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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Is chain mail expensive?

I've read many textbooks and talked to plenty of people who explained to me that making thousands of rings, then interlocking them is terribly expensive. This confuses me because history had Vikings ...
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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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Example of a battering ram used to successfully breach a gate

I am looking for a specific example of a battering ram used to breach the gate of a castle or fortification in Europe. I can find lots of indirect references to the use of battering rams on gates (...
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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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Are there any existing foreign language teaching texts from the Ancient Near East?

The various cultures of the Ancient Near East spoke a wide array of languages and we know that there was plenty of communication between cultures. We even have a language like Akkadian that served as ...
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Why were the Huns so successful at siege warfare but the Goths were not?

I am listening to Mike Duncan's podcast titled "The History of Rome" and in it he mentioned that it is kind of a mystery that the Huns were so successful at siege warfare but the Goths were not. Both ...
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Was there human sacrifice in ancient Crete?

Excavations on the hill of Kydonia, near Chania in Crete, where the third largest palace of the Minoan civilization was, revealed a small area fenced by rocks in the yard, with many animal bones and ...
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Were there any wars in ancient Greece where religion played a major part?

I know that the Greeks had a god of war and many other deities associated with warfare in some respect. I also know that the Greeks would consult the oracles for advice prior to their military ...
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Instances of Jauhar around the world

Is there any evidence that the practice similar to Jauhar existed in places other than India? It seems like a pretty effective way, however brutal it may be, to escape slavery, rapes and imprisonment ...
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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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Comparison of Ancient Greecian and Egyptian schools and methods of studying to modern day

I've been watching some documentary that stated that our modern schools are used to make people submit to authority and think in a linear way. Just to make us good workers. And I wonder - What was ...
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How were fortification doors protected against fire?

Ancient and medieval fortifications are often shown to have wooden gate doors in the midst of their stone walls. Now granted, these doors are often massive and incredibly thick, but it still seems ...
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What happened to all the notable Roman families?

What happened to the numerous (patrician) families of Rome? Like the Gens Julia for example. There are no ancestors today leading back to them like for example the famous Medici family from ...
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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 was the northernmost region/city in the Roman Empire that spoke Greek as the native language?

My understanding is that prior to the migrations/invasions of the Goths, Huns and Sklavenoi into the Balkan peninsula, Greek and Latin where the most common native languages, alongside other steadily ...
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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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Why didn't the Roman Princeps restructure or dismantle the Praetorian Guard?

Why did the princeps/emperors of various dynasties prior to Constantine the Great (d.337 AD) allow the Praetorian Guard to continue to amass such power and repeatedly cause trouble, including palace ...
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What do we know about the organizational structure of the Library of Alexandria?

The Royal Library of Alexandria is estimated to have had over half a million documents and house about 100 scholars, according to this article. This would suggest a fairly decentralized archiving ...
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What are the problems archaeologists face in deciphering Indus Valley writing?

From this link on Indus Valley writing, I came to know that: The first Indian script, developed in the Indus Valley around 2600 B.C. is still undeciphered. Thus, it is still not possible to fully ...
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Is David Graeber correct to assert that patriarchy did not exist in Sumeria?

In Debt: The First 5000 Years, David Graeber incisively claims that As we’ll see, there is reason to believe that it is in such moral crises that we can find the origin not only of our current ...
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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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Who titled the works of Aristotle?

I had always assumed that Aristotle titled his own works. But under the Wikipedia article on Metaphysics, it gives an alternative explanation for the origin of the work's title: Subsequent to the ...
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What words were obliterated from the Great Colonnade at Palmyra?

One of the columns at the Great Colonnade at Palmyra features a dedicatory inscription to Zenobia and Odaenathus. It is bilingual, recording the same text in Greek and Palmyrenean: (Image credit: ...
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When is the Cumaean Temple to Apollo dated?

Cumae was founded by Ionians from Euboea around 750. Cumae had a Temple to Apollo and Sibyline oracle that channeled Apollo. In Greece, Apollo and its oracle became active in the eighth century. It ...
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What kind of crew members did ancient artillery teams consist of?

According to what I understand from Pieter's answer to the question "Why didn't the Persians make and use ballistas and other kinds of artillery?", he said that since 2,000 years ago until now, ...
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What ships did pirates use in ancient Greece and Rome?

I imagine they did not have the funds to buy or build heavy military ships, so I wonder what did they use. Did they re-purpose civilian ships?
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What is the story of war that started with “if”?

I was told about a story, of how one army sent terms to another army threatening 'if' they did not obey them, they would be punished. The receiving army replied to the threat with one word "if". I ...
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Did the biblical apostle James visit Ireland?

I remember reading in a magazine that the biblical apostle James the Greater visited Ireland 400 years before Saint Patrick. Is it true that he went on a mission to Northern Ireland? Forgive me if I ...
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Was lighter or darker skin pigment valued higher in ancient Greek civilization?

Did the ancient Greeks higher value lighter skin and hair, as do modern Indians?
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Was hitchhiking common in Ancient Rome?

I am writing a story about a soldier who survived from an ambush and he hide several days.then he walked to a village, While he is on the way(walking on a road) he saw a caravan ... so my question is ...
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How did the ancient Chinese coordinate armies of tens and hundreds of thousands?

According to what I've read, during the Warring States period and also later during the Three Kingdoms period there were armies of the magnitude of (a few) hundred thousands. How could they ...
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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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Was Theodoric the Great killed by Justinian?

In a recent Medieval History class my professor made a statement that Theodoric the Great after he signed up with Byzantines was killed on the orders of Justinian I so the Byzantines could take over ...
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In the biography of Turing by Hodges an ancient Celtic tradition is mentioned of killing the last to arrive

According to Hodges, Turing compared some modern custom to the torture and killing of the last to arrive at Celtic councils. I can find no other mention of this elsewhere; can anyone expand upon or at ...
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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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Why did Xerxes need a canal across Mount Athos peninsula?

As a preparation to his invasion of Greece, Xerxes ordered to dig a canal across Mount Athos peninsula. Digging this canal took 3 years. When I look at the map I see that this peninsula is a part of ...
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Did the Delphic oracle speak gibberish?

Wikipedia's article on the Delphic oracle says: The usual theory has been that the Pythia delivered oracles in a frenzied state induced by vapors rising from a chasm in the rock, and that she spoke ...
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Why do Strabo, Pliny and Diodorus cite Pytheas in disbelief?

According to the wikipedia page on Germanic tribes, (direct quotation) The first news about the Germanic world are contained in the lost Pytheas work. It is believed that Pytheas travelled to ...
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What is the historical significance of pottery?

Pottery is often portrayed as being a landmark in the evolution of humanity. But do we just see it that way because it is one of the few things from those times that has survived in a tangible form? ...
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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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When was Jerusalem destroyed by the Babylonians?

When reading literature about the Babylonian the destruction of Jerusalem I always wonder which year it took place. Some books says 586 B.CE. and some says 587 B.CE. Is this because one don't know? Or ...
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Did Nabataean traders use linen, or cotton, for their sails?

While studying the Arab and African sea trade along the Red Sea and points south, I read an article on Nabataea.net that reads It is thought that originally sails were woven from coconut of palm ...
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What sources could Tacitus or Appian have used that have since been lost?

I was fascinated by the announcement of the 'virtual unrolling' of a fire-burned scroll in En-Gedi that has been analysed and found to be part of the book of Leviticus. As the Guardian noted, the ...
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How extensive and developed was the ancient Kushite (Nubian) horse trade?

In 1997 there was a fascinating paper published called The Horses of Kush by Lisa A. Heidorn in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies which summarized some finds about the popularity of horses from Kush ...
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Was Jesus depicted as dark skinned during the beginning of Christianity

I have seen depictions of Jesus classified under "early Christian art" and in the earliest depictions of Jesus he was of a much darker skin tone and I also seen the early "black madonnas" (the dark ...
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What kind of object is pictured in these two Roman fresco wall paintings?

Both are paintings in the same house near Naples. They were excavated from the ashes of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Apparently, they picture the same kind of object. But what is it?
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How regularly did the Romans bathe?

I guess the answer may be different for rich people who had their own baths and others who visited the public baths.
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How much contact did Sub-Saharan Africa actually have with the rest of the world since the beginning of civilization?

The book 'Guns, germs and steel' introduced me to the fact that the Sahara desert actually isolated Sub-Saharan Africa from the developments elsewhere since the beginning of civilization until ...
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Is there a relationship between the Pelasgians and Sea Peoples?

Wikipedia describes the Pelasgians as follows: all the indigenous inhabitants of the Aegean Sea region and their cultures before the advent of the Greek language. And that these people where seen ...
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Why was ancient Christianity more successful than the Roman pantheon and Judaism in gaining followers?

Around the 1st century AD, the three biggest religions in the Roman empire were the Roman pantheon, Judaism, and Christianity. Why was Christianity so much more successful in gaining and keeping ...