By the 1st century BCE, the world of antiquity under the rule of Rome, was perhaps more united than ever and was on a path to experiencing a golden age of knowledge and technology with social development hitting heights it would not see again for a thousand years or more. In this world of increasing interconnectedness, a Greek from Amaseia in Anatolia, named Strabo, would create one of the most influential works on geography of all time. …
Like many people over the last 6 months or so, I have found my work situation drastically changed. The experiences of this experiment in a different way of working that has been forced upon us has affected us all in different ways, but for my part I have discovered a new found appreciation for many things in life that the rush of the commute and office working all too often overshadows. …
When we turn our minds to the western Mediterranean of antiquity images of the titanic struggle between Carthage and Rome, known as the Punic wars, are what is most readily invoked, however this does not tell the whole story. Indeed, for a time Greek colonists who headed west were in the ascendancy and chief amongst them was the city of Massalia, modern Marseille, France. …
He gathered all the springs to birth
From the many-venomed earth;
First a little, thence to more,
He sampled all her killing store;
And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
Sate the king when healths went round.
They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat;
They poured strychnine in his cup
And shook to see him drink it up:
They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt:
Them it was their poison hurt.
I tell the tale that I heard told.
Mithridates, he died old.
A.E Houseman (1896)
Mithridates VI Eupator Dionysus, 135 BCE — 63 BCE…
Hanno the Libyan started out from Carthage and passed the Pillars of Heracles and sailed into the outer Ocean, with Libya on his port side, and he sailed on towards the east, five-and-thirty days all told. But when at last he turned southward, he fell in with every sort of difficulty, want of water, blazing heat, and fiery streams running into the sea. — The Campaigns of Alexander, Book VIII, Arrian of Nicomedia
Towards the end of the 4th century BCE the all-conquering and monolithic Empire of Persia would come crashing down. Despite its defeat at the hands of the Greek cities in the previous century, Persia stood strong at the head of the world, until a King of a once obscure kingdom came storming out of the west, sweeping all before him. This article is the fifth in a series, parts one, two, three and four set some context, but you do not need to have read them first to follow this one.
The conquests of Alexander the great would usher in…
Here are presented the results of the enquiry carried out by Herodotus of Halicarnassus. The purpose is to prevent the traces of human events from being erased by time, and to preserve the fame of the important and remarkable achievements produced by both Greeks and non-Greeks; among the matters covered is, in particular, the cause of the hostilities between Greeks and non-Greeks.
— Herodotus, The Histories
Hecataeus the Milesian speaks thus: I write these things as they seem true to me; for the stories told by the Greeks are various and, in my opinion, absurd
The above quote is one of the few fragments we have of the work of Hecataeus of Miletus, a Greek historian and geographer of the 6th and 5th centuries BCE, known as “The Father of Geography”. …
In 1881 the Iraqi born archaeologist Hormuzd Rassam discovered a clay tablet whilst digging at the site of Sippar about 60km from Babylon. Rassam was searching for evidence of the Biblical flood and being unable to read the Cuneiform script dismissed the find as of little importance.
It was not until years later, in the late 20th century, that the scholars at the British museum deciphered the text and realised its significance. The tablet was in fact perhaps the oldest known world map, offering one of the few opportunities to glimpse the world view of Babylonian Civilisation.
To start the…
The aim of this publication is to explore, through maps, texts and historical accounts of expeditions, what the people of what we can loosely call Classical Antiquity knew of the world and how their knowledge of the world’s geography evolved, changed and grew over time. Through this we will see how antique civilisations interpreted this knowledge and how this knowledge in turn influenced their world view. The series of articles following this one will trace the story of knowledge of the world from the dawning of the classical age in ancient Mesopotamia, through the Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans, to the…
I write about history and its echoes and lessons for the present.