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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When, where, why did clean shaving for men become the norm?

Fashions come in and out, and beards alternate between trendy and passe. By the introduction of the safety razor, shaving had obviously become so common that even the poorest farmer could afford to ...
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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 ...
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Does modern scholarship accept an Ethiopian or Nubian origin for Egyptian hieroglyphs?

Diodorus Siculus made the claim that the Hieroglyphs were actually an Ethiopian script, which was held sacred by the Egyptians and was learned and transmitted only within the priestly families of ...
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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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Why are some Pharaohs depicted wearing the red or the white crowns even after the unification of Egypt?

We know that the red "Deshret" crown was used by the Pharaohs of Lower Egypt (Or in occasions related only to Lower Egypt), and the white "Hedjet" crown was used by Pharaohs of Upper Egypt (Or in ...
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When did key locks first appear?

When and where did the first metal key locks appear (not the door bolts)? When did they became widespread?
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Did King Porus's men use snake poison against Alexander's troops?

This claim comes from about.com. It references this source which doesn't claim that Porus specifically did it, merely that such a practice was common. It also cites Adrienne Mayor who claims that ...
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How much did the culture of Anatolian Gallic settlers differ from their kin in Gaul?

It is known that some Gallic tribes emigrated to Anatolia in Roman era. In Livy's History of Rome, 38.16 - (cited from a reddit article), it is mentioned about their arrival to Anatolia by an ...
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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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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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What was the legal process of raising a legion in late Republican Rome?

I've read some about both the Roman army and the Late Republican period, but realized that, while I understand well enough how legions worked in the field, I have only a very incomplete idea of who ...
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What was the early understanding of static electricity shocks?

What was the common understanding of electric shocks caused by static electricity in the ancient world and middle ages? I'm talking about the shock when you touch something on a dry day for example. ...
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Were there any Roman villas in Britain which were used rather than destroyed after the Romans left?

As noted in the post Are there any ideas as to what the English landscape was like before the arrival of the Angles? , the infrastructure and buildings which the Romans left behind gradually fell ...
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How would a large kingdom be ruled?

Genghis Khan, Alexander etc. are rulers who had kingdoms which were larger than most of the countries now. How would they have ruled their countries efficiently when it would take weeks for ...
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Where can I find the primary source for Herodotus' Histories?

I'm looking for information re: the primary source for Herodotus' Histories. The two primary sources on the Wikipedia page for Herodotus Histories both trace back to Godley’s translation. Godley's ...
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When did monogamy become the norm in Ancient Greece?

This article says The case for an automatic association between Christianity and monogamy is weakened further by the fact that socially imposed monogamy was first established in ancient Greece ...
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Are the Samaritans descendants of Israel's lost tribes, and so rightfully considered Israelites?

From Mi Yodeya The Samaritans themselves claim to be descended from the original Israelite inhabitants of northern Israel. The biblical account (II Kings 17:24ff) states that they are descended ...
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What would slaves in the Roman Empire call their masters?

I need to make a video for a history class on the Roman empire and the rise of Christianity, but there are many things that I cannot find. If you answer, thank you.
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When did hanging emerge as a form of capital punishment?

As the title has it: when did hanging emerge as a form of legal execution? The Wikipedia article (linked) has nothing to say about this. I've done the best I can with a search in Google Scholar, but ...
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What was the first example of a foreign mercenary unit?

Employing foreign mercenaries as royal guards is an ancient trend. The Pope employed Swiss guards starting with the Renaissance. The Basileus had his Varangian Guard. Even the Roman emperors briefly ...
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How to validate a historical source

You can learn and understand history various ways such as learning in a university, reading books, being taught by someone with a background in history, watching TV, browsing the internet, or, in my ...
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Did ancient people regularly suffer from colds?

It seems that most people suffer some kind flu or a cold each year, particularly throughout winter. Did ancient people tend to regularly suffer seasonal sickness such as colds and the flu?
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How did people cut their nails in the past?

How did people cut their toe and fingernails before we got nail clippers after the industrial revolution? Would they have had a fair amount of ingrown toenails, especially in the colder regions where ...
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How could ancient people determine the winter solstice was occurring?

How could astronomers in the ancient world determine that the winter solstice was occurring? According to whoever edited the Wikipedia article on the winter solstice, it's too hard for modern ...
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Did Hannibal start the Second Punic War prematurely?

IN 221 BC, Hamilcar, Hannibal's father, made a peace with Rome that divided Spain north and south between Rome and Carthage. The latter got the larger "piece," the area shaded in green on the map ...
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How often did city-destroying floods happen in Mesopotamia?

I keep seeing Mesopotamia described as a floodplain, and I'm finding inklings of evidence that some cities in ancient Mesopotamia were actually destroyed by floods. But how common of an occurrence ...
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How widespread was practice of fusion of Graeco-Roman and barbarian names?

There are some instances when barbarian names were romanized in order to be similar to already existing Roman or Greek names. Just some examples that come to mind: Hebrew Martha -> Marta ("of Mars") ...
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Animal “blood lust”

I remember reading in some older books about ancient combat that animals would sometimes get "into the fight" so to speak. For lack of a better term, this was evidenced by horses actually attacking (...
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How advanced were the people of Indus valley civilization in engineering? [closed]

How advanced were the people of Indus valley civilization in engineering aspects compared with other civilizations during or before their time?
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What did the ancient Eastern world think of the ancient Greeks?

The opinions of the Greeks the Eastern world which notably included the Persians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Indians and Egyptians are known to all. They elaborated at length through their literature ...
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Legendary visits by Alexander the Great

There is a story about Alexander the Great visiting Jerusalem. This story is not supported by other sources, as far as I know, and so is probably not literally true (it may well reflect some ...
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Has there been an occasion where ranged weapons were available but not used?

I have been trying to prove my thinking wrong. I believe that there can never be an occasion where ranged weapons are available in outdoor battles / skirmishes that they would not be used. I am ...
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Why do people say, “Alexander the Great conquered the world?”

In many books, articles, or even in folktales, whenever Alexander III of Macedon (referred to as Alexander the Great) is mentioned, it is said that he conquered the world. Even some historian say that ...
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Were early accounts of ancient child prostitution accurate?

Well I'm doing a research about the history and background of Child Sexual Abuse and due to the few sources related to the topic, I've been stucked ,but recently a I found this book "The Encyclopedia ...
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How did early farmer societies “know” about protein contents of peas and lentils?

According to Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel (pp 125-126), the domestication of local grains (e.g. wheat, barley) and pulses (e.g. peas, lentils) lauched food production (farming) societies in ...
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Before the use of Anno Domini dating (BCE/CE), how were years numbered?

Currently we use Anno Domini (A.D.) year numbering, sometimes secularized as "BCE" (Before Common Era) or "CE" (Common Era). What was the prevailing method of dating years in Western culture before ...
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What jobs were available for migrants from the country to Rome?

I've read that the during the late Roman republic and early empire there was a great migration from country to urban living. Historians estimate in peninsular Italy 15%-20% of the population lived in ...
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Who is the oldest ruler whose remains can be positively identified?

I realize this question can be quite controversial since "positive identification" is rather subjective especially with regards to ancient history. Regardless, I am curious to know which ancient ...
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When did Northern India and N. China begin to dominate in global demographics?

Video: Human Population Through Time This simple video says that there were 170 million people in the world at the beginning of the current era. Each dot represents a million people -there are about ...
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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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Are the Ramayana and Mahabharatha exaggerated stories or pure fiction?

I would like to know the opinion of historians on the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha. I can accept that they are excessively exaggerated and glorify people as Gods, but are they totally fiction? Do we ...
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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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Are many Russians descended from Varangian Vikings? [closed]

Are many Russians descended from Varangian Vikings? Some historians say yes, but some do not. There had been archaeological diggings in Saint-Petersburg and the Novgorod region, as seen in one rare ...
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Was the Minoan civilization warlike?

Generally, it 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 that suggests ...
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What Roman legions in Spain revolted against Caesar before the battle at Munda?

I was debating an interesting topic recently about Pompey's legions in Spain and why they hadn't fought alongside him against Caesar at Pharsalus. Now Caesar forcefully convinced most of them to join ...
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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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Why was the Records of the Three Kingdoms composed before that of the Later Han?

Our professor taught that Chinese historiographic tradition demands each dynasty to compose the history of the previous one, using the 實錄 or 起居注 provided by said dynasty. Browsing the Wikipedia ...