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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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 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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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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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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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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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 were the political and military constraints on Vercingetorix at Alesia?

I don't fully understand why Vercingetorix accepted a siege at Alesia (a fortified area), where he would be short of food instead of pursuing one or more of the alternatives below. The reason I'm ...
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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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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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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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Were the earliest Egyptian hieroglyphs ever discovered really found in Qustul in Ancient Nubia?

In a comment posted on an answer to the question, 'Does modern scholarship accept an Ethiopian origin for Egyptian hieroglyphs?', the user that posted the question wrote: "The oldest kingdom in ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Is there any historicity to the concept of Ghost Fences / Walls?

A Ghost Wall or Fence is a concept I keep coming across in historical fiction set around the Iron Age or Sub-Roman Britain. Generally, it appears as a boundary made of deceased peoples bones to either ...
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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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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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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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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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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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How was body temperature checked before thermometers?

Medicine always advances, and it's obvious that many decades or centuries ago, some medical procedures were done differently. I'd like to find out about how body temperature was checked in the past ...
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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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Why were North American Native Americans underdeveloped?

During the Pre-Columbian period of the New World the Incas, Aztecs, Mayans, and many more civilizations roamed the land of south North America and all of South America. They were far more advanced and ...
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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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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 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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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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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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Was Marc Antony with Julius Caesar when he crossed the Rubicon?

Question I had always been told that he was, and Plutarch's Life of Antony certainly seems to imply as much. But I just read a passage in Adrian Goldsworthy's book, Caesar's Civil War 49-44 BC, ...
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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 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 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 Roman legions in Hispania revolted against Caesar before the battle at Munda?

I was debating an interesting topic recently about Pompey's legions in Hispania and why they hadn't fought alongside him against Caesar at Pharsalus. Now Caesar forcefully convinced most of them to ...
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Did migrating people ever maintain contact across the Bering Strait?

The Inuit ranged from Alaska to Greenland. The Yupik were in Alaska and Russia. Would peoples have kept in contact across islands in the Arctic but not across the Bering Strait? This question could be ...
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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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How old is the Egyptian winged disk? Is it Assyrian?

I assumed that the Winged disk was brought to Egypt by the Assyrians, and used prolifically during the Amarna period. However, I read on Wikipedia and elsewhere that it's known since the Old Kingdom, ...
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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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