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The decline of the Late Bronze Age civilizations of the Mediterranean and Near East has puzzled historians and archaeologists for centuries. While many have ascribed the collapse of several civilizations to the enigmatic Sea Peoples, Professor Eric H. Cline, former Chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at George Washington... [continue reading
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The Gupta Dynasty, founded by Chandragupta I (accession c. 320 CE), ruled in North Central India between the 4th and 6th centuries CE and the period is considered a golden age of artistic accomplishment. The Guptas were the first architects of purpose-built Hindu (but sometimes also Buddhist) temples which evolved from the earlier tradition of rock-cut... [continue reading
A sculpted panel at the Gupta-period (4th-6th century CE) caves of Udayagiri, Madhya Pradesh, India. The caves are rock-cut Hindu shrines and this panel shows Vishnu as the boar-headed incarnation Varaha. The god rises from the cosmic waters, defeating the primeval serpent monster, and rescuing the goddess Bhudevi (earth), who hangs from his tusk.Photo... [continue reading
Palmyra (also known as Tadmor) is mentioned frequently in the news, as the so-called Islamic State is advancing on this ancient gem of a ruined city in Syria. The formerly prosperous metropolis of Palmyra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with good reason. From 44 BCE to 272 CE, the city became a wealthy trade centre at the crossroads between Roman, Greek... [continue reading
This winged ibex was a handle for a metal amphora-shaped vessel, made in the 4th century BCE in Achaemenid Persia. This high level of detail was achieved through the use of lost-wax technique. It has been suggested that this piece of art resembles both the god Bes and the Greek god Silenus, which may indicate that a Greek artisan made this piece of... [continue reading
Agni is the Hindu god of fire. He is regarded as the friend and protector of humanity, in particular, he safeguards the home. Various forms of fire are associated with Agni and include the sun, lightning, comets, sacrificial fire, domestic fires, the fire of the funeral-pyre, and the digestive fire which is within all humans. Agni was especially important in... [continue reading
Brahma is the Hindu Creator god. He is also known as the Grandfather and as a later equivalent of Prajapati, the primeval first god. In early Hindu sources such as the Mahabharata, Brahma is supreme in the triad of great Hindu gods which includes Shiva and Vishnu. Brahma, due to his elevated status, is less involved in picturesque myths where gods take... [continue reading
The beautiful ancient Greek city of Aphrodisias, still partly excavated, is one of the most important archaeological sites of the late Hellenistic and Roman period in Turkey. The city was located in Caria in Asia Minor, on a plateau 600 meters above sea level. Today it lies near Geyre village, some 80 kilometers west of Denizli. The city was founded... [continue reading
Mosaic depicting musicians, signed by Dioskourides of Samos. The mosaic shows an episode from a comedy since the figures are wearing theatrical masks. The figures are playing musical instruments often connected with the cult of Cybele: the tambourine, small cymbals and the double flute. The mosaic was found in the so-called Villa of Cicero near Pompeii... [continue reading
Veni, vidi, vici! This was the simple message the Roman commander Julius Caesar sent to the Senate in Rome after a resounding victory in the east against King Pharnaces of Pontus - a message that demonstrated both arrogance as well as great military competence. “I came, I saw, I conquered!” also represented his future as leader of the Roman... [continue reading
When it comes to ancient history, Pakistan contains its fair share of treasures one of the prominent of these being the ancient metropolis of Taxila. It is a city of the Gandharan age which flourished up to 500 CE as a hub of Buddhism, a centre of learning, and as a meeting point of neighbouring cultures. Location The Taxila archaeological site is located... [continue reading
To this day the ancient Romans remain infamous for their dramatic use of spectacle and other forms of entertainment. A lesser known variation of Roman spectacle is the mythological re-enactments that took place during the ludi meridiani (midday spectacle). These performances were not only re-enactments for entertainment's sake, but were also... [continue reading
Fresco depicting Iapyx removing an arrowhead from Aeneas' thigh. Venus stands over while beside Aeneas stands his young son Ascanius. 1st century CE (between 45 and 79 CE), from Pompeii. (Naples National Archaeological Museum).Photo by Carole Raddato (Creative Commons: Attribution-ShareAlike).
Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World underscores the power, prestige, and pre-eminence of ancient sculpture during the Hellenistic Era. This blockbuster show, which opened at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Italy this spring, is the first major international exhibition to assemble nearly 50 ancient bronzes from the Mediterranean... [continue reading
Just a short walk from the Pantheon in Rome, in Piazza di Pietra, are the majestic remains of the Temple of the deified Hadrian (Hadrianeum) built by Antoninus Pius, Hadrians adopted son and successor. Of the original temple, only eleven columns with capitals and the cella wall are still visible today. In 1696, during the pontificate of Pope Innocent... [continue reading
“Göbekli Tepe” (“Hill with a Navel”, or “Potbelly Hill”) is found approximately 16 km (10 miles) northeast of Şanlıurfa, an ancient city in southeastern Turkey once named “Edessa” and known as “the City of the Prophets”. While this nearby city has a rich religious history, just how far... [continue reading
The temple of Zeus Lepsynus at Euromos, located in the ancient region of Caria, is one of the best preserved temples in Turkey. The temple was built in the Corinthian order in the 2nd century CE (probably during the reign of the emperor Hadrian) on the site of an earlier Carian temple.Photo by Carole Raddato (Creative Commons: Attribution-ShareAlike).
The human cost of war can be so unimaginably large that it seems unfeeling to speak about the damage to cultural and natural heritage, yet it is important to acknowledge that cost as well. The disaster in Syria will be felt not just by a few generations, but for the rest of time. After World War II, the international community recognized the need... [continue reading
Ancient Maya government was formed on the basis that rulers were thought to have been god-like, which to some might suggest one unified state. However, the consensus amongst anthropologists supports that each major Maya city remained its own independent and sovereign entity with its own unique struggles for political power. The Maya belief in god-like... [continue reading
Osama Shukir Mohammed Amin sets out on a detective journey to discover the mysterious history of Iddi-Sin's stela in Iraqi Kurdistan. Going back into this region's troubled past, he disentangles a family dispute and discovers what really happened to this exquisite artefact. I posted a picture on my personal Facebook page of what is commonly called "the... [continue reading