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Society

Essays and videos on social issues, history, political life and the future
The other Cleopatra | Aeon
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The ancient world

The other Cleopatra

Daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, she became the influential queen of a mysterious, abundant North African kingdom

Jane Draycott

It never existed | Aeon
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Global history

It never existed

The idea of a ‘precolonial’ Africa is theoretically vacuous, racist and plain wrong about the continent’s actual history

Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò

The pharaoh’s trumpet | Aeon
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Archaeology

The pharaoh’s trumpet

The truly wondrous treasures of Tutankhamun’s tomb are not made of gold. They are the mundane things of everyday life

Toby Wilkinson

The Rosetta Stone and what it actually says | Aeon
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The ancient world

What did the Rosetta Stone’s inscription actually communicate?

17 minutes

Wanderlust of the ancients | Aeon
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The ancient world

Wanderlust of the ancients

The Roman Empire enabled an early version of globalisation that offered travellers adventure, novelty and opportunity

Fabio Fernandes

The legacy of Sappho | Aeon
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The ancient world

Sappho’s homoerotic poetry was beloved in ancient Greece – and burned centuries later

5 minutes

What was the first transit map? | Aeon
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The ancient world

Why did the Romans create a massive, entirely impractical map of their empire?

7 minutes

The modern invention of white antique marble | Aeon
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Archaeology

Ancient Greek sculptures were colourful. Why does the white marble ideal persist?

6 minutes

Our trip to Antioch | Aeon
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The ancient world

Our trip to Antioch

Ancient Romans bought mementos to commemorate their travels. These speak eloquently of their world, if we care to listen

Maggie Popkin

Cracking the Cretan code | Aeon
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The ancient world

Cracking the Cretan code

Linear B has yielded its secrets, but Linear A remains elusive. Can linguistic analysis unlock the meaning of Minoan script?

Ester Salgarella

Energised crowding | Aeon
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Cities

Energised crowding

To understand why early cities thrived, look not to the temples of kings but to their subjects’ bustling neighbourhoods

Michael E Smith

The way of dharma | Aeon
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Stories and literature

The way of dharma

How do ancient stories of talking elephants and singing birds encourage a life of truth, nonviolence and compassion?

Keerthik Sasidharan

Blackness in antiquity | Aeon
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History of ideas

Blackness in antiquity

To truly see black people in ancient art we need to look beyond the historically recent trope of ‘Blackness = inferiority’

Sarah Derbew

Virtual ancient Rome: walking from the Colosseum to the Forum | Aeon
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video

The ancient world

Walk like a Roman in this digital reconstruction of the ancient city

9 minutes

Nefertiti’s bust | Aeon
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Archaeology

Nefertiti’s bust

How did this ancient and enigmatic sculpture of a beautiful Egyptian queen end up as fortune’s hostage in Germany?

Joyce Tyldesley

Uncovering Sparta | Aeon
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The ancient world

Uncovering Sparta

Mythological home of Helen, war-making polis of Leonidas and now a modest municipality: the city is a palimpsest

Daphne D. Martin

Unearthing David’s city | Aeon
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Archaeology

Unearthing David’s city

Archaeologist Eilat Mazar dug with a spade in one hand and a Bible in the other. Should her theories be taken seriously?

Andrew Lawler

Why philosophy needs myth | Aeon
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Thinkers and theories

Why philosophy needs myth

Some see Plato as a pure rationalist, others as a fantastical mythmaker. His deft use of stories tells a more complex tale

Tae-Yeoun Keum

Poseidon’s wrath | Aeon
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Archaeology

Poseidon’s wrath

Vanished beneath the waves in 373 BCE, Helike is a byword for thinking about disaster, for ancients and moderns alike

Guy D Middleton

Plato’s Atlantis | Aeon
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The ancient world

Not a lost kingdom but a parable – how to read Athens in Plato’s story of Atlantis

24 minutes

Nero: the man behind the myth | Aeon
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The ancient world

A balanced account of Nero’s life reveals the ‘editing and destruction’ of history-making

27 minutes

The whitewashing of Rome | Aeon
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The ancient world

The whitewashing of Rome

White supremacists fetishise ancient Rome – but antiquity was more diverse and polychromatic than racists will admit

Jamie Mackay

Enlisted, enslaved, enthroned | Aeon
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Nations and empires

Enlisted, enslaved, enthroned

Vandals, Goths, Alemanni, Sueves… the Romans grappled endlessly with the status of ethnic peoples in their vast empire

Douglas Boin

The road from Rome | Aeon
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Nations and empires

The road from Rome

The fall of the Roman Empire wasn’t a tragedy for civilisation. It was a lucky break for humanity as a whole

Walter Scheidel