History
400

The Emperor from Africa

One of two sons of a wealthy, politically ambitious, olive-farming family, Septimius Severus grew up in Leptis Magna, along what is now the coast of Libya, in the second century ce. At first not the most promising of teenage scions, he matured to take high command posts on the Danube frontier and, at 48, became the Roman Empire’s first emperor born on the African continent. Over his 18-year reign, he rarely sat on a throne in Rome, preferring travel with the legions to frontiers and far reaches where his efforts expanded the empire to its greatest extent and left legacies in law and architecture that endure today.

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The Emperor from Africa

400

Texting Cuneiform

The world’s first palm-sized tablets were made of clay, and they had enough surface for only a few wedge-shaped impressions of a reed stylus. That was how students in Sumer—all boys—learned to write cuneiform. Those who did well could upgrade to bigger clay and go into accounting, law or literature.
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  • History
  • Culture

Texting Cuneiform

400

Messages in the Maps

Long given short shrift by Western scholars for being more schematic than to scale, Islamic maps from the 10th to the 18th century were often sophisticated images, full of insights for anyone willing to set out and explore them.
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  • History

Messages in the Maps

400

2020 Calendar: Exploring Islamic Maps

2020 Calendar: Exploring Islamic Maps
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  • History

2020 Calendar: Exploring Islamic Maps

400

Robots of Ages Past

A century ago, a Czech playwright coined the word “robot,” and 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci designed a pretty good one—and he was far from the first. (Hey Siri, who was Ismail al-Jazari?)
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  • History
  • Science & Nature

Robots of Ages Past

400

Kazakhstan’s Golden Son

Working patiently in his family-run lab, Krym Altynbekov has restored and re-created chariots, saddles, weapons, tools and clothing unearthed over the past four decades, including the unnamed warrior dubbed “the Golden Man,” who has become a national symbol of the Central Asian nation’s nomad history. But “gold isn’t the treasure for us,” says Altynbekov’s daughter Elina. “It’s the information we obtain about our past.”
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  • Culture
  • People

Kazakhstan’s Golden Son

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