Putin’s Constitutional Tsarism | by Anastasia Edel | The New York Review of Books

... if history offers any lessons, this attempt at greatness will last no longer than the false covenants and official statues every autocracy erects, for they fail in their fundamental goal: improving the lives of the people. The legacy of Stalin and Lenin is not a socialist empire but the graves of millions, murdered and [...]

Knocking at the gates by Clayton Trutor | The New Criterion

In 410 ad, Alaric I, King of the Visigoths, breached Rome’s walls, likely with the aid of collaborators, and led an army of thousands into the city. Alaric’s sack of Rome was the culmination of a decade’s worth of campaigns against an increasingly unstable western imperial state, which had grown incapable of controlling its hinterlands [...]

History Book Club

Inventing Russia: Russia is a country with no natural borders, no single ethnic group, no true central identity. It has been subject to invasion by outsiders, from Vikings to Hitler’s Germans. In order to forge an identity, it has mythologized its past to unite its people and to signal strength to outsiders. In this fascinating [...]

The king of Haiti and the dilemmas of freedom in a colonised world | Aeon Essays

In the early 19th century, Haiti was the only example in the Americas of a nation populated primarily by former enslaved Africans who had become free and independent. Other nations, including Haiti’s trading partners, were determined to prevent abolition and their colonies from becoming free, so they refused to recognise Haitian sovereignty. When France finally [...]

Millennia-Old Rock Art in Israel Offers Window Into Lost Culture | Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine

Archaeologists in northern Israel have discovered 4,000-year-old rock art engraved on the walls of three stone burial monuments, or dolmens, reports Ruth Schuster for Haaretz. An analysis of the rock carvings, which depict animals, geometric shapes and what may be a human face, was published last month in the journal Asian Archaeology. — Read on [...]

Native Americans and Polynesians Met in 1200 AD | Science | Smithsonian Magazine

The Pacific Ocean covers almost one-third of the Earth's surface, yet centuries ago, Polynesian navigators were skilled enough to find and populate most of the habitable islands scattered between Oceana and the Americas. Now a new genetic analysis is revealing more about their incredible journeys—and the people they met along the way. A provocative new [...]

Genetic origins of the Minoans and Mycenaeans | Nature

The origins of the Bronze Age Minoan and Mycenaean cultures have puzzled archaeologists for more than a century. We have assembled genome-wide data from 19 ancient individuals, including Minoans from Crete, Mycenaeans from mainland Greece, and their eastern neighbours from southwestern Anatolia. Here we show that Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically similar, having at least [...]

Angkor Wat’s Collapse From Climate Change Has Lessons for Today

ANGKOR, CAMBODIANext to the road leading into Angkor Thom—one of the walled cities that make up Angkor, the ancient Khmer empire in Cambodia—stands a solitary but crumbling bridge with corbeled arches made out of recycled sandstone blocks. The bridge seems to be of little significance; no water runs beneath it. Few, if any, of the [...]