persians, and the Persians became the new...
Virgil Reading the Aeneid to Augustus, Octavia, and Livia

The Enigmatic and Elusive Virgil

Born on October 15th, 70 BC, Publius Virgilius Maro or Virgil, would be regarded as one of Rome’s greatest poets. His works, preserved in the Eclogues, Georgics, and Aeneid, have helped define and...
The Sorceress

Abracadabra! The power of spells against the forces of evil

Modern culture is dominated by science and technology, which for the most part offers an explanation for human behavior and the forces of nature. But it hasn’t always been like that. Words like “...
Roman women bathing

Swans Fat, Crocodile Dung, and Ashes of Snails: Achieving Beauty in Ancient Rome

Now learn, my dears, the art of beautifying your faces; learn by what means you can retain your charms. This line, taken from Publius Ovidius Naso's (Ovid's) Medicamina Faciei Femineae , or The Art...
The unbroken seal on Tutankhamun’s tomb, 1922.

Tomb Curses of Ancient Egypt: Magical Incantations of the Dead

Nothing instilled more fear in the tomb raiders of times past, than the possibility of encountering a curse that warned of dire consequences for those that did not heed its warning. In ancient Egypt...
The Byzantine emperor Basil I (left) with his son Leo VI. Uploaded by Ghirlandajo, 2005

The Forgotten Renaissance: The Successes of the Macedonian Dynasty

The Macedonian Dynasty was relatively short lived in the grand scheme of dynasties, yet it sent waves throughout the Byzantine Empire . Under them, previously lost territories were regained, the...

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