Feature Post, History

Early SciFi: A 2nd century AD novel about traveling to outer space, meeting aliens and Homer

Lucian of Samosata’s ship getting swept up to the moon by a tempest.

Some argue that the first genuine science fiction novel is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, where technology bordering necromancy is used to reanimate the dead. But labeling what falls under science fiction can be troublesome. Christopher McKitterick says that in the strict etymological sense, it’s literature about scientific discovery or technological change, but then argues that this definition misses the mark; instead Mckiterrick believes “SF is about how we have changed, how external change affects us, how things we do change the world around us, and how we will continue to change over time.” What about works of fiction written in a time when science wasn’t even considered a distinct field, separate from natural philosophy, or study of religious truth, etc? Depending on how you class what makes science fiction, Lucian of Samosata’s “True Stories” might be the first science fiction novel. The characters venture to distant realms including the moon, the sun, and strange planets and islands. The star protagonist is Lucian himself who happens to stumble upon aliens on the moon and finds himself in the midst of a war between the lunar and sun empires.

Archaeology, History, News

Skeletons found in Leicestershire, holding hands after 700 years


Some relationships last a lifetime – but some last even more than that. University of Leicester archaeologists uncover a trove of relics and remains at Chapel of St Morrell in Leicestershire, including two skeletons who have been holding hands underground for the past 700 years. The archaeological excavations uncovered not only the couple, but also fragments of stone masonry, wall plaster, tiles

Archaeology, History, News

3300 years ago, Egyptian women were using extensions and dyeing their hair


An ancient Egyptian woman who lived 3300 years ago was found to have no less than 70 hair extensions. This incredibly elaborate hairstyle was probably made especially for her resting place. Interestingly enough, she wasn’t mummified, her body was simply wrapped in a mat, said Jolanda Bos, an archaeologist working on the Amarna Project. “Whether or not the woman had her

Geology, History, Science

World’s first earthquake detector was invented 2000 years ago in China

seismometer ancient

A seismometer or seismoscope is an instrument that detects and measures the motions of the ground as a result of seismic waves gushing from an earthquake, volcanic eruption or powerful explosion. Today, there are thousands of such instruments dispersed in key places around the world that constantly keep watch, gather data and help seismologists better their understanding of how earthquakes

Archaeology, History, News

Ancient throwing: archaeologists find a contract to “fix” a wrestling match in Ancient Greece


Prostitution may or may not be the oldest job in the world, but rigging goes a long way too. Researchers have recently deciphered a Greek document that shows an ancient wrestling match was fixed.  The document, which was dated from the year 267, is a contract between two teenagers who had reached the final of a very prestigious tournament in Egypt. This

History, Research

Empires, institutions and religion arise from war


Peter Turchin, a population dynamicist at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, and his colleagues finished a study which concluded that war drove the formation of complex social institutions such as religions and bureaucracies. The study showed that these institutions helped give much needed stability to large and ethnically diverse early societies. “Our model says they spread because they helped

Archaeology, History

Stonehenge may have been burial site for stone age elite

Stonehenge with a new moon seen through standing stones

The mystery surrounding Stonehenge is still actual, puzzling archaeologists for decades; how was it built, why there, and most interesting, what purpose does it serve? Now, after dating some bone fragments of men, women and children, a team of researchers believe they have the answer. Centuries before the imposing monument was raised, the site started its life as a burial


Wanted: 500 year old arrest warrant for Machiavelli found


A British academic has stumbled upon a 500 year old warrant for one of the most famed people in history: Niccolo Machiavelli. Prof Stephen Milner from Manchester University discovered the historic document almost by accident, as he was browsing through town criers and the proclamations in the Florence archives. The 1513 proclamation, which called for the arrest of Machiavelli, eventually

History, Studies

Richard III remains found – face to be soon revealed

Richard III remains

The remains of the legendary Richard III have been found beneath a Leicester car park – where else? DNA, carbon dating and the whole shebang showed, beyond reasonable doubt, that the remains belong to the king, explained lead archaeologist Richard Buckley, from the University of Leicester, so the finding I was telling you about a while ago really check out.