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Questions tagged [classical-antiquity]

A broad term used for the period of cultural history of the Greco-Roman world that lasted from the 8th century BC to the decline of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD.

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Which groups of people were awake at night in antiquity?

I've come across claims that prehistoric people didn't get much sleep, which seems to be extrapolated from observations of existing primitive cultures. I'm wondering whether there's something more ...
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Why wasn't there more use of wind power in antiquity?

Wind power [was never] taken seriously in the ancient world [...] though Hero of Alexandria described a windmill connected to an air pump designed to blow an organ, there is no evidence for the ...
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When were the first heating apparatus used for bathing?

If in the Odyssey they already washed themselves with warm water prepared on fire, why didn’t the athletes in the loutrons of the palaestrae do the same? They used cold water, which is ineffective for ...
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Does anyone know what type of structure this is?

I came across this picture taken at an ancient Roman site (name & location not provided) and was wondering what kind of structure it is. I've searched for fountains, wells, milestones, and ...
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649 views

Do historians support the existence of brothers to Jesus?

Jesus does not have a brother in some Christian traditions, his mother Mary is a perpetual virgin. For instance the Catholic church holds this theory as a theologoumenon, namely a theological ...
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Do we have any surviving texts by Romano-Celtic authors?

Do we have any surviving texts or references to texts with Romano-Celtic authors and how common were 'non-Greco-Italian' (I'm not sure of the best term for that) authors? Specifically within the Roman ...
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289 views

How the average female body used to be before the industrial revolution? [closed]

I have this curiosity for several reasons.History articles says that before the isdustrial revolution most people used to be quite poor and most of the population were peasants. In other words, most ...
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173 views

How was the Roman army in fact organized during Caesar's campaigns in Gaul?

I'm finding contradictory descriptions about how Roman legions were organized during the Gallic Wars (58-50 BC). An appendix on Roman military organization in The Landmark Julius Caesar highlights ...
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In Antiquity, were Persian arrows considered superior to their Greek counterparts?

In Xenophon's Anabasis I ran into the following part: The Persian bows are also large, and consequently the Cretans could make good use of all the arrows that fell into their hands; in fact, ...
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How much more productive was Aegyptus in comparison to Africa Proconsularis in classical antiquity?

On the one hand, the Wikipedia page on Africa Proconsularis states, with no references, that it "produced one million tons of cereals each year, one-quarter of which was exported." On the other, the ...
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987 views

Was bronze ever used for chainmail?

I was reading the Wikipedia article on mail, more commonly known as chainmail, when I saw a mention that mail could be made with bronze. The section in general did not appear to be talking about ...
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Why was galena used as a black pigment, when soot is more black and also more abundant?

Throughout centuries, starting in antiquity at least, galena (PbS) is reported as a black pigment. This is for painting but also (in Egypt and Rome) as a cosmetic. Soot is a more effective pigment ...
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What was different about the “right” (recto) side of papyrus sheets compared to the other side?

Usually only one side of papyrus sheets was used to write on in classic antiquity. What is the difference between the two sides of a sheet, and why would you write on "recto" only?
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Did germophobia exist in classical antiquity?

I know nothing of the cleaning habits of the Greeks, but about Rome Mary Beard (2015) says that doctors knew that going to the public baths with an open wound would likely result in gangrene, so it ...
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What kind of gas caused the end of excavations/tunneling of the “villa of the papyrii” in the 18th century?

The reason why excavations of the Villa of the papyrii in Herculaneum had to end is usually cited to be "gas invading the tunnels". That is a common problem in coal mining. However, volcanic deposits, ...
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More honorable to plunder than to work for Germanic tribes in antiquity

Quite a few years ago, I watched a documentary about Germanic tribes which claimed that for some tribes, "plundering was more honorable than working", or something to that extent. Is this true? ...
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Did early northern Europeans drink alcohol?

Before the Roman empire brought alcohol to areas of Northern Europe around two thousand years ago, do we know if the native people of Britain and Scandinavia drank alcohol? My preliminary search is ...
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758 views

How did early Judaism and Zoroastrianism influence each other, if they were so far apart?

I've been reading, from various sources, fairly vague and hand-wavey claims that Zoroastrianism and early Judaism influenced each other (and that both were influenced by Atenism). Looking at ...
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Can Alexander III of Macedon's success be attributed to good logistics management?

A friend of mine who majored in Classical History at Berkeley mentioned that we focus too much on Alexander's battles which are interesting studies in set pieces but not enough on how skilled he was ...
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Did the Romans see Africa as a black continent? Was there a perception of a divide between Africa and Europe?

Nowadays the Western world perceives Africa as the continent of the black people and hence a standard African person as a black individual. How did the people in the Roman empire perceive the African ...
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Were the greatest rulers from before the Classical Antiquity known by ancient historians?

To clearly delimit dates and places, I ask for information about the rulers before 1000 BC in the Fertile Crescent or Eastern Mediterranean. Historians may be Greek, Roman, or peoples belonging to the ...
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2answers
297 views

How much of what we know about ancient philosophers comes from oral literature?

Have any orally-transmitted myths survived​ throughout the centuries in such a form that we could identify any of the ancient philosophers of Classical Greece and Rome in them? I'm interested in ...
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What are other ancient encyclopaedic texts like Pliny's “Naturalis Historia” were available to medieval people?

The German historian of medieval thought, Kurt Flasch claims in one of his books ("Das philosophische Denken im Mittelalter", my translation "philosophical thought in medieval times") the following: ...
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Is there any evidence that Celts produced chain mail?

Since I started to interest myself in history of the northen Europe, and especially the history of Celtic people, I read a lot about their inventions, in terms of warfare. The quote from wiki ...
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120 views

Quote on other cultures from Greek scholar

I can remember from my Greek / Latin classes that a scholar from antiquity once wrote that to write about another culture shows more about the writer himself than about the other culture However, ...
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Why are Illyrian and Thracian cultures not studied as thoroughly as other balkans people? [closed]

I have read many sources regarding Illyrian and Thracian cultures but it seems that their culture is not studied as much as their more relevant neighbours, the Hellenes... I understand that they have ...
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How much did a ship cost in Ancient Greece?

I'm exploring the history of the Peloponnesian War and I was wondering how much money a trirreme did cost and how long it took on average to build such a ship.
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Where are the ancient books now?

How did books like Gorgias or Republic survive to these days? Where were they found or how were they preserved so well for the centuries when antique philosophers were rejected as atheists? And are ...
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374 views

Was there a tax on being fat in Gaul?

I vaguely remember reading something about this but I'd like to dig up some sources. Google isn't much help on that one. This could have applied to some tribes, Gaul or the Celtic world at large, but ...
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Was construction work involving hydraulic cements in ancient Rome restricted to the summer season?

Are Italian winter temperatures reliably warm enough for processing of opus caementicium ? Was building activity seasonal for other reasons?
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1answer
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Did the Byzantine Empire use Roman numerals?

Wikipedia says about Byzantine emperor Heraclius that he was responsible for "introducing Greek as the Eastern Empire's official language". If so, is it right to assume that Byzantines used Roman ...
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2answers
172 views

Looking for Cato quotes/anecdotes

I'm trying to find/confirm two anecdotes about (I think) Cato (not sure which, Elder or Younger). They both refer to being modest in the face of one's own greatness. The first has Cato being asked ...
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688 views

Was classical Alexandria really this brutal and class-segregated?

"The Perniciously Persistent Myths of Hypatia and the Great Library" by David Bentley Hart in the journal First Things claims that while Hypatia was indeed murdered by a mob of angry Christians, this ...
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Why does this statue have five legs?

Bulls have 4 legs. These statues have 5 legs. Why? Khorsabad The Palace of Sargon This area mainly contains sculptures from the city and palace of Khorsabad, built for the Assyrian king ...
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Where was the cultural inheritance of the Greco/Roman world/antiquity preserved?

In school and later in media (this is northern Europe) I was/am always told that it was the Arabs/Muslim world that preserved the science, technology, literature, art, culture etc from the Greek and ...
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Why did Europe not see Roman-era numbers of men participating in battles until the 17th century?

Typical decisive battles in Roman times involve 4+ legions - around 20,000 men + auxiliaries giving a total of about 30,000 men, on the Roman side only. Battles in even the late middle ages and early ...
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Why were the military and civil powers split in the Late Roman Empire?

The administration of the Dominate (aka Later Roman Empire) was different in many ways from the Principate (aka Early Roman Empire). In most cases it is rather clear why the various reforms had to ...
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Why is the name of King Lucifer used by Christians as that of Devil? [closed]

Wikipedia Lucifer article Not even Wikipedia tells me why. All it states is that the name is for the king of Babylon, known for his cruelty. I guess it is for his cruelty that people uses his name ...
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1answer
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What was the average height in Classical Greece?

This is a follow-up for Average height of Ancient Roman Men and Women? : I'm curious what was the average height and build of men & women citizens of Greek states (Athens, Sparta, etc) in 7th-...
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436 views

Athenian tribute lists

Who were the Athenian tributes in the 434/433 and 430/29 periods?
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2answers
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How did people have access to ice in warm areas before the industrial revolution?

In some cases, before the industrial revolution, nobles and other elites had access to ice in regions where it wasn't naturally available. How could they get it? Was it simply transported in big ...
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2answers
638 views

Who founded Rome?

According to myth ". . . the Trojan refugee Aeneas escape[d] to Italy and found[ed] the line of Romans through his son Iulus, the namesake of the Julio-Claudian dynasty." Aside: Livy (1797). The ...
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2answers
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Classical battle sizes vs medieval battle sizes

Why did classical battles did tend to be larger than in the medieval period? One particular example I am thinking of was the Battle of Stamford Bridge, which had around 30,000 participants, compared ...
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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 ...
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2answers
280 views

How did lay people understand logic in the Greco-Roman world?

I'm not interested in what Aristotle or the stoics wrote; how did "common" people understand practical logic, especially as it relates to rhetoric?
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4answers
397 views

How did the modern hyper-appreciation of antiquities develop?

Through much of history since classical antiquity, ancient artifacts were not appreciated much. Wonders such as the Coliseum and the Pyramids of Giza were partially scavenged for building material ...
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422 views

Jewish diaspora in the late antiquity

Is it possible to estimate the distribution of Jews in the variety of cities they settled in the aftermath of expulsion from Palestine by Adrian in 135 AD and in the following few centuries of the ...
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419 views

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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772 views

Were Greek columns hollow?

I remember learning in elementary school that at some point in their history, the Greeks were building hollow columns to support their building, because they thought that hollow columns would provide ...
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New theory on origins of modern-day Romania?

I watched a documentary which basically claims that modern-day Romanians are not the descendants of Rome, but that the Romans and the Romanians share a common ancestor with the same language. One of ...