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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.

Knights of the Holy Ghost embarking on the crusades. After a miniature in a manuscript of the XIVth Century in the museum of the Louvre.

The Seven Most Deadly Weapons of the Crusades, or Were There Eight?

By Cam Rea / Classical Wisdom Any weapon can be deadly when properly used, so by no means is this list all inclusive. The timeline of the Crusades spans from 1096 AD to 1272 AD, with the 9th Crusade...
Bronze Chariot & Horses w/ Coachman ―Qin Dynasty, 221-206 BC

The Wonders and The Terrors of the Qin Dynasty

The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty in the history of China. It was also the shortest-lived dynasty, lasting only 15 years between 221 BC and 206 BC. Nonetheless, it was hugely important,...
A stele from Heliopolis shows Akhenaten worshipping the Aten; design by Anand Balaji

Horemheb the Usurper: Monumental Oversight in a Project of Utter Destruction —Part II

(Read Part 1) By all counts, Horemheb was not only forced to remain subservient until the death of his immediate predecessor, Pharaoh Aye – a vizier-turned-ruler – but had faced a challenger in...
Detail of ‘The Emperor depicted as a Taoist magician.’ From ‘Album of the Yongzheng Emperor in Costumes,’ by anonymous court artists, Yongzheng period (1723—35). One of 14 album leaves, colour on silk. The Palace Museum, Beijing.

The Mandate of Heaven: Morality Influenced the Rise and Fall of Chinese Emperors

The Mandate of Heaven is a philosophical concept found in the ancient Chinese civilization. It suggests the emperor’s authority came from Heaven itself and gave him a divine right to rule. The...
Image from the Shahnameh of the Simurgh (benevolent Persian mythological creature) carrying Zal (held in her claws) to her nest.

Simurgh, the Mysterious Giant Healing Bird in Iranian Mythology

The image of the serpent is widely acknowledged in western culture to symbolize medicine. One of the most recognizable symbols for medicine today is the rod of Aesculapius with its entwined single...
A limestone sculpture from the Temple of Amun in Thebes depicts Horemheb standing beside the state god; design by Anand Balaji

Horemheb the Usurper: Magical Potency and the Rough Road to the Throne—Part I

Usurpation of monuments and funerary goods occurred over much of ancient Egyptian history. Quite a few Pharaohs and nobles indulged in this practice—and far from our modern notion of greedy monarchs...
Dagger axe with engraved decoration of a tiger, China, Warring States period, 475-221 BC, bronze - Östasiatiska museet, Stockholm.

Warring States Period: More than 200 Years of Blood-fueled Chinese History

The Warring States Period is an era when power was concentrated in the hands of seven major states. This was a bloody time in Chinese history and continuous warfare meant countless casualties. It was...
The Burning of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar’s Army (1630-1660)

By the Rivers of Babylon: Life in Ancient Babylon’s Thriving Jewish Community

In the 6th-century BC, the armies of Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah. They tore down the city walls, burned the temples, and ran down every person who tried to escape. The few...
Bronze statuette of the funerary deity, Wepwawet; design by Anand Balaji

Wepwawet, Lord of Abydos and Champion of Royalty: Jubilees, Worship and Resurrection—Part II

From being a god with militaristic overtones, in time, Wepwawet was hailed as the ‘Lord of the Necropolis’, a role he acquired from Osiris, at his cult centers in Abydos and later Asyut too. A...
 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...
Coffin lid dating from the Late Period flanked by two depictions of Wepwawet; design by Anand Balaji

Wepwawet, Lord of Abydos and Champion of Royalty: Origin, Myth and Divinity—Part I

The ancient Egyptians not only worshipped animals they admired but also those that they feared greatly. As a result, their pantheon consisted of innumerable feathered and furry creatures – each a...
Jain version Game of Snakes & Ladders called jnana bazi or Gyan bazi, India, 19th century, Gouache on cloth.

The Origin of Snakes and Ladders: A Moral Guide of Vice and Virtue

The game of Snakes and Ladders is today considered a classic, and is loved by children from all over the world. Whilst the game itself is known my most people, its origin is less well-known. As a...
The Banquet (after Plato). second version (1874) by Anselm Feuerbach.

Plato’s Symposium: Is it Just a Joke?

When talking about love in the classical age, we would be utterly remiss to not include Plato’s Symposium in our conversation. Symposium is Plato’s recounting of a, supposedly true, ancient cocktail...
Relief of a funeral procession from the tomb of Merymery in Saqqara; design by Anand Balaji

Sem Priests of Ancient Egypt: In the Service of King and Country—Part II

An appointee of the Pharaoh himself, the role of the sem priest carried immense political and religious weightage. In many ways, this class of priest served as the bridge between the ruler and the...
Scene on the north wall in KV62 shows King Aye as sem priest, performing the “Opening of the Mouth” ritual on the mummy of Tutankhamun; design by Anand Balaji

Sem Priests of Ancient Egypt: Their Role and Impact in Funerary Contexts—Part I

The office of sem or setem priest of Ptah, the patron god of the craftsmen in Memphis, Lower Egypt, was a prestigious one. Considered a sacred feline with a connection to the Heliopolitan cult via...

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