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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. Currently on hiatus until March 15.
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! We're re-releasing our epic story about the Sacred Band--all three episodes in one place! The time was the 300s BC. The place was Thebes. And in this place, in this time, there was an elite military force—the best of the best special ops shock troops—made up of 150 male lovers. Their love …
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! The Statue of Zeus at Olympia is not well remembered today. But in its time, it seared itself into the minds and memories of all who saw it. An enormous, glowering, formidable statue built into a temple of otherworldly, translucent light, it was as tall as a three-storey building. People s…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Perhaps the most infamous bad girl of ancient Greek mythology, Medea is also so much more complex than her end game makes her appear. She’s also a betrayed wife, an isolated immigrant in a hostile new country, and a woman trying to survive in a dark and violent world—who is ultimately driv…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Perhaps the first list of Seven Wonders was written by Herodotus sometime in the 400s BC. But the list didn’t really get popularized until the 200s. Why was that? What did this list mean, and why did lists of “Wonders” become popular at this time in the ancient Greek world? Before we get i…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! You’ve been transported almost 2,000 years into the past, to the streets of Pompeii. It’s a brisk autumn morning, around, oh…10 AM…and all hell is about to break loose. What's your next move? You could live through it, maybe. If you were lucky. And made all the right choices. At exactly th…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! We’ve covered the deadly day in 79 AD when Mt. Vesuvius erupted, burying Pompeii in a suffocating layer of ash and pumice. But we haven’t covered the aftermath: where did the survivors go? How were they received? And what did the recovery effort look like? Today, we’re joined by Elodie Har…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! What happened to people in ancient Rome who were freed from slavery? Turns out there were still invisible threads--economic pressures, imbalances of status, and debts owed to wealthy patrons--that kept many of them in bondage. On the streets of Pompeii, freedom came at a steep price--espec…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! The Lupanar, or “Wolf Den,” is the infamous brothel of Pompeii. Elodie Harper’s bestselling novel follows the lives of the sex workers who lived and worked there—their passions, their heartbreaks, and the tightly-knit community they built for themselves. Today, we’ve invited Elodie on the …
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! If you know anything about Aphrodite, then you know she is the ancient Greek goddess primarily associated with love, beauty, sex, reproduction, and passion. She was also the patron goddess of sex workers in the ancient Classical world. Join us as we explore how Aphrodite was worshipped in …
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Last week, we told you about the lives of five courtesans in Classical Athens. But we left someone out--perhaps the most elite hetaera of them all. Long-term partner of a leading Athenian statesman, darling of the philosophical set, survivor of the plague of Athens—she threw her own partie…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! In our last few episodes on sex workers in ancient Greece, we tried to paint a picture of a group of women, in some cases, with more freedom and independence than most in the ancient Greek world could dream of. But that freedom came at a price. Now, we’re going to tell you about the lives …
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! The symposia--all-male drinking parties--were the playground and hunting ground of Athens' elite courtesans. But they had their dangers, too. Join us as we attend a symposium with the fast set of Ancient Athens. We’re going to hang out with the hetaerae, drink our faces off, flirt outrageo…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! The conventional wisdom is that sex workers in ancient Greece were divided into two main categories: pornai who were enslaved in brothels, and hetaerae, who were elite courtesans. That’s actually a drastic oversimplification. This is the beginning of a journey into the world of sex workers…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Janus is the two-faced god of the Roman pantheon. He was the god of beginnings and endings, of dual natures, of passageways and passage through time. He’s the god of thresholds and doorways and gates, and the god of change, both concrete and abstract. He’s constantly in motion; he’s the go…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! It's the end of Season 11--and we had so much fun putting this season together! We've got some big changes in store for Season 12--tune in to find out more! Sponsors & Advertising This podcast is a member of Airwave Media podcast network. Want to advertise on our show? Please direct advert…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! This year, we’ve found one of the most metal and wild Yuletide goddesses yet – Frau Holle. Human sacrifices, spindles in yer vag, plague, starvation, caves of offerings and bones, the Grimms brothers, golden showers, child cannibalism, ZOMBIES – are any of these putting you in the Yuletide…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Ah, Christmas—it's a time of cheer, of gift-giving and generosity; and a time to eat yer babies. This year, we’re focusing on two different cannibalistic monsters from Christmas folklore: Père Fouettard and Hans Trapp. Because it turns out that child cannibalism really is the reason for th…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! What do you know about Yule? Maybe a lot. The holiday is widely celebrated in Scandinavian countries, and it's an important part of Wiccan and Pagan tradition. But for many of us, the version that's come down through history is strongly associated with Christmas--and heavily sanitized. Whe…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! During the ancient Roman Republic and into the Empire, there was a place all the fabulously wealthy went. An escape from the real world. A place where they could unleash all their most hedonistic and murderous urges. That place was Baiae. Baiae was the playground of Rome’s rich and infamou…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Wish you had a holiday all about feasting, drinking, the upending of the social order, blood sacrifices, the harvest, pranks, novelty gifts, honouring a god who devoured his kids, and the returning sun? Don’t we all??? Welcome to Saturnalia. Sponsors and Advertising This podcast is a membe…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Psyche and Eros is an ancient love story that has always had the power to compel. It’s the story of a god of passion who falls in love with the personification of the human soul—and the lengths these two will go to in order to be together. But the lone source we have for this myth is The G…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! This year, we decided that the holiday season wouldn’t be complete without a mythological foray into one of the most famous characters of the season: The Krampus. And some of you might be saying: wait a minute, Krampus isn’t ancient; he’s modern. Also, everyone knows about Krampus, the fes…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! When we think of pyramids, hieroglyphs, and Pharaohs, most people think about Egypt. But there was a civilization to the south that was just as fascinating, just as complex, just as sophisticated—and it wasn’t Egypt. It was Nubia. The Nubians built temples, cities, and pyramids to rival th…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Throughout history, there have been a number of women who had—shall we say—a penchant for poison. Women who poisoned for power and influence; to rid themselves of enslavers and abusive husbands; and for monetary gain. Who were these women? How did they enact their deadly plans? How did the…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! We’ve covered the deadly day in 79 AD when Mt. Vesuvius erupted, burying Pompeii in a suffocating layer of ash and pumice. But we haven’t covered the aftermath: where did the survivors go? How were they received? And what did the recovery effort look like? Today, we’re joined by Elodie Har…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Greek fire was an incendiary weapon of the ancient world—and perhaps the sole reason that the Byzantine Empire stood long after the rest of Rome. It was a terrifying weapon used for centuries to dominate on land and sea; intimidating vastly more powerful foes into backing down. Those who b…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! When we talk about the Vikings, who are we talking about, exactly? What can we learn about Viking culture by looking at their myths? And which of the ancient sources about them (if any) can we trust? This week, we take a look at Norse mythology and history with Dr. Kelsey Fuller-Shafer, au…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Communities all over the ancient world had a problem: their dead wouldn't stay in the ground. They rose up as shambolic corpses, gusts of wind and evil spirits, draining human life force and devouring flesh and blood. The vampire myth is an ancient one, found on every continent. Join us as…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Introducing History Daily, a podcast that tells the fascinating stories of what happened “on this day” in history, with host Lindsay Graham. This is a History Daily episode about the Great Fire of Rome–another natural or potentially man made disaster that we felt was perfect for our odds a…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! The Celts of the Iron age—roughly 600s BC to 43 AD—had a real preoccupation with severed heads. They took heads in battle. They displayed the heads of their enemies in prominent places. But what did all this decapitation mean? Some believe there was a set of religious beliefs around severe…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! 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 were…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! We’ve covered werewolves in the ancient world before—and their connection to the Berserker myth. But wait til you hear what happened to werewolf mythology when the Catholics got their hands on it. This episode is a wild ride, taking you from the ancient Greek and Roman werewolves to a Medi…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! In 1942, a forest ranger was hiking on an isolated trail deep in the Himalayas. Rising over 16,000 feet in elevation, he climbed a ridge that looked down a steep-sided funnel of ice and boulders. At the bottom was a small, perfectly circular glacial lake, frozen in a solid blue lens. And t…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Men aren’t the only ones who think about the Roman Empire (Or the Roman Republic!) all the time. We do too–and so does Dr. Emma Southon, creator of the History is Sexy podcast and author of many fascinating, women-centered books on ancient Rome. Her most recent book, a Rome of One’s Own—th…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! 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 disparate crowd of rebels with differing priorities. It's a r…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! This is an episode about the shock troops of Viking Armies—the most violent, the most terrifying, the men who ran out ahead of the army to shatter shield walls and break the minds of the enemy. There are accounts of great acts of heroism and self sacrifice among them in the ancient histori…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! 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 wife. The Caesar who made an early career of prosecuti…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! We'll be back October 5. In the meantime please enjoy this episode from our vault about another ancient natural disaster--and the trauma it inflicted on a people. 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 …
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! We'll be back October 5. In the meantime please enjoy this episode from our vault about another ancient plague--the Plague of Athens--and one of its most esteemed survivors. Long-term partner of a leading Athenian statesman, darling of the philosophical set, survivor of the plague of Athen…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! We're taking a very brief hiatus this time--just until October 5. In the meantime, tune in to hear us talk rivers of pus, transformed worlds, and all things volcanoes--as well as our plans for the upcoming season. Sponsors and Advertising This podcast is a member of Airwave Media podcast n…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! You’ve been transported almost 2,000 years into the past, to the streets of Pompeii. It’s a brisk autumn morning, around, oh…10 AM…and all hell is about to break loose. What's your next move? You could live through it, maybe. If you were lucky. And made all the right choices. At exactly th…
  continue reading
 
Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Cultures on every continent have flood myths, and China is no exception. One of China’s founding myths is one about a singular hero, Yu the Great, and his brilliant works of water engineering that tamed a deadly flood—roughly four thousand years ago. But did this great flood really occur? …
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Off the coast of Israel there is an underwater megalithic stone circle dating back to the 7000s BC – that is perfectly preserved, keeping its secrets from another time. This is the story of a prehistoric city (well, village) off the coast of Israel. Thousands of years ago, it sank beneath …
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! This is an episode about a plague that killed up to 100 million people by the time it was done—as many as 60% of its victims. It’s the first documented occurrence of a pandemic that we have, and it’s the first documented outbreak of the deadlyYersinia pestis. No, we're not talking about th…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! What was the worst year to be alive? Some researchers have a very specific answer to this question: 536 AD. This is a year when the global temperature dropped, and it was winter all year round—for multiple years. The sun disappeared for 18 months as the world was covered in a veil of sulfu…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Imagine a desert stretching over 1,500 miles along the Peruvian coastline, between the high Andes to the east and the vast Pacific coastline to the west. A place of brilliant colors and contradictions. This is the driest desert in the world. Astronauts use it to simulate conditions on Mars…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Teotihuacan is an ancient pre-Colombian city in central America, founded two thousand years ago. It’s the home of some of the most iconic Mesoamerican monuments in existence, including the Pyramids of the Moon and Sun. The city was abandoned after about 750 years of habitation. When the Az…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Deep in the western Sahara—in perhaps one of the driest parts of the driest desert in the world—there are cave paintings that depict people swimming. These cave paintings date to 10,000 years ago. Back then, there would have been plenty of water to swim in. It was a time when the Sahara wa…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Crater Lake is a caldera lake in the Cascade Mountains in Oregon—the remnants of an ancient volcanic eruption. It’s the deepest lake in the country and one of the deepest in the world. And this place is steeped in lore: unexplained events, murders and suicides, disappearances and hauntings…
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Help keep our podcast going by contributing to our Patreon! Mammoths existed on our planet for roughly five million years, and they were perfectly adapted to the ice age world they inhabited. So perfectly adapted that when the last ice age ended, so did they. No woolly mammoths have walked the earth for the last 10,000 years. Or did they? It turns …
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