Tag ancient history

The Epic of Gilgamesh

John Carey— The oldest surviving literary work is The Epic of Gilgamesh. It was composed nearly 4,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia (roughly equivalent to where Iraq and eastern Syria are now). No one knows who wrote it, or why, or what readership or audience it was intended for. It

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What Is Wisdom?

Giambattista Vico— Wisdom is the faculty that commands all the disciplines; by these, all the sciences and arts that complete our humanity are apprehended. Plato defines wisdom as that which is the perfecter of man. Man, in the being proper to him as a man, is nothing other than mind and

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Western Ambivalence toward Iran

By Abbas Amanat — The Persians, and before them the Medes, were among the first people known to the ancient Greeks outside their own geographic sphere. As early as the sixth century BCE, when Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Empire (c. 550 BCE–330 BCE), conquered Asia Minor,

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Sparta and Athens: From Peace to War

Paul A. Rahe— In his now neglected masterpiece Marlborough: His Life and Times, Winston Churchill once hazarded the following observation: Battles are the principal milestones in secular history. Modern opinion resents this uninspiring truth, and historians often treat the decisions in the field as incidents in the dramas of politics

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The Shadow of the Present

Tony Spawforth— As I write about the remote past, I never feel that history has repeated itself. Even so, there are times when the Greek and Roman worlds seem to offer an eerie prefiguring of the present. Democracy In 415 BC the adult males who made up the politically empowered

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Against the “Ascent of Man”

James C. Scott— Historical humankind has been mesmerized by the narrative of progress and civilization as codified by the first great agrarian kingdoms. As new and powerful societies, they were determined to distinguish themselves as sharply as possible from the populations from which they sprang and that still beckoned and

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Ep. 39 – The History of Fishing

A look at the history of fishing from ancient civilizations to modern times and the problems caused by overfishing

Ep. 37 – The Origin of Early Civilization

Early civilizations came about with the domestication of fire, plants, animals, and humans. James C. Scott gives us the history of these early states and the problems they faced.

What is Religion?

Richard Holloway— As with many useful words, symbol comes from Greek. It means to bring together things that had come apart, the way you might glue the bits of a broken plate together. Then a symbol became an object that stood for or represented something else. It still had the idea of

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The Paleo Diet in Ancient Civilization

James C. Scott— I am neither an advocate nor a practitioner of the Paleo diet. I love bread, pasta, butter, and yogurt far too much to forsake them altogether. On the other hand, I have made an effort to understand the dietary consequences of “civilization,” of the food ways typical

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