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.
When we hear the words “Anglo-Saxon literature,” Beowulf is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Then we might think of the beauty of illuminated manuscripts such as the Book of Durrow or the Lindisfarne Gospels. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener talks with Professor Larry Swain of Bemidji State University about these works, as well as Norse and Irish influences on Anglo-Saxon literature and the significance of the Byzantines, Theodore and Hadrian, who came to Northumbria in the seventh century CE. Professor Swain recommends learning Old English in order to be able to read works in Old English, of course, but equally intriguing, to allow us to better express ourselves in modern English.
China’s Tang dynasty golden age is routinely described as one of the most brilliant eras in Chinese history. Under Tang rule and leadership, China became the wealthiest, most populous, and most sophisticated civilization on earth. While exerting political hegemony and a powerful cultural influence across East Asia, China was also open to influences from its Turkic and Indian neighbors. In this exclusive holiday interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Dr. Jonathan Skaff, Professor of History at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and expert on Chinese-Turkic relations during the Tang era, who reevaluates Chinese culture and politics during an age of commercial trade, technological innovation, and ultimately, political instability.
In antiquity, the Greeks and Romans referred to the pre-Islamic kingdoms of ancient Arabia as “Arabia Felix” or “Arabia the Blessed,” due to their immense wealth and political power. Flourishing along caravan and maritime trade routes for over a thousand years, these kingdoms achieved impressive feats in technology, engineering, and the conservation of natural resources. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) speaks to Dr. William Glanzman, one of the world’s leading experts on ancient Arabia, about the importance of these polities as well as recent archaeological discoveries in southern Arabia.
For several decades, scholars have been searching for tangible evidence of Pre-Columbian contacts between the Old and New Worlds. Whether based on cross-cultural comparisons, historical records, studies of linguistics, or anthropological inquiry, these claims have stimulated heated debates and controversy in various fields. In recent times however, there appears to be a growing body of evidence to suggest that there were exchanges between Polynesian seafarers and native peoples in the Americas. From c. 300 to c. 1450 CE, the Polynesians traversed the Pacific Ocean, settling remote island chains like those of present-day Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island. Could they have also made it to the New World? The Chumash had the most highly developed coastal technologies in North America. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks with Dr. Terry L. Jones, an archaeologist and Professor of Anthropology at the California Polytechnic State University, with regard to his assertion that there were technological and linguistic exchanges between the Chumash and Gabrielino tribes of California with ancient Polynesians.
For many the “Silk Road” conjures images of exotic goods, verdant desert oases, and the bustling markets of ancient China. However, the Silk Road was also a conduit of ideas, technologies, diseases, the arts, and even fashion. Spread across nearly 6,500 km (4,000 mi), the Silk Road affected the course of history, molding civilizations in Europe, Arabia, Persia, India, and China. In this media interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks with Professor Valerie Hansen, author of The Silk Road: A New History and Professor of History at Yale University. Approaching the importance of cultural transmission through archaeology and material history, Hansen reveals new perspectives while narrating a fascinating story of early global exchange.
For centuries, Wang Xizhi (c. 303-361 CE) has been revered as the “Sage of Calligraphy” across East Asia. Born in the town of Linyi, in Shangdong, China, during the tumultuous years of the Jin dynasty (265-420 CE), Wang revolutionized and reinvigorated this traditional art through his mastery of all forms of Chinese calligraphy, including the notoriously difficult semi-cursive or “walking script.” A legend in his lifetime, Wang’s works were avidly copied by aspiring calligraphers across ancient China. Over the centuries, original pieces by Wang were lost and only exquisitely traced copies remain. Today, many of these copies are kept in Japan and revered as “national treasures.” This winter, the Tokyo National Museum, in Tokyo, Japan, celebrates the life and legacy of China’s most admired calligrapher in Wang Xizhi: Master of Calligraphy. Reflecting on Wang’s style and artistic prowess, this exhibition seeks an authentic image of an elusive artist, reevaluating his artistic role and legacy through his influence on successive artists in China and Japan. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History …
During the Celtic Iron Age (c. 800-15 BCE), the Celts dominated large swaths of the European continent including what is present-day Germany, Switzerland, and France. The World of the Celts: Centres of Power – Treasures of Art (Die Welt der Kelten: Zentren der Macht – Kostbarkeiten der Kunst), displays this forgotten era of European history with astonishing works of art and rarely seen artifacts. These twin exhibitions–now on show at the Baden-Württemberg State Museum of Archaeology and the Württemberg State Museum in Stuttgart Germany–assemble the most impressive of Celtic objets d’art in the last thirty years. In this interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks with Ms. Sarah Scheffler, a German archaeologist and expert on the Celts, who assisted in the collection of ancient artifacts for the Treasures of Art exhibition. Probing the nuances of Celtic art and style, Scheffler stresses the importance of exchange to the Celts’ art and of how the Celts interacted artistically with their Mediterranean and Germanic neighbors.