National Geographic History

National Geographic History November/December 2019

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United States
National Geographic Society
6 期號


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from the editor

Pilgrimage, taking a journey to be close to the sacred, is a very old tradition that still thrives today in many of the world’s faiths. Buddhists visit Lumbini in Nepal to pay homage at the birthplace of Buddha. The holiest city of Islam—Mecca, Saudi Arabia—is the goal for Muslim pilgrims embarking on the annual hajj. Millions of devout Hindus bathe in river waters considered holy during the Kumbh Mela, a festival often held on the banks of the Ganges. In the Middle Ages Christian pilgrims in Europe crisscrossed the continent to visit holy sites. Chief among them was Santiago de Compostela, the Romanesque cathedral where the bones of St. James were kept, according to tradition. Several different routes, all dubbed the “Way of St. James,” led pilgrims to northwest Spain, where…

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tracing the ancestry of the biblical philistines

THE DISCOVERY OF a Philistine cemetery at Ashkelon, Israel, has provided researchers with human remains to study local ancestry. Uncovered at the site were a well-preserved human skull (above), the remains of a 10th-century B.C. Philistine (below left), and a small vessel (below right) that was found near the nose. Ancient bones from southern Israel have confirmed the European origins of the Philistines of the Bible. A genetic study of remains from sites near Ashkelon also strengthens the view that the Israelites’ troublesome neighbors—whose best known representatives in the Bible include the giant Goliath and the seductress Delilah—settled in modern-day Israel around 1200 B.C. The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon joined with the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History to analyze DNA from 10 sets of human remains. The results,…

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were the philistines the sea peoples?

EGYPTIAN CHRONICLES relate the destruction wrought by warlike mariners who attempted to settle parts of Egypt, and toppled the Hittite Empire centered in modern-day Turkey. When these accounts were written in the 13th and 12th centuries B.C. (a period of upheaval between the Bronze and Iron Ages), these “Sea Peoples” (a 19th-century term) were at their most destructive. One of the tribes named is the Peleset, identified by some historians as the Philistines. A relief at Ramses III’s mortuary temple shows Peleset captives defeated by Ramses in the first part of the 12th century B.C. If these Peleset are indeed the Philistines, they would have already started to have settled in Ashkelon at this time.…

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loves and losses

43 B.C. Publius Ovidius Naso is born in Sulmo (in eastern Italy), into a well-off family of the equestrian class. 16 B.C. After studying in Athens, Ovid settles in Rome where he publishes his love poetry, Amores (The Loves), to great acclaim. A.D. 2 Ovid’s publication of the Ars amatoria (The Art of Love), a “self-help” work on romance, causes a sensation in Rome. A.D. 8 Ovid completes his masterwork, Metamorphoses. In the same year he is exiled from Rome by Augustus. A.D. 17 Having written the Tristia (Lamentations), and after years of trying unsuccessfully to return to Rome, Ovid dies in exile.…

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ovid: the poet exiled by an emperor

Publius Ovidius Naso—the poet known today as Ovid—tried to write his own epitaph. In a series of poems composed near the end of his life, he asked for these lines to mark his final resting place: I who lie here was a writerOf tales of tender loveNaso the poet, done in by myOwn ingenuity.You who pass by, should you beA lover, may youTrouble yourself to say that Naso’sbonesMay rest softly. Recognized today for the Metamorphoses, his dazzling reworking of Greek and Latin myths, Ovid was known during his time for vibrant, controversial love poetry, including the Amores (The Loves) and the Ars amatoria (The Art of Love). These frank poetic reflections on Roman sexual customs brought him fame but also played a role in his downfall. After publishing his magnum opus, Ovid fell…

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many kinds of love

IN THE AMORES, written when he was in his 20s, Ovid narrates the different phases of the poet’s love for Corinna: an initial spark, followed by passion, jealousy, reproach, and finally hatred. It is thought that Corinna was an invented character, perhaps a composite of various real lovers. Later in life, Ovid would experience a more mature love, based on mutual respect, with his third wife, Fabia, who supported him through his traumatic exile. In the Tristia, the poems written during his last years in Tomis, he likens Fabia to Odysseus’ Penelope, faithfully awaiting his return.…