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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3
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2answers
8k views

Why was salt valuable?

Why was salt so valuable? I don't understand it since it's very abundant in most areas and can even be taken from seawater. I have read several books and articles and none are very clear on this.
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Did a forged seal ever seriously compromise a political or military operation?

Wax and clay seals have always struck me as a rather imperfect security mechanism. Better than nothing, of course, but imperfect. So I was interested to learn that Los Alamos National Laboratory's ...
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399 views

What is the earliest evidence for the use of hearing aids?

D. N. Brooks, in Hearing aids – a historical survey states that Emperor Hadrian reportedly used to cup his hand behind his ear, the better to hear the affairs of state...Historically, the cupped ...
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1answer
762 views

How is the accuracy of the Maya Calendar measured?

It is taken as a fact in many books and specialized publications that the Maya calendrical system - the Haab' and the Tzolk'in - was more accurate and closer to the real solar year than the Gregorian ...
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1answer
128 views

When did cultures start to emerge in ancient Peru?

Upon understanding John Rowe's theory of horizons, I became a bit confused about what should be considered a culture. This concept isn't very clear to me. According to John Rowe, the earliest period ...
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1answer
417 views

Is there any short summary of John Rowe's theory of horizons about the Incas?

This topic often gets me confused as I have not found much information about John Rowe's chronology of the origins of the Inca's empire. All that I know is that he divided the history of ancient Peru ...
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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.
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Was Alexander the Great ever an emperor?

Why is it that in the many biographies of Alexander the Great, the lands where he ruled over is described as his "empire", but he is only a "king of Macedon"? Was he ever recognized in or after his ...
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0answers
202 views

The squirrel which could cross an entire realm jumping from branch to branch

The metaphor (or meme) of the squirrel that could cross an entire territory without touching the ground is very old and, as far as the Iberian Peninsula is concerned, is attributed (maybe wrongly) to ...
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1answer
182 views

Why did almost every ancient civilization have a found religion? [closed]

I'm studying to be an Anthropologist and I've always had this question but I cannot get a definitive answer. Almost every ancient civilization I have studied, whether it be in the Old or New World had ...
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1answer
220 views

How did the Trojan allies get to Troy?

Also, across which territory did they pass? From which side of the world did they come?
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329 views

Why was Troy also called Holy Ilios?

Is there some evidence in the Iliad and the Odyssey why Troy was capitol and Holy city? Why was it the Holy city?
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Pythagoras: sinfulness of eating beans

I have read some of Pythagoras' commandments; they are strange. Any idea why he considered that eating beans was a sin? The book from which I took the data is 'history of western philosophy' by ...
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584 views

Was there an ancient cult of worshiping one's own reflection?

Are there any sources about an ancient cultic worship of one's own reflection (in water)? Have historians found any evidence of such a phenomenon? The idea is found in some early Jewish commentaries: ...
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1answer
276 views

When was Sura in the Roman Empire?

I am curious about this statement: Sura was under Roman control in the time of Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE) and Ptolemy (c. 100-170 CE) but was conquered by the Sasanian king Shapur I in 253 CE. ...
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390 views

Babylonian handbags - meaning?

What is the meaning of “handbags” that Babylonian gods are often depicted carrying ? ![god with handbag]
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1answer
156 views

Antoninus Pius coins

I have looked all over online and cannot find this specific coin. Can anyone help? We believe they are of Antoninus Pius, but I can’t identify anything on the back, although I believe the winged ...
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What went on during multi-year sieges?

You hear all the time in ancient history about cities or fortresses being besieged for a year, or two years, or even many years such as the sieges of Tripoli or Carthage or Drepana. I'm wondering, ...
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354 views

Birth by Caesarean Section in Ancient Times

[I have asked a variation of this question already on the Judaism Stack Exchange, but am offering a broader version of it here.] According to US National Library of Medicine, the first recorded ...
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1answer
918 views

How did people first discover that food is food? [closed]

In ancient times, how did people figure out that certain things are edible? Did someone just pull a potato out of the ground and decide to see what happens if you cook it? Back a long time ago, no one ...
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1answer
955 views

How did they manage accuracy with traction trebuchets?

Traction trebuchets were the earliest kind of trebuchet, where instead of the more familiar counterweight, the force came from lots of men pulling ropes attached to the short arm: https://en....
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1answer
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What was the largest battle fought by ancient Rome?

What was the largest battle, by number of participants, in which ancient Rome took part? Not counting sieges. A quick Google search reveals nothing authoritative, but some discussion threads mention ...
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What would a Roman slave be legally required to do if his master vanished?

Say that I were a Roman slave around the time of the Empire, perhaps as someone who maintains his villa. I serve my master faithfully and then one day, without warning, he doesn't come home. The day ...
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1answer
175 views

When was the last name introduced in World History?

If you notice one major thing about Ancient-(or Pre-Modern) History, the most well known and studied figures only have one name-(i.e. Homer, Aristotle, Virgil, Ovid, etc.). When was the last name ...
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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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452 views

What do we know about Archimedes text “On Sphere-Making”?

I originally put this question on Mythology SE, but was suggested I move it here. I was doing some mindless research and came across a Wikipedia page on lost works and went down to the classical ...
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2answers
258 views

Is Josephus account of destruction of Temple considered reliable?

I'm currently finishing up "The Jewish War" by Josephus. Josephus describes the lengths that Romans went to preserve the temple. On the one hand, I know Romans had rather a synthetic approach to ...
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3answers
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When did Greek historians stop believing Greek mythology to be historical fact?

In Greek mythology, there are all kinds of historical stories. Fire from Mount Olympus, founding of Thebes, not to mention actions of the gods. First, is it safe to assume that there was a time in ...
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Who was the first woman ruler?

I've found that speaking of the first woman ruler in history, most common materials (like Wikipedia or Britannica) point at the Egyptian pharaoh Hatshepsut, living in the 16th century BCE. As a source ...
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1answer
496 views

Is Josephus a legitimate historical text?

Are Josephus and other ancient writings considered historically sound or does the fact that his numbers are sometimes overly inflated to aggrandize his fellow countrymen make it a source of ...
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17k views

How was Alexander the Great able to rule so much territory?

Alexander the Great conquered so much territory so quickly that I'm always surprised he was able to maintain control of it as his army pushed further east. What kept territories from reverting to ...
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3answers
988 views

Did ancient or medieval warriors “substitute” in and out of combat?

This question arose in the role-playing games SE Some claim that in archery, horse archery, or hand-to-hand combat, a warrior could function effectively for at most 2-3 minutes. Therefore, frontline ...
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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 ...
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1answer
208 views

Copper and Bronze Age Burials in Western Europe

Can anyone estimate the number of high-prestige burials that have been found in France, Spain or Portugal which date from, say, 3000 BC to 1000 BC? For example, supposing that there were 2000 persons ...
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1answer
280 views

What kind of impact did ancient armies have on civilians and the environments outside of combat?

Are there any notable studies of the impacts of ancient battles on civilian populations and the environment outside warfare? What happened to farms and villages that lie in the path of ancient armies?...
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What is the most widely accepted theory on the ancient “Sea Peoples”?

There are many theories as to who they were. The wiki page has nine hypotheses. What is the most widely accepted theory on who the ancient Sea Peoples were?
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Changing troops in first line during battle?

I remember Caesar in De Bello Gallico mentioning Romans changing fighting/resting troops in some siege defense while Celtic attackers didn't do this and lost the battle because of it. This is just one ...
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1answer
501 views

How were documents written in Plato's time?

I'm writing an essay at the moment and I rather thoughtlessly wrote down that they used books. But it seems to me that this might not be the case and that books might be a relatively new invention. ...
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1answer
243 views

Did Marduk-balassu-iqbi help Assur-Danin-Pal?

This is a question about Assur-Danin-Pal and his relationship to the Babylonian kings. First I need to introduce the characters: Shalmaneser III: King of Assyria (859-824) Assur-Danin-Pal: His son, ...
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2answers
691 views

What do we currently know about the ethnic origins of Jews? [closed]

Putting aside the Old Testament, which details a story (perhaps true) of the origins of peoples including Jews, what has anthropology and genetics revealed so far about the origins of Jews? When did ...
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441 views

Tarim Mummies origins and theories separating fact from fiction

Is there any conclusive evidence of where the Tarim Mummies originate from? What were these "westerners" doing in China? The theories I have heard are that they are the forebearers of the Kazaks or ...
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How well can cavalry fight infantry?

In the Battle of Pharsalus, Caesar's infantry won by throwing their spears at the horsemen's faces. So how come in Battle of Zama and many other battles, including the battle where Khalid ibn al-...
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Did ancient miners have ways of predicting ore/stone deposits?

When miners in the ancient world went looking for materials in the earth, like gold or iron, did they have ways of predicting where those might be found? For example, we now know that diamonds are ...
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2answers
811 views

Was there a state or kingdom in the Maghreb of North Africa that predates the founding of Carthage?

Was there a state or kingdom in North Africa before the arrival of the Phoenicians and the foundation of Carthage in 814 BC, except the primitive Capcian civilization?
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How much faster/better are European printing press compared to Chinese block printing?

Some says China invented the printing press. However, another says that Gutenberg invented the printing press. Nevertheless, western printing press is superior for 2 reasons We know Gutenberg name. ...
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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 ...
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1answer
160 views

Why were harvest times in Cyrenaica earlier than in Greece in antiquity?

In The Corrupting Sea (2000), the authors state that Cyrenaica's harvest time was "a month earlier than that of most of Greece and well before that of the Black Sea" (p. 72), and because of this the ...
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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 ...
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2answers
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What is a “tar shower?”

I'm reading about Sodom and Gomorrah on wiki when I come across this: "One such idea is that the Dead Sea was devastated by an earthquake between 2100 and 1900 BCE. This might have unleashed showers ...
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Were Moses & Abraham historical figures?

History is not my area of specialization. I am curious to know about the historicity of Moses and Abraham from the viewpoint of modern critical scholarship. It would be great if references are ...