COMMON MYTHS ABOUT THE ANCIENT WORLD

By Tim Lambert

There are many myths about people in the Ancient World! Here are a few of them.

The Druids built Stonehenge

In reality Stonehenge is much older than the Druids. About 650 BC a people called the Celts arrived in England and their priests were called Druids. However Stonehenge is much older. It is believed it was built in stages between about 3,100 BC and 1,500 BC.

The Druids Practiced Human Sacrifice

This is probably a myth. The 'evidence' that Druids sacrificed people is, to say the least unreliable. See The Druids We can't be certain but its probably a myth.

The Halloween custom of trick or treat is based on a Druid custom

In reality modern Halloween customs evolved from the late 18th century onward. There is no evidence that trick or treat has anything to do with the Druids.

Julius Caesar was a caesarean birth

Almost certainly this is untrue as his mother lived for many years after his birth (it would normally be fatal for the mother). However the myth that Julius Caesar was born that way may be why this operation is called a caesarean birth.

Slaves built the pyramids

In fact they were built by free men. Most of the men who worked on the pyramids did so when the summer when the Nile flooded and farm work was impossible. During this time they were supplied with food and shelter by the pharaoh.

Everyday life in ancient Egypt

Pythagoras discovered Pythagoras's theorem

No doubt Pythagoras was a brilliant man but the famous theorem was known to the Egyptians and the Babylonians long before he was born.

Everyday life in Ancient Greece

The Philistines were uncultured

Today if you call somebody a Philistine it means they are ignorant, unrefined and tasteless. That is very unfair as the Philistines were actually a highly civilised and cultured people.

In Rome a 'thumb up' signal meant let a defeated gladiator live but a 'thumb down' signal meant kill him

In reality 'thumb up' meant kill him! If the thumb was concealed in a fist it meant let him live. There was no 'thumb down' signal.

Gladiators

Roman Galleys were rowed by slaves

In fact the men who rowed Roman galleys were, usually, free men who joined the navy of their own accord. In reality rowing a galley was highly skilled work.

Life in Rome

Caligula made his horse a senator

In fact there is no record of Caligula actually making his horse a senator.

Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned

The fiddle was not invented till centuries after his death. It is sometimes said that Nero actually played the lyre while Rome burned. He did not do that either. In reality Nero was staying some distance from Rome when the fire began in 64 AD. Nero rushed to the city and did everything he could to help.

Myths about the Middle Ages

Myths about the Tudors

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