A Spaniard in Samarkand, 1404

Special note: an earlier version of this post appeared on a new blog I helped develop in partnership with Not Even Past of the University of Texas at Austin and Origins (Ohio State University). Check it out here: historymilestones.tumblr.comOn September 8, 1404, the Castilian diplomat Ruy Gonzales de Clavijo reached the Silk Road city of Samarkand. He had travelled over […]

Vanished Civilizations III: Trebizond

This is the third in an occasional series of posts about my favorite ‘vanished’ civilizations (the first was on Carthage and the second was on the mysterious Tocharians). I put the word ‘vanish’ in scare quotes because in fact few if any civilizations truly disappear: they simply transmute. Ancient Carthage was destroyed as a state […]

Vanished Civilization II: The Tocharians

These people, they said, exceeded the ordinary human height, had flaxen hair, and blue eyes, and made an uncouth sort of noise by way of talking, having no language of their own for the purpose of communicating their thoughts. – Pliny the Elder on the report of an embassy from Sri Lanka on the people who […]

Vanished Civilization 1: Carthage

My people shall, by my command, exploreThe ports and creeks of ev’ry winding shore…– Queen Dido in John Dryden’s translation of The Aeneid, Bk. I First in a series of once-weekly posts on my favorite vanished civilizations, I present THE CARTHAGINIAN EMPIRE. To understand Carthage, one has first to understand the Phoenicians, who were originally […]