Writing wasn’t just invented once by a single person. Many different ancient societies invented writing at different times and places.
Writing has only been a part of the human story for the last 5,000 years. In comparison, humans began to communicate using speech some 50,000 years ago.
The nation that once took in the “huddled masses” has now shut its “golden door” on outsiders.
Ancient Rome and its empire had the concept of asylum at its heart. Its legacy provided inspiration for centres of power around the world, but today outsiders are no longer welcome.
In the very beginning of the Roman calendar (more than 2000 years ago), there were only 10 months in the year.
December is named for the Roman word for “tenth”. So, why is it the twelfth month?
The death of popular prince Germanicus painted by Nicolas Poussin in 1627.
Tacitus’ Annals is a powerful and darkly humorous examination of imperial Rome. Though his work was little read in the Roman world, it has influenced great thinkers such as Hobbes and Montesquieu.
Wall construction along the U.S.-Mexico border in Sunland Park, New Mexico, in 2016.
As Congress and President Trump struggle to devise a coherent immigration policy along the US southern border, there are lessons from ancient history that could prove instructive.
Thomas Couture, The Romans and their Decadence, 1847.
Juvenal wrote 16 satires, divided into five books, each with their own target from decadent aristocrats to Egyptian cannibals.
Augustus was Rome’s first emperor.
Augustus’s long line of high-profile admirers see him as a great statesman who brought peace to a Roman Republic long afflicted by civil wars. But how admirable was he, really?
One important reason for the Spartans’ obsession with fighting was the constant possibility they would need these skills in war and also at home, in Sparta itself.
From about age seven, Spartan children learned to fight and practise obeying orders. They also staged pretend battles. Boys and girls were trained separately.
Tapping into ancient knowledge can help us feel connected to our ancestors – but that doesn’t mean we should take their advice.
In Ancient Greek texts, the king Lycaon is punished for misdeeds by being turned into a wolf.
The earliest surviving example of man-to-wolf transformation is found in The Epic of Gilgamesh, from around 2,100 BC. But the werewolf as we now know it first appeared in ancient Greece and Rome.
Zenobia addressing her troops.
Giambattista Tiepolo (National Gallery)
Anything is possible in the world of computers games – except women who fight, apparently.
Coins from the Hoxne Treasure,
Hoxne, England, late 4th – early 5th century CE.
© Trustees of the British Museum
© Trustees of the British Museum, 2018. All rights reserved
A major exhibition of treasures from ancient Rome presents a distinctly old-fashioned tale of the empire’s rise and expansion, which is out of step with contemporary scholarly thinking.
Kevin Jackson, Robyn Hendricks and Ty King Wall in the Australian Ballet’s production of Spartacus.
When Spartacus and 70 or so of his comrades revolted and escaped from their gladiatorial school near Capua in 73 BC, everyone imagined the matter would soon be dealt with. But his rebellion has continued to inspire political movements.
Without the scientific knowledge we have today, ancient cultures turned to myths and legends to understand celestial objects.
Statue of Eros of the type of Centocelle. Roman artwork of the 2nd century AD, probably a copy after a Greek original.
Erotic spells were a popular form of magic in ancient Greece and Rome. Ancient spells were often violent, brutal and without any sense of caution or remorse.
Excavations on the site of Rome’s greatest natural disaster can tell us a lot about attitudes to death.
Piazza del Popolo.
From the Temple of Heliopolis to the centre of Rome, the massive stone column has boosted the egos of several powerful men.
A fragment of a wall painting showing two lovers in bed from the House of L Caecilius Jucundus in Pompeii, now at Naples National Archaeological Museum.
From phallus-shaped wind chimes to explicit erotica on lamps and cups, sex is everywhere in ancient Greek and Roman art. But our interpretations of these images say much about our own culture.
It is commonly thought that anyone in ancient Rome who killed his father, mother, or another relative was subjected to the ‘punishment of the sack’. But is this true?
From being thrown off a cliff to being sewn into a sack with animals, ancient Rome is notorious for its cruel and unusual punishments. But we must be careful what we take as historical fact.
Brothels in Pompeii were decorated with murals depicting erotic and exotic scenes: but the reality was far more brutal and mundane.
Thomas Shahan/Wikimedia Commons
Though their activities were depicted alluringly in murals, the sex workers of Pompeii were slaves who lived hard lives.