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The Ancients

The Ancients

A podcast for all ancient history fans! The Ancients is dedicated to discussing our distant past. Featuring interviews with historians and archaeologists, each episode covers a specific theme from antiquity. From Neolithic Britain to the Fall of Rome. Hosted by Tristan Hughes. 

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Mavia: The Warrior Queen and the Prophet

To fight against the Roman empire and then make an alliance with them took a certain courage and tenacity. In this episode we are introduced to Mavia, the warrior queen of the semi-nomadic Tanukhids, who did just that. Dr. Emran El-Badawi, associate professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Houston, takes us through the things we know and the things that are speculated about Mavia. Emran also places her within the context of the 4th and 5th centuries CE, and discusses her legacy and connections to Moses.

 

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2021-10-24
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Ancient Kazakhstan: Gold of the Great Steppe

Gold and horses! 2,500 years ago, in the area of the Great Steppe that is now Eastern Kazakhstan, an extraordinary ancient Scythian culture reigned supreme. They were called the Saka, renowned for their skill as horse archers and for their elaborate elite burials.

 

Ancient Persian and Greek sources labelled them a barbaric, nomadic people ? a scourge on the ?civilised? world. But new archaeological discoveries from East Kazakhstan are revealing a very different picture. A picture that highlights how the Saka were a highly-sophisticated ancient society. A culture that boasted complex settlements, expert craftsmen, extensive trade routes and more, alongside their equine mastery and their staggering wealth.

 

Now, for a limited time only, you can see some of these newly-discovered artefacts at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The exhibition is called ?Gold of the Great Steppe?. Running from 28th September 2021 to 30th January 2022, it is the first exhibition about this ancient culture ever to be shown in the UK.

 

To find out more about the exhibition and what these newly-discovered artefacts are revealing about the Saka, Tristan headed up to Cambridge to interview Dr Rebecca Roberts, associated curator of ?Gold of the Great Steppe?.

Gold of the Great Steppe Exhibition: https://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/visit-us/exhibitions/gold-of-the-great-steppe

 

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2021-10-21
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Caracalla: The Common Enemy of Mankind?

Often up there in the upper echelons of most articles listing Rome's worst emperors, it's fair to say that history has not been kind to Caracalla. Whether it was contemporary sources depicting him as a deranged Heracles and Alexander the Great loving megalomaniac or the 18th century historian Edward Gibbon labelling him 'the common enemy of mankind,' for centuries he has been an epitome of infamy.

To talk through what we know about this figure, and whether he deserves this reputation, Tristan was joined by Edinburgh University's Dr Alex Imrie, an expert on the Severan Dynasty and the author of The Antonine Constitution: An Edict for the Caracallan Empire.

Alex's Twitter: @AlexImrie23

Tristan's Twitter/Instagram: @ancientstristan

The first of a new miniseries about the Severans.

 

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2021-10-17
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Ai Khanum: A Greek City in Afghanistan?

A theatre, a gymnasium and houses with colonnaded courtyards: these are the hallmarks of an Ancient Greek city. So what are they doing in the city of Ai Khanum, far east of their origins in present day Afghanistan? In this first part of Tristan?s chat with Milinda Hoo, she takes us through the structures found in this ancient city, and what they tell us about the infrastructure and origins of Ai Khanum. Milinda is a global and ancient historian at the University of Freiberg, specialized in globalization and Hellenism across Central and West Asia.

Listen out for part two, where Milinda challenges whether this can really be seen as a Greek city.

 

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2021-10-14
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Alexander the Great's Greatest Victory

In October 331 BC, one of the most important battles of world history occurred on the plain of Gaugamela. Alexander III of Macedon, better known as Alexander the Great, had been campaigning east of the Aegean Sea against the Persian Empire for 3 ½ years. Already he had won a series of notable victories and conquered many lands west of the Euphrates River. But it would be on 1 October 331 BC that a 25 year old Alexander came up against his biggest challenge to date. A large army, gathered by the Persian Great King Darius III aimed at stopping the young conqueror in his tracks once and for all. The clash that followed would decide the fate of the Persian Empire and mark a major moment in world history.

In this, slightly different, Ancients episode Tristan gives a detailed run down of the Battle of Gaugamela: the background to this titanic clash and the battle itself.

Tristan's Twitter / Instagram - @ancientstristan

 

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2021-10-10
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Nefertiti

Very few figures in history are recognizable from their silhouettes, but included in this small group is Nefertiti, one of the most famous queens of Ancient Egypt. Professor Joyce Tyldesley speaks to Tristan not only about the famous image of Nefertiti, but also about the theories surrounding her life, death and burial (no aliens in sight!). Joyce is a professor at the University of Manchester and an expert on the role of women in Ancient Egypt.

 

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2021-10-07
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The Lost Tomb of Alexander the Great

In his lifetime King Alexander III of Macedon, better known as Alexander the Great, forged one of the largest empires in ancient history. But it was what happened to Alexander following his demise ? his ?life after death? - which resulted in one of the great archaeological mysteries of the ancient Mediterranean.

Following his death, aged just 32, his corpse became of prime importance for his former subordinates ? a talismanic symbol of legitimacy during the tumultuous period that was the Wars of the Successors. Later still, the body and tomb of this great conqueror ? placed right in the centre of ancient Alexandria ? retained its importance. From Ptolemaic pharaohs to Roman emperors, Alexander?s tomb became a place of holy pilgrimage for many seeking power and prestige. For several centuries the tomb of this Macedonian ruler was one of the great attractions of the ancient Mediterranean. That was, however, until the end of the 4th century when all mention of this building, and the precious corpse housed within, disappeared. So what happened to Alexander?s tomb? And where might Alexander?s body be buried today? To talk through several theories surrounding one of ancient history?s great archaeological mysteries, Tristan chatted to Dr Chris Naunton. The third of 3 episodes we recorded with Chris earlier this summer.

Chris' Twitter / Instagram: @chrisnaunton

Tristan's Twitter / Instagram: @ancientstristan

Alexander the Great: The Greatest Heist in History documentary, featuring both Tristan and Chris: https://access.historyhit.com/videos/alexander-the-great-the-greatest-heist-in-history

 

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2021-10-03
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The Oldest Human Footprints in North America

This week our understanding of when humans first inhabited the North American continent has been turned on its head ? by a set of c.22,000 year old footprints. In this episode, hear how footprints can form crucial evidence for populations of prehistoric people and animals, and how now extinct famous megafauna such as mammoths and giant sloths once interacted with early humans. To reveal all about this ground breaking new discovery, Tristan was joined by Bournemouth University's Dr Sally Reynolds.

Sally's Twitter - @SallyR_ISLHE

Tristan's Instagram / Twitter - @ancientstristan

 

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2021-09-30
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Roman Weapons

Legendary leaders and notorious battles, we imagine the sound of clinking armour. But what did the Romans take with them into battle? In the second of our episodes recorded at Chalke Valley History Festival, Legio II Augusta's David Richardson talks through a selection of iconic weapons and deadly devices used by Roman soldiers.

Legio II Augusta Website - https://www.legiiavg.org.uk/

For behind the scenes and extra Ancients, follow Tristan on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/ancientstristan/

 

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2021-09-26
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Werewolves and Strix-Witches

It?s werewolf time on the Ancients! In this episode Exeter University?s Professor Daniel Ogden highlights how these mythical creatures have their origins in ancient times and thrived in a story world shared by witches, ghosts, demons and dragons. Join Tristan and Daniel as they shine a light on werewolf (or werewolf-related) stories that survive from antiquity. From Homer?s Circe to Petronius? Satyricon. Also making an appearance is the Strix-Witch, a Roman phenomenon and persistent feature of their folklore. Daniel?s new book, The Werewolf in the Ancient World, is out now.

For behind the scenes and extra Ancients, follow Tristan on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/ancientstristan/

 

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2021-09-23
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Fortress Cilicia: Megastructures in the Near East

In the aftermath of Alexander the Great?s death, his empire became the subject of a series of titanic clashes: the Wars of the Successors. In this episode of the podcast, Dr Nick Rauh takes us through some of the monumental Hellenistic super fortresses built during this period in ancient Rough Cilicia, modern day southeast Turkey, along the Northeast Mediterranean shoreline. He also highlights the importance of this area of the ancient world to preceding superpowers such as the Assyrians and the Persians. Nick is a professor of Classics at Purdue University.

Fair warning, we nerd out quite heavily in this podcast, so below are some references to help!

Map of ancient Anatolia (Asia Minor), with place names mentioned in the podcast: https://www.worldhistory.org/img/c/p/1200x627/253.png

The Ptolemaic Kingdom - Hellenistic kingdom centred around Egypt that emerged in the aftermath of Alexander the Great's death.

The Seleucid Kingdom - Hellenistic kingdom centred around Syria / Mesopotamia, that emerged in the aftermath of Alexander the Great's death.

Antigonus the One Eyed - Prominent general during the Wars of the Successors. Father of Demetrius. Enemy of Eumenes of Cardia (Alexander the Great's former secretary).

Demetrius - Son of Antigonus and another prominent general during the Wars of the Successors.

Ovacik Peninsula - Cape Tisan

For behind the scenes and extra Ancients, follow Tristan on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/ancientstristan/

 

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2021-09-21
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Clodius: Best Villain of the Roman Republic?

Historian and author Dr. Emma Southon returns to the Ancients to shine a light on the life - and murder - of Publius Claudius Pulcher (aka Clodius), and why this horrible, colourful figure was so significant in the demise of the Roman Republic.

Emma's Twitter - https://twitter.com/NuclearTeeth

Tristan's Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/ancientstristan/

 

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2021-09-19
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Maya Warfare and Sacrifice

With a history stretching back thousands of years, it?s about time that the Ancients started looking at the extraordinary Maya civilisation in Central America. Even with a range of sources that survive, many aspects of these ancient peoples remains debated and shrouded in mystery. This is especially true when studying warfare and the whole idea of ?sacrifice?. What were the rules of engagement for the ancient Maya? What was the purpose of warfare? How did they define winning? And what would happen to those captured in war? Could they have been sacrificed?

 

Joining Tristan today is Professor Elizabeth Graham, a titan of Mesoamerican archaeology who has been researching the Pre-Columbian Maya for several decades. Liz puts forward a very strong case for why she believes there was not human sacrifice among the Classic Maya and why we should not associate the occasional killing of captives with that term.

For behind the scenes and extra Ancients, follow Tristan on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/ancientstristan/

 

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2021-09-16
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The Origins of Civilisation

The world is constantly changing, and so has the perception of civilisation, but what exactly are the origins of this concept? Helping us answer this question from an anthropological and archaeological perspective, Professor Nam Kim joins Tristan once again on The Ancients. We explore how advances in these disciplines are helping to answer this long-examined question.

Nam is an anthropological archaeologist and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

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2021-09-12
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Sex in Ancient Rome

We?ve covered bloody battles, we?ve covered stunning cities, we?ve covered civilisations far away from the ancient Mediterranean. But in some 120 episodes of The Ancients we hadn?t covered one of the most popular topics in the world: sex. That is, until now. In today?s episode, strap yourself in for almost an hour?s worth of content all about what the Romans thought of sex. What was acceptable? What wasn?t? And why were the Romans so obsessed with carving penises at sites across the Roman Empire. From Pompeii to Hadrian?s Wall. Joining Tristan in today?s podcast is L J Trafford, the author of the upcoming book Sex and Sexuality in Ancient Rome. Suffice to say, adult themes feature in this episode.

 

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2021-09-09
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Mons Graupius: Britain's Most Elusive Battle?

In 83/84 AD a battle was fought somewhere in Scotland between the Roman forces of Gnaeus Julius Agricola and the 'Caledonians' ? the great climax to Agricola?s campaigns in Northern Britain. Details of the clash are few and far between, with our sole literary source for the event being the writings of the Roman historian Tacitus. But how much of Tacitus? account can we really believe? And what locations have archaeologists suggested as being the site of this lost battlefield? Taking on the challenge of this much-debated ancient military event is Dr Andrew Tibbs, a History Hit veteran and an expert on the Romans in Scotland.

In the first part of this podcast Andrew explains the background to Agricola?s campaigns in the north and the account of the Battle of Mons Graupius itself. In the second segment we look at some of the locations proposed as the site of this enigmatic ancient battle.

For Ancients updates and behind the scenes footage follow Tristan on Instagram @ ancientstristan

 

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2021-09-05
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Roman Camps in Britain

When one mentions Roman military installations you would be forgiven for instantly thinking of their forts, the remains of which we can see today dotted around the country. From the Kent coast to central Scotland. But what about their camps, these often-temporary structures that formed a keystone of Roman military activity. Roman camps have now been discovered across the former empire, but Britain boasts a wealth of them. To discuss the different types of camps and how we can tell them apart, Tristan spoke to Dr Rebecca Jones from Historic Environment Scotland. Rebecca explains why Scotland in particular is the best place to study marching camps, and why there is such a concentration of them on the Roman Empire?s northernmost frontier. Rebecca is the author of ?Roman Camps in Britain?.

 

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2021-09-02
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Nan Madol: Venice of the Pacific

Nan Madol. It is one of the most awesome, enigmatic and unique ancient sites in the World, and yet most people have never heard the name. Labelled the ?Venice of the Pacific? by US aviators during the Second World War, this ancient Micronesian metropolis is not your usual city. Situated offshore, it was constructed on corals ? ?a floating citadel?. All across the site today, the remains of centuries-old monumental architecture can be seen, built on top of artificial islets. 

So what do we know about this stunning ancient site in the Pacific Ocean? When do we think it was constructed? How did the ancient population go about building this off shore citadel? In this episode we?re going to delve into what we know (and what we don?t know) about Nan Madol. From the earliest archaeology at the site to the structural layout of this enigmatic urban centre.

Joining Tristan for this special podcast is Dr Felicia Beardsley, from the University of La Verne. A leading expert on Nan Madol and on the archaeology of many other ancient sites from across Micronesia, it was a real privilege to interview Felicia all about this extraordinary ?lost city?.

 

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2021-08-29
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The Lost Tomb of Cleopatra

Among the rulers of Ancient Egypt, Cleopatra VII has long held a place in legend, her story having been told in folklore, by Shakespeare and in Hollywood movies. In reality, however, her story remains unfinished. The location of her final resting place remains lost to us. Dr Chris Naunton is back with us to explore the possible answers to this mystery, from Alexandria to Taposiris Magna, join us on this trawl through the evidence of Cleopatra?s final days.

 

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2021-08-26
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The Rise of Marseilles: France's Oldest City

Today it is the second largest city in France. But Marseilles is also the country?s oldest city. Founded at the turn of the 7th century BC by Greek settlers, the ancient history of Marseilles (known to the Greeks as Massalia and the Romans as Massilia) is rich. Strategically positioned close to the River Rhone it soon became a wealthy trading metropolis. Notable names are plenty. Artemis is closely linked with the city?s foundations; the explorer Pytheas hailed from Massalia. And who can forget the great Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca, who passed close by Massalia with his army enroute to Italy in 218 BC.

To talk through the early ancient history of Marseilles, from its mythical Greek Mama Mia foundation story to the Battle of Alalia, Dr Joshua Hall returned to the podcast.

 

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2021-08-24
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The Rise of Hannibal

He was one of the greatest enemies the Romans ever faced. An excellent general and a larger-than-life figure, he led an army across the alps and dealt a series of crushing defeats upon the Romans on Italian soil. His achievements have become a thing of legend and his name has become immortalised. He was Hannibal Barca. Hannibal rests amongst antiquity's greatest generals, but how did he rise to become such a stellar commander, leading his men to incredible victories against the then dominant powerhouse in the Mediterranean? In this episode, Dr Louis Rawlings, Dr Adrian Goldsworthy and Dr Eve MacDonald explore the impressive ascent of the Carthaginian general to the status of one of the most famous military leaders in antiquity.

The Rise of Hannibal can be found at https://access.historyhit.com/what-s-new/videos/rise-of-hannibal

 

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2021-08-22
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Colchester: From Bronze Age to Boudica

It is the one possible case of urbanisation in Britain prior to the arrival of the Romans, and that is just the start of the story of Colchester. In this chat with Tristan, Dr Frank Hargrave from Colchester Museum reveals the city?s long and prestigious ancient history. From the Bronze Age to Boudica.

 

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2021-08-19
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Tacfarinas: The Desert Hydra

He was one of the greatest rebels of Rome from the 1st century AD, but his name is not one you might initially think of. Derided by Roman historians as being little more than a bandit, the truth is very much the opposite. For several years, between 17 and 24 AD, Tacfarinas led a revolt against the Romans in North Africa, sending the province into turmoil and becoming the bane of all troops stationed there to fight him. Several times the Romans believed they defeated Tacfarinas and his Berber followers. Several times they were proved wrong as time after time Tacfarinas emerged from the desert with a new force to wreak havoc on wealthy North Africa. For too long, Tacfarinas? name has been side-lined in favour of more famous 1st century AD Roman rebels such as Boudica, Arminius and Caratacus. Now we?re going to right that wrong. Joining Tristan on today?s podcast is Dr Jo Ball, an Ancients veteran having been on the show twice before. Together Tristan and Jo talk through the incredible story of Tacfarinas and why he really was ?the Desert Hydra.?

 

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2021-08-17
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Palaces in Paradise: Centres of the Persian World

Persepolis is arguably the most famous ancient site associated with the Achaemenid Persian Empire, but it certainly wasn?t the only administrative centre of this ancient superpower. In this second part of our interview with Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd talks us through some of the other key urban centres of the Persian Achaemenid Empire. From Susa to Ecbatana to Pasargadae.

Lloyd is a Professor in Ancient History at Cardiff University. His new book, Persians: The Age of Great Kings, will be out next year.

 

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2021-08-15
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Pompeii?s Indian Statuette

Among Pompeii?s great wealth of surviving artefacts is one with a rich globe trotting history that only goes to emphasise the interconnected nature of the ancient world: the Pompeii Lakshmi, a small statuette originally crafted in India. But what do we know about this object? Does it really depict Lakshmi? How might it have reached Pompeii? Where in India do we think it was crafted? Laura Weinstein came on the podcast to answer all these questions and talk through what we know about this iconic object.

 

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2021-08-12
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10 Key Roman Emperors

Love them or loathe them, the Roman emperors were some of the most influential figures in history. In this episode Barry Strauss, Professor of History and Classics at Cornell University, talks through ten of the most important - starting with Augustus and ending at Constantine. Barry?s book, Ten Caesars, is out now. He is also the host of the podcast ANTIQUITAS: https://barrystrauss.com/podcast/

 

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2021-08-10
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Sisters at War: The Rise and Fall of Elagabalus

Often found high on the list of Rome?s worst emperors, the short reign of the teenager Elegabalus in the early 3rd century AD is filled with controversy. But it was also a time when several remarkable women came to the fore in the Roman Empire, playing central roles in both the rise and fall of this young emperor. In this podcast late Severan Empresses expert Matilda Brown, currently studying for her PhD at Edinburgh University and old amigo of Tristan, came on the show to shine a light on these female figures: Julia Maesa, Julia Soaemias and Julia Mamaea. From a dramatic battle outside Antioch to a deadly sibling rivalry that ended in bloodshed, this was an awesome chat.

 

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2021-08-08
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The Lost Baths of Cleopatra

Cleopatra. Hers is one of the most famous names that endures from antiquity. The victor of a civil war. The mistress of Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. The last ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt. The protagonist of one of Shakespeare?s most famous plays. A fearsome leader and brilliantly astute politician. The whereabouts of her tomb remains one of the great mysteries of the ancient world. But what about the baths? Over the past year Dr Chris Naunton has been looking into old references to ?Baths of Cleopatra?, a building supposedly somewhere under modern Alexandria. Where in the city could its remains be today? And could this building really have links to Cleopatra? In this podcast, Chris talks Tristan through his research into this lost building of ancient Alexandria

 

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2021-08-05
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The Gladiatrix

Mention the word gladiator and you would be forgiven for instantly thinking of the 2000 namesake epic movie. Of spectators watching on as men battled each other with a variety of weapons, sometimes to the death, for the entertainment of the crowd. But did women also fight as gladiators? Was the gladiatrix a thing? The references are rare and vague and much debate still surrounds this topic. To talk through the literary and archaeological evidence that survives, Tristan chatted to Alisa Vanlint at the Chalke Valley History Festival. A member of Legio II Augusta, Alisa is an actor and gladiatorial combat specialist.

 

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2021-08-03
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Alexander the Great?s Corpse & the Greatest Heist in History

Alexander the Great is one of the most famous generals and empire builders in history, but the story of his death is almost as remarkable as his life. For this episode, our host and Alexander the Great superfan, Tristan Hughes, joins Dan Snow to tell the almost unbelievable tale of what happened after Alexander died. The ensuing titanic struggle for power and control over Alexander's empire involves war, body snatching, extremely slow carriage chases and a thousand soldiers being eaten alive by crocodiles in the Nile.

 

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2021-08-01
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The Sacred Band of Thebes

The Theban Sacred Band was one of the greatest military corps of Ancient Greece, thriving from the city-state of Thebes for almost 50 years in the mid 4th century BC. In addition to their fighting prowess, however, there is another fascinating aspect to their history; this 300-man elite corps was made up of 150 pairs of male lovers, many of them buried side by side where they fell in battle. To hear more about this, Tristan spoke to James Romm, author, reviewer, and James H. Ottaway Jr. Professor of Classics at Bard College in Annandale, New York. James gives us a glimpse of Theban democracy, power struggles between leading city-states, and the growth of eros, sexual love, in Greek public life. His book ?The Sacred Band? is out now.

 

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2021-07-29
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The Begram Hoard: Treasures of the Silk Road

In the mid-20th century French archaeologists came across a remarkable collection of ancient items from Eastern China, the Indian subcontinent and the Roman Mediterranean, all in one place. In this second episode about Begram, Tristan is once again joined by the University of Freiburg?s Lauren Morris, who takes us into the details of the lacquerwares, ivory furniture, bronzes and glassware. Lauren and Tristan then explore what the hoard tells us about the global nature of this area in Central Asia during its golden age in the 1st - 4th centuries AD.

 

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2021-07-27
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Decoding the Roman Dead

Often known as ?Britain?s first town?, Colchester is a city rich in ancient history and on 24 July 2021, a new exhibition will open at the Colchester Museum revealing more about some of its earliest Roman occupants. Called ?Decoding the Roman Dead?, the exhibition focuses around cremations found in the area around Colchester dating to almost 2,000 years ago. Thanks to new scientific methods, the team have been able to analyse these burnt remains and find out some astonishing details about who these people were. From gender to pathology to where in the Roman Empire these people came from. To talk all about the new exhibition, and to shine a light on the wealth of information archaeologists can learn from ancient cremations, Tristan chatted to Dr Carolina Lima and Glynn Davis. Carolina and Glynn are two of the curators of the exhibition.

To find out more, visit their website: https://colchester.cimuseums.org.uk/dtrd/

 

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2021-07-25
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Life in Sparta

A legendary city-state in Ancient Greece, we associate Sparta with fierce warriors in battle. But what about the everyday? In this second episode with Professor Stephen Hodkinson, we discuss the eating habits, training and even kingship of Sparta. Stephen is Emeritus Professor of Ancient History at the University of Nottingham.

Part 1 - The Truth About Spartan Society: https://podfollow.com/the-ancients/episode/f08dc2f18e4fabe1ecf7ee5bd91d88bc44b2f2b2/view

 

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2021-07-22
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The Oldest Known Shark Attack

It?s a crossover with Jaws and Open Water that we never expected, but a 3,000 year old corpse has thrown a surprising topic into the mix: shark bites. The body, found in the prehistoric Tsukumo hunter-gatherer burial site in Japan, unexpectedly presented evidence of traumatic injuries compatible with a shark bite, making it the earliest known victim of a shark attack. Following this discovery, Tristan spoke to Alyssa White from the University of Oxford. Alyssa was part of the team who studied body No. 24. She explains how they came across No. 24, the evidence which led them towards the cause of death, and the archaeological science and forensic techniques used to recreate the misfortune of this early shark victim.

 

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2021-07-20
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The Romans in Brittany

It was one of the most powerful empires in history, leaving marks and remnants across the globe, but in this episode we are looking specifically at the impact of the Romans on Brittany. Tristan was joined once again by Sir Barry Cunliffe, who takes us through the Roman occupation of Brittany, the response of the residents, and the impact on both cultures. From slaves and wine, to fish sauce and rebellion, this is an intriguing look into the character of Brittany and the realities of a Roman occupation. Emeritus Professor at the University of Oxford, Sir Barry Cunliffe is the author of Bretons and Britons: The Fight for Identity.

 

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2021-07-18
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Scythed Chariots

What could be more terrifying than an army racing towards you? An army on chariots? What if those chariots had blades mounted on either side? In this episode, Tristan speaks to Dr Silvannen Gerrard about the use of this unconventional mode of transport during the Hellenistic period, particularly by the Seleucid Empire. They discuss the benefits and difficulties of using these chariots, and how they fit in with other unusual modes of troop transportation, from war-elephants to camel-archers. Silvannen is an Ancient Historian at the University of Manchester.

 

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2021-07-15
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Carthage vs Greeks? The First Sicilian War

480 BC is a year widely-celebrated in Greek history. When Leonidas' Spartan core and their Hellenic allies fought a powerful Persian army at Thermopylae, and an outnumbered, Athenian-led navy defeated a mighty Persian armada at Salamis. Yet it was not just off the coast of Athens that one of antiquity?s most well-known battles was fought that year. 600 miles to the west of Salamis, supposedly on the same day the naval engagement occurred, another battle was fought: the Battle of Himera. In this episode, Ancient World Magazine's Dr Joshua Hall talks us through the battle and highlights why it was so significant in the story of ancient Sicily.

 

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2021-07-13
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Julius Caesar?s Invasions of Britain

On the day of the Euro 2020 final, we?re talking England versus Italy?Ancients style (well, sort of). Historian and archaeologist Dr Simon Elliott returns to the podcast to talk us through Julius Caesar?s two invasions of Britain in 55 and 54 BC. Hear what the Romans knew about Britain before the expedition, why Caesar wanted to invade, and what the ?greatest PR man of the ancient world? learnt from the first, less successful, campaign. Simon?s book, Roman Conquests: Britain is out at the end of July 2021.

 

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2021-07-11
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Begram: Crossroads of the Ancient World

Bagram, also known as Begram, has been in the news a lot recently. Over the past couple of days, the last US and NATO troops have withdrawn from Bagram air base, which they have occupied for some 20 years. But this area of Central Asia, situated south of the Hindu Kush mountain range, also has some remarkable ancient history. In the area around Bagram lie the remains of ancient Begram (Kapisi). The city witnessed several waves of ancient superpowers. The Persians came here, as did Alexander the Great and his successors. But it was during the age of the Kushan Empire (1st ? 4th centuries AD) that it appears the rich, ancient city of Begram enjoyed its golden age.

In this fascinating podcast, University of Freiburg?s Lauren Morris brilliantly guides us through Begram?s ancient history and why this site is so extraordinary. Lauren also tells the remarkable story behind the excavations at Begram during the 1930s and how it could be a big hit Netflix show in its own right.Part 2 will be out soon and will be centred on the Begram?s most remarkable archaeological discovery: the Begram Hoard.

 

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2021-07-08
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Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Strait of Messina

Dividing Sicily from Italy, the Strait of Messina is a small stretch of water with an incredible history that stretches back to ancient times. It was likely here that the mythical sea monsters of Scylla and Charybdis were supposed to have wreaked havoc on Odysseus? crew. It was an area of the ancient Mediterranean renowned for its whirlpools and vicious currents. And it was also on either side of this strait, that two ancient cities enjoyed a long and connected history: Rhegium and Messana. To shine a light on this waterway?s importance in antiquity, Tristan was delighted to be joined by Dustin Mackenzie from Macquarie University.

 

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2021-07-06
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Persepolis: Jewel of Persia

It is one of the most remarkable ancient sites in the World. Situated east of the Zagros Mountains in modern day Iran, Persepolis was an important urban centre of the Achaemenid Persian Empire for almost two centuries. From the stunning, rich variety of imagery depicted on the walls of the Apadana to the complex sewer system, the art and architecture of this site is astonishing, snippets of which can today be seen at the V&A's newest exhibition, 'Epic Iran'. In this fascinating podcast, ancient Persia expert Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones from Cardiff University returned to the Ancients to explain all about this awesome ancient site. Stay tuned for a follow up podcast in due course with Lloyd on the other Achaemenid urban centres! Lloyd is the author of 'Persians: The Age of the Great Kings', out in 2022.

 

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2021-07-04
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Divorced, Murdered, Survived: Nero's Wives

In the long tradition of categorising famous wives as the good or the bad, Nero?s partners are no exception. These women are regularly reduced to simple characters within the final Julio-Claudian Emperor?s orbit, but what of their own experiences and personalities? Lauren Ginsberg from Duke University speaks to Tristan in this episode to shine a light on the lives of Octavia, Poppaea and Statilia Messalina, and their fates at the hands of their husband.

This episode contains references to domestic abuse.

 

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2021-07-01
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The Truth About Spartan Society

Sparta. Situated in the southern Peloponnese, this ancient Hellenic city-state has become ingrained in popular imagination as the home of unmatched Greek super soldiers, trained for war since youth and raised within a system unlike any other in the Classical Greek world. But away from common perception, what do we actually know about Spartan society? Especially during the city?s ?golden age? in the 5th and early 4th centuries BC? What evidence do we have for some of the most renowned stories of Spartan lifestyle? How much of it can we believe? To provide a concise overview, Tristan was delighted to be joined by Professor Stephen Hodkinson, one of the leading authorities on ancient Sparta. Part 2 will be released in a couple of weeks.

 

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2021-06-29
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Vindolanda: Jewel of Roman Britain

Situated roughly two miles south of Hadrian's Wall in the heart of the Northumberland countryside, Vindolanda is home to some of the most remarkable archaeology from Roman Britain. Its history spans several centuries; it is a must see site for anyone wanting to know more about the ancient history of Britain. To learn more about Vindolanda, Tristan met up with Dr Andrew Birley, the Director of Excavations at Vindolanda.

 

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2021-06-27
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Artemis of Ephesus: The Great Mother Goddess

An incredibly popular goddess, characterised in statues of her by a vest of bee hives, or are they breasts ? bull scrotums? In this episode Tristan speaks to Dr Carla Ionescu about the Ephesian Artemis, the great mother goddess. They discuss the arguments behind the different interpretations of the Artemis statues, her connections to other divine female figures, and her lasting impression on the ancient city of Ephesus.

 

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2021-06-24
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Dirty Love: The Ancient Greek Novel

The novel, and in particular the romance genre, is at the heart of a billion dollar industry, but when did they originate? In this episode, Professor Tim Whitmarsh from the University of Cambridge takes us back to some of the world?s earliest fictional narratives, the novels of Ancient Greece. Tim and Tristan explore the themes of this literature, the elements of it which are echoed in modern novels, its possible links with Persian, Jewish and Indian literature, and the stories of cultural hybridization found in the texts. Tim is the author of Dirty Love: The Genealogy of the Ancient Greek Novel.

 

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2021-06-22
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Ancient Brittany with Sir Barry Cunliffe

Stretching out from the north west of France, Brittany has long been as identifiable with the Atlantic Ocean as with its continental neighbours in Europe. Whilst Sir Barry Cunliffe?s research and archaeological interests have taken him far and wide over the last six decades, this close neighbour of Britain continues to fascinate him. In this first of two episodes, Sir Barry takes us through the pre-Roman history of Brittany, stretching from the Mesolithic Period to the Iron Age and connections with Ancient Greece. From standing stones to voyages, bronze and lead axes to beakers, Barry explains how Brittany maintained its own identity, and the importance of its relationship with the ocean. His most recent book, Bretons and Britons: The Fight for Identity, is out now with Oxford University Press.

 

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2021-06-20
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Scotland's Earliest Animal Carvings: An Incredible New Discovery

Prehistoric animal carvings, thought to be up to 5,000 years old, have been discovered in Scotland for the very first time. The images, which include carvings of two red deer, were found by chance on an ancient burial site in Argyll, called Dunchraigaig Cairn. Dr Tertia Barnett, principle investigator for Scotland?s Rock Art Project at Historic Environment Scotland, is on The Ancients to explain why this incredible new discovery is so significant. Find out what the carvings might mean, how they have been conserved for thousands of years, and why these images rewrite the story of prehistoric rock art in north-west Europe.

 

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2021-06-17
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Berenike and the Red Sea Spice Route

Situated on the western coast of the Red Sea in antiquity were a series of thriving seaports, bringing in trade from as far as way as Sir Lanka. Key mercantile centres, where goods made in Iberia could theoretically have been sold alongside items crafted thousands of miles to the east, in South East Asia. Of these seaports, one of the most remarkable has to be Berenike, a thriving cosmopolitan trading centre, first for the Hellenistic Ptolemaic Kingdom and later for Imperial Rome.

To talk through the site?s extraordinary archaeology we were delighted to be joined by Professor Steven Sidebotham from the University of Deleware. Steve has been leading excavations at the site for several years and in this podcast he highlights why Berenike is one of the most exciting archaeological locations anywhere in the World. 

 

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2021-06-13
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