A magazine with its own character
This entry was posted on July 6, 2015.
There’s only one ancient world, although there’s quite a lot of it: more than three thousand years of human history spanning three continents. It’s the story of the rise of civilization in the third millennium BC, of the creation of a true world system, and its collapse in the twelfth century BC, of the long period in which the Mediterranean world became one single, Roman Empire, and of its disintegration. An age of emperors and kings, scribes and scholars, poets and historians, soldiers and citizens, priests and philosophers.
It’s a fascinating period. Studying it is fun. However, it is also important. After all, there are continuities from the distant past until now (most visibly in the monotheistic religions). For centuries, people have been inspired by Antiquity (the list of renaissances and classicisms is quite long).
However, Antiquity has one shortcoming: an absolute lack of data. You cannot limit yourself to either the material culture or the texts. You have to study both kinds of information. You can, for example, only sense the impact of Pericles’ funeral oration if you have stood where the Athenians stood, listening to a politician who could point at the Acropolis monuments. Nor can you limit yourself to only one culture, because everything is connected: the chronology of late archaic Catalonia is based on an event mentioned in a Greek text that can only be dated by studying a cuneiform text. This lack of data is what makes the study of the ancient world useful: you’re being trained in thinking about known and unknown unknowns. It is no coincidence that military intelligence services used to employ ancient historians and archaeologists.
What does this mean for Ancient History Magazine? What can you expect? What will the new magazine look like?
There’s no denying that Ancient Warfare has been a model for Ancient History Magazine. Every issue will have a theme that will be discussed from several perspectives. There will always be attention for ancient sources and material objects: if you are familiar with Ancient Warfare, you will recognize “the source” and “the find” in the new magazine. Another similarity is that every year, we will publish two issues dedicated to Roman themes, two about Greece, one about the ancient Near East, and one about a general theme. And of course there will be lots of original artwork, because that is the only way to show you what Antiquity may have looked like.
Still, Ancient History Magazine will not be a clone of Ancient Warfare. We’re not just interested in Antiquity as history, but also as a collection of civilizations. It is our ambition to explain the poetry, the songs, and the languages as well. There will certainly be more space for illustrations, not because art can illuminate a historical account, but also because it tells a story of its own. In the first issue, we will have an article on an object that was believed to be a fake and turned out to be real, which has certain consequences for our understanding of the material culture of that period.
We also try to give the reader some understanding of the way scholars obtain their information. We will always dedicate some pages to an excavation and we hope to make our readers acquainted with inscriptions and papyri. Moreover, we have high hopes of our series “How they do they know?”, in which we explain how classicists recognize the difference between spoken and written language, how archaeologists know where to excavate, and how historians know which explanation is the best.
So, while we’re not denying that Ancient History Magazine is indebted to Ancient Warfare, the new magazine will have a character all its own. This summer, we will have to tweak the formula, in order to make a well-balanced first issue. Many texts are already in, and we already have some splendid new artwork, so we’re confident that Ancient History Magazine will be a big success!