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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 from an illustration of a body in its coffin that starts to bleed in the presence of the murderer during a cruentation 1497.

The Bizarre Importance of Bleeding Bodies in Medieval Trials

The history of criminal justice and forensic science is really interesting because of all the absurd rituals and superstitions courts relied on to determine guilt or innocence right up until the 19th...
Cincinnatus chosen as dictator. Painting by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli, 1655-1658.

A Model of Civic Virtue: The Dictator Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus

Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus is a figure from the Early Republican period of Rome’s history. Cincinnatus (a nickname given to him due to his curly hair) was an aristocrat who belonged to the...
Carvings depicting the Chinese Zodiac on the ceiling of the gate to Kushida Shrine in Fukuoka, Japan.

The Whimsical Legend of How the Chinese Zodiac Animals were Chosen

According to Chinese culture, each year is related to an animal or 生肖 (‘Sheng Xiao’, which literally means ‘birth likeness’). There are 12 animals, and together, they make up the Chinese zodiac. The...
An Illustration of Lao-Tzu.

Lao Tzu: The Founder of One of the Three Pillars of Traditional Chinese Thought

Lao Tzu is traditionally regarded as the founder of Taoism, a school of thought that developed in ancient China. Taoism is seen as one of the three main pillars of traditional Chinese thought. The...
Main: Artistic representation of Piers Gerlofs Donia, ‘cca made by rudy faber.’ Inset: Picture of Grutte Pier’s Sword. (1953) Fries museum in Leeuwarden.

Pier Gerlofs Donia: The Giant Frisian Rebel, Warrior, and Pirate

Pier Gerlofs Donia was a Frisian warrior, pirate, and rebel who lived between the 15th and 16th centuries AD. He is more well-known perhaps by his nicknames – Grutte Pier in West Frisian, Grote Pier...
Hellenistic culture in the Indian subcontinent: Greek clothes, amphoras, win,e and music. Detail from Chakhil-i-Ghoundi Stupa, Hadda, Gandhara, 1st century AD.

What Does Alexander the Great Have to Do with Buddhist Imagery?

When Alexander the Great arrived in Pakistan and India two very different civilizations confronted and were influenced by each other. The first anthropomorphic representations of Buddha were...
Painting of an ancient Egyptian woman being served beer.

Provocative Yet Sacred: The Ancient Egyptian Festival of Drunkenness

The Festival of Drunkenness is a religiously significant celebration that was held annually (said to be biannually in some places) by the ancient Egyptians. The background story for the celebration...
Johannes Hevelius, Prodromus Astronomia, volume III, Johannes Hevelius, by Daniel Schultz.

The Magnificent Observatory and Discoveries of Johannes Hevelius

Johannes Hevelius is one of the symbols of Gdansk, Poland. He is also one of the three great intellectuals, along with Fahrenheit and Schopenhauer, who were born in this city. During Hevelius’ life,...
The Wicker Man (1973) movie screenshot.

The Fearsome Wicker Man: An Eerie Way Druids Committed Human Sacrifice

The wicker man is purported to be one of the means by which the ancient druids made human sacrifices. According to a number of classical authors, the druids partook in human sacrifice, though these...
An image of Malinche with Cortés.

The Controversial Role of La Malinche in the Fall of the Aztec Empire: Traitor or Hero?

La Malinche (meaning the captain’s woman ), known also as Malinalli , Malintzin or Doña Marina , is an important figure in the history of Mexico, and she played a pivotal role in the Spanish conquest...
Bloodletting was treatment for infection in the past.

In a world with no antibiotics, how did doctors treat infections?

The development of antibiotics and other antimicrobial therapies is arguably the greatest achievement of modern medicine. However, overuse and misuse of antimicrobial therapy predictably leads to...
The fall of Casto Méndez Núñez in May 2nd, 1866

Born for the Seas and Honor: Examining the Modest Life of the Spanish Navy Officer, Casto Mendez Nunez

The history of Spain is full of great stories about the brave sailors and won sea battles. One of the important players in these tales comes in the form of Casto Mendez Nunez. Casto Mendez Nunez was...
Hans Makart's painting of Charlotte Wolter in Adolf Wilbrandt's tragedy, Arria und Messalina.

Questioning the Dramatic Story of the Empress Messalina, Was She a Cruel Doxy or the Victim of a Smear Campaign?

In Ancient Rome, Valeria Messalina was a symbol of vanity and immorality. For centuries, people identified her as one of the most demoralized women in history, but how much of what we know about...
Goddess Council 4900-4750 BC Neolithic Culture of Cucuteni-Tripolye exposed in Cucuteni Museum of Piatra Neamt

Ancient Ink: How Tattoos Can Reveal Hidden Stories of Past Cultures

The English word tattoo is commonly said to be derived from the Polynesian word tatau or tatu . This Polynesian word means ‘to mark something’. Additionally, this word is an onomatopoeia, and is...
Arde Lucus Gladiatrix

Gladiatrix: Female Fighters Offered Lewd Entertainment in Ancient Rome

Female gladiators (gladiatrix) were just a thing of legend for many years. However, decades of research have made it possible to finally confirm their existence and importance in the Ancient Roman...
Stone ‘mushroom’ formations in Bulgaria.

Mushroom Monuments of Thrace and Ancient Sacred Rites

Throughout northeastern Greece, western Turkey, and Bulgaria, in the region known in antiquity as Macedonia, Anatolia, and Thrace, there are numerous megalithic natural rock formations that resemble...

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