Josephine Quinn

Josephine Quinn teaches ancient history at Oxford.

Christian evangelicals​ in the United States sometimes like to identify the ancient Persian emperor Cyrus the Great with Donald Trump. Both are vessels for God’s plan on earth. This may seem surprising: Trump is no more obviously Christian than Cyrus, who died half a millennium before Christ was born, and neither would score highly on a morality test. But, it turns out, the leakier...

Howlsof rage greeted the new concrete paths that were laid over the notoriously treacherous rock of the Acropolis last year. Increasing the numbers the site can handle arguably brings visitors closer to the experience of visiting it in the fifth century BCE. At the height of the glory of classical Athens, built on empire and slavery, the sacred area would have been bustling with people....

Alaric’s initial target in the winter of 408 was not the city of Rome itself but its harbour, where he mounted a shipping blockade that caused months of food shortages. When Roman ambassadors asked what it would take to get him to open the port, his answer was not citizenship but five thousand pounds of gold, thirty thousand pounds of silver, four thousand silk tunics, three thousand scarlet cloaks (no boots or trousers for him) and three thousand pounds of pepper, a delicacy imported from India to treat eye disorders as well as to season food. Alaric then negotiated with Emperor Honorius himself, but citizenship still wasn’t on the agenda: he requested another position in the imperial administration, food and ‘permission to live on Roman land’ for himself and his followers.

Enemies on All Sides: Masada

Josephine Quinn, 12 September 2019

Highway​ 90 follows the Great Rift Valley from Jerusalem down to Masada alongside what’s left of the Dead Sea, making it the lowest road on earth. On the right, sheer cliffs hide the caves of Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. On the left, over-extraction from the River Jordan upstream and mineral harvesting from the inland lake itself means that the shoreline is receding,...

Nothing beside remains: The Razing of Palmyra

Josephine Quinn, 25 January 2018

The​ Syrian oasis town of Tadmur is close to the middle of nowhere, 140 miles east of Damascus, 125 miles west of the Euphrates, and 20 miles from the nearest village. It’s famous for two institutions established under the French Mandate at the turn of the 1930s. One is the archaeological site now known by the Greek name of Palmyra, until recently one of the most extraordinary...

Certain places​ capture the imagination; others fade into the background, forgotten and overlooked. Phoenicia is one of the rare places that does both. In 1963, Sabatino Moscati, the founder of...

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