44 results in English
The Book of Kings
Shahnameh Baysonqori is a copy of Shahnameh (Book of kings) composed by the highly revered Iranian poet Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsī (940–1020). The importance of Shahnameh in the Persian-speaking world is comparable that of Homer’s epics in the West. The book recounts in verse the mythological history of ancient Persia and tales of the famous heroes and personalities of Iranian history, from legendary times to the 7th-century reign of Yazdgerd III, the last king of the Sassanid dynasty. The tales are based on earlier historical works, but are mixed ...
The History of the Roman Provinces of the Near East
This Arabic manuscript is a history of the Roman provinces of the Near East, with special reference to King Herod the Great and the dynasty he founded. The manuscript lacks numerous pages at the beginning and end. The remaining portion contains the history of Roman Palestine during the first century BC until the destruction of the temple by Roman emperor Titus in 70 AD. The author, title, and date of copying are unknown. The work has been tentatively ascribed to the 17th century. The text is unadorned except for marking ...
Romance of the Three Kingdoms in Illustrations
Sanguo yan yi (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), written by Luo Guanzhong (circa 1330–1400), a late-Yuan and early-Ming author, is a historical novel set in the third century, in the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history. The part-historical, part-legendary, and part-mythical story chronicles the lives of feudal lords and their retainers, who vied with each other to restore or replace the declining Han Dynasty. The novel follows literally hundreds of characters, with plots, personal and army battles, intrigues ...
Contributed by National Central Library
History of Rome
Historia by Appianus of Alexandria (circa 90−160) is a narrative of the history of Rome from the Republic (circa 509−27 BC) to the second century AD. The present codex, from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, is a translation from the original Greek into Latin by Pier Candido Decembrio (1399−1477), commissioned by Pope Nicholas V (1397−1455). In the colophon (recto of folio 151), the copyist, Carolus Hylarii Fatarius, states that the manuscript originally was intended for the library of King Matthias Corvinus ...
The Empire and Expeditions of Alexander the Great
This 1833 map in Latin shows the conquests of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC), whose empire stretched from present-day Greece through Turkey and the Middle East to Afghanistan. In 326 BC Alexander set out to conquer India, but he was stymied when his exhausted armies mutinied on the banks of the Hyphasis River (now known as the Beas River) in northern India. The map shows the cities that Alexander founded and named after himself, including Alexandria Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan), Alexandria Ariana (Herat, Afghanistan), Alexandria, Egypt, and many others. Place-names ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Kingdoms of the Successors of Alexander: After the Battle of Ipsus, B.C. 301
Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) died suddenly at the age of 32, leaving no apparent heir or appointed successor. Some 40 years of internecine conflict followed his death, as leading generals and members of Alexander’s family vied to control different parts of the vast empire he had built. The Battle of Ipsus, fought in Phrygia, Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) in 301 BC between rival successors, resulted in the empire’s irrevocable dissolution. This late-19th century map in Latin shows the four main kingdoms that emerged after the battle ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Selections from the Shāhnāmeh of the Learned Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsi, May he be Blessed and May his Sins be Pardoned
This manuscript from the early 17th century contains selections from the Shāhnāmeh (Book of kings), the epic-historical work of Persian literature composed at the end of the tenth century by the poet Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsī (940–1020). This beloved epic of pre-Islamic Persia (present-day Iran) was widely read in Persia, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. The manuscript contains three half-page paintings showing different battles. The text is preceded by an introduction and table of contents (folios 1b−6b) and is written in black ink in a nastaʻliq script. The pages are ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Chronicle of Japan, Volumes 1 and 2
Nihon shoki (Chronicle of Japan) is the first official Japanese history book, edited by Imperial Prince Toneri and others and completed in the fourth year of the Yōrō era (720). The 30 volumes cover the period from the mythological age to the time of the Empress Jitō (end of the seventh century). The first and second volumes, which deal with the mythological age, have been highly regarded in Japan since ancient times. The oldest existing manuscript of Nihon shoki dates from the Heian period (794−1185). The first published edition ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Shahnameh
Shahnameh (Book of kings) was composed by the revered Iranian poet Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsī (940–1020). The book recounts in verse the mythological history of ancient Persia and tales of the famous heroes and personalities of Iranian history, from legendary times to the 7th-century reign of Yazdegerd III, the last king of the Sassanid dynasty. Considered the national epic of Iran, the book was widely read throughout the Persian-speaking world. This manuscript copy was made in India in the 17th or 18th century. The text is written in nastaʻliq script ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Generations of the Nations, or the Descendants of Humanity
Ṭabaqāt al-umam aw Al-salāʼil al-basharīyah (The generations of the nations, or The descendants of humanity) is an ambitious work of ethnography and anthropology, aimed at describing human societies in both their historical development and contemporary features. The book was published in 1912 by the Hilāl printing house of Cairo. Its author, Jirjī Zaydān, was born in Beirut in 1861 and studied medicine at the local American University. He later completed his literary and philosophical education in Cairo, before returning to Lebanon, where he studied Hebrew and Syriac. Zaydān worked as ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Literature and Religion of the Ancient Egyptians
This survey of ancient Egyptian history and customs, published in Cairo in 1923, was intended for the general reader. In the introduction, the author, Anṭūn Zikrī, notes that although there are many works on this subject in foreign languages, the Egyptian who reads only Arabic can find nothing about his own history. The work is illustrated with black and white plates depicting objects in many museums, including the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, where Antūn was librarian. Antūn wrote many introductory works on ancient Egypt, including a guide to hieroglyphics, a ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
The Grand Monuments of the Ancients in the Nile Valley
Kitāb al-athar al-jalīl li-qudamāʼ Wādī al-Nīl (The grand monuments of the ancients in the Nile Valley) is a history of ancient Egyptian civilization by Ahmad Najib, an official of the Egyptian antiquities service under the direction of Jacques de Morgan (1857−1924). Najib published the work as a textbook on orders from education minister Ya’qub Artin (1842−1919) and claimed that it was the first effort by an Egyptian to instruct his countrymen on the historical wonders of their country. The book begins with general remarks on the Nile ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Creation and History
Al-Badʼ wa-al-tārīkh (Creation and history) is a universal history from the Creation until the end of the reign of Abbasid caliph al-Muti in 974. It is not a particularly good example of historical scholarship. It is in large part a list of prophets and kings, leavened with stories derived from written sources, myths, scripture, and the personal thoughts of the author, as, for example, his reflection on the many religious traditions and practices of mankind. With the exception of a strongly worded introductory warning to the reader about those who ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
The Expeditions of Alexander: Made for “Histoire Ancienne” by Mr. Rollin
This map shows the expeditions of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) from the Hellespont, the strait (later called the Dardanelles) that separates Europe from Asia in present-day Turkey, through Turkey, the Levant, Egypt, Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), Persia (Iran), and Afghanistan. Alexander reached as far as the banks of the Hyphasis River (now known as the Beas River) in northern India, where the conqueror’s exhausted armies finally mutinied. Shown are cities that Alexander founded and named “Alexandria” in honor of himself. Two distance scales are given, the ancient measure ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Empire of Alexander the Great and his Campaigns in Europe, Africa, and Particularly in Asia
This map, published in Paris in 1712, shows the expeditions and empire of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC), in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The circular inset at the top shows the three continents. The numbered notes in the lower right refer to Alexander’s campaign on the banks of the Hyphasis River (now known as the Beas River) in northern India, which is shown on the far-right side of the map. The long note in Latin in the upper right-hand corner summarizes Alexander’s career and conquests, which are ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Rubbings of the Stone-drum Inscriptions on a Stone Ink Slab
This scroll contains rubbings of the inscriptions originally found on ancient stone drums. During the Jiajing reign of the Ming dynasty (1522−66) Gu Congyi (1523−88) carved the inscriptions on a stone ink slab, following the exact number, the same order of the characters, and shape as they appeared in a Song rubbing. He proportionally reduced the size to fit the surface of the ink slab but preserved the original features of the Song rubbing of the stone-drum inscriptions. Because the Song copies are all in collections now overseas ...
Contributed by National Library of China
Rubbings of Inscriptions on Mao Gong Ding, the Duke Mao Tripod
Mao Gong Ding, the bronze tripod cauldron, was excavated at the end of the Daoguang period (1821−50) in Qishan County, Shaanxi. Dings were used widely as ritual vessels and became hierarchical symbols during the Zhou dynasty (circa 1046−256 BC). This is the most famous ding, originally belonging to Mao Gong. There are 497 characters on the inside of the vessel, the longest bronze inscription known to this day. The inscription records the history of the late Western Zhou (circa 1046−771 BC), specifically the reign of Emperor Xuan ...
Contributed by National Library of China
Laozi's Classic of the Way and the Virtue
Dao de jing (Classic of the way and the virtue) is also known as the Laozi. It is the key work of Laozi, a philosopher, poet, and originator of Daoism, thought to have lived in the sixth century BC. It has two parts: Dao jing (Book of Dao, the way) in 37 brief chapters and De jing (Book of De, the virtue) in 44 chapters. The entire book has 5,000 or so characters, thus it is also called Laozi wu qian wen (The 5,000-character Laozi). The nucleus of ...
Contributed by National Library of China
The Archaeological Map of Iraq
The world’s first civilizations grew up in the fertile valley between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the region of the Middle East long known as Mesopotamia (from the Greek meaning 'between two rivers'), that roughly corresponds to the territory of present-day Iraq. These ancient civilizations included Sumer, the Babylonian Empire, and the Assyrian Empire. This modern map produced by the Directorate General of Antiquities of Iraq shows the locations of archaeological sites and rock monuments in the country. The table at the lower left lists chronological periods from the ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Description of Egypt. Second Edition. Antiquities, Volume Three (Plates)
When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt in 1798, he brought with him an entourage of more than 160 scholars and scientists. Known as the French Commission on the Sciences and Arts of Egypt, these experts undertook an extensive survey of the country’s archeology, topography, and natural history. A soldier who was part of the expedition found the famous Rosetta Stone, which the French linguist and scholar Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832) later used to unlock many of the mysteries that long had surrounded the language of ancient Egypt. In 1802 Napoleon authorized ...
Contributed by Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Description of Egypt. Second Edition. Antiquities, Volume Four (Plates)
When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt in 1798, he brought with him an entourage of more than 160 scholars and scientists. Known as the French Commission on the Sciences and Arts of Egypt, these experts undertook an extensive survey of the country’s archeology, topography, and natural history. A soldier who was part of the expedition found the famous Rosetta Stone, which the French linguist and scholar Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832) later used to unlock many of the mysteries that long had surrounded the language of ancient Egypt. In 1802 Napoleon authorized ...
Contributed by Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Description of Egypt. Second Edition. Antiquities, Volume Five (Plates)
When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt in 1798, he brought with him an entourage of more than 160 scholars and scientists. Known as the French Commission on the Sciences and Arts of Egypt, these experts undertook an extensive survey of the country’s archeology, topography, and natural history. A soldier who was part of the expedition found the famous Rosetta Stone, which the French linguist and scholar Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832) later used to unlock many of the mysteries that long had surrounded the language of ancient Egypt. In 1802 Napoleon authorized ...
Contributed by Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Description of Egypt. Second Edition. Atlas of Egypt and Parts of Bordering Lands (Plates)
When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt in 1798, he brought with him an entourage of more than 160 scholars and scientists. Known as the French Commission on the Sciences and Arts of Egypt, these experts undertook an extensive survey of the country’s archeology, topography, and natural history. A soldier who was part of the expedition found the famous Rosetta Stone, which the French linguist and scholar Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832) later used to unlock many of the mysteries that long had surrounded the language of ancient Egypt. In 1802 Napoleon authorized ...
Contributed by Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Description of Egypt. First Edition. Antiquities, Descriptions, Volume One
When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt in 1798, he brought with him an entourage of more than 160 scholars and scientists. Known as the French Commission on the Sciences and Arts of Egypt, these experts undertook an extensive survey of the country’s archeology, topography, and natural history. A soldier who was part of the expedition found the famous Rosetta Stone, which the French linguist and scholar Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832) later used to unlock many of the mysteries that long had surrounded the language of ancient Egypt. In 1802 Napoleon authorized ...
Contributed by Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Description of Egypt. First Edition. Antiquities, Descriptions, Volume Two
When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt in 1798, he brought with him an entourage of more than 160 scholars and scientists. Known as the French Commission on the Sciences and Arts of Egypt, these experts undertook an extensive survey of the country’s archeology, topography, and natural history. A soldier who was part of the expedition found the famous Rosetta Stone, which the French linguist and scholar Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832) later used to unlock many of the mysteries that long had surrounded the language of ancient Egypt. In 1802 Napoleon authorized ...
Contributed by Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Description of Egypt. First Edition. Antiquities, Essays, Volume One
When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt in 1798, he brought with him an entourage of more than 160 scholars and scientists. Known as the French Commission on the Sciences and Arts of Egypt, these experts undertook an extensive survey of the country’s archeology, topography, and natural history. A soldier who was part of the expedition found the famous Rosetta Stone, which the French linguist and scholar Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832) later used to unlock many of the mysteries that long had surrounded the language of ancient Egypt. In 1802 Napoleon authorized ...
Contributed by Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Description of Egypt. First Edition. Antiquities, Essays, Volume Two
When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt in 1798, he brought with him an entourage of more than 160 scholars and scientists. Known as the French Commission on the Sciences and Arts of Egypt, these experts undertook an extensive survey of the country’s archeology, topography, and natural history. A soldier who was part of the expedition found the famous Rosetta Stone, which the French linguist and scholar Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832) later used to unlock many of the mysteries that long had surrounded the language of ancient Egypt. In 1802 Napoleon authorized ...
Contributed by Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Division of the Land of Israel Within its Borders: Copied from the Great Luminary, the Famous and Pious Gaon, Our Teacher and Rabbi, Rabbi Eliyahu from Vilna, the Capital
This drawing of the division of the Land of Israel among the 12 tribes is a copy of a work by Rabbi Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman (1720-97), better known as the Vilna Gaon or Elijah of Vilna (Vilnius, in present-day Lithuania). Elijah of Vilna was one of the most influential non-Hasidic Jewish thinkers since the Middle Ages. In addition to being an authority on the Torah and the Talmud, he was recognized as an accomplished mathematician and astronomer. A prolific writer, Elijah of Vilna produced commentary on nearly every known ...
This [is being produced] so that all can know the route of the travels [of the Israelites] 40 years in the desert [through] the width and length of the Holy Land from the Nile to the city of Damascus, from the Arnon Valley to the Mediterranean Sea, and in it each individual tribe was given its own portion of the land
This 1695 copperplate engraving of the Holy Land is one of the earliest printed maps in Hebrew. The map was drawn by Abraham Ben-Jacob, a convert to Judaism, based on an earlier map by Christiaan van Adrichem (1533-85), and reproduced in the Amsterdam Haggadah. The map features Biblical illustrations, among them depictions of the story of Jonah and the whale, King Solomon’s fleet carrying the cedar trees for the construction of the temple in Jerusalem, and beehives and cows symbolizing the milk and honey of the Promised Land. The ...
Jewish Antiquities
Jean Fouquet (141?-80?) was the greatest French painter of the 15th century. His genius is reflected in his illustrations of Jewish Antiquities, which Fouquet created for Jacques d’Armagnac, the Duke of Nemours. Fouquet traveled to Italy as a young man, where he learned to paint with great precision of detail and to use aerial perspective, but he continued to draw upon his native Touraine for many aspects of his art, especially forms and color. In these illustrations, his depiction of the siege of Jericho evokes a city on ...
Publication of Offices
The Notitia dignitatum is a state paper that documents virtually the whole of the civil and military organization of the Roman Empire as it existed after the reforms of Emperor Diocletian (ruled, 284–305). The manuscript contains chapters on the high state offices, and each chapter is preceded by pages of illustrations depicting the insignia of the officials in these offices and objects characteristic of their functions. The original of the document, probably written around 425 in Rome, is lost, as is a copy from the Carolingian period. The Carolingians ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Remains of the Antiquities Existing in Puteoli, Cumae, and Baiae
Paolo Antonio Paoli, president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome (1775–98), was a pioneering scholar and historian of the ancient civilizations of the region of Campania in southern Italy. He completed this fundamental work about the Greek and Roman settlements in the area of Pozzuoli, near Naples, in 1768. Avanzi delle antichità esistenti a Pozzuoli Cuma e Baia. Antiquitatum Puteolis Cumis Baiis existentium reliquiae (Remains of the antiquities existing in Puteoli, Cumae, and Baiae) features 69 plates with etched engravings, which are explained in an accompanying text that ...
View of the Forum, Rome, Italy
This photochrome print of the Roman Forum is part of “Views of Architecture and Other Sites in Italy” from the catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company (1905). Located between Palatine Hill and Capitoline Hill, the Forum was the nexus of political, business, and social life in ancient Rome. It contained a marketplace, temples, a senate house, and law courts. Visible on the left, on the west end of the Forum, are the massive ruins of the Temple of Saturn, the oldest temple in the Forum, dedicated to the Roman god ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Curse of Artemisia – Fragment
This ancient curse is one of the earliest surviving Greek documents on papyrus from Egypt. Dating from the late 4th century BC, it comes from the community of Ionian Greeks that was established at that time in Memphis, Lower Egypt. Greek culture came to dominate in Memphis, especially after 332 BC, when Alexander the Great was crowned pharaoh in the temple of the god Ptah. In the document, Artemisia, about whom almost nothing is known, appeals to the Greco-Egyptian god Oserapis to punish the father of her daughter for depriving ...
Contributed by Austrian National Library
History of Three Kingdoms in Yi Xiang Tang Edition
This San guo zhi (History of three kingdoms) in the Yi xiang tang edition is imperfect, containing only 42 illustrations. The inscription in the first illustration reads: "Engraved by Huang Chengzhi of Xin'an." The seventh illustration has a similar inscription: "Engraved by Huang Chengzhi." The inscription of the eighth illustration reads, "engraved by Huang Shiheng." The famous book collector, Ma Lian (1893-1935), also had a fragmented copy of this work in the Yi xiang tang edition. Ma Lian and the literary critic Sun Kaidi (1898-1985) both considered this copy ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Metamorphoses
This document, known as the Neapolitan Ovid, can be traced with certainty to the region of Puglia (Apulia) in southern Italy, where it most likely was copied at the Monastery of San Benedetto di Bari. The work is a testament to the oldest manuscript tradition relating to the Metamorphoses, a Latin narrative poem by the first-century Roman poet Ovid, which was popular in Europe in the Middle Ages. The codex includes illustrations in bright colors that reflect the several styles that combined in southern Italy in the 11th century under ...
Description of Egypt. Second Edition. Antiquities, Volume Two (Plates)
When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt in 1798, he brought with him an entourage of more than 160 scholars and scientists. Known as the French Commission on the Sciences and Arts of Egypt, these experts undertook an extensive survey of the country’s archeology, topography, and natural history. A soldier who was part of the expedition found the famous Rosetta Stone, which the French linguist and scholar Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832) later used to unlock many of the mysteries that long had surrounded the language of ancient Egypt. In 1802 Napoleon authorized ...
Contributed by Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Great Cameo of France
The Grand Camée de France (Great cameo of France), the largest cameo sculpture to survive from the ancient world, contains 24 engraved figures arrayed in three registers. The general meaning and the political goals of this commissioned work are clear: its aim is to assert the dynastic continuity and legitimacy of the Julio-Claudian emperors of the Roman Empire (the first five emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero). The dead are placed in the upper part, while the middle register represents the world of the living. In the lowest register ...
A History of Persia
Percy Molesworth Sykes (1867–1945) was a British soldier, diplomat, and author who wrote several important books about Persia (present-day Iran) and neighboring countries, including Ten Thousand Miles in Persia (1902), The Glory of the Shia World (1910), and this two-volume A History of Persia (1915). Sykes was educated at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and, upon his commission as an officer in the British Army, joined a cavalry regiment in India in 1888. In November 1892, he undertook a secret mission to Samarkand (present-day Uzbekistan) to survey, on ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The History of Persia, from the Most Early Period to the Present Time
Sir John Malcolm (1769–1833) was a British soldier, colonial administrator, diplomat, linguist, and historian. He was born in Scotland, left school at age 12, and, through an uncle, secured a position in the East India Company. While stationed in various parts of India as an officer in the company’s military forces, he became interested in foreign languages, which he studied diligently. He became fluent in Persian and, over the years, served as an interpreter and British envoy to Persia in various capacities. In 1815, he published his The ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Description of Egypt. Second Edition. Antiquities, Volume One (Plates)
When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt in 1798, he brought with him an entourage of more than 160 scholars and scientists. Known as the French Commission on the Sciences and Arts of Egypt, these experts undertook an extensive survey of the country’s archeology, topography, and natural history. A soldier who was part of the expedition found the famous Rosetta Stone, which the French linguist and scholar Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832) later used to unlock many of the mysteries that long had surrounded the language of ancient Egypt. In 1802 Napoleon authorized ...
Contributed by Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Excerpts from the Decades by Flavius Blondus
Giovanni Marco Cinico from Parma wrote and signed this manuscript for Alfonso II of Aragon, King of Naples, in 1494. The text comprises excerpts from Historiarum ab inclinatione Romanorum imperii decades (Decades of history from the deterioration of the Roman Empire) by Flavius Blondus, the Latinized name of Flavio Biondo (1392–1463). Biondo was an early Renaissance Italian historian and archeologist, who wrote several books on the history of Rome. The excerpts were compiled by Johannes Albinus (also called Giovanni Albino), an enthusiast for the literature of antiquity and a ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library