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Ancient History Fangirl

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Ancient History Fangirl

Jenny Williamson and Genn McMenemy

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An ancient history podcast run by two Millennial women. Misbehaving emperors, poison assassins, mythological mayhem; it’s like if Hardcore History met up with My Favorite Murder in the ancient world, with a heavy helping of booze and laughter. New episodes weekly. Currently covering ancient mysteries.
 
The Near East - the region known politically as the Middle East - is the home of both a long and eventful history as well as a much longer and fascinating prehistory. Here on Pre History I will cover the story of the Near East as we know it from the archaeological study of what people left behind as hunter-gatherers turned into farmers, as villages turned into cities, and as empires rose and fell.
 
The History of Ancient Greece Podcast is a deep-dive into one of the most influential and fundamental civilization in world history. Hosted by philhellene Ryan Stitt, THOAG spans over two millennia. From the Bronze Age to the Archaic Period, from Classical Greece to the Hellenistic kingdoms, and finally to the Roman conquest, this podcast will tell the history of a fundamental civilization by bringing to life the fascinating stories of all the ancient sources and scholarly interpretations of ...
 
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How did gladiators take hold in Rome? Where did they come from and how was their use moulded by the big political events of the 1st century BC? In this episode I get into this and other aspects such as a few myths and their fighting stats. Thanks to Gladiator Doodles for the fab artwork! Full episode notes including a transcript, sources and images…
 
As we finish off the Neolithic we must first go backwards to one of the less well known but vastly important cultures of the Neolithic Near East - the Samarra. As the first known Neolithic culture of Southern Mesopotamia the Samarra gave rise to many developments which underpinned the later civilisations of this part of the ancient Near East. It is…
 
In Human Being, Bodily Being: Phenomenology from Classical India (Oxford UP, 2021), Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad offers illuminating new perspectives on contemporary phenomenological theories of body and subjectivity, based on studies of diverse classical Indian texts. He argues for a 'phenomenological ecology' of bodily subjectivity in health, gender, …
 
For over a thousand years, the ancient Egyptians sent their ships out to trade with a fabulous kingdom. They dragged their ships from the Nile to the coast of the Red Sea, and those ships returned groaning with luxuries beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings. The place they got it all from was the Land of Punt—known to the Egyptians as the Land of the …
 
A gulf of centuries separates the Byzantine Empire from the academic field of Byzantine studies. The Invention of Byzantium in Early Modern Europe offers a new approach to the history of Byzantine scholarship, focusing on the attraction that Byzantium held for Early Modern Europeans and challenging the stereotype that they dismissed the Byzantine E…
 
Perched on a cliff at the edge of the world in the remote Orkney Islands, the ancient village of Skara Brae is a picturesque and dramatic sight. Carved into an ancient midden, it’s a warren of interconnected dwellings with built-in furniture, secret compartments, and more than a few mysteries. What did the people of Skara Brae get up to when the li…
 
When it comes to epic poetry, there’s a strong case to be made that the Ancient Indian story the Mahābhārata is the most epic. Clocking in at around 100,000 verses, the Mahābhārata is roughly seven times The Iliad and The Odyssey combined. This foundational Hindu text tells the story of a war between two sets of cousins who are fighting over who ge…
 
George Tyrrell insisted that the quest for the historical Jesus was no more than scholars staring into a well to see their own reflections staring back. Jesus is the mirror image of those who study him. A similar phenomenon accompanies the quest for the historical Magi, those mysterious travelers who came from the East, following a star to Bethlehe…
 
Samuel J. Levine's Was Yosef on the Spectrum?: Understanding Joseph Through Torah, Midrash, and Classical Jewish Sources (Urim Publications, 2018) offers a coherent and cohesive reading of the well-known Biblical story of Joseph, presenting a portrait of him as an individual on the autism spectrum. Viewed through this lens, he emerges as a more fam…
 
Ruth Vanita's book The Dharma of Justice in the Sanskrit Epics (Oxford UP, 2021) shows that many characters in the Sanskrit epics - men and women of all varnas and mixed-varna - discuss and criticize discrimination based on gender, varna, poverty, age, and disability. On the basis of philosophy, logic and devotion, these characters argue that such …
 
The Religion and Rituals of the Nomads of Pre-Islamic Arabia: A Reconstruction Based on the Safaitic Inscriptions (Brill, 2022) by Ahmad al-Jallad presents evidence for religious identity and ritual practices among the Safaitic-writing nomads of pre-Islamic Arabia. For this evidence, al-Jallad relies on a large corpus of rock-carved inscriptions in…
 
Hundreds of years before European contact, the biggest city in North America was located along the Mississippi River. At its peak, perhaps 15,000 people lived there—and over 30,000 in the surrounding suburbs. Today, we call it Cahokia. Nobody knows what the original name of this city was. But there was a time when everybody knew its name—from the G…
 
Today I talked to Jame Malinson about The Amṛtasiddhi and Amṛtasiddhimūla: The Earliest Texts of the Haṭhayoga Tradition (Institut français de Pondichéry, 2021), a critical edition and translation of the Amṛtasiddhi, the earliest Haṭhayoga text. The book is available open access here. Raj Balkaran is a scholar of Sanskrit narrative texts. He teache…
 
For much of his life, the Roman philosopher Boethius was exceptionally fortunate. But towards the end of his life, his luck ran out. He was accused of treason, thrown in jail, and sentenced to death. While he was awaiting execution, he began to reflect on his life and how luck had played such an important part. He wrote his thoughts in what would l…
 
The scholarship of theology and religion teaches us that the God of the Bible was without a body, only revealing himself in the Old Testament in words mysteriously uttered through his prophets, and in the New Testament in the body of Christ. The portrayal of God as corporeal and masculine is seen as merely metaphorical, figurative, or poetic. But, …
 
Two celebrated Egyptologists bring to vivid life the intriguing and controversial reign of King Tut's parents. Akhenaten has been the subject of radically different, even contradictory, biographies. The king has achieved fame as the world's first individual and the first monotheist, but others have seen him as an incestuous tyrant who nearly ruined…
 
Sometime around 450 BC in ancient Greece, a young Thucydides went with his father to hear the historian Herodotus speak. After the lecture, Thucydides announced that writing history was his life’s calling. He later wrote History of the Peloponnesian War, a chronicle of the 27-year civil war between the Athenians and the Spartans. Thucydides believe…
 
In our episode on the Sphinx Water Erosion Theory, we discussed the theory that the Sphinx was 10,000 years old. This date would require us to completely reorder our sense of how humanity evolved. We decided it’s simply too out there to be true. But what if we told you that there is an archaeological site 10,000 years old whose shocking discovery d…
 
Introducing History Daily, a podcast that tells the fascinating stories of what happened “on this day” in history, with host Lindsay Graham. Today, we're hosting two episodes from History Daily, both about famous pirates from the Golden Age of Piracy! First up: The arrest of famous pirate captain William Kidd ends the reign of plunder of one of his…
 
Serial killers may seem like a modern phenomenon. But there were serial killers in operation in the ancient world—or so it would seem. Evidence for them is everywhere—in mythology and in history, we see predators killing their victims in surprisingly modern ways. Was it easier to be a serial killer in ancient Greece and Rome? Could they find victim…
 
Who built the modern world? The answer to that question might surprise you. (Or maybe not...) There's a long list of global innovators and trailblazers who’ve been erased from history books because of who they were: women, people of color, LBGTQ and more. Each week They Did That tells one of these people's stories and how their life’s work has chan…
 
What is freedom? If we are free, why do we feel anxiety? How do I relate to the world? Saint Augustine of Hippo asked himself these questions around 400 AD as he wrote Confessions—indeed, as he lived his life. At various points in his life, Augustine was a Manichaean, a Platonist, an academic, a father, and a thief. He was on a quest for truth, an …
 
The Story of Proof: Logic and the History of Mathematics (Princeton UP, 2022) investigates the evolution of the concept of proof--one of the most significant and defining features of mathematical thought--through critical episodes in its history. From the Pythagorean theorem to modern times, and across all major mathematical disciplines, John Still…
 
In an exciting new book titled Vital Strife: Sleep, Insomnia, and the Early Modern Ethics of Care (Cornell UP, 2022), Benjamin Parris shows how early modern writing about care and sleep were deeply indebted with the Stoic principle of oikeiosis. While sleep could imperil the Christian soul, insomnia too could have deleterious effects on both commun…
 
There’s nothing better or more important in life than a good friend. For Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero, the emphasis was on “good.” Cicero lived through the assassination of Caesar, one of the most famous examples of betrayal between friends in history. But according to Cicero’s treatise On Friendship, you must be virtuous to be a good fri…
 
In the strategy game Civilization VI, where players choose world leaders to be their avatar, Qin Shihuang, the First Emperor of China, has one goal in mind: building wonders (like the Great Wall of China). His workers can build wonders faster and more cheaply, and he hates leaders that build more wonders than he does. That largely corresponds to ho…
 
In this episode, we’ll delve into the mystery of Aokigahara, known in Japanese as the Sea of Trees—and to the rest of the world as the Suicide Forest. After the Golden Gate Bridge, it is the second most popular suicide destination in the world. The forest is over a thousand years old. It grew over lava floes laid down in a devastating volcanic erup…
 
Another #NightofTheLivyDead episode and this time it's a look at the Greek Underworld. What was the journey there like? What happened in it and what's with singing amphibians? From Odysseus to Orpheus and a question to consider on hangovers. There's lots covered so get listening (and leave a review if you can). Check out www.ancientblogger for epis…
 
Who were the witches and sorceresses of ancient Greece and Rome--and how did they wield their power? In this episode, ancient occult expert Daniel Ogden introduces us to the world of Greco-Roman witchcraft--including necromancy, love spells, curse tablets, and real-life magical manuals written thousands of years ago by Alexandrian sorcerers. Join u…
 
Epictetus was born into slavery around the year 50 CE, and, upon being granted his freedom, he set himself up as a philosophy teacher. After being expelled from Rome, he spent the rest of his life living and teaching in Greece. He is now considered the most important exponent of Stoicism, and his surviving work comprises a series of impassioned dis…
 
In Athena Itonia: Geography and Meaning of an Ancient Greek War Goddess (Brill, 2019) Gerald V. Lalonde offers a comparative study of the social, political and military aspects of the cult of Athena Itonia and its propagation among the four regions of ancient Greece where major evidence has come to light. Marshall Poe is the founder and editor of t…
 
What is the function and meaning of the Kābôd of the LORD in the Old Testament, and how is it integral to the Book of Ezekiel especially? Pieter de Vries takes a canonical and synchronic approach to these questions, demonstrating that in Ezekiel "kābôd" is used almost exclusively as a hypostasis of YHWH. Tune in as we speak with Pieter de Vries abo…
 
There are two main stories concerning werewolves in Greece and Rome and in this minisode I briefly cover them. What went on on Mount Lykaion exactly and how did the werewolf differ from our modern interpretation. Thanks for taking the time to liste, if you can review please do or just pop over to ancientblogger.com for a piece which links in with t…
 
The Cynics were ancient Greek philosophers who stood athwart the flood of society's material excess, unexamined conventions, and even norms of politeness and thundered "No!" Diogenes, the most famous Cynic, wasn't shy about literally extending his middle finger to the world, expressing mock surprise that "most people go crazy over a finger." When a…
 
John Behr's book John the Theologian and His Paschal Gospel: A Prologue to Theology (Oxford UP, 2021) brings three different kinds of readers of the Gospel of John together with the theological goal of understanding what is meant by Incarnation and how it relates to Pascha, the Passion of Christ, how this is conceived of as revelation, and how we s…
 
In 1942, a forest ranger was hiking on an isolated trail deep in the Himalayas. Rising over 16,000 feet in elevation, he climbed a ridge that looked down a steep-sided funnel of ice and boulders. At the bottom was a small, perfectly circular glacial lake, frozen in a solid blue lens. And there, strewn about the icy, rocky beach, lay skeletons. Hund…
 
Even if the term "Serial Killer" wasn’t coined until the end of the 20th century, the practice of multiple murder has followed humanity through the ages. In Monsters and Monarchs: Serial Killers in Classical Myth and History (U Texas Press, 2021), professor Debbie Felton digs deep into the sources to demonstrate instances of what we might recognize…
 
The Epistle to the Hebrews is widely associated with its theology of Christ the High Priest. The opening four chapters of Hebrews, however, arguably contain greater emphasis on the topic of creation. Angela Costley uses discourse analysis to explore the importance of creation in the Epistle to the Hebrews, uncovering a close link between creation a…
 
Did you know that the ancient Greeks and Romans didn't have a word for sharks--despite the fact that they must have seen them eating sailors during sea battles all the time? For that matter, they didn't have a word for "whale" either. But they did describe the most fantastical sea creatures, including Nereids, Ketos, and "sea dogs." Whatever those …
 
Martha Rampton, Trafficking with Demons: Magic, Ritual, and Gender from Late Antiquity to 1000 (Cornell University Press, 2021) explores how magic was perceived, practiced, and prohibited in western Europe during the first millennium CE. Through the overlapping frameworks of religion, ritual, and gender, Martha Rampton connects early Christian reck…
 
Sarah F. Porter (she/her/hers) is a Ph.D candidate in the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University with a concentration in New Testament / Early Christianity and a secondary field in archaeology. She holds an M.Div. from Vanderbilt University Divinity School with a certificate in gender, sexuality, and religion, and she earned her B…
 
Sarah Derbew’s new book Untangling Blackness in Greek Antiquity (Cambridge UP, 2022) asks how should articulations of blackness from the fifth century BCE to the twenty-first century be properly read and interpreted? This important and timely book is the first concerted treatment of black skin color in the Greek literature and visual culture of ant…
 
It is often thought that the story of Tutankhamun ended when the thousands of items discovered by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon were transported to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and put on display. But there is far more to Tutankhamun's story. Tutankhamun and the Tomb that Changed the World (Oxford UP, 2022) explores the 100 years of research on …
 
Given their cultural, intellectual, and scientific achievements, surely the Greeks were able to approach their economic affairs in a rational manner like modern individuals? Since the nineteenth century, many scholars have argued that premodern people did not behave like modern businesspeople, and that the "stagnation" that characterized the econom…
 
Michael Slouber's Early Tantric Medicine: Snakebite, Mantras, and Healing in the Garuda Tantras (Oxford UP, 2016) looks at a traditional medical system that flourished over 1,000 years ago in India. The volume brings to life this rich tradition in which knowledge and faith are harnessed in complex visualizations accompanied by secret mantras to an …
 
High in the mountains of eastern Crete, there’s a secret that has been kept since the 1200s BC. It’s the secret of the strange and still-unexplained 80+ ancient villages hidden in the Cretan mountains that may have been the last refuges of the Minoan people. The ancient Minoans were master seafarers. But sometime between the 1200s and the 1000s BC,…
 
Nomads: The Wanderers Who Shaped Our World (W. W. Norton & Company, 2022) by Anthony Sattin tells the remarkable story of how nomads have fostered and refreshed civilization throughout history. Moving across millennia, Nomads explores the transformative, sometimes bloody, sometimes peaceful and symbiotic relationship between settled and mobile soci…
 
Although the Epistle of Barnabas may be best known for its Two Ways Tradition or its anti-Jewish use of Scripture, its contents reveal much that will be of interest to anyone studying Christian origins. In keeping with other contributions to the Apostolic Fathers Commentary Series, Jonathon Lookadoo's book The Epistle of Barnabas: A Commentary (Cas…
 
In this episode of New Books in Buddhist Studies, Dr. Richard Salomon speaks about his book The Buddhist Literature of Ancient Gandhāra: An Introduction with Selected Translation (Wisdom Publications, 2018). One of the great archeological finds of the 20th century, the Gandhāran Buddhist Texts, dating from the 1st century CE, are the oldest Buddhis…
 
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