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Medical practice in ancient Egypt was so advanced that many of their observations, policies, and commonplace procedures would not be surpassed in the west for centuries after the fall of Rome and their practices would inform both Greek and Roman medicine. They understood that disease could be treated by pharmaceuticals, recognized the healing potential... [continue reading
Narcissus is a figure from Greek mythology who was so impossibly handsome that he fall in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. Even the lovely nymph Echo could not manage to tempt him from his self-absorption. Narcissus' name lives on as the flower into which he was transformed and as a synonym for those obsessed with their own appearance... [continue reading
The clothing of the ancient Etruscans, a civilization which flourished in central Italy between the 8th and 2nd century BCE, can be seen in many media of their art including wall paintings, bronze sculpture, stone relief carvings, and painted figures on terracotta funerary urns, as well as occasional descriptions by ancient foreign writers. The history... [continue reading
In July 1853, Hormuzd Rassam was excavating an area at the ruins of the mound of KuyunjikÂ (Nineveh, Mesopotamia, modern-day Mosul Governorate, Iraq), one of the most important cities in the heartland of the Assyrian Empire. The area was an open space between the outer court of the palace of the Assyrian King Sennacherib and the Ishtar Temple. About... [continue reading
Leda is a figure from Greek mythology who was famously seduced by Zeus when he took the form of a swan. She was a queen of Sparta and mother of beautiful Helen who sparked the Trojan War, and the Dioscuri twins. Leda and the swan was a popular subject for both Greek and Roman artists and is frequently seen in ancient sculpture, pottery, and mosaics. Genealogy... [continue reading
In Europe, in the 19th century CE, an interesting device began appearing in graveyards and cemeteries: the mortsafe. This was an iron cage erected over a grave to keep the body of the deceased safe from 'resurrectionists' - better known as body-snatchers. These men would dig up freshly interred corpses and deliver them, for cash, to doctors wishing... [continue reading
The Etruscan civilization, which flourished in central Italy from the 8th to 2nd century BCE, gained a reputation in antiquity for being party-loving pushovers when it came to warfare, but the reality is somewhat different. History being most often written by the victors, the Etruscans were conquered by and assimilated into the Romans' fast-growing... [continue reading
The Hyksos were a Semitic people who gained a foothold in Egypt c. 1782 BCE at the city of Avaris in Lower Egypt, thus initiating the era known in Egyptian history as the Second Intermediate Period (c. 1782 - c. 1570 BCE). Their name, Heqau-khasut, translates as 'Rulers of Foreign Lands' (given by the Greeks as Hyksos), suggesting to some scholars that... [continue reading
The British Museumâs first blockbuster exhibition inÂ theirÂ new temporaryÂ exhibition gallery receivedÂ plenty of publicity, mostly about the arrival of the longest Viking longship ever discovered â or at least, the 20% of its wooden frame that survives, plus a reconstruction of the rest â from Denmark. A new gallery, a giant longship... [continue reading
The social organisation of the ancient Etruscans, a civilization which flourished in central Italy between the 8th and 2nd century BCE, can only be pieced together from a collection of rather unsatisfactory sources which, unfortunately, do not include texts written by the Etruscans themselves. These sources include short inscriptions, art, tombs and their contents... [continue reading