Ancient history was from the beginning of recorded history (c. 4000 B.C.) until the fall of the Roman Empire (c. A.D. 500).

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Who is the earliest recorded person?

Who is the earliest person recorded in history? Whose fame has survived the greatest amount of time to come down to us today?
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At the Battle of Zama, was the Roman army more “native” than the Carthaginian?

At the battle of Zama, which army had a higher proportion of native troops? Within the context of this question consider troops to be either "native" or "mercenary". Native troops serve out of ...
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Did the Celts really go into battle naked?

Yes, this of-repeated tale was reported by the Romans all the time, but it sounds a lot like rumor. Stuff the victors write about their former enemies, "they were so stupid, they went into battle ...
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How early did restrictions on hunting start?

Today in the US you can only hunt certain game during certain seasons. In medieval England, only certain people were allowed to hunt deer and boars. Legal restrictions on who could hunt what, where, ...
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Did the Carthaginians have the option of sending Hannibal to Sicily?

Sicily was a major focus of the First and Second Punic Wars. The first Punic war ended with Carthage handing over major grain-growing areas on the island, and the port of Lilybaem to Rome as spoils of ...
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Did the Gallic army besieged in Alesia conduct itself well when expecting relief?

During a Gallic revolution against Rome, a Gallic army of some 80,000 men took shelter in the fortress town of Alesia, where they were besieged by some 50,000 Romans under Julius Caesar. (His army may ...
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What were the relative contributions of oral & literary education in 5th century BCE Athens?

I've read an article about Plato's Academy and how knowledge was spread in Athens in the middle of 5th century BCE. It was thought that knowledge was spread through speaking (orally). But some ...
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Are there other ancient human rights (surely in its ancient consept) documents like the Cyrus Cylinder (c. 500BC)? [closed]

Wikipedia says: "The Cyrus' Cylinder gained new prominence in the late 1960s when the last Shah of Iran called it "the world's first charter of human rights".[90] The cylinder was a key symbol of ...
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Historical use of alcohol as a source of clean water

I've heard that there were two common methods to disinfecting water in the past: boiling water or turning it into alcohol. Presumably, those in the East relied on boiling water, while those in the ...
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Is there any documentation regarding the use of war elephants in battles?

Does anyone know of any battles where war elephants played either a major or decisive part in the victory of whoever had them? As far as I know, they were mostly used for the fear factor and were ...
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Can the new testament be a valid historical record on the real life of Jesus? [closed]

I was reading this article and assuming the data provided by the website correct I came to my mind as to how historically valid is the testimony of the life of Jesus in the new testament is as the ...
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163 views

Are there any independent historical records of ancient Persia allowing freedom of worship for the Jews?

Starting from this claim that the king of Persia respected the Jewish' God. http://niv.scripturetext.com/daniel/6.htm The only surviving text is the Jewish text. Are there independent sources of ...
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Were there rules about the number of retainers for the Achaemenid Empire?

In Rome, magistrates (and later the emperors too) each had a fixed number of lictors, according to the rank of the office they held. Is a similar regulation of the number of retainers according to ...
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39 views

What were the major objections that Augustine had with Jerome's translation of the Septuagint?

I was having a discussion with someone who insisted that one of the major reasons I thought that Augustine objected to Jerome's translation of the Septuagint was completely not true. He argued that ...
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113 views

What does “the anointed of the Lord” mean?

While reading the Cyrus the Great in the Wikipedia, I found the mentioned sentence in this paragraph: Cyrus the Great respected the customs and religions of the lands he conquered.[13] It is said ...
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Was the Minoan civilization warlike?

Generally, is believed that the Minoan civilization on Crete was peaceful and their culture was more like a culture of peace than a culture of war. But I've read an article lately ...
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Nymphodorus of Syracuse

Is there an online version of his history? I am actually trying to assemble some information about a slave rebellion led by one Drimakos and Nymphodorus is one of the ancient writers who mentioned ...
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Monotheism/Atheism in Polytheistic societies

I would like to know if there are any documents telling us how common (or if it even existed) among people in polytheistic societies (like ancient Greece, Rome, etc.) it was to believe that there is ...
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43 views

To what extent the Jewish theatre of the late Antiquity resembled the Greek one?

Sometime ago I had watched the film Agora by Alejandro Amenábar Although the film's idea is impressing, it stroke me with some suspicious historical details. For example, the Christian monks are ...
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697 views

Did the Romans “copy” their political system from the Greeks?

This is an outgrowth of the discussion here. My sense is that the Romans developed their system autochthonously, probably with some influence from their Etruscan neigbours and one-time-overlords. ...
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What is the state of the art historical analysis of claims that Carthaginians discovered America?

The Carthaginians, and the Phoenicians in general, are renowned for their seafaring abilities. There is evidence for their circumnavigation of Africa, and strong evidence for the fact that Hanno the ...
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1answer
471 views

Who first wrote about deafness?

Aristotle referred to the sense of hearing in his work "The Problems". He correlated hearing with the capacity of learning, he believed that the sense of hearing was the most important in order to ...
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What was the first known war in history?

Not the first instance of warfare, which surely predates recorded history, but of an organized war between civilizations. For the purposes of this question I'll define a war as: Defined scope: the ...
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Historical/legendary/mythological accounts that turned out to be true

Reading Herodotus' Histories, one is often baffled by passages like (3.102): {102} [...] Indians [..., of the North] make expeditions for the gold. For in the parts where they live it is desert on ...
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Literacy in the classical world

How literate was the ancient world? I'm particularly interested in the Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians in, say, the first few centuries BC. It's hard to find authors willing to give an explicit number, ...
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How big were the biggest elections during the ancient era?

According to this question - Why did non-monarchic rule meet with so little success in ancient China?, elections in the ancient era were mostly conducted in city-states, due to feasibility, logistical ...
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1answer
431 views

How many hours per day did a Sumerian farmer sleep?

I wonder about the life-styles of the inhabitants of ancient civilizations. As a particular case, if we consider the era of Sumer, what are the significant diversities compared to rural life today?
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When were the lictors abolished?

I wonder when the institute of lictors was abolished in the Ancient Rome? Who was the last emperor to have lictors as companions?
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How were war elephants used against cavalry?

In this question: How do war elephants fight? it was mentioned that horses tend to dislike elephants, so it is effective against cavalry. How does this work in practice? I don't imagine it would be a ...
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336 views

What is the evidence to claim that political order in ancient Rome was sufficiently different under “kingdom”, “republic” and “empire”?

Traditionally the following stages are counted for the political order of the Ancient Rome: Kingdom Republic Empire (subdivided into Principate and Dominate) The "kingdom" is usually regarded as ...
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Real-life examples of finding long-lost treasure?

Whether it's Indiana Jones, National Treasure, or the latest Dan Brown novel, popular culture has fallen in love with the idea of finding long-lost treasure, preferably in some elaborate underground ...
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What really happened to the Maya civilization?

Are there any reliable sources that explain the "disappearance" of the Maya? I am highly skeptical about the following account as it states that the cities were destroyed by the war when in actual ...
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1answer
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Did the Latins see the Etruscans as a plague?

I've read that Latins considered the Etruscans as a plague. However, it seems that the Etruscans (being peaceful merchants) were more civilized and educated than the Latins.
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240 views

What was the origin of the Classical Antiquity culture?

I many times heard a version that the advances of the Ancient Greek culture were in fact borrowed from Egypt or the Middle East. I will not buy this. Classical Antiquity civilization had a lot of ...
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What was the ancient Jewish pantheon?

I have read that before the invention of monotheism, the Jews worshipped multiple gods of which traces remain in various texts. So I wonder whether it is possible to reconstruct it and what the gods ...
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461 views

What did the Romans do for Judea?

I watched The Life of Brian and I heard this quotation: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers. Reg: Yes. Stan: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers' fathers. Reg: All right, ...
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Is there a known society without cult of love?

Was there ever a society in which sex was viewed either as a functional necessity, duty before the gods or pleasure without any admiration of love?
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What were the origins of democracy?

I realize that many people say that Athens is where democracy started, but is there any solid proof that it was the first? On Wikipedia, it is stated that: there is evidence to suggest that ...
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160 views

Chart of total gold in possession of humans

Where can I find an approximate chart of total mass of metallic gold in possession of humans by centuries starting with Neolithic? I also would like to see this detailed by civilization/culture.
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334 views

How far into the past was significance ascribed to the Golden Ratio?

I think everyone knows about the golden ratio or the divine proportion (I got to know more about it after reading the wikipedia article on it). It's present everywhere in nature and also in the human ...
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If modern human existed for hundreds of thousands years why was writing invented only some 7000-9000 years ago?

Linguistic studies indicate that human languages were not that different from modern languages 6000 and 7000 years ago. They had distinguishable sounds, vowels, consonants, syllables, roots and stems ...
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Is there a majority viewpoint for the fall of the ancient Egyptian civilization?

This article on the end of the ancient Egyptian civilization posits four different points at which the civilization ended: Is it the definitive end of native Egyptian rule (at least until the 20th ...
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Is there any history magazine like “Foreign Policy” for politics? [closed]

I'm a college student. I'd like to read a history magazine (online preferred) that relates to History in the same way that "Foreign Policy" relates to Politics or "The Economist" relates to Economics. ...
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What are the most comprehensive historical references for ancient India?

India is referenced in many ancient Greek and Persian sources, but these are often fragmentary. Which sources (if any) exist which describe ancient India in detail? Since ancient can be interpreted ...
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Army formation: veterans at the first line

I am trying to understand the early roman legion deployment. I can see some advantages to putting the inexperienced warriors at the first line and the veterans at the last. But have there been ...
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Was early Sumerian civilization wiped out by a flood?

Sumerian texts speak of a worldwide flood that wiped out most of mankind's achievements on earth. I had always suspected such a flood -- even if only covering all of Sumer -- was mythical, but then I ...
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1answer
234 views

Who is the most ancient Indo-European who is known by name?

Who is the most ancient historical Indo-European who is known by name? In other words, is it Pythonos, king of Kussara (17th century BC) or are there more ancient figures?
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History of the Levant and Israel - 2000 BCE to the bronze age collapse - where to find info?

Where can I find information about the period 2000 BCE - 1300 BCE in the Levant with focus on Caanites and (possibly) proto-Hebrews? Period from the very beginning of the tribal organization of what ...
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Early history of prime numbers

Prime numbers are those whole numbers greater than 1 which cannot be written as a product of numbers greater than 1. I'm curious about their very early history, say 200 BC and earlier. What I know: ...
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Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas and the Science

For someone who is born in India, some of the few mythological stories we watch on tv/hear from our grandparents are Ramayana, excerpts from Mahabharata or other Vedic stories of gods, the vedic way ...