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Riley Winters

Riley Winters is a Pre-PhD art historical, archaeological, and philological researcher who holds a degree in Classical Studies and Art History, and a Medieval and Renaissance Studies minor from Christopher Newport University. She is also a graduate of Celtic and Viking Archaeology at the University of Glasgow.


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Huge 16th century statue known as the Apennine Colossus by Giambologna in the garden of the Villa Demidoff di Pratolino, Tuscany, Italy.  Source: Antonio Scaramuzzino/CC BY NC ND 2.0

Man Out of Mountain: The Striking Figure of the Apennine Colossus

At the feet of the Apennines, Aeneas and his men defeated the Latins in one of the first victories of the early Romans. Amid flying arrows and screaming men, the Latins laid down their weapons and...
Gladiator mosaic at a Roman villa in Nennig, Germany. Source: Carole Raddato / CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED

Spartacus: The Rebel Gladiator and His Final Last Stand – Part 2

(Read Part 1) Led by the Roman gladiator Spartacus, the Third Servile War stretched on from 73 to 71 BC, an attempt by thousands of Roman slaves to escape the gladiatorial ring. As a Thracian, forced...
Photo of a statue of Spartacus by Denis Foyatier, on display at the Louvre, combined with a 4th-century mosaic depicting gladiators. Source: Public domain

Spartacus: Gladiator and Leader of Slaves Against the Romans – Part 1

The Thracian born Roman gladiator known as Spartacus is now considered the stuff of legend. To this day, books, movies and TV shows have been created to highlight the strength of this heroic rebel...
Prehistoric Jomon dogu statue with large eyes and hips, Ebisuda Site in Tajiri, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.  1000–400 BC. Source: World Imaging/CC BY-SA 3.0

Ancient Dogu Figurines With Large Goggle-eyes Defy Scholarly Explanation

The Jomon Period is the earliest identifiable period in Japanese history and is broken into several categories—Incipient, Early, Middle, and Late. Comprised of a sedentary culture, the Jomon people...
Sculpture depicting the gnarly-faced character of Baba Yaga. Source: Public domain

Baba Yaga: The Wicked Witch of Slavic Folklore

As ambiguous as she is hideous, Baba Yaga is an anomaly. In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is both a maternal, mother nature figure and an evil villain who kidnaps and eats children. Numerous renditions...
Pan and Selene, by Hans von Aachen. Source: Pan and Selene, by Hans von Aachen. Source: Public domain

Celestial Goddess Selene: The Ancient Greek Goddess of the Moon

With silver wings and a golden diadem, the goddess Selene shone brightly throughout the lands of ancient Greece. As the goddess of the moon , Selene captivated the hearts of ancient poets, authors,...
A Pompeii brothel mural.

Spintriae, The Roman Sex Coins That Showed What Was on The Menu

There is a curiosity that belongs to ancient Roman history which historians are yet to solve; there exists a collection of Roman brass coins or tokens that depict sexual acts on one side and a...
A beautiful wandering wilas. Source: angel_nt / Adobe Stock

Beware the Wandering Wilas of Slavic Mythology

In Slavic mythology, there is a type of nymph, which can only be described as somewhere between a ghost and a fairy. Said to float between the living world and the afterlife, the wandering wilas have...
This statue was originally painted. Left: Painted replica of Augustus of Prima Porta statue with pigments reconstructed for the Tarraco Viva 2014 Festival

A More Colorful Ancient World: Classical Statues Were Once Painted

Once upon a time, long before wars, natural disasters, and erosion took hold of the ancient Greek statues, these ivory gems vibrated with color. Ancient Greek sculptors valued animated and pulsating...
Fresco of Dante and the Divine Comedy (1465), Domenico di Michelino, Florence cathedral, Italy

A Pilgrimage of Thought, Pt 1: the Politician, Poet, and Pilgrim called Dante Alighieri

Born in Florence in the late thirteenth century, Dante Alighieri would grow up to become one of the most famed and well-read authors of the Italian Middle Ages. The scope of his political and...
Detail of ‘The Battle of Pavia’ (1528-1531) by Bernard van Orley and William Dermoyen.

The Battle of Pavia: Paving the Political Roads of Rival Rulers with Blood

February 24, 1525. A day that is not marked in infamy but in the blood of France. On this date, the Battle of Pavia occurred – the decisive event in a longstanding war and rivalry, and the crushing...
A female ghost (Public Domain) and Stirling Castle

Female Phantoms of Stirling Castle: Ghostly Encounters with a Handmaiden and Her Queen

Approaching Stirling Castle in the day time is rather daunting. Filled with the scent of ancient dust, damp stone, and dew-covered grass, the palace exudes magic from the moment one steps inside its...
A woman capable of shapeshifting into various animals.

Evolving Forms: An Intriguing Look at Shapeshifting

The notion of shapeshifting has been around for nearly as long as human beings. The possibility that a person can take the shape of another being—most often an animal—can be traced back thousands of...
A Visit to the Witch by Edward Frederick Brewtnall

Bubbling Brews and Broomsticks: How Alewives Became the Stereotypical Witch

"Brewing", "herbs," "broomsticks," "woman." When one hears these words together, most often the assumption is that the person in question is a witch. Yet brewing has a very human meaning as well, one...
Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

The History, Mystery, and Make-Believe of Kaieteur Falls

Auburn waves falling into cascading rainbows, the Kaieteur Falls radiate both mist and magic. Among the lesser known worldwide waterfalls, Kaieteur Falls are interestingly one of the most sought...
Hill of Tara, County Meath, Ireland

The Hill of Tara: Tracing the Footsteps of the High Kings of Ireland

The Hill of Tara is said to be one of the most ancient sacred sites in Ireland. Predating the Celts by thousands of years, the archaeological site is covered in tombs , monuments, and Neolithic...


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