Curse Scrolls, Mystery Cults, and the Secret Roman History of Mainz

I want to tell you about Mainz, Germany. Not just Mainz, but the secret Roman history of Mainz. Like most cities I’ve traveled to in Europe, Mainz has many well-hidden secrets.  Although Mainz has a lot to offer for a day-trip, I wouldn’t consider it a touristy area. Most people go to see the Cathedral or the first Gutenberg Bible at the Gutenberg Museum. I have seen those things in 2008, when I first visited Mainz for a few hours. This time I spent the entire day exploring the city and found a few things that I missed the last time. This trip I found lead curse scrolls in the underground Sanctuary of Isis and Mater Magna, a house with four roofs, a Roman theater bisected by the railway, and a monument to a long-dead Roman General.

Theodor Heuss Bridge Mainz

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Beyond Dubai: The Ancient UAE


The Great Tomb at Hili, near Al Ain, is not only impressive but around 5,000 years old. © David Millar 2015.

“Dubai tries so hard to promote this image of an ultra-modern city that they almost seem to suppress its past.”

Dubai is a city that elicits sharp opinions. While its shopping malls, glittering lights, luxury hotels and villas, and iconic futuristic architecture continue to attract large numbers of tourists and business investors, many others simply avoid Dubai, convinced that it is nothing more than yet another mirage in the vast Arabian desert. In this exclusive interview with James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE), Dr. David Millar, author of Beyond Dubai: Seeking Lost Cities in the Emirates, discusses why he wrote a book about the United Arab Emirates’ ancient, hidden treasures and where one can find them.

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Stunning Nemrut Dagi and the Kingdom of Commagene

Today we have another contribution from Timeless Travels Magazine in which Dr Christine Winzor writes about the colossal stone heads at Nemrut Dağ, Turkey.

Head of Zeus Ahuramazda with head of Antiochus I behind. Photographer: Alkans Tours, Nicholas Kropacek

Head of Zeus Ahuramazda with head of Antiochus I behind. Photo © Alkans Tours, Nicholas Kropacek

The colossal stone heads at Nemrut Dağ, with their distinctive array of crowns and caps, are among the most iconic images of Turkey. Many guidebooks and tour agencies stress the importance of visiting this monument – sometimes referred to as the Throne of the Gods – at either sunrise or sunset to appreciate fully the spectacular illumination and reflection of the suns rays on the sculptures and tumulus. Others specifically advise against visiting at these times on the grounds that inevitably you will share this impressive event with a large crowd of other spectators, thereby spoiling the sense of majestic isolation.

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Angkor: Temples of Delight

Today we have another contribution from Timeless Travels Magazine in which Annabel Venn writes about her visit to the Angkor Archaeological Park.

Angkor Wat reflected in surrounding pool. Photo © Annabel Venn

Angkor Wat reflected in surrounding pool. Photo © Annabel Venn

Angkor is one of the most famous archaeological sites in Asia. Filled with fellow travellers, it can be overwhelming at times. Annabel Venn gives her advice on how to beat the crowds and experience this fabulous site in peace

The small light flickers on the front of my bicycle, barely illuminating the dark road ahead. A minibus full of snoozing passengers passes me, rather too close for comfort, offering me a brief glimpse of where I am pedalling. With a free hand, I wrap my Cambodian krama up around my neck; it is already warm but the cool breeze is chilling at this time of the morning. Not often am I persuaded to get up before the sun does, but today I am guided by a sense of exploration. Ahead of me lies the ancient city of Angkor.

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Trier: The Rome of the North

After so many years of travel, it is difficult to choose one single place as a favorite, but there is one place stands out in my mind more than the others. Trier, Germany’s oldest city, and nicknamed, “the Rome of the North,” calls me back again and again. Every visit to Trier is like the first visit. If you wander around long enough you’ll find something new every time. Trier is situated along the Moselle Valley in Germany, near Luxembourg. Trier boasts not one or two, but eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. If you’re looking to check a few UNSECO sites off your travel bucket list, Trier is an excellent place to begin.

Trier Black Gate

Although the history of Trier spans more than two millennia, it’s the Roman history that keeps bringing me back. I’ve been to Rome once, Trier at least five times, and there is no question that Trier wins out for me. Rome has more, and the ruins are bigger, but in Trier you get a sense of being back in time that you can’t get anywhere else. It’s not crowded so you can wander this beautiful city as slowly or as quickly as you like. Everything is within walking distance so there is no metro, and there is no need to jostle and bustle for a spot in line to see the ruins.There are no crowds, no matter the time of year, and there is a sense of relaxation and history everywhere. Coffee shops are everywhere and many offer a spectacular view of Trier’s famous monuments. Everything in Trier, with the exception the badly deteriorated ruins of the Barbara Baths are within walking distance of the central square.

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The Tomb of Poulnabrone: A Portal to the Past

Today we have another contribution from Timeless Travels Magazine in which Joshua Mark writes about his visit to Poulnabrone, Ireland.

Puluabrone. Photo © Joshua Mark

Pulnabrone. Photo © Joshua Mark

The Neolithic Age is a quiet time for the history enthusiast. There are no great epics, no legends, not even king’s lists but only the moss covered sites, standing stones, sometimes with enigmatic carvings, and sombre, stone monuments.

These sites do have their stories however, whispered in soft tones, and if one listens carefully one can sense their stories in the presence of the past. Poulnabrone, a dolmen in the region known as the Burren in County Clare, Ireland, is one such site.

In January of 2015 I visited Poulnabrone with my wife, Betsy. It was a cold day with a strong wind coming down from the highlands across the strange, cratered, rock slabs which make up the Burren.

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10 Hidden Ancient Treasures in Caria, Turkey

The Sanctuary of Zeus Labraundos, Labraunda, Caria, Turkey

The Sanctuary of Zeus Labraundos at Labraunda overlooking the plain of Milas, Caria, Turkey.

Located at the crossroads of many ancient civilizations, Turkey is a haven for archaeology lovers. Over the centuries, a succession of empires and kingdoms – Hittite, Lydian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and, finally, Ottoman – ruled over Anatolia. The country’s unique cultural legacy, its remarkably beautiful landscape as well as the friendliness of its people make visiting Turkey a rewarding experience. The country is scattered with so many archaeological wonders that each visit always seems too short. I have myself come back several times discovering one fascinating place after another. Having visited most of the great classical sites in western Turkey, I invite you to discover the ancient treasures of Caria, a region of considerable historical importance and geographical diversity. Some sites, such as the coastal city of Miletus and the oracular sanctuary of Didyma are already familiar to the modern visitor. Other lesser-known ancient cities that are no less spectacular are to be found inland, in relatively remote areas.

Interactive Map of Ancient Sites

Interactive Map of Ancient Sites

Caria is the name given during ancient times to the south western region of Anatolia’s Aegean shore in Asia Minor, present-day Turkey. Caria’s neighbours included Ionia in the north and Lycia in the east whereas nowadays it mostly covers the Muğla province. Its inhabitants were the Carians and the Leleges (the descendants of the Carians). Even though Carians are mentioned frequently in ancient literature, their history is still largely unknown. In the Iliad, Homer writes that they fought against the Greeks as allies to the Trojans. The historian Herodotus, who was born in the Carian city of Halicarnassus, describes them as fierce, seafaring warriors and as being of Minoan descent. However Pausanias, the intrepid Greek traveler of the 2nd century AD, tells that the Carians were the former inhabitants of the land and that colonists from Crete mixed with them and adopted their name. The Carians themselves thought that they were indigenous people of Asia Minor. Read more…

Jordan: The Wonders of Petra

Today we have another contribution from Timeless Travels Magazine in which Archaeologist Ben Churcher explores the highlights of a visit to Petra a ‘rose red city, half as old as time.’



As an archaeologist who has been privileged to travel widely, I’m often asked “what is your favourite site?” While the pyramids at Giza are awe-inspiring in their size, the ruins of Palmyra in Syria evocative in their desert location and the Lion Gate at Mycenae majestic, I always answer “Petra” as no other site in the world is quite like Petra.

As an icon for Jordanian history, this popular and much-visited site is simply stunning. No other site in the world can match the entry into Petra and nor can they compete with the sheer artistry and labour that was expended in the creation of the site’s monuments. The oft quoted description of Petra as ‘the rose-red city half as old as time’ is almost right: the site is set in a chain of rose-red (and yellow and buff) mountains, although the site, for an archaeologist, is not ‘half as old as time’.However, I won’t let dry academic niceties detract from the more romantic notions that do capture the feeling one gets when at Petra.

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7 Strange Artifacts from Malta

We know many things about history, but what we don’t know outweighs what we think we know. Throughout my travels, I have come not only to embrace, but to seek out history’s mysteries. If your eyes and your mind are open you can find mysteries whenever and wherever you travel. Malta is one of those places where the mysteries are too numerous to count, and the culture is too rich to understand in just a few days. Out of the hundreds of unique sites and artifacts found throughout Malta, seven are highlighted below that pose more questions than answers.

The Sleeping Lady of Malta

The Sleeping Lady of Malta was discovered on the lower floor of the Hypogeum of Hal-Safleni.

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Traveling in Israel on a Budget

Me in front of the Latin inscription dedicated to Hadrian revealed in Jerusalem on Wednesday 22nd October 2014 (1)

Carole in front of the Latin inscription dedicated to Hadrian revealed in Jerusalem. Photo © Carole Raddato

On the shores of the Mediterranean sea, Israel is a country with a rich archaeological and religious history. As a land of great significance for Jews, Christians and Muslims, it has many sacred sites like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque. People are also drawn to the many ancient relics and landmarks Israel has to offer.

In this interview with Ancient History Encyclopedia, Jade Koekoe speaks to Carole Raddato of Following Hadrian. Carole discusses her recent experiences in Israel and gives her advice about traveling to this magnificent country on a budget.

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