300s bce

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Tomb of King Antiochus II Theos (Belevi Mausoleum)

Belevi, on the road between Ephesus and Sardis

350-300 BCE

It is a two-storey grave-monument, formed by a high pedestal including a burial-chamber and an upper level, with a rectangular cella-like hypaethral building surrounded by a peristastis.

The foundation of the mausoleum was square; each side measuring some 29.65 m, suggesting a length of 100 feet of 0.2965 m. The mausoleum was two stories. On the ground level there were three steps supporting the base mouldings. Each plain socle was surmounted by torus, [cavetto] and Lesbian cyma. Ten courses of large neatly cut ashlars, 69–88 cm high, which constituted the facing of the podium, made for a total height of 11.37 m.A low architrave, 45 cm high, and a higher Doric frieze ran around the top of the podium. The south side had a deep recess that was cut into the rock core for the burial chamber, which was placed in the centre and sealed from outside. This was done in order to conceal what was in the monument and to protect the monument from tomb raiders. The chamber to which Antiochus II was buried in was a small vestibule with a rectangular back room for his body to be put in a barrel-vault. There was an unfinished false door on the north side of the structure. The top storey had 3 steps measuring 1.12 m high. The top slope served as a stylobate for a Corinthian Peristalsis, with eight columns on each side. The roof had flat marble tiles.

Unknown artist, Pair of gold earrings with Ganymede and the eagle (330-300 BCE), gold, height 6 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1937), New York, NY. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Some of the Guodian Chu slips, found in the 1990s. These bamboo strips contain the earliest known version of the Daoist text Dao de Ching, along with some early Confucian texts. They date to the 300s BCE, and have helped scholars understand early Confucian thought before it was altered by later philosophers like Mencius. 

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Ancient leaf wreaths

1. Ancient Macedonian golden leaf wreath

2/3. Blossoming myrtle wreath, 350-300 BCE, Greece

4. Golden wreath diadem from the tomb of a woman, possibly a wife of Phillip II of Macedon, excavated in Vergina, Imathia, central Macedonia

5. Laurel leaf diadem from Anatolia

6. Golden Oak Crown, 4th c. BCE, Archaeological Museum of Thessalonika

7. Crown from the tomb of Philip II of Macedon and the Scythian princess Meda in Aigai, Macedonia. Crown of Meda.

8. Headdress of Queen Puabi of Ur, Mesopotamia, 2550 BC

9. Golden wreath of a Thracian aristocrat (circa 4th century BC) from Golyamata Mogila (Bulgaria)

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Đông Sơn drums, bronze drums created by the Đông Sơn culture in the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam. This type were crafted from around 600 BCE to 300 CE. They are generally a meter in height (that’s 3 feet high. For a drum.) and weigh up to 100 kgs (220 lbs). The drums are decorated with geometric patterns, scenes of daily life and war, animals and birds, and boats. The Đông Sơn drums appear to have served both as cult objects and as, you know, drums.

An Eleian and an Arcadian hoplite do battle at the Olympic stadium

With the decline of Spartan power, their former vassal states began to carve out there own spheres of influence, none more so than the Arcadians, who quickly became the most powerful state in the Peloponnesian peninsula. Setting out to right a slight they had felt some 200 years prior, the Arcadians and the Pisates marched on Olympia prior to the 104th Olympiad to seize control of the site and install themselves as president of the games, doing to in 364 BCE, and presiding over the games that year.

The Eleians, the previous holders of that office, were not willing to let this stand, and marched on Olympia with their allies the Acheans, attacking while the games themselves were in progress (They excused this violation of the sacred truce by declaring that the Olympics that year were null and void due to the illegal means by which the Arcadians had taken control). A running battle erupted in the sacred complex with the spectators cheering on the combatants, safely watching from the stands.

The Eleians pushed the Arcadians to the center of the complex before the defenders were able to regroup and repulse them. The Arcadians constructed a defensive perimeter over the night, and, realizing their task was futile, the Eleians withdrew, with the mostly empty declaration that the Olympics that year were profane, and thus an Anolympics.

The Arcadian hoplite is identified by the alpha-rho on his shield, a common device for the most elite soldiers from Arcadia, while the Eleian’s shield bears the eagle of Zeus, the symbol of their city. The fallen soldier is identifiable as an Achean from the alpha-chi on his shield.

(Angus McBride)

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Inhabited since prehistoric times, Butrint has been the site of a Greek colony, a Roman city and a bishopric. The settlement became an important stop along the merchant trade routes and reached the height of its glory in the 300s BCE as one of the major maritime and commercial centers of the ancient world. The sight of the fortifications alone, which date from the 500s BCE, evokes the military and economic potential of the city at the time. The amphitheater (pictured in the image gallery) dates from the 200s BCE, and held nearly 1,500 people. Under the rule of the Romans the city was allowed to slowly fall into decay. In the palaeo-Christian period, two basilicas and a baptistry were built. Butrint’s later medieval history was turbulent. The town was involved, first, in the power struggles between Byzantium and successive Norman, Angevin and Venetian states and then the town was dragged int0 the conflict between Venice and the Ottoman Turks. Under Ottoman administration, the marshes that had grown around the nearby lake poisoned the city’s underground water supply. Butrint was abandoned, and left for the forests and marsh to cover its ancient and medieval ruins. (Photography credit to Pete Heck and Ko Hon Chiu Vincent)

Western Asiatic gold, garnet, and rock crystal necklace with a Neo-Assyrian pendant of Pazuzu, the leonine demon of the southwest wind. The necklace dates to about 300 BCE, and the pendant to the 8th to 7th centuries BCE. Found on Christie’s.

The Boeotian League

Boeotia was a region caught between the two dominant forces in Greek politics, Sparta and Athens. To counter this, the Boeotian League was formed between eleven of the city-states in the region, and based in Thebes, the largest of the cities, and found themselves allied with one or the other at different points between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.

The two Boeotians on the left carry only helmets and shields, lacking any other armor. The Greeks in general were obsessed with the nude male form, but none more than the Boeotians, some of whom were reported to fight in the nude.

The central power of the Boeotians were the Thebans, and it was they, led by Epaminondas, who finally brought an end to the hegemony that Sparta had enjoyed in the decades following the conclusion of the Peloponnesian War, breaking the Spartans at the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BCE and marching on Sparta itself.

The core of their force was the Sacred Band of Thebes, an elite unit of 300 men chosen from the best soldiers, and made up of 150 pairs of lovers. As with most male sexual relationships it was pederastic, with one older veteran - the erastai (lover) - and a younger man - the eromenos (beloved). The logic of the formation was that that there was nothing which would devote the men more to supporting each other in battle. Although homosexual behavior was common and accepted between soldiers in a number of the ancient Greek militaries, Thebes was one of the few to so integrate it into their military structure.

(Angus McBride)

Abortion Wasn't Always So Debated

Abortion-as-murder is a relatively recent concept. Before 1869, the Catholic Church believed that because the soul entered the embryo at 40 days, it was not a person until then. It followed that abortion before the 40th day was not murder. Pope Innocent III in 1211 determined that the time a soul entered was anywhere from three to four months into a pregnancy. In Jewish Talmudic law, codified by 500 CE, the embryo isn’t a person until a head emerges from the womb. And until the 40th day, it is maya b'alma or “mere water.” Aristotle (circa 300s BCE) also assumed this 40-day wait till “ensoulment” for embryos. Almost offhand, he noted before that point, abortions were permissible.