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Travel

Wandering Along the Colonnade of the Gymnasium of Salamis, Cyprus

Once a thriving port city on the island of Cyprus, the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, Salamis offers a tantalizing glimpse into the vast history of the island. The ruins of the ancient city occupy an extensive area (one square mile) extending along the sea shore against the backdrop of sand dunes and a forest of acacias.

According to ancient Greek tradition, Salamis was founded after the Trojan War by the archer Teukros, son of King Telamon, who came from the island of Salamis. Half-brother to the hero Ajax, Teukros was unable to return home from the war after failing to prevent his half-brother’ suicide, leading him to flee to Cyprus where he founded Salamis. After its legendary beginnings, Salamis later became one of the most important cities on the island and the seat of a powerful kingdom. Archaeologists believe that Salamis was first established by newcomers from the nearby site of Enkomi following the earthquake of 1075 BC. The city was subsequently controlled by the Persians until the arrival of Alexander the Great into Asia Minor. Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC Salamis came under the control of the Ptolemaic dynasty until its incorporation into the Roman Empire in 58 BC. The importance of the city is reflected in archaeological findings dating back to the Late Geometric periods (8th century BC) to Byzantine times (6th century AD).

Salamis was affected by destructive earthquakes. The earthquake of 76-77 AD was among the most destructive, with a magnitude between 9 and 10. Salamis took the brunt of this earthquake, and fell into ruin. The Jewish insurrection of Artemion in 116 AD further devastated the city. Salamis was rebuilt by the emperors Trajan and Hadrian who embellished it with lavish public buildings.

Categories
Exhibitions

The Hellenistic World at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Stretching from the beaches of the Adriatic Sea to the banks of the Indus River, Alexander the Great’s empire was the largest the world had ever seen when he died in 323 BCE. His empire broke into several smaller kingdoms soon after, but his enduring legacy can be found in signs of Hellenistic cultural diffusion in ancient artifacts that survive today. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s latest exhibition, Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World, is a testament to this cultural interaction and the footprint Alexander left in history far beyond what his imagination could have conceived.

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Behind the Scenes Education

AHE Launches History et cetera Video Series

A new series of entertaining and educational videos created by Ancient History Encyclopedia, in co-production with Past Preservers, will expand and enhance the availability of online resources pertaining to the study of the ancient world.

AHE-Logo-TM-265px PP

Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE), a nonprofit, digital humanities website focused on global ancient history, announced today that they are launching a series of videos under the title History et cetera with Past Preservers. This new series will bring fresh and engaging video content to Ancient History Encyclopedia, offering the “YouTube generation” expert knowledge on a variety of topics related to history, archaeology, and much more. This video series is designed to appeal to students, educators, and history enthusiasts alike.

Categories
Education

The Summer Solstice and its Celtic Traditions

In 2016, the Summer Solstice will be celebrated on the 20th of June in the Northern Hemisphere. The Summer Solstice occurs when the axial tilt of the earth is at its closest to the sun. It has more hours of daylight than any other time of the year, making it the longest day of the year.

People across the world will mark the event in various ways. While different ancient cultures had different traditions, some of the most time-honoured and world-famous were those undertaken by the Celtic people.

The Summer Solstice was one of eight sacred Celtic days where the Celts would take time to celebrate through a variety of customs. They used ‘Natural Time’ taking their lead from the Solstices and Equinoxes to determine the seasons. This is in contrast to the Gregorian calendar that has been adopted today.

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Exhibitions Interviews

The Grandeur of Roman Mosaics

Roman mosaics decorated luxurious domestic and public buildings across the empire. Intricate patterns and figural compositions were created by setting tesserae — small pieces of stone or glass — into floors and walls. Scenes from mythology, daily life, nature, and spectacles in the arena enlivened interior spaces and reflected the cultural ambitions of wealthy patrons. Introduced by itinerant craftsmen, mosaic techniques and designs spread widely throughout Rome’s provinces, leading to the establishment of local workshops and a variety of regional styles.

Drawn primarily from the Getty Museum’s collection, Roman Mosaics across the Empire  at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles, California, presents the artistry of mosaics as well as the contexts of their discovery across Rome’s ever growing empire — from its center in Italy to provinces in North Africa, southern France, and ancient Syria. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Dr. Alexis Belis, assistant curator in the Department of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum, about the various kinds of mosaics found within the former Roman Empire.

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Education

How Many Lives Could an Inscription Live?

Thanks to our partnership agreement with the EAGLE Portal, Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) will be republishing select EAGLE stories, on a periodic basis, which illuminate special topics pertaining everyday life and culture in ancient Rome. We hope that you enjoy these ancient vignettes, and we also encourage you to explore EAGLE’s massive epigraphic database.

When we think of ancient inscriptions we instinctively associate them with the idea of a message engraved in stone meant to be delivered to eternity. In theory, it was so also in the mind of the ancient Romans, but, as we know, theory does not always match practice: evidences from the whole of the Roman empire show that inscriptions suffered in antiquity a surprisingly high mortality rate, in some instances even higher than that of the Romans themselves.

Headless statue of a togate man from the theater of Lepcis Magna
Categories
Exhibitions Photos

Rijksmuseum van Oudheden

Leiden, Netherlands is not exactly the first place that comes into mind when you think about ancient history. Even if you are in the city, you would most likely walk past the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities) without noticing it. Hidden in an unremarkable building in the historic city center, it’s nothing like entering the magnificent building of the Louvre or the British Museum. Yet, judging the book by its cover would be a huge mistake. Once inside, right in the middle of the entrance hall, you are greeted with an actual Egyptian temple, built c. 2000 years ago, originally dedicated to Isis and later used as a Christian church, transported to the museum stone by stone from Taffeh, Egypt.

Temple of Taffeh
A real 2000-year-old Egyptian temple from the village Taffeh in the National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden. Photo © Ibolya Horvath

Categories
Behind the Scenes

Sulaymaniyah Museum Honours AHE’s Osama Muhammed

It is with great pleasure that I report the honour bestowed upon Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin, one of the key contributors to Ancient History et cetera: In conjunction with International Museum Day on 18 May 2016, the Sulaymaniyah Museum honoured Osama’s contribution to the development of the museum, through the publication of several articles detailing the museum, its artefacts, and its discoveries here on AHetc.

We’re incredibly proud of Osama’s achievement, and grateful for his unique and highly interesting contributions to this site, giving us a glimpse of the treasures of Iraq, which are otherwise inaccessible to most of us.

Categories
Culture Exhibitions

June 2016 Museum Listings

Back by popular demand, Ancient History Encyclopedia will once again share news, on a monthly basis, about select museum exhibitions and events of interest to our global audience via AHetc. Exhibitions are arranged in alphabetical order by geographical location and region within this post: the Americas, United Kingdom, Europe/Middle East, and East Asia/Oceania. Here is a taste of what is on show at major museums around the world in June 2016: