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History

From the powerful civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the 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.

Bronze Age skeleton found at Stragglethorpe, during archaeological work on the Highways Agency scheme, England. Representational image only.  (CC BY 2.0)

Solved: the mystery of Britain’s Bronze Age mummies

Whenever mummies are mentioned, our imaginations stray to the dusty tombs and gilded relics of ancient Egyptian burial sites. With their eerily lifelike repose, the preserved bodies of ancient...
Portraits of Huáscar and Atahualpa from Peruvian stamps issued in 2004. Photo source: Stamps Peru

The War of the Two Brothers: The Division and Downfall of the Inca Empire

On the 26th of July 1533, the last ruler of the Inca Empire, Atahualpa, was executed by the Spanish with a garrotte (a device used to strangle someone). This marked the end of the once mighty Inca...
Unusual celestial or weather phenomena heralded supernatural disappearances in the classical world. What became of the Roman leader Romulus?  Deriv; Solar Eclipse (Flickr/CC BY 2.0), and Roman Statue (Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

Ancient Vanishings: The mysterious and supernatural disappearance of Romulus

In 753 BC, two twins, Romulus and Remus, founded the city of Rome, and Romulus became the ruler of the city and reigned for 39 years. The identity of the two brothers has both historical and...
Portrait of Queen Victoria, 1859

Moments from the Life and Reign of Queen Victoria of Great Britain

The famous Queen Victoria set the tone for Britain’s era of industrial expansion and empire. Though often recalled as wearing black mourning clothes and having a strict code of morality, she was said...
‘Still life with glass bowl of fruit and vases’ by a Pompeian painter in 70 AD, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples, Italy. Insert: Mosaic depicting a man labelled as the gourmand Marcus Gavius Apicius.

Marcus Gavius Apicius: Top Gourmand of the Roman World

Marcus Gavius Apicius is one of those Roman names that have (almost) been lost to the ravages of time. The characteristic that has allowed Apicius to stick out from the rest of the crowd of obscure...
Artwork depicting a Tibetan Mastiff from the Qing Dynasty.

A Loyal Companion and Much More: Dogs in Ancient China

It is generally accepted that the dog is one of the earliest animals that was domesticated by human beings. In today’s society, the dog is regarded by many as ‘man’s best friend’. This view has been...
Portrait of Caterina Sforza (1483) by Lorenzo di Credi.

Caterina Sforza: A Renaissance Warrior Woman That Knew How to Get What She Wanted

Caterina Sforza was a powerful force to be contended with in Renaissance Italy. She has been called a Renaissance virago (woman who fights like a man), a lioness, tigress, and a warrior woman. One of...
Ruin of a second-century public toilet in Roman Ostia.

Rats, Exploding Toilet Seats and Demons of the Deep: The Hazards of Roman Sewers

I have spent an awful lot of time in Roman sewers – enough to earn me the nickname Queen of Latrines from my friends. The Etruscans laid the first underground sewers in the city of Rome around 500 BC...
Painting of Orixas dancing.

Candomble: The African-Brazilian Dance in Honor of the Gods

Candomblé (meaning dance in honor of the gods ) is a religion found primarily in Brazil with a number of elements derived from African cultures. It not only incorporates some religious aspects of...
A painting of Bà Triệu on her elephant.

The Heroic Warrior Ba Trieu: A figure of Resistance Against Patriarchy and the Enemies of Vietnam

Warfare is a field that has long been dominated by men. Yet, in the history of war, there are a number of women who have emerged as great warriors or military leaders. One of the lesser known female...
18th Century painting by Pinacoteca di Brera of ‘The Meeting of Pope Leo and Attila.’

The Scourge of God: Did Attila the Hun Really Deserve the Nickname?

The Latin statement Ego sum Attila flagellum Dei , which means I am Attila, the scourge of God , is said to have been first expressed in 1387, and is obviously making a reference to Attila the Hun...
One of the panels from the Lachish Reliefs depicting the Assyrian assault on Lachish.

The Siege of Lachish: History from Both the Victors and Defeated

The siege of Lachish was an event that happened in 701 BC. During this incident, the Israelite settlement of Lachish was besieged and conquered by the Assyrians. It is often said that “History is...
A painting depicting the Battle of Kosovo (1870) by Adam Stefanović. Prince Lazar is seen dying with his horse at the left.

Serbia and the Ottoman Empire: The Loss and Recuperation of Independence

During the second half of the 14th century, the Ottoman Empire was extending its rule into the Balkans. One of the regional powers that the Ottomans encountered during their conquest of the Balkans...
Roman Fish Market. Arch of Octavius

Exotic Goods and Foreign Luxuries: The Ancient Roman Marketplace

The word forum is a Latin term denoting a ‘public open space’. In ancient Rome, forums would normally be found in the center of cities, and were often surrounded by a number of other buildings, such...
Close-up of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep from their joint mastaba (tomb) at Saqqara, Egypt.

The Importance of Evidence in the Heated Debate on Homosexuality in Ancient Egypt

Sexual matters and practices are quite difficult to discern in the archaeological record. Unlike diet or diseases, sexual practices do not to leave traces on human remains. Additionally, objects used...
Slaves cutting sugar cane. Island of Antigua (1823).

A history of sugar – the food nobody needs, but everyone craves

It seems as though no other substance occupies so much of the world’s land, for so little benefit to humanity, as sugar. According to the latest data, sugarcane is the world’s third most valuable...
Volunteers carefully clean and store the abandoned bodies in the hopes relatives will retrieve them. If not, the bodies are eventually cremated.

Thai Buddhists observe an ancient tradition of honoring the unclaimed dead

A medieval Buddhist tradition started by a Buddhist monk centuries ago has people this month in Thailand exhuming and painstakingly cleaning the remains of 3,890 people who were buried without their...
Deriv; Woman with veil and scarf and Khor Ash Sham, Musandam Peninsula, Oman.

Are the Reclusive Shihuh People of Musandam the Original Arabians?

Two hours’ drive from Dubai in the mountains of Musandam lives a reclusive tribe of people who appear culturally unrelated to any others in the Arabian Peninsula, yet who may well be its original...
Shiva carrying Sati on his trident. (1800s).

Manikarnika Ghat and the Role of Cremation in Traditional Indian Funerary Rites

India is renowned for having distinctive religious practices that coexist with one another. The numerous shrines and monuments allow one to contemplate the importance of faith for many. One of the...
Mid-Autumn Festival Decorations in Beijing, China.

The Mid-Autumn Festival: A Holiday of Mooncakes, Lanterns, Moon Worship, and Timeless Legends

The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated annually by Chinese and Vietnamese communities around the world. As the name of this festival suggests, the day of its celebration falls exactly in the middle of...
Egyptian Mummy.

Mummies have had a bad wrap – it is time for a reassessment

As far as crowd-pleasers go, it is hard to beat mummies. When Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs opened at the Melbourne Museum in 2011, it broke all previous records for touring...
A vase depicting a scene from Aristophanes’ play ‘The Birds.

The Controversial Plays of Aristophanes: How the Ancient Greek Father of Comedy Created a Legacy

In the theater of Ancient Greece, one of the three main dramatic forms was comedy (the other two being tragedy and satyr plays). Greek comedy has been divided by the Alexandrian grammarians into...
15th century the basement of a "market house" used as a prison

Prisons and Imprisonment in the Ancient World: Punishments Used to Maintain Public Order

One of the most well-known forms of punishment today is imprisonment. One could argue that for any society to function properly, public order has to be maintained. This is an important function of...
Sack of Rome

Exploring the Origins of the Vandals, The Great Destroyers

The word vandal today may be defined as a person who deliberately destroys or damages property. Historically speaking, a Vandal was “a member of a Germanic people who lived in the area south of the...

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