Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time in the distant past, writing about women who fought against the Roman empire,against the Persian empire, as part of the Persian empire or here and there around the edges of the Mediterranean.* I’ve been fascinated with the ancient world since childhood, but it is definitely Not My Field in academic terms. When I need to find my way into a specific topic about the ancient world,** my first stop is the Ancient History Encyclopedia The AHE is an on-line encyclopedia that makes full use of the benefits of the digital world with videos, interactive features etc. More important from my perspective, it features clear narratives, with timelines, links to related materials,**** a useful bibliography and the name of the person who wrote the entry, so you can check him on line and see if you think he is a reliable guide to a new topic or a crackpot. (So far I have not found a crockpot, but it’s always nice to be able to check.)
For my purposes, the AHE is no more than a doorway, but for the casual user it could be a source of many happy hours looking stuff up. Nerd, you say? Guilty as charged.
* I haven’t even tried to deal with the myths about or historical roots of the Amazons. For that I recommend Adrienne Mayor’s excellent The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World.
**Say, Alexander the Great’s older half-sister, Cynane. Also spelled Cynna, or Cynnane, transliteration being a moving target. (And not just for ancient languages. I am currently tracking down a woman who formed a resistance group during the German occupation of Greece during World War II. Her name is alternately spelled Carayanni and Karagianni. This doubles the research time.***)
***If anyone can point me to a good source, I’d be grateful.
****For instance, the article on Boudicca includes a link to the relevant passages of Tacitus, who is one of our main sources for her revolt against the Romans. Very useful for a quick and dirty check on the details.