Our list takes a broad disciplinary and geographically inclusive approach to understanding humanity’s ancient past, with an emphasis on seeing ancient civilizations as fluid sites of crosscultural interaction. Drawing on ancient history, archaeology, classics, mythology, philosophy, religion, and art history, it is informed by well-established approaches to textual and archaeological evidence, as well as by new methodologies. Covering regions from the Greco-Roman world to Egypt and the ancient Near East, and from Central Asia to East Asia, our books illuminate new ways of understanding ancient cultures, peoples, politics, philosophies, literary texts, and religions, and how these inform our present.
Listen in: Rome Is Burning
According to legend, the Roman emperor Nero set fire to his majestic imperial capital on the night of July 19, AD 64 and fiddled while the city burned. It’s a story that has been told for more than two millennia—and it’s likely that almost none of it is true.
Leadership in a time of crisis: Nero and the Great Fire of Rome
There is one political failing that people seem unable to forgive. In the case of George W. Bush it was not the bitterly divisive invasion of Iraq that blighted his presidential image, nor was Donald Trump’s belligerent governing style his most serious liability in the 2020 election.
How to be content: The contemporary lessons of an ancient poet
The poet Horace (65-8 BCE) is one of the most celebrated writers of Latin literature. His work has been copied and preserved over the centuries for both its sparkling form and its enlightened content.
All at sea: The maritime lives of the ancient Phoenicians
The Phoenicians were, according to one ancient scholar, ‘the first to plough the sea’. The little ports of the Bronze Age Levant, including Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos, lay between the great empires of Egypt, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia.
Eric H. Cline on Digging Up Armageddon
In 1925, James Henry Breasted, famed Egyptologist and director of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, sent a team of archaeologists to the Holy Land to excavate the ancient site of Megiddo—Armageddon in the New Testament—which the Bible says was fortified by King Solomon.
Cicero, friendship, and social distancing
The best friend of the Roman politician Marcus Cicero was Titus Pomponius, also known as Atticus since he spent many years living in Athens to escape the political chaos and partisan bickering of republican Rome.