The Doubting Antiquity School were sceptics of ancient Chinese texts’ historical veracity… until the oracle bones were deciphered.
Most accidental mummies are preserved by heat, cold, or peat bogs. But in the Chehrabad mines in Iran, the bodies of ancient miners were buried in salt.
In the Roman Empire someone who killed their parent would be sewn into a sack with a live rooster, dog, monkey, and snake, and then thrown into the water. In medieval Germany, they used a cat, a dog, and a picture of a snake.
On June 25, 1900, tens of thousands of important historical manuscripts were found in a secret room within the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas in Dunhuang, China, where they had been hidden for nearly a millennium.
The first pictorial representation of Jesus Christ is insulting Roman graffiti that gives him a donkey’s head.
Al-Khazneh, the temple carved out of a cliff in Petra, is the most famous remnant of the Nabataean Kingdom. But to its south lies Hegra, the cursed stoneland city.
For more than 1700 years, mithridate and theriac were Europe’s ultimate medicines. A concoction of up to sixty-four ingredients – including cinnamon, turpentine, and poppy – they were supposed to neutralise any poison or plague.
We all know that Egyptian tombs contained models of servants, boats, and animals to accompany the deceased in the afterlife. But they sometimes also contained model gardens, granaries, bakeries, breweries, stables, and slaughterhouses.
The closest approximation of Pi for nearly a thousand years was calculated by Chinese mathematician Zu Chongzhi around 480 CE, using an algorithm developed by Liu Hui.
Tāq Kasrā, one of the last surviving buildings of the ancient Sasanian Empire’s capital city, has the largest unreinforced brick arch in the world.
Didius Julianus won the Roman Empire in an auction held by the Praetorian Guard in 193 CE.
Around 255 CE, a Chinese inventor named Ma Jun created a chariot that could always point south – without using magnets.
All roads lead to Rome… but where in Rome do they lead?
The first author whose name we know was Enheduanna. Daughter of Sargon the Great, she wrote religious hymns, so she can also lay claim to being the first named poet in history.
When he arrived in London in 1850, Obaysch was the first hippopotamus in Europe for more than a millennium.
The saeculum was a measurement of time used by the Etruscans and Romans to represent a single lifetime: no-one who witnessed the beginning of a saeculum would see its end, by definition.