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The Templo Mayor or Great Temple (called Hueteocalli by the Aztecs) dominated the central sacred precinct of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. Topped by twin temples dedicated to the war god Huitzilopochtli and the rain god Tlaloc it was a focal point of the Aztec religion and very centre of the Aztec world. It was also the scene of state occasions such... [continue reading
The Narmer Palette (also known as Narmer's Victory Palette and the Great Hierakonpolis Palette) is an Egyptian ceremonial engraving, a little over two feet (64 cm) tall and shaped like a chevron shield, depicting the First Dynasty king Narmer conquering his enemies and uniting Upper and Lower Egypt. It features some of the earliest hieroglyphics found... [continue reading
The Roman Republic was in death’s throes. Within a few short years, the “dictator for life” Julius Caesar would be assassinated, and, as a result, the government would descend into chaos. The consequence of a long civil war would bring the birth of an empire under the watchful eye of an emperor; however, it would also witness the loss... [continue reading
Paestum, also known by its original Greek name as Poseidonia, was a Greek colony founded on the west coast of Italy, some 80 km south of modern-day Naples. Prospering as a trade centre it was conquered first by the Lucanians and then, with the new Latin name of Paestum, the city became an important Roman colony in the 3rd century BCE. Today it is one of the... [continue reading
Narmer (c. 3150 BCE) was the first king of Egypt who unified the country peacefully at the beginning of the First Dynastic Period (c. 3150 - 2613 BCE). He has also, however, been cited as the last king of the Predynastic Period (c. 6000 - 3150 BCE) before the rise of a king named Menes who unified the country through conquest. In the early days of Egyptology... [continue reading
Legalism in ancient China was a philosophical belief that human beings are more inclined to do wrong than right because they are motivated entirely by self interest. It was developed by the philosopher Han Feizi (c. 280 - 233 BCE) who drew on earlier writings of the Warring States Period of China (476 - 221 BCE) by a Qin statesman named Shang Yang (died 338... [continue reading
Soma was a fermented juice drink which was believed to have been consumed by the Hindu gods and their ancient priests, the brahmanas, during rituals. Thought to be an elixir its consumption not only healed illness but also brought great riches. Soma is personified by the god of the same name who is also the god of sacrifices and who may, in some texts, be associated... [continue reading
Menes (c. 3150 BCE) is the legendary first king of Egypt who is thought to have united Upper and Lower Egypt through conquest and founded both the First Dynasty and the great city of Memphis. His name is known from sources such as Manetho's Chronology (3rd century BCE), The Turin King List, and the Palermo Stone as well as from some scant archaeological evidence... [continue reading
The Shang Dynasty (c.1600-1046 BCE) was the second dynasty of China which succeeded the Xia Dynasty (c. 2700-1600 BCE) after the overthrow of the Xia tyrant Jie by the Shang leader, Tang. Since many historians question whether the Xia Dynasty really existed, the Shang Dynasty may have actually been the first in China and the origin of what has come... [continue reading
Publius Quinctilius Varus (c. 46 BCE – 9 CE) was a Roman politician and general under the rule of Emperor Augustus. He is most remembered for having lost three Roman legions when ambushed by Germanic tribes in the battle of Teutoburg Forest, which caused a great shock in Rome and effectively stopped Roman expansion beyond the Rhine River... [continue reading