The Ancient World Review is a blog about the world as it existed before "progress" turned it into the toxic, over-policed strip mall we live in today. Trapped in swarming mega-cities, dumbed-down and domesticated by years of exposure to mass media, mass schooling and the official indoctrination of the Total State, "Modern Man" suffers from the hallucinatory delusion that the decaying civilizations of the 21st Century represent the pinnacle of social evolution, a delusion made possible, in part, by the fact that most people today get their "history" from television and movies. The truth is that the Earth was a completely different place only a few centuries ago and the world that existed several thousand years ago was so different that it almost qualifies as a different planet altogether. And in many ways, the ancient world was just as advanced, if not more advanced, than so-called "modern civilization."
It was a more mysterious world, as well. Archaeologists are discovering new cultures all the time and new finds are challenging long-established views about how civilization developed in both the Old and the New worlds. The age of the human species keeps getting pushed further and further back in time. Artifacts and fossil remains have been discovered which call into question our conventional theories of human evolution and the way the continents were originally populated. Many of these finds were lying around in museum storage areas for decades before someone realized what they were and there's no telling how many forgotten discoveries are still locked up in basements, covered with dust, or how many ruins are still hidden in deserts and rain forests or under the ocean. The past, like the nature of Reality and the Universe, is still a mystery and will probably always be a mystery.
The Ancient World Review covers everything from the great classical civilizations of the Mediterranean to the pre-Columbian cultures of Meso-America, from prehistory through the Crusades. I'm interested in obscure subjects like the history of piracy in the Mediterranean before Pompey and the network of Roman stone quarries on the southern frontier in Egypt, but I'm also going to get into things like the origins of Christianity, the collapse of the western Roman empire and the rise and fall of civilizations in general. Was Heironymous Bosch a secret Cathar or a member of a cult which used mescaline in its rites? Did Judaism and Christianity evolve from an ancient mushroom cult? Did court historians working for the Flavian emperors write the gospels? Were the earliest civilizations bicameral? Did Nero and Caligula get a bad rap? What led to the collapse of Bronze Age cultures? Who were the first Americans? The list of questions goes on and on and hundreds of books, some more credible than others, have been written about all these subjects. And they're all interesting even if I don't happen to believe them.
Personally, I like ancient history for the same reason I like Conan the Barbarian movies. It's entertaining. The whole subject has an unjustified reputation for academic dullness. The ancient world was luminous, exotic and dramatic, full of bloody action and strange gods who make a lot more sense than anything I see around me today. It was a bigger world back then. A slower world. A more human world for all its cruelty and barbarism (which was nothing compared to the mass slaughter of recent centuries). It's easy to romanticize the ancient world and it doesn't make much sense to get into arguments about whether it was a "better" world than the one we live in, but the fact remains that it was a different world--and that's probably its main attraction.
Gary Carson 2011