Category Archives: Human Rights

ISIS, Syria and the Eradication of Culture: As the Ancient World Falls, Efforts Mount to Save World Heritage

AN Forum

ISIS has reportedly bulldozed the ancient city of Nimrud.

ISIS has reportedly bulldozed the ancient city of Nimrud.

You’ve probably seen the reports of destruction coming out of the Middle East. You’ve certainly heard of ISIS and its reign of terror. The loss of life and the horrifying atrocities being committed against innocent people are splashed across every news network. But ISIS is doing more than taking individual lives. The group is bent on annihilating ancient culture and what it represents. This part of the news story may not have caught everyone’s eye, but it is a desperately important part of that story. Continue reading


In Honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

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Tattoos and the Body as Canvas: Erasing the Past With Modern Tattoos

basma-hameed-before-after-cosmetic-tattooWe’ve written before about tattoos in our post Tattoos and the Body as Canvas. How from ancient times people have etched into flesh the story of their lives.  From designs that heighten beauty, signify status, show affiliation or even scourge a social outcast, tattoos have always been about designations. Indeed, our body as canvas is at once both intimate and public. For some, tattoos depict their innermost beings for the world to see.  For others, particularly when used to announce a person’s outlier status in society, tattoos are meant to be felt as a visceral destruction of self. Continue reading

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Celebrate New Year’s With the Bountiful Grape—Here’s to Luck, Liberty and a Long Life to All

800px-Hungarian_red_grape_IsabelleThe sweet, succulent grape. It’s a fruit that has found its way into cultures around the world. Its cultivation goes all the way back to the Neolithic era (6,000-6500 BCE). Over the next centuries its production spread from the Caucasians to Asia Minor and to the Nile Delta through the Fertile Crescent. It became an important product for consumption, sale and trade in ancient times, as evidenced by the Code of Hammurabi (c. 1700 BCE), which decreed how wine was to be sold in Mesopotamia.[1] (Interestingly, women were allowed to own property and sell wine, so much of the code refers to female vendors.) The Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans extolled the glories of the grape in action, song and verse throughout the known world. By the fall of the Roman Empire the grape was firmly entrenched and the rise of the Christian church allowed a new stream of wine production through thousands of monasteries. As the centuries unfolded wine became a mainstay for cultural and religious reasons and as well in places and times where potable water was absent. Today wine production is a worldwide industry with oenophiles and simple indulgers offered a vast array of tastes, aromas and textures. Moreover, according to the Mediterranean Diet, the grape, particularly as distilled in wine, provides various health benefits, particularly through resveratrol, which is a compound that provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Some, in fact, tout its heart-healthy properties as natural life extenders. Continue reading

Strata: Portraits of Humanity, Episode 2, “Metalla Oiassonis: Roman Mining in Northern Spain”

StrataImage-webWe are pleased to bring you “Metalla Oiassonis:  Roman Mining in Northern Spain,” which is Episode 2 of the new documentary series Strata:  Portraits of Humanity, produced by AntiquityNOW’s partner, Archaeological Legacy Institute.

“Metalla Oiassonis” is a film by Felix Ugarte Elkartea of Spain that introduces us to the complex world of ancient mining that the Romans developed at the ancient port city of Oiasso. Oiasso is situated within the modern city named Irun in Spanish and Gipuzkoa in Basque, which is located in Spain near the French border.  In the western foothills of the Pyrenees next to the Bay of Biscay stands the granite massif called Aiako Harria in Basque and Peñas de Aya in Spanish.  On these slopes one of the chief mining centers of the Iberian Peninsula lasted until modern times. Continue reading

A Primer on Democracy: Where to Learn More

I_Voted_Sticker“Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ” –Reinhold Niebuhr [1]

Today is voting day for the general mid-term elections in the United States. In honor of Americans flexing their right to vote we’ve put together a list of great sites to visit to learn more about democracy throughout history. Continue reading

A Brief History of the Timeless Dilemma of Censorship and America’s Response

Image courtesy of Tyler Menezes on Flickr.

Image courtesy of Tyler Menezes on Flickr.

The life of Socrates is in the hands of 500 reticent jurors. He stands trial for poisoning the minds of Athenian youth and inspiring rebellion with anti-democratic teachings. Silently, the jurors cast their ballots into one of two urns that represent guilt or innocence…

Socrates was found guilty and sentenced to death. Shielding the public from dangerous ideas outweighed one man’s right to free expression on the scales of Athenian justice. Throughout history, society’s weighing of public good against individual rights has shaped the history of censorship. It’s a dilemma both ancient and familiar. Continue reading

Mulan: The Journey From Ancient Tale to Disney Blockbuster

MulanIn our blog series on the historic origins of Disney films, we’ve found that being literary archaeologists pays off. Digging into these films reveals layer upon layer of historic events and tales from all over the globe, each serving as inspiration for the next generation of storytellers, and culminating in the present-day retellings that we now experience at the movies. Continue reading

Girl Be Heard: Across Borders

GBHWe want to congratulate our partner, Girl Be Heard, on their Girl Be Heard Across Borders Conference tour taking place June 9th-July 9th.  The schedule is packed with performances, workshops, talkbacks, social activities and more, all of which are intended to give a voice to women in conflict. Continue reading

Foodborne Illness: The History of an Invisible Enemy

The history of foodborne illness is as complex and tortuous as the history of eating. Since the very beginning, foodborne illness has been a perpetual hitchhiker in our journey with food. With every human advancement in eating and acquiring food, foodborne illness has been ready with a challenge, finding new ways to survive in changing environments. Bacteria’s tenacious flagella have withstood numerous developments in our diet and continue to plague our lives today.


Humans discover fire.

Humans discover fire.

The food rules for early man were simple: eat what you can get. Lacking discerning palettes, these opportunistic hunters were most likely consuming contaminated meat, poisonous mushrooms and indigestible grains. The meat from abandoned carcasses? On the menu. The sickest, weakest animals? A quick and easy appetizer. The variety of microbial fauna they frequently ingested has been preserved for posterity in the form of coprolites (fossilized feces). These generous deposits give us a glimpse of their diet as well as the pathogenic organisms therein.[1] Continue reading