Ancient History

Algebra's Arabic Roots

Algebra doesn't have one single origin point -- it developed over time and in multiple places, with many mathematicians contributing. One of those contributors was an 8th-century scholar from Baghdad named Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi. Read the show notes here.

Crucifixion in the Greco-Roman World

While the crucifixion of Jesus is the most most well-known instance of this type of execution, crucifixion was a practice that was both common and taboo all over the Greco-Roman world for almost 1,000 years. Read the show notes here.


You may never have heard of him, but Avicenna was one of the first, and probably the most influential, Islamic philosopher-scientists. He's listed among the great philosophers in Dante's Inferno and is mentioned in the prologue to the Canterbury Tales.

Embalming and Mummification Rituals of Ancient Egypt

So how did Ancient Egyptians actually embalm their dead? Thanks in large part to Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, we have some great descriptions of what happened to the deceased.

Unearthed in 2013, Part 2

The second part of 2013's historical finds includes items unearthed by animals, amateurs and ultra-modern science. Lead coffins, rare torpedoes and mass graves are featured. And of course, there's discussion of everyone's favorite topic: exhumations.

Unearthed in 2013, Part 1

What historical revelations revealed themselves in 2013? So many, we need two episodes to cover them all. From Viking jewelry to lost Doctor Who episodes and -- of course -- bodies in car parks, history showed up in some surprising places this year.

Zenobia and the Roman Empire

Our focus today is on a woman who was actually covered in the podcast several years ago. But she's a figure so mythic and with so many variations to her story that we wanted to give her another look and a little more time.

The Nazca Lines

About 200 miles southeast of Lima, Peru, between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, there are lines etched into the desert. The glyphs have remained intact for centuries, and have been avidly studied since their discovery in the late 1920s.

Hypatia of Alexandria

Hypatia was one of the earliest female mathematicians and astronomers -- though she wasn't the very first, she was among the greatest. At the time of her murder, she was the foremost mathematician and astronomer in the West - possibly in the world.

The Antikythera Mechanism

In 1900, a shipwreck was discovered near the island of Antikythera, including an assortment of luxury goods: statues, silver coins, vases ... and what turned out to be an amazing 2,000-year-old mechanism.