Collections: This. Isn’t. Sparta. Part I: Spartan School

This is Part I of a (planned) five part series comparing the popular legacy of Sparta (embodied in films like 300) with the historical ancient state. Today, we're going to start by looking at the sources of our information on Sparta, and then begin at the beginning: the Spartan rearing and training system, the agoge. … Continue reading Collections: This. Isn’t. Sparta. Part I: Spartan School

Collections: War Elephants, Part III: Elephant Memories

Today, in Part III of our series of war elephants, we are going to look at the place war elephants held in society through two lenses: what war elephants meant to the societies that used them and what they often mean in popular culture - as we'll see, these are connected topics. Previously in this … Continue reading Collections: War Elephants, Part III: Elephant Memories

Collections: War Elephants, Part II: Elephants against Wolves

Today, in Part II of our three part series on War Elephants, we're going to look at the drawbacks of war elephants. Last time (here), we discussed the factors that made war elephants so powerful on the battlefield. To recap: war elephants had a strong psychological element (they are very scary) and could drastically disrupt … Continue reading Collections: War Elephants, Part II: Elephants against Wolves

Collections: War Elephants, Part I: Battle Pachyderms

Today we're starting the first part of our three part series on War Elephants (by reader request!). In this first part, we're going to talk about how elephants performed in battle: how did they fight and what was their battlefield purpose? The second two parts will focus on the (as we'll see) far more important … Continue reading Collections: War Elephants, Part I: Battle Pachyderms

Collections: The Lonely City, Part II: Real Cities Have Curves

Last week, we looked at a model for what the countryside around an 'ideal city' might look like. Today we're going to introduce some complications to that model (you will recall, our ideal city existed in a perfectly flat plain of uniform fertility) and see how they change the patterns of land use which in … Continue reading Collections: The Lonely City, Part II: Real Cities Have Curves

Collections: The Lonely City, Part I: The Ideal City

This week and next, we're going to look at an issue not of battles, but of settings: pre-modern cities - particularly the trope of the city, town or castle set out all alone in the middle of empty spaces. Why does the city or castle-town set amidst a sea of grass feel so off? And … Continue reading Collections: The Lonely City, Part I: The Ideal City