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The Dangerous Pastime of the Daughters of Rome

Some months ago my girlfriend, who was reading an Anne Rice novel (I don’t know which), asked me if female gladiators existed in ancient Rome. At the time I dismissed this notion as the artistic licence of a cult vampire novelist. However, I was recently proven wrong in my previous assumptions about women fighting in […]

The Last Order of the First Crusade

The Knights of the Order of Saint John, also known as the Knights Hospitaller or the Knights of Malta (officially known as the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta) are one of the oldest institutions in the world. This Order was born out of a sense of […]

Memmie Le Blanc: a history of an 18th century feral child

No images exist of Memmie, except for this naive engraving, which may not even be a likeness Last autumn I decided to conduct research into the phenomenon of feral children.  I had the idea that there was something to learn about innate human nature from them, from being raised outside of human society, unsocialised.  I […]

The invention of leavened bread, or “which fool spilled their beer into my freshly ground flour!”

Here in the West, and especially in the Northern hemisphere, the mainstay of the human diet is leavened bread, and no-one knows how this mainly European food was invented.  Traditional leavened bread is seen across Europe, and also other parts of the Northern hemisphere, including Russia.  It is not so widely seen in the traditional […]

The American who aspired to be Spartacus

When one thinks of slave rebellions in the Americas ones mind often goes to the creole uprising in Haiti which won Haitian independence, considered the most successful slave rebellion in history. If one is more familiar with the history of the United States then the Nat Turner rebellion in 1831 might come to mind. Whilst […]

The Most Audacious Fraud in History

On a recent visit to the British Museum, in the “History of Money” section, I came across a small side exhibition on “Bubbles and Bankruptcy”. The main exhibit was a chart documenting the Dutch tulip craze, a well known economic bubble of the buying and selling of tulip bulbs. However, the piece that most intrigued […]

The perplexing world of Archaeological Artifacts: visiting Neanderthals and Vikings

Our knowledge of the past comes from 2 main resources: archaeology and historical documents (including oral records). However, neither gives us absolutes.  Historical documents comes from the hands of people, some of whom may have a bias about what they are writing upon.  If they are sincere and trying their best to be accurate and […]

The War of Jenkin’s Ear

In the 18th century the newly formed United Kingdom of Great Britain was in the ascendancy growing rich from the growth of the American colonies and the slave trade. The Spanish empire, in contrast, was already in decline having bankrupted herself on religious wars in Europe which had largely depleted the wealth of her colonies […]

The Cults of Isis and the Virgin Mary

In Roman Catholicism the veneration of the Virgin Mary has become a central tenet of the faith. She is honoured as the Theotokos, the mother of God and the ultimate symbol of motherly devotion. However, this cult of the Virgin has its roots in a tradition far older than Christianity. The veneration of this motherly figure […]

Kissing the bride and the cult of Adonis

The ancient mystery cult of Adonis, was prevalent in the region of Byblos and the surrounding mountainous area of North Lebanon. So popular was the myth of Adonis, that the Greeks fully endorsed it and t became almost more synonymous with ancient Greece than its origins which were very much in Lebanon. Adonis was the […]