Ancient History et cetera

Looking for Roman bridges in Sardinia

When I was planning my archaeological trip to Sardinia I discovered, thanks to vici.org (an Archaeological Atlas of Antiquity I have mentioned here before), that there were many Roman bridges still standing all across the country. Some are left abandoned and almost completely covered with vegetation but others are perfectly preserved. Ancient Roman bridges are an exceptional feat of Roman construction and, as I said before, I hold a certain fascination for these impressive ancient structures. I previously wrote about the Roman bridges I saw in Portugal here and in Southern France here.

Roman bridge Ozieri, dating to the 2nd century AD and restored in the 3rd4th century AD. It has six arcades for a total length of 87.50 metres (287 ft), Sardinia Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

When the Romans began their conquest of Sardinia in 238 BC, there was already a road network built by the Punic who had inhabited the island since around 550 BC. However the Punic road network was only linking the coastal towns, leaving out the interior of the island completely. The Romans built four major roads (viae principales): two along the coasts and two inland, all with north-south direction. The road network, initially built for military reasons, was then maintained and restored continuously for economic reasons.

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The Mystery & Enigma of Maya Architecture

Maya architecture has three regional styles. Jim O’Kon, a specialist in Maya engineering, and technology encounters a range of exotic animals in deepest rainforest while finding the style of the Ruta Rio Bec.

Driving across Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and traversing the Maya cities on the Ruta Rio Bec is a voyage brimming with ancient history blended into the experience of traversing a jewel of a rainforest. The magnificent Maya ruins constructed in the Rio Bec regional style are situated in the midst of a Biosphere Reserve that is home to exotic species of fauna including monkeys, jaguars, crocodiles, toucans, macaws, parrots, wild boars, tapirs and dangerous snakes.

The jungle route affords the traveller the opportunity to view an incredible array of towering rainforest trees, a variety of exotic carnivorous plants, orchids of different species and myriads of insects. As you traverse the Maya sites it seems as though you are alone in the jungle and entering a state of suspended time. On the Ruta Rio Bec you will find yourself in mysterious places, zones of lost time and an enigma of otherworldly design.

Hormiguero Structure

Hormiguero Structure. Photo © Jim O’Kon.

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Help get Ancient History Magazine off the ground!

by Jan van der Crabben March 19, 2015 Entertainment 0 Comments

photo-original

There is a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of launching a new ancient history magazine! We find that a worthy cause, so we’ll let the publishers speak for themselves:

Ancient History Magazine is a new magazine from Karwansaray Publishers. Karwansaray is an independent publishing house in the Netherlands. We specialize in the publication of historical books and magazines for a large, interested and informed audience.

Our most well-known publication is Ancient Warfare, a bimonthly magazine on the military history of the ancient world. Ancient Warfare is currently in its ninth year and we are edging toward publication of the fiftieth issue, later this year. Four years ago, Ancient Warfare got a little brother: Medieval Warfare, which covers warfare in the period between ca. AD 500 and 1500. At the same time we also took over publication of Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy, and turned it into a very successful wargaming magazine.

Ancient History Magazine – or AHM for short – will be similar to Ancient Warfare, except that it will explore the whole of the ancient world instead of focusing solely on military matters.

Like our other magazines, an issue of AHM will be centered around a particular theme. But because the subject matter is so comprehensive, more room will be made available for non-theme-related articles, so that each issue will have something for everyone.

Head on over to their Kickstarter page to help get this magazine launched!

Destruction in Syria & Iraq

Ancient History Encyclopedia is shocked, saddened, and deeply disturbed by the indiscriminate damage done to ancient artifacts at the Mosul Museum, Assyrian architecture at Nineveh and Nimrud, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hatra by the Islamic State / ISIS / ISIL. The protection and preservation of ancient artifacts and sites is one of AHE’s chief causes, and the destruction of these unique cultural items is a irretrievable loss to the entire world. AHE strongly condemns these senseless and brazen acts of extreme vandalism and denounces too the destruction of religious sites and places of worship in Iraq and Syria. The protection of the world’s shared cultural heritage is a most noble cause, and it is our hope that it becomes one of yours in light of recent events.

Palmyra, site of ISIS looting and destruction. Photo by djtomic.

Palmyra, Syria. This ancient city has hard-hit by looting and destruction. Photo by djtomic.

AHE additionally condemns the crimes against humanity carried out by the Islamic State and the Assad Regime. The mass displacement of the Syrian people, the extreme persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, and the use of barrel bombs on civilian targets appal and horrify us. Although AHE is not a humanitarian organization, we ask that you take a moment to think about the human loss and suffering as we mark the fourth anniversary of the war in Syria.

Looking for Youtube Channel Presenters

We are excited to announce that Ancient History Encyclopedia (http://www.ancient.eu) is teaming up with Past Preservers (http://pastpreservers.com) to create a Youtube channel of online history broadcasting, and we’re looking for presenters!

Were you born to be a presenter for ancient history videos?

Are you interested in becoming a presenter in the medium of the future? Do you have a passion for history and you want to inspire the digital generation to learn more about history? Then please get in touch! We’re looking for one male and one female presenter who are dynamic, passionate and excited about digital broadcasting. Our film crew is located on the US East Coast (NYC area), so geographical proximity is a must.

Recent studies show that online broadcasting (not TV) is where tomorrow’s audience goes for information and entertainment. This is a unique opportunity to get involved in what could become the number one channel in the future of online historical broadcasting!

If this sounds like something you would like to be part of, please email a copy of your CV (resume), two recent pictures and a short video clip telling us a little about yourself, your interests and why we should chose you. Please send to casting@pastpreservers.com.

Past PreserversPast Preservers has established itself as a major presence in the broadcast world by producing quality history-based non-fiction programming, by focusing on the creative aspect of each project including development, production, historical consulting and casting of on-screen experts and presenters. Past Preservers is the hub between the heritage and media worlds.

big_a_logo_300pxAncient History Encyclopedia is the world’s most popular ancient history website, with over 1,000,000 monthly visitors and over 300,000 social media followers. We’re passionate about history and we want to inspire our readers with the stories of the past. Our content is well-researched, engaging, easy to read, and freely available to everyone. History enthusiasts, students, and teachers from all over the world rely on Ancient History Encyclopedia for their information. It is used in many classrooms and courses because of its reliably high level of quality, which is ensured by careful content curation and editorial review.

Ring Around the Ring of Kerry

One of Ireland’s most popular destinations is the Iveragh Peninsula — known to shamrock-lovers everywhere as “The Ring of Kerry.” The Ring, lassoed by a winding coastal road through a mountainous, lake-splattered region, is undeniably scenic. Visitors since Victorian times have been drawn to this evocative chunk of the Emerald Isle, where mysterious ancient ring forts stand sentinel on mossy hillsides.

A drive along the Ring of Kerry presents classic views of the Irish countryside. (photo: Pat O’Connor)

A drive along the Ring of Kerry presents classic views of the Irish countryside. (photo: Pat O’Connor)

It seems like every tour bus in Ireland makes the ritual loop around the Ring, using the bustling and famous tourist town of Killarney as a springboard. I skip Killarney, whose main attraction is its transit connections for those without cars. Instead, rent a car and use as your home base the tidy town of Kenmare (yes, it’s actually won Ireland’s “Tidy Town” award).

While in Kenmare, druids seek out the town’s ancient stone circle (with 15 stones in a circle 50 feet wide), one of 100 little Stonehenges that dot southwest Ireland. Fitness buffs enjoy horseback riding, boating, hiking, and golfing (one way to experience Ireland’s 40 shades of green).

Before or after the day you tackle the Ring, explore these sights near Kenmare: a mansion, open-air museum, and sheep farm. Muckross House is perhaps Ireland’s best Victorian mansion. Queen Victoria really did sleep here for three nights in 1861 — on the ground floor because she had a fear of house fires. Adjacent to Muckross House is a fascinating open-air folk museum that covers Irish farmlife from the 1920s to the 1950s. Talk with the docents who remember the year 1955, when electricity came to rural dwellings. Farmers would pull on Wellington boots for safety, then cautiously turn on the switch that powered the one bare bulb hanging from the ceiling.

Between Muckross House and Kenmare is a scenic mountainous chunk of Killarney National Park (great views at Moll’s Gap) and the Kissane Sheep Farm, a real working farm that offers demonstrations of hands-on sheep shearing and expert sheepherding. You’ll be wowed by the intelligence of the family dogs.

Ready for the Ring? Touring the Ring takes a long but satisfying day by car from Kenmare. Smart travelers get an early start (by 8:30), working their way clockwise to escape the tour-bus procession heading counterclockwise.

The 2,000-year-old walls of Ireland’s Leacanabuaile Ring Fort have withstood the test of time — without the aid of mortar or cement. (photo: Rick Steves)

The 2,000-year-old walls of Ireland’s Leacanabuaile Ring Fort have withstood the test of time — without the aid of mortar or cement. (photo: Rick Steves)

The laid-back town of Sneem (yup, funny name) is worth a stop. The square on the east side of town is called South Square and the one on the west is called North Square. When it comes to giving directions, the Irish march to their own beat.

Stop at Staigue Fort, an imposing sight rising out of a desolate high valley. The circular drystone walls were built sometime between 500 B.C. and A.D. 300 without the aid of mortar or cement. About 80 feet across, with walls 12 feet thick at the base and up to 25 feet high, this brutish structure would have taken a hundred men six months to complete. It’s thought that during times of tribal war, locals used the fort as a refuge, bringing their valuable cattle inside to protect them from rustlers.

The Derrynane House, just beyond the Staigue Fort, was the home of Daniel O’Connell, Ireland’s most influential pre-independence politician. His tireless non-violent agitation gained equality for Catholics 180 years ago. See the 20-minute audiovisual presentation on O’Connell, along with some of his belongings, including pistols from a duel and a black glove — which the remorseful O’Connell always wore on his pistol hand when he went to Mass. He was forced into the duel, killed the man who challenged him, and regretted it for the rest of his life.

Approaching Portmagee, you’ll see the striking silhouette of the island of Skellig Michael. Visit the Skellig Experience Centre, which tells the story of the island — the Holy Grail of Irish monastic island settlements. During the so-called “Dark Ages,” its monks helped preserve literacy and sacred texts. Hardy hikers can take a boat to the island and hike 600 vertical feet to the monastic ruins.

But I’m back in the car, heading on to two more ring forts: Cahergal and Leacanabuaile. Because this region had copper mines, it has a wealth of prehistoric sights. Copper melted with tin yielded bronze, the Bronze Age (2000 to 500 B.C.), and sturdier weapons and tools. The many ring forts and stone circles reflect the lively trade and affluence created by copper.

As I pull into Kenmare, the lush green landscape seems to glow as the sun sets. While the ancient sights are fascinating and the history is educational, the best reason to come here is the eternal beauty of the Irish landscape. If you go to Ireland and don’t see the famous Ring of Kerry, your uncle Pat will never forgive you.

Barry Strauss on the Assassination of Caesar

Cover of Barry Strauss's "Death of Caesar," which was recently published by Simon & Schuster.

Cover of Barry Strauss’s “Death of Caesar,” which was recently published by Simon & Schuster.

The assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar on March 15, 44 BCE is one of the most dramatic and notorious events in Roman history. Many of us living in Anglophone nations are familiar with the events of Caesar’s demise thanks in large part to William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar. However, Shakespeare dramatized only a few vignettes of a story written in cold blood. In The Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination, by acclaimed military historian Barry Strauss, the reader learns how disaffected politicians and officers carefully planned and hatched Caesar’s assassination weeks in advance, rallying support from the common people of Rome. One is also introduced to fascinating character of the man who truly betrayed Caesar — the wealthy and intelligent Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus. In this exclusive interview to commemorate the Ides of March, James Blake Wiener, Communications Director at Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE), speaks with Dr. Barry Strauss about his new title and why he chose to revisit the world of late Republican Rome.

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Visiting the Paikuli Tower Built by the Sasanian King Narseh

by Osama S. M. Amin March 12, 2015 Photos, Travel 0 Comments

While I was photographing two large blocks at the main hall of the Sulaymaniyah Museum, I read that these blocks were part of the Sassanian tower of Paikuli. “Paikuli”(Arabic: بيكولي; Kurdish: په يكولي): a new name to me! I went home and surfed the net trying to find out what this tower represents. After getting the information, I phoned Mr. Hashim Hama Abdullah, the director of the museum. “Please, guide me on how to get there,” I asked him. He replied positively.

It was a very sunny and hot day in mid-summer, and it was a holiday. I took a relative of mine, who resides near Lake Darbandikhan (Arabic: دربندخان; Kurdish ده ربنديخان), about 80 km south to the city of Sulaymaniyah. We drove south through Bani Khellan (Arabic: باني خيلان; Kurdish: باني خيلان) and then turned west to the foot of Paikuli pass to reach Barkal village (latitude 35° 5’53.91″N; longitude 45°35’25.95″E). The latter lies very near to the ruins of the Paikuli Tower. The ruins can be seen on a hill at the right side of our road.

I used my car to ascend to the top of the hill through a narrow path. A mountainous range looks over the hill. At last, here it is!

Paorama view of the Paikuli tower's ruins. This is the base of the tower and is surrounded by stone blocks. The blocks have been rearranged in situ by the Italian archeological team. The tower was build on the top of this hill and there were no foundations beneath the earth, as the Italian team has concluded.

Panorama view of the ruins of the Paikuli Tower. This is the base of the tower and is surrounded by stone blocks. The blocks have been rearranged in situ by the Italian archaeological team. The tower was built on the top of this hill, and there were no foundations beneath the earth, as the Italian team concluded.

Let the time machine take us back. In the year 293 CE, Narseh (also written Narses), brother of the Sassanian king Warham II (also written Barham II) and son of King Shapur I, was in Armenia, very far away from the Sassanian capital of Ctesiphon. In the same year, Warham II died and his son, Warham III, succeeded him and reigned only for few months. Several nobles and notables considered Warham III too weak to rule the Sassanian Empire and supported his grand-uncle, Narseh, in ascending the throne.
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K2 Friday Night Revelry at the Rubin Museum of Art

K2Lounge

On Friday evenings from 6:00-10:00 PM, the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City becomes a lively social venue with a full bar, series of special public lectures or tours, and complimentary gallery admission. In January, Ancient History Encyclopedia’s Communications Director, James Blake Wiener, partook in the museum’s end of the week festivities and learned a curious thing or two about Tibetan art along the way.

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Assessment of the ISIS Destruction at the Mosul Museum

This is a cross-posting from the blog Gates of Nineveh. Part 1 and Part 2 of the original posts can be found there.

Last week ISIS released yet another propaganda video, showing what has been feared since the fall of Mosul last summer: the destruction of ancient artifacts of the Mosul Museum. By now most of the world has seen this video, which has been featured in all the world’s major news agencies. This post will attempt to identify what has been lost and assess the damage.

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Narrator stands in front of a lamassu in an ISIS propaganda video.

As in several of the group’s past videos, a spokesman for the group appears in the video to explain the rationale for the destruction. International Business Times has provided a translation:

These ruins that are behind me, they are idols and statues that people in the past used to worship instead of Allah. The so-called Assyrians and Akkadians and others looked to gods for war, agriculture and rain to whom they offered sacrifices…The Prophet Mohammed took down idols with his bare hands when he went into Mecca. We were ordered by our prophet to take down idols and destroy them, and the companions of the prophet did this after this time, when they conquered countries.

The video then shows a montage of ISIS fighters toppling sculptures, smashing them with sledgehammers and using jackhammers to pulverize the faces of some statues.

Most of the destroyed artifacts fall into two categories: Sculptures from the Roman period city of Hatra, situated in the desert to the south of Mosul, and Assyrian artifacts from Nineveh and surrounding sites such as Khorsabad and Balawat.

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