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Ancient History Fangirl

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Ancient History Fangirl

Jenny Williamson and Genn McMenemy

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An ancient history podcast run by two Millennial women. Misbehaving emperors, poison assassins, mythological mayhem; it’s like if Hardcore History met up with My Favorite Murder in the ancient world, with a heavy helping of booze and laughter. New episodes weekly. Currently covering ancient mysteries.
 
The History of Ancient Greece Podcast is a deep-dive into one of the most influential and fundamental civilization in world history. Hosted by philhellene Ryan Stitt, THOAG spans over two millennia. From the Bronze Age to the Archaic Period, from Classical Greece to the Hellenistic kingdoms, and finally to the Roman conquest, this podcast will tell the history of a fundamental civilization by bringing to life the fascinating stories of all the ancient sources and scholarly interpretations of ...
 
The Near East - the region known politically as the Middle East - is the home of both a long and eventful history as well as a much longer and fascinating prehistory. Here on Pre History I will cover the story of the Near East as we know it from the archaeological study of what people left behind as hunter-gatherers turned into farmers, as villages turned into cities, and as empires rose and fell.
 
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The Epistle to the Hebrews is widely associated with its theology of Christ the High Priest. The opening four chapters of Hebrews, however, arguably contain greater emphasis on the topic of creation. Angela Costley uses discourse analysis to explore the importance of creation in the Epistle to the Hebrews, uncovering a close link between creation a…
 
Did you know that the ancient Greeks and Romans didn't have a word for sharks--despite the fact that they must have seen them eating sailors during sea battles all the time? For that matter, they didn't have a word for "whale" either. But they did describe the most fantastical sea creatures, including Nereids, Ketos, and "sea dogs." Whatever those …
 
Martha Rampton, Trafficking with Demons: Magic, Ritual, and Gender from Late Antiquity to 1000 (Cornell University Press, 2021) explores how magic was perceived, practiced, and prohibited in western Europe during the first millennium CE. Through the overlapping frameworks of religion, ritual, and gender, Martha Rampton connects early Christian reck…
 
Sarah F. Porter (she/her/hers) is a Ph.D candidate in the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University with a concentration in New Testament / Early Christianity and a secondary field in archaeology. She holds an M.Div. from Vanderbilt University Divinity School with a certificate in gender, sexuality, and religion, and she earned her B…
 
Sarah Derbew’s new book Untangling Blackness in Greek Antiquity (Cambridge UP, 2022) asks how should articulations of blackness from the fifth century BCE to the twenty-first century be properly read and interpreted? This important and timely book is the first concerted treatment of black skin color in the Greek literature and visual culture of ant…
 
The werewolf myth as we know it today generally involves getting bitten by a werewolf, transforming during the full moon, and being very susceptible to silver bullets. But werewolves in ancient Greece and Rome were a little different. Join us for a spooky-season deep dive into ancient werewolf mythology from thousands of years ago. We'll take a loo…
 
It is often thought that the story of Tutankhamun ended when the thousands of items discovered by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon were transported to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and put on display. But there is far more to Tutankhamun's story. Tutankhamun and the Tomb that Changed the World (Oxford UP, 2022) explores the 100 years of research on …
 
Given their cultural, intellectual, and scientific achievements, surely the Greeks were able to approach their economic affairs in a rational manner like modern individuals? Since the nineteenth century, many scholars have argued that premodern people did not behave like modern businesspeople, and that the "stagnation" that characterized the econom…
 
Michael Slouber's Early Tantric Medicine: Snakebite, Mantras, and Healing in the Garuda Tantras (Oxford UP, 2016) looks at a traditional medical system that flourished over 1,000 years ago in India. The volume brings to life this rich tradition in which knowledge and faith are harnessed in complex visualizations accompanied by secret mantras to an …
 
High in the mountains of eastern Crete, there’s a secret that has been kept since the 1200s BC. It’s the secret of the strange and still-unexplained 80+ ancient villages hidden in the Cretan mountains that may have been the last refuges of the Minoan people. The ancient Minoans were master seafarers. But sometime between the 1200s and the 1000s BC,…
 
Nomads: The Wanderers Who Shaped Our World (W. W. Norton & Company, 2022) by Anthony Sattin tells the remarkable story of how nomads have fostered and refreshed civilization throughout history. Moving across millennia, Nomads explores the transformative, sometimes bloody, sometimes peaceful and symbiotic relationship between settled and mobile soci…
 
Although the Epistle of Barnabas may be best known for its Two Ways Tradition or its anti-Jewish use of Scripture, its contents reveal much that will be of interest to anyone studying Christian origins. In keeping with other contributions to the Apostolic Fathers Commentary Series, Jonathon Lookadoo's book The Epistle of Barnabas: A Commentary (Cas…
 
In this episode of New Books in Buddhist Studies, Dr. Richard Salomon speaks about his book The Buddhist Literature of Ancient Gandhāra: An Introduction with Selected Translation (Wisdom Publications, 2018). One of the great archeological finds of the 20th century, the Gandhāran Buddhist Texts, dating from the 1st century CE, are the oldest Buddhis…
 
Carved from the very living bedrock of the Giza plateau, the Sphinx is shrouded in mystery. Archaeologists believe it’s about 4,500 years old. But there’s a fringe theory—the Sphinx Water Erosion Theory—that suggests it’s much, much older. Join us as we explore this wild theory that completely explodes the prevailing wisdom, and asserts that the Sp…
 
In 399 BC, the Greek philosopher Socrates was on trial. He believed in free-thought and sought truth by questioning everything, including society. And the Athenian government decided he was dangerous. Plato’s Apology is a first-person account of Socrates’ trial written in the form of a “dialogue,” an exploration of philosophical ideas through real …
 
The Babylonian Talmud is full of stories of demonic encounters, and it also includes many laws that attempt to regulate such encounters. In Demons in the Details: Demonic Discourse and Rabbinic Culture in Late Antique Babylonia (University of California Press, 2022), Sara Ronis takes the reader on a journey across the rabbinic canon, exploring how …
 
Despite decades of research into the historic settlements of Mainland Southeast Asia, our understanding of the region’s long-term settlement history remains incomplete. We know, for example, that mainland Southeast Asia was home to the world’s most extensive pre-industrial low-density urban complex at the site of Greater Angkor in Cambodia – but we…
 
We're on hiatus until September 22. Until then, please enjoy this deep dive into Hadrian's Wall. Hadrian’s Wall is a jaw-dropping engineering achievement stretching 73 miles across hundred-foot-high escarpments and rushing rivers, its earthworks dug deep into unforgiving igneous bedrock. From its walls, Roman and auxiliary soldiers had a unique vie…
 
In this episode I'm joined by a guest expert Dr Carla Ionescu to discuss the goddess Artemis. There's so much about Artemis which is often left in the background so here we look into the aspects and associations of her you may not have heard of. From bloody rituals to a cake based rescue she's a fascinating deity. Episode notes at www.ancientblogge…
 
Imagine you could start from scratch and create the ideal city. How would you design it? Who would be in charge? This thought experiment was explored almost 2,400 years ago in the Republic, a text written by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. Plato poses this hypothetical in order to get a deeper understanding of justice and human behavior and wh…
 
Most of our information about Herod the Great derives from the accounts found in Josephus' Jewish War and Jewish Antiquities. Together they constitute a unique resource on one of the most famous personalities of ancient history. But from where did Josephus get his information? It is commonly agreed that his primary source was Nicolaus of Damascus, …
 
The book of Exodus played a significant role in forming the identity of the Jewish people, with exodus traditions appearing throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. As the paradigmatic act of redemption, the exodus event is featured prominently not only in Israel’s prophetic corpus, but also in literature throughout the Second Temple period. The storyline…
 
We're on hiatus until September 22. Until then, please enjoy our entire Boudicca series, all in one place. The story of Boudicca’s revolt is as epic as you can get. It’s got murder and pillage, Romans behaving badly, cities on fire, and a layer of destruction that was scorched into the earth. But it's also the story of a people on a precipice of gr…
 
We're on hiatus until September 22. Until then, please enjoy this deep dive into Celtic mythology. We've assembled here some of our favorite episodes dealing with Celtic myths and legends: including the Hound of Ulster, the Morrigan, and The Pictish Beast: What Is It? Join us for a lighthearted, high-energy and very bingeable series that will put y…
 
The Iliad is among the oldest surviving works of literature, but for a long time The Iliad wasn’t written down. It’s a story that has influenced the world for over three thousand years, but for the ancient Greeks, it was history. One man, Homer, is credited with writing The Iliad, but it’s more likely that The Iliad was composed by many ancient sto…
 
The human race is on a 10,000 year urban adventure. Our ancestors wandered the planet or lived scattered in villages, yet by the end of this century almost all of us will live in cities. But that journey has not been a smooth one and urban civilizations have risen and fallen many times in history. The ruins of many of them still enchant us. The Lif…
 
We're on hiatus until September 22. Until then, please enjoy this deep dive into the life and times of Spartacus. This file contains the first three episodes of our Spartacus series. You'll learn about the conditions in Italy that gave rise to the Third Servile War; how Spartacus rebelled and the pressures he was under in holding together a dispara…
 
In this minisode I unwrap the sequence of events which befell Pompeii when Vesuvius erupted. Modern studies and archaeology has enabled a narrative to be built of how the eruption played out. I also briefly cover a couple of controversies and myths of Pompeii. Given the situation there is reference to death and suffering. Find my other Pompeii cont…
 
From ancient myth to contemporary art and literature, a beguiling look at the many incarnations of the mischievous—and culturally immortal—god Pan. Pan—he of the cloven hoof and lustful grin, beckoning through the trees. From classical myth to modern literature, film, and music, the god Pan has long fascinated and terrified the western imagination.…
 
We're on hiatus until September 21 Until then, please enjoy all the Vercingetorix episodes in one long, binge-able file. This is the story of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object: Julius Caesar bringing the might of the Roman military machine to bear against a proud warrior culture that had existed for centuries. Most accounts of Julius…
 
From Octavian's victory at Actium (31 B.C.) to its traditional endpoint in the West (476), the Roman Empire lasted a solid 500 years -- an impressive number by any standard, and fully one-fifth of all recorded history. In fact, the decline and final collapse of the Roman Empire took longer than most other empires even existed. Any historian trying …
 
Inventing the Alphabet: The Origins of Letters from Antiquity to the Present (University of Chicago Press, 2022) by Dr. Johanna Drucker provides the first account of two-and-a-half millennia of scholarship on the alphabet. Drawing on decades of research, Dr. Drucker dives into sometimes obscure and esoteric references, dispelling myths and identify…
 
Galilee, the region where monotheism multiplied, where Christianity came into being, where Judaism reinvented itself, and where Islam won some of its greatest triumphs. Matthew Silver's two volumes--The History of Galilee, 47 BCE to 1260 CE: From Josephus and Jesus to the Crusades (Lexington Books, 2021), and The History of Galilee, 1538-1949: Myst…
 
Sometimes the oldest texts are the most influential. The Great Learning likely first appeared in the Confucian Book of Rites around 2,000 years ago, and its impact can still be seen in the Chinese education system today. Harvard professor Peter Bol discusses this short text’s long history. Peter Bol is the Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asia…
 
We're on hiatus until September 22. Until then, enjoy this long, binge-able episode on Julius Caesar's early life. Most accounts of Caesar's life start later on--such as during his time in Gaul or crossing the Rubicon. But his early life was just as fascinating; maybe even more so. This is the Caesar who stood up to Sulla and refused to divorce his…
 
Rabbi Ari Kahn’s The Crowns on the Letters: Essays on the Aggada and the Lives of the Sages (OU Press, 2020) represents a major achievement in the study of the lives of our Sages, as well as in the study of rabbinic Aggada. This work is an immensely learned and deeply creative interpretation of many fundamental aggadot relating to the intellectual …
 
This file contains the first three episodes in our series on Marc Antony and Cleopatra: Lovers in a Dangerous Time, all in one place. This series has everything: love, war, violence, betrayal, Marc Antony barfing everywhere, and Cleopatra being extremely glamorous at all times. If you've listened to our interview with Barry Strauss on the Battle of…
 
For the hermits and communal monks of antiquity, the desert was a place to flee the cacophony of ordinary life in order to hear and contemplate the voice of God. But these monks discovered something surprising in their harsh desert surroundings: far from empty and silent, the desert is richly reverberant. Sonorous Desert: What Deep Listening Taught…
 
How did the concept of Israel impact early Jewish apocalyptic hopes of restoration? How diverse was Israelite identity in antiquity? Tune in as we talk with Jason A. Staples about his recent book, The Idea of Israel, in which he proposes a new paradigm for how the biblical concept of Israel developed in Early Judaism. Jason A. Staples (Ph.D., UNC-C…
 
We're on hiatus until September 22. Until then, enjoy this long, binge-able episode on all things Aphrodite. Some of you may be here because you saw our presentation on Transgender Aphrodite at Intelligent Speech. If so, welcome! We thought we'd put together our first long file all about the goddess so you can learn more about Aphrodite--how she wa…
 
Wendy Doniger's After the War: The Last Books of the Mahabharata (Oxford UP, 2022) is a new translation of the final part of the Mahabharata, the great Sanskrit Epic poem about a devastating fraternal war. In this aftermath of the great war, the surviving heroes find various deaths, ranging from a drunken debacle in which they kill many of their ow…
 
It's the end of Season 7! We can't believe we made it...something like 42 episodes later? It's been a wonderful, weird, challenging, and heartbreaking season, for many different reasons. Find out what went on behind the scenes, and what we've got planned for the future. We'll be back September 22. Have a great summer! Get new episodes throughout th…
 
In the east of Anatolia and off to the north of Mesopotamia is the southern Caucasus, which is also known as Transcaucasia. This region combines being one of the last parts of the Near East to have mobile hunter-gatherers, and one of the first regions of the Near East to practice copper metallurgy. In between we have the sixth millennium cal BCE, w…
 
Where did the idea of sin arise from? In The Origin of Sin: Greece and Rome, Early Judaism and Christianity (Bloomsbury, 2022), David Konstan takes a close look at classical Greek and Roman texts, as well as the Bible and early Judaic and Christian writings. He argues that the fundamental idea of “sin” arose in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testamen…
 
It’s the last episode in our Gender Rebels of Greek Mythology series—and perhaps you’ll agree we saved the best for last. Atalanta was an avatar of an older, wilder time, created in the image of an ancient Artemis—goddess of the fields and forests who had a strong association with bears. Perhaps Atalanta represents an older image of that goddess be…
 
What are we to make of the Temple envisioned by Ezekiel? How can we better understand Ezekiel, chapters 40 through 48? One way, suggests Tova Ganzel, is by examining evidence from Babylonian sources. She argues that Neo-Babylonian temples provide a meaningful backdrop against which many unique features of Ezekiel's vision should be interpreted. Tun…
 
When you think of Artemis, what springs to mind? Perhaps it’s a fierce huntress with a bow and arrow, a sort of female Peter Pan—wild and untamed, haunting forests drenched in moonlight—a goddess who’s taken a stern vow of chastity, and refuses all company save that of her nymphs. That’s one version of Artemis—the Classical version. But there’s an …
 
Understanding and explaining societal rules surrounding food and foodways have been the foci of anthropological studies since the early days of the discipline. Baking, Bourbon, and Black Drink: Foodways Archaeology in the American Southeast (U Alabama Press, 2018), however, is the first collection devoted exclusively to southeastern foodways analyz…
 
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