Ostraka from classical Athens nominating the persons of Kallias and Megakles.
Cycladic Art Museum, Athens, Greece/Wikimedia Commons
For the first time in recent memory the possibility of imprisoning political rivals has entered the political discourse of a modern western election. But ostracism is an ancient democratic tradition that offers an alternative approach.
Terracotta warriors date from over 2,000 years ago and are considered to be one of the most important recent archaeological finds.
For centuries, historians have assumed that 'primitive societies' couldn’t have possibly come up with advanced techniques on their own.
Brodie castle, north Scotland.
Albert de Bruijn
How medieval spires and snarling gargoyles went out of fashion and then made a spectacular return under – you guessed it – the Victorians.
The dead wait to be ferried across the River Styx.
The Souls of Acheron (1898) by Adolf Hiremy Hirschl
These days they are scary, but for the ancients, ghosts could be quite useful.
Broken hearts: Helen and Menelaus on a vase, Louvre.
For over 2,800 years, audiences have grappled with the destructive powers of Helen of Troy – and the toxic legacy lives on.
In a world where few believed in an afterlife, this-worldly glory mattered immensely.
There's plenty of evidence to suggest that attempts to manipulate the outcome of the competitions are as old as the Games themselves.
Jim Thorpe and Ben Johnson were both banned from the Olympics. But if each had played at different points in history, they would have been allowed to compete.
Nick Lehr/The Conversation
In sports, what's considered fair play has changed throughout history. At one point, even looking 'too poor' was grounds for exclusion.
Is there a historical parallel to Donald Trump’s rise?
The Athenian politician Cleon was one of the earliest demagogues. An effective, if vulgar speaker, he made extravagant promises and delivered extravagant accusations.
Dig into the details of the ancient Olympics and you find a lot of misinformation, but also a surprising amount in common with the modern games.
A bronze statue, ‘The Boxer of Quirinal.’ Sometimes ancient Greek boxers would bribe their opponents.
When fame and glory are at stake, human nature seems to dictate that some people will cheat.
National Olympic committees may not be good at explaining what the benefits of the Games are – but the Greeks were.
Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games/Flickr
In a time when war and sports are the primary means of competition, Olympic gold has never been so valuable – or expensive.
The Temple of Apollo at Delphi, where the wisdom of the oracle was dispensed.
Cicero asked: 'how to become famous?' Nero sought to know the timing of his death. The Oracle at Delphi offered pronouncements on all manner of topics - yet as with Google today, the question posed was as important as the answer.
Brian Halsey, 'Novem II,' 1981, 8 Color Silkscreen Serigraph
Many praise the internet as a democratizing force. But with online spaces replacing physical public squares as places for debate, what do we risk losing?
It's lunacy to believe you own the moon, so why is cultural heritage any different? The Parthenon sculptures at least belong together.
Pericles had some rather advanced ideas about politics.
What would Aristotle have thought of modern liberal democracy? It's complicated.
Donald Trump and Adam Smith.
Gage Skidmore via Flickr/Wikimedia Commons
American democracy is in thrall to an aggressive demagogue – and Adam Smith and friends saw it coming more than 200 years ago.
Beards: powering tech startups since 813 AD.
Many "modern" inventions actually have precedents dating back over 1000 years.
The Pantheon dome - made entirely out of concrete.
Think atomic theory was invented in the 19th century? Try 5th century BC.
A ‘flat-Earth’ map drawn by Orlando Ferguson in 1893. This rendering of a flat Earth still gets some truck today.
We often hear that most people throughout history believed the world was flat. But that's not entirely true.
The heroes of the Iliad … or the Labour front bench?
The House of Commons' remarkable debate over air strikes really was a spectacle of heroic proportions.