Categories
Education

Ancient Music and Instruments from the Mediterranean

Music had always been an important part of life for many ancient cultures. It weaves its way into ritual and entertainment. Let’s explore ancient music of the Mediterranean, particularly Rome, Greece and Egypt and discover instruments used back then which have shaped the instruments that we have today.

Mosaic depicting street musicians
Mosaic depicting musicians, signed by Dioskourides of Samos. The mosaic shows an episode from a comedy since the figures are wearing theatrical masks. The figures are playing musical instruments often connected with the cult of Cybele: the tambourine, small cymbals and the double flute. The mosaic was found in the so-called Villa of Cicero near Pompeii and dates to the 1st century BCE. It was made with tiny tesserae, in a technique called opus vermiculatum. (Naples National Archaeological Museum). Photo © Carole Raddato
Categories
Photos

Art and Sculptures from Hadrian’s Villa: Marble Head of Antinous

This week’s sculpture from Hadrian’s Villa is a marble head of Antinous, one of the ten marble images of Antinous found there.

Antinous, from Hadrian's Villa, late Hadrianic period 130-138 AD, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome
Antinous, from Hadrian’s Villa, late Hadrianic period 130-138 AD, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome

This portrait of Antinous is conserved in the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme in Rome. It is related to a coin type minted in the city of Adramyttium in Mysia (modern Edremit, Turkey) by an individual called Gessius (his name appears on the reverse of the coin). The coin was struck with the head of Antinous on the obverse and the words ΙΑΚΧΟC ΑΝΤΙΝΟΟC (Iacchos Antinous). Antinous is portrayed as Iacchos, a minor Dionysian deity (also epithet of Dionysus) associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries (Hadrian first took part in the Mysteries in about 124 AD and again in late summer 128 AD together with Antinous). The British Museum holds such a coin with the Eleusinian goddess Demeter on the reverse.

Categories
Education

10 Ancient Greek Inventions & Discoveries Still Used Today

Though this post only discusses 10 ancient Greek inventions and discoveries, there are, in fact, many more attributed to them.

Greek findings range from astronomy and geography to mathematics and science. Greek interest in the scientific specification of the physical world started as far back as the 6th century BCE. They proved quite versatile in this area. Greece contributed a lot of knowledge to the modern world. Many ancient Greeks hold the title of the Father of Science, the Father of Medicine, or Zoology. Even remarkable leaders like Alexander the Great and Pericles with their innovative and philosophical ideas motivated many others to follow in their footsteps.

10. Water mill

Hydraulic wheel of Perachora
Hydraulic wheel of Perachora
Categories
Education

New Discovery: Unearthing a Neo-Assyrian Grave in Erbil, Iraq

An archaeologist friend of mine once told me: “Less than 5% of the Mesopotamian history has been found, and wherever you dig, anywhere in the land of Mesopotamia, you will discover something.”

This story comes from Erbil (Hawler) Governorate. About 100-200 m away from the Citadel of Erbil (Arabic: قلعة أربيل; Kurdish: قه‌ڵای هه‌ولێر), an old house with a large garden was sold to an investment company. The company demolished the house and started to dig the foundation of a large building in late April 2015.

In response to my questions, Architectural Engineer Sarbast Mahmood Ahmed replied:

We were working 24/7. It was around 10 PM when we were digging the foundation of the building. The caterpillar excavator had reached 6 m in depth. Suddenly, one of the workers noticed that the machine had removed earth in addition to bricks. We stopped digging. After sunrise, we saw that we had unearthed what appeared to be a grave. Part of the grave was damaged while we were digging. Immediately, we informed the General Directorate of Antiquities. A specialized team arrived after a few hours and they prohibited us from further work. They did a short-lived excavation work within a few days together with a French archaeological team. The grave contained the skeleton of a human body. It seems that the corpse was laid on its left side. Nothing else was in the grave, no pottery or gold. The French team took the skeleton allowing for construction work to continue. I have been told that the skeleton was transferred to France using a private airplane. One of the team members told me that the unearthed grave dates back to the neo-Assyrian period. But I do not know whether the skeleton was a male or a female, an adult or a teen.

Categories
Photos

7 Roman Wonders from the Corinium Museum in Cirencester (UK)

Each year Twitter has an event for international Museum Week (#MuseumWeek), which celebrates the many museums, galleries and cultural institutions that make valuable contributions to the arts, history and culture around the world. More than 2,200 museums, galleries and cultural institutions from over 64 countries come together on Twitter for #MuseumWeek including the Corinium Museum in Cirencester in the UK (@CoriniumMuseum).

I re-visited the recently refurbished and extended Corinium Museum earlier this year, and today I invite you to discover 7 ancient Roman treasures from Cirencester (named Corinium Dobunnorum in Roman times), once one of the most important places in Roman Britain, second only to London.

Categories
Education

New Discovery: Clay Tablet & Cylinder Seal from Tell Kunara, Iraq

Panorama view of part of Tell Kunara, where the excavating team of the French National Center for Scientific Research is working. Sulaymaniyah City, Iraqi Kurdistan. 3rd Millennium BCE. The mountain on the background houses the ancient Paleolithic caves of Hazar Merd.
Panorama view of part of Tell Kunara, where the excavating team of the French National Center for Scientific Research is working. Sulaymaniyah City, Iraqi Kurdistan. 3rd Millennium BCE. The mountain on the background houses the ancient Paleolithic caves of Hazar Merd. Photo © Osama S. M. Amin

On Thursday, October 1, I decided to pay Mr. Kamal Rashid, director of the General Directorate of Antiquities in Sulaymaniyah (GDAS), a short visit. He was thrilled and very happy to see me, “Osama have a seat…one of our French teams has just unearthed a clay tablet.” Rashid said. We were at the site of Tell (mound) Kunara (Arabic: تل كنارة; Kurdish: گردي كوناره).

Tell Kunara (35°31’9.06″N; 45°21’35.07″E) was first documented in the 1940s. A survey was conducted by the General Directorate of Antiquities in Baghdad. According to the Archives Department of GDAS, Mr. Sabri Shukri visited, surveyed the location and wrote an official memorandum describing the site on November 10, 1943.

Categories
Behind the Scenes Education

Our Little-Known but Amazing Tools for History Buffs

With several thousand pages, Ancient History Encyclopedia is huge! There are a few features on our site that most people don’t know about, but which are absolutely amazing! So come give our amazing tools for history buffs a try:

Searchable Timeline
We’ve got a searchable timeline of ancient history. Just enter a date range and a few keywords and you’ll see a list of timeline entries. You can even search by event category, such as warfare or philosophy. By searching the world timeline, relationships between events appear that you never knew were there.

Categories
Culture Travel

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.

Categories
Culture Travel

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.

Categories
Culture

The Success and Failure of Greek History in Film

Ancient Greece has been represented in cinema several times over the years and has received mixed reviews, unfortunately primarily negative. The genre appears to have fallen behind the dark shadow of Rome and perhaps with good reason. Despite any failures that filmmakers have made along the way, films based in antiquity continue to be popular for they possess the ability to bridge the gap between the past and the present, offering spectacular and compelling interpretations of history that are both relevant and educational for viewers. This can be said for both Greek and Roman history, yet what is it about Greek history that seems so difficult to portray on screen? Evidently, there are three primary issues in regards to filming Greek history in a manner that modern audiences will be able to both understand and connect with: the problem with “Greek love;” the lack of unity within ancient Greece; and the difficulty of filming key “Greek” ideas. The famous tales of the battle of Thermopylae and Alexander the Great have emerged as the most “successful” Greek stories to be represented in film, however, they are not without fault. By examining how filmmakers have addressed the issues of representing Greek history through films such as Alexander the Great (1956), Alexander (2004), The 300 Spartans (1962), and 300 (2007) the success and failure of each will be identified as well as how such films may mark a shift in this trend of unpopularity.