Bad Ancient

Fact-checking claims about the ancient world

After some preparation, we are extremely happy to announce the launch of Bad Ancient, a new website dedicated to fact-checking claims about the ancient world.

Written by Josho Brouwers on

Early last month, we were talking about some of the nonsense that gets posted on the internet about the ancient world. In this case, it was a meme that was doing the rounds on Twitter about ancient Sparta. And there’s a lot of nonsense that goes around about ancient Sparta so it has to be particularly egregious for us to start talking about.

In any event, we started talking about maybe adding a section to Ancient World Magazine dedicated to tackling false claims about the ancient world. But we also realize that doing something like that might not exactly fit with the aim of the present website. We also realized that some quarters of the internet might react rather badly when we start marking as false certain claims that have been used to bolster particularly unsavoury political opinions.

On Ancient World Magazine, we emphasize that what we write is done so using the unique voice of the author. As we explain on our About page, every author here writes about something that they themselves are passionate about or interested in. We’re not an encyclopedia; we don’t strive to be comprehensive in any way, nor do we seek any kind of faux-objectivity in what we write.

So rather than add a section to the website for fact-checking claims about the ancient world, we decided to launch a brand new website: Bad Ancient. It’s kind of like Snopes, but focused specifically on the ancient world. We check claims and then rate them as either true or false (or a mixture of the two), misleading or, in some cases, unproven. The articles are written by an editorial team rather than credited to individual writers.

A number of articles are currently available for you to peruse. For example, did 300 Spartans really try to put a halt to the Persian advance at Thermopylae? Were ancient statues painted? And finally, did the mythical Amazons really exist? For the answers to these questions and others, check out Bad Ancient.

You may be wondering where the name Bad Ancient comes from. It’s taken from the hasthag #badancient that ancient historian Dr Owen Rees uses on Twitter to tag strange and/or terrible claims about the ancient world. You may remember Owen – a long-time supporter of Ancient World Magazine – from the podcast we did on the ancient Greek hoplite. He also has his own website.

We will be publishing new articles on Bad Ancient every so often. We have a bunch of articles that are waiting to be completed over the course of the next few weeks. In the meantime, work here at Ancient World Magazine will continue as usual: this week, we’ll have part 2 of our podcast on sculpture in the ancient Greek world for you, as well as an article written by a brand new contributor.

As always, if you appreciate what we do, consider supporting us on Patreon.