Ancient Origins Iraq tour


The Elusive King Alcinous and the Phaeacians
Wednesday September 20, 2023 12:00pm EST
by Petros Koutoupis
The Elusive King Alcinous  and the Phaeacians

The mythological Alcinous and the location of his kingdom of the Phaeacians have remained one of the most elusive topics of ancient Greek literature. Clues to the ruler and his kingdom survive only in the narratives of the journeys of Odysseus and Jason. What did the ancient Mediterranean look like in the Late Bronze Age and which nations ruled the seas? Was there an Alcinous prototype ruling over a foreign nation of master seafarers? How much evidence can the ancient narratives provide, and how much of it can be corroborated by archaeology, geography and paleontology?

Join our host, Petros Koutoupis, of diggingupthepast, on a voyage to the ancient Mediterranean to uncover the latest in archaeological research and attempt to solve the mystery of this elusive monarch: Who was King Alcinous?


Petros Koutoupis is an author and an independent historical researcher, focusing predominantly on the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age periods of the Eastern Mediterranean and general Near East. Fluent in modern Greek, Petros has additional knowledge in languages that include ancient & Biblical Greek, Biblical Hebrew, and a good fundamental understanding of Aramaic, Ugaritic, Phoenician, and Akkadian. He has always relied on the original sources for interpreting some of our most misunderstood historical and mythological texts.  His most recent book is: Biblical Origins: An Adopted Legacy.

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King Arthur, Man or Myth An unbiased investigation
Wednesday July 19, 2023 12:00pm EST
by Tony Sullivan
King Arthur, Man or Myth An unbiased investigation

Was King Arthur a real historical figure or a mythological figure, conjured in the mists of Avalon, swathed in legends of magicians and magical swords?

Author Tony Sullivan takes us on a journey to find the real King Arthur. His investigation of the evidence is based on the earliest written sources rather than later myths and legends. The evidence is laid out in a chronological order starting from Roman Britain and shows how the legend evolved and at what point concepts such as Camelot, Excalibur and Merlin were added. It covers the historical records from the end of Roman Britain using contemporary sources such as they are, from 400-800, including Gallic Chronicles, Gildas and Bede. He details the first written reference to Arthur in the ninth century Historia Brittonum c.800 and the later Annales Cambriae in the tenth century showing the evolution of the legend in in later Welsh and French stories.

Tony Sullivan compares the possibility of Arthur being purely fictional with a historical figure alongside a list of possible suspects.

The ninth century Historia Brittonum is the first source that mentions Arthur and lists twelve battles, including the famous Badon Hill. Some of these battles can indeed be located with some confidence. Additionally, Tony places the battles in the fragmenting provincial, political and military context of the late fifth and early sixth century Britain, a time of rapid changes in cultural identity and a significant increase in Germanic material culture and migration.

The conclusion gives the reader a new insight into what sort of man Arthur was and the nature of the battles he fought.

Tony Sullivan lives in South East London with his wife and three children. His first book, King Arthur, Man or Myth was published in 2020. Three further books followed in 2022: The Battles of King Arthur investigating the famous battle list from the Historia Brittonum; The Real Gladiator, looking at the historical reality behind the 2000 film; and The Roman King Arthur? Lucius Artorius Castus, which dismantles the Artorius-Arthur theory and places this historical Roman officer in the reigns of Severus and Caracalla. His latest book is: The Early Anglo-Saxon Kings

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Touring Through Ancient Greece (Open Webinar)
Wednesday April 19, 2023 12:00pm EST
by Dr Micki Pistorius
Touring Through Ancient Greece (Open Webinar)

Join us on our virtual webinar tour through ancient Greece when we follow in the footsteps of three of Greece’s most prominent heroes; Theseus, Pericles and Herodes Atticus, who guide us through a time span of a thousand years, covering the time frame of the Bronze Age of Heroes (second millennium BC,) when Theseus ruled as the 10th King of Athens; through the Golden Age of Athens (449 to 431 BC) the period between the Persian and the Peloponnesian Wars when the brilliant Pericles the Statesman reconstructed his city; to the Roman Period (second century AD) when the most intelligent and one of the wealthiest men alive Herodes Atticus restored many of the monuments built by his predecessors.  The lives of these men are interwoven into a tapestry of ancient Greek culture, cemented in the archaeological ruins, we can visit today. To many, archaeological sites are “just a pile of rubble” but imprinted on those stones is a rich history of myths, dreams, hopes, and a full range of all the human emotions, as well as those of the ancient gods.

Our itinerary of course starts in Athens, on the Acropolis, where Theseus ruled his city and the 12 cities of the synoikismos from a megaron on top of the holy rock.  Several ancient temples predate the constructions of Pericles, which can be seen today. We take a closer look at the Parthenon and the Erecththeion and then we stroll from the Greek to the Roman agora, where the trial of Socrates took place and Herodes Atticus walked. Landmarks in Athens such as the marble Panathenic Stadium was renovated by Herodes Atticus, and he built the Odeon below the Arcopolis. Many of the heroes were buried in Kerameikos, Athens’ necropolis, where Pericles held his Funeral Oration.

The seductive scenery along the east coast of Attica overlooking the Aegean Sea, easily lures one back to an era when mythical gods and goddesses still claimed the land and implored their heroes to build temples for them and their heroines to serve in their sanctuaries as priestesses. We visit Artemis at Brauron, Nemesis and Themis at Rhamnous, Demeter and Eos at Thorikos and Poseidon at Sounion, even some mysterious Egyptian gods near Marathon, which may hold a key to the murder of Herodes’ wife. 

We meet Theseus at Marathon as well the heroes of the Greco-Persian Wars during the Battle of Marathon - which was the birth place of Herodes Atticus.  We travel to the Oracle of Delphi, who spoke to King Aegeus father of Theseus, warned Athens to retreat behind a wall of wood during the invasion of the Persians and Herodes Atticus decorated the stadium at Delphi. Then we cross over to the Peloponnese and test our strength at Olympia, where Herodes’ wife Regilla was the only woman to preside over the Olympic Games, before her tragic death.   And finally we trace the footsteps of St Paul in Corinth, where Herodes built the Stadium, before we head back to Athens.

All along our journey we are accompanied by the gods and goddesses whose lives were intertwined with the mortals.

Dr. Micki Pistorius editor of the Premium Ancient-Origins has doctorate’s degree in Psychology and an honors degree in Biblical Archaeology. She is an Ancient Origins tour leader to Greece where she blends mythology and history into a rich tapestry and bring the stones to life!

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The Whitechapel Canonical Five: Jack the Ripper’s Victims
Wednesday March 22, 2023 12:00pm EST
by Jonathon Perrin
The Whitechapel Canonical Five  Jack the Ripper’s Victims

In 1888 Whitechapel and Spitalfields in London were gripped in horror and fear when five women were brutally slaughtered, all within just over two months. Much has been speculated about the identity of the elusive killer dubbed Jack the Ripper, but not so much has been written about the real lives of those women who were the victims of this notorious serial killer.

The so-called “canonical five” victims were Mary Ann Nichols (whose body was found on August 31), Annie Chapman (found September 8), Elizabeth Stride (found September 30), Catherine (Kate) Eddowes (found September 30), and Mary Jane Kelly (found November 9). It has been assumed that all these women were prostitutes, soliciting on the streets of Whitechapel. All, but Mary Jane Kelly, were butchered on the street and Kelly was killed in her room.  Curiously, recent research reveals that Nichols, Chapman, and Eddowes were not full-time prostitutes; that Stride had resorted to soliciting only occasionally, during periods of desperate poverty, and that the only verifiable prostitute among the five was Kelly. Were these women also victims of class-based Victorian prejudice and moral self-righteousness?

Mary Ann Nichols, also known as Polly had separated from her husband, with him taking four of their five children. He claimed she had deserted the family and resorted to prostitution, but there was no evidence of this. Polly Nichols’ life circumstances deteriorated, as she had a drinking problem, and she often frequented workhouses. On the night of her death, Polly bragged about her new black velvet bonnet to her lodgings housekeeper.  At 2h30 she was seen staggering towards Buck’s Row, and the last time she was seen alive was 05:30 in the morning.

Annie Chapman began her life in relative affluence, and married a private coachman to wealthy families. She was the mother of eight children, but only three survived beyond a few months.  It was later realized that she had been drinking during her pregnancies, and her children suffered from foetal alcohol syndrome disorders. After the death of their eldest daughter Emily from meningitis (she was only 12), both Annie and her husband succumbed to alcohol abuse. The couple separated with the husband taking custody of their remaining daughter. Annie paid 8d a night for her double bed in the Dorsett street lodging house. At 1h35 am she was seen walking towards Spitalfields Market…

Long Liz Stride was originally a Swede who located to London in 1866. She was married to a man 22 years her senior and had no children. Her husband passed away and from 1885 until her death Long Liz lived much of the time with local dock labourer Michael Kidney, who resided in Devonshire Street. They would often fight and separate, when Liz would frequent the lodging houses. She earned her lodgings by cleaning the premises.

On 30 September 1888  at 12h35 am ‘Long Liz’ Stride was last seen alive. When her body was found her throat was slit but she was not eviscerated, probably because the killer was disturbed but he moved on that same night to kill Catherine Eddowes.

Catherine Eddowes was described as a very jolly woman, always singing and an "intelligent and scholarly person, but possessed of a fierce temper”. She was last seen alive in a narrow walkway named Church Passage at 1:35 am, an hour after Long Liz was last seen.

Mary Jane Kelly alias Fair Emma, Ginger, Dark Mary and Black Mary, was probably of Irish descent although little is known about her. She found work in a high-class brothel in the more affluent West End of London. She became one of the brothel's most popular girls and spent her earnings on expensive clothing and hiring a carriage. She was last seen alive at 2h35 on 8 November with a man walking towards her lodgings. Mary Jane was murdered within the sparsely furnished single room she rented at 13 Miller's Court, affording her murderer an extensive period of time to eviscerate and mutilate her body.

The inscription upon Mary Jane Kelly's grave marker reads: “In loving memory of Marie Jeanette Kelly. None but the lonely hearts can know my sadness. Love lives forever.”

Author Jonathon Perrin introduces us to each of these unique women, telling the stories of their lives, how they unravelled, and their deaths - all set against the backdrop of East End London during the Victorian Age. It was a horrific period for the lower classes, when judgment ran high, knowledge of addiction was limited and treatment difficult to access, and a bed for the night in a workhouse lodging could be had for 4d – a British fourpence coin, valued at about a third of a shilling. 

Based on the Sunday Times Bestseller, “The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper” by Hallie Rubenhold, the webinar will also include an exclusive look inside London’s own “Jack the Ripper Museum” (, which the author recently visited.

Jonathon Perrin is a geologist who has explored for oil and gas, rare earth elements, and gold deposits in Canada. He also has an archaeology degree and spent five years excavating prehistoric Native sites in Canada. His recent passion is writing about ancient mysteries and uncovering the subverted truths of history. His first book, Moses Restored, is currently on Amazon, and he has contributed several articles to Atlantis Rising magazine under Editor J. Douglas Kenyon. He is the author of Moses Restored: The Oldest Religious Secret Never Told


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The Ancient Romans and their Beasts
Wednesday January 25, 2023 12:15pm EST
by Caroline Freeman-Cuerden
The Ancient Romans and their Beasts

Why did Emperor Augustus always have a seal skin nearby? What was the most dangerous part of a chariot race? How could a wolf help with toothache?

It is animals who take a starring role in the story of Rome’s birth with Romulus the legendary first king of Rome raised by a she-wolf and fed by a woodpecker. In the ancient world a bear could be weaponized, venomous snakes could change the course of a battle at sea and chickens were consulted on whether the time was right to go to war. If you want to know exactly how to boil a crane (and who doesn’t?) or how to use eels to commit a murder, the Romans have the answer. They wove animals into poetry, sacrificed them and slaughtered thousands in their arenas, while animal skins protected shields and ivory inlays decorated the hilts of Roman swords.

Roman history takes us into a world of celebrity lions, beloved dogs, healing snakes and burning fox tails. In the high-adrenalin sport of chariot racing horses could become famous, proudly immortalized in inscriptions which declared their fame or cruelly cursed on tablets buried at gravesites. The ancient equivalent of Formula One, this no-rules, crash-bang entertainment saw rival teams of superstar charioteers and horses destroy the opposition to an audience of thousands of roaring fans. Animals could be loved: the emperor Hadrian loved his dogs and wrote a poem to his favourite horse - or they could become a symbol for the power of men: the emperor Domitian decapitated ostriches in a grand display of his hunting skills.

From much-loved dogs to talking ravens, Caroline Freeman-Cuerden, author of “Battle Elephants and Flaming Foxes” informs us who the Romans were through the fascinating relationship they had with the creatures that lived and died alongside them.

Caroline Freeman-Cuerden has an undergraduate degree in Latin and a masters in Classics and Ancient History. She has taught English in Brazil, Portugal and South Korea. A lifelong animal lover, she became even more interested in the human relationship with animals after trying to save the lives of the two dogs who lived on her Korean roof (yes, the roof). Caroline is the author of Battle Elephants and Flaming Foxes.


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The Origins of the Zodiac In Wales
Wednesday November 16, 2022 12:00pm EST
by Hugh Evans
The Origins of the Zodiac In Wales

The Star Maps of Gwynedd, covers the entire north-west quarter of Wales, and is considered the largest distinct ancient site on Earth, with over 2,000 square miles incorporating thousands of named stone circles, cairns, standing stones, mountains, rivers, sacred sites, holy springs, churches, towns and even public houses. In comparison, the greater Stonehenge area covers 200 square miles, and the ancient Egyptian sites including Giza, Saqqara, Dendera, Abydos and Luxor cover about 400 square miles, as does a square area from Gōbekli Tepe to Karahan Tepe to the ancient star city Harran.

British mythology recounts that the stars were mapped from the top of the central, sacred mountain Cadair Idris in Northern Wales, by the Great Astronomer Idrisi. Idris was also known as Enoch, and he was the great grandfather of Noah, dating the star maps to approximately 4500 BC.

At Gōbekli Tepe – and many other megalithic sites - archaeo-astrologists are discovering that the ancients demonstrated their knowledge of astrology by aligning structures with the stars and leaving cryptic messages in the reliefs. Gōbekli Tepe has been radiocarbon-14- dated from 9500 BC (enclosure D) to 7500 BC (enclosure C). If Pillar 43 of Enclosure D is a representation of the constellations and the constellations were fixed in Gwynedd, then the Star Maps of Gwynedd may be much older than Gōbekli Tepe.

Hugh Evans indicates how the Zodiac constellations could have been mapped out during the antediluvian era as certain megalithic sites in north-west Wales seem to correspond with the 12 constellations and ancient Welsh explains key elements.

Hugh Evans studied Astrophysics at university, graduated in aeronautical engineering, subsequently qualifying as a Chartered Accountant. He now applies his scientific interest, engineering rigour and professional scrutiny to a lifelong passion for history and the stars; offering a new perspective and rediscovering the story of the ancients.

Hugh has invested thousands of hours of painstaking research, site visits, hieroglyph interpretation and language translation to identify all the features of the present zodiac and circumpolar constellations across the land features of Gwynedd, North Wales. Thousands of years older than the Babylonian and Egyptian zodiacs, perhaps even older than Gōbekli Tepe, the features on the ground in North Wales actually determined the choice of stars for the constellations in the heavens above. He is the author of The Origins of the Zodiac, Cadair Idris and the Star Maps of Gwynedd.


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A Panorama of Central and Eastern Ancient Anatolia
Wednesday September 7, 2022 1:00am EST
by Dr Micki Pistorius
A Panorama of Central and Eastern Ancient Anatolia

We present a panorama of the most interesting sites and history of Ancient Eastern and Central Anatolia or Turkey in this pre-recorded webinar.

Istanbul: A city of magic, mystery, strategic geographical importance, and historic consequence. Sultanahmet Square is our first point of departure. The hippodrome, a horse racing stadium was built in  203 AD by the Emperor Septimius Severus, when Istanbul was still Byzantium. Nowadays the site of the hippodrome forms a central pedestrian square and the ruins of the grand stand as well as the Serpent Column, Obelisk of Theodosius and the Walled Obelisk still stand sentinel to an ancient era. Below the square are several cisterns, including the Basilica Cistern. The square is flanked by the Sultan Ahmet or Blue Mosque, and the Hagia Sophia.

Centuries before Versailles, Buckingham Palace and the Kremlin Palace, on the shore of the Golden Horn, there rose a palace of such splendour, called Topkapi, where Ottoman sultans lived in lavish luxury, entertained kings, princes and foreign dignitaries, hoarded and displayed their riches and treasures and kept a harem of 1,000 concubines.

The sun has set on Istanbul and the focus moves to eastern Turkey to visit one of the most iconic sunset locations in the world, Mount Nemrut. Antiochus I Theos claimed himself a god, but there is no denying that his royal lineage was impressive. He was the creator of Mount Nemrut and the monumental pantheon of statues of himself and the gods on the mountain summit provide ring-side seats to history unfolding on the staged landscape before them. Gazing towards the east over centuries, the headstone of Antiochus would have seen the rise and fall of the Achaemenid Dynasty, as well as the Parthians; and gazing towards the west he would have seen the advance of Alexander the Great, the rivalry between the Seleucid and Orontid Dynasties for control of Armenia and finally the Roman legions marching into his land, swallowing his little Kingdom of Commagene.

The sun sets on Mount Nemrut and but dawns on the sunrise of history at Gobekli Tepe. In 1994, German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt discovered the site now called Göbekli Tepe, which was at first thought to be a temple. It was built, unquestionably, some 12,000 years ago. As archaeological work on the project continued, and the reliefs of the pillars are interpreted, it soon became obvious that Göbekli Tepe demonstrates uncanny astronomical alignments.

From the birth of civilization, to the birth city of Abraham, Harran was located on the caravan route that ran from Nineveh to Carchemish. In the 14th, 13th and 12th centuries BC, during the Hittite Period to Middle Assyrian Period, Harran and the surrounding region became the battlegrounds of the Hittites, the Mitannis and the Assyrians. For a few hundred years Harran, called Carrhae by the Romans was ruled by the Sassanid Empire and the Byzantine Empire intermittently until finally in 640 AD, Harran /Carrhae was conquered by the Muslim Arab General 'Iyāḍ b. Ghanm.

Not far from Harran lies Tas Tepeler. In 1997, the discovery of Karahan Tepe, revealed a structure similar to Göbekli Tepe, but perhaps even older. What is more, unlike Göbekli Tepe, it appears to be both ceremonial and a settlement. Now there are 12 other sites in the vicinity that demand the attention of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Hence the name, Taş Tepeler, or “Stone Hills.”

Old Edessa lies concealed by modern Şanlıurfa. Long before the city became Edessa, it was the Neolithic settlement of Urfa, with Balıklıgöl, a pool in the center of the town. The Urfa Man or Balıklıgöl statue, recognized as the oldest naturalistic life-sized sculpture of a human, was discovered here. Balıklıgöl is also called the Pool of Abraham, the site of the Jewish and Islamic traditions’ legendary clash between Nimrod and Abraham. Edessa was a crusader stronghold before it capitulated in 1146 and became a catalyst for the Second Crusade.

The name ‘Phrygia’ is usually associated with Alexander the Great cutting the famous Gordion Knot; as well as King Midas, the tragic greedy king, who touched his daughter and turned her into gold. But there was a historical King Midas. Does the Tomb of Midas hold the body of his father?

Tainted by regicide, usurped, regained, inspired by gods and goddesses and even cursed, the royal bloodline of the Bronze Age Hittites flowed through the plains of Anatolia, as the kings expanded and contracted the borders of their mighty empire, from their capital at Hattusa.

In pre-Christian Roman times, Göreme Valley in Cappadocia, was a burial location with rock-carved tombs and there was an ancient Hittite settlement. First century-Christians extended and transformed the existing carved structures into churches and fourth century-monks lived there and used the cells above the churches as accommodation.

About two kilometers from Gōreme lies the sleepy village of Cavusin, one of the oldest settlements in the region and a prime example of carved-rock formation homes. Dwellings were originally burrowed out of the soft volcanic tuff in the massive rock formation and inhabited by people.

But the people did not only carve homes and churches from the fairy chimneys above the ground. Long before, they burrowed down, seeking the protection of Mother Earth. Could the underground cities, such as Kaymakli in Cappadocia, date back to 12,800 years ago?

From one ancient city to another…

These days, the dusty, sunbaked ruins of Çatalhöyük in central Turkey do not receive a lot of attention, but around 9,000 to 7,000 years ago it was a busy, bustling, Neolithic metropolis, boasting a farming civilization that was both unique and important in its day.

Were returned to where we started, on the Galata Bridge of Istanbul, where we enjoy a sunset cruise along the Bosphorus taking in the wonders of Ottoman sultan fortresses and palaces such as Anadolu hisarı, Rumeli hisarı, Dolmabahçe Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace, and the Küçüksu Pavilion.

Dr. Micki Pistorius editor of the Premium Ancient-Origins has doctorate’s degree in Psychology and an honors degree in Biblical Archaeology.

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The Stellar Tableau Behind The Apocalyptic Vision Of Revelation
Wednesday July 13, 2022 1:00pm EST
by John McHugh
The Stellar Tableau Behind The Apocalyptic Vision Of Revelation

Comprehending the meaning behind the mysterious imagery in the Book of Revelation remains one of the most challenging facets of New Testament scholarship, and one scene in particular continues to confound theologians: the “Woman-Child-Dragon” vignette of Revelation 12:1-6: There a “great sign was seen in heaven,” consisting of a pregnant woman crying out in labor, who is “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars.” Suddenly another sign appears, a “great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads.” After sweeping one-third of the stars of the sky to the earth with its enormous tail, the dragon stood before the woman, poised to devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son that was immediately “snatched away to God and to his throne”—thereby thwarting the red ophidian’s plan. She then fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place for her.

While studying the relationship between celestial mythology and astronomical knowledge as a graduate student at Brigham Young University, John McHugh stumbled upon an arcane celestial code. According to this secret code the stars and constellations embodied divinities, and their titles and images depicted “Heavenly Writing.”

A close inspection of the text reveals that the author of the Book of Revelation, John of Patmos was using this astrological wisdom as the basis for his vision. John McHugh illustrates how the “Woman-Child-Dragon” apparition can be concretely traced to a stellar tableau in pre-Christian, pagan astrological tablets from Mesopotamia.   

John McHugh earned a Master’s degree from Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah, USA) with a dual emphasis on Near Eastern and Native American Archaeology (1999). He has extensive archaeological excavation and survey experience throughout Syria, Jordan, and the American Southwest. He specializes in Near Eastern and Native American archaeoastronomy as well as American Indian rock art and possesses reading knowledge of Sumerian, Akkadian, Ugaritic, Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Qur’anic Arabic. John is the lead archaeologist for the Utah Cultural Astronomy Project, which is committed to exposing and celebrated the wealth of scientific wisdom embedded in the religious cosmologies of Ancestral Puebloan peoples and their modern Puebloan descendants.  He is the author of  The Celestial Code of Scriptures

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Rome: Decline and Fall, or Drift and Change?
Wednesday June 22, 2022 1:00pm EST
by Dr Michael Arnheim
Rome:  Decline and Fall, or Drift and Change?

In this webinar, celebrated scholar of Roman history Dr Michael Arnheim delivers a fascinating and robust exploration of the nature and significance of Rome’s fall in the West. Steeped in applications of elite theory to the later Roman Empire, the author discusses several interconnected issues, including monarchy, power structure, social mobility, religion, and the aristocratic ethos.

Dr Arnheim identifies several factors that led to the demise of the Western empire. The morale of the erstwhile invincible Roman army was depleted by the influx of “barbarians” into its ranks. The triumph of Christianity as the sole religion of the Empire by imperial fiat ended eight centuries of religious toleration and freedom of worship and replaced it with the relentless persecution not only of “pagans” and Jews but also of all “heretics” who deviated in the slightest degree from the official Nicene creed.  The power of the central government in the West was also to some extent sapped from within by the senatorial aristocracy, who now again occupied high administrative posts while building up their own countervailing local power through the spread of large estates.

Dr Arnheim describes the later Roman Empire as a fractured society rent by divided loyalties, with the result that the imperial government proved unable to withstand the "barbarian" incursions. Except for the aristocratic comeback, which was confined to the West, the same pernicious factors were also found in the Eastern half of the Empire.  So, how come the East survived for a thousand years after the fragmentation of the West?  In fact, the survival of the East is somewhat exaggerated, as it lost the bulk of its territory to the Muslims in the seventh century, and, with a few blips, its history was generally on a downward trajectory. 

Dr Arnheim discusses the Pirenne thesis, the malaria hypothesis, Gibbon’s ‘decline and fall’ theory, and the role played by religion and the rise of the Roman Christian empire. He discusses the transition from the ancient to the medieval world, including discussions of monarchy, Diocletian and his relationship to the aristocracy, and Constantine’s reforms.

Dr Michael Arnheim (or “Doctor Mike”, as he is commonly known), is a practising London Barrister and Sometime Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge. He has written 23 published books to date, including ‘The God Book’, ‘Aristocracy in Greek Society’, ‘Is Christianity True’, ‘God Without Religion: An Alternative View of Life, the Universe & Everything’, and ‘Two Models of Government’. Dr Arnheim has also written extensively on legal topics, ranging from court procedure to the common law, constitutional law, judicial power and human rights. His latest book is called: Why Rome Fell: Decline and Fall or Drift and Change?

Dr Michael Arnheim started life in South Africa entering Johannesburg’s Witwatersrand University at the age of 16, he took a first-class B.A. in History and Classics at the age of 19, first-class Honours at 20 and an M.A. with distinction at the age of 21. He then went up to St John’s College Cambridge on a scholarship, where he was awarded a Ph.D. in record time, under the title “The Senatorial Aristocracy in the Later Roman Empire”, which was published by the Oxford University Press. He was subsequently elected a Fellow of St John’s College, where he continued to do research and teach Classics, especially Ancient History.

At the age of 31 he was appointed a full Professor and Head of the Department of Classics back at his old university in South Africa. After some years in that position he returned to Britain, where he was called to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn in 1988 and continues to practice as a London Barrister.

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Who built this City? Finding Akre Leuca, Hamiclar’s Lost City
Wednesday May 25, 2022 1:00pm EST
by Tom G Hamilton
Who built this City? Finding Akre Leuca, Hamiclar’s Lost City

Deep in the heart of the Portuguese arid interior lies a city, Castelo Branco, the regional capital of the lands known as Beira Baixa and it is strategically well-placed near the grand Tejo river, the superhighway of ancient times. The locals call it Castraleuca. Where does this name come from? Who built this city?

Historian Porfirio de Silva in 1853 quoted a contemporary document which was very specific about the origins of the city: “Seven hundred years before the time of Christ, in the time of the Carthaginians, Goths, Saracens, there existed on Cardoso hill the ancient Castraleuca, and from its ruins of Castelo Branco was built.”

A little-known historian Gaspar Alvares de Lousada said Castelo Branco had been rebuilt by the Knights Templars from the ruins of Castraleuca. He evidently had seen ‘cippos’ (marker stones) which identified Castelo Branco as being the ancient Castraleuca. This is confirmed by the city foral (a royal document) written by Knights Templar Pedro Alviti in 1213: Volumus restaurare atque populare castelbranco. Translated this gives “we wish to restore and populate Castelo Branco”.

Contemporary historian Herculano rejected the idea of Castelo Branco as being Castraleuca. His arguments were based upon the work of Ptolemy the Greek Geographer, who in the first centuries AD placed Castraleuca south of the Tejo. Ptolemy wrote from Alexandria in Egypt and had never placed foot on Lusitanian soil.

So, who built this city? Who was here in Iberia at that time? It cannot have been any of the indigenous Celtic tribes, as they lived in their castros on the hilltops. Who else were around at such an ancient time?

The Greek writer Diodorus in describing the Punic wars between the Carthaginians and Romans refers to a city by the name of Akre Leuca which was built by charismatic Carthaginian leader Hamilcar Barca, father to the famous Hannibal, but it remains to be found.

Hamiclar was ambushed and died at Castrum Album. Akre Leuca means ‘white high place or promontory’; ‘Castra Leuca’ (Latinized form of the Greek) means Castelo Branco (Portuguese) which in full Latin is Castrum Album. They are, in fact, the same place. The Latin form of the name is particularly significant because it has become the household name of every person born in Castelo Branco. They are Albicastrenses, a name which has always been shrouded with mystery and remoteness. Have we discovered Hamiclar’s lost city, rebuilt by the Templars?

Tom HamiltonBorn in Burnham, England in 1959, Tom G. Hamilton moved to the interior of Portugal in 1992. He is currently investigating the ancient peoples of Beira Baixa, a small region in the interior of Portugal. He has made documentaries and films about the region, music, and the culture, and is currently writing a book about one of his discoveries— unique Iberian turquoise. He is a trained language teacher, professional musician, songwriter and producer, gem-hunter, artisan, investigator, and writer.

Tom spends a lot of his time on mountains, and with Michael Severin, produced Black Mountain Argemela, a film dedicated to the preservation of Argemela and its unique ecosystem. Published on YouTube channel, Vettonia Films.

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