Sunnis and Shia: Islam’s ancient schism

The divide between Sunnis and Shia is the largest and oldest in the history of Islam. Members of the two sects have co-existed for centuries and share many fundamental beliefs and practices. But they differ in doctrine, ritual, law, theology and religious organisation. Their leaders also often seem to be in competition. From Lebanon and […]

The Top Ten: Shortest wars

The belief in the possibility of a short, decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions.’ My Quotation of the Day by Robert Lynd prompted James Worron to observe that short wars are quite common – there are just fewer of them than people hope for. 1. Anglo-Zanzibar War, […]

Egypt opens ancient oddity for tourism

Pharoah Sneferu’s structure marks key step in Egyptian architecture, as builders had to change the angle when it started to crack Egypt has opened to visitors the “bent” pyramid built for the pharaoh Sneferu, a 101-metre structure south of Cairo that marks a key step in the evolution of pyramid construction. Tourists will now be able […]

Who are the Coptic Christians?

The clue to the identity of this small religious minority survives in the art and archaeology of ancient Egypt – and reveals a most magnificent ancestry Attacks on churches, communal divisions – Cairo has recently seen conflicts between some Muslims and Coptic Christians. But who exactly are the Copts and how did they come to be […]

This article is more than 6 years old Hadrian’s villa tunnels explored as cavers drop down into hidden city

Amateur cavers map network of passages built by Roman emperor at Tivoli to keep slaves, oxen and victuals below stairs Amateur cavers have mapped a vast network of tunnels underneath Hadrian’s Villa outside Rome, leading archaeologists to radically revise their views of one of ancient Rome’s most imposing imperial retreats. Lowering themselves through light shafts […]