Welcome to Bad Ancient. We fact-check claims that are made about the ancient world. If you want to know if hoplites were named after their shields or if people in ancient times believed the world was flat, you’ve come to the right place.
Countless storytellers tell of a network of underground tunnels beneath the ancient city of Nan Madol (Pohnpei, Micronesia). Is there any merit to these tales?
We all think we know that Christians were regularly fed to lions by pagan Romans, and this likely did happen. But is it an isolated phenomenon specifically targeted at a new and radical sect?
The Roman biographer-historian Suetonius claimed that the emperor Tiberius indulged many sexual vices in his villa on Capri, including with small children – but how accurate or justified were his claims?
It is often assumed that the Greeks invented mathematics in the 5th century BCE, and that they had a set definition of what it entailed. But this is an over-simplification of the history of mathematics.
The Spartans did use music in military contexts. Various sources attest to the practice of campaign war-songs and marching music. However, the claim that the Spartans focused only on military music – at the expense of any interest in non-military music – is simply incorrect.
It is often claimed that following the destruction of Carthage by the Romans, the lands of the city were salted to prevent future generations living there. But is there any evidence to support this?
Modern depictions of satyrs portray a creature that is half-man half-goat, but has that always been the case?
Gladiators are often portrayed in film and television addressing the Emperor before battle with a salute, inspired by an episode in Suetonius. But scholars question how wide spread this practice actually was.
A late Chinese source suggests that the Romans may have landed in modern Vietnam on their way to the Han Imperial court. But is there strong evidence to suggest that the Romans really did have contact with Vietnam?
Writers have often associated Sparta with a communist or proto-communist ideology, based in no small part on the writings of Plutarch. But is there any truth to this claim?