Across the different periods of ancient history, an enduring theme draws students and aficionados alike into the study of the past: ancient mysteries. The geoglyphs in southern Peru, including the famous Nazca Lines, continue to intrigue people across the world today. No one knows for sure why they were constructed, but during a recent visit to the region, I had the opportunity to marvel at these fascinating designs.
Nestled deep in the Andes, the former Inca capital city of Cusco stands at 11,152 feet (3,399 m) above sea level. It is a destination for tourists from around the world who ascend the treacherous mountainside roads to make their pilgrimage to one of the modern wonders of the world, Machu Picchu. While it is best known for its proximity to the ancient city, there is a wealth of other sites in and around Cusco that still have intact remnants of the region’s Inca past.
Stretching from the beaches of the Adriatic Sea to the banks of the Indus River, Alexander the Great’s empire was the largest the world had ever seen when he died in 323 BCE. His empire broke into several smaller kingdoms soon after, but his enduring legacy can be found in signs of Hellenistic cultural diffusion in ancient artifacts that survive today. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s latest exhibition, Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World, is a testament to this cultural interaction and the footprint Alexander left in history far beyond what his imagination could have conceived.
In the heart of southern England, the city of Bath emerges from the countryside with picturesque stone buildings and neoclassical Georgian architecture. I recently visited the city’s Roman baths, which were built nearly two millennia ago and continue to impress over a million visitors each year.
When you think of ancient civilizations, what comes to mind? Perhaps you imagine massive pyramids, majestic statues, or vast reliefs carved from stone. This is no coincidence – after all, they are what we see in both museums and ruins today. Stone and other materials such as bone are durable, allowing them to last to the present day and become embedded in the public consciousness at sites such as the Parthenon and the Roman Forum. But what about all of the objects that have been lost to time?
Tucked away and hidden from most casual passersby, the British Museum’s latest exhibition Hoards: The Hidden History of Ancient Britain is much like the once-buried treasure it displays. I found it in a small room located on the edge of the ancient Roman gallery on the museum’s second floor, adjacent to the Department of Coins and Medals study room. Despite its size, it holds a wealth of knowledge about this fascinating practice of prehistoric and Roman-era Britons.