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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41
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3answers
7k views

Earliest evidence of objects intended for future archaeologists?

In modern times, it is not unusual for people to wonder what, if anything, will archeologists of the future (human or otherwise) will learn about our civilization from various artifacts we leave ...
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484 views

Were the ancient Greeks very poor compared to the ancient Persians?

Today, one way modern scholars determine civilization is by it's material prosperity and consumption levels. To be prosperous is for the man of today a good thing and we consider poverty in a nation ...
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Is this theory on origins of modern-day Romania plausible?

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 ...
5
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1answer
157 views

What is the etymological origin of the Marsi, the ancient Italic people?

The English Wikipedia article does not provide any etymological explanations on the demonym. The Italian article, which is marked as "recommended", points the name's origin to the Italic deity Mamerte,...
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What is the chair depicted in Cesare Maccari's 1889 painting “Cicerone denuncia Catilina”?

There are a number of inaccuracies in Cesare Maccari's painting. Wikipedia notes that the arrangement of the chairs was of parallel rather than radial as depicted. Did Maccari accurately depict the ...
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What is the oldest known work of fiction?

What is the oldest known work of fiction that we know was meant to be taken as fiction? I mean to exclude mythologies; the audience of these was meant to believe they were true. What is the oldest ...
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Did ancient Germans take pride in leaving the land untouched?

I remember reading something along those lines, perhaps in the De Bello Gallico. Can anyone provide source material to confirm this? EDIT: I think the claim was also that the tribes there were ...
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143 views

What are some of the earliest examples of welfare states?

I was reading about Welfare States and came across this on Wikipedia: Emperor Ashoka of India put forward his idea of a welfare state in the 3rd century BCE. [...] The concepts of welfare and ...
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1answer
352 views

Did people 'go to the beach' for pleasure in classical antiquity?

Swimming in the sea was necessary for many in ancient Rome or Greece, but did they do it for recreation?
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1answer
375 views

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 ...
10
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736 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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421 views

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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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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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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1answer
124 views

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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1answer
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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 ...
7
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1answer
421 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 ...
8
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1answer
331 views

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 ...
10
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1answer
227 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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How accurately could ancient astronomers find latitude and longitude?

In classical times, say, 200 BC to 400 AD, how accurately could an astronomer determine their latitude and longitude? Could they find their position to the nearest degree? Minute? Second? I'm ...
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1answer
330 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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What was the origin of the Classical Antiquity culture?

I many times heard a version that the advances of the Ancient Greek culture were in fact borrowed from Egypt or the Middle East. I will not buy this. Classical Antiquity civilization had a lot of ...
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When did the Roman Forum fall into disuse?

The Roman Forum is reported to have already been falling apart in 8th century by a anonymous traveler, according to Wikipedia. The question is, with the Visigothic and Byzantine conquests of Italy, ...
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1answer
249 views

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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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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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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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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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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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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1answer
765 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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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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1answer
941 views

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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886 views

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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205 views

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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2answers
301 views

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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313 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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What factors contributed to earlier democratic states failing?

Conventional wisdom says that democracy is the superior form of government. If this is true, then factors might have contributed to earlier democratic states like Athens in 500 BCE and the Roman ...
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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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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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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 ...