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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.
 
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This episode originally appeared on our Patreon! We're releasing it on our main feed because we also include Atargatis in Women of Myth. We hope you enjoy! The Spartacus of the First Servile War--a man named Eunus--was a worshipper of Atargatis, an ancient goddess of the sea often depicted as a mermaid. Atargatis was one of the most important godde…
 
This week, we explore monster mythology from countries all over southeast Asia—and we invited Nikki and Kalai from the Creepy Conversations podcast to come on our show and creep us out. Hailing from the Philippines and Singapore, they cover all things creepy from southeast Asian mythology, including monsters, urban legends, ghost stories, true crim…
 
We are SO excited that we have a book coming out in February 2023! Our book, Women of Myth, will be available worldwide from Simon and Schuster. Listen in as we talk about our favorite Women of Myth from around the world with Liv Albert from Let's Talk About Myths, Baby! Our book is about epic women in mythology from around the world. We cover a di…
 
It's the end of Season 8! It's been a wild, weird and wonderful season of ancient mysteries and we are so glad we got to tell you these tales! We'll be plunging right into our next season the week after this drops--no break this time. Listen in to hear our thoughts about the previous season and our plans for the future. Thank you so much for coming…
 
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. This is the home of the Nazca Lines: huge, beautifully mad…
 
If you know anything about Mithras, you might have the impression that he was kind of a proto-Jesus. Turns out that’s wrong. Think of this as less of a seasonal episode, and more of a seasonal myth-busting episode. Get ready for the epic story of a bull-slaughtering, mushroom-tripping, light-bringing, Emperor-pee-drinking, hierarchy-maintaining, Sm…
 
This is a bonus episode from our Patreon-exclusive catalog! This episode is usually only available to subscribers at the $10 level and up, but we decided to release it on our main feed as a Saturnalia gift to our listeners. We have a lot of episodes in our Patreon back catalog where Liv Albert of Let's Talk About Myths, Baby joins in with Genn to e…
 
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 spirit? They should. Because we’re about to share with you …
 
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 Aztecs first encountered it, it had stood empty for 600 years.…
 
The Indus Valley civilization is one of the oldest, largest, most sophisticated Bronze Age civilizations we know about today. Roughly 80 cities and towns have been unearthed that were part of it. The biggest—perhaps the most important—was a city called Mohenjo Daro. There were no kings at Mohenjo Daro, no priests and few signs of organized religion…
 
For over a thousand years, the ancient Egyptians sent their ships out to trade with a fabulous kingdom. They dragged their ships from the Nile to the coast of the Red Sea, and those ships returned groaning with luxuries beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings. The place they got it all from was the Land of Punt—known to the Egyptians as the Land of the …
 
Perched on a cliff at the edge of the world in the remote Orkney Islands, the ancient village of Skara Brae is a picturesque and dramatic sight. Carved into an ancient midden, it’s a warren of interconnected dwellings with built-in furniture, secret compartments, and more than a few mysteries. What did the people of Skara Brae get up to when the li…
 
Hundreds of years before European contact, the biggest city in North America was located along the Mississippi River. At its peak, perhaps 15,000 people lived there—and over 30,000 in the surrounding suburbs. Today, we call it Cahokia. Nobody knows what the original name of this city was. But there was a time when everybody knew its name—from the G…
 
In our episode on the Sphinx Water Erosion Theory, we discussed the theory that the Sphinx was 10,000 years old. This date would require us to completely reorder our sense of how humanity evolved. We decided it’s simply too out there to be true. But what if we told you that there is an archaeological site 10,000 years old whose shocking discovery d…
 
Introducing History Daily, a podcast that tells the fascinating stories of what happened “on this day” in history, with host Lindsay Graham. Today, we're hosting two episodes from History Daily, both about famous pirates from the Golden Age of Piracy! First up: The arrest of famous pirate captain William Kidd ends the reign of plunder of one of his…
 
Serial killers may seem like a modern phenomenon. But there were serial killers in operation in the ancient world—or so it would seem. Evidence for them is everywhere—in mythology and in history, we see predators killing their victims in surprisingly modern ways. Was it easier to be a serial killer in ancient Greece and Rome? Could they find victim…
 
Who built the modern world? The answer to that question might surprise you. (Or maybe not...) There's a long list of global innovators and trailblazers who’ve been erased from history books because of who they were: women, people of color, LBGTQ and more. Each week They Did That tells one of these people's stories and how their life’s work has chan…
 
In this episode, we’ll delve into the mystery of Aokigahara, known in Japanese as the Sea of Trees—and to the rest of the world as the Suicide Forest. After the Golden Gate Bridge, it is the second most popular suicide destination in the world. The forest is over a thousand years old. It grew over lava floes laid down in a devastating volcanic erup…
 
Who were the witches and sorceresses of ancient Greece and Rome--and how did they wield their power? In this episode, ancient occult expert Daniel Ogden introduces us to the world of Greco-Roman witchcraft--including necromancy, love spells, curse tablets, and real-life magical manuals written thousands of years ago by Alexandrian sorcerers. Join u…
 
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 there, strewn about the icy, rocky beach, lay skeletons. Hund…
 
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 …
 
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,…
 
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…
 
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…
 
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…
 
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…
 
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…
 
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…
 
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…
 
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…
 
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…
 
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…
 
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 …
 
This week, we’re taking a bit of a detour into a previous, much-loved topic: Marc Antony, Cleopatra, and How it All Went Wrong. In this episode, we return to the beach at Actium with author, historian, and academic Barry Strauss as our tour guide. His new book, The War That Made the Roman Empire: Antony, Cleopatra, and Octavian at Actium, discusses…
 
Most myths say that Athena sprung from Zeus’ head fully formed, totally brilliant, and just a badass war goddess. We don’t get a lot of stories about her youth, the way we have about Dionysus, or Artemis, or Heracles. Right from the start, Athena is just a fully formed adult who does adult things. Right? Well, not exactly. There’s this one story th…
 
This week, we’re going to talk about that time Heracles, the strong man, son of Zeus and noted impenetrable penetrator, lived as a woman. Yes, you read that right. And not only did he live as a woman, he was the submissive to a powerful female dom who took up his lionskin and club as symbols of her own power. Get ready for a fun, gender-bending epi…
 
Who's the queerest of the gods? It's hard to say...but there's a strong case to be made that it's Dionysus. The god of wine and revolutionaries who rebelled ferociously against the gender binary, Dionysus breaks the mold in so many ways--and he does it with a sense of joy that's irresistible. In this episode, debut author and unabashed Dionysus fan…
 
Many of us have preconceived notions about what the Illiad was like. Prepare to have those notions blown away. In this episode, debut author Maya Deane methodically strips away the lenses of the Victorian era, Classical Greece, and the modern day to reveal an Illiad that’s older and darker and weirder than any of us could ever have dreamed. This is…
 
We’re taking a slight departure from our Gender Rebels series to tell you the story of Zeus and Ganymede. This is the story about the time Zeus kidnapped a teenage boy named Ganymede and brought him to Olympus to be his “cup bearer.” Zeus and Ganymede were not gender rebels. In fact, they set the standard for the erastes-eromenos binary of the time…
 
Not only was abortion broadly legal in ancient Greece and Rome, but some of the methods used were surprisingly similar to today. And the Bible doesn’t mention it at all—except in one obscure passage, where it tells you how to administer one. In this episode, we’re joined by feminist Biblical scholar and author Princess O’Nika Auguste to discuss the…
 
This episode is part of our abortion rights takeover series. It was originally dropped on our Patreon. It deals with the miracle plant of ancient Greece and Rome: Silphium. The people of Cyrene printed it on their money. It was considered a delicacy throughout the Greek and Roman world, as well as a powerful medicine that could be used to cure ever…
 
This episode is part of our abortion rights takeover. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled series on gender rebels on June 2. In this re-release, Kate from the Exploress podcast joined us to discuss the intimate lives of sex workers in ancient Greece and Rome--including methods of contraception and abortion. Pliny the Elder interviewed sex work…
 
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--especially for women. Today, we talk to Elodie Harper--bestsellin…
 
As most of you probably already know, abortion rights in the US are under attack. Somebody leaked a Supreme Court initial majority draft that was a full throated, loud and proud revocation of pregnant-capable people’s right to choose who gets to use our bodies. Abortion is a totally normal procedure that people have been doing for millennia--probab…
 
This week, we're taking a break from the story of Achilles to discuss the Illiad from an angle that's not as often covered: the story of the women of the House of Atreus, the family of Agamemnon. In this episode, bestselling author Jennifer Saint introduces us to Clytemnestra and Elektra--Agamemnon's wife and daughter--as well as the priestess and …
 
In this episode, we explore what happened to gender in the pressure-cooker of ancient war. To do that, we skip ahead ten years to a different beach: the war-blasted, corpse-strewn sands below the walls of Troy. As the Trojan War dragged on, the most respect went to those who were able to slaughter and pillage and plunder: gender for men devolved in…
 
In our last episode we looked at Achilles’ early life and his relationships with the women who crossed his path. In this episode, we follow him to the beach at Aulis—where all the Greek kings and heroes, anyone who was anyone, had gathered at the start of the Trojan War. Achilles left Pyrrha behind, but his time as a dancing girl followed him to th…
 
Achilles is so often portrayed as the most masculine of heroes, but those portrayals generally leave out that he spent a few years of his life passing as a girl. Today, we’re going to explore that time in Achilles’ life, and what it tells us about his gender. We’ll also delve into his relationships with the women in his early life: his mom, Thetis,…
 
In the first part of our Gender Rebels series, we talked about queer history—queer women, Intersex people, transgender people, and eunuchs. Now, we’re going to begin another series that takes that lens to Greek mythology. There are plenty of queer myths that break the binary as the ancient Greeks saw it—and heroes and gods who were gender rebels. S…
 
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