Ten surprising facts about the ancient world

The ancient world is forever a place of interest for many of us. But even if you have read a lot about the ancients. It may be surprising that you notice the following ten facts.


1. Ancient civilizations were more connected than we think.

The Romans in China, the Greeks in India, the Africans in England – through several mechanisms. The people of ancient times moved more than we give them credit. Other than a vague notion of the Silk Road. Many have no idea of some ancient civilizations’ scale and entrepreneurial spirit. The Phoenician explorers probably made the tour of Africa two thousand years before Vasco da Gama. Thanks to Alexander the Great, Hellenistic culture spread to Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan. After the death of Alexander, his generals divided the Macedonian conquests.
The Indo-Greek and Greco-Bactrian kingdoms coexist in the east. The west with intercultural relics such as statues of Buddha in a toga and “Greek” friezes found in Pakistan. At least a few Greeks converted to Buddhism. It mixed their beliefs with Indian religions, and the Romans were moving as well. facts about the ancient world

They attracted troops from across the empire, including Mauritania, a land famous for its horsemen. In the service of the Roman army. The Mauritanians, like many other auxiliaries, fought everywhere from Great Britain to Dacia (now Romania, among others). The Roman army was not the only site of unlikely cultural mixing. However, there is evidence for Roman trading outposts in Kerala.

of Emperor Nero, Roman explorers following the course of the Nile may have come almost to the Sudan-Uganda border. But it was in AD 166 that the Romans accomplished something perhaps more incredible. Sino-Roman trade goods have probably piqued curiosity in East and West. In AD 166, Roman ambassadors from the court of Marcus Aurelius arrived in the Chinese capital. Take this, Marco Polo!

2. The ancient Indians practiced plastic surgery

Unlike the Greeks and Romans, many ancient Indian warriors did not wear protective helmets. Due to the nature of the war at the time, parts tend to be cut off. To remedy these traumas, Hindu physicians developed procedures. That would not be totally out of place in modern surgery.

Indian surgeons would cut a flap of skin from the patient’s forehead. Which was then folded over the nasal openings to create the new nose. Hollow tubes were inserted to form the nostrils as the operation healed. Successful operations had been recorded in 500 BC. A more horrifying but life-saving procedure was a form of suturing used by Indian surgeons. Repairing an intestinal or abdominal wound was tricky because of traditional needle-and-thread stitching. It could further puncture injured organs, preventing healing and inviting infection. The solution? Bengali ants. They bite anything they touch with pincer-like jaws. The surgeons collected the shreds of the damaged organ and carefully applied the ants, which functioned like

3. The Greeks and Romans practiced gun control

It might be hard to believe, but Greek cities practiced a restrictive form of gun control. Despite the often aggressive nature of Greek society, guns were prohibited in public spaces in ancient Poleis. The ancient Greeks believed that “laws alone rule”. When guns rule, they kill the law. The gun ban helps ensure equality in a democratic or republican society. The possibility – or likelihood – of people using their weapons for intimidation was too great and would undermine civil society. If anyone were to be in the city, they would have to lay their arms aside.

It was akin to violent subversion: How serious were the Greeks about “sword control”? Charondas, the Greek-Sicilian lawmaker who had banned “revealing and wearing”. One day returned from the campaign to the town hall without removing his dagger. Of course, he had just fought bandits in the countryside. But Charondas’ law was as absolute as his commitment in this regard. Having violated his law, Charondas committed suicide publicly with the dagger he did not put aside. For the Romans, “when in Rome…” was always followed by “… do as the Greeks”, the Romans also banned weapons in their cities. Carrying arms in the Roman city center, or pomerium was not only against the law. It was also considered a religious crime.

4. The fire prevention codes and fire brigades were instituted by Néron

What a lousy reputation. Popular history likes to remember the Roman Emperor Nero for two things he did not do. Start and celebrate a fire that destroyed much of Rome. After the fire of AD 64, which did not begin. Nero returned to Rome from his villa in Antium. But Nero’s genuine innovations took place during the rebuilding phase. To prevent future fires from causing so much damage, Nero has strict building codes in the area.

Before Nero, Rome was essentially a powder keg the size of a city. Narrow streets and wooden buildings built on top of each other allowed fires to spread quickly and out of control. The reconstruction that took place after the Great Fire followed Nero’s orders: widened streets. Stone and brick construction, and building height limits. In addition, old aqueducts have been diverted to provide water for public consumption and better firefighting. Perhaps more importantly, Nero formed a large brigade of night guards dedicated to peacekeeping and firefighting. Thanks to Nero’s plans, the urban development of Rome became much more disciplined and carefully organized.

5. Rome was not the only inventor of the republican government.

Rome? Republic. Greece? Democracy. India? Perhaps the mad priest Thuggee of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Most of us haven’t received much education about the government structures of ancient India. Several towns and cities across India embraced Republican ideals, such as representation and collective decision-making. Around the same time, the famous Republic of Rome was founded. As far as we know, however, the Republican principles of India and Rome were developed independently.

The earliest traces of a Republican-style government in India date from 600 to 480 BC. Despite their small size, some Indian republics even survived contact with Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC. Despite facing off against two of the greatest conquerors of antiquity, the Indian republics managed to retain their character as a moderately emancipated government until subversion and internal disunity did what Alexander and Chandragupta could not. . Rather than resorting to force of arms, neighboring kings used spies and propaganda to wreak havoc among their Republican rivals. This is not an evil plan, given the already somewhat stormy nature of the republics. Divided, the governing assemblies collapsed as rival factions asserted their power through civil wars.

6. Roman sexuality was not progressive or did not accept homosexuality.

The sexual license in Roman society certainly did not extend to something akin to modern homosexuality. Asking an ancient Roman what he thought of homosexuality would be like asking him what he thought of the Internet. In both cases, the Roman draws a blank because there was none in ancient Rome. Roman sexuality was not characterized by sex but determined by “role.” For a man, the “active” role – that of the penetrator – was generally acceptable, regardless of the sex of the penetrator.

Being “passive” was considered an aberration for men, irrespective of the gender of their partner. Cunnilingus is an excellent illustration of the Roman state of mind. While many today might argue that the act of cunnilingus is far from passive on the part of a man, the Romans saw it differently. They believed that the woman was using her male partner’s mouth for pleasure in such an act, which was a failure of manhood. The fellatio was perceived in the same way. A man performing oral sex on another person was “used,” and it was considered a shame, regardless of the gender of his partner. The active-passive dichotomy created very restrictive sexuality. You could only enter women. Almost everything else was off-limits. So, while it was natural to want to penetrate anything and everything, a man could be seen as deviant and feminine in wanting to please his wife.

7. Julius Caesar’s last words

Many believe that after his death at the hands of assassins, Julius Caesar uttered the famous words “And you too, Brutus?”. ” But Rome’s controversial dictator and lover of short haircuts said no such thing. William Shakespeare invented the line for his fictional version of Caesar to be recited. But even in Shakespeare’s play, it’s not Caesar’s last line. But what about the real historical Julius Caesar? The man of historical facts was upper middle class and well educated.

In ancient Rome, this meant that Caesar knew Greek, unlike the bard, who did not know the language. The only ancient writer who mentions the last words, who himself was not even a contemporary of Caesar, suggests that his life ended with a breath of Greek directed at Brutus: “Kai su teknon? “But it is possible that he was just repeating the gossip since the phrase translates to” You too, my child? Rumors abounded about Julius Caesar, and one story suggested that Brutus was Caesar’s bastard offspring. Moreover, although less poetically, Caesar had pulled his toga over his head when his assailants stabbed him to death.

8. The “barbarians” were simply people who did not speak Greek.

The thought of the barbarians evokes violent, terrible characters, both natural (Attila) and imaginary (Conan). But for the ancient Greeks, “barbarians” were simply people who did not speak Greek. The ancient Greeks thought that the language of foreigners resembled gossip (bar-bar-bar-bar) and nicknamed these foreigners “barbarous”: “In ancient Greece, the term did not have the connotation it carries today (that is to say raw and uncivilized). The Greeks were not so chauvinistic as to ignore the glories of other civilizations like Egypt, Persia, etc.

These civilizations were magnificent, but their non-Greek inhabitants would still have been nicknamed “barbarians.” The ancient Romans used the term “barbarian” in much the same way as the Greeks. People who did not live in the Roman Empire and did not speak Latin were referred to as barbarians. It wasn’t until antiquity gave way to the Middle Ages that the barbaric label took on its derogatory and now familiar meaning of savagery. Western Christendom used this term to refer to anyone outside its borders, and everyone from Slavs to Arabs was considered barbarians. Those who did not conform to the standard of Christendom were “rude” and “uneducated.” The French writer Michel de Montaigne best summed up the historical meaning of this word when he wrote: “Everyone calls barbarism what is not their practice.”

9. The Romans did not invent the crucifixion.

Although the Passion accounts have made execution by crucifixion synonymous with ancient Rome in many minds, the practice probably began in Persia around 500 BC. The extreme punishment spread to India, Egypt, Carthage, Macedonia, some Celtic lands, and Rome. At least one passage from the Old Testament suggests that Biblical-era Jews like Moses employed a similar punishment as well, and Alexander the Great made an example of the defeated city of Tire when he crucified 2,000 of its inhabitants. Male in the fourth century BC.

The Carthaginians perhaps used crucifixion the most extensively, and it was probably from them that the Romans adopted this practice. Unlike Carthage, which sometimes crucified its losing generals, Rome generally did not crucify its citizens. Considered the most extreme of death sentences, execution by crucifixion was a long, cruel, and painful punishment that the Roman Empire reserved for its worst criminals, such as Spartacus and his fellow rebels. The Romans, who still feared slave revolts because of their heavy use, responded to the revolution led by Spartacus with one of the largest. facts about the ancient world

10. The fall of Rome did not end the Empire period.

It would have ended in 476 when the city fell to the Vandals, German raiders. But the fact that Rome was (again) sacked was only a tiny blunder on the Mediterranean radar. The Empire’s capital, Constantinople, had long surpassed Rome in wealth, population, and political importance. ts “fall,” the prominence of Rome had even been eclipsed in the West by Ravenna, the capital of the Western Empire.

Another reason why the fall of Rome was not as catastrophic as one imagined was the Gothic General Odoacer, who deposed the last Western Roman Emperor. He didn’t want to change much. He just wanted to take control. Odoacer made sure to recognize the real emperor in Constantinople and maintain the status quo. For the average Roman, life continued as usual for decades after the last emperor’s reign because the “barbarians” who took power – the Goths, Ostrogoths, and Germans – had long been part of it. Roman Empire, as the client states, an increasingly important part of the military and quasi-citizens.

When a barbarian-Roman coalition finally defeated the Huns in 451, it was challenging to say where the Romans ended and where the barbarians started… What ended the Roman Empire was not an alien invasion but a series of civil wars that destroyed the border. The Roman army, with its brutal armament, clothing, and generals, repeatedly clashed, reducing the Western Empire into countless war kingdoms, with only a brief unity under a handful of warlords. . Regardless of the decline of the West, the Eastern Roman Empire still survived for 1,000 years, ruling large parts of Italy at different times during this time.

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