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Listed under:  History  >  Historical periods  >  Ancient history

Egyptian overseer ushabtis, 1070-712 BCE

This is an overseer ushabtis, made in Egypt sometime between 1070 and 712 BCE. The male mummiform figure is made of Egyptian faience with an exterior pale turquoise-blue glaze. The figure is shown wearing a short headdress and black painted 'seshed' headband knotted at the back. A vertical column of hieroglyphs are handpainted ...


Pharos of Alexandria, 247 BCE

This is a fly-through animation of the lighthouse or Pharos of Alexandria in Egypt as it would have appeared when completed by the Macedonian king of Egypt, Ptolemy II Philadelphus. The animation shows the location of the lighthouse on an island off the coast of Alexandria, its three-tiered structure and its perpetual fire ...


Deir el-Medina, 2nd century BCE

This is a fly-through animation of the settlement, temple and tombs of Deir el-Medina in Egypt as they would have appeared in the New Kingdom and the Ptolemaic periods. Accompanied by a detailed commentary and interspersed with footage of the area today and cut-away diagrams, the animation shows the position of Western ...


Egyptian worker ushabtis, 945-715 BCE

This is a worker ushabtis, made at some stage between 945 and 715 BCE. The male mummiform figure is made of Egyptian faience with a blue glaze finish. The figure is shown wearing a headdress and 'seshed' headband knotted at the back. The body is wrapped in bandages with only the head and arms visible, crossed left over ...


Brick from the Great Wall of China, 1368-1644

This is a rectangular fired clay-brick from the Great Wall of China. The brick is presented within a timber display frame on four curved legs with a removable lid.


Stand and deliver: public speaking and democracy

Have you ever heard the words 'Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears'? They come from the great orator Mark Antony talking about the death of Caesar in Shakespeare's play 'Julius Caesar'. Listen to this audio interview with classics scholar Dr Kathryn Welch to find out what we can learn from the first public speakers, ...

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What's inside a mummy?

How can new technology be used to find out what's in a mummy without unwrapping it? Watch as Horus, an Egyptian mummy, is taken to hospital to undergo a CT (computed tomography) scan. The scan reveals what is under Horus's bandages, tells historians the age he died, and might provide some clues about the reason for his death.

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Yucatan Peninsula: Mayan heritage

Discover ruins of a lost civilisation of the Maya at Tulum, on the Yucatán Peninsula in south-eastern Mexico. See what has become of the civilisation's cenotes, its ancient water resources, as a Maya descendant speaks of his sadness at what has happened to the land of his forebears.

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Athenians build temples on the Acropolis

Why was the Acropolis, the large rock at the centre of the ancient Greek city of Athens, so important to the people of Athens? The Acropolis was originally the citadel of Athens, as its high ground could best be defended in wars. But it became much more. Discover the temples of the Acropolis, including the famous Parthenon, ...

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Did ancient Greeks have a secret weapon?

What weapons did ancient Greek soldiers use against their enemies? The ancient Greeks were experienced fighters, mainly because their city-states were often at war with each other. We know that hoplites (ancient Greek infantry) used shields to protect themselves from the spears, swords and arrows of their opponents. But ...

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A temple reveals evidence of ancient India

Explore the beliefs that shaped ancient Indian history through the art, architecture and rituals of a temple. The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is the largest Hindu temple in southern India. Discover the meaning of its seven concentric square enclosures and what it tells us about the religious beliefs and social order that ...

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Romans conquer ancient Britain

In 43 CE, Roman Emperor Claudius sent four legions to conquer Britain. Soon most of Britain was under Roman control. Although its rule was threatened by several revolts of British tribes, Rome continued to rule Britain until 410 CE when the legions were withdrawn to defend the city of Rome. Discover how the Romans were ...

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Hindus build a temple to their gods and goddesses

What can we learn about ancient Indian history from a temple? Hinduism arose as a major religion in India around 1500 BCE. The Meenakshi temple stands in the ancient city of Madurai in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Discover what this temple reveals about Hindu gods and goddesses, and their importance in everyday ...

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First quadratic equation

Before algebra, the Babylonians worked out areas of land using a type of quadratic equation. Join Marcus du Sautoy as he shows how Babylonian mathematicians would have worked out the unknown length of a field by reconfiguring the field as a square. See how this is an early form of a quadratic equation.

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A stone's throw from the true value of pi

Ancient Egyptian mathematicians worked out the value for pi. Find out just how close their approximate value came to the true value. See how the relationship between the area of a circle and the area of a square can be explained using rounded stones, and how this can also be used to work out an approximate value for pi.

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People make modern bricks in ancient Pakistan

Imagine an ancient civilisation that made bricks the way we do today. This was the Indus Valley civilisation in what is now Pakistan and western India. It is believed to have been the first civilisation in southern Central Asia and its oldest cities, Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, were built around 2600 BCE using fire-baked ...

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An ancient civilisation uses mysterious writing

What is the meaning of the script inscribed on seal stones from the ancient Indus Valley civilisation in modern-day Pakistan and western India? Archaeologists have identified about 400 symbols on the seals. We know that similar seals were used around the same time by ancient Sumerians to leave impressions when pressed into ...

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Howard Carter finds Tutankhamun's tomb

Why was the tomb of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun so hard to find? Like other pharaohs of the New Kingdom period (1550-1070 BCE), Tutankhamun was buried in the Valley of the Kings. Retrace the footsteps of archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922 when he made the most amazing archaeological discovery of the 20th century.

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Saving Tutankhamun

Why was it vital to preserve the body of ancient Egypt's teenage pharaoh, Tutankhamun? Of all the pharaohs' tombs in Egypt's Valley of the Kings that have been discovered, Tutankhamun's featured the greatest number of priceless artefacts and treasures. Find out how his discovery posed a new threat to his remains and how ...

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Adorning the coffins of Ancient Egyptians

How did the people of ancient Egypt prepare the deceased for the afterlife? Archaeologists have excavated vast numbers of Egyptian mummies and many more remain to be discovered. Be amazed by the colourful paintings and inscriptions that adorn the coffins encasing the mummified bodies of ancient Egyptians.