This week: Gladiators

At its height, the Roman Empire grew to an area of around two million square miles, stretching from Mesopotamia in the east to Lusitania (modern-day Portugal) in the west – a distance of some 4,000 miles. But for all our knowledge of the empire’s vast extent, it still seems incongruous…

This week: Knossos

According to the catalogue for the new exhibition at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, Knossos is the place where ‘myth, archaeology and reinforced concrete come together’ – a neat encapsulation of some of the world famous site’s many complexities. Perched on a low Cretan hillside, King Minos’ palace attracts up to 8,000…

This week: Signature style

With no contemporary written record to guide us, we cannot know the precise meaning behind the many depictions of human hands featured in prehistoric cave art around the world – the oldest known examples of which are believed to have been created more than 40,000 years ago on the island…

This week: Mummies

The ancient Egyptian process of mummification holds a unique place in the popular imagination – inspiring exhibitions, movies, books, and countless school trips. As we learn this week on The Past, however, Western responses to this extraordinary and costly practice are often still based on ideas and attitudes that have…

Mummies Quiz

In 1922, a team led by which British Egyptologist excavated Tutankhamun's tomb?…

St Bartholomew the Great

Packed tightly between Smithfield meat market and the Barbican’s brutalist towers, St Bartholomew the Great (or Great St Bart’s, as it is often called) is London’s oldest surviving parish church, and also one of its most atmospheric. Founded by Henry I’s minstrel and courtier Rahere in 1123, it is unique…

This week: Pacopampa

Understanding burial practices and funerary customs is a vital part of any attempt to understand an ancient culture – for while the need to separate the living from the dead is common to all human societies, the way in which this has been done over the centuries varies widely according…

This week: Water in Istanbul

Today, Istanbul – formerly Constantinople – is Europe’s largest metropolis, having grown dramatically in size since the 1970s to reach a population in excess of 17 million. But despite the gleaming modern towers, busy expressways and seemingly endless urban sprawl, the city’s long history as an imperial capital – first…

Water Features

Outside which French city would you find the Pont du Gard, the tallest of all Roman aqueduct bridges?…

This week: Military disasters

It is hard to disagree with the observation, made by the distinguished military historian John Keegan (1934-2012), that ‘all battles are in some degree… disasters’. But if the brutal nature of warfare means that all such conflicts end in calamity, it should be added (as Keegan himself noted) that not…

This week: The Harpole Treasure

It was, according to Levente Bence Balázs, the leader of the Museum of London team that made the discovery, a moment that might most accurately be described as ‘an archaeologist’s dream’. On 11 April 2022, Balázs was overseeing the penultimate day of an otherwise-routine dig in the village of Harpole,…

This week: the year in review

It has been a year of non-stop turbulence in the news – from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to the continuing upheaval of Covid-19, and from record-breaking heatwaves to the return of rampant inflation. These seismic events have provided us with daily reminders that the study of history – both ancient…

This week: A pagan Christmas?

These days, some would have us believe that Christmas has been ‘hijacked’ – that the season of good cheer has been rudely stripped of its religious connotation (of ‘mass on Christ’s day’) and replaced instead by a secular and commercially dubious celebration of family, community, and the joys of eating…

1 2 3 4 11