antiquity

The Works of Sallust

The Works of Sallust

On October 1, 86 BC, Roman historian, politician Gaius Sallustius Crispus was born. Sallust is the earliest known Roman historian with surviving works to his name, of which we have Catiline‘s War, The Jugurthine War, and the Histories (of which only fragments survive). The Bellum Catiline, Sallust‘s first published work, contains the history of the memorable year 63 and the story of Catiline’s Conspiracy. Back in school I already made the acquaintance…
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Charles Thomas Newton and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

Charles Thomas Newton and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

On September 16, 1816, British archeologist Sir Charles Thomas Newton was born. Newton excavated sites in southwestern Turkey and disinterred the remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (at present-day Bodrum, Turkey). Newton also helped to establish systematic methods for archaeology. Charles Thomas Newton received his Masters Degree in 1840 from the Christ Church, Oxford. From the beginning of his studies, he was probably interested in…
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Herostratus burning down one of the Seven Wonders of the World

Herostratus burning down one of the Seven Wonders of the World

On July 21, 356 BC, Herostratus, in an attempt to immortalise his name, set fire to the to the wooden roof-beams of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. For this outrage, the Ephesians sentenced Herostratus to death and forbade anyone from mentioning his name. Eversince this time, the term “Herostratic fame” relates to Herostratus and means, roughly, “fame at any cost”. Modern archaeologist found that three successive…
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Michael Ventris and the Minoan Linear B

Michael Ventris and the Minoan Linear B

On July 12, 1922, English architect and linguist Michael Ventris was born. Along with John Chadwick and Alice Kober, Ventris deciphered Linear B, a previously unknown ancient script discovered at Knossos by Arthur Evans. He showed that the Minoan Linear B script was a very early form of Greek, the oldest known examples. Michael Ventris was born as the only child into a traditional army family to Edward Francis Vereker Ventris, a…
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Archimedes lifted the world off their hinges

Archimedes lifted the world off their hinges

Without knowing his exact date of birth or even death, we focus today on one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity: the ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer Archimedes of Syracuse, who was born around 287 BC and died at about 212 BC. Only a few details of his life are known, but he is considered the greatest mathematician of antiquity and one of the greatest of all time. Archimedes…
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Heron of Alexandria and his Experiments

Heron of Alexandria and his Experiments

Heron of Alexandria was a Greek mathematician and engineer who was active in his native city of Alexandria, Roman Egypt in the first century AD. He is considered the greatest experimenter of antiquity. Among his most famous inventions was a windwheel, constituting the earliest instance of wind harnessing on land, as well as the well recognized description of a steam-powered device called an aeolipile. A major difficulty regarding Heron was to establish…
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Francesco Scipione, Marchese di Maffei – Writer, Antiquarian, and Art Critic

Francesco Scipione, Marchese di Maffei – Writer, Antiquarian, and Art Critic

On June 1, 1675, Italian writer and art critic, author, antiquarian and humanist Francesco Scipione, marchese di Maffei was born. His publications on Etruscan antiquities stand as incunabula of Etruscology, he engaged in running skirmishes in print with his rival in the field of antiquities, Antonio Francesco Gori. Marchese di Maffei came from an influential family in Bologna. His brother was the General Alessandro Maffei, a Lieutenant General of Infantry in Bavarian service. Marchese di…
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Aristarchus of Samos – Putting the Sun at the Right Place

Aristarchus of Samos – Putting the Sun at the Right Place

About 310 BC, ancient Greek astronomer and mathematician Aristarchus of Samos was born. He presented the first known model that placed the Sun at the center of the known universe with the Earth revolving around it. As Anaxagoras before him, he also suspected that the stars were just other bodies like the Sun. His astronomical ideas were often rejected in favor of the geocentric theories of Aristotle and Ptolemy. Apparently, Aristarchus of…
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Euclid – the Father of Geometry

Euclid – the Father of Geometry

At about 330 BC, Euclid of Alexandria was born, who often is referred to as the Father of Geometry. His Elements is one of the most influential works in the history of mathematics, serving as the main textbook for teaching mathematics (especially geometry) from the time of its publication until the late 19th or early 20th century. In the Elements, Euclid deduced the principles of what is now called Euclidean geometry from…
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Marcus Tullius Cicero – a Homo Novus

Marcus Tullius Cicero – a Homo Novus

On January 3, 106 BC, Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul and constitutionalist Marcus Tullius Cicero was born. Besides his work as politician, he is widely considered one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists. His influence on the Latin language was so immense that the subsequent history of prose in not only Latin but European languages up to the 19th century was said to be either a reaction against or…
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