A 55-kilometer stretch of an ancient Roman road has been discovered in western Turkey. The road connected Smyrna (modern Izmir) on the coast with Manisa, an inland town. An archaeologist working on the project observed: It is noteworthy that the road is as solid as the first day it was built. Our examination showed that large […]
William Dalrymple reviews a harrowing account of the race to save Timbuktu’s ancient manuscripts during Al-Qaeda’s takeover of the city in 2012: The realisation that Timbuktu’s fragile heritage was in danger set off alarm bells across the world. The city was once one of Africa’s most revered centres of learning and the arts. From the 13th […]
The Reconquista was the long, drawn-out struggle by Christians to expel the Muslim occupiers, or Moors, from Spain. The nearly eight centuries of conflict saw many back-and-forths, with complicated alliances forming among the major powers. For most of that time the ultimate outcome lay in doubt. Yet the Christians inexorably pushed forward. Like large waves in a receding […]
A recently-translated ancient Chinese text sheds light on international relations in the 3rd century AD. A Roman delegation, sent by Marcus Aurelius, reached the Chinese court in 166, followed by several others over the next century. The court official Yu Huan, writing in the 3rd century, spoke with some of the Romans on these later expeditions, and recorded a fair account: (more…)
The story begins with Arab and Persian sailors establishing trade colonies in East Africa, but its antecedents lie much earlier. Arabian, Egyptian, and Greek traders had long been making expeditions across the Red Sea and down the East African coast.