The life of St. Helena — Roman empress, Christian saint, and mother to the celebrated Constantine the Great — remains shrouded in mystery, controversy, and intrigue. To commence the start of the holiday season, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Dr. María Lara Martínez — a talented Spanish historian and writer — about her award winning novel on St. Helena, The Veil of Promise (El Velo de Promesa), in this exclusive English language interview.
Welcome to the second post on our new blog AHEtc! This time we welcome Ms. Jennifer Brown (Jaunting Jen) of the blog Jaunting Jen. Jen is an Army veteran, archaeologist, photographer, and historian working on her MA in ancient and classical history. We hope you enjoy her post as much as we do!
Beauty Reigns Eternally
Beauty. The four horses at St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice, can only be described with one word: beauty. They are called the bronze horses, but they are actually almost pure copper. If you stare at them long enough, they almost seem real. The two horses pictured above are looking at each other like they are sharing a secret, and we are left in the dark. It’s a miracle of history, time, and circumstance that these horses exist today. We are able to stand and admire their craftsmanship because of a long history of looting, theft, and historic preservation.
The history of the four horses stretches the imagination. They may have been created by a very famous sculptor, Lyssippos, in the fourth century BCE. However, recent studies suggest that the horses have a Roman origin. If the antiquity of the horses is not enough to produce a feeling of awe, then the story of how they made their way from Constantinople to Venice will surely amaze. From at least the ninth century CE, and possibly much earlier, the horses stood on top of the Hippodrome in Constantinople. In 1204 CE, Constantinople was sacked by Crusaders, and many of the treasures, including the four horses, were shipped to western Europe.
From 1204 CE, these four beautiful horses grace the terrace at St. Mark’s Basilica. In 1797 CE, Napoleon decided that he wanted horses and carried them off to Paris. They were returned to Venice a short time later in 1815 CE. There they stood on the terrace until the 1980s, when they were moved inside to save them from pollution. Today on the terrace you can view the replicas, but the real treasure is located inside. The horses stand guard just inside the entrance and look like they are in motion, prancing towards the visitors to greet them. There they will stand for future generations to admire their beauty and realism. Photography is not allowed, but I won’t tell if you won’t!
Both images: Horse sculptures, St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice, Italy. Photos by Jennifer Brown, licensed under a Creative Commons – Attribution-Non-Commerical-ShareAlike 3.o license.
All images and videos featured in this post have been properly attributed to their respective owners. Unauthorized reproduction of text and images is prohibited. Ms. Karen Barrett-Wilt and Mr. James Blake Wiener were responsible for the editorial process. The views presented here are not necessarily those of the Ancient History Encyclopedia. Original blog post can be found at http://jauntingjen.com/2013/12/01/the-horses-of-st-mark/.
The ancient Picts of northern and eastern Scotland were as enigmatic to their contemporaneous neighbors as they are to modern-day scholars. Nevertheless, despite the shadowy and wild stereotypes that still abound in popular imagination, recent archaeological excavations across Scotland have revealed astonishing works of art, impressive fortifications, and evidence of strong links with continental Europe.
In this exclusive interview with the Ancient History Encyclopedia, James Blake Wiener speaks to Dr. Gordon Noble, an archaeologist and professor at Aberdeen University, about these recent archaeological discoveries and how we should best understand the Picts in the history of ancient Britain.
Scota: Mother of the Scottish People
An ardent, lifelong passion for history compelled me recently to start researching and writing on various historical topics. Curiosity, along with the presence of certain books in my library, led me to look into the history of Scotland. Scottish history is chock full of fascinating stories and quaint legends. Surprisingly, I discovered that the founding, mythical ancestor of the Scottish people was a woman named Scota, daughter of an Egyptian pharaoh and wife of a Greek prince, whose story may be based on actual events as borne out by DNA evidence.
A chance opportunity took Dr. Bruno Werz to South Africa as the country’s first marine archeologist in 1988. For over twenty years now, Dr. Werz has undertaken numerous projects of immense scope, including the excavation of sub-Saharan Africa’s oldest shipwreck. He is also responsible for the discovery of the oldest human artifacts ever found beneath the ocean’s surface.
In this exclusive interview with James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia, Dr. Werz discusses his passion for marine archaeology and the activities of the African Institute for Marine and Underwater Research, Exploration and Education (AIMURE).
We are pleased to announce that the Ancient History Encyclopedia regularly receives over one million page views per month! This is truly a momentous occasion and we are eager to see what awaits us as we come closer to 2014. At this time, AHE’s staff would like to extend a warm message of thanks to our financial donors, volunteer contributors, virtual visitors, social media followers, and past interviewees for helping us enter into the record books! Your kind words and messages of enthusiasm are a source of pride and inspiration. We would not be where we are today without your continued support and interest.
We thought that we should use this occasion not only to celebrate an important milestone, but also take the time to assemble some statistics about Ancient History Encyclopedia:
- 1 million page views per month.
- 500,000 unique visitors per month (compared to 100,000 this time last year).
- Over 2.2 million visitors in 2013 so far.
- 66% visitors from the US; 4% in the UK, Canada, and Australia (each).
- We have spent £830 ($1330) on books to help write our 547 definitions and 350 articles.
- Record number of social media followers: 90,000+ on Facebook; 4,000+ on Twitter; 2,000+ on Google+.
- Google has ranked us up in their last “Hummingbird” search engine update.
AHE strives to provide the best ancient history information on the internet for free. We combine different media, subjects, and periods in interactive ways that will help the public appreciate the complexity and richness of the ancient world. Editorial review remains a key component in our process to ensure highest quality. We are an open education resource listed in the OER Commons and we also share our data through the academic Pelagios Network, side by side with institutions such as The British Museum and King’s College London. Committed to the digital humanities movement, AHE’s original content is available under a Creative Commons license that enables teachers to freely distribute it in class, as it allows anyone to re-use our content in a non-commercial context.
Please consider donating to help us reach even more students, teachers, and enthusiasts around the world! You can also share your knowledge by submitting an article, or you can simply recommend us to your friends and colleagues. Thank you very much!
The reconstruction of ancient recipes challenges experimental archaeologists and chefs alike, while concurrently offering unique glimpses into the culinary tastes of diverse ethnic groups. Ms. Laura Kelley, author and founder of The Silk Road Gourmet blog, analyzes the links between recipes, civilizations, and trade across great distances and over long periods of time. As a frequent traveler, Laura first noted the commonalities between recipes and cooking methods, which in turn provided the catalyst for her research as an independent scholar.
In this interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Laura about her interest in cooking — past and present — as well as how she has been able to reconstruct recipes from ancient Central Asia, Mesopotamia, and Rome.
Three successive civilizations — Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian — flourished along the “Fertile Crescent” in ancient Mesopotamia for thousands of years. Renown for their creativity, dynamism, and complexity, these cultures also provide the earliest models of civilization in the West. This fall, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, Canada is celebrating the remarkable achievements and artistic sophistication of ancient Mesopotamia in a landmark exhibition: Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World.
In this interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Dr. Clemens Reichel, Associate Curator at the ROM, about the importance of these civilizations, and of how we can better assess and understand their legacy in modern times.