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.
From the beginning of written history until 500 CE
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.
It’s our 400th post! In most religions originating in the Middle East, the number 40 equals a large unspecific number: 40 days, 40 nights, 40 years should all be interpreted as “many” days, nights, or years.
There’s an extinct species of gibbon, Junzi imperialis, we only know about because a Chinese noblewoman kept it as a pet more than two millennia ago.
The Red Hand is the symbol of the province of Ulster, but its origins are lost in time. Possible sources include three different clans, pagans, fairies, and a soldier who chopped off his own hand.
The heart symbol may have originated with an ancient Roman form of birth control, a plant that is probably now extinct.
Mix egg yolks, dates, honey, vinegar, oil, wine, shallots, and herbs, and then add a roasted flamingo. This is Apicius, one of the earliest surviving cookbooks.
The Poison Damsels of ancient Indian mythology were assassins who could kill someone with a look or a touch.
A bottle of wine on display in a German museum is more than 1600 years old. There are none older – but it probably tastes terrible.
Honey takes on the chemical properties of nectar gathered by bees. This fact turns out to be quite useful if you’re fighting the ancient Romans.
In ancient art from Europe to India a particular artistic motif frequently appears: a male or female figure grabbing two wild creatures, one in each hand. These are the Master and Mistress of Animals.