Making progress

Caracalla (Altes Museum, Berlin)

Already before the end of the Kickstarter campaign, we were working on the first issue of Ancient History Magazine. The theme for this issue is “ancient explorers”, and it starting to take real shape. Milek Jakubiec has created sketches for the cover, several other illustrations are even completely ready, and Josho and I are about to start polishing the articles themselves.

So, in September, you can read about Queen Hatshepsut’s expedition to the land of Punt, about Hanno’s voyage on the Atlantic Ocean, and about the world map of Herodotus. (The man from Halicarnassus is admittedly not an explorer, but his map surely deserves to be covered in this issue.) You can sail to Thule with Pytheas and to India with Eudoxus. You can smell the perfumes of Arabia along the Incense Route. And you can join a Roman expedition to the upper reaches of the Nile. It’s all there.

The second half of this issue will contain articles that are not devoted to the main theme. These include an interesting interpretation of the Median Empire, a museum object that was believed to be fake but has turned out to be real, an archaeologist studying a line from the Gospel of Mark, the Roman vigiles, and the story of a Byzantine charioteer. There will be some book reviews and the final page is devoted to the first installment of a series called “How do they know?”

Of course, we’re already looking beyond the first the issue. The second one will be about the reign of the Roman emperor Caracalla. Without false modesty, we’re pleased with the line-up we can present. We will begin with Caracalla’s accession in Britain, and his acts in that part of the Roman world. We know a lot about it, more than you’d might expect. The Constitutio Antoniniana of 212 will be dealt with, and there’s also an article on Caracalla’s veneration of the German deity Grannus.

His portrait will be discussed – you’re in for a surprise here – and the issue would not be complete without an article about his famous bathhouse in Rome. Caracalla’s monetary policy, an inscription near Beirut, and Caracalla’s mother Julia Domna will all be discussed, too. In short, we think we have a mix of perspectives, covering all of his reign, as well as all parts of the Roman Empire.

Perhaps you’re surprised that we won’t be dealing with the notorious assassination of his brother Geta and the massacre in Alexandria. They will be discussed in the introduction, but we want to show especially is that Caracalla was not just an evil tyrant, but also an emperor who did the things an emperor had to do: travel, draw borders for provinces, handle jurisdiction, build monuments, enact religious measures. Of course, all that is perhaps less spectacular than the freak show that too often is presented as ancient history (gladiators! promiscuity! violence!), but we believe that Caracalla as a ruler is much more realistic, interesting, and intellectually satisfying. Ancient history should be served as a good dinner, not as fastfood.

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