The Napoleon of South Africa

Recently I began watching a great historical drama series on Netflix. Like any historical media that I enjoy I like to dig deeper into the history and see how accurate the retelling actually is. So far, with the exception of a prophecy and a creepy witch doctor, this series seems to remain pretty accurate to history as we know it. Who is this mysterious warrior king of South Africa? It’s none other than Shaka Zulu.

Most of Shaka’s early life was only told in oral tradition and not written down until towards the end of his life. Due to this, there are varying accounts of the details of his birth and childhood. For narrative sake, I’ve stuck to one of the more believable and well-known versions of the story. There are definitely more fantastical versions of this story, and if you find any of this interesting I’d suggest you look into some of them. Continue reading The Napoleon of South Africa

HBO’s Rome: 2000 Year Old Spoilers

I’ve recently finished watching HBO’s Rome on Amazon Instant Video, and even though I consistently knew the outcome of every major plot point well in advance it was still shocking and fantastic to watch. Rome ran for 2 seasons from 2005 – 2007. It is a historical drama that could be described as a historically accurate Game of Thrones for today’s viewers. I will warn you now that the following may contain SPOILERS because I feel like 2000 years is a long enough time to allow such things.

The show is centered around Rome’s turbulent transition from a Republic to an Empire. The story follows Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus, two fictional Roman soldiers, and their dealings with historical figures such as Julius Caesar, Pompey Magnus, Marc Antony, Octavian Caesar, and even Cleopatra. The depth of the characters is great and the actors portraying them are masters of their art. I found myself switching between loving a character and then hating them or vice versa. By the time the series had ended I had changed views on every character at least once or twice which just goes to show there are no blacks and whites of morality, just varying shades of gray. Continue reading HBO’s Rome: 2000 Year Old Spoilers

The Etruscans: Building the Foundations of Rome

Roman history is something I’ve been very interested in for the better part of a decade now, and one of the reasons I launched this site. The trouble with it is that it’s just so vast that finding a starting and stopping point can prove a bit difficult with about 2000 years of history to sift through. I had initially decided to break my Rome articles up into 3 distinct parts, the Roman Kingdom, Republic, and Empire. I could even split the Empire section up into the fall of Western Rome and the continuation in the East that came to be known as the Byzantine Empire. I can’t wait to get into the history of Rome proper with you all, but there’s another story that must be told first. The story of the major power in Italy before the Romans reigned supreme. The story of the Etruscans, our Roman Kingdom prequel. Continue reading The Etruscans: Building the Foundations of Rome

The Baltics: Last Bastion of Pagan Civilization in Europe

Today’s topic was suggested to me by a modern Baltic tribesman. Kristaps Andrejsons, Latvian native, and the host of The Eastern Border and co-host of The Lesser Bonaparte’s podcasts. Be sure to check those podcasts out for more great history content.

The Baltics are the areas to the Southeast of the Baltic Sea in Eastern Europe and the many tribes living in those area’s are were known as the Balts. This area is covered with forests, swamps, bogs, marshes, rivers, and lakes making it rather difficult to traverse. This terrain has kept the area mostly isolated from the rest of Europe throughout history. Continue reading The Baltics: Last Bastion of Pagan Civilization in Europe

Pimp My Chariot: The Story of the Hittites

Today we’re going to learn about one of the lesser-known ancient civilizations, the Hittites. The Hittites were one of the Bronze Age Aegean superpowers along with the Assyrian, Mycenaean, Babylonian and Egyptian empires which they regularly traded and fought with. They were located in Anatolia or modern-day Turkey. The main body of the Hittite civilization lasted from 1600 BCE to 1178 BCE, but we’ll hit on that later. Continue reading Pimp My Chariot: The Story of the Hittites

The Peaceful Toy Makers of Indus?

Today I’m going to be talking about a civilization that I only learned about a few months ago, the Indus River Valley Civilization. What caught my interest about this civilization right away was how old civilization in this area is and how long it lasted. Another thing I that caught my eye was how advanced this civilization became in its prime. Long story short, ancient India was just as impressive and mysterious as its modern iteration. Continue reading The Peaceful Toy Makers of Indus?

A Beginners Guide to Xenophobia

Today I’m going to talk about one of my favorite games, Age of Empires. This is a game that got me interested in ancient civilizations from an early age. AoE is a historically themed RTS (Real Time Strategy) game that was released in 1997 for PC. Since then it has spawned a few sequels that cover the Dark Ages and the American Colonization periods of history, as well as a spin-off game that covers ancient mythologies. Continue reading A Beginners Guide to Xenophobia

The Stoic Emperor

This weekend I’ve done something I haven’t done in quite a while but plan to start doing more often. I read a book. More specifically, I read a book on written by today’s subject, Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius.

Marcus Aurelius was born April 26, 121 CE in Rome. He became the co-emperor of Rome, along with his brother Verus in 161 CE. He ruled until his death on March 17, 180 CE. He is remembered as a great intellectual and one of the most well respected Roman emperors of all time. Continue reading The Stoic Emperor

The Minotaur Clogged a Toilet in Atlantis?!

Our first civilization of interest is the ancient, Bronze Age, Minoan civilization which was located mainly on the island of Crete in Greece. The Minoans thrived roughly 4 to 5 THOUSAND years ago. The most significant Minoan site of interest is Knossos, which was discovered by the archaeologist Arthur Evans in the year 1900 CE.

The Minoans were a seafaring people who partook in extensive trading with far off lands such as Spain, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. They are also assumed to have lived in a relatively peaceful society based on the images portrayed in their art, as well as them not having any defensive walls around their cities. Continue reading The Minotaur Clogged a Toilet in Atlantis?!

Initial Goals

Hey guys, currently the site looks a bit barren. I just got everything ready to go last night before bed. Currently I’m working on getting familiar with WordPress as well as preparing some initial content to cover. 

As it stands now I’m looking to start by covering the ancient Greek Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations. I’m not sure if I’ll cover any specific historical figures from the civilizations initially or come back to the later. One historical figure I’m leaning towards covering early on will be the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. 
I also believe I will do posts on relevant movies, TV shows, books, and since I am a gamer, historically themed games. I’m looking at you Age of Empires and Civilization. 

If anyone has any comments, suggestions for topics they’d like to see covered don’t be afraid to comment on the posts, email me at jvaught@ancivs.com, or reach out on social media. I’m on Facebook @ancivs and Twitter @ancivsblog. 

Aspiring Historian, John Vaught