Episodes
Apollo, the favourite son of Zeus and twin brother of Artemis, was a Greek God with many faces. Perhaps most famous as Phoebus, the God of the Sun, he was the patron of poetry and prophecy, of music and dance. And yet he also possessed a darker side. He was a terribly vengeful character and brought death and disease to both those he hated and loved through his trademark poisonous arrows. In this episode of The Ancients, Tristan Hughes is joined by Liv Albert, host of the podcast Let's Talk...
Published 04/21/24
Published 04/21/24
The Goths are renowned for many things, not least sacking Rome in 410 AD and helping to bring about the fall of the Western Roman Empire. They were a 'barbarian' people from across the Danube who began migrating into the Empire during the 3rd and 4th centuries, pushed out of their ancestral nomadic lands by the onrushing Huns. But what were their origins? And did they really cause the fall of Rome? In this episode of The Ancients, Tristan Hughes speaks to Dr. David Gwynn to tell the tale of...
Published 04/17/24
Have you ever wondered about the dark side of archeology? The illegal seizing of ancient artefacts? The looting of goods from age old historical sites and their sale on the black market? Well it is a practice that goes back hundreds of years and today we’re exploring how it works, why it happens and what government bodies are doing to prevent it. In this episode of The Ancients Tristan Hughes is joined by Prof. Valerie Higgins to shine a light on how illicit objects and artefacts have found...
Published 04/13/24
Europe’s earliest known humans lived over 1.2 million years ago. After initially roaming the plains of Iberia in small groups, they spread across the Pyrenees into the wider European continent. But for more than 100,000 years all traces of humans in these regions vanish. The question is…what happened? In today’s episode of the Ancients, Tristan Hughes is joined by Dr. Chris Stringer, and by Dr. Chronis Tzedakis and Dr Vasiliki Margari to explore the fate of these first Europeans and discover...
Published 04/11/24
Would you be able to survive in ancient Babylonia? In this episode, Tristan is joined once again by Amanda Podany from California State Polytechnic University to discuss the realities of daily life in this fascinating empire. Together, they discuss everything from clay tablet literature and ancient board games to crime, slavery and female entrepreneurship in the era of King Hammurabi c. 1750 BC. Produced by Joseph Knight. Edited by Aidan Lonergan. Discover the past with exclusive history...
Published 04/06/24
The Great Sphinx of Giza is one of the most iconic monuments from ancient history. 73 meters in length and 20 meters high, the huge limestone statue depicts a mythical creature with a lion's body and a human head thought to represent Khafre, an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty during the Old Kingdom (c. 2570 BC). In this fascinating bumper episode of our special Wonders of the World miniseries, Tristan is joined by Dr Campbell Price from Manchester University to learn more about...
Published 04/04/24
Pontius Pilate was the Roman Prefect of Judea during the reign of Emperor Tiberius and is most famous for condemning Jesus of Nazareth to death by crucifixion in the Four Gospels. But who really was he? And how much do we know about him? In this Easter special of The Ancients, Tristan speaks to Prof. Helen Bond to delve deeper into the life of Pontius Pilate, and discover what else we know about this famous Roman governor. Enjoy unlimited access to award-winning original documentaries that...
Published 03/31/24
The Pantheon is one of the greatest Roman monuments still standing. First built as a pagan temple by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Caesar Augustus, it was rebuilt in its current form by Emperor Hadrian in AD 126 after a devastating fire and still stands just under two thousand years later almost exactly as the Romans intended. It’s famous free-standing dome is a marvel of Roman architecture and engineering, and makes it one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions to this day. In this...
Published 03/27/24
Over 13,000 years ago, Britain emerged from the ravages of the Ice Age as a changed land. Mesolithic hunter-gatherers who had adapted to cold climates were presented with new opportunities by the retreating glaciers that could transform the way they lived. But what do we actually know about these people? What can the archeology tell us about Britain after the Ice Age? In this episode of The Ancients Tristan Hughes is joined by archeologists Dr Nick Overton and Dr Barry Taylor to talk about...
Published 03/24/24
It's one of the most iconic structures in the world: The Great Wall of China. But is it just one wall? And who built it and why? Today, Tristan Hughes is joined by William Lindesay OBE to delve into the ancient history of this epic structure and to answer these questions and more. Together, they uncover the origin story. From the Warring States around 300 BC to the Qin Dynasty and China's first emperor, and then to its expansion during the Han Dynasty. They explore the evolution of the walls'...
Published 03/20/24
Artemis is best known as the goddess of the Hunt. But she is far more than just the famed huntress of Greek mythology - she is the patron of the wilderness, of wild animals, of childbirth and also chastity. Daughter of the gods Zeus and Leto, she is famed for her lust for divine retribution and her prowess with a bow, a trait she shares with her twin brother Apollo. In today’s episode of The Ancients, Tristan Hughes continues our Gods and Goddesses series as we delve into one of the most...
Published 03/16/24
The ancient metropolis of Babylon was famed for its wonders like the Tower of Babel and the mysterious Hanging Gardens. But few Babylonian monuments were as wondrous as the towering, blue-bricked walls and glittering gates that surrounded the city and protected those inside from enemies on the Mesopotamian Plain. In todays episode of The Ancients, Tristan continues our mini-series focusing on the ancient world’s greatest architectural wonders by shining a light on the great walls of Babylon....
Published 03/13/24
Wine is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world. But its popularity dates back thousands of years. Throughout ancient history, wine was without doubt the drink of choice for all manner of cultures throughout the Mediterranean. So what did winemaking look like over 2000 years ago? Where and when did it start? And how did ancient winemakers transform vine-picked grapes into the ancient world’s favourite drink? In this episode of the Ancients - suggested by our listener Todd...
Published 03/10/24
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only ‘Wonder of the Ancient World’ still standing. Built over 4500 years ago at the same time as Stonehenge, the Great Pyramid has become synonymous with all things Ancient Egypt. But what was its original purpose? How long did it take to build? And just how did the Pharaohs manage to erect what was then the tallest structure in the world?  In today’s episode of The Ancients, Tristan Hughes begins our four-part mini-series focusing on the ancient world’s...
Published 03/06/24
Zenobia, queen of the glittering city state of Palmyra, was a titan of the third century Near-East. By defeating the Persian Sassanid Empire in 270 AD and stabilising the Roman East she successfully forged a Palmyran empire stretching from Egypt to Anatolia out of the embers of Rome’s Third Century Crisis. But how did she rise to such power? And how did Rome react to the burgeoning pre-eminence of Palmyra’s crowned Queen? In this episode of The Ancients, Tristan Hughes is joined by Emma...
Published 03/02/24
The Silver Pharaohs refers to a lesser-known set of ancient Egyptian rulers of the 21st Dynasty, named for the abundant silver discovered in their tombs. First excavated in 1939 by Prof Pierre Montet, the tombs were filled with fantastic solid silver death masks and elaborate chambers, on par with the likes of Tutankhamun. Despite this, they've failed to garner the same amount of attention. Today, Tristan is joined by Egyptologist and friend of the podcast Dr Chris Naunton to highlight the...
Published 02/28/24
The Romans were renowned for their military prowess and skill. Their legions successfully conquered vast swathes of the Mediterranean world, led by battle-weathered centurions trained in the art of war and strategy. But did the Romans owe any of their military success to the actions of special forces? In short, did the Romans have an SAS?  In this episode of the Ancients Tristan Hughes is joined by friend of the show Dr Simon Elliott to explore whether or not the Romans employed elite SAS...
Published 02/25/24
Famed as one of Rome’s fiercest enemies, the city of Carthage was one of the jewels of the ancient Mediterranean world. Situated on the coast of North Africa on the tip of what is now Tunisia, it first rose to prominence as a Phoenician colony. But how did this once fledgling outpost rise to claim it’s ancient pre-eminence?  In this episode of the Ancients, Tristan Hughes is once again joined by Dr. Eve MacDonald to explore the origins of this most famous of ancient cities and tell the story...
Published 02/22/24
Over 45,000 years ago, Ice Age Britain was undergoing a transformation.  The first modern humans, Homo sapiens, were arriving and beginning to settle in the British Isles. Their evolutionary predecessors, the Neanderthals, were on their way to extinction. Until now we have known very little about this period. But that might be about to change with the discovery of a new centre of Stone Age archeology in South West Wales. Wogan Cavern, situated underneath Pembroke Castle, was the ideal place...
Published 02/17/24
Lucius Cornellius Sulla Felix is one of the most important Roman statesmen of antiquity. An inspiration to figures such as Julius Caesar, Sulla rose to prominence during the late second and early first centuries BC, and was a military man turned dictator after his brutal victory over Marius and Cinna at the Battle of the Colline Gate. Today, Tristan is joined by Dr Alex Petkas to discuss what the sources say about Sulla, how he rose to power, and what we know of his role in the downfall of...
Published 02/15/24
The Sasanians are renowned as one of Rome's most feared enemies. Founded in third century Persia by an Iranian noble called Ardashir, their dynasty oversaw the growth of a mighty empire that brought down the Parthians and survived into the early Middle Ages. But how did one family oversee the rebirth of Persia as a Mesopotamian heavyweight? In this episode of the Ancients, Tristan Hughes is joined by Dr Eve MacDonald to explore how the Sassanids came to dominate a region that had been under...
Published 02/11/24
The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the oldest surviving works of storytelling in history. It begins with the tale of Gilgamesh’s friendship with the wild man Enkidu. But after Enkidu is killed, King Gilgamesh embarks on a journey into his distant past in search for immortality.  In this episode of the Ancients, the second part of our series on the Epic of Gilgamesh, Dr Sophus Helle returns to speak to Tristan Hughes about Gilgamesh’s quest and his encounters with a mysterious sage called...
Published 02/08/24
The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the oldest surviving works of storytelling from history. Written in ancient Mesopotamia over three thousand years ago, this epic poem recounts the fabled tale of King Gilgamesh of Uruk and the forging of his friendship with Enkidu, a wild man sent by the Gods to keep Gilgamesh on the right path. In this episode of the Ancients, Tristan Hughes is joined by Dr Sophus Helle to explore and recount this oldest of myths - first written in Old Babylonian on cuneiform...
Published 02/04/24
For millennia dogs have been undoubtedly man’s best friend. But when did humans first start keeping dogs as pets? The fascinating story of how ancient hunter gatherers first domesticated our now beloved canines is the subject of today’s episode and takes us right back into the depths of the Ice Age. Tristan is joined in this episode by archeologist Dr Angela Perri to chat about how the wild wolf packs that roamed the icy wastes of the ancient world gradually became the four pawed friends we...
Published 02/01/24