Questions tagged [ancient-history]

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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125
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19answers
25k views

Did the ancients or other pre-industrial civilisations engage in unsustainable practices?

A popular rhetoric we hear regarding sustainability is that modern life after industrialization and arrival of plastics and hydrocarbon fuels have led to environmental degradation on Earth and our ...
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13answers
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Why, in ancient battles, did being encircled mean defeat?

Why, in ancient battles, did being encircled mean defeat? The classic example of that is the Battle of Cannae, where 80,000 Roman infantry were surrounded by 40,000 Carthaginian infantry. Every ...
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2answers
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How did people distinguish slaves from free people in Ancient Rome?

I've tried to find some information about it, but failed. Let's say there is an educated slave living in a relatively rich household of Rome. What would prevent him from fleeing, going to some smaller ...
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4answers
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Cultural understanding of Penelope's suitors

In the Odyssey, Penelope is courted by 108 suitors, who camp out in her house/royal court indefinitely, behaving badly, while she delays them. I'm having trouble understanding the historical and ...
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5answers
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How accurate or supported is Jared Diamond's “Guns, Germs, and Steel”?

Jared Diamond wrote a fascinating book that purports to explain, in a very broad way, the development of civilization. It has several explanations for the development of Eurasian civilization rather ...
61
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6answers
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What knowledge may have been lost at the Library of Alexandria?

Of course we'll never know for sure, but do historians have some reasonable ideas about what knowledge may have been lost at the Library of Serapeum of Alexandria, when it was destroyed by the Decree ...
55
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6answers
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Which came first: polytheism or monotheism?

It seems a common position that monotheism tends to evolve out of polytheism. Wikipedia offers a few historical examples of this. However, many polytheistic religions seem to have monotheistic ...
54
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3answers
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Were ancient ships named?

Nowadays almost all civilian and military vessel have a name. Was this so in the antiquity, did the ships of Athens, Carthage or Rome have formal individual names?
54
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9answers
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History of scientific regression [closed]

Throughout history, humans have made many subtle and many substantial scientific advancements. Humans have explored, examined, learned, applied and at times seemingly "forgotten" and/or were unable ...
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4answers
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Why were the Romans unable to conquer Germania?

Emperor Augustus ordered his army to subdue the Germanic tribes in what is modern Germany. This was promptly achieved and by 6 AD the Romans controlled Germany up to the river Elba. The Romans were ...
49
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4answers
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Cooking on Ancient Ships?

In ancient times, ships would often be at sea for extended periods of time. During this time, I'm assuming they must have done some form of cooking, otherwise they would have just eaten cold, pre-...
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Aside from the Pyramids, what is the tallest man-made structure still standing in Europe & the Near East from ancient times?

In the Americas, there is La Danta Temple (built c300 BC, 230 ft / 70.10m) in modern-day Guatemala. In Asia (Far East and South Asia), there is the Ruwanwelisaya (built c300 BC, 300 ft / 91.44m) in ...
37
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3answers
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Did Roman unmarried men have a preferred hand and finger for wearing their seal ring?

I have read that, generally, Roman men during the Empire would wear only one ring at a time. For instance here: http://m.tribunesandtriumphs.org/roman-clothing/roman-jewelry.htm An unmarried one ...
36
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3answers
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How did the ancient Greeks synchronize time?

How the time synchronization was achieved in ancient Greece? The context of this question is about Eratosthenes and his calculation of the size of the Earth based on Sun casting shadows with different ...
35
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2answers
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What is the first horse name recorded in history?

What is the first horse whose name has been recorded in history? I wrote down a long list of famous people and their mounts, and I realized that Bucephalus, the horse of Alexander the Great, was the ...
35
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1answer
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How do I find the sources which determined the year of the fall of Babylon?

I'm really asking a general question about the study of history. Allegedly, the Babylonian Empire fell to the Persians under Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE. All articles regarding this event simply take ...
35
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8answers
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How severe were the casualties in ancient/medieval battles?

I've heard that in most battles prior to the introduction of gunpowder weapons, the casualties were usually very low (around 5% even in long battles) prior to the moment when someone's formation was ...
34
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6answers
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Fermat's statement about the ancients: How serious was he?

I am extremely interested in the idea that there was a period in time when, at least in the west, people looked upon the ancients (Romans/Greeks) as possessors of wisdom that had been lost. Fermat ...
33
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2answers
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What was the function of the walls of Jericho?

The walls of old Jericho have been dated to around 8000bc. This is thousands of years before the nascent civilisations of Babylon and Egypt built similar fortifications and thousands of years before ...
33
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3answers
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Did Roman troops suffer from PTSD?

After the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq there has been a lot of talking about how many soldiers suffer from PTSD when they return home. I'm interested in knowing more about war trauma and PTSD in ...
31
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Why didn't Hannibal attack Rome after the Battle of Cannae?

Hannibal Barca defeated 8 Roman legions in the Battle of Cannae. At that time Carthage also had control over Hispania. Why did Hannibal not seize Rome at that time?
30
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9answers
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Did anyone in ancient times want to abolish slavery?

Did anyone in ancient times (let's say, up to 500 AD) want to abolish slavery, or even acknowledge the possibility that society could somehow work without it? I remember hearing once that Aristotle ...
30
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9answers
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Which religion was the first monotheistic one?

Which religion was the first monotheistic one? Was it Judaism or a religion which disappeared from practice?
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2answers
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Who was the first female ruler to be given the suffix, “the great”?

Down through the ages exceptional elite leaders have been referred to with the suffix, the great. Cyrus the Great of Persia, Alexander the Great of Macedonia, and perhaps Alaric the Great of the ...
30
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5answers
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Where did Hannibal cross the Pyrenees?

Hannibal's passage through the Alps has been extensively studied, regarding the route chosen and logistics involved in passing a large army through difficult terrain. Before that, Hannibal would have ...
29
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12answers
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Why is Dravidian history ignored? [closed]

Whenever I read an article on ancient Indian history, I see people only writing about the Indus valley civilization and the Aryans. But what about Dravidians? Didn't they exist even before the Aryans ...
29
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5answers
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Was Alexander the Great Greek or Macedonian?

This question has been confusing me for a while. Was Alexander the Great Greek or Macedonian? He was born in Pella, Macedonia, but is he considered Greek? Did nationality and ethnicity mean different ...
28
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4answers
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Do Real Roman and Greek warriors have big muscles and six-pack abs like in the movie?

When watching movies like Spartacus (2004), Gladiator (2000), etc, I often see Roman or Greek warriors have a lot of big muscles and six-pack abs. What about real Roman and Greek warriors in real ...
28
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5answers
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How prevalent were recreational drugs in the ancient world?

A recent discussion about the Queen Mab Speech in Romeo and Juliet, prompted us to wonder whether Mercutio was on drugs. Which then led to the question of how prevalent recreational drugs where ...
28
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2answers
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When did the Hebrews stop speaking Hebrew and start speaking Aramaic?

The Torah was written Hebrew, and most of the old testament was written in Hebrew, although parts of Daniel were written in Aramaic. By the time of the 1st century, Aramaic was the common language for ...
26
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13answers
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Why didn't the Greeks or Romans have an Industrial Revolution?

The Industrial Revolution started in Great Britain in the 18th century. The precursor to the Industrial Revolution was the Enlightenment. This occurred when European scholars rediscovered Greek and ...
26
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3answers
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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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4answers
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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?
25
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13answers
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Why didn't Alexander invade India?

Alexander conquered most parts of the Western World, but there is a great deal of controversy over his invasion of India. In BC 327 Alexander came to India, and tried to cross the Jhelum river for the ...
25
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3answers
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Did the Romans know about China?

Could there be a possibility that some Romans knew that there was a country north east of India? Because as far as I know the Romans traded with Indians.
25
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1answer
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When and why did war chariots stopped being used?

Many cultures (Egypt, Celts, etc...) had war chariots either as mobile platforms or as troop transport. What other advance in warfare made them obsolete?
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5answers
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Who were the pre-Celtic inhabitants of Western Europe?

I've heard it said that the Basque are conjectured to be the last remnant of Pre-Celtic Western Europe. When would have these people existed? What evidence do we have for their culture and habitation ...
24
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1answer
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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, ...
23
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2answers
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What is the oldest road tunnel in the world?

At the Furlo Pass in the Apennines, the Via Flaminia passes through a tunnel built in 76 - 77 AD during the time of Emperor Vespasian, replacing an earlier tunnel. The tunnel built during the time of ...
23
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7answers
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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 ...
23
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1answer
406 views

Why so many early temples on Malta?

Why is there such a concentration of early neolithic temples on Malta? Seven world heritage sites, plus several other significant locations (see Megalithic Temples of Malta) adds up to a lot of ...
22
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6answers
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Why did Sun Tzu believe you shouldn't wait beside a river when eager to fight?

In Sun Tzu's Art of War, Chapter 9 (The Army on the March), Verse 5, Tzu says If you are anxious to fight, you should not go to meet the invader near a river which he has to cross. My thinking is ...
22
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4answers
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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 ...
22
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4answers
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How did Alexander III of Macedon get the title “the Great”?

Alexander III of Macedon is referred to as Alexander "the great", but who gave him this title? At what point in history was he acknowledged as such and why is he considered so great?
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When did Hinduism forbid overseas travel?

Reading a comment made on this site, I saw something very curious: Why not blame it on the ancient Hindu belief that traveling overseas pollutes a person irredeemably, thereby stunting the growth ...
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5answers
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Which Babylonian tablets contains the list of squares and cubes?

The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive writes Two tablets found at Senkerah on the Euphrates in 1854 date from 2000 BC. They give squares of the numbers up to 59 and cubes of the numbers up to ...
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3answers
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How to identify this coin with a bust on one side and the letters S and C on the other side?

I believe this coin is Roman but I'd like that confirmed. Can anyone give an approximate date and any other information possible (maybe difficult as it is quite worn). It measures between 2.5cm and 2....
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5answers
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Did Antarctica remain entirely unvisited by humans until the early 19th century?

Antarctica today is covered permanently by thick layers of ice, making it extremely inhospitable to humans. And, unlike the Arctic regions, it had no indigenous population of humans when modern man ...
21
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2answers
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What evidence is there of the vision aids people used before the invention of eyeglasses in about 1286?

The Wikipedia article on glasses says ‘scattered evidence exists for use of vision aid devices in Greek and Roman times’ but only cites the example of Nero’s emerald. This article on Magnifying ...
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Is there any evidence of STD's in ancient times?

Are there any ancient texts that show or imply that their authors knew that certain diseases were spread through sexual activity? It seems like sexual contagion was recognized in the 16th century ...