28 votes
Accepted

How did the Greeks keep a prytaneum alight in storms?

I'm not quite sure why you think this would be a problem. A Prytaneum was a building, with a roof, and presumably doors that could be closed and windows that could be shuttered. While modern ...
John Dallman's user avatar
  • 31.6k
25 votes

Who was the first person to get a more accurate measure of the earth's circumference than Eratosthenes?

The accuracy of Eratosthenes's calculations of the circumference being 252,000 stadia depends on assumptions about the modern equivalent of length of the stadion. The same issue applies to Posidonius'...
Henry's user avatar
  • 2,846
18 votes
Accepted

Can someone explain the joke that killed Chrysippus of Soli?

You asked if anyone could explain the joke that killed Chrysippus. I doubt that anyone can; humor is very difficult to translate across cultures. (My second language was German, and I spent far too ...
MCW's user avatar
  • 33.7k
17 votes

Can someone explain the joke that killed Chrysippus of Soli?

Figs were extremely expensive and a status symbol at the time in Athens, the equivalent of good caviar now. To give someone the "sign of the fig" is still an obscene or rude gesture, as "fig" is ...
Niki's user avatar
  • 171
15 votes
Accepted

Who was the first person to get a more accurate measure of the earth's circumference than Eratosthenes?

Wikipedia articles on the "History of Geodesy", "Earth's circumference", and so on give a thorough summary of potential candidates, but suggest that this question isn't going to be ...
Brian Z's user avatar
  • 20.8k
14 votes
Accepted

Why didn't the Persians create good infantry units?

In hindsight, the Ancient Greek heavy infantry were vastly superior to the Persian armies. It was precisely their battles - Marathon, Thermopylae, Plataea - that demonstrated this. Before those ...
congusbongus's user avatar
  • 14.5k
14 votes

How did the lighthouse at Pharos work?

Was the ancient Greek pharos light house of ancient Alexandria, Egypt capable of creating light beams like a modern flash light? No. Historical descriptions No one really knows any detail of the ...
RedGrittyBrick's user avatar
13 votes
Accepted

Ancient Greek term rendered incorrectly as numbers and Latin letters, "01KCDÇ". What is it?

The version on display here is from a bad OCR of the word oikos Screenshot from Erin Sullivan: The Astrology of Family Dynamics 2001 gBooks The ancient Greek word oikos (ancient Greek: οἶκος, plural:...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
8 votes

How was Alexander the Great able to rule so much territory?

Today I stumbled across Machiavelli's answer to this question (at least with reference to the Persian Empire) in chapter 4 of The Prince, where he writes, Considering the difficulties which men ...
kuzzooroo's user avatar
  • 467
6 votes
Accepted

Did all of Egypt, or just the Ptolemies decline?

Ptolemy Egypt was ultimately Hellenistic in origin and fell into the wars of succession after Alexander the great died. Ptolemy III was the height of their reign, after that the Ptolemies faced ...
Twelfth's user avatar
  • 2,722
6 votes

Why wasn't Akkadian translated into other more common languages?

Most likely there just wasn't a lot of Akkadian (Cuneiform) "writing" to be found outside of Mesopotamia, and particularly not what one would consider "literature". Cuneiform was a ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
5 votes
Accepted

Where was the theater in Byzantium?

The book Roman Theatres: An Architectural Study, By Frank Sear on page 421 seems to mention no fewer than four theatres that were known to exist in Byzantium. BYZANTIUM/CONSTANTINOPLE (Istanbul, ...
justCal's user avatar
  • 39.7k
5 votes
Accepted

Are there any records of javelin throwing techniques from antiquity? For example, ancient Greece, such as peltasts?

In terms of surviving records, it seems there are almost none. In the paper, Recreating the Ancient Greek Javelin Throw: How Far Was the Javelin Thrown?. The authors observe: We have no direct ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.5k
5 votes

How did the lighthouse at Pharos work?

To go into more details re. the mirror: Some of your links say that there are reports that the lighthouse had a curved mirror, which could even be used to set ships on fire or to spy on Constantinople ...
Jan's user avatar
  • 9,217
5 votes
Accepted

Why did Cretan archers flourish?

Depictions of bow hunting were prevalent in Minoan art, even prior to 2000 BCE when the Minoan culture was thought to have started flourishing (until 1500 BCE). While the bow is an effective hunting ...
jweaver's user avatar
  • 141
4 votes

Visit of Greek philosophers to Rome in 155 BCE

The three Greek philosophers were: Carneades ex Academia (Cyrene 214/3–129/8 BC), Critolaus Peripateticus (Phaselis c.200-c.118 BC) and Diogenes Stoicus (Seleucia c.230 – c. 150/140 BC). Some ...
Mauro ALLEGRANZA's user avatar
4 votes

Why didn't the Persians create good infantry units?

The Persian army at Marathon was (as at Thermopylae) at a serious disadvantage because of the terrain, which favoured the much smaller defending force tremendously. Their failure to win in both cases ...
jwenting's user avatar
  • 11.3k
3 votes

How did Alexander the Great die?

The mystery has not been solved and will probably remain open for the foreseeable future. As the Wikipedia article explains, there is a long list of theories but no decisive evidence to clearly ...
Brian Z's user avatar
  • 20.8k
3 votes

Are there any records of javelin throwing techniques from antiquity? For example, ancient Greece, such as peltasts?

The atlatl is a Mesoamerican tool for spear throwing that has been used in war, hunting, and fishing alike. The use and effectiveness of thrown spears were attested by the chronicler of Mexico's ...
Aaron Brick's user avatar
  • 27.7k
3 votes
Accepted

What do subjects in Hellenistic and Renaissance art suggest about the average human physique throughout history?

In terms of natural history of the human body it tells us that an idealised male body looks now pretty much like it did then, when the ancients produced idealised forms we see and even also prefer ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
3 votes

Why didn't the Persians create good infantry units?

Another question is why did the Greeks develop good heavy infantry. Heavy infantry required a lot of discipline, mutual trust, and nerve--if part of the line broke, everyone's life was at risk (...
Byzantine Emporia's user avatar
3 votes

Were Greek columns hollow?

I have read that they used lead pins to hold the sections together. The lead is no longer there because it was scavenged during modern times. Much of this took place during the Turkish occupation of ...
K. Cornwall's user avatar
2 votes

Can someone explain the joke that killed Chrysippus of Soli?

don't over-analyze the joke! The man was coming back from a feast, he clearly had a good time, he was probably a bit drunk too. He was in an excellent mood, and when you are in a good mood even plain ...
Nadia's user avatar
  • 21
2 votes

Why didn't the Persians create good infantry units?

One problem of Persia was that it was not one ethnicity, but a conglomerate of many different small countries. Each of these countries produced their own armies and formations, led by their own ...
Tom Au's user avatar
  • 105k
1 vote

Why wasn't Akkadian translated into other more common languages?

Is there (if I may reformulate your question a bit) evidence for ancient translations of texts in cuneiform (Akkadian, Babylonian, Old Persian, Elamite) script into other writing systems? There is, ...
fdb's user avatar
  • 9,790
1 vote
Accepted

Why were Hoplite shields circular?

For a hoplite, the spear is the primary weapon and the shield only a secondary weapon, being primarily defensive. Because of the many different ways in which a spear was used by a hoplite in offence, ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
1 vote

Why are there multiple royal squadrons of the Companion Cavalry?

From Rzepka, Jacek. "The units of Alexander’s army and the district divisions of late Argead Macedonia." Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 48.1 (2008): 39-56 comes a possible answer. On p49 It ...
The Sardaukar Knight's user avatar
1 vote

Did Alexander the Great destroy a city to demonstrate his ability to reign?

Although late to the party, let me add that Alexander the Great did destroy a city as an example. The city of Tyre, which was an island city, would not surrender to him (there are others who say they ...
user54978's user avatar

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