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Everywhere around us are echoes of the past. Those echoes define the boundaries of states and countries, how we pray and how we fight. They determine what money we spend and how we earn it at work, what language we speak and how we raise our children. From Wondery, host Patrick Wyman, PhD (“Fall Of Rome”) helps us understand our world and how it got to be the way it is. New episodes come out Thursdays for free, with 1-week early access for Wondery+ subscribers. Listen ad-free on Wondery+ or ...
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Barbarians, political breakdown, economic collapse, mass migration, pillaging and plunder. The fall of the Roman Empire has been studied for years, but genetics, climate science, forensic science, network models, and globalization studies have reshaped our understanding of one of the most important events in human history. PhD historian and specialist Patrick Wyman brings the cutting edge of history to listeners in plain, relatable English.
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The Rigveda, a collection of hymns written in the Sanskrit language more than 3,000 years ago, is the oldest religious text in the Hindu tradition. It's also an incredible window onto life at the dawn of the Iron Age in South Asia. Patrick's book is now available! Get The Verge: Reformation, Renaissance, and Forty Years that Shook the World in hard…
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The Indus Valley Civilization is one of the most enigmatic, sophisticated, and compelling ancient societies. For seven centuries, it thrived in the western portions of South Asia, building enormous mud-brick cities without domination by ruling kings or elites. But then, over the course of several hundred years, the IVC slowly disintegrated. Why? Pa…
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The Warring States period in China (c. 481-221 BC) was an era of mass-mobilization warfare unlike any other the world had seen to that point. Armies of hundreds of thousands of men fought on an increasing scale for centuries, wiping out state after state until only one - Qin - would remain to rule all of China. Patrick's book is now available! Get …
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Professor Kate Pechenkina is an expert on the bioarchaeology of East Asia, utilizing cutting-edge tools to tell us about the lives and experiences of ordinary people in the distant past: diet, disease, trauma, the kinds of topics that written evidence simply doesn't illuminate. Patrick's book is now available! Get The Verge: Reformation, Renaissanc…
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Confucius is one of the most famous and influential thinkers in all of human history, but who was he? What did he believe, and what did he teach? And how did his time and place - the closing years of the Spring and Autumn period - make him what he was? Patrick's book is now available! Get The Verge: Reformation, Renaissance, and Forty Years that Sh…
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The Spring and Autumn period, lasting from 771 to 481 BC, marked the high point of aristocratic power in ancient China. This was an age of nobility and political fragmentation, as the Zhou Dynasty's power dwindled away and small states fought one another in endless cycles of violence. Rulers fell prey to plots and assassinations, and new families r…
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Venice's lagoon is an unstable environment, but it has hosted one of the longest-lasting and most stable cities in world history. The history of Venice is many different things: politics on an imperial scale, industrial production, cultural influence, tourism, and above all, trade. Professor Dennis Romano is one of the most eminent historians of me…
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The environment of China has been so thoroughly shaped by human activity that it's difficult to imagine it as a wild landscape, as it was at the end of the last Ice Age. Since then, first agriculture and then the state have altered it, replacing native flora and fauna on an enormous scale. Professor Brian Lander, author of The King's Harvest: A Pol…
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The Zhou Dynasty ruled for longer than any other in Chinese history. Much of the cultural foundation of China was laid down during that age, from Confucius to Sun Tzu. While a powerful state at its inception, centralized power only functioned for a century at most during the Zhou; afterward, the ruling dynasty became increasingly irrelevant as a po…
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The Shang Dynasty marks China's entrance to history, but it was very different than the China we know from later periods: Human sacrifice on a massive scale, shaman-kings conducting rituals to the ancestors, and loose alliances rather than bureaucratic administration defined the age. Patrick's book is now available! Get The Verge: Reformation, Rena…
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Chinese history is defined, more than anything else, by the importance of the state: its origins, its development, and the precise lineage leading back from the present deep into prehistory. But rather than a straightforward story of progress over time, the origins of the state in China are shrouded in mystery, in multiple developmental pathways, s…
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As an age of bronze gave way to one of iron, and then classical empires, the importance of writing grew all across Eurasia. That means more written sources for us to work with, but it also tells us dramatically more than we could have known before about the languages people were actually speaking across the continents. Patrick's book is now availab…
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Cities are one of the defining features of the Iron Age Mediterranean, as urbanism spread across the sea and beyond to form the backbone of the classical age that would follow. Professor Simon Stoddart is one of the world's leading experts on this process, specifically how it happened in Etruria, and how that particular example compares to urban fo…
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Justinian is, without a doubt, one of the most impactful historical figures of the past 2,000 years. Professor Peter Sarris, a longtime favorite historian of mine, has written an oustanding new account of the man himself, his times, and his legacy, entitled Justinian: Emperor, Soldier, Saint, available now. Patrick's book is now available! Get The …
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The Scythians transformed the Eurasian steppe. They built giant burial mounds for their powerful kings, raided and plundered their sedentary neighbors, and laid down the template for every nomadic empire that would follow over the next 2000 years, from Attila to Tamerlane. Patrick's book is now available! Get The Verge: Reformation, Renaissance, an…
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For millennia, the Eurasian steppe has been the highway connecting the distant ends of Europe and Asia. But at the beginning of the Iron Age, something important changed. A new people, the Scythians, rose to prominence, exploding outward from southern Siberia from the 9th century BC onward. Patrick's book is now available! Get The Verge: Reformatio…
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The Persian Wars came to an end in the spring of 479 BC, when the land forces of the allied Greeks met the Persian army in an epic clash at Plataea. But the legacy of the Persian Wars would last for decades and centuries to come, shaping memory, identity, and the future relationship between the Greeks and the Persians. Patrick's book is now availab…
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In excavating massive Iron Age burial mounds in southern Siberia, Dr. Gino Caspari is doing some of the most innovative archaeology in the world, and he's doing it in one of the most remote places on the planet. Dr. Caspari is an expert on the Scythians, the enigmatic, powerful people who ruled the vast grasslands of Eurasia during the Iron Age. Pa…
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The Persian invasion of Greece aimed to do one thing above all else: punish Athens for its transgressions against the Great King. After defeating Leonidas, the vast army descended on Attica and burned much of the city. But the Greek allies were waiting for them nearby, and the result was one of the largest and most decisive naval battles in history…
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In 480 BC, the Persian Great King Xerxes descended on mainland Greece with one of the largest armies and navies the world had ever seen. The Persians swept through the approaches to Greece, winning allies and destroying their foes along the way, before meeting the Spartan king Leonidas at the Hot Gates of Thermopylae. Patrick's book is now availabl…
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The wars between the Persians and the Greeks have become a cornerstone of the idea of "Western Civilization," a defining moment when Greeks became Greeks in opposition to the outside world. But this series of conflicts was far more complicated than a simple civilizational clash; it was born of a particular world, and to properly understand the Pers…
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When we think about the wars between the Persians and the Greeks, our perspective is quite explicitly that of the Greeks. But how did the Persians view these conflicts, and what were they after? Professor John Hyland explains his fascinating research on how the Persians understood war and their war with the Greeks. Patrick's book is now available! …
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While Cyrus the Great built the Persian Empire from the ground up, his successors expanded it until the new state stretched from the Indus Valley of Pakistan to the Upper Nile, Kazakhstan to the Aegean, the Balkans to the Hindu Kush. This new Persia was built not just to expand through conquest but to endure, becoming an empire that would last for …
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The kingdoms of Iron Age Anatolia survive only as whispers in the archaeological and historical record; others exist through enigmatic references and legends in the writings of foreigners; and still others left behind relatively abundant records, allowing us to reconstruct a thriving world of states that have been almost totally forgotten. Patrick'…
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What was life like in the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah? Few people are better qualified to answer that question than Professor Avraham Faust, who has excavated and written extensively about the archaeology of the ancient southern Levant, with a compelling blend of breadth and depth. Patrick's book is now available! Get The Verge: Reformatio…
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