Ancient history

Make Your Own Board Games

Gather your family together for an hour or two of face-to-face gaming with a twist: you can make the games yourselves to match your family's interests.

Early Astronomers: Ptolemy, Aristotle, Copernicus, and Galileo

You know, because you've been told, that the Earth revolves around the Sun. You also probably know that planets other than our own have moons, and the way to test to see whether or not something is true is by experimenting. Thousands of years ago, these things were not widely known. The heavens above were anyone's guess, and the way things were was just the way the gods had made them. It was felt there was no need to truly understand them or put them in any kind of order.

Roman Days and Roman Ways

Rome grew from a small band of villages in central Italy to the greatest empire of its time. Roman law and sciences spread throughout the Western World, changing forever the ways of the Europeans and North Africans. Romans built coloniae (colonies) on their western frontier by very strict standards, making certain that the people who lived there knew they were a part of the Empire. The ruins of Roman forts and bath houses can be found in England, at the edges of Roman rule, and the parts of the great Roman roads can still be seen today.

Amazing Mazes

Getting lost in a cornfield maze is an October tradition for many families. Aside from tall fields of corn, mazes can be made with stone walls, hedges, mirrors, and more. Finding your way out of the puzzle can be a heck of a good time, and mazes have a lot of history behind them, too.

The Ancient Olympic Games

If you were visiting the ancient Olympics, you wouldn't see:

Women: The women were forbidden to participate in or even observe the games. Any woman discovered there could be thrown off a cliff! The women (young, unmarried ones) competed in a separate series of foot races called the Heraea, named in honor of Hera, the queen of the gods.

Water Sports: Despite miles and miles of beautiful coastline, water sports such as swimming were never a part of the ancient Olympic Games.

Exploring Ancient China

The First Emperor

China's first emperor was named Qin Shi Huangdi. He brought together all the warring states and made them his subjects in 221 B. C. Qin is pronounced "Chin" and ever after the country was named China. He took the name Shi Huangdi which means "first emperor." Qin was an unusual man. He standardized writing, bureaucracy, scholarship, law, currency (money), and weights and measures. He built a capital and many roads. He connected the old walls along China's northern frontier to form the Great Wall, to protect his country from invaders. But he was also cruel. He killed and banished many people who disagreed with him and destroyed books from the past.

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond reviews parts of history in order to theorize how different cultures became civilization's haves and how others became its have-nots. Diamond is a biologist, and here he seeks to explain why Eurasians--rather than Native Americans, Africans, and Native Australians--became successful conquerors. Diamond argues that rather than race and culture, factors such as food production and animal domestication allowed Eurasians to economically dominate the world.

Bodies in the Bog by James M. Deem

Bodies From The Bog

Do you like learning about mummies? Well, Bodies From the Bog, by James M. Deem, tells us about a type of mummy that you have probably never heard of before. One morning in April 1952, Danish workmen digging in a peat bog made an astonishing discovery. Their shovels struck the head of a dead man – his face flattened by the weight of the peat and his skin as brown as the earth in which he lay.  Who was he and how had he come to be there?

Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt by Barbara Mertz

Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt by Barbara Mertz

Her wit is as dry as a whisper in a mummy’s tomb when she describes the life of a citizen of old Egypt from the squalling dawn of his existence to his final preparation for the afterlife.  But for all her panache, in penning Red Land, Black Land Barbara Mertz has created no gripping historical romantic suspense novel—although she’s written many of those, too.

You may know this author better as Elizabeth Peters, she of the Amelia Peabody mystery series, or by her other nom de plume--Barbara Michaels. Yet Barbara Mertz is her real name, and it’s under that identity that she earned a doctorate in Egyptology from Chicago’s famed Oriental Institute some decades ago.

Great Tales from English History: The Truth about King Arthur, Lady Godiva, Richard the Lionheart and more

By Robert Lacey

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"From ancient times to the present day, the story of England has been laced with drama, intrigue, courage, and passion-a rich and vibrant narrative of heroes and villains, kings and rebels, artists and highwaymen, bishops and scientists. Now, in Great Tales from English History, Robert Lacey captures some of the most pivotal moments: the stories and extraordinary characters that helped shape a nation. This first volume begins in 7150 BC with the intriguing life and death of Cheddar Man and ends in 1381 with Wat Tyler and the Peasants' Revolt. We meet the Greek navigator Pytheas, whose description of the woad-painted Celts yielded pretannik ('the land of the painted people'), which became the Latin word Britannia. We learn what the storytellers really meant when they described Lady Godiva's 'nakedness.'And we discover the truth behind the tales of King Arthur and the infamous Hobbehod, later to be known as 'Robin Hood.'"

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