All posts filed under: Interviews


The Nabataeans of Ancient Arabia

Known the world over for their hauntingly beautiful cities of Petra and Mada’in Saleh and engineering acumen, the Nabataeans of ancient Arabia were the middlemen in the long distance trade between the ancient Mediterranean and South Arabia. Mysterious and beguiling, their legacy endures across time and space in the Arabic script and in the sophistication of their cities, carved out of the harsh desert landscape. In this exclusive interview, Dr. Laïla Nehmé, a senior research scientist at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, speaks to James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) about the creative genius of the Nabataeans.


Samarkand: Recipes and Stories

Filled with ancient, simplified recipes as well as photographs and essays, Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia and the Caucasus, written by journalists Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford, is a love letter to the region and the peoples who left their imprint on its varied cuisine: Turks, Jews, Georgians, Armenians, Azeris, Persians, Afghans, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Tajiks, Kyrgyz, and Uighurs. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) speaks to the authors about their new, evocative cookbook.

MALI - APRIL 01:  Libraries of the desert: rediscovery and restoration of ancient Arab manuscripts in Bouj Beha, Mali in April, 2003 - Timbuktoo: Library of the Ahmed Baba Institute of Islamic advanced studies and research. A detailed view on the illumination of a Koran bought in Fes in 1223, for 40 golden mithqals.  (Photo by Xavier ROSSI/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

The Librarians of Timbuktu

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, by journalist Joshua Hammer, tells the incredible story of Abdel Kader Haidara — a mild-mannered archivist and historian from the legendary city of Timbuktu — who organized a successful effort to outwit Al-Qaeda and preserve Mali’s greatest treasures in 2012. In this Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) exclusive, James Blake Wiener speaks to Joshua Hammer about Haidara’s life and work, in addition to the importance of Timbuktu’s ancient manuscripts.


“For the Most Beautiful”–A New Novel

Boldly imagined and exquisitely written, For the Most Beautiful, a debut novel by classicist Emily Hauser, chronicles the defeat of Troy through the eyes of female characters almost entirely disregarded in Homer’s Iliad — Briseis, princess of Pedasus, and Krisayis, daughter of the High Priest of Troy. In this Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) exclusive, James Blake Wiener interviews Emily Hauser, asking questions as to the difficulties she faced in writing her first novel, and why ancient Troy lingers so vividly in the western imagination.

Canaanite amulet of a schematic nude goddess in Egyptian style
Tell el-Ajjul, 15th century BCE, gold
Collection of Israel Antiquities Authority
Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Elie Posner.

Egyptian Relations with Canaan

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem is giving the public an unprecedented opportunity to explore ancient Egyptian relations with Canaan during the second millennium BCE in Pharaoh in Canaan: The Untold Story. This exhibition presents more than 680 objects, which reflect the rich cross-fertilization of ritual practices and aesthetic vocabularies between these two distinct cultures. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) discusses the exhibition and the countless ties that bound ancient Egypt to Canaan with Dr. Eran Arie, Curator of Iron Age and Persian Period Archaeology at the Israel Museum.

Roman mosaic floor from Villelaure, France with Diana and Callisto Surrounded by
Hunt Scenes, A.D. 3rd century. Gallo-Roman mosaic, colored marble, limestone, and glass tesserae. D: 296.6 × 271.8 × 6.4 cm (116 3/4 × 107 × 2 1/2 in.) Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Phil Berg Collection. Image courtesy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Phil
Berg Collection.

The Grandeur of Roman Mosaics

Roman mosaics decorated luxurious domestic and public buildings across the empire. Intricate patterns and figural compositions were created by setting tesserae — small pieces of stone or glass — into floors and walls. Scenes from mythology, daily life, nature, and spectacles in the arena enlivened interior spaces and reflected the cultural ambitions of wealthy patrons. Introduced by itinerant craftsmen, mosaic techniques and designs spread widely throughout Rome’s provinces, leading to the establishment of local workshops and a variety of regional styles. Drawn primarily from the Getty Museum’s collection, Roman Mosaics across the Empire  at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles, California, presents the artistry of mosaics as well as the contexts of their discovery across Rome’s ever growing empire — from its center in Italy to provinces in North Africa, southern France, and ancient Syria. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Dr. Alexis Belis, assistant curator in the Department of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum, about the various kinds of mosaics found within the former Roman …


The Art of Ancient Dion

Enjoying a privileged and bucolic position on the eastern slopes of Mount Olympus, the ancient Greek city of Dion prospered for thousands of years as a sacred center for the cult of Zeus and as the gateway to Macedonia. Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus, now on show at the Onassis Cultural Center in New York, N.Y., examines the development and trajectory of Dion, from a small rural settlement to a thriving Roman colony, through the presentation of remarkable archaeological artifacts not seen outside of Greece. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Dr. Dimitrios Pandermalis about this exhibition and Dion’s importance in the wider Greco-Roman world.