This week: Rorke’s Drift

The Defence of Rorke's Drift remains one of the most celebrated engagements in UK military history. On the night of 22 January 1879, a force of just over 150 British and colonial troops held off an estimated 3-4,000 Zulu warriors during more than 12 hours of bitter, hand-to-hand fighting that…

This week: Alexander the Great

He inherited the kingdom of Macedonia (in modern-day Greece) at the age of 20. By the time of his death, just 13 years later, he had created an empire that covered two million square miles – stretching across three continents, from the Danube and the Nile to the Himalayas –…

This week: World Heritage Sites

It was not, perhaps, our finest hour. On 21 July, UNESCO announced that its World Heritage Committee had voted to remove Liverpool from its List of World Heritage Sites, making Britain only the third country ever to suffer such an indignity. To make matters worse, the UN-backed agency warned that…

This week: Nefertiti

With her high cheekbones and long neck, she has been described as the 'world's first supermodel'. When her portrait bust went on display in 1923, she was hailed as an icon of timeless femininity. Since then, Nefertiti has been admired by everyone from Hitler to Beyoncé, and has provided inspiration…

This week: Malta

Fifty miles south of Sicily, the tiny, densely populated island of Malta sits at the epicentre of Mediterranean history. Perched midway between Europe and Africa, it has long been a cultural crossroads, and its strategic importance has been recognised by a complicated succession of foreign rulers – including the Phoenicians,…

This week: Glencoe

Tragically, massacres have been a regular feature of human conflict – and locations as varied as Amritsar and Srebrenica, Rwanda and Guatemala, Malmedy and My Lai have all earned their places in the annals of infamy. But while examples of indiscriminate mass killing may sadly be relatively commonplace, each has…

This week: River finds

It seems less obvious today, as we hurtle about the country using modern road and rail networks, but river crossings were once dangerous places. In ancient times, rites in the form of prayers and sacrifices would be performed to appease the river gods and to improve the chances that goods…

This week: Fortresses and invasions

Those with even a cursory knowledge of ancient history will recall that Julius Caesar made his first expedition to Britain in 55 BC. Others may also be aware that the process of Rome's permanent conquest of Britannia did not begin until 43 AD, during the reign of Emperor Claudius.…

This week: Ancient technology

One of the exciting things about archaeology is that, just occasionally, something truly extraordinary comes along which radically changes the way we think about the past. One such moment came in 1900, when sponge divers working around the Greek island of Antikythera happened upon a shipwreck containing the single most…

This week: prisoners of war

Millions of us grew up on stories of bravery among prisoners of war in the Second World War. What is less well known is that brutal treatment of British POWs was a feature of the 1914-18 conflict too. In all, 171,720 Tommies and their officers were captured during the First…

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