Ancient History et cetera

AHE vs Top 10 Museums: 3rd place!

National Geographic maintains a list of what they consider to be the Top 10 Museums of the World. While that list is of course debatable, all of the museums on that list are very impressive heavyweights when it comes to museums. We wondered: How does Ancient History Encyclopedia compare to those museums when it comes to internet traffic to their websites?

The surprising finding: We’re estimated to have more internet visitors than all but two of the world’s top ten museums! More than the British Museum in London or the Louvre in Paris, both of which have very prestigious and substantial websites. Only the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York get more traffic than us.

The top five websites when it comes to museums and Ancient History Encyclopedia

The top five websites when it comes to museums and Ancient History Encyclopedia, based on Alexa ranking. A lower number means more visitors.

WOW! This is mindblowing! Clearly, our readers (yes, that’s you) like what we’re doing, and support us by coming back and recommending us to their friends. We thank you very much for all your support… without it, our little group of less than 10 volunteers would never have achieved this in only five years.

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Head of a diademed goddess

This week’s sculpture from Hadrian’s Villa is a head of a goddess made of Pentelic marble. She is wearing a diadem in her wavy hair that are centrally parted and dressed in a chignon at the nape of her neck. It was found in a cryptoporticus near the circular temple dedicated to the Venus of Knidos.

Bust of a diademed goddess, found at Hadrian’s Villa Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome © Carole Raddato

The head of this female deity was made separately for insertion onto a larger than life-size body. The type is known from other copies of the Roman period deriving from a Greek, probably Attic, model in the severe style (470-460 BC).

This sculpture is on display at the National Roman Museum – Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome.

Source: Following Hadrian

Roman mosaics from the National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid

Two weeks ago I returned to Madrid to visit the new Archaeological Museum. Spain’s National Archaeological Museum reopened to the public six months ago after a massive six-year revamp that aimed at offering a state-of-the-art space for its collection of ancient artefacts. A total of 13,000 objects are on display in 40 rooms in a neoclassical building in the heart of Madrid.

National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

The museum spans the history of humans on the Iberian peninsula. The periods covered range from prehistory to the nineteenth century and include Iberian pieces such as the famous Lady of Elche and Lady of Baza sculptures, Roman and Greek works, Egyptian mummies and Moorish objects. The displays also include exquisite mosaics gathered from excavated Roman villas across Spain. Read more…

A journey to Terracina on the Riviera of Ulysses

Following my visit to Minturnae (see previous post here), I continued my journey north along the Appian Way to reach Terracina, a picturesque town on the Tyrrhenian coast situated approximately half-way between Rome and Naples.

Legend has it that Odysseus sailed here on his travels and surrendered to Circe’s enchantment. Circe is said to have lived on Mount Circeo, a promontory stretching-out into the sea best visible from Mounte San’t Angelo above the town of Terracina. Nowadays the area is called the Riviera of Ulysses.

Mount Circeo as seen from Terracina, Italy

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Archaeological Visit to the Ancient Mound Bakr Awa

I was chatting with my friend Mr. Hashim Hama Abdullah, Director of the Sulaimaniya Museum, about archaeological excavations in Iraqi Kurdistan. By chance, he mentioned the name of the ancient site of Bakr Awa. “There is a German archaeological team there, and they have been excavating the site for a few years,” Hashim said. “How about going there and seeing them while they are working?” I replied. “ This Friday we will go,” Hashim suggested. Bingo, let’s go!

Bakr Awa is a mound southeast of the modern city of Sulaimaniya, near the city of Halabja (which was bombarded by a chemical attack by Saddam’s regime in 1988 CE), within the Sharazor plain, Iraqi Kurdistan. A German archaeological team headed by Professor Peter Miglus (of the University of Heidelberg) has been excavating the site since 2010 in cooperation with the Sulaimaniya Antiquities Directorate and the Sulaimaniya Museum. The site underwent limited excavations by Ephraim Speiser in 1927 CE. During the years 1960-1961 CE, Iraqi archaeologists (of the Directorate General of Antiquities in Baghdad, Iraq) did extensive excavations and field studies on the site. Numerous artifacts, from the Islamic period back to the late Bronze Age, have been recovered within different ancient layers/levels.

General overview of Bakr Awa. The hill (mound or Tell) is the largest one within the whole southern part of Sharazor Plain. The hill’s citadel stands for about 40 meters high in the middle of a proximately 600 x 800 meters lower city.

General overview of Bakr Awa. The hill (mound or Tell) is the largest one within the whole southern part of Sharazor Plain. The hill’s citadel stands about 40 meters high in the middle of approximately 600 x 800 meters lower city.

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Fifty Thousand!!!

This week, Ancient History Encyclopedia has for the first time in its history surpassed 50,000 visits in a single day. This is a huge milestone, of which we’re of course extremely proud.

In the last two years, we went from around 150,000 visits a month to over 1,000,000 visits and 1.8 million pageviews per month. We strongly believe in creating unique and in-depth content and giving it to the world for free. Millions of students, teachers, and history enthusiasts have visited our site this year. It’s our mission to give the world what is otherwise only found in expensive textbooks, and it seems like it’s working.

We thank you all for your continued support! If you want to help us with our mission, we’re always looking for more article submissions and donations (it costs us about $75 in books to create a definition). You can also simply subscribe to our newsletter, or share our page on social media.

Exploring Minturnae, a forgotten ancient city on the Appian Way

On a recent trip to Italy, I visited the Archaeological Area of Minturnae, a little-known but impressive archaeological site along the Appian Way.

Minturnae was originally an Auruncian city (of which no archaeological traces have been found), one of the three towns of the Aurunci which allied themselves with the Samnites and made war against Rome in 314 BC. After being defeated by Rome the city suffered severe repression and was burned to the ground. The Romans settled in the area and built a castrum along the river Liris after realising the strategic and commercial importance of its close location to the sea.

The military settlement grew into a Roman colony in 296 BC and became an important trading port of the Mediterranean as well as a fortified commercial centre along the Appian Way.

A stretch of the Appian Way passing through the ancient city and serving as its decumanus maximus, Minturnae © Carole Raddato

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Meet the Queen of the Night!

Room 56 of the British Museum; Mesopotamia: A large display case houses the “Queen of the Night Relief.” It is one of the masterpieces of the British Museum, also known as the “Burney Relief”. This terracotta plaque came from my land, Mesopotamia (mostly modern-day Iraq) and dates back to the Old Babylonian period, 1800-1750 BCE. My friend Joshua J. Mark published a very nice article about the Queen of the Night relief here on the Ancient History Encyclopedia site; therefore, I will not discuss the archaeology or history of the relief and will focus only on the experience of viewing the piece.

I stood a meter away from the case and watched the British Museum’s visitors; what will they do when they meet this “Queen?” Generally, they took some pictures of her and some selfies. A minute, more or less, they spent. It was my turn now. I approached the case; the glass was very clean and transparent.

A close-up image of the relief. showing the upper part of the nude female deity.

A close-up image of the relief. showing the upper part of the nude female deity.

I will express my thoughts as a physician who examined the anatomical details of an approximately 4000 year-old woman. I’m a consultant neurologist, not an anatomist, but I studied anatomy in medical school!

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The Muses in Pictures

This week’s masterpieces from Hadrian’s Villa are eight marble statues depicting seated muses.

In Greek mythology, the Muses were sister goddesses of music, poetry, and other artistic and intellectual pursuits. Poets and other artists often called on them for inspiration. Zeus, the king of the gods, was the father of the Muses. Their mother was Mnemosyne, goddess of memory. It was not until the 1st century BC that each of the Muses began to be related to a specific art. They were worshipped at the Museion of the famous library of Alexandria, from where the modern term “Museum” originates.

The statues were unearthed at Hadrian’s Villa in the 1500′s. They were made at the end of Hadrian’s reign by two Roman workshops reproducing Greek models from the 2nd century BC. The seated muses decorated the scenae frons (stage) of the odeon, a small theatre that could have held around 1,200 people.

The statues are now on display in the Prado Museum in Madrid.

Room of the Muses showing the eight marble statues depicting seated muses that were unearthed in about 1500 at Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli © Carole Raddato

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12 Ancient Masks

by Mark Cartwright November 28, 2014 Photos 0 Comments

Masks were used for a wide variety of purposes across many ancient cultures. Some of the most common purposes were as funerary masks for important persons, as protection in warfare, worn during theatre performances, or to be worn by impersonators of gods during religious ceremonies. Materials were typically of high value such as gold, jade, and turquoise. This collection spans some 3,000 years from Egypt to the Americas.

Egyptian Masks

Coffin mask of queen consort of king Djehuti (around 1650 BC). Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst (State Museum of Egyptian Art) in Munich.

Egyptian gold coffin mask of queen consort of king Djehuti (around 1650 BCE). Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst (State Museum of Egyptian Art) in Munich, Germany. Photographer: Ali Kalamachi.

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