10 Coins of Ancient Greece

The first Greek coins were minted in Aegina from 560 BCE, and then Athens and Corinth also began their own coin production shortly after. Each city used an easily identifiable symbol: a turtle for Aegina, an owl for Athens and a winged-horse for Corinth.  The turtle was an apt choice for the Mediterranean trading power, the owl was associated with Athens’ patron goddess Athena, and Pegasus was the horse of the Corinthian hero Bellerophon. Other cities soon produced their own coins and images from Greek mythology continued to be popular in coin designs. Later, letters and short inscriptions were added to signify the issuing authority.  The coins were created by hammering a plain metal disk placed between two engraved metal dies made from hardened bronze or iron. The disks were heated first to aid the stamping of the design. Greek coins were most commonly made of silver, gold, or a copper alloy.

Silver stater from Metapontum, 520 BCE. O: Ear of wheat, R: same incuse.

Ireland’s Exquisite Insular Art

<em>The Book of Kells</em> completed in Ireland, c. 800 CE. This folio shows the lavishly decorated text that opens the Gospel of John.
The Book of Kells completed in Ireland, c. 800 CE. This folio shows the lavishly decorated text that opens the Gospel of John.

While much of Europe was consumed by social disarray in the centuries following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE, a remarkable golden age of scholasticism and artistic achievement began in Ireland. Untouched by centuries of Roman rule, Ireland retained an ancient cohesive society characterized by rural monastic settlements rather than urban centers. From c. 400-1000 CE — an era more popularly known as the “Age of Saints and Scholars” — Irish missionaries spread Christianity, bringing monastery schools to Scotland, England, France, the Netherlands, and Germany. In doing so, they also transmitted a new, effervescent style of art throughout western Europe: Insular art.

In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) speaks to Dr. Dorothy Hoogland Verkerk, Associate Professor of Art History at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, about the astonishing history of Insular art.


Visiting the Burrell Collection in Glasgow

One day before my fellowship admission ceremony at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, I was sitting in my room and surfing the net. I found that a museum in Glasgow, the Burrell Collection, houses some artifacts from Mesopotamia.

That’s great! I hired a taxi and went there. I arrived at 10:30 AM. It lies within Pollok Country Park, about 5 kilometers south of the Glasgow city center. In the year 1944 CE, Sir William Burrell, a Scottish philanthropist, art collector, and shipping merchant donated this magnificent collection of a multitude of artifacts to the city of Glasgow. The building is L-shaped and was opened in 1983 CE.

The Burrell Collection within the Pollock Country Park, Glasgow, UK.
The Burrell Collection within the Pollock Country Park, Glasgow, UK. Photo © Osama S. M. Amin.

10 Ancient Gold Jewellery Pieces

Malleable, lustrous, resistant to corrosion, and high in value, gold has always been a favourite material for jewellers going back to earliest antiquity. The following jewellery pieces are all from the ancient Mediterranean and have nothing more in common than their excellent craftsmanship and striking designs. For more on the history of ancient gold see Ancient History Encyclopedia’s definition on gold in antiquity.

Gold Bead

A gold bead from the dolmen d'Er Roh, La Trinite Sur Mer (France). 2200-2000 BCE. (Vannes Archaeological Museum, France)
A gold bead from the dolmen d’Er Roh, La Trinite Sur Mer (France). 2200-2000 BCE. Vannes Archaeological Museum, France.
Behind the Scenes

Ancient History Encyclopedia & Partnership



Ancient History Encyclopedia Announces Partnership with

New collaboration expands online educational resources about the ancient world

LONDON — Ancient History Encyclopedia, a nonprofit, digital humanities website focused on ancient history, today announced that they have begun a strategic content sharing agreement with the Chickasaw Nation Video Network. The collaborative agreement will make digital content on, the official video network of the Chickasaw Nation, available to Ancient History Encyclopedia readers. is the first video network to provide Ancient History Encyclopedia with educational multimedia content about the ancient Native American civilizations of North America and the history of the Chickasaw people. This collaboration coincides with the recent addition of videos to the Ancient History Encyclopedia website, and’s contribution has played a significant role in unveiling this new feature.

Since launching in 2009, over 7 million people have visited the Ancient History Encyclopedia website. The content on Ancient History Encyclopedia has made it a trusted research and homework tool for students worldwide and is progressively being integrated into educator lesson plans. According to the latest data, teachers and students are increasingly relying on video content to demonstrate relationships between historical events. In 2013, the nation’s leading education nonprofit organization, Project Tomorrow, conducted a survey of over 400,000 students, teachers and librarians, parents, district administrators and community members from over 9,000 schools and 2,700 districts across the United States. According to the recently released survey, 46 percent of teachers use videos in the classroom, over one-third of students access online videos to assist with their homework, and 23 percent of students are accessing videos created by their teachers.

“Adding video to Ancient History Encyclopedia was the next logical step for us,” said Jan van der Crabben, CEO & founder of Ancient History Encyclopedia. “Over a third of our website visitors are students, and by adding video we can reach and educate more students. We want to provide free, helpful content for all learning styles, and video is becoming more and more important for the internet generation.”

Exhibitions Photos Travel

Visiting the Pergamon Museum in Berlin

August 11, 2014. It was a partly cloudy day. I arrived at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin around 10 AM. I found a long queue . . . Average waiting time: two hours! I asked a guard about this. He said, ”This line is for holders of priority pass tickets and pre-booked tickets.” I said, “OK, where I can buy this priority pass ticket?” The answer was, “You have to join this long queue, and once you enter into the museum’s main reception, you can buy this type of ticket.” The ticket costs 24 Euros; it is valid for three consecutive days, and you can use it to enter the other museums at “the Museum Island in Berlin” and other museums within the city of Berlin. It’s an excellent deal!

Finally, I went upstairs and found myself within the Processional Way of ancient Babylon. What a feeling I had! The Ishtar Gate faces the Processional Way. I walked back and forth, through the gate and the street, maybe ten times. I said to myself, “Nebuchadnezzar and his army walked through this gate!”