Category Archives: Public Life

Ancient Green Technology

???????????Today, we celebrate the earth and we think about all the ways we can help to cherish and protect it. We have come so far in our efforts to develop new ways of preserving our planet and with modern technology our carbon footprints are getting smaller every day, but the concepts that allow us to “go green” actually date back tens of thousands of years.

Green TechYou can learn all about “seven incredibly innovative uses of geothermal, water, wind and solar power from around the ancient world” in the fascinating article 7 Ancient Wonders of Green Design & Technology from WebEcoist.

As you celebrate today’s earth, remember the ancients who cared for and protected their planet and provided us with the blueprints to do the same.

Roman Gladiators: How They Compare to Modern Sporting Heroes

Super_Bowl_XLIII_-_Thunderbirds_Flyover_-_Feb_1_2009 (1)As you know from reading our earlier blog post in January, Super Bowl XLVII and the Superstars of Ancient Rome had a lot in common with today’s American football stars. There are so many intriguing parallels that we thought the topic deserved another look. So, enjoy part two of this series exploring the connections between the Roman gladiators and the sports celebrities of today.

Much like today’s modern sporting heroes, gladiators had a lot of sex appeal. Just as women today frequent events to see their favourite crush, ancient women would attend gladiatorial games thrilled to see their favourite fighter.  And while modern women sometimes have the ability to act on their desires by approaching their sporting crushes at social gatherings or contacting them on Facebook, Roman women did not have the same access. Instead, for the more advantaged woman, she paid to have her desires fulfilled by her favourite gladiator in his cell. Continue reading

Cracking the History of Easter Eggs

Decorated Easter eggs

Decorated Easter eggs

This Sunday, millions of children will be on the hunt for Easter eggs.  While Easter eggs are associated with Christianity, the egg as a symbol of spring is found in cultures around the world and has been associated with renewed life for thousands of years. Continue reading

It’s the Power of Love: St. Valentine and the Romantic Brain

valentine stitchIt’s Valentine’s Day.  Moonlight and roses, chocolate and Hallmark cards… ahhh, the power of love.  But why do we love?  What is that irresistible draw to the heart and soul of another human being?

For such a popular holiday, Valentine’s Day is marked by an interesting historical fact—we’re not really sure of its true origins.  The actual St. Valentine is a martyred figure associated with three stories from the early Christian Church.   In one, St. Valentine was a Christian priest thrown into a Roman prison for preaching his beliefs.  On February 14, he was beheaded not only for disputing Roman deities but also for allegedly curing the jailer’s daughter of blindness—a miracle not looked kindly upon by the Romans trying to suppress the upstart religion.  His farewell letter to the jailer’s daughter, signed “From your Valentine,” and the letters he received and sent from jail to the friends who cared for him supposedly began the exchange of notes of affection for this holiday. Continue reading

This History in our Language: Idioms from Ancient Times, Part 1

apple of eyeIt’s no secret that English is heavily influenced by Latin and Ancient Greek – especially if you’ve ever had to study vocab for the SATs – but it might surprise you to know that many of our current idioms have been around since ancient times.  Idioms usually form based around the culture that speaks the language, yet the English language has several idioms that come from antiquity.  They are a testament to how relevant history is to our lives today, and how we’re not so dissimilar to our ancient ancestors. Continue reading

Super Bowl XLVII and the Superstars of Ancient Rome

Detail of the Villa Borghese gladiator mosaic, 4th century CE

Detail of the Villa Borghese gladiator mosaic, 4th century CE

The stadium is hot, packed with roaring fans ready to cheer for their favorite players.  Above the din, vendors are screaming out what foods and souvenirs are for sale.  The city is festooned with colorful advertisements sporting muscle-bound celebrities endorsing the latest products.  Super Bowl 2013?  Think again.   It’s actually ancient Rome.  As the doors open, the gladiators emerge, boldly strutting onto the field for the day’s games.   The crowd goes wild, Roman BCE-style. Continue reading

Suffering the Flu? Be Happy It Isn’t the Plague!

fluThis is the worst flu season since 2010, and we haven’t even hit the official peak of the season, which is typically in February.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is calling the outbreak an epidemic. According to Curtis Allen, spokesperson for the CDC, “When the H3N2 virus circulates, we tend to have a more severe season. It can cause more hospitalizations and kill more people ages 65 and over.” In fact, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has declared a state of emergency and ABC named Boston a “city under flu crisis.” Continue reading

Wall Posts: Putting Pompeii’s Political Graffiti in a Modern Context

social media clip artDo you instantly share your amazing dinner on Instagram?  Post about your political opinion on Facebook?  Find a liked-minded community through LinkedIn? Perhaps our ancestors had similar feelings about their social networking systems.

While part of online social networking is creating an identity, the main purpose is to create connections with others and add to the conversation.   In today’s hypercaffeinated online world, we get excited if a celebrity or important organization re-tweets us. We feel part of something, connected to a person or idea that expands our sense of self. Continue reading

Happy New Year!…Trick or Treat?

Imagine celebrating the New Year on Halloween. Ghosts, costumes, candy, parties, fortune tellers, bonfires- and champagne toasts at midnight!  Our modern Halloween was not always about trick or treating and carving pumpkins. It was influenced by numerous other traditions, including the celebration of the Celtic New Year.

Celtic Influence

Modern day offerings for the Samhain festival. Image courtesy of Avia Venefica on Flickr.

Modern day offerings for the Samhain festival. Image courtesy of Avia Venefica on Flickr.

The largest influence on our modern Halloween is Samhain: the Celtic New Year celebration that fell roughly on October 31st – November 1st.  Celts believed that on the evening of the New Year souls of the dead could return to Earth.   Continue reading

Recent Archaeological Discovery Reveals That in Antiquity Thin Was Out and “Stylishly Plump” Was In

Image courtesy Krzysztof Grzymski

Image courtesy Krzysztof Grzymski

It is resolution time! Popular culture and media are booming with ideas for weight loss– Dr. Oz’s green shakes, CNN’s stories of inspiration, The Biggest Loser’s dedication to stopping childhood obesity and countless advertisements for gym memberships. According to the website Statistic Brain, resolutions to lose weight ranked number one on a list of top resolutions in 2012 and it is safe to assume 2013 will be no different. Continue reading