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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.

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...
The Denisova Cave in the Altai Krai region of southern Siberia. Here over the last decade archaeologists have uncovered anatomical evidence of a previously unknown hominin today known as the Denisovans. Inset, left, one of the two huge Denisovan molars found in the cave’s layer 11 and, right, one of the pierced ostrich eggshell beads along with the fragment of choritolite bracelet found in the same layer of archaeological activity (Wiki Commons Agreement, 2018).

The Lost Legacy of the Super Intelligent Denisovans Who Calculated Cygnocentric-based Cosmological Alignments 45,000 Years Ago

A chance discovery by archaeologists in 2008 of a finger phalanx of an archaic human found in the Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia has helped change everything we know about...
Several mass graves have been found at the site of one of the biggest battles of the Napoleonic Wars, during which some 55,000 soldiers died in July 1809.

The Napoleonic Discovery of Mass Graves in Austria

A team of battlefield archaeologists near Deutsch-Wagram in Austria, working from a “makeshift detective's office inside a shipping container with photos of mass graves,” have discovered one of the...
The Young Lord Hamlet by Philip Hermogenes Calderon (1868)

The Princes and Heroes Behind Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Mad Prince Who Murdered His Uncle to Avenge His Father

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, is a play written by William Shakespeare sometime between 1599 and 1602. Set in Denmark, the play dramatizes the murder of king Claudius by his nephew,...
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...
More ancient skulls bearing evidence of trepanation - a tell-tale hole surgically cut into the cranium - have been found in Peru than the combined number found in the rest of the world.

Ancient Peru's Cranial Surgeons Were Twice as Skilled as American Civil War Doctors

Even with a highly skilled neurosurgeon, the most effective anesthesia, and all the other advances of modern medicine, most of us would cringe at the thought of undergoing cranial surgery today...
Paleolithic Venus figures

The Ideal Woman’s Body – a Gift of the Gods?

We all know what the perfect woman’s body looks like. Or do we? Is it Kim Kardashian, with her popular ‘internet-breaking’ big behind, or Marilyn Monroe with her voluptuous movie curves? Is it a...
Philosopher Plotinus with his disciple

Plotinus: Platonism with a Twist for Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Thinkers

Plotinus was an ancient Greek-speaking philosopher who lived during the 3rd century AD. He is generally considered to be the founder of Neoplatonism, though Plotinus may have actually considered...
A scene from In the Heart of the Sea

In the Heart of the Sea: The Horrific True Story Behind Moby-Dick

A man winds his way through the muck and mire of a 19th-century American port – Nantucket, centre of the world’s whaling industry. He knocks on a door, enters, and begs an exhausted looking man to...
Viking in a boat

More than Blood and Bling: Our Many Visions of the Vikings

Steven Ashby / The Conversation Does the popularity of the Vikings simply emerge from the romance of mythology and adventure, or is something more interesting at play? The Vikings have an enduring...
‘The Triumph of Bacchus’ (1628-1629) by Diego Velázquez.

Emblems of the Spanish Golden Age: The Hapsburgs, Cervantes, Diego Velazquez, and El Escorial

The Spanish Golden Age (known in Spanish as ‘Siglo de Oro’) was a period when the arts experienced a great flourishing in Spain. Whilst this period is often remembered as the age when Spanish...
Vedic King Yudhisthira performs the Rajasuya Sacrifice.

The Janapadas: Tribal Footholds in Bronze and Iron Age India

Changes were underway in India during the period of the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age. The Vedas were written, and ancient Indian culture, society, and religion were all being transformed. One of...
The entrance stairway of 16 steps viewed from the point where Howard Carter uncovered the first sealed doorway

Robbing Tutankhamun: Greed for Gold, Linen, Cosmetics and the Good Life—Part II

Against all odds, Tutankhamun’s tomb survived the ravages of time; when the magnificent burial places of his predecessors and successors were ransacked in antiquity, and their treasures stolen...
This artist’s impression shows Tutankhamun’s tomb in the process of being stocked in antiquity. The entire exercise seems to have been a rushed affair as Howard Carter noted.

Robbing Tutankhamun: Ransacking the Royals and Decline in Tomb Security – Part 1

Pharaohs built lavish sepulchers equipped with all manner of security arrangements that were aimed at misleading tomb robbers. However, more often than not, the elaborate ploys of esteemed architects...
Kings' Fairy Tale, 1909, by Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis

The Mabinogion: Ancient Welsh Tales Bridging the Celtic Mindset and the Otherworld

The Mabinogion is a collection of 11 stories from medieval Wales. Although only first committed to manuscript during the 13th century (the oldest surviving fragmentary manuscript dates to circa 1225...
arly human history (book illustration); Artist unknown; No date; History – Indians

A Conspiracy of Silence: Are We Older Than We Think We Are?

Generally speaking, when archaeologists find something it's because they are deliberately looking for it. There are exceptions, of course, when someone in the field metaphorically trips over...

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