75

Xenia is a concept that represented the relationship between guests and hosts in Ancient Greece, and is a recurring theme in the Odyssey, Iliad, and other Greek works. Essentially, Penelope was fulfilling the expected cultural role of a generous host, whereas the suitors were breaking their role as courteous guests. For adhering to that culture's expectation ...


74

In the particular case of Eratosthenes measuring the radius of the earth, it was done by observing the length of shadows at midday on the summer solstice, in cities that were north-south aligned (to within a few degrees). It was known that the sun was directly overhead on the solstice in the city of Syene in Egypt. But further north in Alexandria on the ...


43

There is a difference between abstract knowledge and "inventions". In the 17th century it was still widely believed that the ancient Greeks had discovered and formulated pretty much the sum total of abstract knowledge. Fermat put this in question. The authentic quote from Fermat (in French and in English translation) can be found here: Perhaps, posterity ...


40

Coins, dedications, and other 'ritual' objects have been buried in the foundations of buildings since prehistory. The function of these artefacts is unclear, but they do not appear to have been placed there for future generations. What you are looking for is usually called a 'time-capsule', and as the Wikipedia article observes: A time capsule is a ...


32

Before the development of the movable type printing press there was no such thing as "publication for the mass market". This meant that books were much rarer, and more expensive, than we are today used to. Also if you are thinking of a modern pocketbook that could be conveniently referred to in a market place, that form factor was not yet seen as generally ...


29

The short answer (unfortunately but unsurprisingly) is that we can't be sure. However, the currently most accepted theory would appear to be that the walls were for flood control, but there are other views and there is no clear consensus. The tower, on the other hand, has been associated with the summer solstice, among other things. THE WALLS The most ...


23

The oldest hieroglphs The earliest known Egyptian hieroglyphic writing so far discovered was found in tomb U-j at Abydos, dating to about 3250 BCE. The tomb was excavated in 1988 by Günter Dreyer and his team, and the results published in Umm el-Qaab I: das prädynastische Königsgrab U-j und seine frühen Schriftzeugnisse. They concluded that tomb U-j was ...


22

The short answer is no. Although the origins of hieroglyphic writing are disputed to some extent, modern scholarship leans towards the idea that it developed independently in Egypt, and "no definitive determination has been made as to the origin of hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt". In Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of ...


21

There appear to be very few recorded, specific examples of the successful use of battering rams on gates in either ancient or medieval times, at least compared to successful assaults on walls. Contemporary sources are often either unclear about how gates were assaulted, or don't say whether entry was gained through the walls or through a gate. The clearest ...


21

For a critical discussion on how modern versions of Herodotus' Histories have been compiled from the surviving manuscript sources, you could do a lot worse worse than the 1983 essay On Editing Herodotus by R. A. McNeal. This includes a useful overview of the merits of the various surviving copies and partial copies of the text. Essentially, the problem is ...


20

The ancient Sumerians and Babylonians, from about 3000 BC on, used to bury clay tablets in the foundations of their temples and other major buildings giving the name of the king who founded the temple and threatening to curse anyone who might in the future destroy the building. These inscriptions were not addressed to their contemporaries (they were buried ...


15

To add to the answer of PhillS: there was essentially no method of exact time synchronization in two remote places before 17th century. The method of observation at noon at two places only works UNDER THE ASSUMPTION that the places are on the same longitude. The longitudes of Syene and Alexandria are approximately equal, which Eratosthenes knew (when ...


15

This is only answerable with a certain amount of discussion. To illustrate the problem bluntly: you expect a date well before the exile, and "Yahweh" will be found absolutely nowhere there or then. There were no vowels recorded in the local scripts. And the biblical tetragrammaton YHWH (יהוה) is by far not the only form that most scholars believe to be one ...


14

There's various interpretations of Neferti that Historians have argued about over the years. Simpson considered it to be essentially a propaganda pamphlet aiming at legitimizing and drumming up support for the newly established Twelfth Dynasty, the first King of which was Amenemhat I and that "Ameny true of voice" is supposed to refer to him. (Amenemhat was ...


14

The literary evidence for Romans anticipating the fall of Rome would seem to be very limited and, at most, indirect. There are, though, references to potential future threats to the empire, but also - among Christian writers - the belief that Rome's future was in God's hands. The contemporary accounts we have tended to focus on the past and / or the times ...


13

Quite the opposite, he's arguing that "savage" societies give women higher status (from our modern point of view). I think its important to understand that this was written by a man who benefitted from sitting comfortably in the upper rungs of Victorian (technically actually Georgian) English society. He's not talking about modern western women with (on ...


12

A century ago, the overwhelming view of scholars was that Aramaic had entirely displaced Hebrew as a vernacular language well before the Roman conquest, probably around the Hellenistic Period of the 4th century BCE, or not long after. However, these views have changed substantially in the 20th century, in large part due to archaeological indicating showing ...


12

Mostly, there were textbooks for learning the foreign language: Professor Eleanor Dickey travelled around Europe to view the scraps of material that remain from ancient Latin school textbooks, or colloquia, which would have been used by young Greek speakers in the Roman empire learning Latin between the second and sixth centuries AD... ...


12

There is this, from the Talmud (Sanhedrin 19a) - bold is a translation from the original, non-bold is the interpolated explanation: And Rami bar Abba says: Rabbi Yosei instituted an ordinance in Tzippori (Sepphoris, northern Israel) that women should converse in the bathroom, because of the restrictions on women being secluded with men. Since the public ...


11

It appears that both are correct. It's just that they are referring to different buildings. The term Moti Masjid simply means "Pearl Mosque". The Moti Masjid (Agra Fort) "Pearl Mosque" in Agra was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century. Image source - Wikimedia The Moti Masjid (Lahore Fort) "Pearl Mosque" inside the Lahore Fort was ...


11

At least one case must have been more of an academic exercise than one with any hope of continuing or teaching the language: From Wikipedia on Etruscan: The last person known to have been able to read Etruscan was the Roman emperor Claudius (10 BC – AD 54), who authored a treatise in 20 volumes on the Etruscans, called Tyrrenikà (now lost), and compiled ...


11

Other answers are good but I would like to add a bit of context. The OP states that it should have been clear by 1600 that some advance had been made since Roman times. However, the idea that by then contemporary sciences and arts had surpassed old ones was new and very controversial. The querelle des Anciens et des Modernes was a famous and heated literary ...


10

tl; dr Are the Sabean people of Ethiopian origin? No. The evidence suggests that they originated in the region now known as South Arabia. Did the Sabean people truly exist? We have the remains of their cities, including at Ma'rib in modern Yemen, so we can be pretty sure that the Sabean people really did exist. Where are their descendants today? After ...


10

I ran this by my friend Matt Colvin, whose degree is in, and who teaches, classics. Here are his insights into the cultural context: Mickey, Missing from this discussion is the simultaneous second prong of the suitors’ strategy: namely, if they cannot make Penelope marry one of them, they can at least devour and waste so much of Odysseus’ ...


9

There are early 1500's editions of Herodotus: see the wikipedia article about their publisher Aldus Manutius. That article refers to Works published from the Greeks. Manutius printed thirty editiones principes of Greek texts, allowing these texts to escape the fragility of the manuscript tradition. and the wikipedia page about Herodotus has an ...


9

No, wheels are not older than walls. Walls (as in city walls, designed to protect a group of people) have been discovered at Jericho, and dated to c 8000 BCE. The earliest walls of any kind that we have found so far are at Göbekli Tepe, and these have been dated to the 9th millennium BCE. The earliest wheel that we have found was discovered in the city of ...


9

It's unlikely it ever was. Practically speaking, anyone who's used a yo-yo knows that if you happen to let it hit the floor, it'll wobble to a stop and then you have to spend 10 minutes rewinding it. Even though experts do tricks, it's still wildly unusable as a weapon when compared with simply extending an arm and whacking someone with a cosh. The most ...


8

Actually, it is quite easy to understand even from today's perspective : Penelope still has presumably living husband. There is no definite proof that Odysseus perished, and Penelope refuses to declare him dead. It is entirely in her right to do so, even in modern times. Odysseus has a son and heir. Telemachus would legally be new king of Ithaca if his ...


8

The sash you refer to is discussed at the Western Australian Museum website: When he is shown as a seated jackal/dog, Anubis often has a ribbon/sash tied around his neck. This looped red sash is a version of the sa sign, a word often translated as amulet, and it symbolised the protection of female deities. Not only Anubis wears this sash, it is ...


8

It sounded fantastical to me as well. However, looking into it, if Cicero's reporting is wrong, it probably isn't wrong by a lot. "Magi" was the name used for followers of Zoroastrainisim, which was the state religion in Persia at the time. It isn't anymore of course, but the religion itself is still very much alive and kicking. Modern Parsis* in fact do ...


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