Homer: The Very Idea

Some time in the 8th century BC, with the Greek alphabet just decades old, two monumental poems, the Iliad and Odyssey, were committed to writing and so became the first great works of Western literature. We call their author Homer, but – even in antiquity – there was disagreement over…

Minerva Magazine 192

• The Saka: golden burials of the steppe
• The Viking Great Army
• Humboldt Forum: Berlin’s new cultural centre
• Triumph of Rubens
• Mausoleum of Augustus…

The Viking Great Army

In AD 865, a Viking army landed in eastern England. For more than a decade, it raided across the country, but contemporary documents tell us little about it. Dawn M Hadley and Julian D Richards use the latest discoveries to track down the Army and see the changes it brought…

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Kazakhstan’s Golden Burials

The Greek historian Herodotus tells us that among the Scythians, the nomads of the Eurasian steppe, there was a group of ‘gold-guarding Griffins’. Were these people the Saka, whose elite filled their tombs with golden depictions of griffins and other creatures? As a new exhibition on the Saka opens,…

Sacred sites in Tyre

The investigations targeted the acropolis of the city, which was occupied from the Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC).…

Treasures of the Scythian Kings

Barry Cunliffe, among the most distinguished of world archaeologists, has recently drawn together the evidence for the Scythians in a comprehensive new book, The Scythians: nomad warriors of the steppe. Neil Faulkner asked him what we know of this most mysterious of ancient peoples.…

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‘Arrogance and violence’

Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars offers a series of sensational biographies of Roman rulers from Julius Caesar to Domitian, highlighting moments of depravity, viciousness, scheming, and excess.…

Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc (1580-1637)

It is hard to disagree with the astronomers. They clearly felt that naming a single lunar crater after Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc in 1935 was insufficient and, in 1993, honoured him again, this time with an asteroid. But astronomy is only part of the story, for Peiresc was the very…

The Triumph of Rubens

One of the most accomplished painters of the 17th century, Peter Paul Rubens had a deep interest in the ancient world, expressed through the power of the paintbrush, but also the written word. Lucia Marchini speaks to Anne Woollett to find out more about the artist’s engagement with Greece…

The Hidden Language of Graphic Signs: Cryptic Writing and Meaningful Marks

Throughout history, scripts have become established by communicating language and meaning as transparently as possible to literate readers. But, of course, scripts have an aesthetic dimension, too, which both enhances their appeal and distracts readers from their meaning – as expressed in calligraphy, monograms, and signatures. Sometimes, graphic signs are…

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Honouring Augustus

After centuries of reuse and years of closure, the Mausoleum of Augustus is now open to visitors. Dalu Jones examines the structure’s long history and how, with its neighbour the Ara Pacis, it forms a modern monumental complex to the ancient emperor in the heart of Rome.…

Baalbek and Antioch, 1933

In 1933, the first season of excavations at Tell ed-Duweir (Lachish), south-west of Jerusalem, came to end. The remains of a building from the late 5th-4th century BC, described as a governor’s residence, had been unearthed and the defences of the Judaean city, including part of a 900-700 BC palace-fort,…

The Aztecs: Lost civilizations

Five hundred years ago, the spectacular city of Tenochtitlan, power centre of the Aztec empire, upon which modern Mexico City was later built, fell decisively to the Spanish. The conquistador Hernán Cortés had entered the city in 1519 without much resistance, and an uneasy period followed during which colonists and…

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